Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Fat Lady Sings the Blues

I've always liked blues music but I've never delved in it much until last week when my husband, an amateur piano/guitar player, decided that he wants to learn the blues. So we borrowed a lot of music sheets and video from the library. He was playing some decent ones and it was always a pleasure hearing them.

Early last week he discovered a recent documentary film in DVD called The Blues. It is a seven part docu directed by 7 different directors and produced by Martin Scorsese. One of it was even directed by Clint Eastwood. I didn't know he was a good piano player and a great blues fan.

As blues man Willie Dixon said, "The blues are the roots; everything else is the fruits." And indeed it is - it is certainly where jazz came from, also gospel, rock n roll and consequently rock.

I'm blogging about this because after watching 3 parts of it, I am just blown away and downright smitten by this genre of music. Sure I hear the familiar riffs every now and again in rock and roll, jazz, and rock. But it was another thing hearing the old blues musicians belting out good 'ol blues music from down South. I also felt a tug in my heart when I saw the old film clips of black farm labourers working away in the heat of the sun with a background music of a wailing blues. Now I understood, the blues was created as an outlet and expression of their grief and sorrow at the state of their humanity, at the countless hardships they encounter. I felt the pain, the misery, the anguish. I feel as if I've been there in that very same situation ... not in this lifetime though.

I just absolutely love that 3 chord 12 bar blues beat. Blues greats featured there are of the likes of BB King, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy (I love his guitar playing), John Lee Hooker, Son House, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Ray Charles and many others. They also had Brits featured there because apparently in the late 50s and 60s these blues greats were persuaded by a German promoter to come here in Europe to tour. They were so suspicious when they got here since at that time in the States (since they were all black) they were second class citizens, segregation was the order of the day and had practically no white audiences. They were playing in some dingy clubs or bars and were barely making a living out of their music. Suddenly as they arrived in Europe the promoters practically laid out the 'red carpet' - you know first class hotels, good food, excellent restaurants, etc. And they had sold out full packed shows playing to an all white audience. Plus these young audience were asking for their autographs. They were really gobsmacked. Out of these performances in the audience were young penniless music upstarts like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, etc. who were so inspired by these revered new idols of them that they invariably incorporated blues to their music. So when the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, etc. became famous in the US and in interviews they say that their early influences were these blues greats, people started taking notice and that's when the blues finally got its deserved recognition in the US. It was a given that the white European bands (mostly Brits) kicked started a revival of the blues to reach to wider audiences in the States. That's where their influence in the blues is wedged.

In the DVD, I just love the great blues rendition in a jam session of a simple song like 'Love Letters'. Tom Jones on vocals, Jon Cleary on piano, Jeff Beck on electric guitar, and Peter King on sax. Even Van Morrison did a wonderful blues tune of which I don't know the title. Lulu had her turn as well with 'Drown In My Own Tears'. I think all these gushing is a signal that I should buy the DVD set, what do you think?


Ate Sienna said...

i kinda like the blues pero pag medyo hard-core na blues na hindi ko na kayang pakinggan. but i like the instruments, i like the way it makes you feel. feeling ko nga nakikita ko yung mga african americans na nasa cornfield, o dikaya eh nasa isang maliit na cafe nung time na wala pang recognition of their race dito sa amerika.

but more than the blues, ako naman ang gusto ko ung isa sa mga anak nun na "jazz". jazz, in any form, is so sexy to me.

ladycharlie said...

hey, this looks really cool...much like a "buena vista social club" type. will check it out as well!

celia kusinera said...

Ate Sienna: Hi there! Baligtad tayo, ako naman hindi ko ma 'dig' ang mainstream jazz. Hanggang mga pop-jazz lang ako.

Lady C: I'll check that Buena Vista club as well. Thanks for mentioning that.

BongK said...

hi ate celia,

just like ateng sienna i can dig the blues but not the heavy stuff.. i think in the movie "the color purple" the blues strengthen the emacipation of the afro-american lives. (teka yun nga ba title ng movie na yon? hhhmm)

magandang araw po sa inyo

celia kusinera said...

Hi Bongk, thanks for stopping by. Okay naman ang blues ah! ;-) Alam mo aliw ako sa blog mo palagi akong napapakanta doon. Keep it up!

rolly said...

I love listening to the blues. And jazz! Hmm, my faves are Muddy Waters, BB king, Clapton, also the blues by Led Zep (Since i've been loving you)and Jimi Hendrix (Redhouse Blues). Sa jazz, from mainstream to fusion, type ko. Sabagay ang hindi ko ma typean e yung rap. Siguro kasi matanda na ko. ;-)

celia kusinera said...

hi tito rolly, ako naman ang hindi ko lang ma-appreciate ay yung country music otherwise eclectic naman ang taste ko. thanks for dropping by.