A few days ago I was browsing through some old blues photos I had taken over the years, and found one that was full of bittersweet memories.
In February of 2011, I was wintering in Pinellas Park, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. Friends were visiting, and we were looking around for a Saturday night out that might satisfy all of our tastes. We found that at the Dunedin Brewery, in the nearby town of Dunedin, where they were holding a Stogies and Stout night, offering cigars, a variety of stout ales, and the blues of Eddie Kirkland. We couldn’t have done better.
I had heard some of his music, but never seen him perform. After all, the Jamaican-born bluesman had been around for decades, touring with John Lee Hooker from 1949 to 1962, and then enjoying a long and productive solo career.
So, between stogies and stout (quaffed outdoors, due to the stogies), I visited the main room, where Kirkland was holding forth, enjoyed his music, and took a few pictures, including the one above. He was lively and cooking, despite his 87 years, and obviously enjoying himself.
I think it was the following Monday that I ran across a news item that said Kirkland had been killed in a car accident Sunday morning, Feb. 27, 2011, while driving back to his home in Macon, Ga.
I realized that I had seen his last show, had taken a photo of him, and had the chance to wish him well and tell him how much I enjoyed his music.
Here’s a video of a Kirkland concert in Belgium in 2008, when he would have been 84.