Bobby "Blue" Bland Remembered
Blues circles everywhere are morning the recent passing of blues legend Bobby "Blue" Bland. Although Bland was not a household name, he was associated with blues guitarists like B.B. King and Junior Parker. Bland, who passed at age 83 had been a part of the blues music scene for nearly fifty years. In honor of Bland's recent passing, host of Big Town Blues, Wrett Weatherspoon stopped by to talk with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about his legacy as a musician.
Bobby "Blue" Bland helped to modernize the blues sound in America. Weatherspoon describes Bland's unique style of the blues, "[it is a] blues sound that's no neccessarily that hard driving guitar, but you have that smooth urban feel to it, a smooth emotional impact of the blues."
Bland became associated with the likes of B.B. King, Junior Parker, and many others through his work with the band, the Beale Streeters. Joey and Wrett discuss how Bobby "Blue" Bland joined the Beale Streeters, "This goes back to the days that Bobby was working in the garage in Rosemark, Tennessee not too far from Memphis." He was doing some local talent shows hosted by Rufus Thomas who was a DJ for WDIA. Apparently the general manager of the station liked what he heard and he approached Bobby to sing with this band called the Beale Streeters, who B.B. King was in at the time." Unfortunately Bobby "Blue" Bland was drafted by the Army shortly after getting involved with the Beale Streeters.
Although he was surrounded by the likes of B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland never became a household name. Wrett comments on why Bland never reached the iconic status of some of his contemporaries, "He was overshadowed. He was on a smaller label in Houston, Texas and his music never transgressed up into the northern cities." Bland actually played the Pittsburgh Blues Festival last year. After his performance a lot of festival goers were trying to figure out who had just played, most of them never heard of Bobby "Blue" Bland. However Bland did have a few hits like "That's the Way Love Is," "Turn on Your Love Light," and "It's My Life Baby".
Joey and Wrett also discuss Bland's unique singing style. "Early in his career Bobby had a tonsillectomy, after that he could not use his falsetto. So what he did was he listened to the preaching of Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha's father. And he learned how to do what they call a snarl. Nobody could do it like Bobby Bland did it, he stands out among blues artists." Wrett comments on Bland's legacy and passing, "Bobby is definitely going to be missed in blues circles. I don't think he'll ever be replaced."