Decades ago, in the day of Little Willie John and T-Bone Walker, the blues were an intrinsic part of the mainstream music scene. From backyards to clubs to bars, to vinyl, the genre, a platform for venting worries, gave the folks of the silent generation a sense of comfort and belonging – it was and still is the ultimate soul food.
In 2015, with a bevy of genres taking over the airwaves, and swarming the live music scene, it’s almost hard to tell that the blues is everywhere, subtly sinking its teeth into much of the music we listen to. But with a stack of blues festivals held annually nationwide, from Hawkesbury Blues and Roots to the big boy himself, Bluesfest, it’s as clear as Albert King’s signature tone that there is still a strong following.
One of the most enduring forms of music, the blues, continues to adapt and evolve over time, with Queensland’s The Vernons leading the charge.
Although the majority of the followers are accustomed to the good old authentic stuff, many are opening up their minds and hearts to the contemporary style. The current take on what is arguably the most influential genre in history has been the Aussie music scene’s saviour, as guitar aficionado, and front man of Sydney blues group ZOUNIS, Peter Zounis says “Contemporary blues is pretty much keeping the Australian live music scene alive. It is what pub rock was to the 80’s and 90’s live music scene. It’s the last bastion of good, honest, original music to go see”.
The contemporary blues is all about paying respect to the greats, whilst adapting to the ever evolving ways of the modern music world, and Queensland lads The Vernons have been making their mark by doing just that.
Having dished out two singles Keep on Dreaming and Snap My Fingers as well as a new EP SNAP the boys are taking their modern blues round the country on a four date tour, offering established blues fans an alternative take, and blues virgins their first taste. Snap My Fingers is a platter of chunky blues riffs, with a quick tempo, swinging vocals, lashings of indie, and an almost rockabilly intent. This track alone is a showcase of exactly the kind of music that melds together the tried and tested genres with newfangled sounds.
So, what is it that keeps people giving in all these years later? With the blues being in a state of flux since the beginning, bassist for The Chris King Robinson Band, Nig Turner says the reason for its longevity is universal – if played right, and with sentiment it allows feeling to flow and resonate with people from all walks of life.
“There are purists, pop style, all sorts of blues, but the heart of the music is about expressing yourself, if you can then it’s as relevant now as it ever was, if you can’t, you leave people cold. I am a middle class white boy, I have had pain in my life, some troubles, and I love to use the blues vehicle to pour out my emotion in music, a Chicago blues fan would condemn me as a faker, but the white Essex, UK boy feels the blues, can weep to the blues, can have 3 notes played by Robin Trower or SRV and openly cry. Is it relevant? Yes… if it speaks to the musician it will speak to the audience.”
The blues, no matter the year, will always have a strong place in the Aussie music scene, whether that is through its underlying influence on the large portion of genres, or by continuing to blossom into the unfaltering, and endlessly evolvable style of music it is known to be. Inspiring generation after generation to let go, and just feel. Even if that message is topped with indie overtones, and rock n roll beats.
You can catch The Vernons at The Grace Darling in Melbourne on the 13th, or Sydney’s Brighton Up Bar on the 14th.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217672032″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]