bluesshow bob's blues show blog
What brought me to Blues music? How did I discover it? What was my route? Well, it might actually have been Route 66. That's the song, not the road.
As a teenager in the 1960s, I liked the music (and the controversial image) of the Rolling Stones. Maybe I liked them because my elder sister liked the Beatles. So often musical heroes are the subject of sibling debate and to the record companies, this is grist to their ching. Beatles or Stones? Oasis or Blur? JLS or One Direction?
We've all grown up championing the causes of our icons. Who was better? - Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf? There was an intense rivalry between these two Chess Records artists. It's said that if Howlin' was luke-warm about performing one of Willie Dixon's new compositions, Willie would say 'Muddy's keen to do it' and that would lead to an enthusiasm on Wolf's part to record the song to have an advantage on his stable-mate. The same was, apparently, true of Muddy who would delight in recording something he was told that Howlin' Wolf was keen to perform.
When I first heard Route 66 on an early Stones album, I thought it sounded fantastic. I had no idea that it had been recorded earlier by several artists and my ignorance continued as I admired the songs which they played with what I now know as the 'Bo Diddley beat.'
I saw the Rolling Stones twice in Cardiff's Capitol Theatre touring alongside the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, The Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group and even Long John Baldry who I was privileged to interview forty years later. Each of these artists was at the time delving into the back catalogues of American Blues performers and putting their own stamp upon the music. I was oblivious to this. I liked what I heard and accepted the music as new and hot off the press. I didn't know that there was a British Blues Invasion taking place. I was a young teenager to whom music was very important if it sounded good and was performed by my chosen heroes.
Towards the tail end of the 1960's, my tastes evolved into liking Led Zeppelin - not realising that they were dipping into the same well-travelled musical pool - and I then had a 25 year love affair with the music of David Bowie who just pushed boundaries in every sense for such a long time. If you haven't heard it yet you can listen to my programme 'Me & David Bowie' on Mixcloud. Here's the link:-
Reaching my middle years, I became aware that Blues music, as performed by the old Delta guys and the Chicago guys, had been reinterpreted under my nose and (belatedly) followed the historic journey taken by so many performers in the 1960s and beyond.
It was, and still is, a total revelation to realise how simple songs performed by solo artists on their backyard stoops could become stadium rockers. I'm still learning.
How did your interest in Blues music form? What was your route?
Maybe this is a bit of an odd way to start a series of blogs but it's my intention that the alliterative Blues Show Bob's Blues Show Blog should report on life as lived by someone with an interest in Blues music and its performers.
My wife and I are currently in Brittany where we have spent many holidays on renovating (what was a derelict) 17th century farmhouse over the last sixteen years. It may even be 16th century but what's a few generations more or less?
Normally, when we're here, I go to a bar run by friends, Gary and Digena, and lead a Blues jam session. This has been the case for the past couple of years. When I'm not here, my good friends Jean-Charles and Linda Dutaret lead the jam and it's evolved into a situation where I lead one week, they lead the next. For me, whoever leads the jam, it's just a fun night and adds to the holiday experience.
But, at the end of 2015, the unthinkable happened: Gary and Digena sold the bar; a very selfish move which would adversely impact on our social (musical) lives. Gary promised to try to organise an evening in an alternative venue but nothing had transpired before tonight so...
...we had a jam in our house.
A couple of neighbours were invited as well as my wife and the usual playing suspects, Gary, Jean-Charles, Linda and me. I also wanted to test out a new PA system I'd bought just before heading for the French ferry and this was the ideal opportunity. We had a full-on electric jam session.
So, the four of us played our hearts out from Reconsider Baby to Need Your Love So Bad in the living room of our old farmhouse. We played a range of Blues tunes from most of the last century. It made me wonder what former residents of the house - and let's face it, there would have been many over the past four or even five hundred years - would have made of it. The ancients would have been of farming stock -although our house is said to have been the home of the tisserand - (the weaver) and they would have been people who worked from dawn to dusk for little reward. Life would have been hard for them without doubt. And maybe, in common with so many who seem to have been put on this Earth just to work until they die, they would have found their relaxation in music. This seems to have been a common theme - whether it was Breton paysannes, Welsh coal-miners or even slaves in the Mississippi Delta. They all worked, they all suffered lives of drudgery to make the rich man richer and they all used music as their release.
Maybe the ghosts of our forebears were singing along with us tonight. I'd like to think so.