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Author Topic: The Curse of the Blues Brothers  (Read 3231 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2011, 07:28:23 AM »
I used to get this shit all the time. Usually I'd answer politely that I didn't know any of those songs. Nobody asked for Blues Bros., but one belligerent drunk started heckling me to play something by Elton John, who btw I truly loathe, when I told him I didn't know any he wanted to fight me.

Having now encountered more and more stories about requests hurled at the first generation guys, I'm convinced that more often than not they would try to oblige. Gary Davis knew a ton of turn of the century popular songs for example. Big Bill worked pop songs up in his own inimitable style , Glory of Love for example, and they are generally speaking not less excellent than the rest of his oeuvre. He also reinvented himself as the situation demanded, singing "folk" songs and hymns like Swing low sweet Chariot ( admittedly not one of his stronger pieces) to satisfy the expectations of his new white "folk" audiences here and in Europe. So if it happened now my feeling is , if I know the song at all I'd give it a go and if I don't I'll make one up using the song title as a theme. Fuck it. If we take the "precious artiste" tack we lose people's interest forever, and if you're playing in a bar, what do you expect anyway? When you're playing in a concert setting or where people came specifically to hear country blues than you can tell them to fuck off.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline GhostRider

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2011, 10:50:38 AM »
Pan:

When this happens to me (not often as I naturally avoid the slow, contemplative tunes), I do pull out a Blues Bros. number, "Sweet Home Chicago". My guitar accompaniment is pretty close to RJ, which is fun as he really works the rhythm. And everybody knows "Sweet Home Chicago". And the fun part is that you can write quite racy verses for this one. Always a crowd pleaser.

As I play here in Calgary, another I pull out at times like these is "Ghost Rider in the Sky"  ;D  The minor key sound of it is pretty bluesy, and everyone knows the chorus.

Another that fits is Crosscut Saw (the 1942 Tony Hollins acoustic version).

I like it when people shout out requests and such, it means they're listening and like in a general way what you're doing. Think, would you shout out requests to a group you didn't like.

Last tip, if this comes up, throw in a double entendre tune like Bo Carter's "All Around Man", Cigarette Blues etc. or RGD "Hesitation Blues". Wahoo.

Anyway, just some thoughts,
Alex

Offline Pan

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2011, 03:18:42 PM »
Thanks for chiming in everybody! This topic has given me some food for thoughts.

I didn't mean to sound like I don't want any interaction with my audiences, of course I do. But taking in requests usually ends up in more and more requests coming in, and you have to draw the line somewhere, unless you are planning to be some kind of a human juke box.

When asked if I do requests, I usually explain politely, that the stuff I play is pretty obscure, and that I'm not very good at filling in request, but yes, you can try anyway. Sometimes people actually request cb songs, which is always a delight. I of course can't always fullfill the request, but I might be able to throw another song from the same artist, or a version of the song by another artist.

With requests of songs by modern rock/blues artists, I try to do what Norfolk Slim suggested; to play a cb song done by them based on the original rather than the cover thing. Usually people seem to be happy with this, and sometimes they afterwards come to greet me and say that they didn't know that the song was a cover from an old original cb song.

But I also agree with Blueshome. Taking in request that go too far away from the setlist and the subject will make the whole show unbalanced and if I have to start strumming CCR tunes with a flatpick, I might as well leave the whole thing to someone else who actually enjoys doing this.

To be fair, my audiences often surprise me positively. I had a couple of young kids come over when they briefly visited a bar I was playing, and asking for a Blind Blake tune. I suspect they had checked on the internet, what my music was all about, before coming.

If I can't fullfill a request for a cb tune, I will, within reason see, if I can do it for a next time. This can push you to directions that are out of your comfort zone, and actually widen your repertoire. I recently found out that I don't have the vocal qualities to do Sleepy John Estes material, and learned my first Reverand Davis song, by requests of my audience.

Cheers

Pan


« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 04:56:05 PM by Pan »

Offline onewent

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2011, 04:48:27 PM »
I feel for you, Pan, but I believe you have an excellent attitude toward this annoyance.  I think the BB movie has created a monstrous stereotype, and your description as a 'blues Disneyland' fits.
The players I've seen in live shows have mostly reacted to far-out requests in an accommodating or passive fashion .. bend like the palm tree, so to speak.  I can imagine how someone like Paul Geremia would respond..I'd imagine it would contain a few choice words from O'Muck's post above   >:D
Hey, when all else fails, sing 'em a Finnish folk song!  Tom

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2011, 05:46:36 PM »
Hi all,
One strategy I remember employing years ago when a Bluegrass band I was in received unwanted requests was that we would just play whatever tune we had intended to play, but announce it as the tune that had been requested.  Not that this ploy was utilized a lot, but I never remember once the requester coming back and saying, "Hey, that wasn't the song I asked for."  

Inappropriate requests have very little to do with the song being asked for, and everything to do with the requester wanting to make the working stiff musician dance to his (the requester's) tune, and putting the musician in a servant capacity.  Sorry if that sounds a bit sour, but I believe it is so.  I had requests made with a very definite "play this or else" message communicated on one occasion I can remember, and you bet, I played it.  Fortunately, it was a tune I played and liked, "Mack The Knife", but I didn't like myself better for playing the song in a set right after I had just played it.  In recent years when people request a song I don't know, I've just said, "You know, I've heard that song, but I've never learned it to play it.", which is both true and how I'd prefer to deal with it.

As far as the Blues Brothers go, Pan, I bet you could make up a ripping version of the Aretha Franklin feature from that movie, "Think" (think about what you're tryin' to do to me).  It has a great groove and you might find that it would give you a chance to get down on your own bad self.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 06:07:04 PM by Johnm »

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2011, 06:08:55 PM »
Apart from jumping off the stage and smashing them over the head with a steel body resonator...?

I have a zen taoist confucionist approach, the superior man does not allow himself to end up in that position. But then again I mostly quit playing out years ago, too many variables, too much like hard work and I don't need the dough or recognition, such as it was, which was variable, depending on how hung-over I, or the soundman, was, or a thousand other variables I never seemed to be able to get under control on a consistent basis. Very much like my golf game actually.

When I do play in a setting where there's an audience expecting to sit and see something I've been totally selective lately unless I've been railroaded into doing it, under which circumstances I hate the whole deal and get off stage as quickly as possible. Fortunately I have zero desire to be famous or even well regarded by the great unwashed hordes, I do it for fun and for people I like and respect. When it stops being fun, I'm gone like a submarine.

Yeah, do your own version, or give them a short but amusing spiel on the true origins of the song, you could work up an act where you pull out your Dixon & Godrich Blues & Gospel Records 1890 - 1943, 4th edition, and give them a little educational lecture...  ;) <- joking

[edited for strong language, I got a little carried away there]
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 05:05:05 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2011, 08:30:56 PM »
One strategy I remember employing years ago when a Bluegrass band I was in received unwanted requests was that we would just play whatever tune we had intended to play, but announce it as the tune that had been requested.

Brilliant. Gets my vote.

And if that fails -->

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!
Set 'em out, ride 'em in
Ride 'em in, let 'em out,
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in Rawhide.

Offline LB

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2011, 06:31:18 AM »
I find there's no way to eliminate it but you can make the best of it and do things to minimize. I mean playing in a corner bar with TVs around the walls and game machines dinging everywhere and a meat packing plant across the street and you get what you asked for. I also think the less professional you present your show, the less organized the songs, more pauses and lack of story telling and depth you lead them into this mode. On the point of dress, the comments on blues brothers gets carried too far. People think blues musicians that dress up are being silly. In reality this goes back to the roots of not only blues but our culture. It wasn't but a couple of decades ago a musician was required to wear the right apparel to a show. It was not a choice. And there are reasons why, really good ones. I do agree all these movies and pop culture has become a curse of sorts... Urban Cowboy, Sat Night Fever, Karaoke, American Idol, say goodbye to real music. Just buy a midi keyboard and sampler and your done.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 06:36:11 AM by LittleBrother »

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2011, 07:01:31 PM »


Inappropriate requests have very little to do with the song being asked for, and everything to do with the requester wanting to make the working stiff musician dance to his (the requester's) tune, and putting the musician in a servant capacity.  Sorry if that sounds a bit sour, but I believe it is so.  I had requests made with a very definite "play this or else" message communicated . . .


I agree John.  Luckily I'm usually more intimidating than the people that try this on me.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2011, 07:02:49 PM »
I used to get this shit all the time. Usually I'd answer politely that I didn't know any of those songs. Nobody asked for Blues Bros., but one belligerent drunk started heckling me to play something by Elton John, who btw I truly loathe, when I told him I didn't know any he wanted to fight me.

Having now encountered more and more stories about requests hurled at the first generation guys, I'm convinced that more often than not they would try to oblige. Gary Davis knew a ton of turn of the century popular songs for example. Big Bill worked pop songs up in his own inimitable style , Glory of Love for example, and they are generally speaking not less excellent than the rest of his oeuvre. He also reinvented himself as the situation demanded, singing "folk" songs and hymns like Swing low sweet Chariot ( admittedly not one of his stronger pieces) to satisfy the expectations of his new white "folk" audiences here and in Europe. So if it happened now my feeling is , if I know the song at all I'd give it a go and if I don't I'll make one up using the song title as a theme. Fuck it. If we take the "precious artiste" tack we lose people's interest forever, and if you're playing in a bar, what do you expect anyway? When you're playing in a concert setting or where people came specifically to hear country blues than you can tell them to fuck off.


Good post, senor!

I've had good luck with the "I'll make one up with that theme" approach.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Shovel

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2011, 08:38:10 AM »
i always try to give the people what they want.
except when i'm not in the mood to.   :P


Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2011, 09:11:10 AM »
Hey Pan
As you're in Berlin you say this to unwanted requests: Kennen tue ich die Nummer schon: K?nnen tue ich sie aber leider nicht!
Prof S

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2011, 03:25:11 PM »
I think one needs to distinguish between responses in this thread that are humorous (or in my case, flippant) and the more serious advice. Just as one would have to distinguish between different venues and environments, and between a genuine request for a specific blues tune that reflects an interest in what's being played (and perhaps made during a break), and somebody shouting out a request like "play some Blues Brothers" without even naming a song, or requesting music outside the style being performed (play some Beatles!).

Offline Pan

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2011, 04:03:37 PM »
Oh well, look what I got started again!  :P

Perhaps Toby Walker and Mr O'Muck are right, and I should not be playing bar gigs at all. But I'm a little stubborn and idealistic here. In my experience most people will actually enjoy good country blues music when they hear it. On a good night people might dance, clap their hands and stomp their feet to the music. And often people come to thank me after the show. I would also like to take cb music where the people are. Nothing wrong with the concerts per se, but I would like that cb would not turn into some kind of concert music just for the chosen elite in the know, as has happened much to classical music. And to be honest, opportunities for me to play concerts are rare, and I actually happen to like playing the bars most of the time.

Unfortunately I too am less idealistic, when it comes to the motives of some requests. Sometimes a request can be just a thinly veiled form of harassment, and if you are being treated rudely, you have to stand up for yourself. No one else will.

So, should I start to create fingerstyle arrangements on the songs of Cream, Beatles, Neil Young etc.? Hell no! Life is too short, and I will soon die without never mastering most of the music that I actually wanted to play! And I do reserve the right to decide what my repertoire consists of, thank you!
I might be as  desperate for a gig as the next musician, but I do make every effort to be honest in how I promote myself. Nobody can claim that I have presented myself as an all around entertainer, or a cover rock artist, or anything but just myself. Of course people who book artists are human and make mistakes, we all do.

So, I will continue to do what I do, and if someone asks me to do a Clapton song, I will politely explain that I don?t know it, but I would be happy to do a song that he also happens to cover. It?s not like I haven?t made any effort to please the requester, and most people will happily set for this.

I would like to see some more comments in general, why the Blues Brothers seems to be the norm for what most people consider as being the blues, and what, if anything, we can do the change that?

Perhaps the question should be, why do people always want to hear the same old stuff, time and time again?

Maybe I'll ask that from the next guy who requests a Blues Brothers tune?  ;)

Cheers

Pan

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Curse of the Blues Brothers
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2011, 04:23:05 PM »
Did I mention that I dig the Blues Bros. (the movie). How can you not, I mean James, Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker,and Aretha Franklin in the same movie, plus the worlds largest gratuitous car smash up scene? G'wan wit chuz!

Quote
but I would like that cb would not turn into some kind of concert music just for the chosen elite in the know, as has happened much to classical music.

Pretty much a fait accompli a long time ago I'm afraid.
But keep doin' what your doing Pan after all you're performing in Berlin where there is a long tradition of respect for music, it may be different there.


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

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

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