Monday, July 21, 2014

The blues aint chump change

Change is the only possible constant in this universe, and those things that humans create that have the capacity to change have the capacity to survive, flourish to some extent, and remain expressively relevant to modern experience. Blues, like any other art, cannot remain fixed, in stasis.Those "traditional" forms of blues that well meaning players attempt to preserve and often preach the absolute virtues of, were themselves inventions who took their inspiration and building blocks from older forms that preceded them. It's desirable to listen to, appreciate and perform older blues styles as a means of staying clued to what an older generation of musicians can tell us, but it's folly, I believe, for anyone to insist that the best music peaked there and , in fact, stopped developing.There are only so many kinds of narratives we have in this current life, not so different from the experience of generations before us and, I suspect, hardly so alien to what a younger generation will come to live through. Conditions change, though, economics, the influx of new cultures and ideas, politics, technology, all these change and inform and influence the blues players who are learning now, or who will learn. Change is the only constant, change is inevitable, and those institutions that don't have the capacity to absorb change and grow as a result will turn into a creaky, crumbling artifact. The blues is about life as it is lived and felt, present tense. As long as there are players who feel, cry, laugh hard and feel deeply, I am fairly sure the tradition of the blues will continue to thrive. It won't be the same, of course, but the point is that the history of the blues will ask you this: when was it ever the same?