I'm really beginning to dislike the word revival. I've nothing against the word itself, merely the way it's being employed in the context of music. Press release after press release heralds some musician or other as being in the vanguard of some sort of revival.The word revive has its origins in the Latin word revivere, which literally translates as "back live" but has come to mean bring back to life. So when it's used in reference to a particular genre of music, the inference is the style had died and is now being resurrected by somebody. The problem I have with this is the music it's usually used in context with never went anywhere. The blues, folk, and the other music people seem to think needed reviving never died. It just wasn't in the popular eye because some other music was the flavour of the month. Thousands of people the world over may have been enjoying a musical genre, but it's only when it shows up on MTV people remember its existence and it miraculously undergoes a revival.
All you have to do is sit down and listen to a disc by the likes of an artist of the calibre of Colin Linden and you'll appreciate how alive the folk/blues/roots tradition has been and continues to be. Linden has been performing and recording since the 1980s and tours throughout Europe and North America to appreciative audiences playing what most people would now refer to as either roots or Americana. Listening to the new release of a concert he gave in 2010, Still Live, on the File Under: Music label, you'll hear as diverse a collection of material from this one performer as you'd normally expect to hear from five or six different groups. Blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, and country all make their presence felt in Linden's music, and he sounds equally at home with each.
Linden interest in the blues started young. His mother took him to see Howlin' Wolf when he was 11 and he's been hooked ever since. You can hear his affinity for the blues in his slide guitar playing and his use of rhythm in all his music. But, blues is the foundation upon which he builds his music not the only place he resides. They are Linden's jumping off point. However, no matter how far he leaps, he never loses track of his first love. Yet he's not content with being a traditionalist either and merely recreating the sounds others have made before him. Even better is what's true musically is also true lyrically. Don't expect to hear your typical "my baby done left me brokenhearted" blues songs or blue-eyed soul moaning from Linden. While he might have gained his reputation for being a guitar player and sideman (playing with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Robert Plant), his lyrics have an intelligent introspection you don't often hear in popular music.