Let it be known that I’m beyond obsessed with the Black Keys. Yeah, and so is everyone else…Why am I writing about them?
I remember when LA caught the bug when they were the darling of kcrw and I picked up their cover issue of LA weekly. This was a while ago and I can’t remember the year but it was in 2006 that my brother and I made our own music video to their song “Breaks”. These two men, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have brought blues music to the forefront of the industry and many are starting to follow suit.
Let it also be known I’m an avid blues fan and I’ve been singing blues in clubs since the age of 13. At a young age I discovered the likes of Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thorton, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson and BB King to name a few. It all started when my Dad took me to the Long Beach Blues festival to see Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker (so happy to have seen him before he died). I was enamored with the grit of the guitars, the honesty, the rawness, the sexual innuendos and the history that’s painted in the tones and inflections.
Blues music is the root of American music. Most people that are listening pop, hip-hop and even classic rock, probably don’t know that a lot of it stems from the blues. My relationship with this music goes far beyond being a fan. As a young artist trying to “make it” in the business I was told by many suits that I don’t have a future in music playing “blues”. I used to fight it and say that it doesn’t matter what I look like, how old I am and where I come from, I can play the blues. I was offered many deals but on account that I change my image and genre of music. This was a time when the bubblegum pop Britney’s and Timberlake’s were in their prime. Industry peeps would tell me to get that flat mid riff and sing about boys…totally abandoning all that I believed in…so I passed on many opportunities. I guess I’m a loyalist.
But today is a different story and I believe The Black Keys are a huge part of the shift in the market. The Black Keys borrow heavily from blues legend Junior Kimbrough. Dan Auerbach is extremely authentic to the artform but executes his songwriting and production in a way where blues is still innovative. Now, they are one of the top licensed bands out there. Their last album “Brothers” received a Grammy for best alternative album. Their latest work “El Camino” is another masterpiece.
What’s important is that The Black Keys have changed the way blues is represented in the market, Hopefully, the young fans will trace back the lineage of music of which their sound was born. There’s artists like Gary Clark Jr., Rival Sons and even Carney.
This movement wasn’t intended. The Black Keys were playing music that inspired them and they didn’t/haven’t stopped. They were honest and raw just as the blues was meant to be played. They paid respect to the ones that came before without disrespecting its integrity.
The blues is not music for the sad and depressed. It’s the music of those that have loved and lost and survived. It’s the music of that heals. It moves you. It’s as raw as can get. It’s the music of a leathered soul that finds salvation in its sweet notes. This is the music that we need. This is the real stuff. Below are some blues clips from present to past for you to enjoy:
Below enjoy The Black Keys latest single "Lonely Boy" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_426RiwST8
Gary Clark jr. "Bright Lights" live http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_ZeDn-hHGE
Buddy Guy "First Time I Met the Blues" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_rd8y8A2oE