World events notwithstanding, it’s the Year of the Blues in the U.S. of A. The celebration begins tomorrow, Feb 7, in NYC with an outrageous concert – “Salute to the Blues.”
The concert will be filmed for theatrical distribution with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as director and Martin Scorsese as Executive Producer.
Concert proceeds will benefit The Blues Music Foundation, a “non-profit, international organization dedicated to the preservation of blues history, the celebration of blues excellence, support of music education (particularly the blues), and the provision of financial assistance to needy and worthy individuals who have made contributions to the blues.” Say amen.
You want the best lineup of talent since the Rock Hall opening in ’95? You’ve got it Friday night at Radio City Music Hall:
Aerosmith, Macy Gray, Buddy Guy, Mos Def, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Keb’ Mo’, Dr. John, David Johansen, Vernon Reid, Shemekia Copeland, Mavis Staples, Gregg Allman, Chuck D, India.Arie, Billy Boy Arnold, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Ruth Brown, Solomon Burke, Natalie Cole, Honeyboy Edwards, John Fogerty, Warren Haynes, Levon Helm, Larry Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Chris Thomas King, Alison Krauss, Lazy Lester, The Neville Brothers, Odetta, Angie Stone, Hubert Sumlin, James Blood Ulmer, Jimmie Vaughan and Kim Wilson.
That’s just crazy. Of course the price is pretty steep, but it’s for charity my friends: $50-$1250 per ticket. If you are unfamiliar with the blues going in to that show, you sure as hell won’t be on the way out.
What’s the Year of the Blues all about?
- In 1903, on a lonely train platform in Tutwiler, Mississippi, African American composer W.C. Handy encountered a man playing “the weirdest music I had ever heard,” an unexpected sound that would soon expand to become the most influential form of American roots music. And although it reverberates to this day across the globe, both on its own and through the many genres of which it is the foundation – including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, and hip-hop – it is still known, quite simply, as the blues.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of this encounter, and in recognition of the blues’ ongoing impact on music and cultural history, both in America and around the world, on September 5, 2002, the United States Congress proclaimed the year 2003 as the “Year of the Blues” (YOTB). The year will be celebrated by bringing together blues events, multimedia projects (radio and film series), concerts, festivals, and education initiatives.
I like the official proclamation – Congress can make ANTHING sound like a day in municipal court:
- Whereas blues music is the most influential form of American roots music, with its impact heard around the world in rock and roll, jazz, rhythm and blues, country, and even classical music;
Whereas the blues is a national historic treasure, which needs to be preserved, studied, and documented for future generations;
Whereas the blues is an important documentation of African-American culture in the twentieth century;
Whereas the various forms of the blues document twentieth-century American history during the Great Depression and in the areas of race relations, pop culture, and the migration of the United States from a rural, agricultural society to an urban, industrialized Nation;
Whereas the blues is the most celebrated form of American roots music, with hundreds of festivals held and millions of new or reissued blues albums released each year in the United States;
Whereas the blues and blues musicians from the United States, whether old or new, male or female, are recognized and revered worldwide as unique and important ambassadors of the United States and its music;
Whereas it is important to educate the young people of the United States to understand that the music that they listen to today has its roots and traditions in the blues;
Whereas there are many living legends of the blues in the United States who need to be recognized and to have their story captured and preserved for future generations; and
Whereas the year 2003 is the centennial anniversary of when W.C. Handy, a classically-trained musician, heard the blues for the first time, in a train station in Mississippi, thus enabling him to compose the first blues music to distribute throughout the United States, which led to him being named ‘Father of the Blues’: Now, therefore, be it
“Whereas” you have made the blues sound wholesome, dry and as dead as a mummy, you legislative dummies; but the concert should rectify that false impression.