Monday, February 27, 2012

EXTRA: Go Cab, not Obama, for blues

I watched the “Red, White and Blues” program broadcast Monday by PBS affiliates across the nation (the one that gives us President Barack Obama singing a couple of lines from the song “Sweet Home, Chicago”), and couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
Buddy Guy (to the right) finally got to play the White House -- many decades after his work with the Big Names of the Blues such as Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.

Yes, I saw that B.B. King and Buddy Guy were among the musicians included in the concert that billed itself as the “White House blues All-Stars.” And I’m not trying to claim that blues music is something that ought to be limited to black people.

BUT I COULDN’T help but notice the moment in mid-show where rockers Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck took the spotlight, and the fact that Jagger seemed to have a higher profile in the show than anyone else.

Perhaps the hard-core fans of the Rolling Stones (who in their early days covered a lot of blues standards) liked it. Otherwise, it seemed like a third-rate blues concert that could be heard in many nightclubs across the North Side of Chicago.
Would this Mick Jagger get near the White House?

So third-rate that I must admit to enjoying more the PBS program that followed – an “American Masters” documentary about the life of Cab Calloway, who had such a career even though too many people think he did nothing more than sing a song of jibberish near the end of the film “The Blues Brothers.”

So take it for what it’s worth. Somehow, the “real thing” when it comes to jazz and blues music sounds so much more enjoyable than the modern-day imitators. Then again, Calloway has a way of sounding inspiring – even when he’s in the most harmless of surroundings.


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