I am so excited about attending Saturday night’s Chanute Blues Blast that it has inspired me to try my hand at writing the lyrics of a locally-relevant blues song. 

“They haven’t mowed the golf course, so I couldn’t find my ball.

And I had to drive on streets that haven’t been swept at all.

My water and gas bill’s higher, but the city still has no loot.

I got the blues, I got the blues from the people who run Chanute.”

Before I moved to Chanute, it was difficult for me to imagine that this city was capable of hosting an annual event dedicated to blues music. Chanute seemed so nice and idyllic when I first moved in, free of traffic and major crime, full of people who know and support each other. I reasoned that any town this nice and friendly had no business celebrating the blues. 

I was born in Memphis, a city that knows something about the blues. That is where the blues was basically created and perfected, to help black people reflect their outlook on the hardship of their lives. They correctly felt like they were getting a raw deal in a lot of ways, and came up with an artistic way to express and share that with world. So I grew up steeped in the blues and the rock and roll that was inspired by it, and hearing these kinds of music done well comforts me and reminds me of a place where I very much feel at home. 

While most people in Chanute might not have experienced the kind of historical oppression that leads to really good art, enjoying the blues is mainly about an attitude and a way of looking at life. This can be appreciated no matter what color skin someone happens to have or where they were born. We all experience bad days at work, problems in dealing with our significant others, and times where we’re feeling hopeless and desperate. The blues illustrates these, sets them to music, and shows us that we’re not alone in a way that ultimately comforts and soothes. A good blues tune can come in handy during depressing times like going through a break-up, grieving a death, or seeing the results of a local election. Which brings me back to this blues song I’ve been working on … 

“I tried to have a Skype session, with a woman I wanted to know.

But I couldn’t hear what she was saying, the Internet was so slow.

There was a plan to speed it up, but that was given the boot,

I got the blues, I got the blues from the people who run Chanute.”

Attending the Blues Blast at the local Martin Johnson Airport last year turned me into a big-time believer in this event. The hangar at the airport proved to be a uniquely ideal setting for a concert of this type, attendants were clearly grateful for the chance to see quality out-of-town musical acts play here in Chanute, and the bands and musicians were absolutely top-notch. It offered a rare opportunity to have quality “city” musicians play a big venue in Chanute. I am sure the same will be true at this year’s event, which features three female-led acts. One of them – Katy Guillen and the Girls – played at this event last year, and pretty much stole the show. Rachelle Coba from Wichita and Danielle Nicole Band (formerly of Trampled Under Foot) out of KC will round out the night. As someone who has respect for any woman who can hold her own in a male-dominated field, I am looking forward to seeing what these ladies can do this year. 

In the future, I would like to see a few older, more-traditional blues acts who could demonstrate the roots of this music to Chanute residents. Of course, there probably aren’t a lot of those in the area that event organizers could afford to bring in, unless a bunch of people come out and enjoy this opportunity that few small towns ever get. 

With the way things are going in this city right now, presenting an annual blues-based event in this area seems to be appropriate. With the antics of some local politicians, it may become more and more common for residents to be singing the blues.

“There used to be a bar downtown where I could do a shot,

The city wants to tear it down, another vacant lot,

A place to park your car Downtown, but no one gives a hoot,

I got the blues, I got the blues from the people who run Chanute.” 

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, Blues Blast tailgating invitations, or requests to have me write quality blues lyrics for your band to brian@chanute.com


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