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Bonnie Raitt - The Gaslight Cafe - Greenwich Village - New York City - February 6, 1971 © Sherry Rayn Barnett

Bonnie is a bluesman

on April 6, 2008 No comments
by Fred Seibert

“Mississippi” Fred McDowell and Bonnie Raitt early seventies.

I showed up to record Fred McDowell at the Village Gaslight on the afternoon of November 5, 1971, set up the mikes and recorder, and settled in for the first act around 9pm. A young woman with an acoustic guitar and an electric bassist started in, and my mouth dropped.

“Who’s she?” I asked my partner, and Fred’s bassist, Tom Pomposello. She was this rocker’s perfect marriage of the blues with a pop sheen.

“Another client of Dick’s,” he told me. Dick Waterman, friend of the blues, had discovered Bonnie up in Cambridge, became her manager, and had signed her to Warner Bros. Wow! What a singer, what a guitarist, what an act. I couldn’t wait for her records. Freebo (her bass player) and Bonnie never quite lived up to that night for me. The records were lackluster (Give It Up came closest to the magic the two of them had), and it took until Don Was to capture her perfectly (but without dependable Freebo).

Bonnie was loyal to Fred McDowell forever. She recorded his songs and never failed to mention how he taught and influenced her music. Bonnie is bluesman, then and now.

Bonnie Raitt – Gaslight NY – Billboard Nov. 20, 1971
Gaslight Café, NYC Greenwich Village 1958-1971
Gaslight Café, NYC Greenwich Village 1958-1971

Mississippi Fred McDowell > Live in New York


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Over the span of her career, Bonnie has had the opportunity to collaborate with many incredible artists. Listen to some of these tunes on her Duets and Collaborations playlist on Spotify here: spoti.fi/2YBaIoF ... See MoreSee Less

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We are rocked to the core to hear of the passing of our dear friend, bandmate and musical genius, Mike Finnigan. He fought his long illness with the same fearlessness and ferocity he brought to every part of his life. Our deepest condolences go out to Candy, Kelly, Bridget and all his family.

Mike was one of the most powerful, virtuosic soul/gospel/blues singers and Hammond B3 players you’ll ever be blessed to hear. Respected and emulated by musicians the world over, his legacy of staggering
performances across his 60+ years career will stand the test of time. He stopped our show nearly every night. There was simply no one like him.

He was whipsmart, incredibly articulate and funny as hell. He was as devoted to his beloved family and friends as he was to helping so many struggling to get and stay sober. He and his wife Candy were instrumental in my own sobriety and I will be forever grateful.

Rest in peace, dear Mike. I know you’ll be shaking that Heavenly Choir to new heights as only you can do.

Here’s a clip from our 2013 Slipstream tour, where he tore up the place every night with Ray Charles’ iconic “I’ve Got News for You.”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCz0TyBI1FA
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