Who were the real modern blues innovators?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by The Interceptor, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Doomrider78

    Doomrider78 Member

    Messages:
    557
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2019
    What about being nearly booed off stage and then winning over an overly conservative audience at the Montreux Jazz Festival? Expanding the reach of a genre is innovative, isn't it?
     
    FuzzyAce likes this.
  2. bobcs71

    bobcs71 Member

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Anderson, SC
    I agree. Here is Nas comparing early blues and rap. He performs a Memphis Jug Band song as rap.
     
    FlyingVBlues and sahhas like this.
  3. ahhlou

    ahhlou Member

    Messages:
    644
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2012
    Location:
    Moncton, New Brunswick
    If you want to study contemporary blues innovators, you should study jazz from dixieland onward...
     
    Help!I'maRock! likes this.
  4. bobcs71

    bobcs71 Member

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Anderson, SC
    I can tell in the first 2 or 3 notes that SRV is playing. He definitely brought something unique. His songs aren't all I IV V. To me Crossfire is identifiable as blues but doesn't sound like a traditional blues song I can think of.
     
    FuzzyAce likes this.
  5. tapeworm

    tapeworm Member

    Messages:
    7,443
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2010
    Location:
    Tejas del Sur
    I can agree with this.
     
    sahhas likes this.
  6. Tweed335

    Tweed335 Member

    Messages:
    343
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Location:
    Inland Cape (MO)
    I haven't read through this whole thread, so maybe it's been addressed, and I'm not singling you out Tapeworm, just quoting to illustrate my point.

    I think Tapeworm is speaking about the blues as a strict idiomatic genre, ie. the structure, lyrical content, chord voicing, mood, and melodies, versus other posters using the term Blues as anyone who used a minor pentatonic scale <this might be an over simplistic summation>.

    The OP didn't really set this discussion as one or the other, but I have to agree with Tapeworm for purposes of this discussion. If we want to talk about the Innovators of Modern Blues than we should stick to the genre definition. If we want to talk about guitar players that were influenced by the blues and created a different genre, to me those are two different discussions.

    I recently watched a Sam Bush doc on amazon. The discussion about Sam being an innovator within the idiom of bluegrass versus creating a whole new branch of Americana with his biggest influence stemming from bluegrass, as being his legacy is a huge part of the doc. Reminds me of this current discussion.
     
    tapeworm and sahhas like this.
  7. killer blues

    killer blues Member

    Messages:
    2,472
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Location:
    East of Philly
    SRV took the styles of all the best bluesman and molded it into his own brand. Then he took those bluesman (most of them anyway) and brought them onto his stage to make sure the fans knew who really made the music.
     
  8. whatizitman

    whatizitman Member

    Messages:
    267
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2018
    Location:
    Here I am. Rock you in the Daddy Cave.
    If by 'innovation', we mean clearly blues-influenced, but something different enough to inspire new avenues of musical expression, then yeah.

    Shred and tapping didn't just appear magically. It was influenced by licks, modes, and ways of playing from decades before.

    I do agree that Jerry Cantrell is not really that innovative. I say that as a huge fan. EVH, on the other hand, was innovative. AND his music was still blues influenced.

    I also think that if we are going to place such strict boundaries on what it means to be "innovative blues", then I will call it for what it is. An oxymoron.

    There is absolutely nothing shape or form about blues that is innovative by itself. It's some of the most simplistic form of Western music. But there are clearly things that were blues-influenced that were considered innovative at one point, because it was new and different.
     
  9. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,619
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Location:
    middle usa somewhere
    I think the blues are constantly changing and modifying and being used by newer generations in new ways....i think a lot of what we call "blues" really comes out of the blues-rock days of the mid-late 60s exemplified by all the folks we seem to love and talk about around here....

    I had a class about Afro-American Culture back in college, and the origins of blues comes from the songs and spirituals that the slaves would sing as they worked in the fields during the day. But the idea was the music had a purpose: it helped pass the time, in the evening is was entertainment (dancing i would guess), etc etc. I'm not sure where our ideas of the blues really come from, but a lot of it was very rhythmic in nature. The one thing that I've always heard in Hendrix' voice and music was the essence of rhythm. take away his guitar playing, focus on the rhythm, and i think you can see the line from where the blues -vocalizations of spirituals and secular songs- from the time of slavery to the urban music of the last 30 years in our country (rap, hip hop, etc)
    i suppose the "electric" of it came from the idea of rural (acoustic) blues that was probably played for a small audience to the "urban blues" of the big cities in the north (chicago)...i guess you start playing a bigger venue (bar) you need a bit more power to fill the room, hence the electric blues....
    i think the main touchstone of the blues is talking about an individuals "personal experience"...and those experiences can be good or bad...for some reason the blues always seems to emphasize the "bad" or down moments in life.
    The funny thing is my younger son (15) mostly listens to a lot of rap stuff (most of it i have no idea who they are), but he sings along to it and such (have heard it in the car), and when you listen to him, honestly it's just the blues, the timing, the rhythm and structure of it ....i'm not sure how people don't see that. It's about as plain as day. I'm not super knowledgeable about music history-i had that Afro-American Culture (which by the way is very interesting stuff), and 2 classes on World Music in college (also very interesting stuff)...and I read a lot on my own, but these are the lineages I see...you may not like it, but that's reality....btw...I've been listening to a lot of early Public Enemy, their use of samples and sounds is very interesting, and the basic stuff they are singing is the blues....and they are very much telling us about their experience....people should probably listen more...
     
    Tweed335 and 74vibrolux like this.
  10. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,619
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Location:
    middle usa somewhere
    oh, and btw....the update modern version of rural blues is John Fahey.
    he called his music "modern primitive" and from the 60s-early 90s he was mostly acoustic, but then in the 90s he switched to electric stuff.

    but if anyone listens to his music (i've been a fan for almost 20 years), a lot of the stuff he plays sounds like acoustic versions of what Jimmy Page was playing with LZ.
    so you can tell that they had the same early influences on their music, it's just that they each went their own way with it....
     
    Bluesra likes this.
  11. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Messages:
    19,114
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    under the stars
    It’s so impossible to draw a line, and fill in the influences and changes. Even just keeping to blues. Though I’m not even sure (since there is such a wide variety of it) what is meant by modern blues.

    To me it seems that any time someone tries to put it all down in flowcharts and linear lines, you are actually just trying to fit everything into inappropriate categories, trying to describe a circle by putting a grid over it, it’s organic. People influence each other in music and we can not ever catch all of it.

    That said, Muddy Waters made a certain sound, BB King had his (to me, perfection in all of it, style, content, singing, showmanship, all of it but BB King was my first hero!) and it took me later to find it how much Buddy Guy did to move blues from not really being all that guitar centric, not long or extended blues solos, into when it was, but you had the English influence too.

    And then you have jazz, from New Orleans that also had it.

    I find it sad that the English had to teach a generation where it originated about blues, but at the same time, it’s a cool story.

    It’s all in the performance, and the music. Was surprised to learn that our stereotype of older blues being some guy on a porch playing being discovered, when it was an active dynamic thing, and they weren’t worried about “well, that’s not blues” and would play also songs (COVER songs folks, such as “puttin’ On the Ritz” or “glory of life” nothing is how we envision it looking with our built in prjusdived for a good story, into the past. They heard all kinds of songs on the radio, and even then played what people wanted to hear.

    It can be fun to try and make cause and effect lines, to try and make a linear line from A to D and fill in B and C, but it isn’t reality and it isn’t really all that correct.
     
  12. FuzzyAce

    FuzzyAce Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Not sure it's been mentioned but Keb' Mo' might be considered. A lot of his stuff has a modern twist on traditional blues, melodically speaking. Keep it Simple album comes to mind.
     
    Matt Dillon, Vintage_ and bobcs71 like this.
  13. MkIIC+

    MkIIC+ Supporting Member

    Messages:
    162
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2018
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    There are no lack of artists over the past 50 years that have been influenced by the blues and taken it to new places. Here's just a few of my favorites...

    Albert King (Soul and funk inspired blues, i.e. Born Under A Bad Sign, I'll Play The Blues For You, I Wanna Get Funky)
    Freddy King (Instrumental blues guitarist that evolved into a powerhouse live performer of heavy blues in the 1970s)
    Jimi Hendrix (Psychedelic-infused blues rock that completely revolutionized the way guitar was played, i.e. everything)
    Jimmy Page (Super-charged blues-rock, i.e. Since I've Been Loving You, Rock & Roll, When The Levee Breaks)
    Bonnie Raitt (Slide guitar extraordinaire with soulful vocals, i.e. Slow Ride, Cure For Love, I Knew)
    Albert King (Another instrumentalist that revitalized their career with stinging leads, i.e. Lights Are On But Nobody's Home)
    Danny Gatton (A master of all genres including the blues that could mix and match anything into something completely unique)
    Jimmie Vaughan (Blues-rock beginnings and love of soulful R&B classics, i.e. Tuff Enough, Out There, Astral Projection Blues)
    Stevie Ray Vaughan (The iconic blues-rock revivalist of the 1980s that re-fueled the entire genre, i.e. everything)
    Robben Ford (Jazz-infused blues and R&B with truly inspired solos over inventive chord voicings and impossibly tasty tone)
    Sonny Landreth (Journeyman slide guitar innovator with jaw-dropping Zydeco-infused blues, i.e. South Of I-10, Levee Town)
    Robert Cray (Soulful blues vocalist and guitarist dispensing squeaky clean blues pop-rock, i.e. Strong Persuader)
    Doyle Bramhall II (Gritty Texas blues rock with plenty of fuzz drenched haze, i.e. Jellycream, Welcome)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    FuzzyAce likes this.
  14. jwny72

    jwny72 Member

    Messages:
    2,476
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Since 1966 is modern?

    I agree "Time Out of Mind" (1997) was a blues record. A damn good one. It was very "modern" sounding at the time because of the Production.

    I don't think there's been innovation in the blues since Hendrix played it with fuzz and whammy pyrotechnics.

    Does blending it with Hip Hop count? Then G Love and Special Sauce did it before Gary Clarke Jr.
     
  15. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

    Messages:
    1,536
    Joined:
    May 3, 2013

    Expanding the reach of a genre is innovative if you're talking in terms of music innovation. If it's in terms of reaching a wider audience, is just that, reaching a wider audience.
    Kenny G. reached a much wider audience than 99% of jazz musicians, that does not makes him a innovator (even in the subgenre smooth jazz).
    Innovation as someone said in a previous comment is bringing new musical ideas, concepts, styles etc.
     
  16. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

    Messages:
    1,536
    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    I don't know, to a certain degree it's true that he had his identity, but that's true of tons of bluesmen who I would not mention as the most important innovators.
    And don't get me wrong, innovation and quality are very different things to me. There are great innovators who made music that I don't like at all (let's say, a lot of John Cage) and there conservative musicians that make music of amazing quality without having made any big musical revolution.

    But in the case of SRV, though he wrote things that I like (and it's true that he didn't played always the same thing, I love stuff like Riviera paradise and that's not even a blues) I feel that in a sense he's not only not an innovator, but someone who contributed to the paralysis of the genre. The blooze, endless demonstrations of virtuosistic solos and not much else. The genre was much more creative (in chord structures for instance) even in the early twentieth century. For instance a blues standard like Saint Louis blues combined elements of tango and other peculiar things.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  17. TFR

    TFR Supporting Member

    Messages:
    381
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sweet Home
  18. Mark EL

    Mark EL Supporting Member

    Messages:
    428
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    There are a lot of good and interesting comments on this topic up above. Thanks.

    I suppose one has to consider when to begin measuring the “modern era” of blues. To me it begins somewhere after 1945-1950, somewhere on the train ride from the Delta and TX up through KC and St. Louis, eventually coming home to the South Side and taking root.

    With that in mind, I submit Guitar Slim (is it possible he was unmentioned above??), T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf as major innovators and actual creators of the modern guitars blues era. I’ll add Magic Sam, as perhaps representative of a 2nd gen guy. There are certainly others, such as Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Matt Guitar Murphy, and Otis Rush, to name a few of the majors.

    One should not underestimate the effect of sax man/bandleader/vocalist Louis Jordan on all the above.

    The direct and indirect lifting of everything from BB, Freddie and Albert King by various British and US players - well I suppose one could go any number of ways in analysis, from blatant ripoff to reverential imitation. I like what happened in the 60’s for sure, and I do think it became innovative.

    Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate. Who said that, Dizzy, Mingus or ??

    Here’s a couple of quick picks from youtube. Guitar Slim is very likely the first guy to make guitar playing into a stage show, along with T-Bone Walker.




     
    bobcs71 likes this.
  19. biffoz

    biffoz Member

    Messages:
    1,422
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Devil advocacy for a sec: those who keep drawing tight boundary lines around what is and isn't blues; why do you allow modern electronics to mess up the purity of a strictly acoustic approach? This is very similar to jazz purity, where anything post-bebop is scorned.

    I believe true blues invoke deep feelings and yearning and there are many slick pop artists who have this in spades. Some tunes by Rhinna and Hozier are very much modern blues.

    This need to mimic past forms, riffs, apparel, instruments and more are heavily postured and reek of phoniness. I'll take vibe over strict academics every time.
     
    bobcs71 likes this.
  20. I Am Misery

    I Am Misery Member

    Messages:
    2,995
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2013
    Location:
    New York
    big fan myself, but i can't think of many examples where he was an "innovator". maybe the 'Sound Machine' stuff from the early 80s? if you're thinking of his later stuff ('Ass Pocket Of Whisky', etc) , that was Jon Spencer (and others) being the innovator.
     
    TFR likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice