Simmertime Blues

"...kam der Opener von der Anthony Kane Blues Band, eine sehr bekannte Gruppe aus NYC, mit traditionellem Blues," the German magazine BLUES LIFE wrote of the group (gruppe) scheduled to keep things warm at Tinker Street Cafe after the heat wave. It's a little puzzling why they were called clairvoyants in the articleªwhich went on to introduce them "und den Musikern Anthony Kane, vcl, hca; Dariush Reza, gtr; Craig Costa, B-gtr; und Danny Sperduto, dms."-but I have to confess that an early fear of mixed declension, inflected indefinites and past perfect modal subjectives has kept my German a little rough.

The band was opening act on this occasion for bluesman Son Thomas, an opportunity to rub elbows of experience with an old illuminary of the form. According to bandleader Anthony Kane, the above idiomized group, who will be appearing with him at the Tinker on the 17th, are blues-devotees who play almost nothing but and who have played with him for "seven or eight years."

For Kane himself the gig will be a "homecoming" which has him more than a little excited. It's been 15 years since he played in Woodstock.

The NYC-born Kane moved to Woodstock with his family in the summer of '69 and formed the Kane Bros. Band when he was around 17 and already had a couple of years of blues harp experience under his belt. The group worked regularly in the area at nitespots like the Joyous Lake, Expresso and many others, opening shows at The Last Chance in Poughkeepsie for legendary acts like Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and James Cotton until around 1977 when Tony moved closer to his favorite blues flavors in Chicago and worked on his guitar riffs.

Kane gravitated naturally to the Chicago style of blues, which often features harmonica and where Little Walter was probably first to electrify one.

"It's the roots of American popular music, so many rock players are always acknowledging these sources," Kane says of Chicago blues, which he sees as currently underrepresented in the NY scene. "It's earthy, urgent and raw rather than slick and polished. Most NY blues is an eclectic blend of r&b, funk- there's an almost rock mix to their sound..There's some excellent players of the Chicago sound here but they don't seem to play much 'in' NY."

The shadings and flattening of notes typical of blues; the tonic, subdominant and dominant 3-chord mesh with flattened thirds and dominant sevenths; the 12-bar, 3-line pattern with innumerable variants in 8, 10, 14, 16 bar or other changes, took on local character early in its history. When the folk blues of the rural South melded into the "juke bands" of Memphis or the "spasm bands" of New Orleans which contributed to the foundations of early jazz and drifted up to the urban North before and after Chicago's "boogie-woogie" era of the '20's, countless stylists began to emerge. Some of the gramophone blues stars, like Big Bill Broonzy and Bumble Bee Slim, were well-recorded; others like Ramblin' Thomas, Pigmeat Pete & Catjuice Charlie or Speck Pertrum left more in the way ofÜjÜ colorful [Gary, the preceeding text appears to be all garbled.] names than familiar tunes; still others, like Hammie Nix and Baby Doo, are known only to serious students of the form.

The big band blues shouters of Kansas City seem to have added as much to the Chicago sound as any "country" or "classic blues" elements but perhaps its defining licks came in the 40s and 50s when amplification took hold and gave us artists like Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and the others who most commonly exemplify the genre. These are the wellsprings of the Anthony Kane Bluesband.

Kane, who also works with an importer of musical CDs, feels that blues has, in the last 5 years, finally begun to shuck its Dangerfield image.

"Suddenly there's a lot of independent labels putting out blues," Kane observed, adding that the form used to be "so underdog that- if a record store had a blues section at all, it was a little bin in a corner. Now, guys like John Lee Hooker are on tv and in magazines, there are boxed sets of Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon. This was unthinkable 5 or 6 years ago...and it's American companies! America is finally waking up to its own indigenous music- you don't have to go through Japan or France anymore if you want to buy some old Chicago blues stuff!"

Or Germany, we might add, on our own personally shakey ground. So, as BLUES LIFE said "Wenn ihre eine starke junge Bluesband má”ágt, [here is another, probably German characters?]? die die Klassiker unserer Blues-Meister spielen kann, dann ist The Anthony Kane Blues Band mit Sicherheit eine, die ihr euch anhá”áren solit." Or, dauntless into der grammatically Germanic shadows of idiomatic particles, independent possessives and interrogative pronouns go we: 'When the young intensity of this bluesband plays classics in the canal of security, their yourselves listen to alone..'..or something like that. Well, I might have had a tighter translation of a foreign press review of these guys but, as far as I can tell, they've never been reviewed in Latin.

-Irv Yarg