Blues doesn’t need major labels

I get a lot of music to review from small record companies, especially those with blues artists, because I write a blues column (Atlanta blues at examiner.com) and wrote a blues book (T’an’t Nobody’s Business If I Do) amd while I write all sorts of music reviews from The Beastie Boys to Flogging Molly, The Grateful Dead and more, blues has my heart.

A lot of the CDs I get are from artists I have never heard of and sometimes it takes me months to get around to them, but when I do, I often discover that I really love these artists. I am so happy to have the opportunity to hear people who don’t necessarily fit the commercial mold, and who often seem to be having more fun and expressing themselves more honestly than most artists on the radio.

Some of the people I’ve really loved lately have been Rev. Jimmie Bratcher, Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans, Tommmy McCoy, and Doug McLeod. Locally here in Atlanta, I’ve loved The Breeze Kings’ latest CD, Little  G Weevil’s The Teaser, and Brandon Reeves’ A Decent Melody.

I haven’t gotten reviews for all of these written. I did do the local ones over at examiner.com but I am going to try to at least find time to give all the ones I’ve named and the others I have yet to hear reviews at Amazon.com if not at Blogcritics, which has more rules and therefore takes more time. In the meantime, you should check some of the ones I mentioned out!

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Gretchen Lee Bourquin (Minneapolis, MN) – See all my reviews

When I first heard of Rhetta Akamatsu’s new book T’aint Nobody’s Business If I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New I was intrigued. The book chronicles the lives and struggles of the great female blues singers in the last century.

I like blues music; the rhythms, feeling and drama behind it. But I had never considered that “women’s blues” was something different and distinct from “men’s blues” Akamatsu illustrates that it definitely has it’s own place. Women’s blues is sassier, tougher and more rebellious than the men’s blues – not that Muddy Waters and B.B. King are anything to sneeze at. But when women got the blues they didn’t shrivel in the corner. They stood up and fought back with a strong voice and sometimes with both fists.

The book begins in a casual, conversational , tone that like the women of the blues makes no apologies. It is well researched and chronicles eighteen different blues acts, including Mamie Smith, Etta James, Janis Joplin, the blues group Saffire and many more.

This book made me look at blues music differently. It is more than just a genre or form of music, but carries a feeling that transcends whatever genre was prevalent at the time from Vaudeville to Rock and Roll.

T’aint Nobody’s Business gives a good overview of different female blues performers laid out in a way that is both informative and entertaining. But I give one warning – This book definitely left me wanting more. I think it might be time to buy a new CD. I hope I can pick just one.