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As the “Blues” Fades

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The recent death of Bobby “Blue” Bland is the loss of a legend in a music culture created in America. My fear is that it is a dying era. Bobby Bland came through Memphis and connected with WDIA radio station in the early days of black radio. WDIA set the standard for the way communication and community went hand in hand. A blending of the blues, the church and the community was what black radio use to be.

In that era, Bobby Bland was turning out songs like “Farther on Up The Road”, “I Smell Trouble” and in  the 80s with “Members Only”, “Take Off Your Shoes”, “Angel” and many more. There was a collaboration with B.B. King and those two set another standard and many artist of other music cultures have sampled, stolen and used Bobby’s music. Something that appears to fading with every moment is the “BLUES”. I was so glad to see The BET Awards acknowledge Bobby Bland and as I sat with a group of people , a 23 year old ask “Who is Bobby Bland?”. Thus it lets me know that the blues is fading.

There are those of us who remember all of the Blue Monday shows at The Longhorn Ball Room and now that hall sets empty on Monday nights. Thank GOD for places like R.L. Blues Palace in South Dallas that still maintains the legend of blues on Friday and Saturday nights and it’s one of the few places where the Blues is still celebrated. Although we all live with the blues from time to time, there are few artist who appear interested in carrying the torch.

Names like, Albert King, Junior Wells, Z.Z Hill, Muddy Waters and so many others are fading fast. So as Bobby Bland past recently, just another memory of the past and the blues continues to fade. Where are the places where you can still go and hear “The Blues”? Where are the young artist getting a recording studio to create “The Blues” of today?

Why must a great era come to an end? Just as the dinosaur  faded, could “The Blues” be headed down that same path? Is there still an interest in the blues ?

  • A. Butler

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in this article. As the son of a traditional Rhythm & Blues guitarist, whose opened for the likes of Bobby Bland, R.L. Griffin, and Bobby Rush, Johnny Taylor and others, this genre of black music has been an untold chapter of music since the rise of the hip hop generation.

    Currently, there are many musicians ready and willing to participate in a project documenting the blues legacy here in Dallas. I’ve frequented R.L. Blues Palace various times over the last decades as a performer and patron (and occasional roadie), and there’s just a different feel to the blues atmosphere. Something that’s hard to explain to a generation who don’t know the likes of Bobby Blue Bland. Whose uncles and grandparents have been unable to past down the tales blues legends as technology has opened up the opportunity for the twen-teens of the music scene today to explore the music spectrum a whole lot easier than sitting listening to turntables in the late 70s.

    My longtime neighbor recalls stories all the time of how, Bobby and B.B. would come to town and the tickets would be $1.50 (a whole days work in the 50s) to get in the Longhorn (he often talks that those were the only days that blacks could go to the Longhorn, but that’s another story in itself). Its really hard to imagine where music would be today without the groundbreaking waves chartered by the Blues.

    We’ve got to keep this history alive as blues music paved the way for the entertainment that we experience today… The guitars, the grimy and grittiness, the gut wrenching cries of vocalists bellowing the lyrics of songs depicting the black struggle.. Long before tales of street life over the beats of synthesized sounds and samples of the hip hop genre, the blues was uniting music lovers and laying the ground work for pop music of today..

    Hopefully soon we’ll get to a time where elementary music teachers will be able to share some popular songs of artist from the Blues era in their curriculum; leaving the new generation with such staples as “HEY, HEY, THE BLUES IS ALRIGHT!!!” It’s alright with me, hope’ it’s the same for you.

    A. BUTLER

    MAJOR PROPHETS ENTERTAINMENT

    THE O.C.E.E.
    OAK CLIFF ENTREPRENEUR EXCHANGE

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