getting depressed

IronMan Mike Curtis ironman@MOONLINK.NET
Tue Jun 2 15:05:21 EDT 1998

> Mike's last post (and many of his past posts), details exhaustively
> how he "does his thing."  Mike does what he does really well.  He
> strikes me as professional, a talented guitar player and singer and a
> great harp player.  From all reports he stays working which by most
> standards means he's successful.  Has he brought more people to the
> blues?  Frankly I don't know.  Does he help the club sell more
> drinks?  It would appear so, but again I don't know.  Most of us
> haven't seen Mike perform so a discussion of Mike's specific
> techniques, although it can be "interesting" reading, may not be
> appropriate or pertinent to the discussion at hand.  Mike does have a
> CD which is quite good and I would encourage any music fan to check
> it out.

Sheesh, Scott - you sure make it hard to argue with you :-)

This means a lot to me, especially coming from a pro like yourself.  I have
Scotts CD, and it's excellent.  The music is great, and the atmosphere it
creates is exceptional.  Scott does some mean fingerstyle and slide acoustic
guitar.  And his partner, Juke joint Johnny, is no slouch on vocals and harp,
either.  If you like acoustic blues, check this one out.  (I think I posted a
more in depth review a while back - basically, I really like it.)

Anyway - my point was not that you have to play rap if that's what the
audience wants and it's not your style.  (Personally, I think they left the
first letter off.)  I sometimes get asked if I know any rap (for what reason I
cannot fathom - I don't even wear baggy pants ;-), and I don't know any, nor
would it fit with my style of music.

However, songs like Mustang Sally are different.  While it was an R&B hit,
it's basically a blues tune.  The changes are blues.  The form is 12 bar
blues.  And even the lyrics are bluesy.  Even though many are tired of it, I
see no conflict inherent in performing this tune, at least for myself, simply
because it was a top 40 hit instead of on the blues chart.  And I do a good
job on it, not as a rock tune, but as a blues tune, complete with harp solo.

One point we need to keep in mind is that blues and rock are closely related.
According to Muddy, rock is the offspring of blues.  There's also a broad
overlap between blues and jazz.  How many blues fans also like artists like
Jimmy Smith, Hank Crawford,, Dexter Gordon, and Miles Davis?  And with perfect
logic - the jazz these musicians play is bluesy.

Does this misrepresent what blues is?  Of course not.  Any song can be done as
blues.  Charlie Musselwhite does it all the time.  And "bluesy jazz" artists
like the above do it, too.  In fact, there are a great many instances of
originally nonblues songs being covered by blues artists AS BLUES SONGS.

Let me illustrate - if Luciano Pavarotti did Stormy Monday with his "band"
and in his "style", would it still be blues?


It might be terrible, but being somewhat familiar with Pavarottis work, I
think he just might surprise us.  Whatever he does, he does well - as an
operatic tenor.

One thing it helps to keep in mind is that "it's just music".  It's not like
brain surgery, where a slip of the knife could turn Newt Gingrich into his
amphibious namesake.  Music is the toy department of life.

Having said that, I will also say that there are some limits one should put on
responding to the audience.  As mentioned above, I won't take requests for
rap.  It's not my style, and it would probably alienate _my_ audience, who
came to see MY act and hear MY music.

I also refuse to do somersaults.  It's just not "me".  Besides, I'd probably
hang myself on the harp rack.

But if I can take a request and play it "my way", why not?

Also, I enjoy walking through the audience, playing from my knees, laying on
the ground, joking with the audience, and such.  These are things I've picked
up over the years.  At first, they felt unnatural - just like the first time I
played music in public.  Now they're second nature, and feel quite natural,
both to me and the audience.

While I could have rationalized that these things were "not me" back then, I
didn't.  And I'm glad.  They've helped me grow as a performer.  These
nonmusical things help keep people interested in my show even if they're not
all that much into the music itself.

This works for me.  Your mileage of course may vary.

If I took rap requests, would I be responding to the needs of my audience?
No, because MY audience is not rap oriented.

> > If you "draw a crowd" by catering to the wants/needs of
> > the audience and what they want/need is not blues how have you
> > served the blues?

I don't serve the blues.  It serves me :-)

 -- IronMan Mike Curtis
"Doin' It All Myself" CD on USA-MG records
Available from Tower Records, Tower Online, or me

More information about the Blues-l mailing list