What Is Blues?

Often we have young musicians, new to HBS, ask “What is blues?”  This is not an easy questions to answer, posing a number of pertinent questions about blues music:

  • Is blues a sub-genre of jazz?
  • Can the blues ever be popular?
  • Is all blues music only 3 chords?
  • Does it have to be iambic pentameter?
  • Does the second line of the verse have to be the same as the first?
  • Has anyone written any blues music since the 1960’s?

We can answer all of these questions given enough space, or simply tackle the easy ones in the space provided. One important bit of trivia being answered by the song Little Red Rooster written by blues master Willie Dixon, rooted in the Delta Blues tradition, Howling Wolf recorded the song in 1961.  The Rolling Stones recorded and released Little Red Rooster in 1964.  Close to the original, the Stones’ cover reached #1 in the UK charts making it the only blues song to reach #1 in the British music charts.  From this point on many British bands chose and recorded renditions of blues songs from across the Atlantic leading to the recognition of an electric blues category. The internet today contains a wealth of knowledge, so if the reader would like a stroll through the evolution of blues, please check this link: digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_bluesong.html If you would like to meet blues musicians from in and around Hamilton check out our regular HBS Events and pop along.

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