The process by which we keep re-discovering and even re-defining the bands and the music of the past has always been an intriguing one to me, as it’s really a big part of how we all learn in the first place. Back in my early days of discovering the Blues, it became imperative to me to keep on delving deeper and deeper, back into the earliest vaults of Blues music and Blues artists until I felt I had the whole picture in front of me. After all, it basically took bands like The Beatles and The Stones to actually shine a spotlight on artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Howlin’ Wolf for example, so we could even remember who these greats were; these people who only a few short years earlier had rocked the world with their music, and who now were largely forgotten by Americans.
It’s very important to constantly apply this to what you are learning as well as creating, because these musicians will always serve to give you a firm foundation upon which to work. After all, you could literally teach somebody all of music from investigating the Beatle’s catalog, and the gems and musical magic it contains! There are those who literally think the Blues began with Led Zeppelin, and sorry to say, they’re terribly misguided, but still, it’s a start, and maybe if they truly “re-discover” Led Zeppelin, they just may find that they also will want to dig deeper into the Blues, just as folks like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did!
To be a musician is also to be a musicologist and it is so important to know just what is really “behind” the music you are falling in love with. Too many people only look into the shallows to find what they think they need, and hence end up with very little in the way of depth or roots to their playing. A group, who is collectively having a musical learning experience, should also try to find the depth in those bands that they most admire. I got all kinds of ideas and inspiration from many bands of the ‘60s, such as The Beatles, Byrds, Stones, Spoonful and more, and as I learned from them, I found myself falling in love with their influences, all from the early Blues, Country and Rockabilly genres. It was such an eye-opener, as each new band or solo artist seemed to open up new ideas for me. Butterfield led to B.B., B.B. led to Robert Johnson and Son House; while The Lovin’ Spoonful led to Merle Travis, which led to The Delmore Brothers, which led to Jimmie Rodgers! It’s a never-ending chain of music that connects us all, so be sure to always dig as deep as you can into the roots you need, and never hesitate to take a new and fresh look at a band or artist you may have once loved, but need to take a look at again!!