As appalling as it may seem, our disposable diaper, transient friendship, drive-thru generation has somehow forgotten where our music came from. It wasn't started by Jimmy Page, nor was the music started by Elvis. Elvis simply took what the musicians of the time were doing and put a little hillbilly into it.
What was this new sound? Rock and Roll!
Where did it come from? The blues that's where!
Patrick Hazell has been playing the blues in Iowa since the late sixties. He and his band, The Mother Blues Band opened for Led Zeppelin in those early days. With all that time and experience under his belt, the first thing that I thought to ask, was where did he see his music in the future?
"Maybe nowhere," Hazell replied.
It seems that doing all the things to keep up with mailing lists and recording has taken its toll on this veteran.
"I feel like a damn secretary. I shouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing," he said.
Between ninety-four and ninety-six he wrote, recorded, and compiled four out of six CDs that he gave me to listen to. All of them have distinct moods that they convey. I asked how he put all this music together in that span of time. He replied by telling me that he doesn't sit down to do an album. He keeps a heavy tour schedule and records when he takes time off or is at home.
Hazell regularly takes January and February off to record and relax. "I hate messing around with driving in the winter. It's a hassle I don't need," said Hazell. All the music from 1994-'96 was written and recorded simultaneously, then he went back and put the songs together in a musical jigsaw puzzle creating each album.
Some of the key points of the albums are the feelings that he created for the listener. The album Sound Tracks is jazz improvisations. Hazell recorded it with harmonica and piano and played both at the same time while recording.
Blue Blood is indicative of what Hazell did when he performed in Europe.
"There (in Europe), I do things more with acoustic piano and acoustic instruments."
DreamCatcher and In the Prairie Land are two CDs that are spiritual sounding. In the first album, Hazell wove real dreams that he has had into musical interpretations. In the latter CD he took writings from settlers and combined them with his own time spent in the Prairie lands. He created a true feeling that you are in such a place while listening to the music.
A memorable place for Patrick Hazell to play was Germany. He was performing by a bell tower when the bells began to ring. He happened to find the right key to play along with them and that turned into an improv experience that has stuck with him since.
It's not all touring with Hazell. He has been undertaking a landscaping project on his land in Southeast Iowa. I asked if we would see him in Better Homes And Gardens, but all he could do in response was laugh at me. I took that as a no.
One thing that came up when I look back on the discussion, was some knowledge Hazell inadvertently imparted to me.
"Recording and playing live are and should be two different things. Recording is private. Live performance is entertainment. Too many people record trying to bring the live show to a record. That in and of itself is wrong, and a contradiction."
Buy the albums and listen in on a private moment with Patrick Hazell. Go to the shows and see a man who is a professional entertainer.
Thanks to Patrick Hazell giving me some of his time to turn the rest of you on to a musician who creates music outside what he's known for. It is something that most have forgotten to do.
Catch Patrick around Iowa in April... or May 6 at The Grand.