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Entertainment & Lifestyle

‘Ghost of the Blues’ shares music’s story

1/30/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

“Ghost of the Blues” will tell the history of the blues through the music of Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and others.
Photo courtesy of What’s Up Ohio
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The story of the blues told through music by the greats who lived it will be on stage at the Akron Civic Theatre in “Ghost of the Blues.”

For one performance, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m., performers including Mud Morganfield, the son of Muddy Waters, will celebrate the American musical art in a stage event conceived, written and directed by R. Norbert Knight, an Akron native who now lives in Zoar.

For Morganfield, who will sing the songs of his father in the show, the chance to be part of the event is welcomed.

“I’m so looking forward to it,” Morganfield said in a phone interview from his home in Chicago.

Morganfield said he and his father, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, had a great relationship.

“I knew Pops pretty well,” he said. “He left home when I was 6 or 7 years old, I guess, but our relationship was great. We never went hungry, never went without clothes. I didn’t see him very much because he was always on the road working and touring and supporting us.”

Morganfield said he always loved music but initially resisted the urge to become a working musician.

“There was just no comparison to Pops,” he said. “I felt if I couldn’t do it right, I just wouldn’t do it.”

He earned a living driving big rigs and at one point worked for a candy company.

Eventually, he gave in to his talents and began performing. His 2012 recording, “Son of the Seventh Son,” earned positive reviews and was nominated in two categories in the 2103 Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards.

“Ghost of the Blues” debuted last year, but the Akron show is the first show of a 2014 tour, according to Knight.

“It’s a historical trip through blues music, with the story told by the lyrics and the music,” Knight said.

The first half of the show takes place in a graveyard and features the music of some of the genre’s earliest performers, such as Robert Johnson and Son House. The second half is set in a juke joint with the music of Waters and Willie Dixon, among others.

Knight said he’s thrilled to have Morganfield join the cast to play Waters’ music.

“He called me from Paris and said, ‘I want to be in the show. I want to honor my father,’” Knight said.

In addition to Morganfield, Knight said he has gathered a stellar cast that includes Dave “Biscuit” Miller as Dixon and Stacy Miller performing as Etta James. 

“The cast is the greatest group of people you ever want to meet,” Knight said. “These are professional blues people.”

Morganfield said the music is what makes the show.

“It’s the roots,” he said. “It all started with the blues. It started with folks in the cotton fields looking to be rescued, so to speak. It’s misery, it’s pain and it’s expressed in music.”

Tickets, priced at $39 and $49, are available at the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office, by calling 330-253-2488 or online at www.akroncivic.com, or through TicketMaster at 800-745-3000.

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