Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > If I sometimes seem like a modernist crank....
If I sometimes seem like a modernist crank....
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kudzurunner
6366 posts
Nov 19, 2017
4:41 PM
....it's because I think that a blues harmonica traditionalist mindset tends to drop the curtain in 1965, in terms of allowable influences from black music and blues defined more broadly to include white contributions to the blues tradition. But a whole lot of blues and R&B and funk and blues-rock has happened since then, and it seems to me that people in our historical moment, looking backward, don't need to look back to the 40s, 50s, and early 60s and then bolt and lock the doors.

Why NOT "Superstition"? That's the music of my teenaged years. Brandon Bailey and I were just doing the same thing, back in 2010, that Rod Piazza was doing when he recorded "Rockin' Robin," a Bobby Day song from 1957.





Gussow/Bailey style:




There is a LOT of black R&B/funk and white blues rock from 1965-1995 that blues harmonica players should be jumping all over. Why they don't, and why they keep looking back beyond all that juicy stuff to an earlier, more "heroic" age, is beyond me.


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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)

Last Edited by kudzurunner on Nov 19, 2017 4:42 PM
Flbl
42 posts
Nov 19, 2017
6:16 PM
Simple answer is, it's not so easy to find, local DJs would play new music, but thats a thing of the past.
In my area there is one rock station, in the 90s they were competing with other stations so played a little new stuff,only reason i know about Kenny Wayne Shepherd, or Johnny Lang, thru pandora I've found others but only by accident,for instance Keb Moe, or Indigenouus, Walter Trout complete accident.
Vintage Trouble, JJ Grey and Mofro, accident.

I know it's out there but finding it is the hard part.
MP
3486 posts
Nov 19, 2017
6:17 PM
kudzurunner. Point of interest. Humorist Dave Barry once wrote that James Cotton played Rockin' Robin, flapped his arms and dove into the crowd; presumably to surf it, at Barry's college in the '60s.
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Last Edited by MP on Nov 19, 2017 6:18 PM
MindTheGap
2396 posts
Nov 20, 2017
12:27 AM
For me it's simply that the earlier songs had the harmonica as part of the original instrumentation, so it sounds normal there.

For example I suspect that for many folks, a big part of Superstition is that keyboard sound, not just the notes of the riff. In the same way, the harp is such distinctive sound that using it everywhere would be equivalent to reworking lots of other songs with a clavinet. It could be good, but it's not the same.

As an extreme example, imagine Baker Street with harmonica instead of the sax. I don't have to imagine it, I've heard it. As the performer, you'd have to make the choice of trying to make it sound like the original, in which case it will fall short, or adapting it to the strengths of the harp in which case you have to justify the change to your audience. That's not easy.

Not saying you shouldn't do it, but the distinctive sound of the harp is a positive and a negative.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 20, 2017 12:57 AM
Andrew
1732 posts
Nov 20, 2017
3:09 AM
@mp "humorist" may be the operative word!

You've got to try to progress. What if people had given up after Beethoven? What if people had given up after Hendrix?

@mindthegap Clavichord, mmmm, delicious! I was talking about what keyboard I might buy one day on another forum, and I said I hated most of the sounds you get when a keyboard generates 100 of them - the only sounds I wanted were grand piano, electric piano, church organ, hammond organ, harpsichord, maybe a vibraphone, and, jokingly, a mellotron emulator would be nice. Clavichord is one to add to the list!

Adam is right to emulate another instrument or another style on the harp (and Jason emulates the lead guitar), although Stone Fox Chase got there already to some extent. The harp is limited (is that heresy? I don't care!). It's necessary to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Tom Waits' hammers and anvils and dustbinlids were even more limited - good for an album, but not a good rut to get stuck in!

Funk's where it's at. I used to listen to a lot of P-Funk in the 70s, but my CD collection is very thin. I'm gonna buy me some James Brown, Sly and PF!

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(hip-hop as a funk revival, and black identity, and white hatred of hip-hop, would be one hell of a thread drift, so I won't go there, although I'd love to learn Adam's thoughts on the subject. Jeez, the 80s were so long ago. I have no sense of time)

Last Edited by Andrew on Nov 20, 2017 3:32 AM
MindTheGap
2397 posts
Nov 20, 2017
3:57 AM
Andrew - have you seen the Yamaha 'Reface' keyboards? There's four of them including a drawbar organ and electric piano. They look toy-like but I tried one in a shop the other day and it was a fantastic sound, really, really good. I'm trying to get my keyboard player to fall in love with one.

On the subject though I agree, I think people should push the envelope. Sometime it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm responding to Adam where he says he doesn't understand why some people don't want to move out of the pre-65 genre. I can see why that would be, and in my case it's for musical reasons that traditionalist reasons. All this happened before I was born, and in another place, so I don't have any sense of ownership, tradition, or have an opinion on authenticity. My music would be punk, new wave, early electronica, shoegazing - not much blues harp there.

Re funk, I don't think there was much native harp on there, but actually I think it fits in well musically, having heard some examples. I cite Mark Hummel's Funky Way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqsFKhm8o8I

I think it's because the highly syncopated, repetitive patterns we learn for blue shuffles and such translate nicely to the funk groove. Plus the sparse nature of the groove lets you here the lovely amped-harp textures.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 20, 2017 4:12 AM
The Iceman
3391 posts
Nov 20, 2017
4:04 AM
There is a direct parallel to jazz here. Maybe because blues and jazz were both created by Black musicians.

Miles Davis saw the static nature of jazz - it had progressed from the 20's through to the 60's and then split between traditionalist jazz nazi's and the more forward looking jazz fusion or jazz/rock (both of which Miles had, in a sense, created through his never being happy with standing in one place and repeating).

Sometimes I'm in the mood for traditional jazz and traditional unadorned blues, and sometimes I'm in the mood for more contemporary versions of these genres.
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The Iceman
Andrew
1733 posts
Nov 20, 2017
4:48 AM
@mindthegap
I think it was the Yamaha P115 I was looking at. We have a Yamaha showroom in London, but I think it's so long since I was last there that the models have all changed! The one I most liked then, whatever it was, only had 72 keys, which isn't enough for classical music. And the P45 doesn't seem as good.
Or there's the Casio privias px160.
But all these things have string synths and, worse, piano and strings split across the keyboard, to satisfy the schmucks who like to play that kind of drivel. I wish I could trade in that crap for more useful sounds. In fact that would be the way to go - just download the sounds you want from a menu on the web.

I'll go back to the showroom some time.
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Andrew.
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Last Edited by Andrew on Nov 20, 2017 5:07 AM
Andrew
1734 posts
Nov 20, 2017
4:54 AM
In its heyday I hated disco, but now I kind of miss it, but my history is hazy. Things like Earth, Wind and Fire weren't just funk-lite, they were disco, and I wouldn't bother with them now. Otoh, there was never anything wrong with Nile Rodgers.
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Andrew.
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MindTheGap
2398 posts
Nov 20, 2017
6:13 AM
Andrew, well the refaces aren't proper full size keyboards, so maybe not your thing. But they are very focussed sound-wise. You don't rate Earth, Wind and Fire? Oh no! How about the Bee Gees. One of my guilty pleasures is to drum along to Stayin' Alive. Highly groovy.

Now, if only it had some blues harp on it...
6SN7
749 posts
Nov 20, 2017
6:25 AM
I have always enjoyed Rob Papparozzi take on 1960's classics such as "Ticket To Ride", "Strange Brew", "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", "Peg" and "Shame, Shame, Shame." What's really cool is Rob puts his own signature on the tunes and I love how he swings like hell. Rod also does that woth Rocking Robin.

Adam's versions of tunes like "Superstition" and "Tequila" are clever and technically astute, on the same par with Rod and Rob. But to these ears, what sets the two apart is the beat. Adam's song has the beat of a street cornor musician, very traditoonal while Rob is swinging like crazy, very modern. But hey, that's me.
Flbl
43 posts
Nov 20, 2017
7:10 AM
There's something else that happens, our taste change and so does the music, when I was growing up I was alone in having an interest in blues, grew up listening to country, my parents missed the rock n roll era, if they had any music going it was big band music, by my early twenty's country had changed, went in a direction i didn't care for, and I simply stopped listening.
Don't get me wrong if i hear something now from the old days I'll listen and enjoy, but i don't seek it out.
Both the music and my taste changed.

Music must change and evolve, blue's from the 30s, and blue's from the 60s are both different but i enjoy hearing them, back in the 90s when Blue's Traveler hit the radio, I was all over it, loved it never heard anyone play like that, certainly nontraditional this was not Muddy Waters, and to me they seemed to be more of a jam band than a blue's band, there was still an feeling underneath of blues.

If there are new bands making new blues, that's just great be original, be creative, don't be LW, don't be SBW, throw out the guitar, and the harmonica try new instruments, play an Alpine horn or a pan flute, well maybe not.
But there must be something that speaks to the listener that says it's still blues.
Of course the listener must have an open mind to hear it.

BTW never listened to Funk till one of Adam's video's
so Adam thank you for that.
Flbl
44 posts
Nov 20, 2017
7:10 AM
There's something else that happens, our taste change and so does the music, when I was growing up I was alone in having an interest in blues, grew up listening to country, my parents missed the rock n roll era, if they had any music going it was big band music, by my early twenty's country had changed, went in a direction i didn't care for, and I simply stopped listening.
Don't get me wrong if i hear something now from the old days I'll listen and enjoy, but i don't seek it out.
Both the music and my taste changed.

Music must change and evolve, blue's from the 30s, and blue's from the 60s are both different but i enjoy hearing them, back in the 90s when Blue's Traveler hit the radio, I was all over it, loved it never heard anyone play like that, certainly nontraditional this was not Muddy Waters, and to me they seemed to be more of a jam band than a blue's band, there was still an feeling underneath of blues.

If there are new bands making new blues, that's just great be original, be creative, don't be LW, don't be SBW, throw out the guitar, and the harmonica try new instruments, play an Alpine horn or a pan flute, well maybe not.
But there must be something that speaks to the listener that says it's still blues.
Of course the listener must have an open mind to hear it.

BTW never listened to Funk till one of Adam's video's
so Adam thank you for that.
Honkin On Bobo
1494 posts
Nov 20, 2017
7:35 AM
+1 to what mindthegap wrote in his first post. I love the harp, but there are some songs that I feel it doesn't sound right on, some contexts that it doesn't feel right in.

PS: Didn't like disco then, don't like it now and if Little Walter himself came back from the dead and blew some harp to it, still wouldn't like it. Ditto for rap and hip hop. i'm too old to pretend to like something so as to appear hip to the milennials. But then, that's just me.
Andrew
1735 posts
Nov 20, 2017
8:00 AM
I like 1960s and pre-disco BeeGees, but maybe I was too soon to advocate disco. I meant things like Donna Summer. Maybe the gays always got disco better than the straights.
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Andrew.
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Last Edited by Andrew on Nov 20, 2017 8:01 AM
WinslowYerxa
1479 posts
Nov 20, 2017
8:17 AM
I remember the first time I saw Cotton as a teenager, in a concert setting. I was surprised and a bit put off by the amount of non-blues material he was doing. When I asked him about it, he replied that people don't want to hear all blues. A realistic take from a working musician.

But blues lovers do. And I think a lot of people love *that* sound - the sound of what we now think of as classic, country-defined urban blues from about 1948 to 1965. You can find this traditionalist streak, borne of love, in many musical traditions. Of course, it carries the dangers of staleness.

But there's a second, more destructive reason, and some of it has to do with the shift from black players and audiences to white.

When a new group of people comes into a tradition that isn't the one they grew up with, that isn't in their bones so to speak, they often want to do it right and be authentic. This desire can very quickly translate into a rigid set of beliefs and actions to ensure "correctness" and a resulting rejection of anything that doesn't fit a narrow, sharply drawn set of criteria.

Listen back to the mid-60s stuff that Junior Wells and Buddy Guy were doing, it was plainly based on earlier tradition, but at the same time was very contemporary. Same is true for Charlie Musselwhite and Paul Butterfield at that time. But one thing that made those stylistic combinations possible was how closely blues could be adapted to and infused with other current musical styles. That's not as easy to do with hip-hop or some of the more sophisticated forms of what now gets called "urban (i.e. black) contemporary" - they're too far apart.

===========
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Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff

Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Nov 21, 2017 11:53 PM
RyanMortos
1656 posts
Nov 20, 2017
8:21 AM
This may be due to when your first learning you study from the "heroic" age for many years. A lot of blues jams I go to stick to "heroic" age material and seemingly frown upon moving outside that as everyone might not be able to follow the changes, or it just doesn't sound to their ear like the blues, or whatever. Once you have some competency of the "heroic" age stuff I suppose you have a choice to stick with it or expand your repertoire.

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~Ryan

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JInx
1345 posts
Nov 20, 2017
12:01 PM
That kick drum should be syncopated
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Last Edited by JInx on Nov 22, 2017 12:15 PM
JSalow
25 posts
Nov 20, 2017
12:08 PM
I thought I had a good original blues harp take on Rockin' Robin, and I've been put in my place. That Piazza clip is amazing.
The Iceman
3395 posts
Nov 20, 2017
1:49 PM
As far as the evolution of music and/or pop music, it has come to a dead end.

It used to be that every 10 years, a new sound, genre or style popped up. One can think of 50's music (brings to mind R&R, Elvis, Chuck Berry and that Chicago Blues). Then came the 60's - British Invasion, Beatles, Paul Revere, Haight Ashbury groups, and the corporate world entering the Rock and Roll world (cause they saw where the $ was). The 70's were the ME ME ME and Disco/clubbing and Funk. 80's was the advent of alternative rock, beginnings of rap, etc....Then, since the 2000 and beyond, everything came to a stand still. One can listen to pop music from 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015 and current and it would be hard to determine which decade the music came from - it is all sounding the same.
Have we reached the end of the evolution?

Time will tell, but it is interesting, nonetheless!
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The Iceman
DanP
356 posts
Nov 20, 2017
2:13 PM
@kuzurunner. Interesting thread. Anytime the subject of what is and is not the blues, race is the "elephant in the room". If you will allow me to play devil's advocate, I'll pose this question: If white people rather than black people are updating and modernizing the blues, is it still blues? The thrust of that question is not my opinion but I would be interested to read people's take on that.
kudzurunner
6367 posts
Nov 20, 2017
2:20 PM
@MindtheGap:

Some important blues harmonica "originals" were originally played on saxophone, before Little Walter got ahold of them. "Evans Shuffle" was Jimmy Liggins's sax on "The Honeydripper, for example. I think "Juke" was also partly drawn from a sax riff. Little Walter listen to Sonny Stitt and wanted to play harp the way Sonny Stitt played sax.

Robert Johnson's distinctive guitar style was heavily influenced by blues piano players; that's well known. Ed Komara tracks all the influences.

It was a truism among jazz guitar players in the 70s that you needed to listen to, transcribe, and adapt Charlie Parker's bebop solos.

Magic Dick began as a sax player; his distinctive riffs, especially as an accompanist, are somewhat drawn from the way sax players fill.

Some of the most creative first position harp ever recorded was an attempt to copy Louis Armstrong's trumpet riffs. I'm thinking of Blues Birdhead's "Mean Low Blues" (1929):



So from my perspective, the harmonica-originally-played-it argument doesn't seem quite as strong as it seems to you. From my perspective, I'm gesturing at the way that creativity on our instrument and in our idiom has always operated.

And of course there's Big Walter's signature piece, "La Cucaracha." He adapted the melody from a strolling Mexican string band.

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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)

Last Edited by kudzurunner on Nov 20, 2017 2:23 PM
kudzurunner
6368 posts
Nov 20, 2017
2:29 PM
@DanP: Oh, black people are updating and modernizing the blues. But what black people call blues, white people don't acknowledge as blues. THAT is a problem.

Mississippi Blues Fest 2017



This is a blues festival run by black Mississippians, with 100% black acts and 99.99% black audiences. Before saying, "That's not blues!," white "blues" lovers might stop and think about the distance between, say, the music embraced by white Dixieland revivalists in the 1940s and, twenty years later, Coltrane's wildest excursions. The Dixielanders might say, "That's not jazz!" Coltrane would just shake his head and continue playing.


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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)

Last Edited by kudzurunner on Nov 20, 2017 2:33 PM
jbone
2383 posts
Nov 20, 2017
2:53 PM
We started as pretty much "blues only" in this duo. As time went on we were drawn to more roots and country stuff as well. From Dylan to Pink Floyd, Hank Senior to the man in black. Maybe a Prince. Or a Bowie. All with a harp part. Some 17 years ago I was with a blues rock band that wanted to do a heavy version of All Along the Watchtower, so I worked out a harp part in 3rd, pretty much rhythm but definitely there. Early this year I was at GZ in Clarksdale and a guy on stage called it off and looked at me with a smirk. When he kicked off I showed him I could hang and he gave me a double turnaround.
Harmonica is just not a blues only instrument. It has been used on probably 98% of different styles of music. Why limit yourself?
We have written some alt/blues kind of stuff that lets me switch positions on the same harp in the same song, no idea what you call that. A modulation maybe. On the same project we have some old country style along with some sexy jump/swing, and a lot in between.

So there is no curmudgeonly attitude at the Jawbone and Jolene Camp.
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DanP
357 posts
Nov 20, 2017
5:34 PM
The only blues record label that I know of that still markets to black people is Malaco Records. A lot of white people don't consider some of their music blues but it is. Black people have been modernizing and updating blues music for the last 50 years while many white blues musicians, not all but many, have been stuck in a 1950s Chicago style. I like that style very much but it can become redundant if that's all they play. Actually I can go back further than 50 years. The blues Charlie Patton played in the 1920s and the electric blues of the 1950s is quite different. Looking back at the history of African-American music of the last 150 years or so, it has changed from decade to decade. I think the reason most black people don't listen to traditional blues is that it is pre-civil rights era music and as a Southerner who saw segregation and Jim Crow laws firsthand when I was a kid, I can't really blame them. However, I think more young blacks would like traditional blues if there were more outlets for them to hear it.

Last Edited by DanP on Nov 20, 2017 5:51 PM
kudzurunner
6369 posts
Nov 20, 2017
6:27 PM
Here's the sort of modern blues variation we should be copying and adapting.



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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)
1847
4539 posts
Nov 20, 2017
6:40 PM
i have to admit... i have no idea what we are discussing here. i am a bit mystified. but thats just me. i have no idea what is considered modern or even why that is somehow an issue.... however for your dining pleasure..

jbone
2384 posts
Nov 20, 2017
7:43 PM
1847, Great cut! To me Lester Butler, with Red Devils and beyond, was "modern" blues. As evidenced by the processed sound on that work.
I think we tend to forget sometimes that "blues" is always morphing. What we may call blues today, Memphis Minnie or Charlie Patton would be ready to fight over. Every time a new talent emerges, every time we see new technology- dating back to Sun and Chess Records and the tricks they used to get a particular flavor on a song- blues changes a bit. It's a great tasty stew we all add a bit to if we're lucky.
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DanP
360 posts
Nov 20, 2017
8:19 PM
That was two videos in a row that featured people on the cutting edge of music who died and left us way too soon. Lester Butler who was a great harmonica player who brought something new to the table and Jaco Pastorius in the other video who was a total original and maybe the greatest electric bass player of all time. Both of their deaths were stupid and unnecessary. Jaco died from a fight with a bouncer at a club and Lester Butler from a drug overdose. Big losses to the music world.
MindTheGap
2399 posts
Nov 20, 2017
11:55 PM
@kudzurunner - Yes I see, and very good examples. I do accept that I (and I expect others) tend to carry a sense of where we heard a thing first and ascribing special importance to that. I know that in reality all new music comes from evolution. Probably.

However, my point isn't about origins or evolution. More that there does seem to be a period when the blues harp had a heyday in terms of developing a style and sound, and I think that's what I think provides this barrier you were talking about in the OP.

Interesting example of Blues Birdhead. I've been fascinated by that style before. It's a good example because it's clearly copying from another instrument but sounds very much it's own. Who's playing like that now? Who's teaching that style?

Always tricky discussing Juke, but you said it first :) Of course it nicks a standard sax riff, but makes something better out of it. Isn't that the challenge, to either invent or borrow something and make it sound better on the harp?

And (I know I'm repeating) that's particularly hard with the harp because of its sound. Some instruments lend themselves better to playing very different styles - apparently by common consent. Trumpet vs euphonium.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 21, 2017 4:32 AM
Chris L
171 posts
Nov 21, 2017
8:16 PM
The longer I explore harp music the less I believe blues harp stopped at 1965 or any particular point. 1965 saw Butterfield release his first album. That was a starting point for a whole new wave of rock creativity. The Jaco Pastorius period piece above had harp players like Jim Liban go right down the funk lane:
LevelUp
52 posts
Nov 22, 2017
4:58 AM
Adam said: "Oh, black people are updating and modernizing the blues. But what black people call blues, white people don't acknowledge as blues. THAT is a problem."

I'll echo this and elaborate. Imagine if, once Glen Miller band hit the scene, that all subsequent Jazz was not considered Jazz. Imagine if, once the Beastie Boys and Eminem appeared, that subsequent hip hop was not considered hip hop.

That's not just cultural appropriation, it is actually a form of cultural control. By boxing the blues into a pre-1965 box, that is EXACTLY what white blues players and critics are doing. And 1965 isn't just a random cutoff, civil rights movement anyone?

It isn't "classicizing the blues." It is plain and simple theft of one of America's living musical legacies.

Similar examples that can be heard from the mouths of blues-interested white people:

"Back in the day blacks had it really hard, that's why the old blues is the most soulful- back in the day, blacks really suffered and that is why the music is so good." I've heard this and similar countless times. It's garbage. The music is soulful because the musicians were talented innovators who created soulful variations within a constrained harmonic framework.

There is also fetishizing blackness as a marker of blues capability, similar to how white sport commentators would comment about blacks early on when they were first allowed into pro sports teams. Intentions may be good, impact is still kinda racist.

I've also seen in jams where the black guy (ever notice the blues scene is often a bunch of white guys and one black guy?) gets a ton of "respect" that comes in the form of treating the guy like he is a special authority on the blues, even if he is just a beginning harmonica player still learning the ropes. I get the intent, but imagine if you are that black guy? It would feel shitty.

I see these kinds of statements and treatments often from white players. I think it is something the blues community should talk about more. White people are not going to stop playing the blues, and so if we are to be walking that path it is irresponsible of the blues community to not address the issue periodically.

My two cents.
Honkin On Bobo
1496 posts
Nov 22, 2017
6:07 AM
"That's not just cultural appropriation, it's actually a form of cultural control. By boxing the blues into a pre-1965 box, that is EXACTLY what white blues players and critics are doing. And 1965 isn't just a random cutoff, civil rights movement anyone?"



Yeah. I know everytime I listen to those sweet Little Walter licks on My Babe I think, man I sure wish the civil rights movement of the sixties never happened.

Last Edited by Honkin On Bobo on Nov 22, 2017 7:05 AM
kudzurunner
6370 posts
Nov 22, 2017
6:14 AM
Here's an interesting attempt--a good attempt--to modernize the blues even while decrying those who have steered it away from its core values. To my ears, it blends Albert King guitar groove with something drawn from rock--but it's criticizing rock from a blues perspective! This, in any case, is one place where contemporary blues lands:




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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)
Honkin On Bobo
1497 posts
Nov 22, 2017
6:37 AM
Two thumbs up for that Zac Harmon cut. I'd never heard him before. He has a new fan. Went on youtube and there are two videos of his entire set from something called the Denton blues fest in 2016 and 2015.
MP
3491 posts
Nov 22, 2017
2:47 PM
When kudzurunner mentions current black blues, he means artists known pretty much only to blacks who listen to blues. These artists are virtually unknown to the white blues listener.

I'll bet few players other than kudzurunner could tell me what instrument Travis "Moon Child" Haddix plays, and what his repertoire consists of. Also, his current standing on black listeners blues charts. If I didn't see him in town at least once a year I wouldn't know he is popular w/ black blues listeners either.
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Reasonably priced Reed Replacement and tech support on Hand Made Series Hohner Diatonic Harmonicas.

'Making the world a better place, one harmonica at a time.
Click MP for more info. Aloha Mark
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MP
3492 posts
Nov 22, 2017
3:37 PM
@ Andrew
@mp "humorist" may be the operative word!"

Yes, and a great Humorist he is. Barry was comparing orchestral music and what he called normal music. James Cotton was what he considered normal music. Just a theory, but I wouldn't be surprised if Piazza got the idea to combine Little Bitty Pretty One/ Rockin Robin from James Cotton.

@ Andrew
"You've got to try to progress. What if people had given up after Beethoven? What if people had given up after Hendrix?"

After Beethoven a lot of composers didn't know what to do because his shadow was so great.

Not so w/ Hendrix.

Jazz after Buddy Bolden and others produced Louis Armstrong. Then there where the great swing bands and Duke Ellington. We can't forget Lester Young and Dexter Gordon. Gordon was pre and post Bop. Bebop produced Dizzy Gilespie and Charlie Parker. Then we had Miles Davis and Coltrane. Sonny Rollins came along w/ a great album called The Bridge so as not to imitate the greats before him.

Blues will continue to evolve in ways a lot of people don't care for.

looking back.. even Louis Armstrong called Bebop 'That Chinese music". OH well.
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Reasonably priced Reed Replacement and tech support on Hand Made Series Hohner Diatonic Harmonicas.

'Making the world a better place, one harmonica at a time.
Click MP for more info. Aloha Mark
.

Last Edited by MP on Nov 22, 2017 3:40 PM
florida-trader
1228 posts
Nov 22, 2017
4:11 PM
One my favorites.


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Tom Halchak
www.BlueMoonHarmonicas.com
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AppalachiaBlues
87 posts
Nov 23, 2017
12:35 AM
Post-1965, post-traditional-blues harmonica?

I think that Lee Oskar's work with Eric Burdon and War is a great example. They fused together post-Animals blues-rock with 1970 LA-funk-R&B-soul. Pure magic. Oskar plays the harp like a horn. Sometimes playing together with the sax/flute, and sometimes stepping forward to solo. Innovative in it's day. And their music stands the test of time.

Last Edited by AppalachiaBlues on Nov 23, 2017 12:50 AM
AppalachiaBlues
88 posts
Nov 23, 2017
12:44 AM
AppalachiaBlues
89 posts
Nov 23, 2017
12:59 AM
...and Oskar's harp provided the signature riff for War's biggest hit, Low Rider.

Last Edited by AppalachiaBlues on Nov 23, 2017 1:46 AM
MindTheGap
2401 posts
Nov 23, 2017
3:02 AM
Lots of great examples here.

Focussing on the harp, rather than blues in general, am I wrong then in thinking that there was a period when the harp was part of the standard instrumentation and sound, then a later period it became more of a novelty or specialist thing?

Now it's often rolled out as a 'guest instrument' to confer a vintage or rootsy feel. With the mix of modern and vintage sounds being the hook. I cite Liam Gallagher's Wall of Glass from 2017.

To be precise: in general, an electric guitar is used to provide vintage sound, a modern sound, or anywhere in-between. A blues harp is typically used now to provide a vintage sound. Whatever it is really capable of, this suggests that people generally hear it as harking back to some golden period (of pre-65 or whenever).

This is how it appears to me. Is that a valid view?

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 23, 2017 4:32 AM
Andrew
1736 posts
Nov 23, 2017
4:52 AM
The postman just delivered James Brown's Messing With the Blues.
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Andrew.
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AppalachiaBlues
91 posts
Nov 23, 2017
5:34 AM
The Iceman
3401 posts
Nov 23, 2017
8:16 AM
I really enjoy Keb' Mo. His blues feels traditional, authentic, yet has a contemporary sound to it as well. To me, he is one of the contemporary black blues artists to embrace the past and move it into the present. He also "guests" on others CD's - heard a great duo with him playing slide and Koko Taylor singing off of one of her albums!
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The Iceman
6SN7
752 posts
Nov 23, 2017
10:12 AM
Apropo to this, kind of.....I watched an interview with the late Malcolm Young of AC/DC. In the interview, he said AC/DC was a Rock and Roll band not a Rock band. He said that people would ask, why don't you add more chords to your songs and he said, why bother, three chords does the job. Any more chords and you have a jazz band, why complicate it?
SuperBee
5086 posts
Nov 23, 2017
12:59 PM
The OP seems a somewhat contrived context in which to post the superstition clip, without seeming merely to say ‘check me out, I’m cool’, while taking a shot at the musical values of some recent critics.

In any case, I agree with Jinx. That drum really detracts from the effect.
I think it’s holding you back.

You can play very well and have strong harmonic concepts. I’d personally like your work more if you employed greater dynamic variation. Your music tends to a one paced approach ime. I tend to pass over your stuff these days or just listen for a few seconds because of this. Maybe you have used different approaches and I’ve missed them, but it seems every time I hear you it’s a fairly harsh sound at a similar level throughout and a tempo which is moderate to fast. I know you can play slow, but I seldom hear you do it, and I rarely hear any emotional depth in what you offer. I hear energy, but it’s aurally fatiguing.
My advice is to lose the drum. I just can’t see any hope for you to have greater appeal while you cling to that idea.
Sundancer
176 posts
Nov 23, 2017
4:45 PM
Reading this thread makes me remember what a good day it is give thanks for our first amendment rights. Lots of opinions.

Winslow made an interesting observation about James Cotton’s repertoire contraining much more than just Blues. In his (badly in need of a good editor) book called “Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the invention of the blues” Elijah Wald wrote that when Muddy Waters was interviewed by Alan Lomax in the early 1940’s and asked about the songs he played “less than half the songs Waters mentioned were blues” and named songs like Missouri Waltz, Deep In the heart of Texas, Red Sails in the Sunset, Chattanooga choo-choo, and Take me back to my boots and saddle. So if Muddy wasn’t a blues purist back in 1941, because he needed a fuller repertoire so the punters could dance, why would anyone think ya need to be one now?????

PS- hey SuperBb, hope you are in good health & spirits amigo. I usually find your postings to be informative and insightful. Pardon me for saying so, but your last one seemed a tad more spiteful than insightful. IMO anyway.

Last Edited by Sundancer on Nov 23, 2017 10:10 PM
kudzurunner
6371 posts
Nov 23, 2017
5:45 PM
Nice try at a hijack, SuperBee, and I don't blame you for it, but this thread isn't about me. It's about an approach to music-making, one that seek new ways, rather than pre-established ways, to express the spirit of the blues. We've got a nice discussion going about that subject, I think.

I agree with Iceman about Keb' Mo'. I really like his songwriting, and I'm even more impressed with John Lee Hooker, Jr., whose whole approach couldn't be more different than his dad's. Here are two examples of great contemporary blues songwriting. I don't know any other blues composer who can shoehorn the phrases "biological weapon," "weapon of mass destructon," "child support," and "restraining order" into blues lines and make them fit:





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Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (UNC Press, 2017)

Last Edited by kudzurunner on Nov 23, 2017 5:48 PM
MindTheGap
2402 posts
Nov 24, 2017
3:26 AM
I like the foot-drum + harp sound. It is genuinely different, and (whatever the intended purpose) for me it highlights kudzurunner's strongly syncopated style which presses the right buttons at a visceral level. The diatonic harp is a weak on notes (despite best efforts), but strong on rhythm and timbre and this style shows it off really well.

This thread started off, I think, as 'new ways with the harp' but has fallen back to the default of 'what happened to the blues'. Ah well.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 24, 2017 3:27 AM


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