It has been spoken and sung by our African American brothers and sisters that the roots of the blues derives from repression, deprivation, pain in relationship, and overall struggle in life, a means of undergound communication of a mindset of mutual recognition in a sea of troubles. Traveling in and with the blues has been an integral part of human expression shaping the wave of music we enjoy today as it has been sung from the savannas of Africa, chained in the holds of slave ships, to the back breaking toil on land in the service of others, on to the towns and cities wherever work, opportunity, or the lack of, arises. Blues is the virus of deep human emotion passed from one to another both bonding and releasing us to and from each other on life's journeys.
So Ruth and I are setting out on a Gypsy Journey, a dangerous adventure in search of the blues around America with a focus on the south to north movement of the origins of this music and the people who were its mouthpiece up along and near highway 61 to Chicago. But the blues may be found hidden or exposed throughout the arteries of this nation. We are traveling in search of its presence.
Who can have the blues? What does it mean? How can the color blue, so calming and peaceful, so popular, connote such pain and emotion? Our preliminary discussions have been revealing and humorous: If you drive an old run down Cadillac or Buick you can have the blues. We are driving a Prius. If you have a regular job you can't have the blues. We are steady workers. If you don't have enough money to pay your house rent, you can have the blues. We make regular mortgage payments. If you are in a stable relationship you can't have the blues. We are happily connected long term. This is dangerous territory here! You can have the blues on some street corners, but not in a mall; probably not an airport, but--most definitely--in a train or bus station. The blues thrives in rainy weather, the sun pushes it away. We have some serious exploration and research in our quest to come.
The days grow short now until we depart. Our plans have been months in the making, reading history, watching videos of the roots of the blues such as Martin Scorsese's,The Blues, numerous other titles on the history of Juke Joints, Highway 61, Robert Johnson , Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and more, biopics. We're staging our car for the several months ahead, traveling light which is another companion of the blues. For months, Ruth and I have plotted out a route, with many possible side branches, around the US and Canada, and Ruth will shortly compile this into a driving recipe book for adventure. We've prepped camera and sound gear with days of blues musical montage to support the hours to be spent watching the roads stream past our windows, and the country slowly, magically, changing form around us.