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“Blues For Evangeline” Review

Lib at Large:

Golden Gate Transit bus driver driven to the blues

by Paul Liberatore

John Maxwell walked into Sweetwater Music Hall’s open mike night not long ago with his acoustic guitar and played a set of jaw-dropping fingerstyle blues, singing in an earthy baritone that sounded like it was coming from a hollow log. No one in the Mill Valley club knew it, but this mysterious newcomer had just left his old life behind. At age 59, he had begun living a lifelong dream.

With his lean frame and angular features, a gray Fedora perched on his head, the soft-spoken San Rafael resident looked like a white bluesman who’d just gotten off a bus from some Dust Bowl town in the 1930s..

“Meeting Johnny Long set my direction for me,” he said. “When I met him, he seemed like this wizened old musician with all this wisdom. It turns out he was like 22.”

When his family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Maxwell branched into country music and bluegrass, but only because there was no blues scene to be found there. “It was fun, but it never had a place in my heart like blues does,” he said.

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