A few months ago I wrote a post here about how yoga moms had appropriated hip-hop without paying respect to the culture from which it came. While this is still a problem, there is a bigger cultural appropriation of African-American culture in white society.
For years, white people have taken over the blues. What started as a tribute from Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, has turned into exploitation and a performances that have completely lost the meaning of the genre.
The blues was born in the poor cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. The blues is low income lament music. They are songs about not having or losing. Unfortunately, white America has taken the blues to places it should never be and forgetting those who are still struggling.
Just like hip-hop loving yoga moms.
For example, I saw an ad recently for the Lakeridge Winery Blues and BBQ Festival. While blues and BBQ go together like peanut butter and jelly, how are you going to have a blues festival at a winery? The blues is for juke joints and dive bars. Wineries are for the high class. In previous generations, wineries would be for the plantation owners while the slaves and servants would play in the shacks in the field.
Does this look like the type of place where people would understand low-income struggle music?
For a traditionally African-American music, there are only two African-Americans in the video and one is the warehouse taking bottles off the line and putting them in boxes. I bet he has the blues more than anyone else in the video.
Not to only pick on the Lakewood Winery, there is also the Dunedin Wines the Blues 2020 coming in November 2020.
The blues should be a group catharsis, a way for people to forget their problems and celebrate getting together. The blues works amongst people of similar social status. Having authentic blues singers play for wine connoisseurs is exploitative.
This is not to say white people can't have the blues. Not at all. But integral to the blues is the struggle. Whether socio-economic, race, or dependency, there are problems that hit us all. But they should not be played in front of the wine-tasting bourgeois.
On the other hand, there is an organization called Music Maker Recordings out of Hillsborough, North Carolina helping preserve the culture of the blues. They are finding old blues players in small towns, recording them, and helping them make money from their art. This is an amazing venture as there aren't many old blues players left. According to NPR, "Over its 25-year history, Music Maker has helped more than 400 artists, most of them in the latter stages of life."
That's fantastic and much more representative of blues culture than wine festivals.