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About Blues in London

There's often talk in blues circles about 'keeping the blues alive' but all too usually this refers to such a tired old re-hashed, re-heated pale imitation of a second hand cliche that you might be forgiven for thinking the kindest thing for all concerned would actually be to turn the life-support machinery off.

For most non-enthusiasts 'The Blues' has come to mean, if it means anything at all, a cliche of rural misery and racial stereotypes, or a middle aged accountant with a Strat and a hat singing about 'goin' down to the roadhouse' in between interminable guitar solos.

In fact there is much more going on than that, and blame for this mis-conception must lie with the blues establishement. Blues music doesn't need to be kept alive, it's doing very well all on it's own thank you very much. That many of the newer players who are making their contribution today are reluctant to even use the word 'blues' is a damning indictment of the powers that be within blues over the past 20 years or so.

History is and always has been an important aspect of blues, but so has innovation and development and, just as it's always done, blues is continuing to evolve and reflect the changing times and lifestyles of the people who play it. What's needed is not inter-faction antipathy - "The only REAL blues is..." - but an open and inclusive appreciation of blues in all it's forms and modern day mutations.

Blues is FOLK music - in other words it's music that come from us, the folk, rather than them, the corporate suppliers of 'entertainment'. The real enemy is the idea that music is no longer something that we DO, but something that we BUY.

London has a wealth of all shades of blues talent and is uniquely placed to be a world center of blues. That it is not, and that many international blues artists will tour all over Europe and not come to London, is something we need to change. The change will come not by banging on about how great it was round at Alexis Korners house in 1962 (even if it was), but by celebrating and nurturing the blues scene here and now.

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