Blues chords aren’t complex, the rhythms and melodies aren’t sophisticated, the harmony is a step down from folk music but several steps below jazz. Stevie Ray Vaughn isn’t the only white blues man to make it big and suffer an untimely end. He has been gone a while but the songs this group are playing, on Sarandi Street, are straight from his Real Book. This street band features a bass guitar and a lead guitarist who handles vocals. Percussion is supplied by a kid sitting on a drum box. They have microphones positioned so I hear them from blocks away. The bass guitar player asks where I am from during a break, and, when I answer, in English, he points me to the lead singer who speaks the best English. Uruguayans are friendly and helpful people and unfailingly good with gringos trying to speak their language. It is sweet the way they always talk about their bad English, but never mention my abysmal Spanish. The guys jam, hit notes, stick with the beat – one, two, three, four, one, two,three, four beats to a bar. I sit on a wide stone window ledge in front of a men’s clothing store and listen to an entire set and make sure I leave them money in an open guitar case. Texas blues sound good anywhere. In old Montevideo. I call the band ” Men in Black. ” Stevie would be pleased.
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