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SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years

Michael S 25 Feb 09 - 03:48 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Feb 09 - 04:58 PM
Peace 25 Feb 09 - 05:04 PM
topical tom 25 Feb 09 - 05:33 PM
pdq 25 Feb 09 - 05:45 PM
Michael S 25 Feb 09 - 06:08 PM
pdq 25 Feb 09 - 06:27 PM
Mr Happy 26 Feb 09 - 06:17 AM
GUEST 26 Feb 09 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Feb 09 - 03:45 PM
reggie miles 26 Feb 09 - 04:15 PM
PoppaGator 26 Feb 09 - 04:20 PM
reggie miles 26 Feb 09 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Suzy T. 26 Feb 09 - 09:12 PM
Michael S 26 Feb 09 - 09:41 PM
pdq 26 Feb 09 - 10:05 PM
matt milton 27 Feb 09 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 27 Feb 09 - 09:38 AM
GUEST 27 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM
Michael S 27 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM
matt milton 27 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM
matt milton 28 Feb 09 - 05:50 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Feb 09 - 11:15 AM
matt milton 28 Feb 09 - 12:50 PM
Azizi 28 Feb 09 - 01:58 PM
open mike 28 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM
Azizi 28 Feb 09 - 02:18 PM
Azizi 28 Feb 09 - 02:32 PM
Michael S 02 Mar 09 - 07:57 PM
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Subject: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Michael S
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:48 PM

There will be no San Francisco Blues Festival this year, it says here . The country's longest continuous Blues fest will probably never come back, according to founder Tom Mazzolini. He cites the usual problems--growing difficulty selling tickets and attracting sponsors.

But what really struck me was Mazzolini's difficulty in attracting the well-known headliners necessary to draw huge crowds. I lived in SF from 1976 to 1995 and went to the fest many times. I saw BB King, Buddy Guy, Hooker, Ruth Brown, Otis Rush, so many. I don't know if it's changed, but back then it didn't have the multiple stages so common at fests today. There was one stage. You found your spot on the ground and everyone watched the same show for two days. In my days there, Mazzolini never adopted the Jazz Fest approach of booking rock stars with no real blues cedibility. A quick look at the festival website suggests he's never done that.

Is blues such a weak draw nowadays that good young artists can't make an impact? How sad.

--Michael Scully
--Austin


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 04:58 PM

Seconded


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Peace
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:04 PM

Shame to see a piece of history go away like that.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: topical tom
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:33 PM

Yet another downer.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: pdq
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 05:45 PM

If people can wait until August 8, try this one:

                                                    Sonora Blues Festival


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Michael S
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:08 PM

I looked at the website for the Sonora festival that pdq posted. Of the 5 acts in the 2009 lineup so far, everyone is white. Of the 22 performers listed on the homepage under "past festivals," 17 are white (or fronted by whites). (And Bo Diddley is now dead.) This is not a knock on the Sonora festival. That looks like an event I'd enjoy, and the SF festival booked plenty of white artists over the years.

But it sure says something (but what?) about whether or not young blacks are taking to the blues. I know there are black blues artists working today, but I'm not sure if there's a critical mass of young blacks doing it in sufficient #s to make this look like a black vernacular scene. Is this good, bad, or indifferent? I don't know. I listen to white blues artists, and the white Charlie Musselwhite, for one, is as steeped in the genre as a man could be.

Thoughts?

--Michael Scully


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: pdq
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:27 PM

Robben Ford can flat play regardless of his ethnic background.

Oddly, I was in the tiny town of Jamestown at the time the festival was going on, and traffic was slow, so people were talking to each other . Pedesrtians talking to folks is cars that were stuck in traffic. A friendly atmosphere. I'm sure Bo Diddley and Hook were there, but I had other things to do.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Mr Happy
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 06:17 AM

An honest question.

Does someone really need to be of a particular complexion to sing blues?


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 06:59 AM

Can blue men sing the whites
Or are they hypocrites for singing woo woo wooh


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 03:45 PM

The sad fact is that the number of blues musicians of any real merit can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand and many of them are sadly past their best. It isn't possible to have a blues festival if the performers aren't there. Going to see people from a different era and or culture trying to emulate people like Muddy, Wolf, Hopkins, Hooker etc etc just isn't the same as seeing and hearing the real thing.
Like they say all good things must come to an end.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: reggie miles
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 04:15 PM

This news is enough to give anyone the blues.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 04:20 PM

The blues may not be dead, but so many great artists of an earlier generation are dying off, and the genre is NOT particularly popular among the masses of contemporary African Americans.

There are plenty of white artists who understand and interpret the blues (just as there are plenty of pretenders & wannabes), while there are relatively few "young" black blues artists. ("Young" meaning young enough to still be alive). Taj, Keb Mo, Chris Thomas King, and who else?

A preponderance of Caucasian players at a 21st century blues event should not be a surprise, nor should it in any way invalidate the event's "authenticity." That's who digs the blues these days.

Now, if a longrunnig blues event offered all-white lineups twenty years ago and more, that's different. Such an event probably WAS somewhat lame back then.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: reggie miles
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 08:47 PM

It's taken me all of the last 30 years just to prepare to play events like this. Now that I finally feel ready, the entire genre seems to be going down the tubes. It's the story of my life and the story of my blues, a few decades late and genre short.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST,Suzy T.
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 09:12 PM

There are definitely some terrific younger black blues artists including Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Eric Bibb, Otis Taylor, Phil Wiggins to name just a few. Last year I also was privileged to hear a totally amazing young (like 20 years old!) black musician named Jerron Paxton, watch out for him! These are all acoustic musicians -- I don't know how many black electric blues musicians there are playing these days, maybe not too many. I am so very saddened by the demise of this festival and I hope they find a way to reinvent themselves, maybe as a smaller event with a more modest budget and scope.
For those Mudcatters interested in acoustic blues, you might want to check out Centrum's Country Blues Workshop/Festival which is so much fun I can't even begin to tell you! go to www.centrum.org and click on the Country Blues Workshop. A spinoff website is www.weeniecampbell.com which is indispensable to anyone interested in acoustic blues (imho)
Suzy T.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Michael S
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 09:41 PM

I'm glad Suzy named those black musicians. I don't know how old Suzy is, but I do find myself, at 54, smiling at who gets called "younger" these days. Corey Harris is 40--a mere kid; Alvin Hart is 46; Eric Bibb is 58; Otis Taylor is 60; Phil Wiggins is 54.

When I was in my 20s, and Muddy and Wolf were still alive, I thought they were ancient. So I guess all these guys do have a lot of time left.

Thanks for the tip on Centrum, Suzy. I hadn't heard of that.


--Michael Scully


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: pdq
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 10:05 PM

Suzy T. is one of the finest fiddle players working, and her hubby Eric Thompson is a great guitarist: He was on the classic record "Beatles Country" in about 1966. She is, of course, much younger than he...


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: matt milton
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 05:27 AM

So many of the above comments are way, way off.

For a start, here is a roster of of authentic blues players still around and playing and bookable. Not that it matters, but the majority are black:

http://www.musicmaker.org/artists

The colour of skin's irrelevant, particularly in the case of young blues musicians: they'll be learning from recordings anyway. I think there's actually something a little bit racist in the assumption that blues music should be any different from any other commodified entertainment that has been sold on records and latterly CDs for almost 100 years.

Every time I read a post about blues being dead I post a long list of current young acts making good blues music. It's always roundly ignored, because I think the people who mourn the passing of blues don't want to have to change their opinion. I think they secretly actually WANT the blues to die.

I can't help thinking a lot of the reasons a mainstream blues festival might be suffering are down to the fact that they rely too much on putting the same big name acts in their 70s and 80s all the time.

Unlike, say, the sterling work done by promoters like Not The Same Old Blues Crap, or the website magazine Blues In London, they just don't have their ear to the ground.

Blues festivals need to be putting on the likes of Samuel James, Duke Garwood, Hat Fitz & Itchy, Steven Finn, The Fuji (and scores of others). If it means downsizing a little, then that's what they should do. When you have a specialist, marginalized music like blues, a festival has to be its own draw - people have to trust its name as a guarantee of quality blues music, not simply turn up cos BB King is playing. But the trouble is, the specialist blues mags and promoters just don't even seem to be aware of the people making the most interesting blues music.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 09:38 AM

OK, So having taken a look at Tim Duffy's list it doesn't prove a thing. I would like to say that Tim is doing a very good job in obtaining some work for these people - or at least those that are still with us but how many of them are a suitable draw for a blues festival? How many CD's made by these artists have you purchased Matt?
I have received for review albums by seven of them and heard others and frankly I would not pay good money for the majority of them. But, I did enjoy hearing a couple of them live in an informal session in 2007.
The fact is that there are not enough BIG names around in this field of music any more to sell tickets fro a big show.

I personally wish that the music was still very much alive and kicking but apart from small pockets it isn't.

Young copyists of any colour of the rainbow may be your bag and there is nothing wrong with that but please don't compare them to the real thing.
Time brings on a change, nothing remains the same.

Hoot(in) the blues


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM

Well -- I know what you mean about age (I too am 54) and this is why I mentioned Jerron Paxton, I'm telling you, this kid could be really really huge. Very wonderful and interesting music, with great respect for tradition but not tradition-bound, a big sense of fun and lots of smarts. Sometimes he goes under the name J-Dog Paxton.

About young copyists -- come on, what do you think Robert Johnson was doing? How about Muddy Waters? All of our beloved dead-and-gone blues heroes (and other music heroes as well, how about the Beatles?) started off as copyists. If you don't nurture young musicians who are starting off as copyists but who may have a germ of something truly original that will emerge a little further down the road, then you're nowhere. That is the ONLY way that traditional music can stay healthy -- encourage the young copyists and give them room to find their own way. They ARE the real thing. Traditional music has to grow and change to stay healthy, but it needs to retain some kernel of tradition as well.
Suzy T.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Michael S
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 11:21 AM

I'm surprised that some people took my inquiry about race and concluded that it was a variant of "can a white boy sing the blues?" I have no problem with either white blues artists or the venues that present them. My earliest blues exposure was John Hammond Jr. A trust-fund revivalist? Sure. But a good musician and--more importantly to me-- my personal gateway to decades of blues enjoyment.
My concern was different. I asked why it appears that young blacks don't embrace the blues in significant numbers. In my adult life I've lived in NYC, San Francisco, and Austin. I've attended many blues concerts in each location, featuring black and white artists. My experience comports with that expressed by PoppaGator. Overwhelmingly, the audiences are white. Can we post the names of some black blues artists--old and "younger" and maybe even young? Sure, but black audiences aren't interested, and that's what interests me.
I've read supposition on this, though I've heard of no real ethnographic work (assuming valid scholarship in this regard is even possible). Some say young blacks understand that this stuff is somehow linked to old ways, sharecropping, and shacks, and they want no part of it. (And it attracts all those white people.) Some say that young blacks--like all young people--want to create their own styles. Makes sense to me. It may be simple demographics. Blues is many things, one of which is--and I agree with Matt Milton here-- "commodified entertainment" that's been marketed commercially for almost 100 years. Of course whites picked it up. In America (which is what I know) blacks are about 12% of the population and, in the aggregate, they have less disposable entertainment funds than whites. Makes sense that white audiences would dominate the SF Blues fest and other events.
It bothers me that the words racist and racism entered this discussion so easily. I don't think asking how and why vernacular heritage moves around is racist. I find such discussion useful. Again, I take no issue with people adopting artistic forms that are not part of their own personal heritage. That's been good for blues, for old-time, for Cajun music, and probably more. But personally, I think it would be sad if all the soul singers were young white English women like Joss Stone or Duffy. (My curious 18-year-old son--who wants to hear my music and wants me to hear his--didn't like Aretha's performance at Obama's inauguration. He told me, "she sounds like Duffy." Will my work ever be done?)
This is too long, so I'll stop, but I'm not really finished.

--Michael Scully


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: matt milton
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM

"The fact is that there are not enough BIG names around in this field of music any more to sell tickets fro a big show"

Well I accept that for a fact. But personally I don't see that as a big deal. Most of the music I like is marginalized, niche-interest, cottage-industry. The best music is often hard to findTo be honest, I don't really like big shows anyway. i'd rather listen to a bluesman and his guitar in a bar. . Yes, the blues isn't a big commerical force (with the possible exception of Seasick Steve in Europe) anymore. It hasn't really been a big commerical force since the 1970s. Just have smaller festivals.

"Young copyists of any colour of the rainbow may be your bag and there is nothing wrong with that but please don't compare them to the real thing.
Time brings on a change, nothing remains the same."

That for me is like not bothering to listen to any rock bands after the 1960s because they could only be a pale imitation of The Beatles. Like you say, times change, nothing stays the same. Funnily enough, Samuel James is not labouring under the impression that he is *actually* Robert Johnson.

You're assuming that anyone young playing the blues must by default be a "copyist". Most of the younger blues acts I like aren't copyists. But I would argue that even the ones that are have more energy and dirt and soul than I can hear in other most rock bands or whatever. Personally I don't feel any need to compare them to anyone ("real thing" or otherwise). It's not like I can't listen to both Pepe Belmonte AND Charley Patton.

This is a common Catch 22 that the Blues-Is-Dead advocates like to throw around: if a new blues acts is doing something a bit different, then they'll say they are "not proper blues"; if, on the other hand, they're doing it by the book, they're "just copyists".

I'll dig up that list when I get home, and then I'll past it up here.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM

Blues Festival? Beatles?

It all comes down to personal taste. If any of the people that you mention are capable of being a draw for a blues festival then I guess Mr Mazzolini would book them. I am sure that he does have his ear to the ground.
I too prefer to hear musicians playing in a bar or in their own homes which I have had the good fortune to experience a number of times. However the point of this thread I believe is that someone is mourning the death of a long established blues FESTIVAL.

As for comparing Seasick Steve to a blues musician and descriibing him as a big commercial force in Europe ??

Hoot


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: matt milton
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 05:50 AM

Sorry, I was using a trope known as an "analogy". Sorry, I'll add two emphases to make that point impossible for anybody whosoever to misunderstand.

"That for me is *LIKE* not bothering to listen to any *ROCK* bands after the 1960s because they could only be a pale imitation of The Beatles"

There's already an exhaustive thread about Seasick Steve. I see no point in rehashing it. Sidestepping any discussion of the merits, or lack of, in his music, the one thing that is undeniable is that he is beyond question a big commercial force in Europe: he has sold literally hundreds of thousands of albums.

"However the point of this thread I believe is that someone is mourning the death of a long established blues FESTIVAL"

Yes, and, as I said in the post above, I agree with you that it seems to be no longer viable to put on a BIG festival of blues anymore. Seems like I'm having to say everything twice: could the SF Blues Festival not downsize? If your Blues Festival Model is to bank on big name ageing blues stars to be the principal draw every year, then you will inevitably come a cropper when said musicians retire or die.

But you yourself hadn't exactly stuck to the point. You'd made some quite claims that struck me as being quite dismissive about contemporary blues musicians.

Personally I think all of the following are well worth a listen, and would make a much more
interesting blues festival than most of the line-ups I see touted around. And I haven't even mentioned some of the old-school blues musicians who are still playing, such as Robert Belfour or Cedell Davis.
(in fact, is Cedell Davis still playing?!)

www.myspace.com/sugarsmallhouse
www.myspace.com/jdogsblues
www.myspace.com/dukegarwood
http://tinyurl.com/5nyswu
www.myspace.com/pepebelmonte
www.myspace.com/thebobmeyer
www.myspace.com/stevenfinn
www.myspace.com/smokefairies
www.myspace.com/hatfitzanditchy
www.myspace.com/boblog111
www.myspace.com/sambarrett
www.myspace.com/madeforchickensbyrobots
www.myspace.com/jasonsteelmusic
www.myspace.com/bcce


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 11:15 AM

My apologies Matt, you and I obviously inhabit two completely different worlds. You enjoy your music and I will continue enjoying the blues.

'nuf said.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: matt milton
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 12:50 PM

I wouldn't say we inhabit two completely different worlds. I'd say we talk two completely different languages.

"You enjoy your music and I will continue enjoying the blues"

Likewise.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 01:58 PM

Michael S, I'm also interested in understanding the reasons for most African Americans' non-support of Blues music.

I've been trying to find with no success a book whose title & author I don't recall which indicated that there was no division in tradition African cultures between instrumental/vocal music performance and dancing (with that music, in response to that music, and to call up that music). The author wrote that when dance became disassociated with Blues (or was it Jazz?, or both?), and these genres became mostly "music for audiences to listen to", that is when Black people began turning their backs on these music genres.

I think that is one answer. But I also think that many Black people who think about Jazz at all, not only consider the music to be undanceable, but also consider it to be too high brow, and too formal. And, in contrast, I think that many Black people who think of Blues music at all, consider it too be too "downhome", too Southern "country" (with country meaning "rural").

An examination of Black folklore from Thomas W. Talley's 1922 Negro Folk Rhymes and other collections of secular slave songs and early Blues songs will demonstrate the mixed feelings, but mostly disdain generations of Black folks have had for our Southern roots (btw I'm African American but I have no known Southern American roots. The "our" here is used colloquially).

In addition to these possible reasons for the lack of significant support of Blues music among African Americans, I would add my opinion that most Blacks who consider Blues at all think it is depressing, misery music, and also think that Blues is too "old school" and also think that its musicians are too old). As a general rule, Americans (regardless of race/ethnicity) love youth. And African Americans are no different than other Americans in this regard, and we may be even more "in to" youth culture than other Americans.

Furthermore, generally speaking African Americans tend to be innovators and not presevationists/traditionalists. Again, I think that this is an American trait, but I also believe that African Americans reflect and promote this preference for innovation much more than other Americans. American popular culture has always been a testimony to African Americans innovative skills.

See this quote from three different posters on a blog on Blues music:

">why should young blacks play the blues- it`s an outdated music.<

Because it's good music?
How's that for a reason? Good music doesn't go out of date.

lightninboy » Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:15 pm

Seems to me that African Americans are trends setters.
They moved on from the blues a long time ago, where the rest of the world has been catching on, recycling and inovating.
Picking it up and moving with it.

I can see why young blacks in the US would rather sing hip hop/rap; they're setting another trend.
In fact, without Afro-Americans (sorry, I dont know the politicaly correct terminolgy in the US), I wonder what the rest of the world would do for "cool". "

http://www.bigroadblues.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2218

-snip-

(Btw, the "politically correct terminology in the US" is "African American").

I think that the poster was correct that most African Americans (and other Americans?) don't think the Blues is "cool" anymore. At one time, in some societal circles, eing a Blues musician or a Blues singer was a money making, "cool" profession. But it's been a long time since most Black folks thought that being a Blues musician or Blues singer or listening to the Blues is cool. Although the word "cool" is not as cool as it used to be (having been replaced by umpteen other slang words and phrases), it's still true that in most African American communities, being cool is what's happenin and being un-cool is not.

Rightly or wrongly, realistically or unrealistically, African Americans consider performing music as one way out of the poverty of the 'hood. Since Blues doesn't sell, some young musicians and singers who might otherwise been Blues artists, become hip-hop or R&B, or Dancehall Reggae artists.

And added to all of this is the lack of comfort many Black people feel when they are interacting with White people (and vice versa?). I wrote "they" because I usually don't feel uncomfortable around White people anymore. I think the fact that so many White people are in to the Blues (and Jazz) as musician/singer performers, and as concert/festical attendees is a reason why Black people aren't in to these music forms and, is even more so, a reason why Black people don't attend Blues festivals and concerts.

For the record (no pun intended), I didn't grow up hearing Blues or Jazz at all. My Northern United States family was too much into the church for us to hear this music. But being "churchy" didn't stop us from listening to Rock n'Roll (R&B) music. We just weren't allowed to hear that secular music on Sundays nor we "allowed" to dance on Sundays.

But thanks to my Jazz musician (then) husband, I was introduced to Jazz music. And thanks to a large extent to Mudcatters, I have been introduced to the Blues, and find that I love some old school Blues musicians & Blues vocalists and some contemporary Blues musicians and Blues vocalists.


These are my thoughts as to why more African Americans don't support Blues. I have no research to back up my opinions.

As always, I'm interested in any response to my comments.

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: open mike
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM

http://www.sfblues.com/ the web page of the s f blues fest is here.

there are several other west coast blues fests alive and well:

24th annual Monterey Bay June 26-28, 2009
http://www.montereyblues.com/

13th annual Blues by the Bay in Eureka Sept. 5 & 6, 2009
http://www.redwoodcoastmusicfestivals.org/


I wish them all well.


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 02:18 PM

I also want to add this thought:

I think that other more contemporary music forms that don't have the negative connotations that Blues rightly or wrongly has (being old, country, depressing etc) which serve the same creative and societal purposes that Blues used to serve-being risque', being "for real", being music that wasn't counter-mainstream.

I think that "protesting existing conditions" (protesting the system) is a large part of Black music forms. I wonder if the lack of significant support for Blues music is because it no longer serves these purposes, or because there exist other music forms which are viewed as risque, and also which more easily furfill the protest purpose (Hip-Hop for instance).

Above all, I think that there are fewer Black people who support Blues nowadays-particularly fewer younger Black people who support Blues-because Blues recordings ges so little air (and television) play. People don't support something that they don't know.


-Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 02:32 PM

I want to make these changes to what I wrote:

I think that there are other more contemporary music forms that don't have the negative connotations that Blues rightly or wrongly has (being old, country, depressing etc). I think that Rap music for instance may serve the same creative and societal purposes that Blues used to serve, that is, being risque', being "for real", being music that is or proports to be against the mainstream.


-Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: SF Blues Fest cancelled after 36 years
From: Michael S
Date: 02 Mar 09 - 07:57 PM

I hope I'm not beating a now-dead horse. I thought some who posted here might enjoy a book I found valuable, but I had to dig it out. It's called Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs by David Grazian (U-Chicago Press, 2003). It's a scholarly book, but very accessible. The author spent a great deal of time in Chicago's blues clubs and he talked to patrons and musicians, eliciting their attitudes. He explored ideas about the types of clubs they liked, whether they had preference for white or black musicians, if they favored old-school styles vs blues/rock blends (and how they defined these things), etc. The result is a fascinating picture of how varied blues fan define and value heritage, racial essentialism, and authenticity in music. Some fans only wanted to see black musicians, because they were "more authentic" blues player. Some only wanted to patronize dives, not yuppie fern bars with "fake" blues. An interesting look at ideas about tradition and authenticity in the context of modern blues performance.
--Michael Scully


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