"Online presence?" What the heck is that and why do I care? It's remarkable - between facebook, twitter, youtube, instagram and many, many more, musicians today have so many options to get their music and their message out to the masses. Inspired by Ronnie Shellist's success, I was reviewing my YouTube account and saw again that my most popular video was my first Chicago Blues Mandolin Instructional Video. It clocks in at just under a minute long but really gets at the heart of the Johnny Young mandolin style. If you go to my Channel, there are some other instructional videos as well as performance footage in a variety of settings.
We have a new album available for download at bandcamp (below) and the CD available for purchase at shows. It features Ralph Kinsey on percussion and vocal, Randy Nelson on bass, and Gerry on resonator guitar, harmonica, and vocal. The trio tracks were recorded in Indiana by Gerry on good old analog tape. Three duos with Gerry and Ronnie Shellist are also included; these were recorded for the True Blues radio show by Brian Elliot in Denver. The songs are mainly our takes on traditional blues tunes with a dash of ragtime and spiritual, along with a couple original compositions. We did a series of gigs last winter in this format and we were able to translate that same feeling here, with no overdubs and a minimum of microphones.
In fact, for those who would be interested in the gory details... the drums were captured on two tracks, one overhead EV PL37 condenser mic and the relatively new EV RE320 on the kick. The bass was lined out of the amp through a Peavey Tube Sweetener onto its own track, and Gerry's vocals, guitar, and harmonica were all captured by a vintage omnidirectional Sennheiser MD 21. The trusty Teac A3340-S was run at 7.5 ips and mixed down to a Tascam digital recorder, monitored on a Genelec 8030A and stereo Behringer C5As (their version of Auratones). Mastering was done on Sony MDR7520 headphones using both Sony SoundForge LE and Har-Bal - an amazing EQ program that really saves time.
Check it out and enjoy... feel free to tell us what you think in the comments!
Here is a link to one of the best interviews I've ever read. Thanks to David Mac for conducting it and Kid Andersen for sharing it on Facebook, where I first saw it. Al Blake offers a variety of deeply-contemplated insights concerning the Blues as it is today - my favorite distillation is his advice to modern musicians of any stripe (paraphrased liberally): do your homework and be yourself.
My trips to Memphis were mainly for the Blues Music Awards and we usually played on Beale, either at the Blues City Cafe or the Black Diamond. I attended the International Blues Competition once, as a roadie for my friend John-Alex Mason's one-man-band. For either event, Blues was featured in most of the clubs and in street performances, too. I also saw a very good Top 40 band at Alfred's and yes, a lackluster rendition of Mustang Sally.
I read the article below and wasn't terribly surprised at the study's findings. Outside of two weeks annually, tourists expecting Blues music all over Beale Street in Memphis were disappointed. Save for BB King's and The Rum Boogie, cover bands and DJs dominate the venues.
The problem isn't just with Beale Street , of course. Club owners everywhere seek the quick buck and pander to drinking youngsters and they figure the kids want DJs, karaoke, and cover bands. I wonder whether the cost of security and janitorial staff justifies this strategy.
Could this eventually happen in Chicago, where escalating rents and taxes close businesses everyday? I'd like to think that there are plenty of folks and club owners who truly love live Blues in Chicago... but things change and love is not enough. The real truth is that as long as there's money to be made, the support for the music will be there. This is where Tourism Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and local media come in - these entities play a vital role in bringing people to the city. Look at the rise of Clarksdale - Roger Stolle was just profiled in The Economist. Live Blues is an investment that will pay dividends if given the time to do so!
There's money on the table, Memphis, blues money - wake up!
The story from WHBQ is here.
Last Saturday night, we rolled into Chicago, lit up Rosa's Lounge, and every moment was preserved here: http://gigity.tv/event/1004/. Check it out! Rob Pasenko, drums, Nik Skilnik, bass, Gerry Hundt, guitar and harmonica, Corey Dennison vocals and guitar. This was the fourth gig of five on a four-day run to The Root in MI, Pickle's Blues Fest in OH, the Ice Meltin' Blues Fest in IL, and Rosa's. Saturday, we left OH at 6 am EST to make our noon gig in Long Grove, IL - the highlight of that drive was breakfast at Powers Hamburgers in Fort Wayne, IN. By the time the Rosa's gig rolled around, we pretty tired but tightened up and ready to play. Corey was in fine voice and the appreciative (and sizable!) crowd hung on every word. The second set features an appearance from Milwaukee Slim and the last tune of the evening saw Dan Carelli from The Sons of Blues playing my guitar. The trip was an excellent regional introduction of the band; we made some new friends and started to discuss exciting possibilities for 2013. Stay tuned!
Dig this tune and repeat!!! Plus great photos from the session's drummer and Blues Before Sunrise host Steve Cushing. It reminds me of "1823 South Michigan Avenue" from "Grand Slam." Thanks to Joe Louis & RBF!
Over at my favorite Facebook group, I just saw that Third Man Records is re-issuing the Document collections of pre-war artists like Charley Patton, The Mississippi Sheiks, and Blind Willie McTell. Legal debates notwithstanding, it makes me glad to hear these recordings so clearly. I'm also grateful to Mr. White for using his considerable celebrity to champion this music. Check it out for yourself below!
Why the Blues? Why not?
I've heard various discussions about the state of the blues and its future. It's true that the genre is not as well-represented in the mainstream media as we'd like. I, for one, don't think it's in any danger... I didn't grow up in a blues-rich environment and it certainly found me. People have easier access to more kinds of media then ever before - I had to rely on CD liner notes, a weekly public radio, and a few well-timed cassette loans from school friends. I think as long as people like music, the blues will have its devotees.
As for the here & now, many blues musicians get frustrated when we see the same handful of rock cover bands (some of which are very good, mind you) playing the majority of gigs. Club owners like to decry the blues, saying "The kids don't like it." I can only speak for myself, but it seems to me that when they hear blues beyond the bar band blooze - music played with groove, fire, and originality - they really dig it and will follow it. So, folks, tell the management at your favorite watering hole to take a chance on the blues!
Well, I've messed around with a few different themes and settled on this one. Pretty snazzy, huh? Looking forward to lots of good music in 2013. The Gerry Hundt Trio has some new venues already lined up, including 27LIVE in Evanston and Pikk's Tavern in Valparaiso. Of course, we're looking forward to seeing friends at Leroy's, Legends, and Knuckleheads as well. Be sure to check back here often as the calendar updates as gigs are booked.