The Golden Age of Blues - was there one?

Don O. bluesdfw@YAHOO.COM
Wed Sep 1 21:19:00 EDT 2010

Hey Ken,

Hope you're doing well my friend.  Sounds like you need another trip to Texas!

I don't know if there was a golden age, or if there will be one, I just know
that this is a great time to be a blues fan and I don't have the pessimism
about the future that many seem to have.  It is a tough time to be a blues
artist, but when has that ever been easy?

Consider this.  Most of us got into this music not knowing where to go, who
to listen to, or how to find information.  I remember buying LP after LP
trying to get tracks by artists I loved that I didn't have.  Now with the
internet, information is right at anyone's fingertips.  Who played guitar on
that track?  If you can't google it, someone on a blueslist can tell you.
Hear a track by a pre-war artist you like?  If you can't buy a pre-packaged
box set you can find it all, in chronological order, on Document or some
other Euro label.  Those great obscurities, which used to only be heard by
hardcore 78 collectors, are now instantly available for download.   The
great labels like Chess, Stax, Sun, and others have box sets on all their
great artists.  Google "blues music" and it generates 90 MILLION hits.  The
music and information is more available than it has ever been.  You no
longer have to have a brother or a good friend who has the deep knowledge or
the incredible record collection.  It's all right here at your fingertips,
you just have to have the interest to look for it.

As far as the future is concerned, there are young people who are into the
blues.  It is mainly a matter of exposure and education.  Smokin Joe Kubek
and Bnois King recently performed at a big festival in Lithuania.  They said
it was packed with thousands of teenagers who loved their music and bought
every CD they had brought.  I think there are markets that have not been
tapped.  China!  India!  The mind boggles when you consider the potential
with the right marketing.

There are young performers out there, too.  I think most of us can name 1 or
2.  Total them up and there are more than you might think.  The problem is
not in the lack of quality performers.  The problem is in the explosion of
cheap, easy recording and the near death of record labels.  Today, everybody
with $50 and a guitar is putting out a CD.  It just takes more work to wade
through the crap and the "noise" to find the good stuff.   I know, I get
them at KNON every week.  Sadly, some of the least talented performers are
the best marketers and vice versa.  That's where the shrinking of record
labels has really hurt the industry.  It used to be that people with "good
ears" found the talent and then helped promote them.  That filter is mostly
gone, with both pluses and minuses, but mostly minuses, as I see it.  That
being said, I am continually surprised and delighted to discover new artists
doing the stuff I enjoy.

I think the explosion of information and access to the music that we
currently have has to percolate a bit before we see the returns, but I think
we will see them.  If we live long enough.  I don't know if there was or
will be a golden age, but I think there's plenty of great blues to discover
and enjoy and I don't see that ending anytime soon.

Don O.
DFW Blues Website

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