If the soul of America made a sound, it would sing the Blues from dusk til dawn. It is, deep beneath the plastic veneer of appearances, the truth about the human condition: joy and pain, love and grief, triumph and tragedy mixed together into a sparkling cocktail of art. The Blues pulls you under and it makes you realize that you are not the only one who has ever been done dirty and gotten hurt. The blues pulls you up out of your funk, keeping you company as it soothes your weary heart.
Photographer Joseph A. Rosen has been photographing Blues musicians for 40 years, taking portraits of the legends of our time including James Brown, B.B. King, Al Green, Les Paul, Mavis Staples, Eubie Blake, Maxine Brown, Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., and Pete Seeger, among others. He has compiled these photographs in Blues Hands (Schiffer), which hones in on the visual expression of music through the way they play their instruments. Rosen speaks with Crave Online about his work on this project.
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Photo: Frank “Scrap Iron” Robinson, Legendary R&B Cruise, January 2007. © Joseph A. Rosen