The Economic Meltdown Blues

Blues and Jazz at Artprize festival

“When you ain’t got no money, you got the blues.
When you ain’t got no money to pay the rent, you still got the blues.
When you ain’t got no money to pay the rent or buy food,
you damn sure got the blues.”
Howlin’ Wolf, 1966

Though Howlin’ Wolf spoke these words forty-four years ago, they are just as meaningful today. We’re living in arduous times. Millions of decent folks have lost their jobs, their homes and their dignity. America has a severe case of “The Economic Meltdown Blues.”

I created a blues performance because I believe in the healing power of blues music. Though often stories of suffering and survival, I believe that blues music is very therapeutic, reaching deep into our soul.

I’m constantly challenged by the notion of how to capture the emotion of a song in a specific moment in time. How can you paint what is heard and not seen? What does the sound of a performance look like? What colors best reflect the mood of a particular tune? These are questions I continue to examine in my work while exploring the fluid relationship between music and images.

I believe there is a parallel between songwriting and creating a painting. A song begins with a backbeat. I begin my paintings with bold strokes-- which, like a backbeat create structure. A song is made up of multiple tracks layered together. I do the same by layering many different textures, colors and shapes to express certain notes that I’m hearing. For example, a delicate light sound might be a pastel color painted with a feathery texture. Vocals on the other hand, which are always ‘out in front’ in a song might be stronger, more passionate colors taking on bolder forms.

What is it about blues music that strikes such an emotional chord in people no matter what their ethnic or cultural backgrounds? Maybe its because the blues are really about our learning how to muddle through life’s messy problems-- which we all somehow manage to survive.

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!

  • Email E-mail
  • Share Share
  • Rss RSS
  • Report Report

Community Authors

Karen Hollowell