West Virginian produces blues CD of protest songs

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October 21, 2008

“Rich Man’s War” is the title of a new compilation CD of blues and roots music, produced by a West Virginian.  The CD features songs that protest the war in Iraq and the state of politics today. 

“Rich Man’s War” features a dozen contemporary artists who sing about war, peace, and politics. 

“I keep hearing people say that blues music isn’t about anything, that these days most blues songs are about romance or about celebrating the blues itself, and so I set to prove to people that there are songs about topical issues that affect all of us,” said Kenneth Bays, managing editor of The Blues Revue magazine and the CD’s producer. 

Bays sifted through hundreds of blues and roots protest songs for his compilation CD, settling on what he thinks are the twelve best.

“There’s a song I like a lot.  It’s by Charlie Wood and The New Memphis Underground, and I’d have to say it’s one of the songs that kind of spurred this project in the beginning,” said Bays.  “I think the idea of this song is that if we want to change things, we have to be the ones to do it.  We can’t sit on our butts.”

Bays was also attracted to the simplicity of Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s song, “A Time for Peace.”

“It’s a very straight forward soul type song.  It doesn’t name names, doesn’t get into specifics about political affiliation.  It’s just like the title says, a call for peace.”

Even though some songs criticize President Bush’s policies, Bays thinks the message is not dated. 

“Just because there’s going to be a change in office, these are issues that are always affecting us. It’s not something that’s going to end suddenly, and even if the people that I would like to see in office get in, that doesn’t guarantee that things are going to be solved,” said Bays.  

“I also think this CD is important as an historical document.  Twenty years in the future, people will be able to look at this CD and say there were some voices of dissent at that time in music.  We look back now at the music of the 60s and early 70s and consider that a record of the protest movement.  I think people will be able to do that with this CD in the future,” Bays added.

Ruf Records of Germany releases “Rich Man’s War” today.  It’s available through major music sellers, including Amazon.com.

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