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A blues education

How Eden Brent convinced a legend to mentor her we play. Those are some of my favourite times. Daddy will say "You got your guitar?' I'll go get it out of the car and we'll play to a few people." Has blues taken over your life, or are you still checking out new music? EB: Oh, yeah, I'm always aware. I respond to all folk music, even from other cultures. When I was in Egypt I ended up watching music on television and I completely responded to the songwriters over there. Yesterday I set a Brazilian poem translated to English to music. I'll be recording it soon. Music, and especially blues music, is communication. It's how we talk to each other, and it's simple to understand." VW:

The form is simple, sure, but isn't it also nuanced? EB: Well, I think that when people are emotional or passionate about their music they probably do that anyways. That's where the nuances come out. I would rather hear a song performed soulfully over one that's done technically proficient. Look at how BB King can play one note and make your heart sing or break. For me the uniform thing about blues music is that it truly informs just about all pop music through the world. That really does knock me out. VW:

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before ...


he might have graduated PBS documentary, Boogaloo & with a Bachelors Degree in Eden, Sustaining the Sound. Music from the University of Now out on her own Brent North Texas, but Eden Brent's continues Boogaloo's legacy, real education came sometime recording albums and winning after that. awards (2009 Acoustic Album Daughter of a big-band singer and Acoustic Performer of the mother and Year; 2010 Pimusic-enthusi- Sun, Aug 18 (2:30 pm) netop Perkins ast father, the Hawrelak Park Piano Player of Greenville, Mis- Part of Edmonton Blues the Year, from s i s s i p p i - r a i s e d Festival (Aug 16 – 18) the Blues FounBrent had been dation), known picking away at among her peers the piano since the age of three. as Little Boogaloo. By her own account she wasn't particularly distinguished in ei- VUE WEEKLY: How did you first ther studies or enthusiasm until meet Boogaloo? she managed to convince Abie EDEN BRENT: My parents knew "Boogaloo" Ames to tutor her. who he was, because Boogaloo Ames, who passed away in 2002, did all of the social events in was a life-long journeyman musi- the Delta: cocktail parties, rescian who made his way up from taurant gigs and lounges. I was Georgia to play on early Motown young and not very knowledgesessions before decamping back able about jazz. I had learned acto Mississippi in the late '60s. ademically, but it was Boogaloo An acknowledged master of the who put it in my hands. He made boogaloo piano style, Ames was it a real thing, not just some perlong sought after as a teacher functory task to get through. He to many budding blues and jazz taught me so that I was able to musicians, including Mulgrew express myself in a soulful way, Miller. as I had done when learning Brent did not expect Ames Joni Mitchell or James Taylor or would consent to teach her, but Jackson Browne—the music I liswhen he did the pair grew into tened to when I was growing up." a popular duo that eventually snagged a number of high-profile VW: It's interesting to think about concert-hall bookings and a 1999 you making the leap between


'70s singer-songwriters and deep blues. EB: Well, you know, my college audition tune was Rick Wakeman's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII." I think back on the "Three B's:" Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, and I'm pretty sure the audition panel hadn't heard the likes of that. In truth I wasn't so much following the score as going by the sounds. Boogaloo taught me the love of and joy in playing music. It worked well with college, because I don't think I would have gotten as much as I did without both of those things in my life. So university wasn't a complete write-off, then? EB: (Laughs) Daddy always said he could have saved on that outof–state tuition if he'd just sent me to Boogaloo earlier." VW:

VW: Was

music always on around your house? EB: Yeah, it was something that was just there. We lived out in the country and there really wasn't much else to do, so we entertained each other by playing after supper and on holidays. These days, when I get together with my daddy we sometimes meet at a bar uptown, maybe on a slow Monday night, and

And there you are, living in the very epicentre of it all. EB: I know! We have all of these slogans for Mississippi, like it's known as "The Magnolia State," and it's "The Hospitality State." Now we have a new slogan, "The Birthplace of America's Music." I think about the old phrase "Blues had a baby and they called it rock 'n' roll." Well, rock 'n' roll had a lotta babies too, so blues has some grandchildren, like metal and hip hop. I think even Appalachian music probably has some blues in there as well, otherwise it would have developed exactly on the lines of music from Ireland. VW:

You're definitely more of a performer than a recording artist. Is playing live something you find more enjoyable more than being in a studio? EB: Yeah, I just find that the studio is kind of dead to me. It's a different thing. In the studio you can't connect with anyone, it's like a monologue, and I prefer a conversation. I don't even use a set list when I play. I might have decided by the time I've gotten on stage what my first song would be, but I don't necessarily know what I'm going to end on. VW:

VUEWEEKLY AUG 15 – AUG 21, 2013

I leave it up in the air; someone might holler for a song, or I'll see someone with a smile on their face and think "Oh, if they like that then maybe I should play this song." You're at the opposite end of the spectrum from performers who script every second of a show, from songs, to jokes, to what they wear. EB: You know, my parents saw Dean Martin years and years ago in Vegas, and they had such a good time that they went back the very next time. It was exactly how you just described it, because they got the same show again. Every single thing was choreographed, every gesture and joke. It was all like a script. I don't think I would enjoy doing that; I mean, it sounds polished and very professional, but I don't think that as a performer I could deal with that much structure. I like improvisation." VW:

VW: That's your jazz background coming back at you. EB: I read an article recently, (assumes a mock professorial tone) perhaps in Psychology Today, about the jokes people tell. The study said that the greatest amounts of laughter, decibel wise, came from off-the-cuff stuff, people bouncing ideas back and forth rather than a planned joke. I get that; I kinda like being on the edge as a performer. Any second something could go wrong. I was doing a show in Asheville, North Carolina, and my cousin George was there. We were standing around talking and he said "Do you ever get nervous?'" I said "No, not really. What's the worse that could happen?" Sure enough I get onstage and I'm in the middle of a song called "Fried Chicken," and my mind wanders. All of a sudden I lose the key, I forget what I'm doing. I started laughing, and while finding my way back I explained to the audience what my cousin had said. Then I said "George, this is it, this is the worst thing that could happen." It wasn't so bad after all; I didn't mind it. VW: It's not as if your world ended or anything. EB: No, the world didn't end, and I still got through to people. Because that's what it's really about; sometimes you really move people. Someone might be going through a bad time and what you do provides catharsis. That's the reward for what I do, not the money. It's about so much more than the money. TOM MURRAY TOM@VUEWEEKLY.COM

930: Fringe to Fringe  

Touring festival artists find camaraderie on the road

930: Fringe to Fringe  

Touring festival artists find camaraderie on the road