Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Route 66 Blues House

I was thinking a couple of weeks ago how valuable it is that there is a Chicano guitarist (Rudy Boy Jaramillo) leading a regular Blues Jam here in 'Burque. That there was something about that that has value in and of itself. I told him this and he seemed to be humble about THAT. He did tell me the story of a guy on vacation from England who came to the jam and said something like - do you know what a big deal it is to be sitting in on a jam in a Route 66 Blues House?!

As I listened to that story I thought - yes it is a BIG deal. Along with Rudy Boy, I started calling it the "World Famous" Blue Jeans Lounge. And I was planning to take a few days in late February and write this particular blog. Here I am writing on a quick lunch break.

But think of it. The Rudy Boy Experiment is a great band in and of itself. They perform there almost every Thursday night, and then host the blues jam. But other groups and musicians such as Felix y Los Gatos, Triple X, Paul Pino y Los Tone Daddies, Joe Mancuso, Li'l Bo Diddly, Fern Shegonee (RIP), Roger Weinreich, The Deteriorators, Split Decision, Suzy Marquez, Sherri Gonzales, even some mariachis including John Mancha, and so many others perform there (I know I'll catch it for some of the great people I missed). And some random jammers perform there not even knowing the quality of musician they are playing with.

It's an amazing and under-appreciated experience. If you want you can call the location of Blue Jeans (9018 Central SE) Burque's "lower east side." So I had told Rudy I would write a blog and start promoting this both as a place where this great Chicano musician leads the jam, but also Burque's Route 66 Blues House, or the International District's Blues place, etc.

For a quick background on the importance of jam night - since it often can sound fairly rough. Jam nights is where a musician gets experience, gets to be challenged, to stretch, and to mess up really bad! In the old jazz days that's where people learned. Often on blues changes and standards. And it isn't all blues at Blue Jeans. So one could learn on various, funk, and soul songs as well. This jam - and others across town - are an important seed for the musical culture of Albuquerque and New Mexico.

And people celebrated their birthdays, anniversaries, and other events there. On Friday the 18th at 5:30 will be a happy hour in honor of Chicano legend Esteban "Steve" Jordan. And it is rumored that some "Socialist Drinking Club" met there as well!

And then its gone.

Blue Jeans will close on the 20th of February. The last jam night is Thursday, Feb. 10. Tomorrow night. That is from 5PM till close. There will be a Blues and Brews and BBQs on Sunday from 3PM until 12. We can only hope that someone can take up this working class bar and breathe some life back into it. Sonny's closed a while back. And now Blue Jeans. Sonny has done a great job supporting local music.

Let's celebrate 25 years of a great place.

If this particular location can't be saved we'll see where the seed has spread to. One thing for sure is that the Blues in 'Burque aren't dependent on one location. Something will continue. Whether you'll see a great Blues band, mariachis, punk, funk, cajun and rock-n-roll all in one night? Pues let's see...

If you come out take lots of pictures and post them on your personal pages if you have them, "and remember to tip your bartenders and wait staff well. They take care of us, let's take care of them." This tips gonna need to count for awhile.


Thanks for writing this!
Blue Jeans could always be counted on for lively and authentic music. Even if the turn-out was meager at times, it was always the friendliest group. Many times, when disappointed by the atmosphere at other venues, we would show up late to BJs and dance our hearts out.
No place like it . . .
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