The life of a working musician is, for the most part, not the greatest financial experience. Having said that, it is amazing just how often and how sincerely musicians contribute to events, both by direct donation and organising and by playing free to entertain a crowd and encourage them to contribute.
Regular readers may have detected a note of concern in these columns at the general winding down of the live music scene in Geelong. The outer areas, the Bellarine, Otways and Great Ocean Road districts, are not doing too badly. Wineries are good venues, Martians Café, Harvester Moon, the Chook Shop and Saints and Sailors and a number of others.
Geelong audiences have a real treat coming up on Friday the 12th of September at Pistol Pete’s Food n Blues. And while I’m at it, I’d just like to say that Pete Raimundo is transforming the Geelong live blues scene through his regular bookings of some sensational local and not so local blues artists. An example of this is his booking of Pugsley Buzzard.
Sometimes it feels like we’re stuck down here in the antipodes, miles from the action of the mainstream blues scene. But it’s not so! The 31st International Blues Challenge is on in January 2015, and it’s time to get ready! The Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society has called for bands and individuals to nominate for our Victorian Blues Challenge.
If you have a look at the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society webpage or newsletter, you will find an entry describing their “Eternal Patron”, Dutch Tilders. Many organisations have a patron, but this is the only example I have ever come across of an Eternal Patron. Immediately, you think that this must be something special.
A number of times I have spoken about “jam sessions” as a good thing, especially for players who are just starting out. It occurred to me that I haven’t really said anything about what a jam session is, what’s in it for a player or how to get into them.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the origin of the blues down in the south of the USA. The other major style of blues arose in Chicago at the time of the Great Depression. The depression began in 1929 and there is argument as to when it finished. Those at the top of the heap say it lasted about five years, but for most people it didn’t end until World War II in 1939. Being a soldier was the first full-time job many had. I could go on about conservative politicians blaming the unemployed for being unemployed, but that’s an old song.
The blues is often seen as a resort of the older person, preferably with a black t-shirt and Harley Davidson. In my last column I talked about the origin of the blues in work songs decades ago in the south of the USA. There’s actually a large number of younger people getting into the blues, often as a result of participating in the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society’s ‘Youth in Blues’ program, or our local ‘Blues Boot Camp’ organised by Wayne Jury and with a high quality set of mentors including Chris Wilson, Tim Neal, Sarah Carroll, Sandy Brady, Dave Steel and David Park. Recently, one such graduate, Jarrod Shaw, was a headliner at Sleepy Hollow.
There’s a lot of discussion of classic blues players – Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe – and a cast of many more whose music has formed, influenced and been a model for many modern blues singers. Talk to these singers and you’ll hear these names and more mentioned again and again.