Sunday, 4 December 2011

Walk Of Life

I attended a small blues festival last summer.  Four acts (2 really, or 2.8 or 3.1 depending on how you want to count).  Two (or 1.3 of them) with some notoriety, and two (or 2.7 of them) not so much.

But it was all good.

Sure, recorded music can be more or less perfect (in terms of sound quality if not performance and taste), but it's not as real, is it?  You can edit out a lot of mistakes and patch in a lot of corrections.  That's what the pros do, what the big stars do, and what we usually get excited about.

But it's not real.  Real is rough and tumble, here goes nothing, fall on your ass music jumping out at the audience - some of it great, some of it inspired, some of it just interesting.

Let me explain the numbers.  There were four acts on the billing.  The first act was two guys: drums and organ.  My first reactions was, this will be interesting, and it was.  Except that this guitarist from one of the other acts sat in and jammed with them for most of the set.  A good thing, especially from the point of view of the organist, who was a busy boy.

The second act performed their set - very nice - and got off without complication.

The third act, Harry Manx, a solo artist (and one of my favourites), played a few songs on his own, but invited the organist and the MC (a harp player from an act not on the billing) up to jam.  Fun stuff.

Then the final act came on.  The guitarist who jammed through the first set, a bass player, and guess who?  The drummer and the organ player that were the first, 'separate' act!

I got the feeling that the whole event was one big jam session.  So all the musicians were on their toes.  Little was rehearsed.  Nothing was automatic.  Most of it involved some danger, and all of it was genuine.

From the perspetive of the audience, that's exciting.  From the musician's perspective, it's about learning and growing and getting better.  Not to mention having fun.

Playing live is how musicians hone their craft, how they learn, how they improve.  How they develop into the magicians that make us all happy.

If people didn't take a chance on live music The Beatles might never have made a record, Rod Stewart might still be busking in train stations, and Bob Dylan might have had to finish college and become a manager at a trucking company or something.

So get out there and listen to live music.  You never know who you'll be helping along.  And once in a while you'll say to yourself, "Oh yeah, the boy can play."

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