Leighton Hamilton Playing the Blues

An old beau of mine has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe because this is the fifth anniversary of his death at the young age of 56. Or maybe as I myself grow older, nostalgia kicks in. Anyway, he spent his last years back in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia, and Tuesday nights were spent in front of the mike at The Blues Train Cafe. Here are some photos from that period.

Watermelon Man

I used to know a very talented blues musician out of Austin who played at Ski Shores there back in the mid-1990s. His name was Leighton Hamilton and he was also a blues historian and had a great collection of guitars, but his most cherished was his Style O National Steel. He passed away about a year before Robo. I had learned of a movie he had made with independent Texas filmmaker Ross Wells — Of Strange Voices and Watermelon Men. I have to say, had it not been for Leighton’s appearance in the movie, I wouldn’t have bought the DVD or sat through the thing. Not to be mean, but honestly, that was the most cheesy film I ever fast-forwarded through. And as I said, what made it tolerable at all was the music. I ripped portions of the DVD that had Leighton’s guitar work. And I share that with you now. Audio 01 L Hamilton 2007 Video And here’s the video clip:

Goodbye, Watermelon Man

I had a dream about an old flame a few nights ago. And that prompted me to contact him to see how he was doing. I knew he’d been very sick, and in fact the last time we spoke, he mentioned he was in hospice. This was earlier in the spring. This afternoon, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the CVS waiting for Robert’s prescriptions, like a chicken-shit. I had Leighton’s contact info pulled up on my smartphone, my finger on the “Dial” button. At least five minutes passed by before I had the courage to press it. The phone was picked up and I heard a familiar Southern drawl on the other end. “Hello?” “Leighton?!” I exclaimed. “No, this is his brother #####.” My heart sank. I knew then that my call was too late. I introduced myself and I could tell his brother was trying to process the information. He then told me in as gentle a voice as he could muster that Leighton had passed away less than 36 hours before, at four o’clock the previous morning in fact. I was a day late. I’d been trolling the internet in the last week …

Read moreGoodbye, Watermelon Man