How Long Does It Take To Style A Wolf Cut Blues People

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Blues People

When I opened the door, the sound of the guitar grabbed me by the neck, reached into my soul, and did not let go. There are few things in the world as wild, as primal, or as powerful as the blues guitar. In the hands of a master musician, the guitar screeches and squeals; he cried and cried; he wils and yowls; he bawls, and he shouts. Blues guitar can reach out and pull the soul out of your body.

Blues is an emotional art. It is a musical style born in the heart and sings directly from the soul. Blues singers cover the entire spectrum of emotions. Capturing the entire gamut of human experience. Bluesmen sing about headaches and heartaches, lust and love, betrayal and anger, hope and happiness. But at its best, depression is about redemption. It’s a feeling that can cut you off at the knees or inspire you to stand tall on your own two feet. And that’s what blues music is to me—the sound of my redemption. In the words of Howling Wolf, “The Blues can make you with a low depression that hurts so bad, you want to die, or it can make you fall in love too. “

And that’s what the blues did to me. It gave me the confidence to stand tall; it connects me with my people; and it helped me sing my song and add to the rich tapestry of black American art.

So, when I entered the River Street Jazz Club nearly ten years ago, I had no idea that I was walking into my past and into my future.

Growing up in a litter of five, my sister and I are the only children of color. In fact, my sister is the only black face I have seen since I was a teenager. My mother was a small, lily-white woman with dark hair and big brown eyes. Sadly, he is also a racist and uneducated person with a hatred for black music, black art, and black people. My mother has many rights at home. One of those rules is never having music—especially black music—at home or on the car radio. There were times when I broke the rules, my mother would come into the living room and look me straight in the eye.

Dropping his voice an octave—his breath reeking of mayonnaise and kielbasa—he would sternly mutter, “Son, you stay away from these niggers.” Viper-spoken and thirsty, he would smirk, “They will cut your throat and hold your back when you least need it.” Then, as the final refrain—an octave higher—he would add, “Now turn the god damn nigger music off and get out of my face!”

But when I walked through the rusty door stolen on Tuesday, at the age of twenty-three or twenty-four, I was—forever—letting it all out.

Oddly enough, a white French-Canadian poet and American outlaw writer named Jack Kerouac helped lead me to the prison of my past for the freedom of my future. I am a young man and want to know everything. I’ve been reading about hit writing, and I care about everything. I am angry at the world and angry about life. I am crazy about art and books; I am passionate about poetry and music. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went into the forest because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and absorb all the bones of life.” For black men in America, our history, our language, and our music are our proverbial “trees.” When I walked into a smoky, juke joint in Plains, Pennsylvania called the River Street Jazz Club, I walked into the wild. I have rediscovered a long-lost part of myself in American culture.

Historically speaking, there are few advantages to being born in America, but blues music is one of our rare heritages. Blues is a testament to our suffering. It is a means to “bear witness” to the violence at our base in America. And besides, the Blues “bear witness” to the human spirit-from the depths of desire and desire, to the end of love and kindness. There is, and always will be, a part of me drawn to the struggle and triumph of the oppressed – and make no mistake about it; Blues is an art form created by the downtrodden and downtrodden in America.

It’s Tuesday night—open mike night—at the River Street Jazz Club, and the joint is mostly empty. A few patrons in middle-aged, well-dressed, generous people. But I don’t listen. I’m not there for the crowd or even for the girls. It was curiosity that drove me there. It was my people screaming through the weight of history that forced me to go. It was fate that landed me in the audience that particular night.

I was lucky enough to walk in one particular. Although there were only a few regulars in the audience, local blues legend Clarence Spady played like the devil himself possessed him. Clarence is a small, middle-aged, dark-skinned black man from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Once hailed as “the future of depression,” he is also one of the “baddest guitar slingers” in the world. His father was a legendary musician, and if it wasn’t for his bad habit of heroin, the name Clarence Spady would be synonymous with the Blues. He would be there with BB King, Buddy Guy, and Muddy Waters.

That night, the Clarence Spady Trio took us all on an emotional journey through the history of depression. From his origins in the Mississippi Delta, he made songs like “Dust My Broom” and “Illinois Blues.” I sat there jaw-dropped and mesmerized-as he covered uptown Chicago rhythm and blues hits like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Spoonfull.” He even played grease-drippin’ funk classics like “Cissy Strut” and “Pick Up the Pieces” before ending the set with a faithful Hendrix rendition of “Little Wing.”

I have never seen or heard anything like it in my life. His fingers flew over the guitar like a force of nature. Indeed, man is a hurricane of six strings-pure raw and primal energy. But there is one song in particular that has stayed with me over the years – a Robert Johnson cover called “Crossroads Blues.”

Robert Johnson is a legend – a Faustian story in one year of blues history. As a young man, Jonson would hang around juke joints and honkey-tonks admiring established bluesmen like Son House and Charlie Patton. At that time, the young Robert Johnson could not play to death. He just sat there admiring his hero. When the guitar found its way into Johnson’s hand, the other musicians would leave the room because Robert sounded like a yowling cat. Then one day, the story goes, Robert walked in, sat down, and mesmerized the crowd with his unearthly playing. He beat musicians Son House and Charlie Patton off the stage. The new king of misery arrives, and a legend is born. But Johnson was gone almost as quickly as he arrived. Dead on all fours, barking and howling like a mad dog, Johnson was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his otherworldly guitar skills.

Robert Johnson wrote “Crossroad Blues” in his early twenties. Most people think that the song is about his relationship with the devil, but for me – in the evening – it took on a completely different meaning. Johnson tells the story of a lonely, scared black man walking down a dark, dark street. He wrote, “I went to the crossroad and fell to my knees, I went to the crossroad and fell to my knees.” As Clarence sang the first line, I realized that the lonely, scared black man was me, and I also realized that my musicians and their history were my dark path.

The second verse begins with one of the saddest lines ever written in the blues. Johnson wrote, “Mmmm, the sun’s going down, boy, the darkness gon’ catch me here. Oooo, eeee, boy, the darkness gon’ catch me here. I ain’t got no lover “a sweet woman who loves and cares for me.” It’s the same loneliness I’ve lived with all my life—sadness and depression that seep from the pit of my stomach to the bottom of my soul. It was the kind of loneliness that drove me from my house to the River Street Jazz Club by myself on Tuesday night.

I think I can tell you that “Crossroad Blues” ends happily. Nope. But I can happily report that my story does.

Hearing the Blues for the first time is like finding faith. I sat there alone in the club, white-knuckled and sweating. I knew right then and there that I had a guitar. In fact, I knew I was going to die if I didn’t, so I called into work the next day and hit up the local pawn shop until I found a guitar that felt good- thin, fat-bodied Yamaha acoustic. . Guitar in hand, I threw two hundred and fifty dollars (low be damned!) to the counter and walked out of the mortgage for the rest of my life.

I have owned a handful of guitars, played hundreds of shows, and discovered countless guitarists over the years, but there will always be an empty seat in the bar of My heart goes out to Clarence Spady and the gift he gave that night: a life. love with the Blues and a visceral connection to my heritage and my blues people.

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