Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Taxi Blues

As much as driving down the road, taxi is listening to the radio, often finding myself searching for something decent to hear while my choices remain confined to AM and FM bands, YC 1092 only having an old fashioned audio system which oft translates into tuning solely into the sound of my tires and nothing else.  Often the choice is 98.1 King FM, the local classical station transmitting "real music" when little else at the moment meets that definition, "junk music" and "junk conversation" dominating the musical and radio sphere.

If you ever wonder why people vote for total fools, quit wondering once you have listened to what is popular amongst the listening public, folks clearly choosing the worst over the best except perhaps what happened yesterday in the state of Alabama when voters, by a mere 20,000 vote margin, choose Doug Jones over Roy Moore for the US Senate.  I guess you never know but it appears not-so-idle-rumors about wandering around shopping malls bit him in the electoral butt though I am sure Moore isn't too disheartened given that he knows it was "God's will" that he lost the election, his God in someway having other plans for the pious Moore.

But getting back to taxi and radio, two local Seattle blues shows often save my day, especially Johnny Horn's "Preachin' The Blues" program broadcast over KEXP 90.3 FM each Sunday morning 9:00 AM to Noon; and secondarily, Saturday and Sunday nights, on KNKX (old KPLU) 88.5 FM, at  6:00 PM to Midnight, there is John Kessler's "All Blues" and his 8:00 PM feature, The Blue's Time Machine, spotlighting blues standards over the course of musical time.  I favor one over the other due to Horn's emphasis on more foundational artists while Kessler often spins more contemporary songs but thankfully he is a big Muddy Waters fan so we get to hear a lot of Muddy's Mississippi-transferred-to- Chicago electric blues.  What Horn does is play forgotten songs that should instead be forever remembered and played everyday upon every radio station on our planet, his song selections  that good, every Sunday "just blowing me away!"  again and again.

My true introduction to the blues began in the summer of 1970 when I was sixteen and living on a commune in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.  My friends there, all older, had a bunch of great records including Mississippi Fred McDowell's "I Do Not Play No Rock "n" Roll."  I can't recommend that higher, with Fred McDowell, in about a ten minute long monologue, telling you "all about it!"   I also was introduced to Muddy Waters through his "Electric Mud," a record remaining a long favorite, marveling at the both the playing and musical direction, simultaneously embracing psychedelia and the blues.

If you like blues-oriented rock and roll, then the late 1960s, early 1970s was the time to be listening to the radio, when bands like Savoy Brown, Aum, Canned Heat, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Paul  Butterfield, Johnny Winter, Cactus, Chicken Shack, Animals and the first version of Fleetwood Mac featuring Peter Green filled both the AM and FM airwaves; and who can forget---because I can't--- Jeff Beck's cover of Howlin' Wolf's "I Ain't Superstitious" on Beck's "Truth" album, a record featuring Rod Stewart on vocals.  Those were the days, as Cream rang out, those were the days to be listening to the radio!

Amazing music, and to my listening ear, never surpassed by any other era in rock, the closest I think we will ever get to Mozart and Beethoven in the popular genre though bands like Curved Air, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The New York Rock & Roll Ensemble certainly made a real effort toward combining classical and rock. No, ELO doesn't make the cut!  Sorry.

Someone you might enjoy listening to is New Orleans cabbie and blues guitarist Mem Shannon, his 1995 release "A Cab Driver's Blues" and the cut, "Taxicab Driver," telling you clearly why he and I and all our taxi brothers and sisters have the taxicab blues.  It's real, people, it's real!  Listen to the music! and swing down the beckoning roadway, be it Highway 61, Interstate 5 or  "you are just getting your kicks"  on Route 66!"  Turn on that ignition, and go!


  1. thank you Joe. i always appreciate your high life-studied discretionary connoisseur comments on music. you make them too seldom for me. each time i hear one, including this, i learn something totally new to me about you. here again you and i are the same. both preferring blues to all. thank you brother twin

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