Live at the Stanhope House
Roger 'Hurricane' Wilson is just overwhelmed by the transformative power of the blues. For Wilson, the first blues he heard came from British bands such as John Mayall, the Yardbirds, and the Animals. He began playing guitar at age nine in Keansburg, NJ, where he attended public school and performed in the school band. He even won an award as a drummer when he substituted for a schoolmate at an event in Red Bank, NJ, Keansburg had no high school, so he was bussed to a nearby township in his teens. His parents frowned on this situation, so they decided to send him away for school. His father, who hails from Kearny, NJ, and his mother, a native of Atlanta, GA, decided to send their son to Woodward Academy (formerly known as Georgia Military Academy) in Atlanta in 1967. Around that time, Atlanta enjoyed a burgeoning Southern blues-rock scene, which featured the Allman Brothers Band. Early on, the group gave free concerts in Piedmont Park near midtown Atlanta, where Wilson first heard the group, and eventually he attended their first indoor concert at Atlanta Municipal Auditorium. After Duane Allman's death in 1971, Wilson heard an anthology album and read about the young guitarist's interests in Delta blues guitarists such Robert Johnson and Elmore James. Wilson started listening to these early bluesmen. That summer, Wilson returned to New Jersey to work as a security guard at the Garden State Arts Center (PNC Bank Arts Center). Much of his time he spent tracking down albums by Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell. Through his summer job Wilson became aware of guitarist Roy Buchanan. In 1972, Wilson was back in Atlanta working at a college radio station, listening to records by Freddie King, Albert King, and James Cotton. Southern blues-rock began to flourish again in the hands of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a young Wilson was taking in all of it. He opened the Roger Wilson Guitar Studio in Atlanta in 1973 and taught guitar for 14 years. In 1974, Wilson moonlighted as a freelance music journalist, writing for the underground paper The Great Speckled Bird. Wilson went to Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom, where Buchanan was playing and interviewed him. Wilson formed his own band in 1978 and performed at the same club where he had interviewed Buchanan four years earlier. The club eventually fell under new owners and became the Agora Ballroom on Peachtree Street, right across from the famous Fox Theater. One year later, Wilson took that same stage to jam with blues guitarist Albert King. Wilson also pursued a career in broadcasting. He first studied at Brookdale College in Lynncroft, NJ, then transferred to Georgia State in downtown Atlanta. He never finished school, but he landed a weekend shift at a local AM radio station, WGUN. That job lasted 12 years. He married in 1981. As a freelance broadcaster, he produced the Braves, the Falcons, and the Hawks. He did traffic control and board work as well. Later, he landed a full-time job in 1986 at CNN. That lasted ten years. Music called him back to the road. Over the years, Wilson became a real road warrior, seldom returning to his home state. Two years after his father died in 1995, he got a gig at the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ. In 2000, he recorded this 2001 CD, Live at the Stanhope House, on his own label, Blue Storm Records. ~ Robert Hicks, All Music Guide.
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