Blues or Rock Which is it?

Tony LaCroix
Thu Jul 17 16:37:29 EDT 1997

In a message dated 97-07-17 16:18:03 EDT, (Mike Curtis)

<< Well, some jazz IS blues.  Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith, Hank Crawford all
 play what is commonly considered to be jazz because it's instrumental,
 but the form is pure blues.  Coltranes Equinox is a blues.  charlie
 Parkers Ornithology is not.

 Why? There's nothing to be offended about.  Be glad that someone cares
 enough about your music to call it anything :-)

 >  Muddy Waters is blues, Count Basie is not. Johnny Winter
 >plays rock n' roll, however, he has played with Muddy and can
 >between these two forms of music. Maybe we should ask Johnny Winter
 >where to draw the line!

 Count Basie is considered blues by some (many?) qualified people, even
 though he used a big band.  Joe Williams is recognized as a blues singer
 by everyone I've bothered to ask or discuss it with (which isn't a whole

 Most knowledgeable people also put Johnnie Winter as Texas Blues.  But if
 he's not, then would you consider Stevie Ray Vaughan rock as well?  And
 if not, then what about Hendrix?  Where do we draw the line?  Can someone
 be "blues" yet play some non blues material?  And if this is the case
 (not blues artist because they play a few non blues tunes), then what do
 we call the blues style music they play most of the time?  While I
 wouldn't try to argue that Purple Haze is blues, I don't see how Red
 House could possibly be considered anything else.

 I'll bet this same debate ensued when Muddy came out, playing different
 than his predecessors, and when Little Walter cut JUKE, a definite
 departure from the blues of times past.  We don't hear much about this
 (hypothetical) debate today.

 We can learn from this - a few generations from now, who will remember
 these quaint little debates?  They can be amusing, but they never
 accomplish anything.  We're better off making music than trying to
 pigeonhole it - and it's easier on the pigeons, too :-)

 There is a most harmful side in having a very narrow and strict
 definition of what is blues.  The stuff you specifically mentioned, most
 people think is just old junk.  If they don't like these few similar
 artists, then they don't like blues, and that hurts our marketplace.  By
 accepting a broader spectrum as "blues", we gain these additional artists
 - and their FANS.  Because they're now "blues fans", theey're inherently
 more receptive to other blues artists.  True, calling Hendrix or SRV
 "blues" isn't going to instantly make ALL of theeir fans appreciate
 Robert Johnson, but it's a whole lot more likely to eventually happen as
 long as we keep them as "blues fans" than if we chase them away with a
 cackle and broomstick.

 A lot of places are wary about hiring a "blues act" around here  in Los
 Angeles (e.g. "We had blues for a while - we died big time"), yet when I
 audition and don't mention blues (or include it with a whole bunch of
 other styles like oldies, classic rock, etc.), I typically get hired -
 and one of the most common compliments I get from the audience and
 management is "I REALLY like your blues".  And I do play mostly blues, or
 tunes arranged as blues or close to it.  It's not that I feel a
 compulsion to do so.  It's simply that that's how it comes out :-)


      You've proven that we still need to find where to draw the line between
different music forms. God help us if you tell too many people that Count
Basie is blues.

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