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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
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Anybody? I spent 10 years on the Blues circuit.....Mostly Blues & BBQ, but also a lot of great listening rooms, and even one blues cruise. Sure - the money was siht, but the audiences were always appreciative, and the music is where it all started. What happened?

I was searching the forum and in “styles”, The Blues doesn’t even get it’s own category (so this is posted in “Misc Styles”). So sad to see the death of a genre in our time. Especially one so sax-centric. Rock guitar players (the good ones anyway) lifted their licks straight from the blues saxophonists...

I don’t get much opportunity to play straight Blues gigs anymore, but I’ll go out of my way to do so. All the guys playing the circuit (no matter the Instrument) are interchangeable- each with his / her own unique style, but the language is toe-tapping universal. What happened? Why doesn’t the sax still dominate this genre?
 

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I think NYC (8 million people) is down to one Blues Club. The Blues are out of fashion.
 

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So much of the music the baby boomers listened to was blues based guitar. I guess it's fading out like our generation is beginning to. The pendulum of fashion swings back and forth and some day there will be a revival of blues. I hope it's sooner rather than later.

The music recording business has become such an industry they are cranking out same sounding songs like a factory. A handful of songwriters and producers keep writing the same thing over and over again and the kids keep buying it. It's the same in country music as it is in pop music. A half dozen writers are producing songs for the top acts and it all sounds the same. Every once in a while someone like Alicia Keys will come along and put out a bluesy song and it'll be popular for a while but just when I get my hopes up that others will follow her lead …. nope. They just keep coming out with the same drum machine - synthesized crap. Here' a link to a video where the guy explains why music is sounding all the same nowadays.

[video]https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=why+does+music+all+sound+the+same+bad&&view=detail&mid=CFE10AB5CF0F0F093FAECFE10AB5CF0F0F093FAE&&FORM=VRDGAR[/video]
 

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The lack of sax players in blues is a manifestation of the general slump in sax playing in popular/dance music. Its so bad the average musician doesn't even see the sax as a blues instrument. Guitar, vocals, some keyboard, a lot of harp but very little horn. Then, there's the problem with the repetitive nature of the music and generally sort of a low musicianship among the players which doesn't exactly beckon the sax player to start going to blues jams and working himself in. I have dipped my toe in the waters but pulled back to stick with my R&B bag. I think at the top of the blues world you'll find guys like Delbert McClinton who still draws a great crowd and has a horn section. There's Albert Lee who a friend worked with for years - he's a dual sax guy and really has it down - a total pleasure to see and hear. Now he's 5 or 6 years older than me and I haven't heard anything of him lately so I don't know, but I bet he's working all over Tidewater, VA, juggling about half a dozen bands. Yes, Its you, Chuck!
But the fact is, the sax is just not there in the majority of blues shows and part of it is there are so few experienced sax players who can blow with soul. I mean after all, that's why I'm working. If this was 1965, a 74 yr old sax player would not be working except at the country clubs. Today, nobody cares - they're looking for the real thing and the older players have it - as long as they last. The thing is, there is nobody standing behind us like I stood behind the guys in their 30s and 40s when I was 17 - when they faded out, we were in their shoes. Now that we're fading out, there is no one out there to stand in our shoes. Grim, but that's the way it seems to me.
 

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I'm sure you've all heard of the 4 (I think) cd set called "The Big Horn"? It's basically all blues/early r'nb tenor players. I haven't listened to it in a while, but man........ALL of those guys could play!
 

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The blues scene in Boston is hanging on, and the Boston Blues Society has done a lot to keep it alive, but there are really only about a dozen places in greater Boston (meaning up to an hour and a half drive from Boston) where you can regularly hear blues at least one night a week. I used to play in a blues/R&B/soul band, and we would compete in the Boston Blues competition each year sponsored by the Blues Society (multi-time finalists but never won the big enchilada). Here is a cut from the last strictly blues gig (a blues festival south of Boston) we did before breaking up a couple of years ago. Man I love playing the blues.

https://soundcloud.com/mi000ke/hot-biscuits-personal-manager


I'm now playing in a jam band and in a jazz group, both groups with the guitarist from the R&B/blues band, and we always try to sneak in a couple of straight ahead blues into our gigs. The audiences for both bands usually dig it a lot.
 

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Definitely still a blues scene in CA. Probably not what it was back in the '70s, but still going strong. And if you can play a sax authentically in the style, you'll be welcome and the audience will appreciate it. Maybe even because it's not as common to see a sax player anymore (as opposed to guitar & harmonica players). I play in a 'blues' band (I put it in quotes because we play such a wide variety of blues, including some jazz blues, that a lot of people don't recognize it all as blues) and I get a lot of comments during breaks from audience members how much they like hearing the sax in the mix.

Back when I first heard the blues in the late '60s, early '70s, the sax was commonly part of any blues band. It was rare to go into a blues club and not hear a sax in there. Not so true anymore, but maybe that's all the more reason to play the sax! You're keeping it alive and will stand out in the crowd, so to speak. "Popularity" is overrated. Be your own person, and all that. If you dig the blues (or jazz; I don't separate the two), then play it with all your heart and soul!!
 

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I was searching the forum and in “styles”, The Blues doesn’t even get it’s own category (so this is posted in “Misc Styles”). So sad to see the death of a genre in our time. Especially one so sax-centric. Rock guitar players (the good ones anyway) lifted their licks straight from the blues saxophonists...
Fader, those SOTW sub-forums are created many moons ago and I don't think the 'Blues' style was left on purpose. For me it would fit best in the sub-forum "Playing / Performance Styles / Rock 'n Roll Saxophone", which has as sub-title "... and Rhythm and Blues ...". I guess Blues is seen as a part of the ... (I agree it's not very clear).

Here in NL Blues style saxophone playing is still quite popular, it's also what I prefer to play myself (maybe a bit more jazz-blues, but it's bluesy anyhow!). But in general you see less and less capable sax players (= guys with a big sound) in that genre, unfortunately.
 

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Over the years I've had conversations with several instructors (probably every instructor) about what kind of jazz do I listen to. I tell them "I don't." I don't really care for jazz. I play it because that is what is available for a sax player. When I say that I'd rather be playing blues (or even better, ska), I get the blank look like "good luck with that." So it's back to playing jazz standards (the same tunes that Dad whistled while working in the basement). Better jazz standards than nothing.

Never seen on craigslist: "Blues band looking for sax player (soprano need not apply)."

Mark
 

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Their own worst enemy. Locally the bands just aren’t very good. Too much sameness and lack of any real talent.
I think the only Blues group I’ve liked in the last 10 years was Robert Cray.
That being said I have two of these gigs booked this summer and I’m about the furthest thing from a Blues sax player you’ve heard. It’s like playing a role as an actor, maybe you get fat, get thin, use an accent or dumb yourself down. I usually think of Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.
 

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I think NYC (8 million people) is down to one Blues Club. The Blues are out of fashion.
Not down here. Between El Paso and Cruces, you can find blues bands every weekend, basically. Certainly not a dying genre, not in the Southwest at least.

Does it get a bit formulaic a lot of the time ? yeah. But still, if I am gonna go out and catch live music , Blues is far preferable to most other choices down 'these parts...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Over the years I've had conversations with several instructors (probably every instructor) about what kind of jazz do I listen to. I tell them "I don't." I don't really care for jazz. I play it because that is what is available for a sax player. When I say that I'd rather be playing blues (or even better, ska), I get the blank look like "good luck with that." So it's back to playing jazz standards (the same tunes that Dad whistled while working in the basement). Better jazz standards than nothing.

Never seen on craigslist: "Blues band looking for sax player (soprano need not apply)."

Mark
About 13 years ago I took a pick-up gig off of Craigs List. It was a pretty unique Blues band playing a number of different styles including Jump and Swing. The band leader / front also had some really clever songs done in similar styles. Kinda of a Brian Setzer meets Sam Buterra vibe, with a generous dose of Guitar Slim on the side. It kinda blew my mind. I'd never really been exposed to music like that - Blues to me was all about "The Thrill is Gone" kind of stuff, but this cat was playing up tempo happy music -The truth is I felt completely out of place - and he kept giving me 24-48 bar solos and I sweated the whole gig. I was pretty sure I bombed.

The following week he called and gave me 2 more gigs so I started studying the music - Unlike most bands, if he could choose sax or keys, he always chose the sax first, so suddenly I was working a lot. Fast forward 10 years and I had played over 1000 gigs with this guy and was absolutely in love with the music. When he moved away I was kind of sad, but happy too because it was a burn-out schedule. (I was juggling a corporate band gig too).

Now, after a couple of years off I really miss playing it. We do "reunion gigs" and Blues Festivals in various different cities a couple of times a year, but the genre really doesn't pay enough for us to work like we used to being in separate cities.

The corporate band I'm in is a classic R&B tribute, and gets much better gigs including seasonal concert stuff, but as I get older I'm pretty sure I liked the Blues thing better. Sadly I don't think I'll be able to duplicate that vibe with a new band and truthfully I guess I'm too tired to try, but boy-oh-boy. What fun!
 

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It was a pretty unique Blues band playing a number of different styles including Jump and Swing. The band leader / front also had some really clever songs done in similar styles. Kinda of a Brian Setzer meets Sam Buterra vibe, with a generous dose of Guitar Slim on the side. It kinda blew my mind. I'd never really been exposed to music like that - Blues to me was all about "The Thrill is Gone" kind of stuff, but this cat was playing up tempo happy music
Fader, that's what I'm talking about. With some 'soul-jazz' & funk mixed in. Maybe one or two 'Thrill is Gone' type tunes (done well; and I like playing that one) on an entire gig.

Not the type of thing I'm sure Whaler is referring to (the typical 'blues-rock' jam stuff, sloppily played at excruciating volume).
 
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