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Peter Principle

Roots-rocker remembers a Cleveland music icon.


When Alabama-born guitarist Peter Karp takes the stage tonight at Fat Fish Blue, he suspects the ghost of Robert Lockwood Jr. to whisper words of wisdom about the blues. It wouldn't be the first time; the legendary guitarist often doled out advice to up-and-coming artists before he died in Cleveland last year at the age of 91. "He was more than a musician; he was a philosopher," says Karp. "He told me to be true to yourself and listen to your inner voice. He would say, 'If you listen, you learn, unless you're just fucking stupid. Then you don't know shit.'" The lecture must have made an impression. Karp is now on tour to hawk his latest CD, Shadows and Cracks. The 12-track disc, he says, showcases his lifelong fondness for Americana roots music. Karp also has dedicated it to his dog, who died of cancer in January. "Buddy was a tough son of a bitch. He had a good heart, but don't mess with him, because a lot of people are walking around with scars he made," says Karp. "He was the Robert De Niro of yellow labs."Karp also gives props to his childhood nanny, a black woman who turned him on to blues and gospel music by Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Mahalia Jackson. The plaintive spirituals about life in the South helped shape his style of writing songs about down-on-their-luck underdogs. "Money comes and goes. As long as you can get up in the morning and do what you love to do, it's a good day," says Karp. "I might marry a rich woman, but I wouldn't change a note for a dollar."Peter Karp performs at 9 p.m. tonight at Fat Fish Blue, 21 Prospect Avenue East. Tickets are $10. Call 216-241-9203 or visit
Sat., Nov. 10, 9 p.m., 2007

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