So much that is American music has flowed out of the black experience. In this politically correct age, we work so hard to acknowledge that fact that we sometimes overlook the amazing contributions that were made to these music forms by whites. That becomes even more complicated by the fact that in the rush to modernity, the roots can get overlooked.
As a music form, everybody knows the blues, but, in this hip-hop and pop age, they are underappreciated. Further, while most casual followers of the music know the absolute greats — BB King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker… — few know how they came to know them. With the possible exception of King and Buddy Guy, most of the true blues masters played in a age of discrimination when their music was laregely consigned to small clubs in black neighborhoods. So how did America at large come to know these musical giants?
Because a few brave white suburban kids ventured into those clubs and learned from those masters and then took the music to the masses that only white people then had access to. It happened when Bix Biederbecke when to listen to King Oliver and Louis Armstorng for jazz and it happened when the people in the Chicago Blues Reunion whent to hear Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf.
That historical context makes the CD/DVD set Chicago Blues Reunion: Buried Alive In The Blues on of the more enjoyable bits of media that I have run into in a long time.
The DVD, while a bit self-agrandizing, does a good job of letting you know who these people are and the context in which they came to be very, very good blues players. It also helps you see how the blues moved into the mainstream, and this author for one, hopes it will help them move there again.
The CD is excellent. There is not a bad cut on it, and a couple of really outstanding one. My favs were “Drinking Wine” and “GM Boogie.” “Drinkin Wine” is almost a blues standard, but this rendition has a great all around sound and even at 10 in the morning made me want to go our drinkin’.
“GM Boogie” was written by Harvey Mandel and is intended to show off his guitar virtuosity, which it does to great affect. However, in it you can hear so much that was and is the blues. The solo heavy later part of the song is very traditional, but the early part is extremely reminiscent of one of the great modern blues bands — ZZ Top — that is almost had me do a double take when I first heard it.
All-in-all this is a great album and the DVD onoy adds to the experience. Highly recommended.