Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Still got the Blues

Doing my first spell of DJ-ing in 2011 this evening, with a tribute to the late Gary Moore. My usual preference is for Progressive Rock - that's what I usually play on my DJ nights - but tonight I'm guesting to present a blues anthology, with quite a bit of input from Gary.

Without the Blues, we wouldn't have Rock music as we know it: indeed, we may not have Rock at all. The Blues, coming as it does in the main from the hardships of the former slave communities in the South of the USA, has a soulful melancholy about it that has, I believe, great power to transcend cultures, ethnicity & social barriers to unite everyone in their common humanity.

Perhaps the greatest breaching of those social hurdles came with the advent of Rock 'n' Roll in the 1950s, as newly affluent white teenagers began to discover the likes of Robert Johnson and Howlin' Wolf, strapped on a guitar, and created a music of their own. This in turn evolved into the R 'n' B of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and Manfred Mann, which in turn spawned the beat groups of the 60s, Psychedelic rock, Glam Rock and the Progressive sounds of the 70s. Heavy Metal & Punk reverted to a rawer sound, but were still dependent on the basic structures of the Blues.

It was the Blues that gave rock music its 'guitar heroes': people such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page, who all started life in The Yardbirds; Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, BB King and more recently Joe Bonamassa, among others, all brought their own personal touch to the Blues tradition. And from Ireland Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore made their guitars sing as only they could.

The Blues continues to speak to the human condition, and although its exponents may go the way of all flesh, the blues will never die.