[Harp-L] Re: Politics and Blues Harp - Intentionality

Interesting topic for me. Not so much about politics, which is interesting in its own right, but about consciously considering the tone a show will take. One can play the songs you know or are comfortable with, string them together any way they fall and have a nice day, without consideration of the actual "show," or you can create a show with INTENTIONALITY.  Intentionally keeping politics, controversy or any deep thought out of a show and be a party, dance group is very legitimate.  So are shows where the artist reveals one's difficulties, joys, triumphs, trials, politics trying to be a cathartic, inspirational vehicle for your audience. Most of the bands I like combine the two in a very intentional, measured manner. For me, uncontroversial dance bands are OK, but a little generic; self indulgent political diatribes are tedious. Unlike my wife, I like danger in my music and the performance art aspect of Rock and Roll. Bottom line is taste, balance, and understanding that one can never please all the people either way so be true to one's self. 

I'm thankful, so very thankful, in this country and at this time in history, we have the opportunity to choose. It is always an honor just being on any stage.

Either direction, there is a pay-off and cost. The audience owes the performer nothing, and can vote with their voice and feet. For me Bruce Springsteen always struck a good balance between thoughtful music, party music and an occasional political comment you could agree with or not. I don't always agree with his politics and he's not a technical Harmonica player, but he taught me about Rock and Roll when I saw him play the ending harmonica of Promised Land from the front row, or I hear the sweet, delicate harmonica notes he achieves in The River, especially during the No Nukes film a few years ago, or the classic beginning of Thunder Road.

Sooo let's stretch this string back to Harmonica playing. Does one live dangerously on stage, or play what you know and can trust, and where is the balance?  There is PC (politically correct) and then there's PCH (Politically Correct Harmonica). How would you react to a reggae version of Juke?  Whammer Jammer followed by a Bob Dylan styled folk song followed by James Brown? How about a patriotic song, or a patriotic song as if Jimi Hendrix was playing it on Harmonica? That's a political statement. Where's the balance between solos that follow a song but don't express one's soul - and a night of self indulgent harmonica solos? 

There are artists I may not listen to very much due to taste, but I appreciate the chances they take, and their artistry. It's dangerous to attempt artistry.

I usually limit my politics to dedicating a song to the military, hoping they return quickly, safely and successfully. I figure this covers most of the political spectrum while acknowledging that their job choice makes it possible for me to have such a joyful life. I never did anything military until I got to do three AFE/USO Tours, Thule AFB in North West Greenland (brrrrr), Central America and Gitmo, and Germany. The level of talent, dedication and accountability I witnessed was eye opening and impressive. To any one on the list who fits this description, thank you.

Finally, I feel a responsibility to share, more than a little bit of myself, and take some chances during my shows. If it sucks, it will only last  a few minutes. You've been warned.


Find most of  my Music, Designs, Photography, Ropes  Course information at


You Tube: A Toy Soldier's Story" - http://youtu.be/0z9JqS1PU6I
Harmonica Serenade: http://www.tostmusic.com/harmonicaserenade/
onesock.com: http://www.tostmusic.com/onesock/index.html

Experiential Learning  — Ropes/Challenge Programs
What is it?    http://www.tostmusic.com/images/experientialBrochure.pdf
Team Solutions, Florida: http://www.teamsolutionsfla.com
Florida International University: http://trac.fiu.edu/
Florida Atlantic University (Go Owls) - http://wise.fau.edu/ropes/
The Leadership Ranch: http://www.leadershipranch.com
Contact me for other Experiential Learning and Ropes Course options around the USA.

Clayton Goldstein

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.