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Author Topic: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?  (Read 9657 times)

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bighollowtwang

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2008, 06:43:28 PM »
Hi all,
One present-day singer I have not heard in years, but who I thought sounded great when I heard him years ago, both as a singer and player, is John Mooney.  He was really a terrific singer when I heard him in the late '70s, very strong, natural and relaxed sounding and a fine player.  A stand-out singer, though, I thought at the time, and I have no reason to think he isn't still a fine singer.
John Mooney is still around and he's one of my favorite singers.

Unfortunately there's not much of him on youtube, but these two are my favorites:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=bAlVchj4q1I
http://youtube.com/watch?v=hoEsCQ36uVs

For anyone interested there's a streaming video of an entire show here:
http://www.kennedycenter.com/programs/millennium/artist_detail.cfm?artist_id=JOHNMOONEY#
Well worth watching if you have an hour to kill.


Offline Doc White

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2008, 10:36:33 PM »
Hi Mr O'Muck
Quote
If its an artificial construct performing, what is there for us to connect with on a deep level?
There are plenty of times when we do that - inspired performances on film or on stage; great novels; works of art. Art is by it's very nature representational and what you connect with is the work not necessarily the person making the art. One of my favourite films is Hud and I really like Paul Newman's performance and really like the story but I'm sure Paul Newman is not Hud. Sure, there are bits of him in there but he constructed a character that was believable and which I reacted to in a kind of visceral way. Some people grow into their stage persona. I think this is probably the case with Tom Waits but to give the guy his due he has produced over 20 albums, been in a couple of flims, written a Broadway stage show or two and all of it has been a very high artistic standard. On that count alone I reckon he's the real deal.
In 1980 I worked in Andy's Guitar Store in London and met a lot of "upper echelon" musicians and most of them were very different from how they presented on stage. The one who struck me as the most unlike his stage persona was Rory Gallagher who was as quiet as a mouse and very unassuming. The one who was most like his stage persona was Elvis Costello.

Offline Stuart

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2008, 11:39:36 PM »
"'All the world's a stage'--and its all an act." Take it any way you like.

Excellent topic and comments, Chris and Mr. O.

But is it a difference of kind or degree?

Speaking of high art, here's a YouTube clip of Tom Waits, Martin Mull, and Fred Willard in performance.



My apologies for the re-post to those who have seen it before.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2008, 04:42:12 AM »
I guess I believe there is a difference between theatre and music performance. Theatre, certainly can be extremely affecting and moving. It is a different animal however than music and music performance. It has always seemed to me that the greatest music performances I've seen have little or nothing to do with theatrics.
People totally focused on their music have little left over for presentation*.

*Except James Brown!
« Last Edit: April 29, 2008, 05:40:45 AM by Mr.OMuck »
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Offline Chezztone

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #49 on: April 30, 2008, 02:16:19 PM »
Re: John Mooney, whom someone mentioned stands out from the pack. One reason might be that he studied with Son House, when both were living in Rochester in the 1970s.

Offline dave stott

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #50 on: April 30, 2008, 04:32:17 PM »

THIS is the reason why some people should not sing blues songs

skip james - crow jane on ukulele


Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #51 on: April 30, 2008, 05:49:49 PM »
Ya mean you don't LIKE that?@!?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline CF

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #52 on: April 30, 2008, 08:16:46 PM »
Quote
THIS is the reason why some people should not sing blues songs

skip james - crow jane on ukulele


Honestly, I like that more than any number of guys with guitars doing pale attempts at the original. Maybe I'm really perverse 
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 07:04:01 AM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2008, 09:06:21 PM »
Personally I think that constructing hierarchies is for bad people. I think everything is exactly the same all the time...Brittany Spears has exactly the same artistic merit as Robert Pete Williams.....except for on the odd Wednesday here and there. Yep thats the ticket...yep thats it all right...all the freakin' same. ;) everything is everything KWIM (know what I mean)? Or, no, what a minute, evrything is NOTHING! Thats it. Everything is nothing.
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: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #54 on: April 30, 2008, 09:31:26 PM »
But on the other hand, nothing is everything, so where does that get us?

Offline Doc White

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #55 on: May 01, 2008, 04:43:15 AM »
Back to the topic
I reckon one reason we don't sing like we used is that there is much less community singing. We're all too isolated - hooked up to MP3 players and the www and we don't get out and commune with one another vocally.
Another thing that definitely does not lend itself to the development of that rough hewn singing style (black or white) is the quality and power of PA's. You just don't have to strain to be heard.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #56 on: May 01, 2008, 07:10:39 AM »
Chris, in my neighborhood I'm surrounded by freakin' opera singers! You can't walk down the goddamn street without one of these diaphragmatic freaks nearly knocking you off your feet with a blast of Puccinni or Verdi! All hours of the night and day! If i have to listen to one more Sigfried dying I'm gonna have to move! No problem with PAs 'round here!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #57 on: May 01, 2008, 08:36:34 AM »
LOL. I've walked through neighbourhoods like that. It's freakin' scary.

Chris, I agree. The opportunities for just plain old singing in daily life are fewer these days. Singing is so often a performance now with all that implies: mics, cameras, YouTube, Idol, MySpace, whatever. No wonder it freaks me out.  :P

Offline Slack

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #58 on: May 01, 2008, 08:54:56 AM »
I agree as well.  To state the obvious, the standard of living is higher and the pace of life is faster now... more distractions and lots more technology to bring us entertainment of all kinds.

Not sure this analogy holds, but without poverty, the French Quarter in New Orleans would never have been preserved - it would have been bulldozed for new condos.  These old musical styles might not be possible or fully realizable without the pace and poverty of the times. 

Hmm, there should be a better way to state this - but it escapes me.     

Offline Michael Cardenas

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Re: The Blues Vocal Tradition or why don't we sing like they used to?
« Reply #59 on: July 06, 2010, 12:40:12 AM »
When is there going to be a country blues VOCAL revival?
This is a major, major problem with the country blues situation today as I see it.
The 60's revival brought the riffs and it was compounded by many electric guitarists raving, "This is what you need to learn." My guess is the folk scene at the time was exhibiting a care for vocal presentation since the guitar parts weren't rocket science. So if you have the folk scene latching onto vocal ideal, then the Blues revival is a parallel scene championing the understatement of guitar prowess. The irony to me is in that guitar playing in a Blues tradition travelled similar currents Old Time music did to get to modern repertoire, but we all know this as Country Blues fans. It makes sense to demand singers live up to the standard someone like Leadbelly set, but we could demand the same of singers in respect to Jimmie Rodgers. The bar Rodgers set has probably been given more attention. I'm not of the mind to say it's any more easily accomplished or less worthy of praise.

I cannot admit Blues singing is or should be entirely raw. Maybe unbridled at times, but there needs be control or at best awareness. It might be difficult for modern singers to approach it because frankly if you commit yourself then you have to accept and achieve an almost hallucinogenic physical state. If you weather the storm of singing wide open for an hour or more you will accept how impossible it is and to sing that way while remaining grafted to a guitar, producing one congruent intrument is what made it art then and now.
LISTEN TO BLUES MUSIC

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