I recall occasionally standing waiting for a bus in Edinburgh, back in the mid-70s, outside a record shop called (I think) Allan’s, and being tempted by an album on display in the window by a band called Stillwater.
Bearing in mind the dates, you’ll appreciate that this had nothing to do with the fictional band of the same name that featured in Cameron Crowe’s entertaining rock movie from 2000, Almost Famous. Instead, my interest had been stirred by an Old Grey Whistle Test Special guided by Bob Harris, featuring a number of southern rock and blues artists.
Now, at the time, I knew next to nothing about these genres, or the bands and performers that Whispering Bob had the good luck to encounter. But some of the names stuck with me, even though I scarcely gave them another thought for years, such as Dickie Betts and (recent Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame inductee) Elvin Bishop. And there was also the aforesaid Stillwater, from whom we saw a guitar wig-out that caught my attention. Hence the contemplation of that album in the Allan’s record shop window.
Having embarked on this exploration of the blues in recent years, the Stillwater clip in particular kept coming back to me. A bit of Googling led me to clips of them on YouTube – and incredibly, not just the OGWT clip of them performing ‘Sam’s Jam’, but the whole hour-long programme!
So enjoy if you will, this OGWT special centering on the Capricorn Records Picnic in Macon, Georgia. It opens with the now surreal image of Bob Harris doing a piece to camera on his transatlantic flight while casually smoking a fag, before capturing all manner of interesting stuff. Get ready for plenty of long hair, beards, and Stetsons - and a terrific closing jam featuring Betts and Bishop.
Coming soon - reviews of Kara Grainger live, and Laurence Jones's new album What's It Gonna Be.