Muddy Waters’ former guitarist Bob Margolin returns to region for show with young players



There isn’t an official Mount Rushmore for American blues, but if there was, Muddy Waters would certainly be one of those four figures etched in stone. When his former guitarist Bob Margolin returns to the Miami Valley for Dayton Blues Society’s 8th Annual Youth Blues Showcase at the Phone Booth Lounge in Kettering on Saturday, Feb. 17, he’ll be illuminating a direct connection to that lineage.

The award-winning guitarist and educator will be joined that evening by Joe Tellmann, Hayden Everding, Michael Amodeo and a dozen other area alumni of the Pinetop Perkins Foundation.

Margolin, 74, was in the psychedelic rock band the Freeborne in the late 1960s before moving into the blues. He played guitar in Waters’ band from 1973 to 1980, appearing on a handful of albums alongside pianist Pinetop Perkins. Margolin also backed Waters during his performance in the Band’s iconic concert film, “The Last Waltz.”

The native of Brookline, Mass. has released more than a dozen albums, including his solo debut, “The Old School” (1989), “Up & In” (1997), “In North Carolina” (2007) and “Thanks” (2023). He has also recorded with artists like Johnny Winters, Big Joe Duskin, the Nighthawks and John Brim.



Margolin, who is the musical director for the Pinetop Perkins Workshop Experience, recently answered some questions by telephone from his home in High Point, N.C.

Q: What can you tell me about the Youth Blues Showcase?

A: The Phone Booth is a wonderful place to play. It’s got a large, long room with a stage at the end. It has a good sound system so it’s a great place for the audience to see live music. It’s always a lot of fun. I give a lot of credit to Dave Tellmann for organizing this and John Sillaman from the Pinetop Perkins Foundation for the workshops they do. We have some exquisitely curated sets by young musicians that were in the Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s workshops. They all share the music and showcase each other. While they’re not all professional musicians and on the road, they are incredibly talented local players. It’s mind blowing how good these kids sound. The only way I can explain it is to say that evolution must be speeding up.

Q: How long have you been involved with the Pinetop Perkins Foundation?

A: Since it started in 2010. When I was with Muddy Waters, I often ended up on stage standing between Muddy and Pinetop Perkins. The blues just rained down on me and I was soaked. It was an amazing opportunity to be around some of the original creators of that music, to play on stage with them and learn from them. It was a thrill for me, and I want to honor them by carrying it on. I want to take everything I possibly can from that direct experience and pass it on intact to the younger people. When we teach them how to interact with other musicians on the bandstand, I can quote Muddy. He didn’t make instructional videos, but I was right there in the band with him so I can tell you what he said about music. I had the experience to not only learn on stage but to ask him questions. I can pass on his exact words, and you better believe I can remember every one of them.

Q: What have you learned from working with the youngsters involved with these workshops?

A: The blues will never die. It will always speak to somebody. Some of the young musicians use it as a spice in their own original music. On the other end of the spectrum some of them fall all the way in deeply and become masters of traditional blues themselves. We find that amazingly exciting. Those of us in the foundation, the instructors and the people that help with the logistics and getting the music out there, the open secret is whatever we’re doing for these young people, we’re getting more out of it than anybody. It’s a thrill to see the blue light go on over their heads when they fall in love with this music.



Q: What does going on the road mean to you today?

A: I don’t travel around with a band in a van anymore, which is how I spent most of my life from the time I was with Muddy Waters up until about the pandemic. I don’t have a booking agent. I don’t have a band where I have to make sure they work enough to make a living. It’s just me and I don’t want to string a bunch of dates together. I want to go away for a gig or two or three and then come right home. I can play solo, bring musicians with me or work with musicians in that town. I want to be there for everybody. I want the businesses I’m working with to be profitable, and I’d like to be paid respectfully and have a win-win situation. I’ve created a very narrow window of what I want to do for myself but I’m staying as busy as I want to be.

Q: So, you roll into a town like Chuck Berry and play with local musicians?

A: Yeah, I’ve done that quite a bit. I always thought it was kind of strange when Chuck Berry did that. I thought he’d be better with a band that really knew his stuff well, but he figured everybody knew Chuck Berry songs. It worked for him, and I understand why he did that now a lot better than I did before. I had a really good gig for the Dayton Blues Society in 2018 with Joe Tellmann and his band. I had never played with these guys before, but it sounded good. They were able to follow me pretty well. They just kept their heads up and watched me for cues. I’m doing that a lot more now and it seems to be working.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or

How to go

What: Dayton Blues Society presents the Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s 8th Annual Youth Blues Showcase featuring Bob Margolin with Joe Tellmann, Hayden Everding, Michael Amodeo, Radka Kasparcova, Danny Garwood and other program alumni

Where: Phone Booth Lounge, 1912 E. Whipp Road #2920, Kettering

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17

Cost: Free but donations are accepted to benefit the Pinetop Perkins Foundation

More info: 937-938-9859

Artist info:

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