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Red-Hot Blues

We just can't stop singing the blues. Although it's never vanished completely from the American musical landscape, blues music is enjoying something of a resurgence of late. "We've seen a pretty dramatic rise [in interest] worldwide," affirms David Less, pointing to significant membership gains for his own Memphis-based The Blues Foundation.

What's making the blues so red-hot? Advertising, for starters. With such legendary bluesmen as John Lee Hooker and B.B. King making high-profile pitches for Pepsi and Northwest Airlines, respectively, the nation's mainstream audience is becoming better acquainted with this roots-style music--and they like what they hear.

"There's a genuineness to [the blues]," says Less. "You can't go into the studio with a drum machine and make a blues record--you've got to have a drummer. And if you don't, then no one's going to buy it as a blues record."

It is, in fact, this disenchantment with contemporary rock music that is propelling many--especially among the baby boom generation--back toward the blues, according to Cary Wolfson, publisher of Blues Access magazine. Specifically, Wolfson estimates at least 80 percent of Blues Access readers are over the age of 30. We've got a feeling, however, that anyone of any age knows what it's like to get the blues.

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This article was originally published in the January 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Red-Hot Blues.

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