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True Blue
from Ellis Kell
Argus/Dispatch blues columnist

January 2007

TRUE BLUE from Ellis Kell

book (11K)Corky Siegel’s “Let Your Music Soar – The Emotional Connection” is the culmination of several years work, along with a lifetime of performing music with dynamic passion. One of the more notable quotes by William Wallace, in the epic “Braveheart” film, is “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” I believe it’s no less true that “every musician plays, not every musician really plays with passion and dynamics.” No one will ever accuse Corky of playing without passion and dynamics. From his earliest days with the legendary Siegel-Schwall Band, through his various solo projects, to his innovative musical journey with the Chamber Blues ensemble, the artist has never limited himself stylistically or by specific genre. All the colors and dynamics of musical expression are found on his tonal palette. Corky Siegel, in collaboration with Peter Krammer, and with illustrations by (Mrs. Corky) Holly Siegel, has expressed the essence of this for the musical novice and veteran alike.

I have often used the analogy of an artist being limiting to one or two colors on their pallet, when I visit with students and other groups about the evolution of American roots music. When I was growing up as a young musician, you were pretty much labeled as a blues, rock, country, jazz or classical musician, etc., and you rarely strayed from within the stylistic boundaries of that genre. The old rule was ‘don’t color outside the lines.’ Over the years the lines between genres have blurred, and the stylistic boundaries have dissolved. Just think of how boring it would be if one of the critics would have told Van Gogh that he could only use blue and green, otherwise his art would be invalidated or viewed as inappropriate. “Crossroads” on the CMT channel is just one contemporary example of what fantastic new musical blends are possible, when the palette is unlimited.

As Corky says, “This book is especially for the musician who wants to reach their musical goals quickly and effectively. It is also for anyone interested in the world of artistic expression.” Corky’s 40+ years as a musician have also included solo work with symphonies, as well as collaborations with Seiji Ozawa, Bill Russo and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Siegel-Schwall Band was the only ensemble of it’s kind to be recorded on the fabled Deutsche Grammophon classical record label. Corky recalls a conversation with friend and contemporary Janis Joplin, and draws on the wealth of his many experiences throughout the pages of this book.

Corky asks the central question “Is the ultimate goal of music performance accuracy or expression?” He soon follows up with the statement that “individual self-expression in music is a pure offering.” It’s all about passion, dynamics, and true self-expression. Corky has coached many, many players and singers over the years, including choral groups, symphonies, rock, jazz, folk, and classical ensembles. His mission is to help musicians elevate their performance to new heights of expression. The book also includes a humorous parable of the fictional character Thor, and ‘the story of how music was born.’ Through this story, Corky expresses the essence of individuality in music – and how passion is the true root of dynamics in performance.

The book includes segments on a new and healthy perspective of artistic expression, understanding the benefits of dynamics, and applying the power of dynamic expression. It also addresses the role of the music critic (and the ultimate harm they can do...), and cautions against being overly judgmental in the assessment and appraisal of a musical performance. “Let Your Music Soar” is dedicated to the author’s longtime friend and kindred musical spirit, Tom Dundee - who was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly before the book was published. This new work should be required reading for any musician, whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned pro. As Corky himself points out in the book, “Anyone can play music and be fulfilled. Expression exists at any level.”

("Let Your Music Soar" also includes an accompanying CDR, with various vocal and instrumental examples provided to illustrate dynamic variation and expressive techniques in musical performance. This new book is available from ‘Corky Siegel’s Planet’ - online at www.chamberblues.com.)

Until we meet again at this crossroads… peace, love & blessings to all, and blues to ‘ya!

Local musician Ellis Kell writes about blues music both local and national in ‘True Blue’, running the first Sunday of each month in Entertainment. He also serves as a consultant for River Music Experience, a not-for-profit center dedicated to preservation, education and celebration of American Roots music.


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