The Blues

Someone emailed me this a couple of years ago – doing mailbox cleaning today since I’m officially “not here”. Thought I’d post it. If you know the origin let me know.
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If you are new to Blues music, or like it but never really understood the why and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:

1.   Most Blues begin with: “Woke up this morning…”

2.   “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, “I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town.”

3.   The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes – sort of: “Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town.  Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound.”

4.   The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch…ain’t no way out.

5.   Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don’t travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running. Walkin’ plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.

6.   Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, “adulthood” means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7.   Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and Nawlins are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place that don’t get rain.

8.   A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg ’cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg ’cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9.   You can’t have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10.  Good places for the Blues (a) highway (b) jailhouse (c) empty bed (d) bottom of a whiskey glass.

11.  Bad places for the Blues (a) Nordstrom’s (b) gallery openings (c) Ivy League institutions (d) golf courses.

12.  No one will believe it’s the Blues if you wear a suit, ‘less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

13.  Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if: (a) you’re older than dirt (b) you’re blind (c) you shot a man in Memphis (d) you can’t be satisfied No, if: (a) you have all your teeth (b) you once were blind but now can see (c) the man in Memphis lived (d) you have a 401K or trust fund

14.  Blues is not a matter of color. It’s a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

15.  If you ask for water and your darlin’ gives you gasoline, it’s the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: (a) cheap wine (b) whiskey or bourbon (c) muddy water (d) black coffee The following are NOT Blues beverages: (a) Perrier (b) Chardonnay (c) Snapple (d) Slim Fast

16.  If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can’t have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

17.  Some Blues names for women: (a) Sadie (b) Big Mama (c) Bessie (d) Fat River Dumpling

18.  Some Blues names for men: (a) Joe (b) Willie (c) Little Willie (d) Big Willie

19.  Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can’t sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20.  Blues Name Starter Kit: (a) name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.) (b) first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Peach, etc.) (c) last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) For example: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Pegleg Lime Johnson or Cripple Peach Fillmore, etc.

21.  I don’t care how tragic your life is: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry.

Things that push me over the edge

The news depresses me daily – needless violence, death, destruction, the war and how we got there, the ugly, greedy people that run the country, the people that voted for them, the flickering environment, the dying arts – every day there’s one or ten more news items that just push me deeper and deeper. But you do get a little numb to it all. And then suddenly one thing on the front page hits every button imaginable – kind of sums up the whole picture. Our prized local paper, here – I don’t even want to give them a mention but they’re out of Raleigh, NC – on Saturday’s front page – FRONT PAGE! – On the front page of the paper!!!! – had to tell us about a nifty new product that is sure to be a success. You can now buy spray-on mud for your SUV. For all you urbanites with gas guzzling 4 wheel drive monsters you can now tell the world that you’re really macho at heart and really doing the rough stuff. Buy some spray-on mud for the Hummer so we don’t think you only use it to go to the grocery store. I really, really feel sick right now. Time to take a break from the news….

Serenade to Music

This event (dead link) is going to be really fine. I have not heard the rest of the program but the Ralph Vaughan Williams “Serenade to Music” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. If tonight’s rehearsal was any indication, it will also be one of the most beautiful performances of it. On a totally different note please come hear my favorite jazz guitarist – Bernie Petteway, and the always sensitive and tasteful, and at the same time powerful drummer – Ed Butler and myself perform at Duke Gardens. The location is behind the new Doris Duke Center off of Anderson St. We’ll be on the terrace out back unless it rains in which case we’ll be inside. This is part of the Summer Music Festival at Duke  (dead link) Starts at 7:30

Noisy New Flyers

What a racket this morning! Not that I minded. Apparently both the wrens and the chickadees decided it was a good day for flying lessons. I didn’t check but I suspect the wren family was the same one that had taken up residence in my kayak. I mostly heard them barking out their warnings and instructions. But the chickadees were like a circus act. It sounded like someone was tickling a family of munchkins. The parents flying back and forth to the several young who were doing high-wire acts of daring-do. A simple flight of 2 or 3 feet from one bouncy leaf to another would result in a miss and a fall and tumble to the next leaf only to result in a dramatic recovery on some thin twig that would bend and spring the young one off to another leaf which she would then somehow catch on the underside and spring off to yet another leaf and then a short flight to a higher branch and the whole routine would start again. All the while the parents are bringing tasty morsals and shouting encouragement. I tried to take pictures (this was all right outside my window less than 10 feet away) but I couldn’t even follow their antics with the camera. Great fun, though! Wished I’d had a free disc in my recorder – the chatter was almost as good as the visuals. But I’d filled it up at a gig last week and haven’t had time to off load it.

Trio Medieval

So little time – so much to do. Just wanted to write about a things things from the weekend. Except that the weekend referred to here was several weekends ago – like maybe even over a month. I had wanted to write about the Trio Medieval concert at Duke Chapel while it was fresh in my mind and ears but so much has happened including 3 days at Merlefest (more about that later!) and I think all the bluegrass purged my mind of everything else. I do remember that hypnotic feeling of hearing these three beautiful voices in the chapel. There is not much music that works well in that room but the echoes made their three separate voices into something almost unhuman but totally soothing and beautiful. From where we sat fairly close to the front I could not tell which sound was coming from which body at any time they blended so well. I also remember the young woman sitting behind us who fidgeted with her very noisy jewelry the entire first half. At the intermission she exclaimed “I’m so bored!” and I realized she was probably a student there on class assignment. It always amazes me that many people don’t know how to listen to music – that the stiller you sit and the deeper you listen the more you hear and it is all so interesting. My favorite moments where when the three voices clearly sounded like four – sometimes the fourth voice was higher than the others and sometimes it was almost a bass voice. Anyway – weeks later that’s my brief music report….

Bobby McFerrin at Duke

The always amazing Bobby McFerrin was at Duke last week. This was the second time I’d seen/heard him in concert. The first time must have been at least 15 years ago and I was so stunned by what seemed to me at the time to be just plain too much talent that I don’t think I saw him as a human being at all. Over the years, hearing him on the radio with Yo Yo Ma and Chick Corea and his solo work I’ve gotten more used to the idea that a being from this planet can do all that he does and even have a great sense of humor. It was brought even more down to earth at Duke when after some beautiful solo pieces he called up the newly formed Durham Children’s Choir (directed by Scott Hill) for a couple of pieces of theirs (he joined in) and then he got up and directed them in a kind of call and response of “Bobby sounds”. They so quickly, naturally, and enthusiastically performed this totally spontaneous piece he directed them in that I realized that his immense talent is natural and human and that any one of these kids could be the next Bobby McFerrin. The concert was fun, heartwarming, and full of surprises. Plus the music was great. His website is a lot of fun, too. Check it out.

Google makes me happy again

I can see my house!!! They’ve done it again. I’ve said it before – I love maps, I hate Mapquest. Google maps came out with a much better system though it’s still in “beta” – meaning it can only get better. And now they’ve added satellite images. Just type in your address, zoom in, and then click on “satellite” to see your picture. You can move the image around and follow roads or streams or whatever. My only complaints are that they don’t have the higher resolution images for all areas so you may cross over into an area with lower resolution. And the images are not up to date – I’m thinking that the images of my area are at least 2 years old. But it’s still great fun!