Prince plays the blues – Chocolate Drops, Wynton, Clapton, too

The blues is big-time pop again — processed to a triumphant apotheosis by Prince at Madison Square Garden as I detail in my new City Arts column — (but did it ever go away? Here’s the Artist with James Brown and Michael Jackson in 1983)

 
 
– reinvigorated in acoustic revivalist and hybrid form by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who kick off a three-month US tour at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series on Wednesday, Feb 2 — 

 

– trumpeted by Wynton Marsalis himself in a ballyhoo’d crossover collaboration with Boomer guitar god Eric Clapton for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s annual Gala, which will also feature Taj Mahal playing solo and fervent Sharon Jones with the Dap Kings, April 7, 8 and 9th.
 
   
What is it about this particular strain of American music, whether “pure” as the loam in the Piedmont, tricked out as rhythm ‘n’ blues, amped up as rock ‘n’ roll, extended and explored as jazz, that makes it indelible? Listen and be shaken. “Real music by real musicians,” was Prince’s explanation. As he said more than once, approvingly, “Old school, old school . . . “
 
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