Willkommen zum Brief aus dem Vereinigten Königreich.
The history of the Blues in the United Kingdom is both long and full of interest and surprises. That is probably true of Germany as well. In fact, if a Wasser-Prawda reader would like to send in an article on the history of the Blues in Germany, I will find somewhere online to publish it in English.
Letter from The UK #11 by Darren Weale. Photo by Benjamin Amure
Here in the UK, some of the most significant moments started, probably, with the Jazz trombonist and bandleader Chris Barber bringing over US artists like Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy. The journey from their arrival to the adoption of American Blues by bands like The Animals and The Rolling Stones was not a long one in terms of years.
Many years on, with the gap filled by numerous further visiting American artists like Buddy Whittington and Robert Cray, and the rise of British acts like Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Connie Lush, the Blues music live scene is still very much alive. Yet the phrase ‘keeping the Blues alive’ is very common. The Blues has always been alive since it began. It is just the profile of the music against other genres, the amount of venues to performing bands, and other factors that have changed.
In October, the Royal Albert Blues Fest brings many, many British and international Blues acts to the Royal Albert Hall, both the main stage and smaller rooms across the building. The festival has plenty of credibility with acts such as Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes – Paul has won so many awards now he must be running out of shelf room. Also Mud Morganfield. You don’t get much more authentic than this son of Muddy Waters. Yet headliners include Level 42, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow. Now, it is understandable that the Royal Albert Hall needs artists who fill the 5000 seats of the main auditorium, but it is a shame they couldn’t find more recognisable Blues acts for a couple of nights. That is one of the challenges of the Blues for the future. Gary Clarke Jr and Joe Bonamassa are perhaps the biggest names in contemporary Blues. Yet for the Blues to be truly alive those lights need to shine lighter and fill not just the Royal Albert Hall, but stadiums.
One venue got it right the recently, and that was Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. A very small, but historic venue. Mud Morganfield made his debut and filled that place.