Hi, lowcountry blues club members. I don’t know if my brain has been fried by the torrid Charleston summer heat or if the crashing economy has crushed my sunny disposition but I have begun to ponder the big questions. What is the meaning of life? When will extraterrestrial blues musicians show up for the weekly jam? Will they play too loud? What really is blues music?
So, being the geek I am, I visited Wikipedia, which is clearly a blues authority. It says “Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre created primarily within the African-American communities in the Deep South of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll is characterized by specific chord progressions—the twelve-bar blues chord progressions being the most common—and the blue notes, notes that for expressive purposes are sung or played flattened or gradually bent (minor 3rd to major 3rd) in relation to the pitch of the major scale.”
I think there is some wisdom in that pithy paragraph. Personally, I hear the blues in a very wide range of music. The music that I love connects people together through our shared pain - loneliness, disappointment, disillusionment, and bad TV. It’s that connection that brings me to the blues club.
But, I hear people say “that’s not blues” when certain songs come up at the weekly jams. When I starting playing the guitar, the blues meant the soulful music of B.B. King, Freddie King, and Muddy Waters. But to most of my peers, the blues came second-hand from Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and Peter Green. As I went out into the world I heard the blues scale and the blue notes come roaring out in reggae, funk, and the Latin flavored solos of Carlos Santana.
I met B.B. King a few years ago and spent some time talking with him backstage after a show. I actually asked him about all of this muddy water and he said simply “Blues is a language spoken with many accents.” This made sense to me. I have heard people speak English all over the world yet often I have had no idea what they were saying. I have been in Britain, Ireland, and parts of the United States where the English spoken by the natives might as well have been the language spoken by fish deep in the sea. I fathomed not a word.
So, let’s all open our minds, ears, and hearts to experience those bent blues notes that bring us together to express the pain of being human in a flawed world.
Here's an event you may be interested in this weekend: This Saturday night, August 7, there's a cd release party at the Pour House for the Charleston Sound compilation cd #2, with several local bands performing, including our own jam-master Dan Wright and our friend Skye Paige -- should be lots of fun!
Also the first battle of the Lowcountry Blues Challenge will be Sunday, Aug 15 at Home Team BBQ/West Ashley, 2-6pm, featuring Jeff Norwood, Super Kush, Hwy 17 Blues Band, and Starling, $5 donation -- be sure to come out if you can!
Also, it is time to elect officers for the Lowcountry Blues Club.......Positions are President, Visa President, Secretary and Treasurer....Being a non profit C504 it is required to maintain our tax status. Our club continues to grow so if you have any one who is interested in getting involved as an officer or to serve on the board it would be helpful.
Reminders: Artists featured in August will be John Lee Hooker and Robert Cray. When you come to the jam, let our jam-master know if you want to play a song by one of the featured artists.
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Don't forget the Blues & BBQ Harbor Cruises in Charleston harbor run every Thursday July-August and then back to every OTHER Thursday all the way until October 28. This is a blast. Get more info and tickets at www.charlestonharbortours.com or phone 843 722 1112.
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