Sunday, June 26, 2011


At a recent rooftop gathering last month, a young birthday boy in his final year of music school proudly pronounced that 'white people had no right to play the blues.' I've been thinking about that statement ever since, so I did a little digging. In the southern states before recording and distribution, the musicians referred to themselves as 'songsters' and fostered no prejudice. It was only when money started rolling in that the tunes became classified as 'race' or 'hillybilly' -  predecessors to country and blues. There was no real musical difference, however I think it's fair to say that the African rhythms were the basis of early blues feel. 

It was when the slaves were taught gospel hymns written mostly by Isaac Watts- an English Hymn writer, that a blend of music, culture and oppression began a new era.

There was white music, black music and Cajun. Honourable mention goes to the Cajuns, who brought their own flavour to blues music. Cajun's up and down foot stomping ' La La' melodic contribution from the also persecuted french folk in Louisiana earns it kudos from early to modern blues. You can hear the Cajun influence in Leadbelly's famous recording, above.

Let's not forget Charlie Patton who taught the blues to John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf, and was a racial mix of white, black and Cherokee. No doubt in my mind that the African slave culture nurtured a new generation of music, and deserves to lay the highest claim in the creation of the blues.

 However, being direct descent French Huguenot from the Ozarks.....i beg to differ with the little white boy from above. Maybe HE has no right to play the blues.

My son just looked over my shoulder and commented on how much this guy looks like Barak Obama (wonder if the president has any Cherokee in him?)  !!!!!  :D

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Beatles- Why Don't We Do It In The Road

Of all the 12 bar blues tunes recorded by 'The Beatles' (Yer Blues, Slow Down etc..) this one is my favourite. 'Why Don't We Do it in the Road' was recorded Oct. 9th and completed Oct. 10th 1968 for release on the White Album. 

This song caused yet another clash between the two big wigs, as McCartney pounded it out with Ringo unbeknownst to John and George who were busy laying down finishing tracks for 'Piggies' and 'Glass Onion' in another room. John expressed hurt feelings, while Paul claimed that he was making good use of valuable studio time when there was nothing else to do. 

Regardless of the unending drama between two massive and ingenious musical egomaniacs, I love this song. Starting with Paul banging on the back of a guitar, hand clapping, piano, drums then later bass and lead guitar- all played by Paul sans the drumming. Apparently Paul became inspired while in India with the Maharishi. He was observing two monkeys going at it in the street and had a realization that humans create a big social and interpersonal mess when trying to find and secure a sexual partner. The streetwise monkeys apparently said it all to Paul, whose thought process I wouldn't want to follow, since I've witnessed monkey- sex in India and I can't imagine ever writing a song about it...

This tune has everything a blues song needs. ear catching repetitive lyrics,  straight 12 bar 1-4-5 chord progression, great back- phrasing, and a soulful tone and theme in which the singer simply wants to get laid. I wanna add this one to my set list...hope the boys are into it....

Sunday, June 19, 2011


We all know about Amy Winehouse. Her rapid- fire rise to success by channeling the lost sounds of original soul from an older muse and accredited for paving the way for such artists as Adele and Lady Gaga. We also know how her self destructive behaviour unfortunately overshadowed her extraordinary talent. One wonders however, what came first- the destruction or the self? Contemplating who facilitated what, while accepting that as able minded adults, we eventually take responsibility for our actions regardless of how rich and famous we become.

Her recent performance in Belgrade, Serbia shows it all. Forgive me for the analogy, but like a bomb testing in Eastern Europe she detonated. Her management thankfully pulled her from the tour, and cancelled the remaining dates until 'Amy is ready to perform at her full capacity.'

My first reaction is 'poor thing, get her off stage. that's not fair!' Her drugs use has effectively left her with brain damage and early emphysema. Also, I wonder how the band feels..I enjoyed Amy's early career. Her songs were original, and she could really phrase and sing. Amy Winehouse is now 28 years old? I wonder what consumed her? She must have felt tortured somehow in order to behave so self- destructively.

Amy made a contribution to music as an art form and performance. She doesn't seem well enough to perform her booked tour of Europe. Get well soon Amy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I often find myself taking my life for granted. In retrospect, I could have appreciated a little more the moment we won game 5, standing in the heart of Gastown getting some fresh air before we started our first set at 'Guilt and Company'. Folks were celebrating, the energy was incredible and smiling faces brought together strangers with a sense brotherhood, summer breezes and victory - God, I hope we win the cup this time.

That being said, I've lived in Vancouver my whole life. I remember my first grade field trips to the famous statue of Capt. John Deighton 'Gassy Jack' which marks the place where the maple tree stood next to his 12' by 24' plank- built saloon, The Globe. It only dawned on me as my head hit the pillow after a great night performing with the boys for an ecstatic and eclectic crowd, that over 100 years later Gassy Jack is still standing in the heart of Vancouver partying with the locals and introducing our beautiful city to tourists day in, day out and all through the night. 

Yes there were the panhandlers, and the homeless were meandering amongst the crowd, but the streets belong to them too! Everyone was in such good spirits for even when one worse for wear woman opted to stargaze prone in the middle of the sidewalk, patrons of the various outdoor venues helped her up and sent her on her way quite compassionately. 

Watching the swing dancing from the stage was the highlight of my night. I feel like I can finally  contribute to the entertainment industry as a performer and no, it's not all about me, nor the music. I learned last night that it's about understanding the environment and audience, and simply becoming another cog in the 'celebration of life' machine. 

There are no TV's at Guilt, the bathrooms are unisex, the staff is friendly, the ambiance is totally unique and yes it's hard to get a clear sound because of the exposed, uneven foundation rock walls, but personally I found it a throwback to the days when stages were irregular and sound quality was a hand in the cap. I loved playing that room last night, and I'm holding onto these moments in my memory, because I had a wonderful evening!