ANOTHER COUNTRY

August 14, 2017
          I love the Blues. It is my preferred form of music, and not because of any over-identifying with Black culture. I love it because it is the music of survivors, and it literally sings American history.
          Last night my wife Gerri and I went to Roscoe's Pioneer Bar in downtown Duluth, Minnesota, to see a performance by Reverend Dave and the Chain-Smoking Altar Boys. They are a tight, very capable band, and they thrust out a fierce (but thankfully not an over-poweringly loud) set of songs. I described them to Gerri as a 'White Boy Blues'; solid, well-done, but lacking a certain 'something'. For example, a group like this has a propensity for blues shuffles, and don't go for funkier effects. This is merely my opinion here, after years of involvement in the entire range of Blues. In spite of any (minimal) misgivings, these guys were good. I'm glad I got to see them.
          The audience in the bar was a healthy racial mix, for Duluth, and the appreciation of the music encouraged people to enjoy the situation. While living in South Africa, I made several friends, including Afrikaner, British, Indian and Black. They told me that one of the problems for the apartheid regime was that whites and blacks in the townships mixed regularly to listen to jazz and African music. It was illegal, and whites were routinely arrested sneaking out of the townships. It demonstrated to me that music (of any kind) is a great leveler, and also, in spite of whatever governmental sanctions, races sometimes mix.
           When we got home, and I was watching TV after Gerri had gone up to bed, I saw some news footage of the White Supremacist rally in Virginia, and since have heard more about that ugly situation, and our president's abysmally shameful reaction to it.
          It made me wonder how much longer, even here in liberal Duluth, will it be legal to share such a space with such a racial mix? It's not anything I'm advocating, mind you, but in such an environment, I felt absolutely no discomfort. I enjoyed watching people of all stripes dancing and having fun. With both Nazi Germany and South Africa (and many other examples,) giving us a preview of the dark days ahead, I am wondering just how to react.