Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Blues aint dead, just certain conceptions should die
“Today's blues music isn't only steeped in the past; it's anchored to it. During the performances before and during the banquet, I could trace to almost every song, instrumental solo or vocal style I heard its originator or its most celebrated proponent—and I'm far from an expert on the history of the blues. These tales of heartache, oppression and fleeting joy sounded all too familar.
According to Jay Sieleman, the Blues Foundation's executive director, most blues fans aren't looking for something new. "We all don't want the blues to be the same ol', same ol'," he said, "but it'd better be close."
So, really this is a tired old argument. Music critics and music academics will debate the point over and over and over and over and over again about the future of the blues. In between hand wringing they will write white paper after white paper either discussing the future of the blues or the death of the blues, all the while not getting out to support the next generation of The Blues. In my own, not-so-humble opinion if they want to continue the debate on which guy is going to be the next Eric Clapton, the next Jimi Hendrix while not embracing the new up-and-coming acts then the blues are dead. Let them go, stop pumping bullets in the dead horse and let this piece of Americana slip away.
Sure, the 12 bar blues progression is really something which the majority of audience in the world want to hear. It is familiar, and what is familiar is comfortable as it allows the performer and listener to not to think. The conveying of emotion of can not always be done by perfunctory routine.
Here is a little secret though that those of us in-the-know have already come to grips with and only some of us are willing to share. The Blues are much more than a 12 Bar progression. It is a cathartic experience, a connection to the harder aspects of personal life that all of us experience, yet few can actually connect with in the context of music of life in general.
If you’re looking for the rock solid 12-bar progression, then again, perhaps the blues need to die. If you are looking for The Blues to be that predictable piece, then you’re missing too much...and those of us who really appreciate The Blues want you to just go away...Ivy Leaguers looking to analyze each note need not apply....it is OK to get caught up in the moment. It is OK to play blues which does not happen to be three chords in a predictable blueprint.
The future of The Blues lies right out there in front of us all. It may not be the 12-Bar progression reproduced by Ivy Leaguers, or guitar shredders who cop Buddy Guys licks try to pass them off as their own, but it’s there. The current crop of The Blues is now blended seamlessly with Country and Folk (I.E Watermelon Slim, Kent Burnside), Punk (Black Keys, Ten Foot Polecats, Illinois John Fever, or many other Hillgrass Bluebilly artis), trance blues (Scissormen, the Fat Possum label before they started working in the college alternative bands), but it is still there man, it's still there.
So, while The Blues (or at least good Blues) will never be part of the main stream, I plan on still getting out to as many good shows as possible while desperately to get a room on a Blues Cruise. While I may not appreciate every different incarnation of Stevie Ray Vaughn attempting to pass themselves off as new and different I yearn to find that next Scott H Biram or Otis Taylor....
So, seriously, if you are looking for the next Clapton (or the current Clapton Blow Bonnamassa) then I am not the guy you wanna read. If you’re looking for something new, different and great, then I hope to hip you all to something new and different.
Cause that's why I am here.