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What is “Blues” Music?

When you think about the idea of “blues”, it wouldn’t be surprising to think of sad or painful things. When it comes to the music genre, you’re not too far off. The grit and sound of blues have generally been associated with the feelings of melancholy or palpable emotion. Not to be confused with sad country music, this genre sparked a complete revolution for African-American history. The blues was believed to have started from the heart of the Deep South at around the 19th century. It was the culmination of the grand African-American musical traditions, worship songs, and other ballads.

It has since evolved into many styles and may offshoots. Here are some of them:

Country Blues
Chicago Blues
Gospel Blues
Twelve-Bar Blues
Jug Bands
R&B
New Orleans Blues
...and so many more

 Each one has its own charm and appeal. Each one adds to the rich history and culture of Blues.

What do we hope to accomplish?

We at Bay Area Blues Society aim to provide a much needed platform for artists both old and new. We make it our mission to reach out to communities and support the art of Blues no matter where it may be in the bay area. We aim to parlay our own personal knowledge of the histories and legends of the Blues world to empower future generations into chasing their own style and form in the world of blues.

Join us as we provide articles about past and future events. We also provide profile highlights to some of the greatest Blues performers the world has ever seen. If you feel like you are struggling to find your own sound, don’t let that defeat you. Blues isn’t just one form or sound. The best artists have taken the old music and carved out their own path.

If you believe you can help out, this is the page for you.

THE CARAVAN OF ALLSTARS

Welcome to the page dedicated to discussing the Caravan of Allstars!
Join us as we take a closer look at their activities, origins, and advocacies.

What is Caravan of Allstars?

The Caravan of Allstars started in 1986. Primarily a 7-piece band, they also include a 3-piece horn section and have six singers with a variety of ranges and styles. They are located primarily in Oakland, California. Their deep love and passion for R&B and the blues have all led them to form a support system for other artists as well.

They have enjoyed a number of high profile performances in events like the AT&T San Jose Jazz Festival, California Music Awards, and many others.  One of their more notable performances was for an inaugural pre-party for then-President Bill Clinton. They make it their mission to keep alive the old stories of Harlem West and provide a lively and unforgettable performance each time.

To date, they have released two CDs with 50/50 records. Caravan of Allstars have expressed that their biggest influences are: Otis Redding, Albert King, BB King, James Brown, Johnny Hartsman, and many others. They learned the love and practice of blues from the greats and they want to share it with the world. They have made it their business to share with their audiences the deep love and passion that they have for this American art. To do so they often reach out and provide support to budding blues artists.

You can always check their social media page for updates on any local or national events that they appear at. After all, you can’t really appreciate talent until you hear it yourself. These stellar artists often take part in fundraisers for charities and memorial days which celebrate the giants of rhythm and blues as well as other offshoots of the blues genre.

If you wish to get in touch with them for any event, you can reach their booking agent, Ronnie Stewart, through their number at 510-472-880. Their general manager, Paula Stewart, can be reached at 707-647-3962.

Members

Lead Guitar: Ronnie Stewart
Bass: Dalhart Johnson
Drums: David Stix Boyette
Alto/Tenor Sax: Carl Green
Trumpet: Geechi Taylor
Baritone Sax: James Nelson
Keys: Rich Forman
Keys: Funky Rob Gordon
Vocalist: Wylie Trass
Vocalist: Teddy “Blues Master” Watson
Vocalist: Terrible Tom Bowden
Vocalist: Tommy Nunnelly

If you were ever looking for a dedicated bunch of people who share a great love for music and blues, you’ve come to the right place.

STRUMMING ALONG: THE BEST BLUES SONGS FOR GUITAR BEGINNERS

The Blues has always enjoyed a significant amount of budding artists, year after year. As we are dedicated to providing artists with a helpful resource, we’ve compiled the best songs that guitar beginners can learn.

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd


We would be honestly surprised if you were to say that you aren’t familiar with this song. “Sweet Home Alabama” is a proven American classic. It has enjoyed a lot of screen time over the years, especially in romantic comedies.

This song is effectively one of the simplest songs to play on the guitar (not counting the solo). The simplistic intro and consistent simplistic chords is a great way to test the retention of the player. As soon as you’ve mastered the chords, it’ll be time to keep practicing until you’re comfortable with tackling the solo. Don’t worry; the chords are still generally the same, just a bit higher in its tempo.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman


Another established classic, this song was released in 1988. It won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This song is a great starter song as the chords are mostly repetitive in nature. It’s a good way to test your memory and strumming until you’re ready for the faster set.

It’s a Long Way – Seasick Steve

A simple 3 chord song by nature, it is a classic pick up and play, Blues song. It’s fairly short but it’s a great way to shake up your budding library of knowledge.

That’s All Right – “Big Boy” Cruddup

This song has four chords and is a good way to really familiarize yourself with the method of stretching notes as you sing the words.

Cotton Fields – Leadbelly

This song is a common favorite for beginners. It has four chords and it’s a good way to shake up any repetitive songs that you’ve been favoring. We always endeavor to progress the repertoire of budding artists out there all the while keeping the challenge simple.

Sweet Home Chicago – Blues Brothers


While a bit tricky as the chords change per line, it’s a great way to slowly upgrade your playing style without having to feel frustrated at the progress.  It will definitely take a bit of practice before you master this one. However, once you do you’ll find that your fingers and your mind will be more attuned to changing it up.

Some Tips for the Beginner

Do adequate research

There are a lot of great blues songs out there. However, you shouldn’t be deceived at how simple sounding they may be. The best blues songs are often have simplistic styling yet have killer chord progression. Make use of good websites that already did the legwork and categorized blues songs per difficulty.

Be consistent with practice

You can’t hope to become good if you don’t keep up with your practice. We understand that it may be challenging. However, if things were so easy to attain, they wouldn’t be worth having.

Happy chording and keep at it!

YOUR HANDY GUIDE TO THE 2017 ART & SOUL OAKLAND FESTIVAL

If you have never heard of Oakland’s annual Art & Soul Festival, you are most definitely missing out. As it’s incoming again this year, we’ve decided to build a handy guide that you can use.

What is Art and Soul Oakland?

It is an annual summer festival that brings the community together. Started in 2001, it had the goal of suitably celebrating the grand style, spirit, and soul that the area is famous for. Today, it is one of the largest celebrations of art, music, food, and community camaraderie. Usually taking up a full weekend, it brings together various music genres under one roof.

When and where is Art and Soul Oakland 2017?

This year, it’ll be held on August 19 and August 20. It’ll start at noon and end at six in the evening. Try to follow your feet to downtown Oakland and you’ll find a 10-block area with Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at its heart.

You have the choice of entering from any of three locations: 14th Street & Broadway, Promenade alongside City Center West Garage, and San Pablo Avenue. Ticket prices are sold right at the entrances. The prices are $12 for adults and $7 for senior citizens and those under 17 but older than 13. The festival is free for anyone under the age of twelve.

Are there any Blues performers of note?

On a general sense, all the blues performers that will showcase their talents at the festival are noteworthy. However, there is a lineup available for your perusal here. There is more than one stage so there are a significant number of artists that get to perform during the festival.

We’re looking forward to Goapele’s 4:30 performance at the main stage on the first day of the festival. If you don’t know who this talented gift to soul is, you should definitely try to catch her performance on stage.  On the next day, you can catch Angie Stone at the same time slot. A Grammy-nominated singer, she deserves every moment of your attention and subsequent adoration.

What else is there?

Art and Soul has a lot of activities for various age groups. For the kiddies, there are a lot of arts, rides, and other activities that are organized by local groups.

A marketplace shall be available for the lovers of art and specialized crafts. Local artists have an annual project that incorporates the efforts of guests to form a large mural. Other than the art, the food is something to definitely look forward to! The food vendors take great pride in providing fares that sample international wares. You can travel the whole culinary world and stay exactly where you are. If you’re aiming to truly taste the culture of the bay area, be prepared to sample beer, wine, and several other types of beverages will be made available.

Art and Soul Festival endeavors to be eco-friendly. As such, all vendors shall be using recyclable flatware. If you have any other questions, do send us a message and we’ll be glad to help you!

TOP THREE BEST BLUES GUITAR PERFORMANCES

There is just something about an extraordinary blues guitar performance that speaks to your soul. We scrounge up what we believe are the top three blues guitar performances ever. Arguably, one of the best things that blues is known for are the incredible guitar players that show off their prowess during live performances. In light of that, we banded together and tried to determine our picks for the top three best blues guitar performances.

Remember, this is just our humble opinion. You’re more than welcome to create your own top three list and send it our way. Without further ado, let’s go on to our list:

Number 3: “Crossroads” by Eric Clapton


This song is no doubt one of his best known songs. However, did you know that it is this song that is regaled as his best guitar performance as well?

If you aren’t at all familiar with whom this guitar legend is, Eric Clapton is a blues guitarist. He is, by far, the only person who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than twice in his career.

When he performed Crossroads, he made use of his 1964 Gibson SG Standard. Clapton delivered a truly powerful performance which fired off a spark in the hearts and minds of many. To this day, the riff from this song is the go-to must learn riff for the new generation of budding blues guitar players.

Number 2:  “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix


If you’re a fan of the modern Battlestar Galactica series, you are sure to know this world famous song and performance. While not a Hendrix original, his rendition is now the better known one. Even the original creator, Bob Dylan, has preferred to use this version when he used to perform it at his shows.

What was so intrinsically seductive about this blues guitar performance was the way that he stretched the notes and brought an unearthly wane to the chords. The changing tempo of the chords all the while sustaining the overall beat was a great showcase of his talents as a guitarist. It also didn’t hurt that he delivers a great vocal rendition to the song.

Number 1: “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King


Was there ever any doubt as to what our number one pick would be? If you were ever going to find a sample of the true soul and feel of blues guitar, this is where you need to go. The way that King strums his guitar touches the gentle nuance that is indicative of the blues genre.

His simple sounding notes but exceptional deliver provided viewers and listeners an uncomplicated serving of the depth of emotion that can be conveyed by blues. When he sings “All I can do is wish you well”, our hearts break along with him. King’s performance here is one of the greatest evidences we have that Blues is well and alive and will continue to endure.

May Blues live on forever!

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