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'Little Bobby Soul' plays the blues

by Nora Edinger

REGIONAL EDITOR

BUCKHANNON -- They call him Little Bobby Soul.

Eyes closed. Face tight with concentration. Hands doing a rapid butterfly flap over his harmonica. A non-chromatic slide of sounds.

The Buckhannon man, also known as Bob Daugherty, looks and sounds every bit the bluesman. The fact he's a native of country music-loving West Virginia doesn't bother him at all.

"All forms of American music come from the blues -- jazz, country, rock 'n' roll," said Daugherty of reaching far back into the general culture's roots.

For Daugherty it may be less of a reach than for others. He grew up with music -- listening to Dick Clark's American Bandstand, buying 50-cent 45s and living in the shadow of Jamboree U.S.A. at Wheeling's Capitol Music Hall.

He started with the organ, had a Morgantown rock band called Jubal, then moved to the blues during the late 1960s.

"I just got into it with the Rolling Stones and then started listening to the real thing, like Muddy Waters," Daugherty said.

For several years, he's been playing the real thing locally with Jive 5, a band he founded. Other current members are Willy Hicks of Morgantown on drums, Dave Sabarra of Grafton on bass, Bo McMillion of Flatwoods on guitar and Danny Vaughn of Flatwoods on guitar. They all sing.

While its biggest venue is the Red, White and Blues festival that wrapped up Friday in Marietta, Ohio, most of Jive 5's gigs are smaller and local.

"We've played all the animal clubs -- the Moose, the Elks, the Eagles," Daugherty said with a grin. He admits the group's classic, modern and original blues repertoire isn't always well received.

"It can be a tough road when they want 'Achy, Breaky Heart,'" Daugherty said. "One night, we got a little crazy and played Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire.' They loved it."

He isn't deterred, however. The blues are in his soul.

"It's all about emotions -- you know, feelings that everyone can relate to," Daugherty said. "It's kind of like preaching -- one of them, they say, is the answer and the other one brought up a lot of questions."

Now into middle-age, Daugherty said he still enjoys having a band, squeezing time away from a painting business to practice and perform every week. In fact, he believes age has made him better.

"If you haven't lived, it's hard to play the blues."

If you would like to hear some homegrown blues, the Jive 5 will perform at Gassaway Days in the Central region on July 4 and at the Ordinary in downtown Clarksburg from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. July 22. The group has a CD that is available at performances.

There is also a concert featuring instructors from Augusta Festival's blues week 8 p.m. July 18 at the Harper-McNeeley Auditorium at Davis & Elkins College. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and children younger than 12.

Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1403.

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