Friday, September 14, 2012
Denton Blues Festival is Saturday and Sunday
Eleven artists will perform.
Posted by Flickr user halseike
DENTON Wide-eyed and fresh-faced, three lanky teenagers bend strings and croon about life’s hardships while mixing basic blues chords with punk rock and hip hop influences.
Blue Jay Soul, a trio of 18-year-old recent high school graduates, is gaining traction in the local music scene.
With more than 1,100 likes on their Facebook page and past shows at the House of Blues in Dallas, the up-and-coming blues group was recently invited to play Denton’s annual blues festival.
Now in its 14th year, the Denton Blues Festival, produced by the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce, brings local and big-name blues artists to the stage every third weekend in September.
The free event will take place at Quakertown Park on Saturday and Sunday. Shows begin at noon each day.
“Blues is not just for adults,” said Kerry Goree, Denton Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman. “This event encompasses different cultures, and blues is not just black music. It’s not just for old people. It brings together all nationalities and people, because at sometime in somebody’s life, they’ve experienced the blues.”
There will be two different stages and 11 artists performing at this year’s festival. One stage will include major headliners and blues legends, while the other will promote rising artists, community groups and mixed-genre music.
“I know the festival will help us,” said Marcus Seaton, Blue Jay Soul guitarist and vocalist. “It puts us in a position we’ve never been in before, and people of significance will be there. It’s the premiere place to be seen.”
The decision to host a blues festival was about more than bringing recognition to local musicians, Goree said.
When the festival began, the Chamber of Commerce saw a need to diversify the city’s social calendar by adding a fall music event. They hoped that it would bring in more revenue and start a new trend.
“We want Denton to not just be known for arts and jazz,” Goree said. “Blues is one of the true American music genres, and we want to keep blues alive. There also weren’t many cities doing blues festivals, and we saw an opportunity to do something to draw in the whole community.”
Keeping the blues alive and delivering those emotions in a modern way is important to Blue Jay Soul, who has only been an official band for 10 months.
Seaton began playing five years ago after connecting with the music his grandfather had always listened to.
“The chances of me growing up liking the blues without hearing it frequently is pretty small,” Seaton said. “But playing it is an outlet for anything on my mind. I don’t think about anything else. Music in general has been proven to have an effect on people’s minds, but I think blues is one of the most expressive forms.”
Seaton and bandmates drummer Kevin Rivera and bassist Michael Hatton began jamming together their junior year of high school. They started booking shows less than a year ago.
As a band, they hope to continue to play professionally and make a living creating music.
“We can be modern with what we play, and I think people can identify with us better,” Seaton said. “I have a definite respect for the headliners people come out to see, but the intensity will be higher among the up-and-comers because we need to step up.”
Historically, many modern genres of music originated in the African-American communities of the late 19th century and early 20th century when blues music was born, said blues enthusiast Mike Steinel, a UNT jazz studies professor.
This period helped inspire the big-band jazz music of the ’20s and artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan in the ’80s.
“Most American music has its origins in the African-American community,” Steinel said. “There is the racial component of an oppressed race, and it’s amazing. It’s a fascinating thing how all cultures assimilated the blues into their music. And any good jazz musician has to know the blues.”
Steinel has composed several blues pieces and studies it as a hobby. In an analogy comparing jazz and the blues, he refers to the blues as a tinged and scorched roux, the flour and butter mixture that holds gumbo together.
“Blues is tinged with a lot of feelings,” Steinel said. “Real blues is rough, and some people can’t handle that. At the same time, it’s challenging to play something fresh and new. People want you to sound like you know what you’re doing, but it has to sound personal.”
When all is said and done Goree hopes the weather is hot enough for people to drink and the music good enough for everyone to dance.
“You plan to go hear the blues,” Goree said. “We get some who are true blues connoisseurs who like a specific type, but we want people to think they got their money’s worth. And time is money. We try to get as many top names as possible so people can put on their bucket list to come to the Denton Blues Festival.”
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Daily
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