I was in the middle of a big move when the news of Amy Winehouse’s untimely death hit the wire, and was leveled with sadness at the loss of such a talent. I’ve been thinking a lot about her, one of those rare artists who captivated the masses without requirement of bells and whistles, just that raw, scarcely-found innate talent. I don’t often find myself thinking about globally popular musicians, nor the pop world in general, but now that I have, I’ve come to realize a few things:
First of all, I don’t think Justin Beiber is a problem, and in all candor, I’ve only heard approximately four minutes of his music, so I’m too ill-informed on the subject to pass judgement, beyond that those four minutes didn’t speak to me. It is here I must disclose that when I was ten, I was all about Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson, so I do understand the appeal to young girls. And since that will never change, the Blues world needs to embrace it. And I have just the magic weapons to get the Blues into the hands, ears, and hearts of the next generation: Austin Young, Jack Gaffney, Taylor Marvin, Nic Cottonseed Clark, Noah Mast, and Forrest Raup. The oldest in this fantacy band is seventeen.
Given the technology we have today, stars are being made on You Tube. The trick is to get something to go viral, and viola! At the risk of sounding exploitative, all these guys are good looking, charming, and DAMN talented. And whether we want to admit it or not, what initially gets the attention of tweens and teens are looks; the music comes later. I was eighteen the first time I heard live Blues, and I was hooked from moment one. I think kids are smarter than Madison Avenue gives them credit, and if you give them quality, they will recognize it.
Remembering that the word “fan” derives from “fanatic,” once people become fans of a band, they will read every interview and review they can find, and it is through that practice that they are directed toward the influences of their new musical heros. I speak from personal experience: Several years ago I was at the Outlook to review a band I’d not seen, Jason Ricci and New Blood. I became an instant fan, and for weeks searched the internet for all I could find. And, in light of that research, I know about all of Jason’s influences.
So, for the sake of argument, imagine this band of teenagers gets a viral hit, and then the interviews begin. Then, everyone of their fans would know the names and music of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Kim Wilson, Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, etc. What I’ve realized in all this thinking about Amy Winehouse, is that there is a HUGE audience for true genius, and we have a lot of them in the Blues world, we just need to start thinking like the kids if we want to reach them. I’m going to talk to the parents of the aforementioned geniuses, and see if we might want to put something together. Anyone reading this who also knows of young, genuinely talented Blues artists, consider You Tube. The Blues is the oldest and most deeply rooted music in the American catalog, but our approach can’t be. We need to change the way we think about promotion, and the first step is accepting the reality that the way to the masses’ hearts begins with the youth.
~Honey Bee Sepeda~