Karl Schwarz - Brooklyn, New York

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/KarlWalkerBlues/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Website:  http://www.karlaugustineschwarz.com



Karl Schwarz - Brooklyn based acoustic blues player


Karl Schwarz's hat was the first thing that caught my eye.  The next thing was that Mississippi blues he was singing and strumming on his guitar, that style of country blues once sung by legends such as John Hurt and Reverend Gary Davis.  When I discovered Schwarz was not a Mississippian and was, in fact, a New Yorker, I absolutely was disappointed.  Why would The Mississippi Club audience be interested in reading about a guy from New York, right?  But as I continued following Karl Schwarz on Facebook and digging his music more and more, I discovered that he had actually been to Mississippi, and then he said the magic words, "I love Mississippi."


Although Schwarz does most of his performances in the New York City Metropolitan area, he has also performed in Memphis, Tennessee, Cleveland, Mississippi and at Red's in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  While in Mississippi, Schwarz met some of the local bluesmen, and although he did not remember all of their names, he did recall hanging out with Steve Kolbus, Leo "Bud" Welch and Josh "Razorblade" Stewart.  He specifically recalled Razorblade drawing that snake on a piece of paper and telling him about the relationship between the snake and the economy.  Schwarz also spoke fondly of Bud Welch and Steve Kolbus. 


When I asked Schwarz how in the world did a New Yorker like himself become interested in singing country blues, he revealed some interesting facts about his childhood and the development of his taste for blues.  Schwarz's father was a priest who at one time was a missionary in Haiti and who enjoyed listening to blues music.  Karl got an early introduction to greats like B. B. King and Muddy Waters, and he also stated that his grandfather listened to acoustic blues.  The time spent in Haiti also made an impression on a young Karl Schwarz when it comes to poverty and injustice in the world.  Schwarz became emotional as he recalled the hunger and sickness that he witnessed in Haiti.  But in spite of the ugliness, Schwarz also recalled how beautiful Haiti and the Haiti people were, and that he had never experienced anything but kindness while he and his family were there. 


Schwarz had mentioned that he loved Mississippi and I, of course, wanted to know exactly what it was that he loved about the Magnolia State.  This is what he said: 


            "Every person that I met was really nice, really cool.  Everyone was welcoming.  You go   into a bar, and it's real regular, not like in New York.  Simple, talking about regular people stuff.  People are conversive and willing to talk.  You can meet people so much easier.  It's beautiful down there, I love it."


The next thing I wanted to know was why Schwarz wanted to produce this type of music, what was he trying to accomplish with this country blues he loved so?  As he started to answer the question, I sensed him searching deep within to come up with the right words to describe exactly how he felt about it.  He started by saying that the songs he sing are not just songs, they are stories about what life was like and what people thought about back in the day, these songs were history.  Every song is telling you a little bit more about life as it was then.  What were these people dealing with?  What were they doing?  What kind of work were they doing?  Early blues made Schwarz interested in American history.  So, one of the things Schwarz wants to accomplish with his music is to reveal some history to those who take the time to listen.  He believes that not many people listen to this kind of music and he is hoping that his performances will strike some interest and reveal some historical roots.  Schwarz also believes that if the music had such a huge effect on him, perhaps it will do the same for others. 


By the end of my chat with Karl Schwarz, I realized that I had been talking with someone who is very passionate about humanity and society.  And, from listening to Schwarz play and sing the blues, I realize that he doesn't just play and sing the blues, he becomes the blues . . . he is Reverend Gary Davis, he is Robert Johnson, he is Mississippi John Hurt . . .  No, Karl Schwarz may not be a Mississippian, but he sure has Mississippi blues running through his veins.



--Rosalin Moss aka Mississippi Traveler

The Mississippi Club

March 31, 2016