Sunday, November 16, 2008

I shook the hand of.....

A 93 yr old blues legend, David "Honeyboy" Edwards. It was a once in a lifetime experience!

The Venue: Regatta Jazz Bar
Thoughts : A very intimate setting - a smallish stage designed to accommodate a trio (most jazz bands are a trio). Ironically, the audience which was mostly corporate, rich, white American paid good money to see a wizened old black man who at many points in his life lived outside "normal" society as either a slave or in dire poverty in the infamous projects of Chicago. This wizened old black man sang songs about being poor, about cotton picking, about having the "white man" blues and rich corporate white Americans and one brown, relatively poor man paid good money to be there. Figure that one out!

Disclaimer: I do have a romanticized view of the delta blues. So, read the rest taking into account this bias. Also, account for the positive bias coming from witnessing something from another era, something that I probably will not see again anyway.

The Music:
What can I say that hasn't already been said before in better prose that I can ever muster? Delta blues speaks in rustic, earthy tones about a hard life, about the problems of the African American (as they are known now) in a by gone era. Lyrics aside, the simplistic (only to the ear) rhythms and leads of the guitar, the pace and style of vocals are to say the least, endearing. The rhythm, to my ear, sounds identical in all the songs but what rides on it - the vocals and finger picking style guitar - is absolutely fantastic. Closing your eyes and listening to the simple chugging rhythm, heart soaring with woeful vocals or the wails of the harmonica (did I mention that Honeyboy's manager was blowing the horn with absolute mastery?) took me to an altogether different place.

This was a refreshing change from contemporary blues/rock where production (over) emphasizes the music producing a wall of sound. Though this in itself is an absolute art producing "layers" of music that have been the forte of many bands, one of my favorites being Porcupine Tree, Honeyboy's "return to the roots" acoustic music was a very mellowing and peaceful experience.


MyriadMaiden said...

Hey, that's awesome!! I love delta blues too - they're simple and ...soulful. Something about the pentatonic scale, blues songs of life's misery, and the voices of the delta gives great joy to the ears! huh!

Do you remember the Derek Trucks band we saw last year? He's back next weekend to Charlotte!

EmperorFrost said...

Hey Myriad Maiden,
you describe the blues well. I should add your emotion and words to "What can I say that hasn't already been said before in better prose that I can ever muster?"

I remember Derek Trucks from two places - one from when we saw him in Charlotte and I saw him another time but I've forgotten the venue. In any case, he's great and I know Thambi and you are going to be up there taking great pictures. I'm just going to wait for them. :-)