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4/16/2012 8:05:00 AM
Keeping the Blues Alive (and interesting) at the monthly Blues Jam at 10/12 Lounge on Clarkdale's Main Street
Joe Neri (right) of Blues Dawg leads to Blues Jam at Clarkdale's 10/12 Lounge each month.
Joe Neri (right) of Blues Dawg leads to Blues Jam at Clarkdale's 10/12 Lounge each month.

Maybe blues musicians and ardent blues fans can hear all of the nuances among and between the thousands of blues songs, but to many that go out to hear live blues at a local club or bar, they're just interested in having a good time with some friends, having a beer or two, maybe a little dancing and generally being entertained by whatever band happens to be playing.

It's that generally being entertained part that Joe Neri focuses on as he prepares for his blues jam on the third Thursday of every month at the 10/12 Lounge in Clarkdale.

"To us hard-core blues guys," Neri says, "the blues is so much more than just three-line verses sung over three chords. There's a big difference between Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed, but we're not up on stage to educate our audience, just to help them feel good with the music we play.

"It's very important that the audience doesn't get bored," Neri says. "I put a lot of planning into each jam session - song selection is just as important as the song order. I want to mix it up, not play two songs in a row that are in the same key with the same tempo and same basic structure."

Every month's jam is different, depending on who shows up to play. Most months, the stage is full, with guitarists, harmonica and keyboard players, as well as horns - sax, trumpet, even trombone and flute. An electric violin player showed up one time. You never know who is going to be there but it always works out to be good blues.

Kerrie Bluff, owner of the 10/12 Lounge, says, "We love what Joe and his musicians have done for the blues here in the Verde Valley. It's always a great time and great music."

"Part of the fun," Neri says, "is mixing it up with different musicians. I make sure everyone who shows up gets a lot of playing time, and this just adds to the entertainment value to the audience."

The blues is alive - and interesting - this Thursday, April 19, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the 10/12 Lounge, located at 910 Main St. in Old Town Clarkdale.

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