i used to hate the blues, but i’m alright now
Since I picked up a black Silvertone archtop guitar in 1965 I’ve been playing the blues, but I just didn’t know it. If you asked me if I liked to listen to the blues, I would have told you “no way”. If you wanted me to go to a show I probably would pass, although over time I’ve managed to see some great ones. And while I’ve had the Lomax’s and Smith collections forever, it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve taken the time to listen carefully, track by track. And let me mention the R. Crumb anthology as well.
As much as the music itself, I find myself seduced by the stories. I hit the library and bookstores, crawling through the stacks in search of the oral histories. It’s an amazing American tale, if not the best. Did you know that the first publication of blues sheet music occurred exactly 100 years ago in 1912? It was Hart Wand’s “Dallas Blues”. And the first blues recording was also in that year…W.C. Handy’s “The Memphis Blues”. I don’t see much being written about these two events, nor much of a national centennial celebration. Of course there is a Facebook page. And some record label jumped the gun in 2001 and released A Century of Blues.
I like this website called You Tube….ever hear of it? They seem to have everything imaginable that was ever recorded, filmed or taped available to watch. And it’s free. Holy catfish. So as we head into a holiday weekend here in the States, and mark the unofficial start of summer, let me welcome you to a little “blues festival in a blog”. Let us enjoy.
For more great old footage of blues and folk artists of the past, make sure to visit FolkStreams. It’s an amazing site that calls itself “A National Preserve of Documentary Films about American Roots Cultures” and you can get lost in there for hours. And here’s a list of what they have available just within the blues genre.