Seventy years ago, the blues arrived on these shores and transformed the musical landscape. Today, it lives in the shadow of the genres it inspired – but the scene is still thriving The blues were born in the American south at the dawn of the 20th century as African Americans gave voice to their hardships – segregation, lynching and entrenched poverty being constants – as well as their joys. This musical DNA entwined with everything from jazz and country to rap and, of course, rock’n’roll, and after the blues hit Britain almost 70 years ago it again resonated through genres, from skiffle to metal and grime. Not that British blues gets too much attention these days, existing as it does in the shadows of its more famous offspring. Perhaps it’s due for a resurgence though – we’ve all had the blues during the pandemic, after all – and on a damp Sunday night Errol Linton shows why he could be the one to power it. As he pumps his harmonica and ensures the well-heeled habitués of Shoreditch’s Blues Kitchen rise from their seats, he does what the genre does best: articulate pain, and then vent it.
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