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    Quiet night at Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar. A Wednesday, a hush, a handful of people. They scatter among roundtables in the long lounge, dimly-lit. Mississippi Adam Riggle, tonight’s three-piece — one burly white guy leading the licks and vocals, two old black men keeping rhythm on the drums and bass — is already onstage. They deliver notes from the Delta to the small crowd.

    I walk to the bar — its wooden curves and mirrors like a castle antique — wanting nothing, wanting sleep. It’s been one of those back-to-back days and I’m 27-years-old but also 72. The bartender makes me feel older. She’s all oomph. Even her hair is energetic — bright red. She gives me my Goodwood and tells me this band recently won some best blues band award. (I later find that they were a 2017 Louisville Music Awards blues category nominee.)


    Photo: The Mississippi Adam Riggle Band performing last Wednesday at Stevie Ray's Blues Bar. // by Arielle Christian

    Turning from my stool, I notice the Stevie Ray’s Hall of Fame — a series of portraits on the brick wall — and one of its newest inductees: Adam Riggle. In the painting, Riggle’s blonde dreads drape his shoulders just as they do on stage as he leans over his electric, which is covered with bumper stickers: ear-X-tacy; No Nazis; etc. More of a relaxed hippie summin’-summin’ than classic fedora-topped bluesman.

    I plop down at a table in front of the stage since no-one else does. The band cues up a Muddy Waters cover. Riggle’s voice, like defined static, wails. The blues is a deep well of memory, transporting me. To the streets of New Orleans, where blues blasts from buskers on almost every French Quarter corner. It takes me to last summer’s Chicago Blues Festival, and bathing in the breath of Billy Branch’s harmonica; days into nights of blues, blues, blues. I’m in Memphis, walking Beale Street, eating fried chicken and baked beans while B.B. King sings like sweet sauce through the speakers. I’m cruising the swamplands of Mississippi howling Lightin’ Hopkins: “GIVE ME BACK THAT WIG I BOUGHT YOU, BABY. LET YOUR DOGGONE HEAD GO BALD.”

    Cover Photo: Pexels.com

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