The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

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    The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    I read what I felt was a bothersome article on Buddy Guy and the blues a few days ago.  I'm calling the opinion piece bothersome because it bothered me.  Even though I am the least likely person who can speak eloquently (or otherwise) about the blues genre of music, I do have a little more heft in my ability to speak for the value of cultural heritage, and have strong feelings that "you can't know who you really are, unless you know where you're from" (to put it very simply).  This lead in to rock and roll is obvious (I hope).  

    The assertion in the article, "Bluesy time for the blues" : Tribute to Buddy Guy is overdue, but his music belongs on a bigger stage", is that the blues, commercially, for at least half a century, has been a junior partner to rock and soul and other musical genres that grew from it, and which have for a long time, dominated the blues in the music industry, thereby making it impossible for the blues to compete.   The assertion goes further in stating that because the blues can't compete in the current music marketplace, it has been relegated to *primarily* retrospective value, and as the source of *other* music.

    This translates to the idea that it's "thank you, Blues journeymen" you were a great influence, but not enough recognition crediting the blues as a primary source, not *JUST*, or merely an influence.   Referencing the blues as an influence is not giving credit where it is due in this instance.  Close, but no cigar (or maybe not even close).  

    Are the blues an "endangered species" ?   Just look at all of the tourist destinations that preserve it under glass or pay tribute to it in documentaries, or consider it a part of our cultural heritage, but not part of the present.  

    Rock and roll, in all of the various genres and styles, has grown exponentially, we all know that.   But why not the blues?  The revolutionary blues rockers, at the top of the heap let's go with Led Zeppelin for an example, are said to be peerless to this day, and the root of their music is purely blues-derived.   The rockers took from the blues.   But blues musicians, in comparison, are few and far between.

    Or, in your estimation, are the two fused now?  Is that how the blues went forward?

    "Artistically, (Buddy) Guy was the maestro, the source; commercially, the rock stars were the important figures and Guy the junior partner." 

    Is it your perception that it's "enough" for blues-inspired rockers like Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Slash, SRV, etc., to carry the torch?   The blues has found it difficult to recruit new musicians -- but the listener also has to be open to what updated, fresh blues music might sound like.   

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    I think possibly the Blues is not so much a music genre as it is a product of society.

    Our society in the country created an atmosphere of depression and sadness for the poor people who would be the pioneers of Blues music.

    This music comes from the poorest segment of our post-Civil War America. It arises from the pain and misery of a people who are free, in a sense, but not free in so many other ways. Blues, as you are all aware comes from the heart of the deep south. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. The rhythms that make Rock , Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and so much of our modern music were brought here by the African slaves. The Native percussion sound made from smacking hollowed out logs became the manic drumming of Keith Moon and and Ginger Baker.

    The Blues , to me , is everything. Rock does not exist without the Blues. Jazz and Classical have had their influence on modern music, but Rock is amplified Blues.

    The blues is what you feel when you are sad. We all get the blues from time to time. it is where rock gets it's passion and feeling. Cream played the Blues, Led Zep played the Blues, Deep Purple played the Blues. Robin Trower played the Blues.

    The Blues is more than an inspiration, it is still the greatest music ever made. It will be around until humans disappear ( hopefully, not Dec. 21, 2012). The Blues describes the human condition better than any music ever made. It was the gift from the very people who suffered most.

    We cannot thank these people or honor them enough. Just like so much of our modern world can be traced to WWII, so much good in life comes out of misery. They suffered so that we may have the greatest music ever made.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    I have a different view of the Blues and where it influenced music. I don't look just to the blues rock performers but to R&B, Soul, Funk, etc. The Blues informed this music as well. Blues, Jazz, and Country are the wells from which popular music drew. Any particular style of music is of its time and changes over time, including rock. No one is playing rock music exactly like Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley today. Certain types of music are part of the past and the Blues is one of them.

    For me, all forms of music are as alive today as they ever were. Recorded music made this possible.

    I will cut my comments short for now until I think further on thsi.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    I think the blues are 'treated' as fairly as any other traditional music form that is both timeless and influential.  (whether the artists treated so fairly is another question)

    And yet it IS 'traditional', as opposed to 'modern' variations, which are inevitably tributes to those blues-men and -women who came before.

    Whether the blues are in or out of style is also another question that, like the folk, jazz, punk, ska or whatever 'revival' going on, will be answered at another time.

    Looking around at younger bluesy artists like Joe Bonamassa and Keb Mo is quite encouraging, though, and makes me think the blues will be ok.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    While we associate Blues with black artists ( and rightly so), so many of the best Blues I have ever heard was played by Englishmen and white Americans...Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, the Allman Brothers, ZZTop, Peter Green , Paul Butterfield, etc.

    That these once young men were so inspired by Son House, Muddy Waters, Albert , B.B. and Freddie King, Lighting Slim etc. is quite a tribute.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    It's Apples and Oranges. Blues are not mainstream. They will always take a back seat to what is popluar and will never have the following that rock acts do. Like Jazz, Opera and Classical, it is an acquired taste. That's just the way it is. It does not dimish their greatness, or lessen the impact that the blues, and artists like Buddy Guy have had on music, and society. 

    I attended another blues coranation back in the early nineties at a tribute concert for John Lee Hooker, I heard the same arguments eminating from the stage all night that the blues get no respect, but then I looked around MSG at the 20,000, or so other folks in the audience that night and i realized that really wasn't the case.

     

     

     

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    Thanks for the thoughts thus far.  I agree with all that's been said thus far, as well.  This is a conversation we've had in various forms, and it never gets tiresome (to me) because it's a multi-tiered, multi-layered topic. This is our original American popular music.   I don't see anything tiresome about being reminded of where we came from every now and again.  :)

    Please carry on.  :)

    I tried to summarize and capture the essence of the article; it hurts to think that the blues have been short-changed in any way, but I gather from your comments thus far, that's a matter of perception.  

    Being called an "influence" just seems inadequate in certain contexts, and in terms of what was pointed out in the article, this was one of them.   

    The article also mentions that Buddy Guy was an honoree in the Kennedy Center honors this year, soon to be aired.  There probably was not a dry eye in the house for Buddy Guy, and I can't wait to see it when it airs.   It's the most humble of the honorees that are the most amazing, and have life stories that show how deeply rooted they are in their art.  

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to yogafriend's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Thanks for the thoughts thus far.  I agree with all that's been said thus far, as well.  This is a conversation we've had in various forms, and it never gets tiresome (to me) because it's a multi-tiered, multi-layered topic. This is our original American popular music.   I don't see anything tiresome about being reminded of where we came from every now and again.  :)

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Ironically, it took the devotion of a swath of British musicians to call attention to the blues artists who could (barely) get arrested here in the U.S. at the time.

    Polar is right.  The Blues were never really popular until they were filtered somewhat for mass consumption.  Until then, they were mostly culturally confined to black audiences.  There are no traditionally white blues players.  Even Elvis was an amalgam.

    As George Carlin so eloquently said, "White people have no business singing the blues. Ever.  What do they have to be blue about...?  Banana Republic ran out of khakis...?!?"

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to polar123's comment:

     It's Apples and Oranges. Blues are not mainstream. They will always take a back seat to what is popluar and will never have the following that rock acts do. Like Jazz, Opera and Classical, it is an acquired taste. That's just the way it is. It does not dimish their greatness, or lessen the impact that the blues, and artists like Buddy Guy have had on music, and society. I attended another blues coranation back in the early nineties at a tribute concert for John Lee Hooker, I heard the same arguments eminating from the stage all night that the blues get no respect, but then I looked around MSG at the 20,000, or so other folks in the audience that night and i realized that really wasn't the case. 

    Well, "good" blues are not mainstream, anyhow, as determined by the mainstream thread.  :)    

    Just kidding (in a way) but  I suppose this is part of the big picture, and you're absolutely right.   The recognition is simply different, and not necessarily a matter of being under-appreciated.   In fact, thanks to the many discussions here, I sometimes smile (to myself) when I hear the word "under-rated" in a conversation about music, as I interpret it very differently than I did in the past.  For some reason, the premise of the article I read got under my skin enough to bring it to the forum.   Glad I did. 

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

     Ironically, it took the devotion of a swath of British musicians to call attention to the blues artists who could (barely) get arrested here in the U.S. at the time. Polar is right.  The Blues were never really popular until they were filtered somewhat for mass consumption.  Until then, they were mostly culturally confined to black audiences.  There are no traditionally white blues players.  Even Elvis was an amalgam. As George Carlin so eloquently said, "White people have no business singing the blues. Ever.   What do they have to be blue about...?  Banana Republic ran out of khakis...?!?" 

     

    Well, I suppose this is all the more reason it's an interesting topic; I do see it as a good thing when a genre evolves, and brings something new / innovative to the mass market, where more people can enjoy it.   Once it gets watered down beyond recognition, well,  that's another story and it's then time to give it a new name (like "mainstream" hahaha).   Cross-breeding is fine, and there's plenty of it that's fantastic.  

    I know, yeesh, we white people, our lives are a bed of red and blue roses.  How the he!! a white musician could consider singing about the misery of life and sound credible or believable is beyond me.  They're makin fools of themselves.  (bein' sarcastic here, just a little).  

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Looking around at younger bluesy artists like Joe Bonamassa and Keb Mo is quite encouraging, though, and makes me think the blues will be ok.

    [/QUOTE]

    The blues could not ask for a better representative than Bonamassa to carry the flag.  He has a world of respect for where his music comes from.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to devildavid's comment:

     I have a different view of the Blues and where it influenced music. I don't look just to the blues rock performers but to R&B, Soul, Funk, etc. The Blues informed this music as well. Blues, Jazz, and Country are the wells from which popular music drew. Any particular style of music is of its time and changes over time, including rock. No one is playing rock music exactly like Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley today.  Certain types of music are part of the past and the Blues is one of them.  For me, all forms of music are as alive today as they ever were. Recorded music made this possible. I will cut my comments short for now until I think further on thsi. 

    The true, original blues music is part of the past -- stylistically?   There are people (such as yourself) who are still drawn to it, and want to listen to it (along with other music), so it has enduring appeal, but for a more select audience.   That, plus, some of the older, original works get reinterpreted and covered by newer, innovative artists, so that keeps the music alive as well?

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    Has anyone looked into Gary Clark Jr's "Blak and Blu" debut album?

    He's a young up and comer in blues.   Also been compared to Clapton, SRV, Hendrix.    He's only 28-years old, and has been on the music circuit for a while, but has only recently made his major-label recording debut in October 2012.  

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    Great subject Yoga.Here's some fairly new blues to check out:

    Fatback Deluxe -Mercy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B07saXHeSiE

    Danny Bryant - Heartbreaker

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siZR9Dhz5-o 

    Aynsley Lister - What's it all about

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHZUv0sj_tM

    Chantel McGregor -Daydream (Robin Trower cover)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzWH9AQIu-E

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to SlimPickensIII's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to MattyScornD's comment:

    Looking around at younger bluesy artists like Joe Bonamassa and Keb Mo is quite encouraging, though, and makes me think the blues will be ok.

     

     

    Keb Mo is 61.  There will come a day when I consider that young, and it's coming up fast.  But I'm not quite ready to go there.  ;-)

    [/QUOTE]

    Fair enough.  (I really had no idea...he certainly doesn't look it.)

    I'll sub in Derek Trucks for Keb.

     

     

     

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to yogafriend's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Has anyone looked into Gary Clark Jr's "Blak and Blu" debut album?

    He's a young up and comer in blues.   Also been compared to Clapton, SRV, Hendrix.    He's only 28-years old, and has been on the music circuit for a while, but has only recently made his major-label recording debut in October 2012.  

    [/QUOTE]

    I caught some of his set at Newport, and he's a clearly a very talented player.  The songs could use some work, imo.

     

     
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  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to yogafriend's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to devildavid's comment:

     I have a different view of the Blues and where it influenced music. I don't look just to the blues rock performers but to R&B, Soul, Funk, etc. The Blues informed this music as well. Blues, Jazz, and Country are the wells from which popular music drew. Any particular style of music is of its time and changes over time, including rock. No one is playing rock music exactly like Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley today.   Certain types of music are part of the past and the Blues is one of them.  For me, all forms of music are as alive today as they ever were. Recorded music made this possible. I will cut my comments short for now until I think further on thsi. 

     

    The true, original blues music is part of the past -- stylistically?   There are people (such as yourself) who are still drawn to it, and want to listen to it (along with other music), so it has enduring appeal, but for a more select audience.   That, plus, some of the older, original works get reinterpreted and covered by newer, innovative artists, so that keeps the music alive as well?

    [/QUOTE]

    I have no problem saying the Blues is basically a music of the past. The same can be said for Big Band Swing Jazz and Honky Tonk Country. There will always be a few revivalists for all styles of music, but each style pretty much has its day and is done. That is not meant as a put-down, just a fact of life. I love Doo-Wop but I know its heyday is gone.

    All types of music stay alive as long as people play it and listen to recordings of it. I prefer the Blues from the period when it was electrified and played by those who came from where it first originated. The acoustic blues prior to that doesn't appeal to me as much. The white rockers version of it doesn't appeal to me as much either. So while the spirit of the Blues is eternal, my favorite style of the Blues belongs to a particular time that has passed by and will never be duplicated. 

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    I started a thread myself awhile ago about the timeless nature of blues-rock music.  Blues-rock is not the same thing as blues, I realize.

    Blues-rock seems to be a form of music that has a core that can't be changed although stylistically it can have a number of forms.  Bands like the Yardbirds, Cream and Led Zeppelin ushered in a new era of blues-rock that emphasized heavy guitar riffing and solo virtuosity.

    Artists like Joe Bonamassa carry on what those bands started.  He faces up to the fact that what he is doing is not original in an admirable way.  He does manage to write stuff that is not just straight copying of what's gone before even though there are constant echoes.  And he also embraces the fact that people still love to hear those heavy riffs and those long, dizzying solos.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    As far as the longevity thing goes, Bonamassa is 35.  Jonny Lang is 31.  Kenny Wayne Shepherd is 35.  Blues and blues-rock are going to be around forever.  We have a blues festival here in NS every summer and it's huge.

     
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  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from devildavid. Show devildavid's posts

    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to SlimPickensIII's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    That's part of it,  it's not about selling records, the blues to me are all about the live performance.  And it's just as good in a bar - often better - as it is at a festival.   The pure blues that is.   Blues-Rock, to my taste anyway,  doesn't work as well in a bar as it does in a concert setting. 

    [/QUOTE]

    This brings up a philosophical question that may deserve its own thread. When you say the pure blues I'm guessing you have a certain style of music in mind. But I'm not sure I or anyone else has the same exact understanding as you. When people refer to the pure form of any music, I'm never quite sure what they are talking about. I'm not even sure the pure form of any music actually exists.Bby using the word pure, it seems to me that you are narrowing down the definition of the Blues. But maybe I'm taking your use of the word wrong. Just something to chew on.

     
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    Re: The Blues: Retrospective value is not enough / are the blues treated fairly?

    In response to SlimPickensIII's comment:

     I'm not worried about the popularity of the blues.  They'll be fashionable again in the future,  in their pure form.  And then they won't be again.  Rinse and repeat.   But they are the foundation that alot of other forms build on top of.  They'll never go away.   We don't know who will carry the torch in the next generation,  but somebody will, and carry it well.  It would be nice to see some truly young folk - teens, early 20's - doing that.  And they are probably out there already, known only to small groups of folks who've heard them live

    Well said.  

    It makes sense that the new generation of "pure" blues musicians are playing in smaller venues, in pockets of the cities where blues clubs might be the thing.   They might go through more of a mentorship style of training, and they'll gain their style of fame more slowly.   That's the way any career should progress; everyone is not an overnight sensation, and there are far too many that have made it far too quickly as it is.  

    I think you're right.  And overall, this is preferable to the flavor of the month viral-youtube sensations in the pop world that are a dime a dozen.   There are not as many pure blues up and comers, and there's a very good reason for it.  

     
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