Blues at the White House

Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

Well, it's been a few days since we've talked, and it's time to catch up on a few things.

First, following up on my last post from the Clearwater blues fest, and in response to Bluzer, yes it was a free two-day festival in a beautiful park-like venue backed up by the beautiful scene of the inter-coastal waterway just off the Gulf Of Mexico.

Through multiple faults of my own, I wasn't able to get to the Sunday show, headlined by the very wonderful Janiva Magness. My bad. My very bad. And I have no pix of the venue or the food or the beer (but I did partake of both). And the music was first-rate.

Moving on, I suppose that many of you have read about or watched some of the coverage of Tuesday night's "In Performance at The White House: Red, White and Blues," a tribute to blues and Black History Month.

Now you can argue that a Black History month tribute should not have included so many white folk, even though they love the blues, and I would think that you would have a good point. It shouldn't have been hard to find a few more traditional blues talents to fill the roster, even though the musical lineup still seemed pretty impressive.

Had I been booking the show, I might have looked for, say, a Magic Slim or other great Chicago talents still performing -- think Billy Branch or James Cotton or Eddie Campbell. And as fine a talent as Susan Tedeschi is, I might've looked a little harder for someone to do the Etta James classic, "I'd Rather Go Blind." Even Shemekia Copeland, who was already there, might have been a better candidate.

Sure, Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck are music legends, but they don't exactly represent the heart of American blues. So maybe, for black History Month, the White House could've been just a little blacker.

Anyway, here's a a little coverage of the event, plus a review that includes some video. And you can catch the show on PBS on Feb. 27. Music criticism notwithstanding, it's interesting to read the comments on these articles and see the political venom generated by a simple concert that was meant to pay tribute to a great American art form that should be a uniting force, not a dividing one. Some people just need to get a grip.

In case you're curious, here's a set list from the show:

1. “Let the Good Times Roll” (Ensemble)
2.. “The Thrill Is Gone” (B.B King)
3. “St. James Infirmary” (Trombone Shorty)
4. “Let Me Love You Baby” (Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck)
5. “Brush With The Blues” instrumental (Jeff Beck)
6. “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (Mick Jagger)
7. “Commit A Crime” (Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck)
8. “Miss You” (Mick Jagger, Shemekia Copeland, and Susan Tedeschi,)
9. “Beat Up Guitar” (Shemekia Copeland, Gary Clark, Jr.)
10. “Catfish Blues” (Gary Clark, Jr.)
11. “In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)” (Gary Clark, Jr.)
12. “Henry” ( Keb’ Mo’)
13. “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes)
14. “Five Long years” (Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark, Mick Jagger)
15. “Sweet Home Chicago” (Ensemble)

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