Is soul or funk blues?

What tunes really get you in the Blues Groooove

Postby justdance » Fri Apr 22, 2005 10:44 pm

I know everyone is tired of this subject but I did find 2 interesting passages in Francis Davis's book the history of the blues that speak to this subject.

pg. 226-7 "Soul overshadowed blues in the late 1960s, then merged with it into something called "deep" soul some twenty years later (Deep soul is a Southern-fried style of black pop understood by it's fans to be for adults, just as the blues has always been, bur also taken by many to be a last stand against teenage, ghettocentric rap.)"


pg.229 "In some ways, soul simply replaced the blues. Motown was black pop whose success could be attributed to a slickness blues listeners prided themselves on not needing. But soul as exemplified by Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and early James Brown was another story: pop more urgently contemporary than Motown, but as downhome as the blues in dialect and frame of reference. Maybe more downhome in a way, because it caught the echoes of Sunday morning as well as those of Saturday night."
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Postby shaugran » Sat Apr 23, 2005 6:25 am

Roy, you better not be this way when we're driving to and from MWLF. Reading this thread hurt. It reminded me of academics with dueling articles. You even nit picked over language.

I think it's real interesting finding out about those distinctions but let's have some perspective and keep it sounding like a conversation rather than looking to prove something right or wrong or this way or that way. The perspectives vary.
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Postby Nando » Sat Apr 23, 2005 7:20 am

justdance wrote:The reason I bring this is up is because I have heard DJ's play 60+ minutes of soul in a blues set and call it blues. Some songs are more heavily blues influenced then others. Some very little, but because it's soul no matter what, some people call it blues. As I said in my first thread I don't get it?


Wait a sec!!!

Is your issue whether soul is equivalent to blues, or is it whether a DJ who plays mainly soul in a blues dancing set considered a good DJ.

Cause there's a reason why you seem so adamant to defend your statement that soul does not equal blues, and why you seem to swipe anyone down who can't scientifically knock you from your position rather than just have a discussion.

My guess is something in those sets from those DJ's irked you. Whether they swung or not, whether they kept the floor full or not, you didn't appreciate their sets.

I'll say one thing - and I believe I've already stated it in the "dancers vs listeners" thread. Blues music and blues dancing are not synonymous. But I'll also say that some people may keep a blues floor full, but I won't agree with some of their repertoire

Now, if you want to talk about why DJs deviate from blues in a blues set, I'm all for it - but I'm not going go on some wild goose chase creating a thesis on how soul equals blues just cause somebody plays a little too much James Brown for you.
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Postby justdance » Sat Apr 23, 2005 4:28 pm

This is a subject that has been bothering me for a few years. I thought we could open a discussion on it here. I thought we did that. Some people are adament that soul=blues. Some do not think so. I knew this would be a hot topic. Actually I am now more open minded about it after this thread based on posts here. I just didn't get how people though soul artists who include performers like Michael Jackson and Prince is blues. (Don't get me wrong I love prince). And yes I was looking for a more academic explanaition because the debate has not been resolved without it so I thought maybe this approach would resolve the issue. There has been debates before on other forums in which slow music of any kind was good enough for a blues room and this upset some people who did not agree.

I've heard people on this forum who fall on the soul=blues side of the debate, complain about other (non-blues) slow music in blues rooms. I can specificlly remember a complaint about slow ballads being played too much and that was not blues and should not be played in blues rooms. I find it interesting that this individual finds soul is good for blues and slow ballads with a bluesy feel are not.

And by the way if anyone thinks I am the only one who was on the side that soul should not be played at swing or blues events you would be very wrong, there are many people out there who feel this way. Probably far more people who do not care or like it but there is a large enough group who feels this way.

For the record that past 4 years my feeling has been soul is not blues or jazz and has no place at a swing or a blues event except as a novelty song. After this debate I now feel that some soul is heavly blues influenced and can have a "downhome" feel and can lend itself well to blues dancing.

I hope some others who feel the same way I did read this thread I think some real interesing information came out. When it came to this subject i am not a lone wolf.
Last edited by justdance on Sat Apr 23, 2005 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby justdance » Sat Apr 23, 2005 4:49 pm

shaugran wrote:Roy, you better not be this way when we're driving to and from MWLF. Reading this thread hurt. It reminded me of academics with dueling articles. You even nit picked over language.

I think it's real interesting finding out about those distinctions but let's have some perspective and keep it sounding like a conversation rather than looking to prove something right or wrong or this way or that way. The perspectives vary.



Actually I think you are right. I opened up with a statement asking if someone could provide a reference to support blues=soul and I really thought there was something out there that I was missing. When no one could provide a reference but instead posted opinions my tone changed quickly. Which in turn changed others tone. And then it escalted with a few posts being very abrasvie which in turn got me more pumped up. I guess because it's a subject that has been bothering me for a long time. Like I said earlier after this debate it no longer bothers me. In other words I got it off my chest and appreciated others view points. Right now I can't think of anything else within the realm of blues or swing that bothers me.

Ironicly I think the swing toward more "real" blues is bothering others who would rather hear more groovy jazz stuff. I've heard the complaints mulitple times in the past year or so. It's not my arguement but its something that may come up in the very near future as someone's hot button.
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Postby Nando » Sat Apr 23, 2005 5:37 pm

Then again, I think it's a better argument to talk about aesthetics, particularly among DJs since it seems to be a little more of a DJ issue. Maybe in the DJ thread.

you provided a statement in the beginning and then acted like we had to knock some chip off your shoulder when we posted. Until your two last posts, you came across as some arrogant academic professor who was poo pooing a bunch of College freshman in their first homework assignment.

While it's good to do research and cite sources from time to time, you don't need to look up in an encyclopedia to determine if someone's set sucks or that it's not to your liking.

And who's to say that anyone who expressed an opinion that you knocked on doesn't also agree that 60+ minutes of soul music is off the mark at a blues room. Then again who's to say that someone can DJ an entire night with strictly blues music and it still be a sub-par set.

I haven't seen this as a hot topic in the past. At least not in the blues realm. Ruben was a big opponent against non-lindy hop music being played at lindy-hop dance, so keep in mind you may be taking a similar stance to him - only for blues dancing.
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Postby justdance » Sat Apr 23, 2005 6:00 pm

Nando wrote:

I haven't seen this as a hot topic in the past. At least not in the blues realm. Ruben was a big opponent against non-lindy hop music being played at lindy-hop dance, so keep in mind you may be taking a similar stance to him - only for blues dancing.


I think that camparison is interesting and I can see how I came across like that. But you have heard me spin in blues rooms. I actually spin allot of jazz/blues and big band blues into traditional blues. My job as a DJ is to play what people like to hear and have my own DJ personaltiy. If a given crowd is not responisve to a certain sound i will pull that sound out of my set, I have noticed every floor of dancers is different and things like dance space, dance floor and even temperature of the room can impact dancers and how they respond to certain things. I bring this up because the few times I have heard Reuben spin I have seen him clear floors and have a FU attitude about it. My observation is he plays what he thinks you should hear instead of trying to find what makes dancers happy at a given space and time. He is who he is and we all know what we get when he spins. Some people love his stance others do not.
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Postby bryn » Sat Apr 23, 2005 7:32 pm

justdance wrote:I find it interesting that this individual finds soul is good for blues and slow ballads with a bluesy feel are not.


Maybe because soul has "ass" and slow ballads do not.
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Postby petalscutiegirl » Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:09 pm

i think this thread would've been more productive if it'd started, "so, when would soul or funk be appropriate at a blues event? what kinds? how could a dj make them part of a coherent set" instead of "soul and funk aren't blues and i dare you losers to prove me wrong using REAL sources, not stupid dancer comments (cuz we all know they don't know anything about music)"

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Postby Nando » Sat Apr 23, 2005 10:39 pm

justdance wrote:I bring this up because the few times I have heard Reuben spin I have seen him clear floors and have a FU attitude about it. My observation is he plays what he thinks you should hear instead of trying to find what makes dancers happy at a given space and time. He is who he is and we all know what we get when he spins. Some people love his stance others do not.


Yeah, I understand that.

But Reuben does have a point regarding DJs who pander too much to keep a full crowd. At least IMO. Of course I believe his argument always had more to do with slower tempos and lack of vintage recordings... well genres and styles have a lot to do with it as well, but speed always became a sticking point to some.

I do believe that it's possible for a blues DJ to play a set that keeps a floor full, but still may be taking an easy route by playing too many novelty songs, throwing in a little too much west coast, or slow ballads.

Again, perhaps as a DJ you may be more sensitive to it in comparison to some dancers who may not be as picky at that particular moment.

And while I don't particularly "love" his stance, I do understand and acknowledge several of his points. I also find it funny that his argument can be used here as a viable example.
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Postby justdance » Sat Apr 23, 2005 11:15 pm

petalscutiegirl wrote:i think this thread would've been more productive if it'd started, "so, when would soul or funk be appropriate at a blues event? what kinds? how could a dj make them part of a coherent set" instead of "soul and funk aren't blues and i dare you losers to prove me wrong using REAL sources, not stupid dancer comments (cuz we all know they don't know anything about music)"

~Liz


I agree in hindsight. But the reason why I wasn't really looking for comments but instead some sort of reference is that I have already heard everyones comments and I knew where they everyone stood so I was looking for something else not that I didn't care what they were.

A similiar debate was debated for 8 forum pages on swingdjs.com a year or so ago in regards to approiatness of motown/soul being played at swing dancing events. In that debate most people agreed that 1 or 2 songs was all that should be played due to it having little to do with swing music.
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Postby Damon » Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:25 am

I'd say the dj's on the swing list are completely wrong since I can name five different swing dances that are based deeply in the motown/soul sound. Now if the question was do they belong in a lindy set... completely different question, and I'm much more likely to agree with the general thrust of their answer.

As usual people who are mad about the music and willing to put some serious time into their collection, researching their favorite artists and such, rarely spend nearly as much time looking at the dance. If they did they'd quickly realize they have little or no leg to stand on when it came to whatever their particular rant of music purity was.

Blues dancing as a genre was ALWAYS about dancing to a sound not a style of music. I would never dance to a 2/4 Fletcher Henderson tune the way I'd dance to a 4/4 late chick web song, nor as I would to a 4/4 new testament Basie, or to Dizzy Gillespie and his big band bebop. Each calls for an entirely different style of lindy hop... and lindy hop WAS danced to all of them. As was it danced to Rhythm & Blues , Jump Blues, and what was eventually called soul.

IT is easy to take a snapshot of something and hold it up as the end all be all of a subject. Lindy Hop in 1939. That style of dance and that6 style of music is what lindy hop is all about. Anything else isn't REAL lindy hop music or dancing. They'd be horribly wrong, as any dancer from any large black population who danced in those days could tell them... if they bothered to ask.

Same goes with blues dancing. Blues dancing was done to soul music. Therefor at a blues dance event, or in a set for blues dancing, soul music unquestionably has a place. Anyone who has done any serious research in to the dance history could say that without pause. Now does that mean a blues dance set MUST have soul? No. I'd argue that any dance set of lindy hop or blues that only played one style/sub-genre of music would be seriously lacking and fall flat on many ears.

It is undeniable that soul has influenced blues and blues influenced soul. That artists who recorded mostly in one genre recorded in the other. And some names well thought of in both genres got that way by their Ability to stress the common roots, both in culture as well as in music composure and arrangement.

That statements you made seem to indicate that there is a clear line between genres. This is wrong. Every piece of "black" music produced since the beginning of the twentieth century contains the elements of blues in it. That is why when you look at a listing of blues music styles it is is full of categories where blues is hyphenated with just about everything.

It is impossible to say "Soul" as a genre is Blues, of course it isn't, otherwise it'd be called blues. No one here said anything of the sort. It is also impossible to draw a line between Blues and Soul (as it is with Blues and Jazz) where you exclude all Soul music without also excluding Blues music that is agreeably not Soul, but in fact Blues.
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Postby Nate Dogg » Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:06 pm

I thought about replying, but Damon is doing a great job of articulating things. Go Damon!
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Postby Damon » Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:23 pm

Thanks Nathan, I think for the most part this topic has been as concluded as it is going to get. It hink we all agree that Soul music in and of itself is not blues. That some blues music is played in a soul-like manner and that some soul is played in a blues-like manner, I think can be agreed on. That some of each does cross the lines of genre and fits both types no longer seems to be at issue. That blues dancing was done to Soul music and as such ahs a place in blues dance sets and nights, I think is understood... though everyone reserves the right to dislike dancing to it, or even hearing what isn't their favorite style of blues dance music, goes without saying.
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Postby Dr. Feelgood » Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:17 pm

"Whew"!

Somehow I read this entire thread, although I wonder why since now
my head hurts and I'm tired.

Throwing in a lil' soul into my blues sets are for mood purposes, since
the right song at the right time is what I'm aiming for. For example,
last weekend at CT (StL) when I used a Joe Tex song that states a
man's desire to do for a woman!

Soul for Soul's sake doesn't work...but weave the right web and you
can play damn near anything.
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