As the COVID-19 pandemic is closing music venues all over the United States, professional musicians are unemployed for the time being. With no places to play, nobody can come out and see them, and a huge majority of musicians’ income comes from touring. Karen Gottheimer saw this and realized that these musicians needed help and a lot of it. She contacted tech master Crafton Barnes, and Can’t Stop The Blues was born.
Can’t Stop The Blues, a 100% Not for Profit (Title Pending) Organization, is a virtual live streaming venue for artists and fans to engage worldwide. They put on live streaming concerts from various blues artists from wherever the artists are. A donation to the artist is highly suggested. However, Can’t Stop The Blues does not take any money that you donate to these artists during their live streams. What they do is bring thousands of fans to the artist in a “virtual venue” and provide them all the information they can to help that featured artist in any way possible.
CSTB is a volunteer staff of 6. Between Karen, Crafton, Judy Eliyas, Daryl Hawkins, El Bowman & Samantha Muffett, the social media is handled, the shows are booked and produced, the marketing is handled, and they keep the blues alive every day.
Can’t Stop the Blues has hosted a lot of great shows these past few weeks. Here are two that stood out.
6-time Blues Music Award winner Doug MacLeod took the CSTB stage on Friday, May 1st for a special show titled Songs & Stories from Doug’s Living Room.
If you missed the virtual Blues Music Awards on May 3rd, MacLeod received an award for the best acoustic blues artist. And I can tell you that he deserves it!
Doug MacLeod is not a musician, he’s a storyteller that tells his stories through songs. That is a rare quality that only the best of the best have, and that’s exactly what MacLeod is.
His set began with a song he wrote in 1996 called “You Can’t Take My Blues.” He found a new meaning of it recently due to what the world is going through. He realized that it’s also about the human spirit, and changed the title to You Can’t Take My Spirit. It’s a great song with a beautiful message, to never lose our spirit.
One of my favorite songs of the set was “The Sun Shine Down My Way.” A moving, emotional piece that makes you feel like you’re on a porch in the countryside. Dubb, MacLeod’s nickname given to him by the legendary George “Harmonica” Smith, displayed his slide guitar skills on this song. His slide solo puts you in an indescribable state that you must hear to feel what I’m trying to explain. What I do know is that it was incredibly beautiful. Dubb reminded us that no matter how difficult these times are, we will overcome, and the sun will shine down our way. We all need to remember Dubb’s message. As bad as things seem, the sun will shine down our way, and we’ll get through this.
My favorite story Dubb told during his set was his interaction with “Spider” John Koerner (Koerner, Ray & Glover) at a bar in Minneapolis. He talked about how acoustic blues guitarists refer to the left hand as the brain and the left hand as the personality. You can figure out what a guitarist is doing with their left hand, but their right hand is what creates their sound. Very fascinating story.
The last song of the set was called “The Up Song,” leaving us with some positive energy as his show came to a close. More people need to have the attitude that MacLeod has. We can’t give up and we need to stay together.
Doug MacLeod is a one of a kind talent. Outstanding songwriter, guitar master, great singer, and fantastic storyteller with great stories for days. This man is like no other around today. There are plenty of acoustic blues guitarists out there, but there is only one Doug MacLeod. He is the Peter Yarrow of the blues.