I remember the first blues albums I ever bought were Otis Rush "Cold Day In Hell" and "Live In Japan" in my high school days. In particular, his "Three Times A Fool" got me deep into the shuffle groove ever since.
Before then, I used to admire Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple as my guitar hero. As a Rock kid, I was mesmerized by his fast finger moves and extensive use of tremolo arm. The masterpiece "Machine Head" album still gives me goosebumps. My affinity toward Stratocasters was implanted in me in those days.
But, the more I dug the traditional blues from its heyday, the more I realized that the space between the notes had significance and "less" could be "more" as is often said. No need to be loud to be intense, either.
As strange as it may sound now, I made some intentional efforts to "purge" the rock guitar influence out of me and tried to play fewer notes since then. Every once in a while, however, the influence from my youth comes out subconsciously.
This might be the case when I play with a slightly younger generation blues man like Omar Coleman who likes to play funky contemporary blues. I look forward to the gig with him this weekend in Chicago.