Ruf records bring Blues Caravan 2018 to Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion on April 23 at 7pm – a chance to see in action Bernard Allison, son of the mighty Luther Allison, the late Chicago blues player who was Ruf’s first signing back in 1994.
“Mr Thomas Ruf started the Blues Caravan as a chance to give up-and-coming artists the chance first of all to record on his label and also go out with Blues Caravan,” Bernard said. “You get three newcomers from the blues, but this is different this year because he wanted to do a tribute to my father, and that is how I got involved with it.
“I think the connection is really great given that Thomas basically started the record label for my dad, and to see him work so hard for up-coming artists is great.”
Luther Allison (1939-1997) was an American blues guitarist whose big break came in 1957 when Howlin’ Wolf invited him to the stage.
Remembering him now, Bernard says: “I think my father was just so open-hearted. If he ever had a chance to sit and chat with fans, he just would. He had the biggest heart, and he was all about his fans. He would chat whenever he could, and he was always extremely supportive to any youngster coming up and wanting to play the blues. And I was proud to come from such a family. When his fan base talk about my dad today, it is always about how generous he was.”
It wasn’t inevitable, though, that Bernard would follow in his footsteps.
“I started playing the guitar when I was ten. I did my first record with my dad when I was 13, and I had my 25th anniversary of touring last year. When I was a little boy, my dad used to take me to festivals all the time, and he would turn me loose on stage and I would run round and round while he was playing.
“But once he found out that I was really intending to go into music, he would try to persuade me away from it because of all the challenges he had had. It had been very hard.
“He didn’t really want me to go out there and make very little money. It’s a hard life-style. But then he said before you do anything, you have got to get your education. Without your education, you won’t do anything.
“Without your education, you won’t be able to count your money or read your contracts!
“Our relationship was more like brothers rather than like father and son, but we are two different musicians. He said ‘Don’t try to be me or try to be somebody else.’ He told me to listen to all the music I grew up with and combine it all and find myself.
“Being a good player is very hard, but the older I get, a lot of the fan base are saying that I am sounding more and more like him, and that is a big compliment. I don’t do it deliberately, but I always try to include a couple of his songs just to keep them out there. There is so much unreleased music. I am just trying to make sure he is remembered.”
All seating and standing is unreserved and relaxed with shared tables or standing at the back.
Arrive early to find a seat. Doors open 6.45pm.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2