Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back from Beirut... and new blues site!

Well I'm back from my short trip to Beirut... let us just say that is was pretty short for comfort, and that I did not enjoy the flights (except for the few glasses of scotch that I downed). Little kids and obnoxious males, along with grumpy old women don't really make it a pleasant trip.

On a brighter note I found a new blues website which I found has a lot of humor to it (check the Posters and Without the Blues sections). I love it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A rare find... Muddy Waters "Goin' Way Back"

This record is an absolute gem. It was a live recording from 1967 while Muddy and his blues band were in Montreal touring.

The catch is, this fully acoustic session was recorded on the front porch of the house where the band was resting on the tour.

It has famous pianist Otis Spann playing guitar as well, which is something no one knew he could do.

The result is a haunting tribute to the old Mississippi Delta blues of the 30's and 40's.

Recorded on a reel-to-reel player, don't expect good quality... but the content of the record highly overshadows the quality of sound.

Get this. Now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The "Negleted Music" Blues

Today, a few blocks away from my office in Kuwait City, I came across what used to be a government agency related to music. The sign was in tatters and I was unable to see it well from the car since the sun was blazing my eyes, but most probably its the Higher Music Institute.

What is interesting to note is that this pile of decaying architecture is surrounded by high rise office towers, and is just down the street from the Parliament building.

As a musician and avid lover of music, it breaks my heart to see that authorities are not interested to preserve music or promote musical education, and to allow creative free expression of the musical arts.

As musicians we have many boundaries, such as requirement of licenses to perform and lack of venues and events. We would like to see a growth in this sector, as direct experience shows that the public is very much interested to see live music, western music even!

That structure will be demolished in about 5-6 years if someone wakes up and actually notices it, and turned into a mall perhaps. Another issue is raised, which is the disregard of historic buildings.

That building reminds me of the classic blues song called "Goin' down Slow".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Song of the Day - Hobo Blues

This is another classic bluesman, the boogieman himself, John Lee Hooker. This song is pretty haunting, taken from the 1965 Folk Blues Festival. Its live, but performed to the camera crew only.

This is as hard as it gets.

The "my phone line costs more than your life" Blues

Sometimes you see things in the local newspaper, and in this case, Kuwaiti-based Al-Qabas, that just gives you that feeling that we really live in a broken society.

If you can't read Arabic, I'll briefly translate:

"110 Lebanese and Arab business men participated in a an auction for32 rare cellular numbers, which would eventually sell for 2.5 million US Dollars combined in Lebanon. The owner of popular "Petit Cafe" restaurant chain purchased 9 numbers for 855,000 US Dollars alone.

In contrast, 1/3 of all Lebanese citizens live on less than 4 (four) US Dollars a day.

If calculated for the price of 450,000 US Dollars for a particular line, and minimum wage of 331 US Dollars, one phone line would be the equivalent of a five member poor family income for 65 years."

Well, atleast that model looks a bit presentable.

Lebanon will always be the country of contradictions and hypocrisy. Not to say that I wouldn't want a lot of money in my bank account; isn't that why most of us leave our own countries for?

The matter of the fact is if people donated this money to the poor and needy, there would be less disparity in Lebanon (and elsewhere).

Just ramblin'.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Song of the Day - Bring it on Home

Another classic Chicago bluesman, Sonny Boy Williamson II influenced many and eventually that inspiration lead to rock n' roll.

This is another blues standard called "Bring it on Home".

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Song of the Day - Long Distance Call

Today's jukebox selection is a classic Muddy Waters track, recorded in the early 1950's. It was the sound of his guitar fitted with a magnetic pickup, and later on the electric guitar, that spawned a new generation of blues. And we all owe it to this man.

This is a live version from the late 1970's.

Post-Holiday Blues

If anyone was in the Middle East, and in Kuwait in particular, over the last week, you would know that there was a long holiday celebrating Eid Al-Fitr.

Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan and literally means "breaking the fast celebration". Of course, celebration means, in the current state of affairs, "travel, party, get drunk, laid, etc etc".

Of course, I'm not being judgmental or anything! No, you see... I was getting used to staying at home for a while. 4 days of the week spent out of work is always a joy.

As the title of this post says... getting back into the old routine of long working hours and workin' for the man always seems to remind us of the daily struggle to live in the world these days. Inflation, world economic collapse, uncertainty, extremism, deportation, exodus, war, hostile takeovers, layoffs, and general malaise. And the occasional flu.

Just another day to have the blues.

Not all sounds hopeless of course. Love will find a way. It found me... and I found it too.

So I'm gonna remind everyone for a second:

Enjoy it... and good blues to ya!