Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Remembering Son Seals: The Son Seals DVD

"A Journey Through The Blues: The Son Seals Story" is the only authorized video biography of blues legend Son Seals. It follows his humble beginnings in Arkansas, his move to Chicago, and his rise to the largest blues stages in the world through documentary footage, interviews with friends and fellow musicians like Bruce Iglauer, Koko Taylor, Steven Seagal, Dr. John and Lonnie Brooks, as well as from the legend himself. Of course the live performances included on the DVD may speak the best of the influence of Son Seals. This is a rare and special glimpse into the life of one of the great Chicago bluesmen."
--Product description of "The Son Seals Story."

His studio work was inconsistent, but the best of it, represented by Midnight Son (1976) and Nothing But The Truth (1994), was extremely powerful; Rolling Stone called the first "one of the most significant blues albums of the decade". Nothing But The Truth had a four-song sequence -
Before The Bullets Fly, I'm Gon
na Take It All Back, Life Is Hard and Tough As Nails - that was the most exciting stretch of music on any of his albums, the declamatory vocals accompanied by a firework display of inventive guitar. Seals twice headlined the Chicago Blues Festival and was featured in a television commercial for Olympia Beer; he had an extensive American touring schedule and made half a dozen trips to Europe. He won WC Handy blues awards in 1985, 1987, and 2001, and a 1980 Grammy nomination for his contribution to the album Blues Deluxe.
--The Guardian

The daddy has a number of white friends who play music,
including blues guitar. And, consistently, they speak with
excitement about some new blues guitarists on the scene, the next Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Interesting enough, invariably this n
ext Clapton or Vaughn is a young white male. And, invariably, the great black blues guitarists from whom the Claptons and the Vaughns learned is never mentioned. They never mention the next B.B. King or the next T. Bone Walker or the next Big Bill Broonzy. So, recently, when the daddy has been told about the next Clapton or Vaughn, he's been asking:

"Who does Eric Clapton remind you of?"
"Who does Stevie Ray Vaughn remind you of?"

This is my way of reminding them that what is called
"urban blues" or "modern blues" didn't start with Clapton
Vaughn. However, it was highly influenced by B.B. King,
licks and approach Clapton used well and often. It was influenced and-- some would say-- taken to another level by Albert King; and, as many know, King was Vaughn's main guitar influence and mentor.

It's also my way of reminding them that, while a lot of young white males from various white garage bands are getting on Jay Leno and the Dave Letterman show, a lot of young and old good polished black blues musicians are either getting little notice or no notice at all as they play in small bars and languish in relative obscurity and poverty. From the daddy's point of view, a very good guitarists who got some recognition but not nearly as much as he deserved was Son Seals. Yes, he had a 30 year relationship with Alligator Records headed by Bruce Iglauer, who recorded and managed him. Yes, he eventually became known all over the world. Still, he was viewed mostly as a second tier blues guitarists, when he was really one of the world's greatest modern blues guitarists.

One distinguishing feature of Seals is that is often overlooked is that he was great at both rhythm and lead guitar. Another interesting facet of Seals is that he was a very good songwriter. He didn't just write about women who left him or who still hasn't come home at 3 O'clock in the morning. He wrote about the concrete reality of being poor, black and male in an urban city where white males run a corporate world. He said, "When I had money/I was the talk of the town/Now I'm broke and raggly/and they don't even want me around/It's bad bad, boy/how your friends can let you down/I think I'll pack my rags and move to some other town."

Seals wrote about the inability to pay the rent, about the "landlord at my door." He wrote of women and just about everyone else despising a "loser," saying "Everybody congratulates you/when they think you're doing fine/but when you're down and out they don't even waste their time/Nobody wants a loser/everybody wants to win/and the precious game of life/is the hardest one to win." No, with Seals, you didn't need any transference to figure out what he was saying. He said it upfront: Existing, or subsisting, as a poor black man in racist white America is the blues.

During his passionate live shows, often Seals would say: "
I got the blues. I can't help myself." And toward the end of his show, just before his final song "Hot Sauce," where he would go crazy on his axe, he would advise the audience: "Don't forget these damn blues. They're good for you."

Speaking of live shows, Seals' "Live and Burning," recorded in a Chicago blues bar among supportive musicians, raucous fans and loving friends apparently loaded on alcohol (who were talking, yelling and screaming throughout the set) is right up there with Otis Rush's
live set at the Wise Fools and Junior Wells set at Theresa's as one of the best live blues albums of all time.

So, today, the daddy is feeling "A Journey Through the Blues: The Son Seals Story," a DVD about him. He died last year of complications related to diabetes. But he left us some great music. And from the daddy's point of view, he was one of the greatest persons to see live. Like fellow Chicago guitarists Buddy Guy and Hound Dog Taylor, Seals played with such soul and such passion, you couldn't help but want to stand up and cheer, get out on the dance floor or sit, nodding your head as the moans and screams from his guitar went all the way to your bones.

The daddy says pick up "A Journey Through the Blues: The Son Seals Story." It'll be good for you.


Anonymous said...

daddy, I used the link you gave and went to YouTube, but the song cut off. I like the playing though

patti t said...

Thanks for the continued sharing of these musicians...knowing the origins and stories of the music and true talent of those who have not gotten the glory, is a gift you give to the rest of us.

About the blog: I do love the side bar focus--you share so much just in the side bar column--a blend of the deeply serious and even sad info, to the light humor, and all the in-between. The political landscape and story of the day, the week, or the month (lord knows it's rare this country's media looks much beyond that) may be important, but it's the human landscape, the telling of truth, and the willingness to share history, knowledge, and part of one's heart and soul that keeps us moving forward.

MacDaddy said...

patti: the daddy ain't getting misty when he says this...but your words mean a lot to him. Thanks a lot.

Somebodies Friend said...

I don't know how I missed this artist, but the daddy always comes through with just what I needed at just the right time.

I too am transitioning and just from the titles of these songs, I can totally relate, totally.

I grew up small town, moved to the city, been held down by the white mans establishment called corporate America, ya know, some new scenery doesn't sound like such a bad idea, because I too, know the BLUES.............

MacDaddy said...

Sombodiesfriend: I hear you. You're not alone. I'll be thinking of you, wishing you well. As the kids (some of whom were gangbangers) said to me:
Bstrong. That's how I came up with the name to my blog. One of the gangbangers said to me: Daddy, be strong. I said I would.

YOU-BE-STRONG, my brotha.