Our Story Begins:
Music Diverse So Leave It Alone!
There’s a reason I posted that picture up there for you to see and it’s not to be self-deprecating about my hair or clothes.
That is a picture of the band I had in Omaha, Nebraska with my brother, Adam. Simply dubbed “Manoucheri” it was also a revolving door for a large number of local musicians. We liked it that way. When we started the band years before that picture we ran a jam session. At those, we saw everything you can imagine: long-haired heavy metal kids; a tall African-American singer who wore a fedora and a trenchcoat named Chester McSwain; a tall Native American harmonica player named Kurt; they all performed with us at one time or another.
We had some mainstays, though, like the man you see up there . . . the African American man named Mike “Hugo” Smith. Hugo was a man steeped in blues and jazz, could play country, could play rock, and put up with our meticulousness for song structure and our meandering live to jazz-like jam band playing.
So imagine my consternation today when my kids asked me what I thought about Beyonce at the CMA awards and how people started blasting her for being there. They blasted the Dixie Chicks for singing with her. They posted racial epithets and terrible names.
Let me just get something a bit clear here: I’m not a big Beyonce fan. I don’t own any of her music. I’m not a particular fan of her stuff or of her husband’s. Don’t dislike her, either, and my kids do like it.
Not a particular fan of the Dixie Chicks, either. No dislike, not dismissive of them, either. I know them, but don’t own any of their stuff.
So when people start to complain and troll people like Beyonce or the Dixie Chicks, I just don’t understand what the hell people are thinking.
Think about the genres. Country owes a huge debt to blues, rock, and basically all things shaped by old black musicians. Listen to country, particularly modern country, and you hear shades of Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, Bukka White, Big Bill Broonzy . . . and a host of others. Know what they all have in common? They’re African-American.
Related: Our Story Begins: Parental Absence
BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan played together . . . a LOT. Hell, the guy who was the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish is now a successful country artist and HE is African-American.
So what possesses people to start shouting hate at people who just want to make music? I looked at my kids and said that I hated to tell all the hate mongers but the country they’re listening to has its roots in blues, jazz and country blues sung by black musicians.
Music, you see, particularly for musicians, is about emotion, feeling, music and community. They hear rhythm and harmony in the world. So if you try and toss hate or shade at the people who sing and dance and play with anyone: white, black, hispanic, Indian, Native American, whatever the race . . . it’s all a melting pot. Just like our country is a melting pot.
At the end of the day . . . people who toss that much hate aren’t getting the message anyway.
Music is diverse. It always has been. Since what you listen to has roots in just about every nation’s background . . . you probably need to just leave well enough alone!