Jeff Cravetz, Blues Guitar Player

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Jeff Cravetz, Music
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Why I Love The Blues

By Jeff Cravetz

I was born at about the same time as Rock'n'Roll in the middle of the 1950s. Some of those early rock tunes were nothing more than straight twelve bar blues progressions, good old one, four and five chords. Listen to Elvis doing "Hound Dog", for example, or Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good".

At the time I had no idea that this music derived from African rhythms and black American's ordeals. All I knew was that the beat moved me, and the chord changes were easy enough for me to learn, and that was good enough. I was hooked on blues before I ever knew it was blues.

Later in life, at the ripe old age of thirteen, I was playing in a neighborhood blues band dubbed "A Lighter Shade Of Blue". "Lighter" really meant "whiter" in our case. At least we were smart enough by then to make fun of ourselves. The band had three guitarists, which led me to become a bass player. It was an easy decision. I was the only kid in the band whose parents were willing to buy a bass and an amp.

Learning the bass patterns from the blues tunes we were covering is what gave me the foundation for learning to play lead guitar. Fast forward through high school, college, marriage, kids and a job. Working full time in retail music stores had left me little time for a band, and I really needed to keep playing somehow.

A friend invited me to a "Blues Jam" he was hosting once a week in a local bar/restaurant. I showed up to find a room full of familiar faces, friends, customers and exbandmates. Ahh, a comfort zone in this mad, mad world.

The Blues Jam worked because musically, everyone knew where we were going without a whole lot of discussion. Pick a key, start on the five chord, and GO! It turned out to be a great way to keep my chops up while between bands. The revolving line-up of players was always more a benefit than a challenge. Beginners and professionals on stage together, no superstars, no slackers…how much better does it get than that?

Thank you, Blues, for a lifetime of memories punctuated by the music of Charlie Musselwhite, Albert King, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, Robert Cray and countless others. Who could ask for more?

Read more Blues Heroes Stories
from the bookTouched By the Blues

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