A Little R.E. History
Rick Estrin: I got a harmonica, I think, when I was about fifteen. My mom gave it to me when I was in the hospital…I don’t remember really trying in a serious way to play it ’til I was maybe sixteen; I was high school age. I should have been in high school, but I wasn’t. I first became aware of Blues in the early 1960s; my older sister, who I really looked up to, she was kind of a beatnik type, she gave me the album The Genius Sings The Blues by Ray Charles for my twelfth birthday. I was naive, twelve years old, but I felt some kind of identification when I heard that record, like he was speaking for me, like Ray understood my feelings. I was a kid, ya know. I remember this beatnik boyfriend of my sister’s asking me about the song “I Believe To My Soul.” Like, what did I think Ray Charles was talking about? Sort of quizzing me. Puzzled, like trying to understand how a 12-year-old could be digging this song. After that I started checking out all her albums. She had a couple Jimmy Reed albums, this one Champion Jack Dupree record, Blues From The Gutter. Great record and I was really fascinated by the title! She also had some Mose Allison, some Nina Simone…stuff like that.