Sometimes we all need to close some doors in our lives. Just to be free and happy again. Thank God that when this time came into my life I wasn't alone and had someone who needed to run away as much I did.
One meeting for coffee and together with Patty, we had a plan. Little crazy, actually there not even a plan, just purchased in 15 minutes plane tickets. Stockholm!!! - our dreamed destination that with previous circumstances seemed to be unreachable.
The tickets were bought soon enough to find some place to sleep and things we want to see but the rule was only one. To make some recognition but to let ourselves to take whatever each day in Stockholm will offer.
Then it happened. One night in an underground hostel, two nights on a ship (the one above), and the last night in a pricey hotel to celebrate our freedom. The rest? Who would know?
Oh and I forgot to mention that during this trip I had a birthday. Till this time the best one in my life. But about it a little later..
When we came to Stockholm right away we felt like we are in our home. Why? Maybe it was the fact of similar architecture to Cracow, Wroclaw, or Prague we knew very well. Or maybe it was just the fact that we escaped in a second from our problems and concerns. It seemed to be too good to be true that the first step in a foreign country changed already so much.
The first night we went to the old town - Gamla Stan. How beautiful is there I can't even describe. The time somehow stooped and the night was sooooo long that we saw even more than we wished. Going back to our hostel at 4 am showed us the nightlife in the city, the kindness of people for lost girls (yep it happened during the first night.), and many interesting conversations with drunk people going back to their homes or hotels after the existing party nigh. Well, we weren't completely sober too so maybe that's why those conversations were so interesting...
But the day that changed everything and made me feel really free was the day of my birthday. Might sound cliche but really it was then. One of the funniest days of my life. Full of new experiences, beautiful views, and crazy unplanned birthday party in October Fest tent. I would never imagined that in Stockholm I would stand on a table in the middle of crowded Fest tent to hear how all the people sing Happy Birthday to me in three languages: English, Swedish, and Polish. Can you imagine? My own language used just for me, by the foreign band in Sweden, because somehow the singer used to have a Polish girlfriend that taught him just this one birthday song. Later on, we stayed there till 6 am talking with the Fest crew about everything even though no one supposed to be there after 11 pm.
That was our last night in Stockholm and we had to pack for the flight back before 7 am to get on the airport on time. How stupid it was staying in the City so long knowing about early flight? We didn't care. We just took everything that the moment offered for us.
Carpe Diem people!
The rest I will write maybe in the future. But it was just the small piece of my experience...
We just published an updated, comprehensive guide on how to play the blues scale on our sister site, Beginner Guitar HQ. It is completely free and you can find it here: https://beginnerguitarhq.com/blues-scale/
Blues as a genre is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation. Early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating the racial discrimination and other challenges experienced by African-Americans.
Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and subgenres. Blues subgenres include country blues, such as Delta blues and Piedmont blues, as well as urban blues styles such as Chicago blues and West Coast blues. World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock developed, which blended blues styles with rock music.
American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"
The lyrics of early traditional blues verses probably often consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the so-called "AAB" pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Two of the first published blues songs, "Dallas Blues" (1912) and "Saint Louis Blues" (1914), were 12-bar blues with the AAB lyric structure.
W.C. Handy wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines repeated three times. The lines are often sung following a pattern closer to rhythmic talk than to a melody.
Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative. African-American singers voiced his or her "personal woes in a world of harsh reality: a lost love, the cruelty of police officers, oppression at the hands of white folk, [and] hard times". This melancholy has led to the suggestion of an Igbo origin for blues because of the reputation the Igbo had throughout plantations in the Americas for their melancholic music and outlook on life when they were enslaved.
Backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
I said, backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
And I can't get no hearing from that Memphis girl of mine
Although the blues gained an association with misery and oppression, the lyrics could also be humorous and raunchy:
Rebecca, Rebecca, get your big legs off of me,
Rebecca, Rebecca, get your big legs off of me,
It may be sending you baby, but it's worrying the hell out of me.
Hokum blues celebrated both comedic lyrical content and a boisterous, farcical performance style. Tampa Red's classic "Tight Like That" (1928) is a sly wordplay with the double meaning of being "tight" with someone coupled with a more salacious physical familiarity.
Blues songs with sexually explicit lyrics were known as dirty blues. The lyrical content became slightly simpler in postwar blues, which tended to focus on relationship woes or sexual worries. Lyrical themes that frequently appeared in prewar blues, such as economic depression, farming, devils, gambling, magic, floods and drought, were less common in postwar blues.
Handy was a formally trained musician, composer and arranger who helped to popularize the blues by transcribing and orchestrating blues in an almost symphonic style, with bands and singers. He became a popular and prolific composer, and billed himself as the "Father of the Blues"; however, his compositions can be described as a fusion of blues with ragtime and jazz, a merger facilitated using the Cuban habanera rhythm that had long been a part of ragtime; Handy's signature work was the "Saint Louis Blues".
was in 1923 the first to record the slide guitar style, in which a guitar is fretted with a knife blade or the sawed-off neck of a bottle. The slide guitar became an important part of the Delta blues. The first blues recordings from the 1920s are categorized as a traditional, rural country blues and a more polished city or urban blues.
Country blues performers often improvised, either without accompaniment or with only a banjo or guitar. Regional styles of country blues varied widely in the early 20th century. The (Mississippi) Delta blues was a rootsy sparse style with passionate vocals accompanied by slide guitar. The little-recorded Robert Johnson combined elements of urban and rural blues. In addition to Robert Johnson, influential performers of this style included his predecessors Charley Patton and Son House. Singers such as Blind Willie McTell
performed in the southeastern "delicate and lyrical" Piedmont blues tradition, which used an elaborate ragtime-based fingerpicking guitar technique. Georgia also had an early slide tradition, with Curley Weaver
used a variety of unusual instruments such as washboard, fiddle, kazoo or mandolin. Memphis Minnie was famous for her virtuoso guitar style. Pianist Memphis Slim began his career in Memphis, but his distinct style was smoother and had some swing elements. Many blues musicians based in Memphis moved to Chicago in the late 1930s or early 1940s and became part of the urban blues movement.
City or urban blues styles were more codified and elaborate, as a performer was no longer within their local, immediate community, and had to adapt to a larger, more varied audience's aesthetic. Classic female urban and vaudeville blues singers were popular in the 1920s, among them "the big three"—Gertrude "Ma" Rainey
,more a vaudeville performer than a blues artist, was the first African American to record a blues song in 1920; her second record, "Crazy Blues", sold 75,000 copies in its first month. Ma Rainey, the "Mother of Blues", and Bessie Smith each "[sang] around center tones, perhaps in order to project her voice more easily to the back of a room". Smith would "sing a song in an unusual key, and her artistry in bending and stretching notes with her beautiful, powerful contralto to accommodate her own interpretation was unsurpassed".
became the second black woman to record blues when she recorded "The Jazz Me Blues", and Victoria Spivey
sometimes called Queen Victoria or Za Zu Girl, had a recording career that began in 1926 and spanned forty years. These recordings were typically labeled "race records" to distinguish them from records sold to white audiences. Nonetheless, the recordings of some of the classic female blues singers were purchased by white buyers as well. These blueswomen's contributions to the genre included "increased improvisation on melodic lines, unusual phrasing which altered the emphasis and impact of the lyrics, and vocal dramatics using shouts, groans, moans, and wails. The blues women thus effected changes in other types of popular singing that had spin-offs in jazz, Broadway musicals, torch songs of the 1930s and 1940s, gospel, rhythm and blues, and eventually rock and roll."
An important label of this era was the Chicago-based Bluebird Records. Before World War II, Tampa Red was sometimes referred to as "the Guitar Wizard". Carr accompanied himself on the piano with Scrapper Blackwell on guitar, a format that continued well into the 1950s with artists such as Charles Brown and even Nat "King" Cole.
Boogie-woogie was another important style of 1930s and early 1940s urban blues. While the style is often associated with solo piano, boogie-woogie was also used to accompany singers and, as a solo part, in bands and small combos. Boogie-Woogie style was characterized by a regular bass figure, an ostinato or riff and shifts of level in the left hand, elaborating each chord and trills and decorations in the right hand. Boogie-woogie was pioneered by the Chicago-based Jimmy Yancey and the Boogie-Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis).
Chicago boogie-woogie performers included Clarence "Pine Top" Smith and Earl Hines, who "linked the propulsive left-hand rhythms of the ragtime pianists with melodic figures similar to those of Armstrong's trumpet in the right hand". The smooth Louisiana style of Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles.
The transition from country blues to urban blues that began in the 1920s was driven by the successive waves of economic crisis and booms which led many rural blacks to move to urban areas, in a movement known as the Great Migration. The long boom following World War II induced another massive migration of the African-American population, the Second Great Migration, which was accompanied by a significant increase of the real income of the urban blacks. The new migrants constituted a new market for the music industry. The term race record, initially used by the music industry for African-American music, was replaced by the term rhythm and blues. This rapidly evolving market was mirrored by Billboard magazine's Rhythm and Blues chart. This marketing strategy reinforced trends in urban blues music such as the use of electric instruments and amplification and the generalization of the blues beat, the blues shuffle, which became ubiquitous in R&B. This commercial stream had important consequences for blues music, which, together with jazz and gospel music, became a component of R&B.
Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Sonny Terry are well known harmonica (called "harp" by blues musicians) players of the early Chicago blues scene. Other harp players such as Big Walter Horton were also influential. Muddy Waters and Elmore James were known for their innovative use of slide electric guitar. Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were known for their deep, "gravelly" voices.
both recording for Chess, were influenced by the Chicago blues, their enthusiastic playing styles departed from the melancholy aspects of blues. Chicago blues also influenced Louisiana's zydeco music, with Clifton Chenier using blues accents. Zydeco musicians used electric solo guitar and cajun arrangements of blues standards.
In England, electric blues took root there during a much acclaimed Muddy Waters tour. Waters, unsuspecting of his audience's tendency towards skiffle, an acoustic, softer brand of blues, turned up his amp and started to play his Chicago brand of electric blues. Although the audience was largely jolted by the performance, the performance influenced local musicians such as Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies to emulate this louder style, inspiring the British invasion of the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds.
The "West Side sound" had strong rhythmic support from a rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums and as perfected by Guy, Freddie King, Magic Slim and Luther Allison was dominated by amplified electric lead guitar. Expressive guitar solos were a key feature of this music.
Other blues artists, such as John Lee Hooker had influences not directly related to the Chicago style. John Lee Hooker's blues is more "personal", based on Hooker's deep rough voice accompanied by a single electric guitar. Though not directly influenced by boogie woogie, his "groovy" style is sometimes called "guitar boogie". His first hit, "Boogie Chillen", reached number 1 on the R&B charts in 1949.
By the beginning of the 1960s, genres influenced by African American music such as rock and roll and soul were part of mainstream popular music. White performers such as the Beatles had brought African-American music to new audiences, both within the U.S. and abroad. However, the blues wave that brought artists such as Muddy Waters to the foreground had stopped. Bluesmen such as Big Bill Broonzy and Willie Dixon started looking for new markets in Europe. Dick Waterman and the blues festivals he organized in Europe played a major role in propagating blues music abroad. In the UK, bands emulated U.S. blues legends, and UK blues rock-based bands had an influential role throughout the 1960s.
Blues performers such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences, inspiring new artists steeped in traditional blues, such as New York–born Taj Mahal. John Lee Hooker blended his blues style with rock elements and playing with younger white musicians, creating a musical style that can be heard on the 1971 album Endless Boogie. B. B. King's singing and virtuoso guitar technique earned him the eponymous title "king of the blues". King introduced a sophisticated style of guitar soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. In contrast to the Chicago style, King's band used strong brass support from a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, instead of using slide guitar or harp. Tennessee-born Bobby "Blue" Bland, like B. B. King, also straddled the blues and R&B genres. During this period, Freddie King and Albert King often played with rock and soul musicians (Eric Clapton and Booker T & the MGs) and had a major influence on those styles of music.
In the early 1970s, the Texas rock-blues style emerged, which used guitars in both solo and rhythm roles. In contrast with the West Side blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British rock-blues movement. Major artists of the Texas style are Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds (led by harmonica player and singer-songwriter Kim Wilson), and ZZ Top. These artists all began their musical careers in the 1970s but they did not achieve international success until the next decade.
1980s to the present
Italian singer Zucchero is credited as the "Father of Italian Blues", and is among the few European blues artists who still enjoy international success
Since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of interest in the blues among a certain part of the African-American population, particularly around Jackson, Mississippi and other deep South regions. Often termed "soul blues" or "Southern soul", the music at the heart of this movement was given new life by the unexpected success of two particular recordings on the Jackson-based Malaco label: Z. Z. Hill's Down Home Blues (1982) and Little Milton's The Blues is Alright (1984)
However, beginning in the 1990s, digital multitrack recording and other technological advances and new marketing strategies including video clip production increased costs, challenging the spontaneity and improvisation that are an important component of blues music.
In the 1980s and 1990s, blues publications such as Living Blues and Blues Revue were launched, major cities began forming blues societies, outdoor blues festivals became more common, and more nightclubs and venues for blues emerged.