Gets the Blues
By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Chou NaiXien
Finally! Although the music scene in
Taiwan has exploded in recent years, so far Taiwan has
only had one international Blues festival: Blues Bash
I in Taichung, held earlier this year (and partly sponsored
by our sister publication, the COMPASS). Now, this November,
the Blues comes to Taipei.
Music festivals for rock, jazz, punk
and classical have mushroomed around the island with
big sponsors and governments all jumping on the bandwagon-but
not the blues. Thanks to the small, underfunded but
doughty Blues Society on Taiwan, we've finally got festivals
for one of the most important music genres of all.
The blues is the progenitor of most
modern popular music styles, including rock and jazz.
In spite of its familiar and easily accessable style,
many people remain unsure of precisely what it is, thinking
perhaps of the cook in South Park. Put very crudely,
rock is about energy and power, while jazz is about
skill. Blues, however, is about communicating emotion.
That doesn't mean sad or melancholy by any means; many
of the performers at Blues Bash II will knock your socks
off with a rollicking good-time sounds.
This event is blessed with two great
international acts. The headliner is Shun Kikuta, the
Japanese-born guitarist for the "Queen of the Blues",
Koko Taylor. Gabriel Gratzer, represents Country Blues
from Argentinian scene (no, the Blues is not just American!).
Even more impressive to this reviewer is that there
are six locally developed talents performing, up from
basically nothing a few years ago. Taichung powerhouse
Boogie Chillin' is up for the event with their thumpin',
pumpin', knock 'em dead sound. Taipei local favourites
include the classic bluesmen of David Chen & the
Muddy Basin Ramblers and Chicago Blues representatives
BoPoMoFo (which includes the former host of ICRT's 'Blues
Power Hour' show and President of the Blues Society,
DC Rapier). Fusing Aboriginal spirit with the Blues
is Stevie Ray and Black Sheep. Newcomers The Beaver
County Rangers and Les Chats Noir (from Taichung) bring
in backwoods sounds and New Orleans influenced R&B,
If you are a fan of the Blues, you must
go. If you aren't familiar with the Blues...well, then,
you're in for a real treat!
BLUES BASH II
Where: Breeze Center Plaza, Taipei
When: 12 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, November 5