Damn Right I Got the Blues
Music is a reflection of both our History as well as our social consciousness. It helps us make sense of the world and to make personal connections with it. Perhaps more than any other art form, music is evocative; it triggers vivid memories of childhood, falling in love, loss and sadness - it forces us to look at ourselves to remember who we were and who we are.
Music always makes me feel connected in a Jungian sense. It makes me realize that the struggles I have are not mine alone, they are shared. Simply recognizing this makes me feel less alone and ultimately better.
I’m a big fan of the Blues. In the late 70-’s early 80’s I lost my connection with popular music - it just didn’t resonate., so as great bluesmen, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee said in one of their songs, I became a “white boy lost in the blues” I began to seek out roots music wherever I could find it. Fortunately Toronto in the early 80’s was a place where the great blues artists were readily accessible to me in a number of small venues. I had the chance to see and meet some of the greatest blues artists of our time - Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Albert Collins, Fenton Robinson, Son Seals and a great many others - before what I will call the blues renaissance which occurred the nineties, when popular artists, realizing the contribution these aging blues players had made to the world of music began to appearing as guests on their records, thereby raising awareness of the blues form and these great artists in the minds of a white listening audience.
Blues music has often been misunderstood by white audiences. Historians believe The etymology of The Blues dates back to the17th Century English expression, “the blue devils”, referring to the intense visual hallucinations that can accompany severe alcohol withdrawal. It was shortened over time to “the blues,” and it came to mean a state of agitation or depression. “Blue” became slang for “drunk” by the 1800s. The link between “blue” and drinking was captured in “blue laws” that prohibited Sunday alcohol sales in some states.
By the turn of the century, a couple’s dance that involved slowly grinding the hips together called “the blues” or “the slow drag” was popular in Southern juke joints. A rural juke would be jammed on weekends with couples getting their drink on, doing the pre-coital shuffle to the accompaniment of “bluesman” on guitars
Today we associate the blues as music in 12 bars. This 12- bar format was introduced by W.C. Handy in his 1912 composition “Memphis Blues”. Handy did this to create a level of structure and perhaps professionalism to the music form. However, many of the great bluesmen, like John Lee Hooker never adhered to this format - he sang and played strictly according to how he was feeling at that moment in time.
Although Handy imposed a somewhat-artificial structure on blues music, the typical three-line blues verse did emerge from call-and-response songs made up by slaves in the fields. West Africans working American fields did what they would have done at home: they improvised songs to the rhythm of the task at hand. The lead singer repeated a line twice to give another singer time to improvise a response.
So here’s the rub, while blues themes tend to focus on “Feeling Blue” about things which happen in one’s life - “The Thrill is Gone”, Baby Please Don’t Go, The sky is crying” etc. the blues are about acknowledging our pain our feelings of loss and sadness, and by doing so, we feel better.
This episode of the space celebrates the spirit of the blues.
Featured Artists, Albums and Songs mentioned on the Episode, "Damn Right I Got the Blues"
Taj Mahal and Keb'Mo
TajMo is a joint album by the American blues musicians and . It was released May 5, 2017, and won the 2018 . TajMo is the twenty-sixth studio album by Taj Mahal and the thirteenth by Keb' Mo'.
Chris Thomas King - Hotel Voodoo - Released in 2017
Favourite TracksEric Gales (Raw Dawg) The Bookends - Released 2019 - 18th Album from Eric Gales.
A mix of blues-based funk rock, gospel jazz, The Bookends by virtuoso guitar player and singer-songwriter, Eric Gales, is a modern blues triumph for this musician whose vocals and guitar have never sounded better. The original tracks are fun with great groove, edgy with rock stomping beats, and fluid with jazz flavors. The band sounds a lot like the return forever crew. Gales a guitarist’s guitarist; child prodigy recording his first record at the age of 16. To my mind the bass playing of Gales Brother makes this record.
The Teskey Brothers - Run Home Slow Released Aug 2019 (2nd Album)
If you love Otis Redding, Rod Stewart when he was with the Faces, Joe Cocker, Ray LaMontagne or Sam Cooke, you will fall in love with this record …it absolutely blew me away … a definite “Must Have”
It is hard to believe this is only their second album - so polished, extremely well produced with so many layers
Some may say lead vocalist Josh Teskey sounds the same on every tune….Perhaps but you need to listen to this record more closely to hear the subtle variances in his voice and the range of musical styles of this band. There were times I felt I was listening to Otis Redding - "Let Me Let You Down”; Carry You and Rain, Sam Cooke, Man of the Universe, Joe Cocker , Paint my Heart; Hold me, Rod Stewart and the Faces; San Francisco, Sunshine Come Ease Me In, Ray LaMontagne, and then you get a track like Sunshine Baby … shades of Randy Newman and then “That Bird” with a guitar into which reminds of me of Hendricks, which then drops into the sound of the Vaughan Bros …absolutely spectacular.