What Blues Needs....part two

schmee

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I always ended up liking some obscure songs on a hit album better than the hit. Hits are hooks/earworms that's about it.
Da Blues fits the obscure spots and rightfully should. It's the niche. The best things aren't often the most popular.

McDonalds 1/4 pounder or Carls Jr Angus?
 

wrathfuldeity

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Grew up on the 70's blues revival. During that time all of the BLUES guys were barely acknowledged. I got to see tons of Chi and TX great blues for a mere $1-3 at the Zoo Bar (very tiny place). My perception at the time, being a mere 16 yrs old; were folks that played the blues because they had the hell hounds of life on their tail. They grew up poor, dirty and kicked around and were continued to be taken advantage via (little to no acknowledgment by the white rock and rollers).

As for preservation: Perhaps folks like Revend Billy, EC and Miss Bonny all who have acknowledged their roots and tributes. It would be good to document their glimpse before they pass on via some interviews, docs etc.

However, my main point, is blues is a state of the soul...not necessarily a place of business or event. For me, almost 50 yrs ago, experiencing these old blues men and women gave access to the blues from their living it and through their music were a direct connection or conduit to the experience or state of having/being the blues. Which imho is something beyond pentatonic, technique, skills, tone, ect. There are tons of great musicians but being able to channel the blues experience is at another level. Imho folks like John Mayer, Billy Strings, EC just don't do it for me...but perhaps it is because of being spoiled at such an impressionable age many decades ago.
 

2HBStrat

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Grew up on the 70's blues revival. During that time all of the BLUES guys were barely acknowledged. I got to see tons of Chi and TX great blues for a mere $1-3 at the Zoo Bar (very tiny place). My perception at the time, being a mere 16 yrs old; were folks that played the blues because they had the hell hounds of life on their tail. They grew up poor, dirty and kicked around and were continued to be taken advantage via (little to no acknowledgment by the white rock and rollers)....the main point, is blues is a state of the soul...
I first heard blues on the earliest Rolling Stones records, but I didn't get the impression that they had hellhounds on their trail. However, it did make me look for the writers of those songs and delve backwards into the blues from there.
I always ended up liking some obscure songs on a hit album better than the hit. Hits are hooks/earworms that's about it...
Hits are hits because they appeal to a lot of so called average listeners. Musicians are often not average listeners
 

Larry F

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I am trying to remember the name of a wannabe who seemed to imitate
Beethoven's style. It is on the tip of my tongue. He adopted the name ...ini.
 

telemnemonics

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Well tomorrow is Juneteenth (date of emancipation of enslaved African Americans, creators of Blues), and regarding the historic PLACES falling into ruin, those just need some civic action by the local community to designate them as historic places and get some funding to preserve them without requiring profitable status.
But if a community forgets its own history we cant really foist it on them unless we are individually willing to create the charitable fund raiser and lobby local stuffed shirts.
This might not be a bad time to start?

As for the idea of "helping" Blues by trying to sort of seal it in amber for future generations?

Music and the arts reflect and record the voice and reality of culture.
Culture keeps changing.
Blues had a good run being vital to its own youth culture, like Rock had an even better run but even Rock may be forgettable history to the youth of today.

I do believe in historic preservation, museums and parks and such.
A solid movement by enough older semi retired folks could apply for grants and designate some historic sites.
Just like cover bands playing sort of reenactments of classic Rock, or maybe more specifically wedding bands that have less "artistic freedom" playing classics for pay, historic clubs could pay to put together tribute band shows at those historic places where players who could shred or impersonate SRV are instead paid to duplicate classic Blues artists.
Costumes and all.
Bring in the tourists or just have the shows for the few locals, maybe it would bring in Bonamassa style fans or Disney World style families?

Its a legit point that American History has some outstanding gems, and one giant gem of our country is Blues.
Funding would not be that hard to come by if some decent grant writers got on it and established local foundations for preservation of clubs and running shows.
Plenty of shows are basically theater, pay profesdionals to reenact historic Blues albums or whatever.

If old guys keep pointing the finger at kids today for having the audacity to do their own thing, we will not be seeing any old time Blues again.
Historic preservation is a specific thing, and really might be worth the effort for those who see a great value being lost and forgotten.
 

Peter Graham

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I first heard blues on the earliest Rolling Stones records, but I didn't get the impression that they had hellhounds on their trail.
They had the taxman on their trail, which is arguably worse, given that a) Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs don't swap tax for prodigious guitar skills, b) they are much better organised than hell hounds, which have a tendency to stop and pee on every lamppost, thereby giving the fleeing blues musician valuable extra time and c) the place of payment (the district tax office) is typically significantly less romantic than a lonely, haunted crossroads somewhere in the Deep South.
 

VonBonfire

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Historic preservation is a specific thing, and really might be worth the effort for those who see a great value being lost and forgotten.
Learn from the non-success of blues societies around the country. Anything turned into societies and into museum pieces and given "preservation" status is done so because it can no longer stand on it's own legs. Museums are for things otherwise forgotten. You can't put real blues behind glass with a three paragraph explanation on a bronze plaque about what it is or was and expect to preserve it. That literally does nothing. Most "preservation" efforts are essentially corporate cash-in's because they are the only ones who have money to "preserve" and then the "preserved" parts are usually people juiced in with the big wigs, not roots artists actually out there living it.

Every city of medium size or larger has a blues society, virtually every one of which is dictated and controlled by a few members whose few insider bands win the area blues challenges year after year and are sent to the IBC to lose, year after year. Other ones are run by hacks who use it to net gigs for themselves because a blues jam will bring people to a club on a sunday afternoon and so they can swing that into a date for their insider society band. Because they can't get much for gigs based on their ability. I could really raise a ruckus about how piss poor these blues preservation societies are run. Piss poor is standard. A good blues society is rare. I've dealt with enough of them, actually some of the bigger ones, to know what garbage level management runs them. Complete mismanagement and cronyism is the norm.

What blues needs is for people who enjoy blues to go out and support local blues acts, tip the band, and provide moral support. Essentially, put up or shut up. Period. End of story.
 
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Larry F

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Well tomorrow is Juneteenth (date of emancipation of enslaved African Americans, creators of Blues), and regarding the historic PLACES falling into ruin, those just need some civic action by the local community to designate them as historic places and get some funding to preserve them without requiring profitable status.
But if a community forgets its own history we cant really foist it on them unless we are individually willing to create the charitable fund raiser and lobby local stuffed shirts.
This might not be a bad time to start?

As for the idea of "helping" Blues by trying to sort of seal it in amber for future generations?

Music and the arts reflect and record the voice and reality of culture.
Culture keeps changing.
Blues had a good run being vital to its own youth culture, like Rock had an even better run but even Rock may be forgettable history to the youth of today.

I do believe in historic preservation, museums and parks and such.
A solid movement by enough older semi retired folks could apply for grants and designate some historic sites.
Just like cover bands playing sort of reenactments of classic Rock, or maybe more specifically wedding bands that have less "artistic freedom" playing classics for pay, historic clubs could pay to put together tribute band shows at those historic places where players who could shred or impersonate SRV are instead paid to duplicate classic Blues artists.
Costumes and all.
Bring in the tourists or just have the shows for the few locals, maybe it would bring in Bonamassa style fans or Disney World style families?

Its a legit point that American History has some outstanding gems, and one giant gem of our country is Blues.
Funding would not be that hard to come by if some decent grant writers got on it and established local foundations for preservation of clubs and running shows.
Plenty of shows are basically theater, pay professionals to reenact historic Blues albums or whatever.

If old guys keep pointing the finger at kids today for having the audacity to do their own thing, we will not be seeing any old time Blues again.
Historic preservation is a specific thing, and really might be worth the effort for those who see a great value being lost and forgotten.
For the life of me, I can't recall the name of the organization or the person behind it, but he has been placing headstones of bluesmen around Mississippi. This fellow has academic ties and recently scored a $450,000 grant to learn about the musicians from Mississippi-Chicago.
 

old wrench

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The way I look at it, as long as I'm alive - so is the blues

I know that my influence is very small, but it's still something

When my time comes, I hope there will be someone there to pick it up and carry it on

But, it's not really up to "someone else" to preserve - it's up to us

.
 

telemnemonics

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Learn from the non-success of blues societies around the country. Anything turned into societies and into museum pieces and given "preservation" status is done so because it can no longer stand on it's own legs. Museums are for things otherwise forgotten. You can't put real blues behind glass with a three paragraph explanation on a bronze plaque about what it is or was and expect to preserve it. That literally does nothing. Most "preservation" efforts are essentially corporate cash-in's because they are the only ones who have money to "preserve" and then the "preserved" parts are usually people juiced in with the big wigs, not roots artists actually out there living it.

Every city of medium size or larger has a blues society, virtually every one of which is dictated and controlled by a few members whose few insider bands win the area blues challenges year after year and are sent to the IBC to lose, year after year. Other ones are run by hacks who use it to net gigs for themselves because a blues jam will bring people to a club on a sunday afternoon and so they can swing that into a date for their insider society band. Because they can't get much for gigs based on their ability. I could really raise a ruckus about how piss poor these blues preservation societies are run. Piss poor is standard. A good blues society is rare. I've dealt with enough of them, actually some of the bigger ones, to know what garbage level management runs them. Complete mismanagement and cronyism is the norm.

What blues needs is for people who enjoy blues to go out and support local blues acts, tip the band, and provide moral support. Essentially, put up or shut up. Period. End of story.
Yeah no thats not what I mean and my sealed in amber comment should have made that clear?

Blues societies and Blues jams?
Seems like those are neither historic nor modern.
Players and bands can and will do as they please but old time Blues is gone with those banjo and mandolin orchestras of the 20s.

My suggestion was to preserve some of the historic Blues clubs with endowments & grants etc.
As far as how THAT can work, it can and does in the form of museums.
Or historic preservation societies responsible for buildings, not hosting jams or trying to fake up or prop up a modern scene.
I agree these would not be a living growing evolving music scene, museums are not galleries and preserved historic buildings are not modern scenes with kids today rapping or making computer music.
IF, a historic Blues club in Chicago got set up as a preserved museum sort of tourist spot it could be run like the old time club it once was but as "reenactment" Blues.
Hell half the bar bands and most wedding bands do reenactment music.

Classical music is 100% reenactment music, gets fellowships and endowments to preserve historic music halls, attracts geezers and their grandkids to enjoy history lessons, and sticks to a simple script: hire trained musicians to play them old tunes right off them charts.

Then look at the endlessly successful Elvis impersonators.
Thats comedy too but further proof that there are plenty of "musicians" ready and willing to put on costumes and reenact some old time music.

We may sneer at such nonsense, but again, have any of us ever tried to play classic rock tunes as close as possible to the albums in a bar?

Inagine walking down some dirty street in Chicago and hearing a fairly good reenactment of Howlin Wolf coming out of a bar, look in the window and see thats its live and pretty good and ten bucks.

Really the only reason it couldnt work would be nobody wants to bother.
I see an off broadway Cher reenactment musical going on and making actual profit.
Yes to Cher but no to Chicago Blues?
 
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rand z

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The general premise of Blues + Hits = Success (of the music) isn't really how I feel.

I more consider it's presence in many cities over decades part of live music culture in general. Today, that's a tough call in many cities to have venues that can operate with a low cost, cheap drinks, etc that don't simply appeal to the masses in order to break even. The old school venues in Nashville like Robert's rely on the fact that they were bought back in the 90s at bottom dollar. If sold, they'd have to cater to a different more modern audience to meet the overhead of purchasing a venue that costs what...millions of dollars now? First time I went to Robert's probably 15 years ago I could get drunk & eat on about 20-30 bucks! Now I go to downtown Nashville and it's 100 bucks to get a buzz goin.

Put it this way....If we were to call Chicago in the 40s-70s a "golden era" of sorts let's think about that for a minute. IMO guys who could sing and play guitar in the 50's like Otis, Muddy, Magic Sam, you can almost guarantee would have had a better chance of "success" by playing the Doo-Wop/Soul circuit where variety acts filled the theatres. That was the big thing with BB King, he was one of the few bluesmen of that era who got a wide enough audience to play those venues before the festival thing started up in the 70s. And, if you listen to his early records with the gospel influence, the arrangements, his upbeat style, etc, you can see why he had a larger appeal. But, traditionally, blues was always a lower income sport and guys playing the music knew it even in it's most popular era.

I'm not sure WHO you are...

but, this is a good thread!

Smart!

Thanks!

imo.
 

rand z

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Nothing lasts forever. While I appreciate some of the efforts to to preserve going on in Nashville, those will only last so long. The original Sun studios in Memphis draw a crowd and make it economically possible to preserve, but at some point in the future, there will not be enough people that care to make it feasible, and it will eventually fall to the wrecker’s ball.

The places I used to listen to Jazz, in Boulder, may still exist in brick and mortar, but good luck catching some BeBop there on a Friday night. Tulagi, the famous nightclub where the Astronauts played in the early ‘60s and the Eagles broke in their act in late 1971 is now a thrift store, to the best of my knowledge.

While I respect Joe Chambers, and feel that his efforts are among the best, but there are so many halls of fame that the market is getting crowded. Even the vaunted Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland will someday close its doors. Frankly, they may be among the first to go; victims of their own success.

One reason I think we don’t see more preservation in the world of Blues, and Jazz, for that matter, is the ephemeral nature of these genres, even in the best of times. Some of the longest lasting venues, at least in Jazz, tended to be restaurants that made their bread and butter from the dining trade, and then stretched their hours by having live Jazz on weekend nights.

Bespoke Jazz and Blues clubs tend to be in low rent locations with short term leases. Driving up to a favorite Jazz club to discover that it’s now a coin operated laundromat is hardly surprising. Such venues are unlikely to be preserved.

In an interview, Steve Miller talked about his exposure to the Chicago Blues scene, and then after leaving town for a time, he returned to Chicago only to find that the scene had basically disappeared while he was gone.

As I said at the beginning of this post, nothing lasts forever. Country music has changed significantly and continues to change. The Jazz that I loved, based on Standards, is all but dead these days. The acoustic Blues of the Delta was far different from the Electric Blues that followed. The British Blues of the ‘60s changed things further.

We are at a musical inflection point. The Classic Rock generation is dying off and in another ten years, a Crossroads style festival would be unlikely to have any original artists from the Classic Rock era. The reverence for Blues that these artists had will be diluted. The music of my lifetime is slipping away, just as the music of my grandparent’s generation is essentially gone. Preservation is usually temporary.

Good points. SRV was swimming against the current in the ‘80s, because Synth-Pop was dominant. I was not enthralled with the Pop of the ‘80s at the time, and was listening mostly to Jazz during that decade, so I didn’t really know much about him until a friend played some of his stuff, in the early ‘90s.

Blues pops up in unexpected places, and a great deal of American music has at least one toe over the line that demarcates Blues. In some cases it’s for the good, and in others, not so good. I recall one Billy Joel song that used Blues figures, but to my ear, it just seemed forced. There are other places where Blues sensibilities show up and just seem to fit naturally.


This is mostly true.

However: "What goes around, comes around."

And, nothing is permanent.

So, we might be surprized at what might happen when peep's run low on idea's.

imo.
 

VonBonfire

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My suggestion was to preserve some of the historic Blues clubs with endowments & grants etc.
As far as how THAT can work, it can and does in the form of museums.
Or historic preservation societies responsible for buildings, not hosting jams or trying to fake up or prop up a modern scene.
I agree these would not be a living growing evolving music scene, museums are not galleries and preserved historic buildings are not modern scenes with kids today rapping or making computer music.
IF, a historic Blues club in Chicago got set up as a preserved museum sort of tourist spot it could be run like the old time club it once was but as "reenactment" Blues.
Hell half the bar bands and most wedding bands do reenactment music.

Classical music is 100% reenactment music, gets fellowships and endowments to preserve historic music halls, attracts geezers and their grandkids to enjoy history lessons, and sticks to a simple script: hire trained musicians to play them old tunes right off them charts.

Then look at the endlessly successful Elvis impersonators.
Thats comedy too but further proof that there are plenty of "musicians" ready and willing to put on costumes and reenact some old time music.

We may sneer at such nonsense, but again, have any of us ever tried to play classic rock tunes as close as possible to the albums in a bar?

Inagine walking down some dirty street in Chicago and hearing a fairly good reenactment of Howlin Wolf coming out of a bar, look in the window and see thats its live and pretty good and ten bucks.

How often are you getting out to blues jams, blues shows, blues fests, or gigging blues music yourself? There are a lot of commenters in these threads sounding off on things that I would guess they have little to no participation in. Kind of like your "seems like blues societies" remarks.... When was the last time you participated? Depends on the society, depends on the jam. I'm not so sure it's easy to have your ear to the street from Maine, no offense. What works for country in Nashville, with it's huge musical market share and Nashville's large tourism draw for country music won't correlate to blues as the OP suggested.

Blues is working man's music and was last in the billboard pop charts as routine 80 years ago so "preserving"it as you suggest is just making Joe Q Public foot the bill for yet another failure-to-be cultural project. Swells and well to do old hippies will foot the bill for classical, which is ingrained into the education system, and tribute shows which are now everywhere and quite successful thanks to sentimental grey hairs. Blues has long been a much more limited market share. It isn't the music of people making big money and it has few cultural icons to sell it. It's the music from people on the bottom. The couple record companies who put on blues have pitifully small budgets for producing and marketing the albums.

Some sound alike doing Howling Wolf for ten bucks located on some "dirty street in chicago"? You're not going to have foot traffic if people fear for their lives. Beale street in Memphis, also not exactly a pinnacle of safety, has kept the ball rolling to some smaller degree without it being a taxpayer funded grift for the operators and few juiced in musicians that will get gainful employment from grant funding. Blues, it's either organic, or DOA.

I tend to agree with what @schmee said:
Da Blues fits the obscure spots and rightfully should. It's the niche. The best things aren't often the most popular.
 




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