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Can we get real for a minute and talk about the blues?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by XrisThaBassman, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. Let me start by saying, I love listening to the blues. I dig Clapton, BB, Muddy, SRV, Jimi (is my fav and believe me he KILLED playing the blues), etc. I grew up listening to jump blues, delta blues, chicago blues, white-boy blues - you name it.

    But here's the thing. As a bassist, I HATE playing the blues. Maybe I just haven't played with the right people or the right music, but it always seems to be an excuse for a 10-minute guitar wank fest. And maybe 1 out of 10 of those guitarists are worth listening to for 3 minutes, much less 10.

    So tell me, bass brethren, am I on point? Am I missing the boat? Let's get real about the blues.
    J_Bass, Ellery, exidor and 20 others like this.
  2. I'm my humble opinion, blues should be more about the vocals than an excuse for long guitar solos.

    I don't mind a guitar feature instrumental or two during a one hour set, but any shuffle or slow blues that goes on for ten minutes gets old for me and the audience real quick.

    Here's a good guitar feature from my old boss:

    I'd say your on point. I had a band with some younger guys a few years back. My one comment at the start of the band was "more songs, less solos." I still feel that way.
  3. It sounds like the issue is Who you're playing with not what material you're playing.

    Talentless players can kill any genre.
    BluesOnBass, JRA, old spice and 22 others like this.
  4. bassboysam

    bassboysam Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2001
    Ottawa, Ontario
    i can't listen to any of it much less play it. mind numbingly boring
  5. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    It took me many years to appreciate the blues, and yes, it took getting in with the right players. Once that happened, the blues finally taught me what it means to put my ego in check and truly serve the song with my lines. And then it challenged me to dig deeper and discover how to keep serving the song while finding interesting ways to do it that worked in the simpler framework that it imposes. I love the blues, and always will.
    BluesOnBass, JRA, Stumbo and 22 others like this.
  6. I’m the opposite. I can only stand to listen to about an hour of blues, but can play it all night. And not just blues. Any highly stylized genre, like jazz or reggae.
  7. Jim Kernan

    Jim Kernan

    Sep 25, 2008
    Yes, find the right player's. My guitarist & I play open mikes, usually five songs in half an hour. Sometimes we're asked to play more. Keep them short.
  8. twinjet

    twinjet AJ, you're the MAN! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    The "jazz and blues" radio station really only play the blues. Bands around town almost exclusively play the blues. Jams anywhere only host the blues. My cats always look like they have the blues. I need something different.

    I'll play the blues for hire, but outside of that I avoid it.
  9. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Where is it written the rhythm section has to play the same 12-bar pattern over and over?
    If you are bored, you are boring...
    An extended guitar solo is your opportunity to enter 'jam band mode' and improvise a bit along with the guitar.
    Yes, you still have to keep a solid groove, which adds to the challenge.
    Channel your inner Jack Bruce and stretch out a little.
    There are any number of things you can do by altering note placement and duration, accents, dropouts, chord substitution, etc. to add movement and variety to the bass line.
    Yeah - there's plenty of guys who milk a generic pentatonic solo way too long, but you're not just a windup backing track - you're there to play music...
  10. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I think a lot of guitarists learn the pentatonic minor scale, realize it's fairly easy to play on guitar, and off they go playing "the blues", without having studied it one iota. Or they've listened to SRV and Joe Bonamassa, but haven't dug any deeper. I once played with a guy who thought "Killing Floor" was a Jimi Hendrix tune. Nothing against SRV, Bonamassa or Hendrix, but blues goes a lot deeper than that.
  11. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Blues is not for the easily bored. But if you are real creative and subtle and have an open minded blues guitarist you can make it fun
    BluesOnBass, Stumbo and Admiral Akbar like this.
  12. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    if they play with the heart and angst of SRV ... then fine . !

    maybe a better variety of players ... gtr , keys , sax ... ? different sounding pentatonic stuff ... ha
  13. bebass

    bebass Sho Me Music Commercial User

    Sep 3, 2006
    Bolivar, Missouri
    ShoMeMusic.com; Authorized dealer for Bergantino, Dingwall, Darkglass, Genzler, Phil Jones Bass, Quilter, Blackstar, Cort, Traynor, and other
    Blues, to me, is ALL about FEEL! If a player does not make his audience FEEL the blues then it isn't blues. If the BAND does not make the audience FEEL the blues it isn't blues.
    I am an old Mississippi bluesman who has played hundreds of small blues joints and most times the players got lost in the blues and so did their audience. No one, players or audience, was concerned with the length of a guitar solo IF we FELT the blues. Folks who play without feeling it are playing music licks and not blues.
    BluesOnBass, mike o, k.graz and 25 others like this.
  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I recommend spending some time studying Jack Casady. His instructional video is loaded with great ideas for playing blues. He and Jorma do about a half-dozen tunes, and after each Jack goes back and explains what he was thinking and doing at various points in the song. As I recall, he starts the video by saying something along the lines of "If you think blues are boring, you're not doing it right." Maybe you'll find the wankfests more fun and interesting if you can spice them up with some new tricks of your own.

    Here's a short sample clip from the video. It's pretty poor quality but it'll give you an idea:

    BluesOnBass, Nashrakh, TyBo and 4 others like this.
  15. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    It seems the blues is a very common genre for players to start because of the simplicity of the three chord progression and pentatonic scale. In its basic form, it can be monotonous.
    Truth is, a player can take it to limitless places.
    Robbed ford comes to mind
    TyBo, Manticore, Jhengsman and 2 others like this.
  16. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue Secretly Queen of the Moon Supporting Member

    I love the blues. When I play alone, a looper lets *me* be the wanker, and when I play with friends, we frequently trade off solos.

    As for playing in a more traditional role, I think the monotony is its own worthy challenge. The bass is extremely conspicuous in, say, a powerful Texas slow blues, and the pace leaves no excuse for a boring line- You've got to be eloquent and precise as hell, all while keeping up that feeling. There's neither room for error nor forgiveness for over-caution, and that's both an enormous responsibility and a hell of a feat to pull off flawlessly.

    Real blues bassists are my heroes, and I'll fancy myself a real musician the day I earn that title.

  17. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I wonder if this bass player was having a good time?
    Heavy Blue, Turock, 12BitSlab and 7 others like this.
  18. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I'd play with this guy all night.

    TomB, design, Pet Sounds and 2 others like this.
  19. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    I love playing blues tunes but it's hard to get others,usually guitar players, to play the song in the moment and to stop listening to the one playing in their head. And most drummers never take the time to learn a real shuffle, mostly because they are hard to play. ... I find jazz players and tunes more freeing to play along with.
    joebar likes this.
  20. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    This drummer knows to play a real shuffle. An instruction video. ;)


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