Sound Check: Bob Margolin is Steady Rollin' with the Blues
There’s no artifice to “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin’s new album, “My Road.”
It really is about HIS road, and his life in North Carolina, where he’s lived for the past 27 years or so. “I just really love it,” the blues singer, guitarist and songwriter says by phone from his home. “There’s a big, long, dirt road driveway that I walk up and down several times a day with the goods, just all natural woods with this dirt road driveway that’s on the cover of the album. “And while I’m doing that I see something new and different every day that makes me think and inspires an idea that I can keep thinking about when I’m walking up that road.”
The exercise — literal and figurative — gives a distinctive character to the six originals Margolin wrote for “My Road.” “There’s a lot of autobiography,” says the Massachusetts-born Margolin, 66, who’s been recording since the mid-’60s and backed Muddy Waters from 1973-’80, including an appearance at The Band’s “The Last Waltz” concert and in the movie. “I did deliberately set out to do that because I wanted to write about some things that are not standard blues subjects. I looked inside and said, ‘What am I doing and how do I feel about it and what am I gonna do?’”
A few of the songs, Margolin adds, “come from the point of view of a traveling musician,” but he tried to find new territory there, too. “I didn’t want to write about, ‘Oh, the wi-fi in this hotel sucks’ or ‘Gee, the airplane seats are uncomfortable,’” he notes. It has, however, been a long road of traveling and playing for Margolin. Nearing the 50-year mark for that first recording — 1967’s “Peak Impressions” album with the Boston psychedelic rock group the Freeborne — he’s both pleased and a bit surprised to still be doing it, and he’s happy to have made blues something of a life’s pursuit.
“I fell in with the blues,” Margolin recalls. “I was young and I was already playing, and maybe I would’ve become a rock star. But I was 20 years old and I went to see B.B. King, and I really couldn’t believe that somebody who was that old — he was in his mid-40s at the time, and of course he lived to be twice that old — could get up there and sing and play that well.
“I always think to myself, ‘What if I hadn’t met this person or that person? What if I hadn’t gone out that night to see Muddy (Waters) right after he had just fired someone the night before and needed another player?’ Things could’ve gone a lot differently for me, but I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. I really, really am.”