Mr. Eugene, Mr. Eugene….Hey, Mr. Eugene, you’re back!!!
Eugene: (Smiling) When I lived in the south…that is where I learned to laugh, walk, cry. I was just having fun being a kid. I did not see the conditions. The only entertainment we had was music. We always looked forward to seeing everyone on Saturday nights to play music and visit. The music was what I really remember. When I was young, I grew up hearing my uncle play. He would entertain. I remember how his eyes flipped up when he played guitar. My first taste of music was country Blues. I was in the 7th grade here (14 years old) and worked on a farm. That is when I got my first guitar…a silver toned guitar, and silver toned amp. Cost me a whole $7. (Laughing) I made a whole lot of noise trying to ‘get at it’. I took it back, got an acoustic guitar and headed towards the Blues. I listened to “race records” on jukeboxes and the radio. I was ‘picking on’ John Lee Hooker. Back in the 60’s to mid 60’s my step dad and a bunch of guys from Mississippi were good players. They were neighbors that stayed in Beaver Falls. I learned a lot from them. I picked up a little here and there. I still listened to Motown and Rock and Roll. I sang all the time and was in groups, not blues…F Tops and the Tempos. All that music…we were all on the same highway to get somewhere, musically.
Eugene: (with a quiet sincerity and thoughtfulness) Blues is real. It is the sharing of the essence of the Blues. It’s about how you feel, how anyone feels. For example, Blues allows you to see what happened in school and you can sing about that…because that was your day, your experience. Blues people are down to earth. Blues has a history. “You can’t love the apple and hate the tree.” If you ‘feel’ the blues, you appreciate the Blues. Back in the day, people grew up side by side and they lived life together. If you have not experienced hard times or life in general, it is hard to know how to play the blues. It is an instinct and a feeling that makes you one with the music. It becomes a passion when the music speaks to you and comes from some condition in a place in your life. I found early on that I had to sit down and talk with folks to learn and play...with feeling. Blues is not a superstar type of music. If you pay your dues, you earn your respect. That is a good feeling.