The white man created the blues through slavery, and then destroyed it through ‘blues rock’. Until recently I thought the story ended there, that all was said and done, that the saga had ended in tragedy. Then I heard Bob Log III. Then I saw Bob Log III at the Glasslands Gallery. I was reborn, uplifted from a resignation to a world without true sublimation.
Backstage, he dons a human cannonball suit open to the waist, an all covering helmet onto which he has crudely fastened an old fashioned telephone through which he spews his incoherences, and strolls out with his guitar in hand, sans fanfare. No other musician adorns his stage; it is alone that he sits on his drum throne, a one-man-band from hell. He is a wisp of man, devoid of height, breadth, or chest hair with a thick southwestern accent. I was enthusiastically and thoroughly informed by a concert-goer to my left that his hometown is Tuscon, Arizona. Perhaps not the bayou, but a respectable origin for a man in his position.
His guitar growls like a rabies-infested mutt, straight from the backyard of an Alabama whorehouse. The expletives he squawks are absolutely unintelligible, at least while the groan of his six stringed demon viciously dominates the aural realm. When the blanket of perfectly distorted guitar ends, which always coincides with a great victory stance, Mr. Log displays his propensity for what is only describable as ‘not giving a fuck’, which in his case takes the form of the perfect stage presence. He cracks jokes: self referential, based on the absurdities shouted by the crowd, or about nothing at all. He views his guitar as an entity of its own right and will, and I mean he does this genuinely and not just as a gimmick. Before ripping into “Slide Guitar Ride Junior”, he drawled that if we saw him “moving, that we needed to remember that wasn’t him moving, but his guitar making him move.”
He is merely the vessel through which the purest debauchery flows. The black velvet clad body suffers paroxysms like a being possessed; an energy of indescribable proportions animates his slight frame. His fingers move like spiders dosed with crack cocaine up and down the fret board, each botched note feeling more ‘right’ than the correct ones. Each yelp and crunchy expectoration is articulated by a bass kick from his spindly legs (yes, legs: he has two kick drums when he feels like it). Like a perpetual machine he runs in the throws of his most carefree moments, which is literally the entirety of every song he plays, all four limbs working together beyond what I had previously thought plausible.
Brooklyn crowds are notoriously unforgiving. The particular batch at this show was no exception, and whether they would like to admit or not (of course they wouldn’t), very few of them knew how to get off to grass roots maniacisms like Bob Log’s. That being said, Mr. Log slowly worked the crowd over, refusing to accept their apathy, and whether it was by virtue of his own fortitude or inability to register their indifference through his tinted head gear is no particular matter. There is something intrinsically goofy about Log, and to have a good time with it, you have to let yourself be as absurd as he is. He’s the ultimate escape from the posturing that results in such privation in our lives.
Every day we are confronted by the downfall of what is arguably the greatest American art form. Boy bands play neutered blues rock that is devoid of the essential quality that is truly blues. Bob Log III may stray from the depression that spawned the genre, but he has not forgotten fundamental vulgarity. He may regurgitate the riffs of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon, but he packages them different than Eric Clapton and the rest of the League of Redundancy; music designed for a real party, with real depravity, for a real discorporation. The man is undeniably, irrefutably, immutable, the great savior of the great catharsis of America, the sublimation of the Western World, the Christ of dirty, sloppy, disgusting blues guitar, hell bent on having a good time, and he is prepared to sacrifice everything in order to get it. For, as the bible says, “He which is filthy, let him be filthy still.”