In Santa Clarita, the blues are alive and well

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – You don’t have to shoot a man in Memphis just to watch him die to appreciate a good blues lick. It helps if you can put that soulful scenario to music, though, and if you do, John Parker invites you to jam. As president of the Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society, he and about 125 other close friends are dedicated to keeping the genre alive and well. “There was a period when it almost fell off the map, but there’s been a lot of interest lately,” Parker said. “I think it’s people from 45 to 60 who are really getting into this.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.The group organized in 2003 and maintains a full schedule of concerts and laid-back jam sessions. They’ve even sent bands to the International Blues Competition in Memphis and came out with second-place winners in 2005 in Michael John and The Bottom Line. Their soul is in the community, where members participate in fundraisers for local charities. The only time they raise money for themselves is to help the competing bands go to Memphis. “We’re sending a band and a solo/duo group, so we try to cover the airfare and some of the hotel,” Parker said. “Most societies don’t give their musicians anything and the bands can’t afford this kind of trip.” Parker said that Santa Clarita has “a great gene pool” for blues players. “I run into guys who played with people like Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker at the grocery store,” Parker said. “You’d be surprised.” He’s been playing guitar since he was 9, borrowing a neighbor’s instrument so often that they finally told him to keep it. Along with playing himself, he quickly rattles off a schedule of blues music that covers nearly every night of the week. The group plays regularly at local establishments such as the Londoner, All Corked Up winery in Canyon Country on Tuesdays, Primo Pizza in Saugus Wednesdays and some Thursdays, the Roast House on Thursdays and Rendezvous in Newhall on Sundays. Parker has also made the blues part of a cause near to his heart. A cancer survivor himself, he organized the first ever SCV Blues Festival for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, featuring several member bands and high school blues/jazz combos. It was such a hit, they were asked to do a two-hour jam session the following month at Burbank’s Relay for Life. His personal band, Forced Call, plays gigs all over Southern California. He’s retired from the film industry, where he used to be a prop master. The blues that keep the hound dogs howling also keep the wolf away from the door. Howard “Bluesdaddy” Fairchild has been with his band nine years. He jotted down his thoughts on the blues in an e-mail: “Almost everyone loves the blues, though many don’t realize this quintessential fact,” he wrote. “Sooner or later, Valley kids raised on FM ’70s, ’80s and ’90s rock will step into a pub where a three-piece band is smokin’ 12-bar blues and they will gain a new purpose in life. “Love, loyalty, sex, money, jealousy, broken hearted, drinkin’, smokin’, down on my luck, stuck with this ole dog again … Oh, the stinging note of a high E string on a Stratocaster, Robert Johnson’s tortured acoustic, Muddy Waters’ silk suits and mojo, Clapton’s `From the Cradle,’ Tommy Castro’s soul-infused magic, makes me wanna stop writin’ this, wipe the tears from my eyes and play. “The blues is all emotion. It’s the gateway to jazz. It lacks sophistication because it doesn’t need it. It requires honesty and expects devotion. It don’t make no promises, ’cause life don’t. If you listen to the blues, you will hear your story.” Proving you don’t have to be a boomer or more to appreciate the blues, teen musicians Charlie Tichenor and Chris Pucher are proof that the genre will live on. Tichenor has played at B.B. King’s Blues Club and jams regularly with blues legend Nat Dove. Pucher is currently a solo act looking for a band, but Parker calls him a “little Peter Frampton.” “This kid is amazing,” he said. “Blues come easy to me,” said the 16-year-old Hart High junior. “I heard Jeff Jensen (another local Blues Society member band) play and I was just in awe. I’m not much on the new music scene, but I’d love playing the blues.” Pucher and Parker are teaming to present a program started by the national Blues Foundation called “Blues in the Schools.” They’re looking for musicians to volunteer to help promote the program, which will send teachers and mentors into the schools to help music departments. “We will teach the history of the blues, familiarize the students with famous blues musicians, different styles of blues and how to write, sing and perform the blues,” Parker said. Anyone interested in sponsoring the Blues in the Schools program is asked to call (661) 296-4618 or send an e-mail to [email protected] In the meantime, the club is winnowing its choices for bands to send to Memphis, holding semifinals at The Londoner in Canyon Country for bands on Sept. 22 and 23 and for solo/duo acts on Sept. 24. Best band finals will be held at Cozy’s in Sherman Oaks on Oct. 14. For information on the SCV Blues Society, log on to their Web site at [email protected] (661) 257-5252160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img