B l u e s C l u b
Giving all he has to give, the burly sax-player pours his syncopations into the hot smoky air, blending the tune with beads of sweat, oblivious to the swinging, rocking mass of people at his feet.
Lost in a dream, the drummer tenderly caresses the drums with his brushes, holding the beat by swaying his lean frame with the rhythm, driving the spikes and hollow booms into the wooden floor that is worn by age and innumerable heels that ground their rhythmic energy into the planks.
The bassist, clinging to the curvy voluptuousness of the worn wood, sensuously moves his fingers up and down the body, making it coo and vibrate with passion and sensuality.
His eyes hidden behind the black dreadlocks, a swarthy Jamaican torments his guitar, spicing the mellow tunes with dashes of jerk sauce, adding a hot exotic flavor.
That old black piano-man, however, spins the yarn of the blues, his mind wandering years back to the cotton fields of home, where the vast grounds, fertilized by his ancestors´ blood and sweat, brought forth the crops and the music. His skinny but long, strong fingers dance on the keys while he hums softly to himself, never missing an entrance. He has a lenient smile on his wrinkled face while watching the generations of cats gathered around him taking it all in and spilling it out again.
There is the audience, a mixed crowd, young and old, black and white and all shades in between, Latin and Asian, rich and poor, high and low, all kinds of people blending into one crowd, one audience that moves with the music, lured by the rhythm that takes possession of the body and the soul -- nobody knows you when you're down and out -- the essence of the blues, imported from down South, settled down here, adapted, reformed and hardened on the anvil shaped by the city's beat, powerfully displaying the core subjects - love, unemployment, poverty, sex, racial oppression - they are not told but wept, cried, hollered, and spiced with an individual flavor that is valid for every soul, and the audience understands and feels what the music is about. The songs reflect their lives and experiences; but these songs go beyond that: they create a mood and vibration that also grips the soul of a people who borrowed this heritage and made it a part of their own cultural treasure. The seeds of rhythm and soul, fertilized by the intimacy of common fate, flourish and the fruits are reaped by the musicians and turned into inspiration and power.
Travelling a long way, the blues got its inspirations wherever it went, producing offspring out of wedlock with boogie, country, gospel, jazz, and ballads, and by being absorbed by the youthful energy of rock and soul to keep itself alive; and it also linked itself to the wisdom of experience, and polished it with sophistication.
Always a multi-racial music though based in the black experience, the blues was the common tongue for the burdened, the exploited who shared common harsh fates in the mines, the fields and in the suburbs - it spoke to everyone who would listen- so the earlier Afro-American style was diversified according to the ethnic make-up of the performers, who traced their roots back to the music of their origins.
While the rich worn voice carries the fragmentary melody, percussive blows in counterpoint
give the song a fierce, passionate, and uncompromising character, a strength from which arose many a child of poverty and oppression. The notes carry a blend of pain, anguish, discomfort, but project the hope of deliverance, of a change of fate; they speak to anyone who is willing to listen.
And among these sad, aggressive, tormented emotions, joy and pride flourish, creating a smile here, a nodding grin there, projecting a new swinging attitude that overcomes much of the misery of the past and produces a proud friendliness when the piano man plays the melody and the bass accompanies with a rocking, driving rhythm, changing the roles and taking the melody up to the higher registers of the piano while the bass drops to the lower ones. Sometimes the instruments meet at the same octave, say a few words, tip their hats and continue their journey while the other cats join them in an inspiring chorus of common pleasure and fun.
There were numerous attempts to steal the Blues by imitation, but no, they can't take that spirit away from them. These imitations, sometimes nearly perfect, lack the soul and the spirit of the people who do not just play the Blues but live it. Sometimes, however, opening the mind and soul for the people behind the song gave white musicians a chance to become members of the family of blues men even before breaking the racial barriers of their time, by interweaving black and white musical traditions to a pattern of ebony and ivory, creating a common lacework of rhythms and tunes with sparkling outstanding patterns that give proof of their former origins.
And the original tunes strike a chord deep within the audience, in every single soul, bringing back memories long gone, confronting the listeners with life and fate, love and misery, hopes and hates, through the magical creation of identification with the musicians.
Who does not know his very own blue moods, who has not seen a stormy Monday followed by a Tuesday just as bad…. Hear me talkin´ to ya´ - anger and anguish - I have been there - the song being hurled at the crowd like a knife - live your life and die your death according to the beat…that beat that you cannot avoid, hands, feet, drums, bass, mirroring the heartbeat that sets the rhythm of hate and love, pain and joy, misery and happiness…
The joint is jumping…and you walk right in…
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