Evening of the blues

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CONVERSATION with the Blues, The Hawth Studio, Crawley, last week.

THE BLUES has seemingly always been considered a minority music interest - and yet without it arguably music today in all forms wouldn’t exist.

The blues have directly influenced many of the world’s composers and indirectly many, many more.

As part of Black History Month, Conversation with the Blues was part lecture and part concert and overall a fascinating evening.

Author and leading expert on the genre, Paul Oliver started the evening describing his ground-breaking trip to America’s deep south in 1960, interviewing and recording blues singers.

Although he met some of the greats, such as Muddy Waters, many of his incredibly clear recordings were of ordinary folk for whom singing and playing was almost a hobby or a way of gaining a meagre wage.

Segregation was a way of life at this time and Paul described how, if he had a lift in a car to a venue, his wife would have to lie on the floor out of sight as it was illegal for a black man to drive a white woman.

Even nearly an hour and a half of Paul’s talk and music soundbites was too short for the blues enthusiasts in the audience, leaving a feeling we had barely scratched the surface of an amazing trip.

The rest of the evening saw Michael Roach from Washington play some top quality gospel songs and country blues, as well as discuss his own views of the blues and its influences.

His easy charm and relaxed playing style rounded off the evening perfectly.

Steve Payne