Various Artists – Jam for Blues in the Schools | Album Review

jamforbluesintheschoolscdVarious Artists – Jam for Blues in the Schools

Distributed by the Colorado Blues Society (CBS) 

CD: 8 Songs; 63:02 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, “Jam” Blues

In theory, education of future generations is supposed to be one of our nation’s top priorities. However, the reality is often more bleak and complicated. Many educational programs are being woefully under-funded due to federal and state budget cuts. The result is that in many schools, classes such as art and music are being eliminated to make more room for standardized-testing preparation. If schools want to reintroduce enrichment activities back into their curriculum, they face an almost-unsolvable double bind. On the one hand, they feel that they would be doing a great injustice to students by not exposing them to literature, musical genres, etc. On the other hand, if they don’t have the money to do so, schools are finding out that they can’t count on the government. They have to raise their own funds, or hope that others will assist them.

This is the notable rationale behind Jam for Blues in the Schools, an eight-song CD released by the Colorado Blues Society (CBS). The intent is to have 100% of its proceeds support CBS’ Blues in the Schools program. According to the promotional information sheet, this endeavor, known as BITS, “invites local and national musicians into local schools (kindergarten through college), where they present & educate on the world of the blues. Programs [that is, school curriculum topics] include American history, women in blues, language arts, conflict avoidance, storytelling and even math. CBS donates Blues-related books, videos and CD’s to public libraries and offers educational programs in conjunction with these donations.”

This Jam is performed by a vast ensemble of Colorado blues artists, including Dan Treanor, Erica Brown, Randall Dubis, David Booker, John Weeks, Tim Mahoney, Scott Hackler, Scott Headley, Mike Wysocki, Anton Stuart Medas, Bruce Collins, Doug Egan, Alan Simmons, Tony Arceneaux, Michael Hossler, Genoa Dodd, Ellie Treanor, and Gary Flori. They collectively present eight songs, including covers such as “It Hurts Me Too”, “Stand By Me”, “Rock Me Baby”, and “Let the Good Times Roll”. “Tell Me Daddy” is the best of the original tracks.

On the ‘plus’ side, the sheer array of talent here is almost staggering. Anyone who knows the blues scene in Colorado is bound to recognize one or more of the performers. More than that, though, they have pooled their talents for a worthwhile charitable cause. On the ‘minus’ side, there are three factors that might prevent some from liking this album: 1) its over-reliance on covers; 2) the “jam” nature of the songs, meaning that most of them run over five minutes; and 3) the raw and unpolished state of the music. This CD was done in one take, with no overdubs. Is this remarkable? Yes. Is it optimal? Not to blues fans who prefer a smoother style.

This Jam may not be everyone’s favorite, but it valiantly strives to keep arts alive and Blues in the Schools! 

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