I must say, as of last Friday I was up to my neck with the issue of blues. To explain, a lot of jam sessions around the Bay area are blues jams, of many reasons. One is that this seems to be a very blues-centric place, Silicon Valley of all places. Secondly, doing blues jams is a no-brainer for even less qualified musicians, standard shuffle in G and here we go.
Anyway, imagine going to such places for a while — as I’ve done — playing shuffles, walking line bass stuff, Texas shuffle, hearing over and over again the same cliche solos, there’s a limit to all that. One could read a newspaper and play standard blues at the same time.
Even worse, poor audience, they really don’t get much out from it, I would think. One of the basic rules for any musician is that when they go up on stage their job is to entertain the audience, not themselves or the musicians. Neither have ego-trips about solos and showing off, rather building something that the audience is enjoying.
Sadly, a lot of blues jams really don’t work that well, no wonder the places are usually empty, or if this starts, people leave the place.
Anyway, it came to a point where I thought that’s it, no more blues for me. Enter Rundgren and his Live in San Francisco 2000 DVD that arrived from Blockbuster a couple of days ago.
Todd Rundgren actually does in the middle of the show a medley of Mystified/Broke Down and Busted, very psychedelic blues indeed.
Anyway, what Todd did was to take blues and R&B tracks and actually make them very, very interesting and enjoyable for the public, it was quite a revelation for me. There’s nothing wrong with blues, it’s the presentation.
In other words, yes I will pack my guitar and show up at jams, but this time with a very creative bent and try to do something different out of those tracks that are jammed so the audience has fun. Worst case they throw me out from the place….
PS: This YouTube video has Mystified, the sound is not that good but the beginning dialogue by Todd is hilarious. Anyway,check out his presentation to the audience concerning blues.