Monday, February 1, 2021 - The Blues

I want to write a little bit about blues music since my show Thursday night is “Blues (and Some Rhythm)”. My understanding of blues and to some extent jazz is that it has its origins in the interpretation of African music on European instruments. It’s no secret that different cultures around the world have different musical structures, scales, and traditions. We tend to see music though the lens of European traditions since most popular instruments today are based on the even-tempered tuning that was invented in Europe, but other cultures based their music around what they heard and felt, and the music they created had other tones that aren’t expressed in European scales and traditions. So it was that as African Americans first picked up and played instruments created by European traditions and tunings they would play the notes that sounded closest to the music they heard and felt. Some of these notes, particularly the flatted third note of the major scale, came to be known as blue notes. I’m not sure if this was because they were closer to the minor scale and so felt more melancholy or blue or because they were just an odd note that needed a name to show their difference.  Either way, this note and others created the unique sound, harmonies, and even rhythms mixed with other influences particularly in the South around New Orleans that created the blues and jazz. I will say that there is also an element of hard times and loss in much of the blues, and that experience sometimes is the secret to playing the blues with the genuine feel and emotion that characterizes it. Just like the ancient Greeks and their cathartic plays, we tend to like to commiserate with one another, and that also helps gives the blues its appeal to so many. But blues can have really upbeat and driving rhythms that just feel good and gritty and authentic, and there are happy blues tunes too that just celebrate life. It’s really a style of music that isn’t specific to the traditional 12-bar “I woke up this mornin’” blues that some think of right away when you say the word blues. So Thursday I’ll play a bunch of blues tunes. Some will definitely be dark and dirty, but some will be upbeat and just plain fun! It took me a while to get a feel for the blues, but just like a driving two-step or an Irish jig or a four-on-the-floor rock and roll song it is so satisfying when you get the rhythm and the flow and the sound. I hope you’ll hear it and agree. 

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What have I been up to? 

I had just one senior facility to play for last week, and it went very well online. I didn’t record anything to put online although I’m thinking about it still. Just have to make time and do it as part of routine.  

My Thursday show online was really fun. The folk rock ‘70s tunes are some of the first songs I learned to play, and I lock into them right away and just fly. We had a great group of folks come out and spread the joy.  

My Sunday show had more requests than I can remember having before, and I worked really hard and felt way behind as I started the show, but it turned out just fine. I have such a supportive bunch of folks that I can always rise to their wishes! 

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What am I up to this week? 

My senior facilities are starting to talk about having folks back into their facilities like me although I think it’s realistically several months off. I have a couple of facilities to perform for online this week.  

My Thursday online show 7-8:30 will be the above-mentioned “Blues (and Some Rhythm)” tunes I mentioned above. This music is really a blast to play, and I think it will be a night to remember. Please come out if you can.  

My Sunday show online 7-8:30 will be requests and favorites as always. My request list has grown huge, and I can only knock out about 20 tunes each show, but we keep rolling and enjoying the flow and the camaraderie. It’s such a special show each week! 

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That’s it for this week. We keep on authentically living life and trying to help where we can while enjoying the little moments that make it so worthwhile. Be safe, and I hope to see you soon. 

Best always, 

Tom 

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Details this week: 

Who:  Tom Munch  
What:  playing and singing an online concert of blues (and some rhythm) songs 
Where:  facebook.com/tom.munch and tommunch.com/online-concerts   
When:  Thursday, February 4, 7-8:30 pm mountain time  

Who:  Tom Munch  
What:  playing and singing an online concert of favorites and requests  
Where:  facebook.com/tom.munch and tommunch.com/online-concerts   
When:  Sunday, February 7, 7-8:30 pm mountain time

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