Even with 2020 now well within our rearview mirror, Covid and other events have helped to ensure the year will be long-remembered, and, for many, probably not among the U.S.’ finest days.
That’s just one of the issues North Carolina folk-bluesman Jon Shain, who won the 2019 International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo act category, explores on his latest album with longtime collaborator FJ Ventre, Never Found a Way to Tame the Blues (Flyin’ Records), along with such other subjects as the refugee crisis, global economics, and Holland’s new pot law as well as more classic blues themes like love gone wrong and life in the music business.
While the topics addressed on the album are sometimes weighty, the playing from Shain, Ventre and their guest musicians isn’t, weaving between straight blues, rock, folk, rockabilly, ragtime, and jazz sounds created by guitar, upright bass, harmonica, mandolin, fiddle, piano, drums and percussion, and more.
Shain — who has played with the likes of John Dee Holeman as well as opened for acts such as John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, and Little Feat — and Ventre deliver this particular track on 12-string and upright bass, accompanying powerful lyrics regarding hatred and cynicism, equality, and hope for the future that include such statements as “I ache for my sisters—they’ve borne the brunt for so long/ I’m waitin’ for the day when they’re in power where they belong” and “I’m prayin’ for the youth—the only ones who could figure out this mess/ Our grand experiment has ended with us all under duress/ We got a national case of too much stress.”
With the pandemic now hopefully a bit more under control except for that pesky Delta variant and a new administration a bit more firmly in place, here’s hoping many of 2020’s troubles have also been put behind us, but Shain and Ventre’s “2020 Blues” certainly gives us a lot to reflect upon another half year later…