I’ve been reading 2 great books, Muddy Waters biographical “Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters”, and “Highway 61” by William McKeen.
The Muddy Waters book is fascinating. Such a complex individual Muddy Waters was. He was quite the entertainer in the clubs around Chicago’s south side, it he spent quite a bit of time on the road, particularly touring Europe. His first trip to London was quite a scene, Muddy’s raucous and loud string of Blues numbers took the London club attendees by shock. They were used to Big Bill Broonzy, and Sonny Terry… Muddy’s brand of the Blues must have been culture shock for the European Blues crowd. He released a his “Folk Singer” CD in 1964. Then subsequently went back across the pond to promote, mainly because Blues records sold better in England and France, than here at home. The British invasion was just getting underway, and they would bring the roots music back to the U.S. listeners, appealing primarily to college students. The irony of it all is the music was right under their noses, the whole time. Because of racial stereo types, most Blues artists were relegated to playing for Black audiences. White people were leery of going in, to Black night clubs and venues, to get their fill of the Blues. Fortunately, that has since changed and we are seeing a much more diverse Blues scene today. The Blues Festival circuit is drawing big crowds and it is growing at a sustainable beat throughout North America. That’s the good news, and, as far as I can tell, there is no bad news!
The other book I am reading is “Highway 61” by William Mckeon. This book got my attention, because the only item on my “Bucket List” is to make the trip on the Blues Highway, preferably in an RV type of vehicle. This book, was about a father son journey in a car, they started in Thunder Bay Canada, traveled down through Minnesota and “free-falling” down to New Orleans, where U.S. 61 blends in to the French Quarter. I was thinking just the opposite. Go to New Orleans and drive North, but just ending short of the Canadian border. These days it’s slightly more difficult to cross the border then it was back in the day. Besides I didn’t lose anything in Canada, so there’s no need for me to go back. I found McKeen’s book interesting, because it gave me insight as to what to expect if I get the opportunity to make that journey. The sites I want to visit, the BBQ joints, museums, the music, landmarks, etc.
From my perspective, going North would be emblematic of the journey that so many of the early Blues artists embarked on, to flee the oppression that continued to exist in the South, years after the Civil War. I think that would be all around entertainment for desire to know and understand the Blues a little better.
Who knows what the future will bring. It’s good to have a goal. Someone once said that happiness was nothing more than having something to look forward to. I think that’s true.