The Meeting at the crossroads

Blues & World Music musician, producer and composer Ramon Goose documents his musical journey from the pre war American Blues to the music he has encountered whilst travelling and performing with musicians from West and North Africa.
My first musical memories as a child were vivid and colourful, my mother was a child of the sixties so the house was always filled with the sound of Jimi Hendrix preaching his ‘electric church’ music or my mum boogieing to old Canned Heat records. As well as this Mum loved folk and blues music and was part of the folk and blues revival movement in the 60s which had helped bring over pre-war blues heroes such as Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters to the UK to perform to memorised white British audiences. My father being from Buenos Aires, Argentina would always play Paraguayan dance music on a Friday night and Tango on a Sunday so already I had understood the concept of different music from different cultures. So when my mum played African music in the home it seemed a totally natural music to listen to. At school in UK (when I wasn’t living with my grandmother in Argentina) I seemed to be at a loss when people talked about the latest pop song and they were at a greater loss when I told them my favourite band was Los Tres Paraguayos!

One day whilst walking into my home town of Colchester (a small provincial l town in the east of England) I had an epiphanic moment, I saw at the end of my street (which was sort of at a crossroads!) a Turquoise Fender Stratocaster in a music shop window, I asked my grandmother to but (which she did) and then went on to practising the instrument in a diligent manner until I had made some progression. My first source of inspiration came from the Blues records my Mother had amassed which included such legendary figures as Rob Johnson, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller and my favourite of all – the mystical Skip James. I treated the learning of their repertoire with the same reverence as a student would of classical repertoire, I didn’t see any difference in the importance of articulation, tone, timbre and performance, for me, those Blues artists were masters of the acoustic guitars.

As any young musician I worked through a succession of local bands and gigs and ultimately ended up forming a band called Nublues (whilst still in Colchester).
I had a crazy idea to combine the modern music of the street (Hip Hop) with the Blues genre as I seemed to hear in some Hip Hop music a certain introspective dialogue which could be compared to that of pre war blues artists. For example Kokomo Arnold, one of the most popular American blues musicians of the 1930s, recorded a song under the title „The Twelves“ in 1935 which was based on ‘The Dozens’ which has been described as a precursor of hip hop music. I produced the album ‘Dreams of a Bluesman’ where I tried to make a connection between these historically separated but culturally linked styles. Whilst looking for a record deal the demo ended up with Chris Thomas King (star of the Cohen Brothers Film – ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’) he instantly jumped at the chance of helping us realise the project (as executive producer) and signed us to a New Orleans based record label.

We suddenly ended up on French TV and touring over Europe with people singing our songs at sold out concerts. It was a real thrill which although only lasted briefly it gave me the confidence to try more musical adventures.
 

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