Purists

Joe McGaha bookings@bourbonroad.com
Fri May 2 11:59:06 EDT 2008


There definitely is a line in which a song becomes too hard or heavy to be considered true blues, but at the same time, the parameters (in my opinion) should be a little more open than they are. I know it's a constant annoyance to old school blues guys when bluesy-rock guys (which many would consider Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan to be) call themselves a blues band. I have never liked being boxed into any one category, as it limits one's creativity. If I decide to perform a song that's more jazzy, or more rock oriented, do I cease to be a blues performer?

Country has changed quite a bit. The country music that is on the radio currently would have been in the rock or pop category 20 years ago. If the Eagles were starting out today, they would be considered a country band. 

I personally want to reach the widest audience ever, and I often get doors shut in my face as soon as I tell them we're a blues band. When competing with other local bands, we've had to submit under the rock category, as a blues category didn't even exist (we actually won the local round of the Shift 2 Nissan competition in Orange County, competing against local rock & punk bands right out of high school). The whole category thing often feels very stifling, as (in Walter's words) the blues is not pure (no modern music is). Blues, country, rock, r & b and jazz all influence each other, and Latin music is bleeding into the whole scene as well.

So much is just for marketing purposes, which has very little to do with the art that we're creating here. 

Joe
-----Original Message-----
From: E. Willett [mailto:Unklegeo@msn.com]
Sent: Friday, May 2, 2008 11:49 AM
To: 'Joe McGaha', BLUES-L@LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG
Subject: Re: Purists

I'm in a bit of a quandary over this issue. I like a lot of the newer, younger guys, but I think there's a line where the music isn't Blues any more. Does the artist saying it's Blues make it so? 
 George 
----- Original Message ----- 
From:Joe McGaha
To:BLUES-L@LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 11:09 AM
Subject: Re: Purists


Well put, Walter! There are so many "purists" in Southern California (we call them blues nazis), who have no interest in anything that doesn't sound exactly like blues that they have already heard. There are those who say "if it's not Delta blues, it's not blues", or "if it's not Chicago blues, it's not blues". None of us live in a vacuum -- we hear all of the other types of music going on in our multi-cultural society, and it's ridiculous to think that it wouldn't influence us. I think Jazz and Rock have had more of an opportunity to evolve than the blues. It's important to know our past, but it's equally important to express our own experiences through the music.

"Cleanhead" Joe McGaha

Bourbon Road

http://www.bourbonroad.com

http://www.myspace.com/bourbonroad
-----Original Message-----
From: Walter Potter [mailto:maxdog-blues-l@COMCAST.NET]
Sent: Friday, May 2, 2008 09:48 AM
To: BLUES-L@LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG
Subject: Re: Purists

My thought is how can someone be a "purist" about something that isn't really pure itself? The blues as a genre certainly has its influences, from African music to popular music of the day to gospel and jazz (which came first, blues or jazz?), even some country. The "blues" is a mutt to begin with that became a breed. At the same time I personally hate to see so much added to or exaggerated in the mix that is the blues that it actually becomes something else, like rock, yet still be called the blues. Nothing wrong with rock, its just a mix of blues and other forms of music that is different enough that it deserves its own label. The boundaries are fuzzy. You might walk from Mississippi to Arizona and one step might look like the next but at some point you are in the Delta and another you are in the desert. Some folks are selling rock as blues because they are on the same continuum when they can be as different as Delta and desert. Its a matter of degrees and perception and t astes but also of reality. But what we really should be asking is "Is the music good? Does it suit MY tastes?" These are "Walter's Jumbled Thoughts" for the day. BTW, anyone seen the lineup for the Ottawa Blues Festival? Lots of good music and lots of it nowhere near the blues. -- Walter -------------- Original message ---------------------- From: Ron Weinstock > Reading the thread, including talking about Sean Costello, I am getting annoyed > by the term 'purist' > as it seems a straw man but does not seem to really say anything. A few > observations. > > Blues is increasingly a marketing category which bears less relationship to the > music of Blind Willie > McTell, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Esther Phillips, B.B. King, Big Maybelle, > Lightning Hopkins, and > Bobby Bland. A lot of 'blues' music today is bluesy as opposed to blues and its > a critical plus to some > bozos in the media that the music doesn't sound like 'blues.' Many want to hear > blues that sounds > like 70s rock or folk. > > Want to talk about racism, well 'some' of those complaining about purists > dismiss soul-blues as not > blues (and look at the Penguin Guide of the Blues and there was an exchange on > the post-war blues > list that is illuminating). > > BTW, the label 'blues' ultimately says nothing about whether the music is any > good and if a 'blues' > performer goes somewhere beyond blues certainly that is fine. > > And having listened to Sean Costello's last recording, I can say, even a purist > can enjoy it. :p Blues-L web site: http://www.netspace.org/~blues-l/ Archives & web interface: http://lists.netspace.org/archives/blues-l.html NetSpace LISTSERV(R) software donated by L-Soft, Inc. http://www.lsoft.com To unsubscribe from BLUES-L, send an email with the message UNSUBSCRIBE BLUES-L to: listserv@lists.netspace.org

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