My wife was ecstatic, like so excited she was going to pee her pants. She was bursting at the seams. “Okay spit it out.”
“We are going to see Winwood and Clapton! My parents got tickets!” she hyperventilated.
She was all robust with giggly abandon, and then all of a sudden she was flat like a dry rotted swim floatie.
Her disappointment was palpable. Sheepishly, I added, “I’m sorry babe. I just don’t understand what the big deal is with Clapton.”
And Karla Clark burst out laughing like I was the King Clown at the Gong Show. Deep laughter. It was robust. I may never forget the stabbing naive sting of that laughter. It was not even mockery. It was as if I was not even worthy of mocking. It was just a flat out, diffinitive proclamation of my wrongness.
So…. I have talked about it before. I learned A LOT about music from my wife. Her father, Dennis Hughes, is the retired CEO of Navapache Electric Cooperative in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona. He also was a war correspondent in Vietnam. And a radio DJ in Detroit when he got home. He interviewed Zappa for crying out loud. And he instilled a deep love and respect of all kinds of music in my wife. I am the beneficiary of that knowledge.
Before Karla and her Dad…. if you talked to me about the blues, my mind went to this terrifying place somewhere between this…..
Ah…. the Blues.
And so my education of the blues began, and my understanding of it went from,
Da Na Na Na… Woke up this morning – Da Na Na Na… Took a look around – Da Na Na Na….
to a deeper understanding of musical genres as an understanding of rules in a sandbox. Here you go Ryan, now this is the Blues Sandbox, and within this box you have these tools and toys that you can play with… but not this toy. If you want to play with that one you will need to go over to the Jazz Sandbox. And that allowed an appreciation of the wizardry that was possible within those limitations, and in the case of someone like Eric Clapton – led to the adaptation and invention of new possibilities within that construct.
And the depth of appreciation blossomed, and a whole new world I had never even been curious enough to attempt to understand opened up. Suddenly, it was possible to enjoy, appreciate, and see the magic in acts like Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King, Muddy Waters, and yes, even Eric Clapton.
And that brings me to a new local blues album that, as Dani Cutler told us when she debuted them on KWSS 93.9 FM, is pretty dang awesome from start to finish. Now, call me a skeptic, but when we get talking about blues and blues bands in pretty much any town, let’s just cut to the chase. A lot of folks can play some pretty damn good blues. And this brings me back to that naive, yes, but not completely ridiculous comment: what’s the big deal? What makes it special? What makes it unique? Sure, you can play, but so can five other bands down the street. So I put Captive Cooks Easy Bake Lovin’ on, and I was enjoying it. I was grooving to it. I was jamming along as I cruised through my stocking at work. It felt progressive, in terms of blues. It felt different. I was actually pretty impressed, but on that first listen… I couldn’t have really started to articulate my position until I got to the song Thank Lenny.
“Here’s what we do…. a new kind of blues…. And If you think if it’s all been done before…. Go on and tell me by whom”.
Okay that sounds like a challenge. And I started to dig. New kind of blues. What is that? My wife has a favorite station she listens to on Spotify. Check it out. Old School.
So what is this…. New Blues? I mean if you look at Spotify as an example, every possible fusion you can think of has a playlist. Jazz Blues. Blues Rock. Soul Blues. Rhythm and Blues. And I started to go through my collection of local artists to see if I could put my finger on it. And a theme started to come to mind. Captive Cooks. Radio Blonde. Chrome Rhino. Treasurefruit. Foxadillo. Ali A & the Agency. And a playlist that tried to put the fusions that are happening together that define this New Blues came together. (Radio Blonde, Chrome Rhino… get on Spotify!)
I write about modern music being a fusion of influence all of the time. In fact, in the industry this trend can be frustrating. Bands do not want to be pigeon holed by genre, but planning shows is almost impossible if you can not articulate your bands vision to a promoter or a venue. Captive Cooks don’t shy from that on Easy Bake Lovin‘. They actually defy you to say that it has all been done before. They actually challenge you to be able to articulate why you think they are the same as anybody else playing the blues.
And you know what? They have a point. The more that you dig into that sandbox, the more wonderful toys, and variations of toys you discover. The more blendings of style and technique you dig up. The New Blues are not Stoner Rock. They are not swampy dirges from the darkness of the human condition. They mix in some lounge lizard. They steam up the keys. They fuse in a little funk, and not a little jazz. They jump into that sandbox with a screaming proclamation that the old game is boring, but only because we love to play it so much.
The album release show of Easy Bake Lovin’ like so many others was postponed. The new date is August 28th with Sara Robinson Band and Ali A & the Agency. Oh my God, COVID…. GO AWAY !!!!! This show needs to be placed on your calendars. STAT. See you there. And in the meantime… give this album a listen. Ghost Writer stand out tracks: Shadow in the Room, As Far As I Can Tell, Unsaid, Thank Lenny, Headband Blues. Listen to the record on Spotify…. whet your appetite for a stellar show!