[Harp-L] Is Live Blues Dying Out?

This is a very interesting thread. As so many have professed and I agree completley, the blues will never completely die. It is like classical music being another artform which has influenced virtually every facet of music since its creation and, along with jazz, is so uniquely American. There will always be an audience for it but it does seem to shrink with every passing year and every new musical trend that gets crammed down our throats.
The influence of video as it relates to music now is so prevalent that even crappy bands can be successfull if they are pretty and/or energetic enough. There are just too many examples to even write out and in complete polar opposition of what video has done to how a song (or thought) is percieved, I will leave you to fill in blanks.  That said, when people do go out in this Obamaconomy, they not only want to hear good music, they need to see something as well in order to feel like they got most "bang for thier buck". Have you been to a big concert lately? Hi-Def video screens are now requisite.
You can play like Little AND Big Walter with shades of Charlie, Howard (RIP) and Junior but if you dont look great doing it, only the musicians and blues die hards will appreciate what is happening up there on the band stand. We live in a very superficial society these days and sad to say, if you don't look the part, the general public will always turn thier attention (and give thier cash) to the prettier, more energetic "entertainer", even if they just plain suck. A case in point would be the dreaded televised talent shows. How many grey (or no) hairs, overweight or just plain unattractive people do you see up there subjecting themselves to the idiots doing the "judging"? No matter how talented they may be, there is no chance they are even considered unless they are easy on the eyes. In fact, in one of the few times I have actually watched this nonsense, I remember one extremely talented young lady being told to lose weight and come back next year after she did so. I'm sure she felt just great about her experience after that. Not my idea of how I want my 15 minutes of fame to go. Poor kid. I have to wonder if Koko Taylor, Etta James and/or Ann Wilson would have been told the same. Actually I don't wonder at all. I am convinced they would slammed as well.
In short, (ok, maybe not so short) most people are not willing to give thier attention and spend their hard earned, thinly-stretched dollars to see usually "older" people who may be past there "best looking" days stand there, seemingly looking at there shoes and playing what is generally (not by me!!!) considered rudimentary music about the not so happy side of life. For the most part, people are currently LIVING through that side of life and when they do go out, they want to forget about the bills for a little while, have fun, usually dance or at the very least, be both audially AND visually entertained. The secret we have as blues players, is listening to and playing the blues is the best way to shed them. That is where and why it was created, from was the worst possible conditions of humanity: SLAVERY
Blues will never go completely away. As mentioned by another poster, all we need is another SRV or some other youthfull prodigy to revitalize the scene and make it fashionable again (Jason, where are you???). Meantime, versatility seems to be working for the bands I play with. We do rock, pop, funk, a little "light" jazz, even some punk to cover all the bases. Being a harp player, of course I always favor the blues numbers but I make sure most of the selections are fun, upbeat and swingin!!! However, I can also find places in all the aformentioned genres to play a solo, fill or refrain that adds alot to the overall feel of the song, where it fits. 
I think playing straight blues right now, is very difficult unless a strong visual presentation along with the playing. Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers come to mind: Mostly upbeat, swinging, beautifully played blues music fronted by a very tall, good looking guy who has penchant for standing on tables and chairs, moving around ALOT and working the crowd. Lets not forget the hottie (Honey!!!!) sitting next to him whippin out some spectacular boogie on her keyboard..She "may" also whip that gorgeous blond mane of hers around to during the course of the show....If you have ever seen them, note where she is situated...not in the backline with the drummer facing sideways. She is sharing center-stage with her husband, facing the audience with a giant smile. By accident? Probably not....
"The Blues had a baby...and they named the baby Rock and Roll"....McKinley Morganfield

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