I had the distinct pleasure of dining with Milton, his lovely wife Addie, and their close friends at this year’s Blues Music Awards. As the ceremonies began and the first act of the night took to the stage I had a ringside seat where I could see Milton watching every guitar player intently. Every time the artist on stage would reach for a chord that only professionals reach for Milton would smile. And so it went for the entire evening. Afterward I got to spend some time with him and I asked him a question in passing, "what has been the most memorable, pleasant experience you can remember?" Milton didn’t even hesitate to answer, "My time with BB King, the most gracious, kindest, caring individual you would ever want to be around. We had about eight years on that bus together, those were great years indeed." Milton told me about playing with Gatemouth Brown in the 50’s, being a session player along with Clarence Holliman at Peacock Records, and the smooth, mellow sounds of Jessie Ervine. All three had influenced Milton quite heavily in those early impressionable years but it was his touring with BB that he fondly recalls as he added, "BB is one first class guy." But I wanted to know something else. What does Milton want to deliver to his audiences and so since I was on a roll I asked him. Milton said, "Clarity, I want them to hear the clarity of every note and for them to know they are hearing and seeing someone within this genre that is delivering what they came out that night to hear."
In 2012 besides his local dates Milton also performed on the main stage at the Chicago Blues Fest, across the big pond at the Dunkirk France Blues Fest, and in Texas at the Navasota Blues Festival. In 2013 Mike Stone produced Milton’s latest CD Live at Danton’s which is available on CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify, and in Houston at Cactus Music. Just prior to that release Milton had teamed with Jewel Brown, a tremendous vocalist in her own right, and Dialtone released Milton Hopkins & Jewel Brown which is still widely available today.
I will always remember being at the BMAs especially kidding around with Milton about the new alligator shoes I was going to sport that night. He just smiled and was quiet. That night we all met in the lobby of the event hall and I was all smiles about to show off my new kicks when I looked down to the floor and Milton had the coolest shoes on I had ever seen, I kid you not. Dress loafers with a patent leather shine that housed this really cool looking sort of pink, purplish color. Now get this - these shoes even had a shiny gold bumper running across the toes. Man I might as well wore tennis shoes that night compared to this man’s night out on the town dress kicks. Then Diunna Greenleaf stopped by and we all put our right foot out and someone snapped a photo of our shoes. If I’m lying I’m dying.
Check out Milton’s
Live at Danton’s CD.
You’ll be glad you did!