As originally published on Friday, March 8, 2002
Andrew Westcott remembers listening to blues music as a little kid. He's now 16, and singing the blues.
Andrew, his younger brother Philip, 14, his uncle Billy Herrington, and Black Magic, aka Horace Turner, all sing as The Westcott Brothers Band.
It was Andrew and Philip's father, Dave Westcott, the band's drummer, who got his sons interested in the blues. Westcott listened to the music and the boys picked up on it. "Some of it sank in," Andrew said.
Several years ago Andrew wanted to learn guitar, and playing the blues came naturally. About a year later Philip decided to learn the bass guitar.
The youngsters mostly listened to recorded blues music, but they soon learned that cities such as Washington, D.C., have a thriving live blues music scene. The Westcott family, having lived in many places including Frederick when Philip was born, was living in Black Mountain, N.C., near Asheville, when the boys began studying music. In September 2000, they moved to Germantown.
They met Black Magic and decided to form a group. Magic, 51, enjoys working with the youngsters and they learn from him. Magic has been singing and playing music since he was a young man. He has been in do-wop, rock, gospel, R&B and Motown-style groups. Twenty years ago, however, he decided to go with one style. "I like blues," he said.
He takes his harmonica wherever he goes, and loves to play it. "I like for people to have fun," he said. "I like entertainment." Blues isn't associated with entertainment in the style of Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr. or Michael Jackson. It could be, however. He also praised country singer Garth Brooks for his method of entertaining his audience.
"That's what I want to bring to the blues," he said. Blues may have a darker quality to it than most music, but the listening audience can still have a good time at a blues concert.
Magic, who now lives in Baltimore, is the grandson of Alabama cotton farmers. He found his niche in music in junior high school while learning the harmonica. He met the Westcotts while playing at the now-defunct Smokeless nightclub after they moved to the D.C. area. "I was looking for people to jam with," Magic said.
Magic and Andrew have teamed up to write many of the group's songs. Magic writes the lyrics and Andrew the music. Magic scoffed at the notion that he is teaching Andrew. "You can't teach desire and passion," he said.
They have a CD, "Yes Indeedy" that features one original and nine covers. The covers are from such varied artists as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Andrew learns music by ear, by listening to other artists. He has picked this up from Magic, who will listen to a song over and over until he commits it to memory. "That's the way I learn," Magic said.
Herrington, 35, of Darnestown, has been in garage bands since his teen years. His last band played mostly original rock.
"It's nice to play with family," Dave Westcott said. "We're trying to get Magic to change his last name to Westcott."
The band performs the first Saturday of each month at the Zoo Bar in D.C. They are also appearing frequently at the Bentz Street Raw Bar. Their next appearance there will be Saturday, March 30. When performing, their music is a mix of traditional and original. "We'll take traditional songs and put lively lyrics to them," Magic said.
They also play at outdoor blues festivals in the summer, including the Baltimore Blues Festival and the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Ark.
Friends of the boys have come to hear the Westcotts play at festivals. "They bring a younger audience into the mix," Magic said of his young counterparts, who attend Northwest High School in Germantown. "Last time we played (at the Raw Bar) we got six teachers to come and listen."
On the Net: www.blues-band.com