Got the Blues?

Blues, as a style or genre of music, is about expression and accessibility. Blues has spoken to millions of people over generations, and if you are reading this, it has spoken to you. Formally it is based on a five note scale and three chords set in a simple twelve bar sequence. From a theoretical/academic point of view, blues is strikingly un-complex. So… what gives it its appeal? Expression! In that area, contrary to popular perception, blues is by no means a one trick pony. It is not just about feeling blue! Blues expresses the full gamut of human emotions… angst, exuberance, longing, sadness, sensuality, irony, humor, defiance, and the list goes on. The formal simplicity of blues provides ample room for, and in fact demands, that the expressive element come forward. Blues is raw, close to the bone. and exposed. There is little to hide behind. Also, because of it's formal simplicity, the blues provides an excellent participatory opportunity for musical conversation (AKA Jamming). We are about helping you to make your words in that musical conversation count!

Music, and the way that music “speaks” to us is most easily understood through the music that strikes a chord within us. For that reason, we encourage learning the vocabulary of the masters who have gone before us, learning to play their bread and butter licks, rhythms and turnarounds, not simply to reiterate, but to help launch us on the path of being creative in the same spirit... your own spirit. To keep the art form fresh and to carry it forward.

Generally speaking, we are not about hot-dogging or pyrotechnics. If playing fast is your thing that's fine, but for those slow hands out there… take comfort in knowing that the tease of one slow string bend placed just right delivers as much power as dozens of notes crammed into a single measure. Filling a measure with notes is not anywhere near as challenging as filling a measure with feeling. Fun, playfulness, mischief making, are all encouraged! Bring your spirit, but leave your ego at the door. We are not a competitive group. We are a mutually supportive group, encouraging each other to take chances and creating a "safe" zone for all to do so.

Although Blues has had a tremendous influence on "pop" music, it was not the product of a pop culture. The music was about creating an identity and bonding element for a culture living under extreme hardship and repression. It was a means of expressing joy and hope in a community with little of either. At our workshops, we strive to keep the process fun. We do expect that you will experience a degree of “instant” gratification, but our deeper goal is to set you down the road to long-term musical fulfillment. Our mission is to provide a portal through which you will deepen your connection with the "feeling" of making music.

While in Clarksdale, and at the Shack Up Inn, you will be present at ground zero geographically speaking of where the Blues was born. The spirit of the Blues is alive and well in Clarksdale and palpable in the thick Delta air. The Shack Up Inn was once a part of the greater Hopson plantation. Pinetop Perkins repaired tractors in the main room of what is now "Bill's House" on the Shack Up grounds. We're pretty sure that the richness of that spirit will be felt by all. Try sitting out on the porch of your shack on a still night, listening to the chirping of the cicadas, and staring out over the open cotton fields. Listen carefully, the mojo is in the air… Just be careful about entering into any negotiations…