|Though emancipation did not bring
them economic empowerment, blues music gave them the freedom to travel. Black men took to
the road in search of work. The journeys made on foot and by train gave rise to the figure
of the male blues singer- a black man with a guitar traveling the countryside singing
about his life; this rural genre became known as country blues.
Much in the same way, The Blues Room in Village Walk Sandton, brings
you a modern version of the blues from Tuesday to Saturday nights. The best international
and South African bands play four Shows a night.
To reach this cozy venue you have to go down a flight of
steps- inside is the basement-like room cluttered with chairs and tables. Once inside you
can order from an a la carte menu. Also on offer is an extensive list of international and
local wines. Reservations for dinner are strongly recommended, we were told as we were
ushered to a guest table.
Before we could place an order the American blues muso,
Ronnie Peterson was already strutting his stuff, doing some of the songs from his new
release "Pass It On" (on sale at the Blues Room). The two dance floors which
wrap around the stage on two different levels provide the audience with sufficient space
to dance up a storm.
Peterson's background in this music genre goes back to when
he was a teenager. Influenced by B.B. King, he started listening to King's "Live And
Well" at the age of ten. At the tender age of 17 he was hired by the legendary blues
singer Latimore to become his touring and recording guitarist. He spent his college days
playing with the greatest names in blues and soul music, including Johnny Taylor, Tyrone
Davis, and B.B.King.
His friendship with B.B.King continued and at King's
Jerusalem show in 1996 he joined him in "When Love Comes To Town", the song King
recorded with U2. Peterson is a skillful guitarist and vocalist who mesmerizes his
audience with skills honed over many years of live and recorded performances.
International acts over the years at The Blues Room are the
main attraction for the regular clientele (mostly white, middle-age audiences). The owner,
an ex-New Yorker and guitarist George Worthmore, tells me that the international acts
mostly offer the audience a melting pot of blues, soul, jazz and sometimes African-styled
In fact, Gito Baloi once played his hypnotic mix of African
and Caribbean styles there. Though the atmosphere is upscale and adult, it is still casual
and very friendly.