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When blues benders become music offenders,,

tapeworm

Member
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8,591
The problem with blues is it's been taken over by hacks. I've been playing a long time and listening to the blues since the beginning of my playing, even before it. I've seen just about every big name blues act that was out there in the 70s and 80s. It's a fantastic form of music when done the people that really understand it.

Structurally, it's very simple. Most people can get the hang of the 12 bar changes. Throw the blues scale on top of it, and you can kind of play something that sort of sounds all right with minimal effort. These days when most people think of blues, the think of horrible open mics played by people with minimal skills, slogging their way through a 20 minute noodle-fest, at least I do.

Add to the fact that given it's a fairly limited format before it isn't blues any more, there's really not much that can be done that wasn't done 30 years ago. Even the really slick players like SRV or Joe B aren't bringing anything new to the table. What they do/did, they do/did really well, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before.

So yeah, it's played out in my opinion.
The blues has been played poorly for so long by the hacks that it has given the entire genre a bad rep. People have seen it bastardized for so long that the minute they hear the word blues they just assume it is the same old hackery they have seen from crappy cover bands and at local blooze jams.

There are guys I listen to that make me think it is played out. Usually the blues rock guys who are shredding down, a million notes over 7 minute solos and singing the same old songs.

But then there are guys who I listen to that let me know the blues is still alive and well. Usually the legit Chicago blues cats and West Coast blues guys who are still pretty creative with it while staying true to the roots.
 

sabby

Member
Messages
2,111
Yes, I am putting people into categories, by my direct experience observations: in the midwestern bar scene, blues-rock is most popular with conservative, white trash biker types. I hate their culture and think it's a joke that they claim to represent the blues. They are the target of a punchline because they are a cliche, and it's entirely earned. Pardon me for finding it strange that, in my experience with "the blues scene", I found myself in some strange world filled with racist bikers who play ZZ Top covers all the time, and an audience that's too drunk to know what a quality live music performance is.
This may be painting with too wide a brush, but we do live in a nation in which blackface minstrelsy as the most popular form of mass entertainment until it was replaced/absorbed by Vaudeville (which also trucked in stereotypes and cultural appropriation but included Jews, Irish, Italians, etc.). There's nothing wrong with anyone loving and learning any other's art, religion, music, whatever. It makes us more compassionate and fully human. But I've seen plenty of blues scenes where black people were not welcome. Maybe it's regional -- my neighborhood is south of Cleveland, closer to the PA line -- but I doubt it.

It's a strange form of racial masquerade that's unfortunately pretty familiar to anyone with a long perspective of American culture: white people in all-white settings doing their best to sound like black people who would be unwelcome or at least uncomfortable in these settings. But we are a nation that suffers from pretty severe historical amnesia and, like Jackson said, most blues scenes are the "musical equivalent of a 'C' level softball league." I'll reserve my disdain for those who are aggressively white.
 

BriSol

Member
Messages
2,070
This may be painting with too wide a brush, but we do live in a nation in which blackface minstrelsy as the most popular form of mass entertainment until it was replaced/absorbed by Vaudeville (which also trucked in stereotypes and cultural appropriation but included Jews, Irish, Italians, etc.). There's nothing wrong with anyone loving and learning any other's art, religion, music, whatever. It makes us more compassionate and fully human. But I've seen plenty of blues scenes where black people were not welcome. Maybe it's regional -- my neighborhood is south of Cleveland, closer to the PA line -- but I doubt it.

It's a strange form of racial masquerade that's unfortunately pretty familiar to anyone with a long perspective of American culture: white people in all-white settings doing their best to sound like black people who would be unwelcome or at least uncomfortable in these settings. But we are a nation that suffers from pretty severe historical amnesia and, like Jackson said, most blues scenes are the "musical equivalent of a 'C' level softball league." I'll reserve my disdain for those who are aggressively white.
Indeed. I have nothing against white people playing blues. I do have something against white people turning it into a limited format that is based only on rock interpretations and has no sense of rhythmic interest or harmonic color, and is strangely appropriated as a representation of the sensibilities of conservative bikers who like the confederate flag and enthusiastically cheer for ZZ Top covers, then clear the room when black musicians are present and talk **** about them in the back room or the patio at jam night, or put them up separately. While government-enforced racial segregation may be over, it continues anyway in somewhat more subtle forms.
 

GulfportBound

Member
Messages
8,741
Indeed. I have nothing against white people playing blues. I do have something against white people turning it into a limited format that is based only on rock interpretations and has no sense of rhythmic interest or harmonic color, and is strangely appropriated as a representation of the sensibilities of conservative bikers who like the confederate flag and enthusiastically cheer for ZZ Top covers, then clear the room when black musicians are present and talk **** about them in the back room or the patio at jam night, or put them up separately. While government-enforced racial segregation may be over, it continues anyway in somewhat more subtle forms.
It isn't just the biker crowds that go batsh@t nuts when any blues group---white, black, technicolour, whatever---deviates from the
bloozerock/rock interpretations. I've played to non-biker crowds that have sometimes gotten into my face about why a) there's no bloozerock/
rock interpretation in my blues, and b) there's, quote, "too much of that jazz sh@t" in my music. And don't get me started on the blues
jams I've gone to where I get stuck with a gaggle of bandstand geese too busy honking, shrieking, growling, buzzing, and roaring
to make it possible to play any kind of blues.
 

BriSol

Member
Messages
2,070
It isn't just the biker crowds that go batsh@t nuts when any blues group---white, black, technicolour, whatever---deviates from the
bloozerock/rock interpretations. I've played to non-biker crowds that have sometimes gotten into my face about why a) there's no bloozerock/
rock interpretation in my blues, and b) there's, quote, "too much of that jazz sh@t" in my music. And don't get me started on the blues
jams I've gone to where I get stuck with a gaggle of bandstand geese too busy honking, shrieking, growling, buzzing, and roaring
to make it possible to play any kind of blues.
That's funny and oddly familiar. I've literary heard the words muttered "that jazz ****" when getting on stage at a blues jam night, then the room half clears. Even though I never actually got a chance to truly play jazz at them. It simply was obvious in my chord work and soloing that I was coming from more jazz based interpretations, as that's intuitively more how I play than an SRV or Clapton style.

The extra irony is that while one might be told "this is a blues jam, you can't expect to get away with not playing blues here", half of the people there (including the house band and the more popular jammers) don't really play blues half the time themselves. They play straight up 70's and 80's pop and rock covers, and country. One of the guys even always plays that Chris Isaac "I never want to fall in love" song from the 80's. So blues, right?
 
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Hugh_s

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,832
Personally, I don't have any time for the blues - neither the roots stuff nor modern white-bread stuff. I can recognize its influence, though, even if I can't be bothered to listen to it.
 
Messages
1,181
Reading all the analysis through this thread has been a good read.


The bad side for me though is that I love it. I love it all.

Bonamasa, Mayer., Sayce, Kenny Wayne shepherd.
It is a rare thing since the late 80's for someone who plays the guitar to be famous and completely original.

I guess authenticity in blues just doesn't seem like a big deal to me any more, and to a lot of people I guess that's a shame. They're probably right.


I just want to hear guitar
 

rwmct

Member
Messages
2,817
I don't mean to politisize things, but there's another thing about the American blues-rock scene, at least in the mid west as I'm familiar with it, that just seems like a cultural contradiction. This is the fact that it seems to be very popular with conservative, biker types and has taken on a cultural identity that represents the sensibilities of a reactionary white underclass that romanticizes the past. Of course, most blues-rockers will at least give lip service to the black originators of blues, but simultaneously catering to the sensibilities of a nearly all-white audience that is intimidated by the culture and musical sounds of black people. The moment things get swinging, jazzy, funky, soul/rnb-ish, they run the other way. Their sensibilities are very white and very rock, for the most part. That's what I get out of the blues-jam culture around here.
I could not disagree more. First, most people over 40 or so likes some blues based rock music. And plenty of people who like blues love it when some of the tunes verge into a swing or funk territory. And the comment about all white audiences intimidated by black culture and music is ludicrous. The blues has been as much a white as a black thing for 50 years. If there were no white audiences, who would blues artists play to? I am not saying there is no black audience, but it is not what it was in the 30s, 40s and 50s.
 

rwmct

Member
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2,817
And some of you guys make it sound like "rock interpretations" of the blues are all the same. Peter Green does not sound just like Johnny Winter, who does not sound just like George Thorogood, who does not sound just like SRV, who does not sound just like the Stones.

And there are lots of great acoustic players out there. The blues of the 20s and 30s is alive and well.
 

rwmct

Member
Messages
2,817
As for the comment about the "white underclass" there is a lot that could be said, but not without violating the forum rules.
 

Abrasive1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
236
How has blues found it's little covert notch in today guitar music? Or is it an outcast in today's music? When is it ok to play that hot blues lick that is so coo,,, maybe it's not cool anymore?
Never needed to notch out it's place in current music, it's been here the whole time. I think of it a lot like Jazz, it's engrained at this point, in whatever form. My advice, for what it's worth, is that it's cool when it's cool for you. Enjoy it, have fun, be happy. Unless you're being paid to play something specific, then do your job.;)
 

tapeworm

Member
Messages
8,591
Some really good stuff there, really liked the Little Hurricane clip. It's def not blues, but I expect you knew that already. :aok
 
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