As another Colorado Blues Society’s (CBS) International Blues Challenge (IBC) preliminary round comes and goes leaving us in its wake it’s time to reflect. I want to say congratulations to the bands that made it to the finals. All of the bands that played that day were top notch. As ThreeShots puts another IBC to rest we can’t help but look back at this and previous years with a slightly precarious, frustrating and confusing expression. (I have no idea what that would actually look like)
ThreeShots is a blues band, period.
Do we play the same ol’ canned blues that came about 60 years ago? Nope. That doesn’t mean we are not blues. The genre that is blues is massive, due largely to that fact that blues has influenced so many genres. Just like all forms of music though blues has evolved and grown over the years.
Without getting too technical blues is traditionally made up a 12 bar progression based off of the I, IV, and V chords, utilizing the blue notes (flatted 3rd and 7th notes), paired with a walking bassline and call and response lyrics.
This is where it started; it has evolved into so much more than that. Elvis (rock and roll), Muddy Waters (Chicago blues), Robert Johnson (delta blues), T-Bone Walker (jump blues), John Lee Hooker (boogie-woogie blues), Stevie Ray Vaughan (Texas blues), Cream, Lonnie Mack (Rock-blues) just to name a few, all of these and many more subgenres are notably different but they are all blues.
ThreeShots is no different, we have taken the music beyond where we found it and still hold to the conventions that would, to the discerning ear, still classify us as blues. Our selection of cover songs and originals bounce in and out of several sub genres all of which fall under blues.
Some like Chicago blues, some like Texas blues, Swamp blues, or maybe jump blues. There are so many different subgenres of blues it is hard to count. ThreeShots falls well within the definitions of electric blues, blues-rock, and Roadhouse R&B.
Yet without fail as if looking for a reason to vote us down, we get ‘feed back’ stating that we are not a blues band. So the musician in me can’t help but look to the theory behind what makes blues definitively blues. Traditionally, as I mentioned above most blues consist of a I, IV, V progression, usually in a 12 bar format. Rhythmically blues is clichély a shuffle and lyrically it is standard to have a call and response sort of a thing. I would argue that if you have a song that consists of all of these elements you would be hard pressed not to have a blues song on your hands. With that being said, it only makes sense to expand the genre and not just play the same ol’ things that we have heard for the last 60 years. ThreeShots has done our part to expand the genre. Several other notable bands have done the same. I really do believe that aside from their noted fame that Hamilton Loomis and Samatha Fish would be bitch slapped and told they aren’t blues based off of what I have seen year after year. Yet they are at the forefront of the genre respectively. Yes they both play standard/traditional blues from time to time but for the most part they are by no means conventional blues.
Some like us, love us, and some can’t stand us. That doesn’t change what we are: good. This year we had a ballot of straight 6s. This year was also hands down the tightest performance in all aspects that our show has been. While in the past I remember seeing straight 10’s (Thanks Dan King). Without fail we get judges at this competition who from their position of superior knowledge, or so I am assuming this is why they were made judges. Surely they aren’t just blues enthusiasts, or weekend players but I could be wrong. This judging pool of blues aficionados can’t help but think we are not a blues band and find that it is their duty to inform us that we are actually a rock and roll band. Even if that were the case (which it is not) and we were to lose points in the ‘blues content’ section, surely the instrumental, vocal talent, stage presence, and originality section should grant us enough points to carry us forward.
Also, if I am correct all the judges ballots are used to figure out the winner, which means if one judge doesn’t like your act, you are out of the competition. It would seem to me that the lowest and the highest scores should be tossed out and the remaining scores be averaged. This would remove positive and negative outliers.