I love country blues music.
I’m not talking about electric guitars and shuffle rhythms.
I’m talking about the real old blues.
The country-blues were regional African-American folk musics. These sounds laid the foundation for music today, and continues to be present, even if it’s just an esoteric ghost of a memory.
I found this music during a long journey, meandering through genres and artists, not knowing what I was looking for until I found it.
My journey started with the Grateful Dead. I always liked the acoustic songs like Brokedown Palace, Ripple, and Black Peter. This was Clue #1 to what I was looking for.
Clue #2 was when I started listening to Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. I was really drawn to their earlier music— their unconventional voices and acoustic guitar accompaniment struck me.
Young’s and Cohen’s music seemed so immediate and self-sufficient. I felt that these singers were drawing on something rich.
A source I could feel but not understand.
Clue #3 hit me like a train— it was like lenses suddenly snapping into focus. The path on my journey was illuminated.
This moment occurred when I stumbled on a video of the blues singer Lightning Hopkins playing Baby, Please Don’t Go.
Afterwards I thought to myself: This is how the guitar is supposed to sound.
My new mission was to capture and fill my head with that sound.
Have I been able to capture it? No, because that’s the journey. Discovering the blues was just the clearest step on the journey thus far.
What I did manage to capture was the realization that I’m drawn to the image and sounds of the lone singer-songwriter bearing themselves to the world.
In order to express themselves in a way that touches us, they have to tap into that rich channel.
I feel like when I play guitar for people, or hear the music of one of these singer-songwriters, I get to tap into that richness and get to experience it again.
If only for those moments.
My journey has led me to many interesting stations, and I am excited to share them with you.
If you haven’t heard the old country blues music, listen to it.
It will give you the foundation to understand where all the music we love came from and also hopefully make you feel like I did when I first heard it.