Blues faces - what's wrong with a little sincerity?

April 05, 2013

I went to a blues gig recently, and I’m not sure why, but the whole thing just felt wrong.

The thing about white men playing the blues has been done to death, but it is odd that an evening of music from poor black America should be full of pale home counties faces.

Maybe it’s the virtuosity that riles me - too many notes being played just for the sake of showing off.

Or maybe the fact that’s all so derivative - second-rate versions of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, with nothing new to add. Why is it that I take exception to a musician because, although he can definitely play his instrument, he pulls silly faces while he plays. Gurning away like a constipated seal, while he stomps his feet and throws his head from side to side, like a cross between Stevie Wonder, John Lee Hooker and one of the muppets (but not in a good way).

What is so troubling about that? Are we in this horrendously post-modern age where nobody should express themselves, nobody is allowed to be sincere? Or maybe it’s that I don’t believe that he is sincere. That the silly faces are an act, part of his schtick, another approximation of authenticity that rings hollow.