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Mary had a little lamb, it's feets was white as snow

Author Topic: Blues And The Old Left  (Read 11383 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #30 on: January 16, 2008, 06:32:07 AM »
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! BROTHER SAM!
See... whatid I tell yez?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #31 on: January 16, 2008, 08:06:28 AM »
Sorry for gloating....really.
 This may be bringing up some uncomfortable stuff for people and challenge some long held beliefs but it is in fact the kind of discussion that has been too long absent from our culture in general. There is a long and important history of contributions to this society by the far left including the American communist party and numerous socialist and non communist, non socialist groups, and it has left a legacy of great legislation, social programs and cultural awareness. There would certainly NOT be social security or medicare, or the voting rights act without Herculean efforts in the face of great adversity by the people of the left. If you are under the impression that those things are bad, then please don't avail yourselves of their benefits when the need arises. The fact is that you would NOT have had access to the music of rural African Americans if it had not become the vital concern of people on the left that you do so. That goes for England too. The left of the twenties,thirties,forties and fifties into the sixties was an International movement. Sam Charters' books and records, along with Harry Smith's anthology were I believe the first of their kind to deliver this music to white middle class audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, and now you know what political agenda was informing Sam Charter's efforts. I don't know all the details of Big Bill Broony's first European sojourn but I'll bet it was arranged by a lefty with an internationalist perspective. When Big Bill was too sick to make one of his tours he sent a substitute; Muddy Waters. By the way Alan Lomax? Not a nice person from what I've heard, but do you think Pete Seeger was hanging out with right wingers or a-political types? Lomax was part of the Almanac Singers, a hard core left wing, union, party band! And the left's influence isn't confined to "Folk" music either. Virtually every important painter of the period was ensconced in a far left milieu. Picasso, & Leger were outspoken communists. Stuart Davis, Ben Shan, and the generation of abstract expressionists that followed, when they had any interest in politics were pretty much all aligned with the far left. Art, until the eighties, was the preserve of the left, at least from the artist's side of things, their cliental is another matter entirely.  Classical music? Aaron Copeland? "Fanfare for the Common Man?"  Appalachian Spring? Billy The Kid? All spring from the same idea of demonstrating the inherent worth of the poor and disenfranchised through their music.
So, you see playing the Blues is a political act. Even listening to the Blues is a political act.

Below is an ad I did for one of my songs. It is a pastiche of the kind of ads that race record companies produced in the 20's & 30's. It is done tongue and cheek also making fun at the left wing rhetoric of the same period.
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=786131&content=music

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2008, 10:27:27 AM »
I don't know all the details of Big Bill Broony's first European sojourn but I'll bet it was arranged by a lefty with an internationalist perspective. When Big Bill was too sick to make one of his tours he sent a substitute; Muddy Waters.
If I may I'd like to make an observation or two on this. I don't think Broonzy sent Muddy Waters as a substitute. Waters first came to Europe (England only) October 1958 but this was instigated by British jazz man Chris Barber and his then wife Ottilie Patterson who had been Muddy's house guests earlier that year. Muddy was so grateful to the couple for his European exposure that he displayed a photo of them on his living room mantle shelf. When Rae Flerlage visited Muddy to photograph him at home (9th January 1964) he couldn't resist snapping the contents of the mantle shelf too!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #33 on: January 16, 2008, 02:10:47 PM »
I'll try to track down my source for that. Deep Blues or  Big Bill's Blues [/b]perhaps?
The source could be wrong or it might have been a confluence of all of the above.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline ozrkreb

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #34 on: January 16, 2008, 03:30:01 PM »
Quote
So you think it was just a happy accident that white people all of a sudden caught on to the Blues, one of the "good things in the world"? Perhaps ....etc, etc, etc.

OMuck:
I started my post with the words, "My journey..." Guess you missed that. Other people's journey is different....yours obviously was. However, that doesn't change the fact that my journey didn't have anything to do with the "Old Left." Do some left-leaning people deserve some credit for the revival? Sure. There are also some right-leaning people who deserve some credit.
Az



My hook's on bottom, but my cork's on top

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #35 on: January 16, 2008, 03:38:09 PM »
Ok...I'll bite. f'rinstance?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #36 on: January 16, 2008, 04:14:03 PM »
This must be the only board on the web where such a political conversation wouldn't have turned into a flame war 20 posts back. I'm proud of you'se fellas <sniff>. Or maybe it's just apathy. Nothing wrong with apathy. Or maybe there is, I have no strong feelings either way.

I'm also quite interested to hear which right-leaning individuals did anything to preserve and promote American folk music, unless of course there was a buck or two in it. Nothing wrong with that mind you but I think OMuck's getting at the non-monetary issues here.

Offline Buzz

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #37 on: January 16, 2008, 04:46:58 PM »
I haven't tuned in to Weenie for a few months, and this calls to me, so My 2 cents:

Born and raised in New Orleans, raised for 5 years by a black woman Oblique Tucker. HAd various black housekeepers, cooks, maids growing up...wonderful women. Liked them all. Loved Oblique the best. I will never know how she, and not my biologic mother helped form my ethics, concept of right and wrong, or world view. Formative years.Thank you , Oblique Mae.

Grew up hearing music, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Ferdinand LeMenthe, (JRM), WCHandy, Mississippi Country music (took weekend drives to the country and Gulf Coast with some of our 'nannies' as little tykes), Preservation Hall musicians like DeDe and Billie Pierce, George Lewis, Percy Humphrey, Willie Humphrie...

...Then learning to play piano for a couple years  (1-2nd grade), and gave it up for baseball of all things, took ukelele lessons and recorded a wax 45 of my performance of "Don't Be Cruel" and " A White Sport Coat and A Pink Carnation". Elvis was an idol, and when he gave credit to Arthur Crudup, it resonated with me, though I did not know why, back then... Started to play guitar in 4th grade, an old Gibson that I sold for a classical guitar in 12th grade and I am damned sorry I did, it was a small body with short neck, and it would sound great just now some 50 years later, damn... but what I tried to learn hurt my tender fingertips and  it didn't sound like what I was hearing on St. Louis St.... couldn't play guitar for 15 years through residencies, but found her, the Blues again, waiting for me,  in my back pocket in 1980 or so... and went to Weenie Camp in PT a year or 2 later, and met some of these wonderful guys and gals, and they corrupted me and turned me into the no account I am now... ;D

...Heard some great old LPs, second lined in  some JAzz Funerals, went with a NOJazz and film buff to a couple unreal gospel conclaves in uptown NO...

...experienced segregation first hand, when I gave up my seat in the front of the Canal St. street car to a pregnant (I mean about to deliver, really pregnant, not a little pregnant) woman who had no place to even stand ...

...had the White Citizens Council threaten our temple with bombing one Friday nite, when our Rabbi gave his sermon extolling MLK. Our maid, Dora Jackson was married to a man who was also a Baptist minister... I loved and respected her, him and MLK was very moving to a 13 year old  boy all wrapped up in Southern tradition. Gossebumps when I'd hear him preach. I still get bumps when I hear his "I have a dream..." . These folks were models of 'positive family values' (long before W was born with his silver spoon in his nose, before he and Rove turned Christians so far Right they can't even see around the bend past center), some of the finest folks I ever met. Charters observations about racism ring true for me: seems still to be tearing at the fiber of America's flag...

...temple youth group weekend conclaves in Clarksdale, Miss; Memphis, Tenn; Jackson, Miss. and hearing rural music, from ages 15-18, including country blues fiddle music, which ,for all I knew then could have been the Sheiks, I had never heard of them...

...Spring Breaks on Millbrook Plantation in Enterprise, Miss, age 15-18, and some primitive music on the radio in Minnie's cabin back along the catfish stream, a ways back from the spring that was dammed up for a swimming hole.

...then I heard Muddy Waters, heard about Stovall's Plantation , Clarksdale again...young BBKing, Albert King who taught Clapton how to make love to his guitar...

...Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Sonny and Terry, adolescent angst, social consciousness. Drugs, sex, rock and roll, ...black musicians appearing at every gig in New Orleans, every prom, every debutante ball. Deacon John and the Ivories, Neville Brothers, on and on...

...Otis Redding could play for the Les Ecolieres ball for debutantes at the N.O. Country Club, but Jews need not apply for membership, they were not allowed. I only got in to see and hear and dance to Big O cuz I was asked by a sweet lady deb to escort her, she who could have cared whether her date was a Jew, as long as he could dance...

I guess what this is saying is: We all have some individual or personal 'links' to this music, our memories, our 'branch' of the human consciousness.  I have always listened to music from  black and white Southern  composers , players and singers (then national, when they immigrated up route 61 to Memphis, Chicago, to Indianapolis, KAnsas City, Washington and NewYork). It is in me, part of my DNA by this point. I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to Oblique, Minnie, my rabbis, to all Africans brought here against their will, for raising me and thousands of other white boys lost in the blues, for their  diggery-dos, wires strung on the porches, banjos, gourds, blues, jazz, and all of the rest.

BLues is ethos, terroir,  music, and  feeling. It is not a destination, it is a journey. It is not the same for each person, but it is an experience for each person. It can be a passion, and can be intensely personal while experienced by a group. Blues is blues. Don't try to overly analyze BLues, or what you feel. If you like it, play and sing it. You gotta sing it and experience the feelings, they have to be in you , you have to have had the blues in some form, to have it in you, and then for it to resonate with you.  If you like it, study and revel in it. Live it,and don't analyse it. More pleasure...



I guess I will drift back into  lurking mode, now...you guys give me the Blues 8)
Buzz
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #38 on: January 16, 2008, 04:55:55 PM »
Or maybe it's just apathy. Nothing wrong with apathy. Or maybe there is, I have no strong feelings either way.

HEE-YAWKK!!!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #39 on: January 16, 2008, 05:04:31 PM »
Quote
I guess I will drift back into  lurking mode, now...you guys give me the Blues
Buzz

Don't know why. Great post though thanks. People used to have these kinds of discussions all the time back in the last century.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline CF

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #40 on: January 16, 2008, 07:51:30 PM »
I agree that one shouldn't get too analytical in your performance of blues music, as in don't worry so much about the technical aspects of the music but to listen to M John Hurt & Skip James & Bessie Smith & just say 'Hmm, that's pleasant music, it makes me happy & relaxed' is to sell it short & to not really understand it. If that's what you want from it then that is all you'll get from it but make no mistake: Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, King Solomon Hill & etc. were, despite even what they may have thought, consciousness-expanders ( :) hear me out!). When I hear a particularly inventive & improvised guitar break by Lemon or Patton's oh so masterful approach to rhythm I hear a whole new set of possibilities . . . these were highly developed minds! & highly developed minds that do not make money for or reaffirm a status quo are offensive & potentially dangerous to that status quo.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2008, 07:56:41 PM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #41 on: January 16, 2008, 08:18:27 PM »
Quote
agree that one shouldn't get too analytical in your performance of blues music, as in don't worry so much about the technical aspects of the music but to listen to M John Hurt & Skip James & Bessie Smith & just say 'Hmm, that's pleasant music, it makes me happy & relaxed' is to sell it short & to not really understand it. If that's what you want from it then that is all you'll get from it but make no mistake: Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, King Solomon Hill & etc. were, despite even what they may have thought, consciousness-expanders (  hear me out!). When I hear a particularly inventive & improvised guitar break by Lemon or Patton's oh so masterful approach to rhythm I hear a whole new set of possibilities . . . these were highly developed minds! & highly developed minds that do not make money for or reaffirm a status quo are offensive & potentially dangerous to that status quo.

Here, Here! There, there! Well said! Actually I don't think there's anything to be lost by an analytical approach to the Blues and possibly much to be gained. A classical musician friend of mine told me once that he thought that the Blues was the most enduring, influential and universally accepted Folk music ever to develop. That's quite an assessment coming from someone who doesn't even like them very much. 
I'm curious if at a neuropychological level the particular sounds that the Blues generates, produces certain responses that are measurably the same in a wide cross section of people. Do these sounds then translate into particular emotions? All art it seems to me is trying to tell us something above and beyond its ostensible message. When we learn to decode that language, we may enter a new multi dimensional communications reality. This will only be accomplished however by researchers with the kind of devotion to human betterment that is found ON THE LEFT! HAHAHA!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #42 on: January 17, 2008, 02:24:36 AM »
By the way Alan Lomax? Not a nice person from what I've heard

Really?  What have you heard?  His dad was a total son of a bitch, sure, but I don't think I've never run across a negative personal comment about Alan.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #43 on: January 17, 2008, 03:59:55 AM »
I know a guy who worked for him, secretarial & organizational type stuff, and said that he went out of his way to ignore or screw the old African American guys on his field recordings, who tried to collect a little dough for their efforts. Also Chris Albertson on Blindmans Blues Forum described them both (sr & jr)as unprincipled exploiters (i'm paraphrasing) interested in lining their pockets first. Sad. Doesn't mean he didn't do great work though.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Blues And The Old Left
« Reply #44 on: January 17, 2008, 04:49:59 AM »
Ah, I see.  I'm always irritated to see the writer credit "Ledbetter, Lomax, and Lomax."  What sort of creative input did the Lomaxes have, anyway?  No worse than Bob Shad slapping his name or pseudonym on Lightnin' Hopkins's stuff -- though we know he was in it for the money.  I do think it's a bit much to suggest that Lomax (the younger, at least) was as unprincipled as, say, the Bihari brothers.

 


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