“Hurricane Blues” begins with a low levee moan, a squalling harmonica, the lonesome call of a dobro. The scene is set for the rumbling winds to come. Slowly but surely, every modern convenience is peeled away — and then things that matter far more. People are left without television, without phones, then without food.
Waiting for help, all that’s left is a mood of stoic despair.
Rowdy House’s rootsy, 12-bar blues sound perfectly in keeping with the disjointed aftermath of a coastal storm, with the defeated and forgotten finally left to simply “sit in the dark, singing these hurricane blues.”
Of course, this being Rowdy House – a group of anonymous, non-partisan professional musicians working to highlight government waste and corruption – there is a larger message among the misery. Their web site, at rowdyhousemusic.com, details a series of mishandlings of these situations, from politicians scamming storm money for their own ill-gotten gain to the various and well-documented bumblings of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
That information, whether new to listeners or a powerful reminder of this legacy of incompetence and greed, serves to provide a deeper relevance to “Hurricane Blues,” giving it a purpose beyond the lyric’s frank and sobering imagery.
However, even those who choose not to delve into the track’s backstory will be moved by its orchestral sweep, and its emotionally direct approach. This is, alas, a blues for the modern age.