The Suncoast Blues Society has been around since 1997 in some form or other.
Like any “birth” there were labor pains and juices flowing—it wasn’t always a pretty picture.
On the 10th Anniversary, in 2007, Ken Torvik wrote an article that appeared in the 12 Bar Rag that told the story of how him and Larry Lisk started SBS.Ken’s story was heavily edited for the Rag. However, It’s really quite a story. It’s also a reminder of how something great doesn’t happen easily or over night.
Here’s a little piece of that story from the Rag to give you an idea of how it all happened…
But in the fall of 1996 lightning struck in the form of two Blues guitarists! Larry and Ken heard about a blues fest in Fort Lauderdale and decided attend. It was a life-altering affair.
The first was Ronnie Earl. They knew his work with Roomful of Blues but hadn’t really delved into his solo work. Ken’s all-time favorite guitar player is Carlos Santana, and on the stage in Fort Lauderdale he found Carlos’ guitar soulmate. Ronnie Earl was up there living his music through his axe with exquisite runs up and down the neck of his which coincided with the chills Ken felt. His feet were anchored to the ground but his mind was drifting in outer space. He was amazed by the set Earl played. Our heroes didn’t believe they’d see anything to top that the rest of the weekend.
Little did they know that this was just a primer for the next evening…when our minds would be blown even further away!
Larry and Ken were both familiar with Luther Allison but neither of them owned any of his CDs.
There was a buzz in the blues magazines about Luther’s live performances but he had been living and performing in Europe in the recent past…but now he was headlining on Saturday night.
They positioned themselves back by the sound board. Luther’s band came out and played a few tunes before calling up “the Boss”. Once Luther hit the spotlight all bets were off! He was an incredible ball of energy who played and sang with all of his being. Before he was done with his second song he was literally soaked through with sweat. He was no longer on a stage in Florida. He was someplace where few get to travel. His whole being was engulfed by that guitar and his voice. It was like a long distance runner at the end of a race when they fall at the finish line. He left everything on the stage.