[-Rochester-City News-]
January 15, 2003
News Briefs 1.15.03

"The acoustic blues is alright"

Way, way too often, the blues is reduced to a cliché. Too many folks think if it ain't old and black, or at least Southern, then it ain't no good. Ride, Sally, ride... again and again and again.

Cats like acoustic picker and grinner Keith Harden lose those shackles and keep it fresh. The Champaign, Illinois native wasn't on the lam or ridin' the rails when he wound up here a year-and-a-half ago --- his wife got a job at Hobart and William Smith College.

The blues' long association with barbeque is at least one standard I can tolerate. For the past eight months, Harden has played the blues, minimally equipped with a guitar and harmonica, every Tuesday night at Beale St. Café (689 South Avenue). And though he digs deep into Blind Lemon Jefferson, Jimmy Reed, Robert Johnson, and originals of that ilk, he doesn't push overt gruffness or antiquity. Harden picks sturdy and steady, with a sound more akin to a folk artist --- which is what, in reality, blues musicians are anyhow; brushing the singer-songwriter idiom over a lonesome blues base.

"I sort of live in both worlds," Harden says. "I play the blues, but mix in stuff in the singer-songwriter vein." This mix makes Harden pleasant, refreshing, and a hit at his Tuesday night gigs.

Harden comes off as an affable, polite host, perched on his stool, blending his music with the din of silverware, glass, and endless possibilities. He greets coming and going patrons, and tolerates the drunks' interpretive dancing and incessant requests.

Though Harden is a stripped-down, blues-playin' machine, he wouldn't mind bringing a few more cooks into the kitchen. "I just don't have the connections yet," he explains. Given that Harden is an easy going character with talent to spare, it's just a matter of time.

--- Frank De Blase

This article was written by Frank De Blase and originally published in the Rochester-City News Jan. 15, 2003 issue

Find the original article on the web at: "The acoustic blues is alright"

Home | Biography | CDs | Interviews
Photos | Schedule | E-mail Newsletter Signup

Last Updated 02/23/2003
© BP Computer, 2003