Key Points:

Hollie Smith

What does blues music mean these days?

I don't think the meaning of the blues ever changes, that's the beauty of it. The blues don't need to be sad necessarily but ideally are based on emotion more than anything else. They stay relevant regardless of age or society.

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What do the blues mean to you and how does this come through in your music?

I'm not sure they comes through in my music stylistically in a typical way but, again, I think emotion is what drives my songs and their meanings. I think that's how being brought up on blues has influenced me.

When did you first hear blues music and what impression did it make?

My first true love was James Brown's

This Is A Man's World

when I was six, it was a live concert and this big, black soul chick sung a solo. I wanted to be just like her, so I listened only to soul, blues and jazz from then on. I figured out I was never gonna be black shortly after ... one out of three ain't bad.

Little Bushman: Joe Callwood

(bass, violin, cello, double bass ... )

What does blues music mean these days?

In a way, the blues have become a part of the post-modern musical mish-mash. Rock 'n' roll got hold of the basic 12-bar form and commercialised it, the psychedelic bands of the 60s and 70s used elements of it or directly copied songs and did their own amplified thing with it.

The blues found their way to Jamaica via American records and got incorporated into reggae, even ended up influencing African musicians like Ali Farka Toure. And of course the blues have always been a huge part of the jazz language.

But at the same time they are kept going strong in a more purist form as well. I guess blues music means lots of things to the different people and cultures that it's influenced. But at its heart I think is defiant joy in the face of adversity.

What does blues music mean to you and how does this come through in your music?

The blues to me is a language. In a way it's a simple language, but to speak it isn't simple. The subtleties of rhythm and pitch, how they're both pushed and pulled, is where the complexity lies.

In those subtleties is where the emotional content often lies. Little Bushman have a lot of blues coming through in our music. We all spend time listening to and studying blues music. We never set out to consciously write or copy a blues song, but it finds its way into the music from our listening.

When did you first hear the blues and what impression did it make?

The first blues I heard was probably Led Zeppelin doing covers of songs like

I Can't Quit You Baby

and

Gallows Pole

. It wasn't until years later that I heard Otis Rush singing

I Can't Quit You Baby

, which completely blew me away, particularly the power of his voice in the introduction. One of the first real blues records I heard as a kid was John Lee Hooker's

You're Leaving Me Baby

which my parents had on vinyl. This record was full of stripped-back and haunting one-chord ballads which stayed with me for a long time afterward.

Paul Ubana Jones

What do the blues mean to you and how does this come through in your music?

The blues is one of the many colours for both light and shade on this canvas we call life. I seek my emotional colours and when I have the ones I need then I start to put them to rhythm and words, chords and melodies.

What does blues music mean these days?

The blues means these days: A window into the hearts of how you are inside. It's what is truly inside and what is going on outside.

When did you first hear the blues and what impression did it make?

I first met the blues in the corridors of a hospital in London. I was near death and, being just a child of 8 years of age, I felt that I would never see my family again. I cried myself to sleep many a night and feared the "blanket of the night". In my room there was a little radio and it was there that I heard Ray Charles'

Crying Time

, a story only for me. He pierced my soul. I was there for one whole year. I survived.

The Checks: Sven Pettersen

(guitar)

What does blues music mean these days?

I don't think it means anything or ever has. It is simply the truth of feeling, so it means lots of different things to different people depending on what they feel from it. So I don't think its meaning has changed. It isn't this way or that, it just is.

What do the blues mean to you and how does this come through in your music?

Blues means a great deal to me as it has always been the music that I wanted to make myself. While I like playing all sorts of music I always somehow seem to find myself coming back to blues. To play blues is a very delicate thing, because there is no hiding allowed and no faking and often the space inside it is just as moving as the noises. I think we show our blues stripes in that we strive to make our music very emotive.

When did you first hear the blues and what impression did it make?

I can't remember when I first heard blues music, but I remember listening to Dad's Fleetwood Mac records on Saturday mornings since I was 5. I think it kind of stuck in my brain immediately and when it came to me picking up the guitar, the notes that always sounded cool to me were the blue ones and still do. So the impression it has made is solid and permanent.

Midge Marsden

What does blues music mean these days?

The blues of today is performed all over the world and has influenced many music idioms, from rock, country, jazz and even rap. It's more of an expression and a love of a music form which grew out of spirituals, worksongs, and field hollers of Afro-American musicians over 100 years ago. I think blues has lost its colour.

What do the blues mean to you and how does this come through in your music?

To me, performing rhythm and blues is my way of paying homage and tribute to a simple 12-bar music tradition and the artists who created some of the most compelling, powerful music ever recorded. I am white so I can't claim that it is a state of mind, it's a feeling and entertainment.

When did you first hear the blues and what impression did it make?

I was first introduced to blues in the early 60s and have devoted most of my life to learning its rich history, performing and teaching it. Blues was the first modern music and to me the finest examples are the recordings of the 30s rural/country blues and the post-war Chicago electric blues.

LOWDOWN

What:

The Coromandel Peninsula Blues and Roots Music Festival

Line-up:

Buddy Guy, KT Tunstall, Keb Mo, Wilco, Ian Brown, Xavier Rudd, Newton Faulkner, Sugarland, Midge Marsden, Hollie Smith, Herbs, Paul Ubana Jones, Pluto, Little Bushman, Darcy Perry, Kokomo, Twinset and The Checks.

Where & when:

Dakota Fields, Whitianga, Saturday March 22. Gates open midday.

Tickets:

$108 from ticketek.co.nz and