Judah Zdziarski, a senior at Lake Lure Classical Academy with passions for music and writing, is embarking on a project that encompasses both. His ambitious mission is to interview musicians from the Blues Scene of the 60s to present day and retell their tales in a book. He wants to pay homage to the amazing musicians who played alongside the pioneers — the blues greats such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Albert King — but whose names are not as recognizable as the legends themselves.
“To tell these untold stories is a seemingly herculean task,” Judah says. But Judah is driven enough to take on the challenge. In addition to a plethora of research resources, Judah is also taking it upon himself to seek out and interview these musicians one-on-one. As he puts it, “The best stories are those told by the ones who lived them.”
Judah recently interviewed his first musician for his book, Russell Jackson. Jackson was a bassist for Otis Clay, B.B. King, Katie Webster, and many other musicians we immortalize today. Not only did Russell shed new light on the Chicago Blues scene of the 1970s and 80s, but he gave Judah the contact information for a prominent producer from this era, one who can shed greater insights into this prolific time in music and put Judah in touch with many more renowned musicians.
“I’m 17 and a high school senior,” Judah says. “I’ve had a few small pieces published already, but a book…a book is a huge project that can take years to complete. Whether it ends up in print is for a publisher to decide, but I will write this book. I will find the stories to tell.”
Judah arrived at LLCA at the start of his junior year and only began playing guitar three years ago on Valentine’s Day. He says, “LLCA Music Teacher Mr. Lampson basically opened up the door for me in terms of looking at music from different angles. What so many don’t understand is that “good” music is “good” because it utilizes different elements from various cultures and styles.”
Mr. Lampson says Judah is an excellent student. “Judah constantly searches for a deeper understanding of his own playing and strives to continuously make connections between the cultural and stylistic traits found in music and his instrument.”
This year, Judah says he is lucky to have four music-related classes: High School Guitar, High School Band, Music Appreciation, and Intro to Jazz. He takes the Jazz course at Isothermal Community College (part of LLCA’s partnership with Isothermal Community College where students can graduate with an associate’s degree and high school diploma).
“It’s a bit crazy because every class looks at music from a different angle,” Judah says. “But I enjoy thinking from different musical brains. It’s how we should look at life — thinking from different angles.”
Judah’s favorite guitarist is B.B. King. “There’s a reason why they call him the King of the Blues — he was! But not only did B.B. King sound good,” he explains, “he knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly why he sounded good. That’s what makes one a true musician.
“I introduced B.B. to my little sister,” Judah says laughing, “who at two recognizes his voice and playing. I take a bit of pride in that!”
Judah sums up his first interview saying, “Russell Jackson told me the hardest lesson for any musician to learn is to trust his heart. I think any musician — any person — needs to learn this lesson. I’m already sort of living it. These stories are crucial to all of us, as these people influenced the music and culture just as much as those we all know by name.”