“We headlined at the Fillmore and I remember I had to stand and listen to Janis Joplin scream. She was the great white hope for the blues, but all she did was scream. You see, people think that when white people scream that’s it’s soul. But that isn’t soul, it’s just screaming. I remember being in Washington, D.C. once, and the security guard asked me, when i walked on stage, “Hey Arthur, you gonna go up there and do some more screamin’?” Man, that really hit my heart and I haven’t written a screaming song since.”
I have about 2/3rd of this to still read, and up next after it is Phillip Radcliffe’s recently published biography of Mississippi john Hurt. (Both are purchases).
Oh here is another quote from pianist Brad Mehldau (from the Ottawa Citizen’s website) discussing non jazz acts at Jazz Festivals such as they hold in Ottawa. He recognizes the economic reality but he also mentions one aspect of what might be called other genres trading on jazz.
|Brad Mehldau's most recent solo recording.|
The full quote can be found at http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/jazzblog/archive/2011/06/22/brad-mehldau-on-non-jazz-at-jazz-festivals.aspx
I can find parallels with what he says with a lot of the so-called new blues, that I might suggest is similarly trading on blues as a genre. Artists playing music that twenty years ago would have been labelled rock without controversy is supposedly going to expand the blues audience, but bring an audience that will pretty much ignore “traditional blues.”
I have a lot of respect for Ray Manzarek’s work with the Doors and Roy Rogers work with the late John lee Hooker and his own blues-rock music, but I don’t see a lot of festivals going out of their way to feature blues legends like Jimmy Johnson and Jody Williams, as they seem to be to feature this pair. A woman is featured on the cover of Blues Revue and yet I would be hard pressed to name one blues song on her most recent CD (which isn’t saying the music isn’t good, just that it ain’t blues).
If promoting music like this (music that one might suggest is 'trading on the blues") is keeping the blues alive, perhaps the blues would be better off taken off life support. Let the music rest on its own qualities but just don't try to call it what it isn't.