Blues Music

Not long ago, I was able to get a book from The Alligator web site called “Blues for Dummies”.  As you must assume, it was a factual book that spoke about American Blues Music, where it’s roots lie  and who were and are the performers.  There are hundreds of performers and thousands of great tunes but as you decide to get “into the blues”, it can be rather daunting – where do you start.

Before we start, it is tres important to understand that blues music is not sad, down-in-the-dumps music. It really is “oh my god, let’s boogie”.  Just listen to Elmore James or one of his followers named Bryan Lee. You can’t help but wanna Shake-it when “their guitars start wailin”.  Blues music is written and performed in such a way that it relates what happens in everyday life to all of us but gives us a chance to “let it out” !

So, where do we go or where to start. When I first started to listen to blues, most of my musical tastes revolved around late 60’s and early 70’s rock. Some Beatles and Stones, Eagles, Clapton, Pink Floyd, early Elton John etc. When I purchased what I thought was my first blues album – Henry Townsend “Mule” after a recommendation from a friend, I really couldn’t figure out what the hell it was about. I did dabble into blues for the next few years then one day I bought a John Lee Hooker which featured a song with Carlos Santana. OMG, except for that song, I hated the album. But as time progressed, I began to pick up the interest.

Etta James, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Ray Charles (the movie Ray was awesome), Big Twist, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, then one day, I bought a compilation called Alligator 20th Anniversary. Wow, the awesome artists and tunes were simply unbelievable. Didn’t like every artists but Holy Crap, Hound Dog taylor, James Cotton, Johnny Copeland – you gotta get “Showdown”, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, Tinsley Ellis, Lucky Peterson, Gatemouth Brown, Kenny Neal – OMG, each Anniversary edition – we are now up to 40th spotlights new artists and simply re-introduces old legends. Long and short, buy compilations – they are available from such companies as Alligator, BlindPig and Electro-Fi.

You will find that as you uncover new artists, you also uncover neat tales about them. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was an honourary marshall in Texas – He always carried a gun.

Fabulous DVDs are available: Eric Clapton’s Crossroads DVD (at least 4 of them now), “Lightning in a Bottle” features a whack of blues artists including the incredible “Solomon Burke”. Interesting – he didn’t think he would make money with music so he started a “chain” of mortuaries in the US – owned about 27 or 28 when he died. Another great choice would be 10 Days Out by Kenny Wayne Shepherd. KW went to the south and recorded a CD/DVD combo with a ton of blues artists in their “home setting”. Fabulous music and fantastic DVD. Finally,  pick up a copy of Cadillac Records. This movie is about the beginnings of CHESS Records, an early pillar of the Blues community.

So… Dig it Babe!  Get into some real Rockin’ Music – all of your Classic Rock heroes did, and have Fun with the Blues!

BTW, One of my favourite artists is now “Henry Townsend”, and that John Lee CD – Healer – play it all the time

Some of my favourites:

  1. Johnny Adams
  2. Matt Anderson
  3. Billy Boy Arnold
  4. Marcia Ball
  5. Tab Benoit
  6. Rory Block
  7. Lonnie Brooks
  8. Eric Clapton
  9. Albert Collins
  10. James Cotton
  11. Tommy Castro
  12. Ronnie Earle
  13. John Lee Hooker
  14. Elmore James
  15. Etta James
  16. Magic Sam
  17. Magic Slim
  18. Hubert Sumlin
  19. Imelda May (Blues/Rockabilly)
  20. Ana Popovic
  21. Joanne Shaw Taylor
  22. Henry Townsend

These are only some of my favourites!

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