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In October 1995 my friend the audio pioneer Mark Levinson was working hard to help me launch the Music Maker Relief Foundation. He had recently moved his audio company Cello to a brownstone on 61st St in New York and outfitted it with showrooms and an amazing recording studio. By chance he met Eric Clapton lunching at a local bistro. Mark showed him our first CD and book, “A Living Past”, a compilation of my field recordings that Mark had stunningly remastered. Mark told Eric about Music Maker’s work, and Eric said that he wanted to hear more about the foundation. Eric was on his way to Chicago, then Tokyo to perform before heading back to London but asked Mark if they could meet when he returned to New York on November 15th.

 

Tim Duffy & Eric Clapton – Mississippi Blues

 

In November, Mark flew my wife Denise and I up for the day, and he intro ducted us to Eric. We sat and listened to my recordings in Mark’s main stereo room and I explained Music Maker’s mission. After a delightful lunch of ravioli prepared by Denise in Mark’s apartment upstairs, Eric noticed the 1930 Martin 00-18 sitting in the corner. He told us he had not played guitar in some months and he asked Mark if he could check it out. When Eric began to play it was spell binding and among the most amazing musical moments of my life. I picked up my guitar and quickly tuned it a 1/2 step up to match his and began to play some back up guitar licks that I learned from Guitar Gabriel. After a few songs, Mark asked Eric if he would like to record a few songs. Eric said that would be great! Mark recorded with a pair of  Bruel & Kjaer omni microphones through his Cello Encore line preamp. We played a few tunes and Eric, very generously, he chose songs that I could follow. This particular cut began with Eric playing a slow blues in the key of A, and I backed him up with my simple rendition of the piece “Mississippi Blues” by Willie Brown. Eric knew the tune, I told him I learned it from a Stefan Grossman recording, and Eric knew the album.

 

This impromptu recording session with Eric led to numerous relationships that would further the mission of the Music Maker Relief Foundation and help many musicians living in poverty.
See the recent article on RollingStone.com – here
– Tim

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