Paul Poulton Project (MySpace Site)
"Blues Music is Medicine."
I wanted to be a musician because it's better than working, and you don't have to get out of bed until 10am. I turned out to be wrong on both counts.
My dad sent me to piano lessons when l was four, my teacher, Mrs Jeavons did her best and gave me a book of children's piano piece which I had to practice everyday. One day the radio was on the wrong station and I heard Lightnin' Hopkins playing the blues on his guitar, I was overwhelmed by its beauty. I thought, That sounds a lot better than 'The Jolly Farmer Went A Hiking Down The Country Lane'.
I noticed that Lightnin' would bend the notes on his guitar, you can't do that on the piano, unless you lift the lid and put your hand inside, and Mrs Jeavons always had ornaments on top of her piano, so that wasn't practical. I changed piano for guitar. It was daily practice on the guitar from then on, imbibing styles from guitar players like the three kings: Freddie King, Albert King and BB King. I would learn the licks by taping the songs on an old reel to reel tape recorder and playing them back until I had learnt them. The buttons on the tape recorder were so hard to push down I hurt my fingers by repeatedly pushing them. Bending the strings on the guitar also hurt my fingers. I walked around like girls do when they are trying to dry nail varnish on their finger nails. My mates would say, "Hey Poulton, why are you walking round like a dope?" My fingers are better now but people still ask that question???
Last night my band and I played at a cool city centre venue in Birmingham (UK) called G's Bar & Diner. Each Friday they host a band that plays some blues. There seems to be a lot of interest in the blues at the moment. Someone asked me if playing the blues is depressing because it's music that was born out of the misery of the slave trade. I guess the blues did come from something that was bad but when the African scales of the slaves started to merge with the western major scale and we ended up with the blues scale, which turned out to be a good thing. The blues was sung as medicine, so playing it isn't depressing, it's therapeutic. Music is medicine. When the Antarctic explorer Sir Henry Shackleton gave the command to abandon his ship 'The Endurance' because it had been crushed by ice, he told his men to take only what was absolutely necessary because they had a long cold journey on foot back to civilisation. One man left behind his banjo, Shackleton immediately told the man to go and retrieve it because the banjo was absolutely necessary, he said music is mental medicine.
Bad things can turn into good things; God has a way of doing that. So it's a testimony to all those black slaves, who started to sing in the middle of their sorrow, that so many people are now checking out blues music. It's a privilege to play it.