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How Not to do It – Koch Shankar, 3/12/11

The blues haven’t come out of the 20th century looking good. Following hostile assimilation in the mid-sixties, they’ve since been subjected to every kind of indignity an entire genre ever had to suffer. Unlike jazz, it is possible to play them without expending too much thought or effort; the simple changes attract lazy songwriters trying to get past the chore of writing melodies, the predictable, repetitive structures bring out the worst in soloists, allowing them to noodle on until they’ve well outstayed their welcome. Superficially, they’re easy to listen to and don’t demand much from an audience: all of this has gone towards making this music the staple of every second rate bar band in the world. Today, you can step in on any instrument with any blues band anywhere, without knowing either the musicians or the set-list or your arse from your elbow, and see your way through to the end of the gig without a public shaming.

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