Without warning during those nights, the bodies would stop moving and those sassy, brash women would start to cry. I didn’t understand, but even as a child, those basement sessions -- greasy with the smell of frying fish, full of spilling woes and melancholy -- seemed like the happiest places on earth.
As I approached the venerable Great Grizzly Bear in Soulard last Sunday for the KDHX All-Star Blues Brunch to listen to some roots and blues played by the Soulard Blues Band (with special guests) and Lucky Old Sons, my experiences as a child replayed in my mind and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, I don’t know the blues -- grace notes and 12 bars and flattened notes are well beyond my level of music theory -- but as I settled on the hidden patio of the Grizzly with the yellow sun filtered through the trees and as those first grooves were unleashed, I was transported back to the crossroad of those opening notes I heard as child. I let spill a little tear.
As I sought the faces of others living those moments, it became clear that the blues in all its melodious forms was meant to be shared -- a collective way for us to let life spill out just a little. The adult me still doesn’t fully “get it” and I still don’t know my way around a harmonic seven, all I know is I left that patio feeling good. Johnny Winter once said, “I think the blues will always be around. People need it.” And I couldn’t agree more.