Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life, right? Well what if that love extends a little past the average work day and kind of permeates your every day existence? What if it's something that moves your soul and has been a part of your life since you were a kid? Such is the case with Steve Salter of Whitehall. He got the itch for music as a kid listening to WTRU and as he grew along came the era of the "British Invasion"....except he did something most people didn't even think to do as a music fan.....he asked "Who's this?"
"Who's this?" was the question posed when Steve saw the names next to the songs on the records. The writers, the artists who inspired and influenced The Beatles, The Stones, Herman's Hermits, The Small Faces and more. After all, those bands spent a LOT of time listening to music over across the Atlantic and were all heavily influenced by the American blues while here in the states, we were being serenaded by The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, The Dixie Cups and more. "Jolly Old England" came calling with a much grittier and raw sound all based on the American blues and changed the face of music forever...and those who wrote that blues sound got their first exposure to a fairly unknown audience.
Today, the blues has a much bigger following and even a borderline "subculture" of fans who are loyal to their kind of music. But much like entertainers of stage and screen way back when, those founding fathers of the blues often worked for next to nothing, had little or no way of doing anything more than assuring they had enough to make it to the next town for the next gig. Retirement? Forget that. It was a hardscrabble life for entertainers who would have long been forgotten had their work not been recorded. The sad part is, some of these artists went on to have so little, there wasn't even money to provide a proper burial. Even Motzart was buried in a paupers grave.
As Steve followed his blues dreams, along the way, he plotted some side trips to visit the grave sites of some of his favorite artists. He was just shocked to find that some of these legendary artists who's music will be heard for eternity had no remembrance of them where they were laid to rest. A very hurtful end to a tough life spent in spreading joy to others. So, he took matters into his own hands. In 2009 the 501c3 was formed to help this project and to date, 100 graves that were unmarked have been given a headstone to commemorate these legends and not let them fade in memory any further. Pictured to the right, are all of the artists who's graves have received a headstone from The Killer Blues Headstone Project.
It's been a giveback for Steve and I sat down with him to talk a little more about it. Take a listen.
Is it preservation of history? Is it thanks for a liftime of music? Is it a chance to assure that those who gave so much to so many won't be forgotten? It's kind of all of the above. Add in a sincere dose of passion, and fair enough.... a reason to take a road trip once in a while and you've got the Killer Blues Headstone Project. It was a great treat to talk to Steve today to learn more about what he's doing and why. If you'd like to know more, or maybe help out a little, click on the link below to visit his website.