The blues is about taking an instrument and playing it in some new, strange way that still sounds good.
It’s about expressing a feeling and sending it out into the crowd.
“Anybody playing music, if you ain’t got no blues in your music, then you ain’t got no music at all.”
Those are the words of Terry “Harmonica” Bean, and he knows a thing or two about the blues.
Born to a large family in Mississippi hill country (18 brothers and six sisters) where the blues grew up, Bean’s grandfather played the blues, as did his father, performing with B.B. King, neighbours and many others.
“I got the blues all over, man,” said Bean.
A harmonica player, singer and guitarist, Bean is headed to Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge to perform on Monday, July 16 for his first trip to Vancouver Island.
Performing solo, he’ll be bringing his style of Mississippi blues, influenced by the blues men he grew up listening to in north-east Mississippi in Pontotoc.
“Everybody around Mississippi, every town, the delta, north-east Mississippi, every town, every community had blues men. They was everywhere back then,” said Bean.
While much of the blues played nowadays Bean would classify as Chicago blues (where the blues picked up electric guitars and where blues was popularized across the U.S.), Bean said he brings Mississippi blues around the world to show “a different style of blues.”
Talking about the essence of the genre, Bean said African slaves created a whole new way to play common instruments: guitars, harmonicas and pianos.
“They played the instruments in a strange way that nobody, that white people didn’t understand,” said Bean.
“When you can take an instrument and play it… you’re playing it, but it’s not the way it’s supposed to be played, but make it sound good and make a feeling from it… That’s a spiritual thing to do that, man. It’s power.”
But blues isn’t the ability to play an instrument, he said.
“Everybody has the blues… but nobody expressed the blues like the black people did.”
While Bean describes the blues as a serious sort of music, it’s not exclusively about being sad or depressed or about going through hard times.
Blues is whatever feeling you’ve got, and expressing it, he said.
“You’re expressing this, this feeling that you have in you, and putting it out there on that instrument there. And the way you’re playing it, can’t nobody do it like that.”
For his Ground Zero performance, Bean said he’ll be performing solo at least to start, but said he understands there will be some musicians around to take part later on.
“We’re going to have some fun.”
Bean performs at Ground Zero Lounge (464 Island Hwy. East, unit 8) on July 16 with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. To purchase, and for more info, go to www.gzalounge.com/upcoming-concerts.html.