The appeal of music can take many forms depending on the circumstances of the listener, the moment and the music itself. Variously, music can satisfy on a a cerebral level; dazzle with technique; surprise through invention and originality; envelope us in its serenity; rejuvenate with its energy etc.
There are two genres which (and this is purely a personal opinion) always feel as though they enter through the gut as opposed to the ears – traditional music (of whatever country) and blues. Some might argue that blues is a subset of traditional music. The appeal of both seems to be as instant as it is ubiquitous. Borders melt away. I have particularly fond memories, for example, of ceilidhs in the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh where Antipodeans, Scandinavians, Latin Americans, Arabs and Scots all Stripped The Willow like family.
The same feels true of blues and I experienced the freshness of this last night at a long sold-out gig in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh by Seasick Steve. Biographical details are sketchy and, in our myth-making media age, this vacuum can quickly be filled with legend. For what it’s worth, it felt completely authentic to me. Allegedly 66 years of age, this breakthrough performer energised a jubilant audience – some of whom were ¼ of his age. This is unusual as, thanks to the rarity of the extended family, the generations tend to keep to themselves.
I first heard of Seasick Steve from a pupil (1/3 of my age) – one of the perks of the job. If you have not yet come across his music, there are a couple of videos on his website which will give you some idea of the flavour.
One of my favourite bloggers, John Connell, writes impressively here on authenticity in music.