One of the great things I've discovered about the blues over the years is that the possibilities are endless for ways that artists can express them. For years, it was mostly accessible by means of listening to records or juke boxes or radios or seeing artists performing live. Today, there are so many different ways to experience the genre.
Most artists now have DVD's available for purchase, so you can see them perform in the comfort of your home (which is not the same, I'll admit, but for those who don't live within driving distance, it's pretty handy). Also, you can download tunes via the internet and iTunes or some other service, or even watch a performance via the internet......Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale had a link for a while that allowed you to view their performers on selected nights (unfortunately, it's no longer available).
Still, those options can be considered pretty mainstream. There are other ways to experience the blues....ways that you might not have expected.
For example, take Oregon blues guitarist Pete Herzog. Herzog has been playing the blues since he was 8 years old and has spent most of his life around the genre. All of his life, he's been attracted to the blues, especially the delta and country blues. Over the past year, Herzog has composed an opera, called Steel Guitar. It's a one man show with 22 original songs that tell the story of a guitar as it is passed from owner to owner, whether it's bought, sold, stolen, or won. According to Herzog, the guitar's sound is colored by each person who plays it and in return, the musicians absorb the history of the instrument, and the blues itself. The songs provide the link between the stories of the lives of the various characters and the guitar. Here's a couple of selections from the performance.
Even though Herzog is currently performing Steel Guitar as a one man show, he composed the opera with the idea that it could be performed by either one person or by a number of people. The possibilities are endless with this sort of concept, provided enough people are aware of it. So far, Herzog has performed the piece primarily on the West Coast (California, Oregon, and Washington state) for the past nine months, working out the kinks, and will be traveling to Hawaii later this month. He's hoping to work his way east later this year to Austin, New Orleans, and, hopefully, Mississippi.
BB Wolf and the Three LPs is an epic retelling of the old Three Little Pigs story, but with a decidedly more violent edge.
Years ago, artist Art Spiegelman penned the two volume Maus, about his father's trials and tribulations during World War II as a Jewish man in Poland. Spiegelman used funny animals in place of his human characters....mice represented the Jews, cats represented the Germans, dogs represented Americans, etc.....
Writer J. D. Arnold and artist Richard Koslowski take a similar approach with BB Wolf and the Three LPs. In this case, wolves represent the oppressed blacks and pig represent the domineering whites of Money, MS. BB Wolf is a farmer and family man by day, a blues musician by night. The story as told by Arnold and Koslowski, deals with what happens when Wolf tries to stand up to his oppressors, his fierce and terrible revenge, and the retribution that goes along with the revenge. This is not a comic book for the kiddies and all does not end well for some characters, but it's a great story that will hold your attention. Like the characters in Maus, Arnold and Koslowski succeed in making you forget that you're reading about funny animals as the story progresses.
Also, if you order the book directly from the publisher, you get an accompanying CD that features "lost" recordings of BB Wolf, plus modern versions of the same songs. These are actually recordings done by some Milwaukee area blues and rock musicians. They provide a pretty good soundtrack while you're reading the book. Check out this acoustic "performance" by "BB Wolf" and his band, the Howlers.
So, as you can see, there are many different ways for you to get your blues fix these days.