Houston Music

Behind The Cover: Houston's Old-Schoolers Define The Blues

Rocks Off sent reporter Matthew Keever to last week's "Old School" cover shoot at The Big Easy. His assignment was to talk to as many musicians as he could, and have them finish the sentence "Blues is..."

Video by Francisco Montes

Little Joe Washington: "The blues is music. Music is blues. Your experiences, whatever. Blues, just like classical or ballroom dancing, is music. Like jazz, you don't know what you're going to play when you play the blues. The blues is music."

Gilbert Labba: The blues, to me, is the real deal; it's real music. And I love it. Me and Don Kesee, we've been playing the blues together for 42 years. We're the blues masters. We've been doing this since we were kids, and we won't try to play nothing but the blues. I started playing bass with [Don] in the first part of the '60s, and I played bass with him until about '71. Then I started playing drums, and I've been playing drums ever since.

Don Kesee: The blues... It's my life. I've been doing this since I was nine years old, and it's a part of me.

George Brown: The blues are continuous life, I feel. As long as you have the spirit to do it, you'll be here a while.

Texas Johnny Brown: The blues are life. Life and survival, because that's where I've been all my life. I'm having a hard time surviving, because financially it's not doing anything for me. Publicly, I enjoy it; it's a part of me. I love the artistry, and that's the enjoyment I get from me. But it's hard trials and it's tribulations, too. You can so easily get put in the slot of just being there, so I try to move at all times. I love it, and I'm going to keep trying at it.

Milton Hopkins: The blues... Well, right now, I try to make a living playing the blues. Which is hard. The blues are about hard times or good times, but mostly hard times. And if you're a musician like myself, I enjoy expressing myself through my instrument. And that's it.


Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever