Re: [Harp-L] Blues alive and well in Helena and Kansas City

Looks like blues is alive in a few spots. That's good.

Warren's comments on why blues isn't doin' so well in the club scene is very astute.

-----Original Message-----
From: James Meade <jameskmeade@xxxxxxxxx>
To: harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wed, Oct 12, 2011 9:28 am
Subject: [Harp-L] Blues alive and well in Helena and Kansas City

Hello harp-l,
     Went down to the King Bisquit Festival in Helena, Arkansas Saturday to
play with Levee Town backing Big Bill Morganfield.  Bill had asked Cheryl
Arena from Dallas to come join us, so we set up on opposite sides of the
stage, often playing at the same time without stepping on toes!  It was
great!  I don't think anyone minded, because the music was good!  After our
set I wandered over to Moreland and Arbuckle's stage, and they sounded
great.  Dustin asked me if I had any harps, and of course I did, so we
played a couple together and had a ball.  They're from Wichita, and Dustin
Arbuckle is a singer and harmonica player with great tone and phrasing,
mixing covers with great originals.  I found out the next day that James
Cotton had been on the street playing harp while Moreland and Arbuckle did
their thing, and I missed James Cotton, shucks!
     Levee Town did get to be the backing band Sunday at the Plantation jam
for over an hour, playing our own originals and backing others.  The last
song we played was Levee Town with Jon Gindick, Bob Corritore, Deak Harp,
Cheryl Arena, and others getting in on the harp action.  I was knocked out
by everyone's presence, playing, and good spirit!  Everyone seemed to play
for the music, not themselves.  It was great.  "Ya'll are taking too many
pictures.  This is a dance floor!" The MC helped bring out the spirit with
our help.  King Bisquit was dedicated to the memory of Pinetop Perkins,
Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Honeyboy Edwards, and Big Jack Johnson this year.
 The men and women who helped create this music are leaving us now if they
haven't already.  I got home to hear that Mojo Buford had passed on.
     Here in Kansas City there are so many venues for the blues, including
Knuckleheads Saloon, where Levee Town hosts an open jam every Sunday.  I
play the Mississippi Saxophone, Mouth Organ, and sing a little with Levee
Town (  We've been together 9 years, same 4 guys, playing
more than 200 gigs a year all along.  This Thursday night we'll be opening
for the great Buddy Guy, who is in his prime!  Are the blues alive?  With
guys like Buddy Guy?!  Go hear for yourself, even if it means traveling
hundreds of miles!
     On October 23rd Lazy Lester will play Knuckleheads with Levee Town as
his backing band.  I've had the honor of getting to know Lester, and talked
to him yesterday on the phone.  He said, "Play for the music.  Don't play
for yourself."  A couple of years back I was hanging out with Lester at a
friends house, playing acoustic guitar and harmonica with him.  He loves
singing country music, but he does it with such soul, it feels like the
blues to me.  Anyway, I had to leave, and Lester asked why.  I said I had to
got teach how to play the harmonica.  He said, "I don't want to know how to
play the harmonica.  I want to know what to play, when to play, and when not
to play."
     On October 24th I will be teaching a beginning harmonica workshop
followed by a blues harmonica workshop at Knuckleheads Saloon (  I have been a student and friend of Joe Filisko since
1998, and take the bus from K.C. to Chicago to go to Joe's classes and see
family.  540 mile commute to learn from Joe, Shoji, and everyone else.
 Shoji plays guitar and harp with Eddie Clearwater, and he says "Music is
playing the right note at the right time."  Dennis Gruenling, Steve Guyger,
Rick Estrin, Buddy Green, Jim Liban, Gary Smith, and a host of others have
come to help teach the class, offering their insights.  There is such a
beautiful spirit when people get together to play and enjoy this music and
each other.
     Many musicians play the standards of the blues, recreating classic
songs in their own manner.  I think it's good to be able to tell someone
where the music came from.  Thats a Howlin Wolf song, Muddy, Lazy Lester...
   Jim Liban, one of my favorite living harmonica players, says he's 'a
white guy who fell in love with the blues.  "I'm not a bluesman like Skip
James or Big Walter, but its in me, and I got to let it out."
     Apologies if this is a long post, but I do feel strongly about playing
and preserving music in the tradition of our forefathers and mothers.  If
anyone is interested in the Knuckleheads workshops or lessons via Skype,
please contact me at jameskmeade@xxxxxxxxxx  Go see live blues when you can,
and you will help in the preservation of this beautiful music,
thank you and cheers
jimmie meade


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