In addition to search engines and Internet
directories, webrings are yet another way to find blues Web sites. These
are groups of websites linked in a circle, allowing a visitor to visit
all the sites in the ring by proceeding either forwards or backwards
from the website by which the ring is entered.
To see how a typical webring works, go my blues page at www.celticguitarmusic.com/bluesmain.htm,
and scroll down past the fabulous content to the bottom of the page,
where you’ll find a banner for the Cyber Blues Society and some links
below it. I have my site in a few webrings, among them the Blues Society
ring. To get an overview of the ring, click on the List Sites link,
which will take you to the master list at http://l.webring.com/hub?ring=bluessociety.
At the left of the page is a light gray sidebar headed by ringmaster Joe
Buckel’s circus barker style description of the ring and invitation to
all blues sites to join. Below that are the ring statistics, where
you’ll see that there are 160 active sites in the ring. The first 20
sites are listed on the page, followed by seven more pages of listings.
When checking out a webring, I usually read the master list first.
Now click the Back button on your browser, return to my page, and scroll
back to the bottom. In the same navigation bar where you saw the List
Sites link you’ll also see four other links which allow you to explore
the ring in various ways: a link to a list of the previous 5 sites in
the ring (it says 5 sites, but in the case of this webring, you’ll see
a list of the next 10), a link to a the previous site, the next site,
the next 5 sites (again, you’ll get 10), and a site selected at random
if you want to try for potluck. Above the navigation options there is a
link for emailing the website’s owner- in this case your truly-and
above that a link to Mr. Buckel’s cool website at www.bluescities.net.
But the Blues Society webring is only one of several blues rings. To
view a list of most of these, go to Webring’s homepage at http://dir.webring.com/rw,
where you’ll find a directory of categories in the center of the page.
In the left column, click on the Music link, and then, on the Music
page, click on Genres in the left column. From Genres, click on Blues.
The Blues listing (http://dir.webring.com/rw?d=Music/Genres/Blues)
contains 28 blues webrings. The
first page lists 18 rings, and a link just below the search box towards
the top of the page leads to a page listing 9 artists’ rings. The
rings listed on the two pages range in size from 2 sites to the Blues
Society ring’s 160.
The Blues listing sports some intriguing
fare. The Free Blues Rock MP3 Webring is a group of artists’ sites
offering mp3s for karma free download. Fear not-because these files are
available by the artists’ consent, the record industry will not sic
their lawyers on you for downloading these songs. Take a listen, and
perhaps you’ll want to buy a CD or show up at one of their gigs.
As always, you’re invited to visit the King
Biscuit Time Website at www.kingbiscuittime.com,
and my own blues site at www.celticguitarmusic.com/bluesmain.htm,
where all my back Blues Online columns are archived.
Are you reading this down in Texas, or, by some chance, in Germany or
even Finland? The Texas Blues Ring, German Blues, or Blues in Finland
might be able to plug you into your local blues scene. Another ring, The
Blues Radio Webring is, by their own description, “a
network of internet-based blues broadcasters dedicated to promoting
Internet Radio as a viable medium.” Or, for a catch-all blues ring,
there’s the Blues WebRing, where anything blues-related goes.
Over on the Artists page, there is a listing of 5
webrings, with links above to rings for six-string heroes Johnny Lang,
Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Shannon Curfman. For blues harp fans, the
Harmonica Blues Music ring has 11 sites to visit. If you pen your own
blues songs, Songwriters of the Blues has 3 sites you can check out.
Now return to my web site and again scroll down to the bottom, where
you’ll see the logo and navigation bar of the Mother of All Blues
Webrings-the Official Blues Ring (http://l.webring.com/hub?ring=blues).
At 664 active sites, this is far and away the largest webring for the
blues. The reason it doesn’t appear in the Music>Genres> Blues
listing, though, is that it’s located-inappropriately, in my opinion-
in the For Musicians subcategory of the Music section. At 20 sites per
page, the master list is over 30 pages long, making this ring to the
best my knowledge the second largest assemblage of blues sites on the
Internet after the Google directory’s 1700 site strong Blues category
Reading down the first page of the Official Blues Ring’s master list,
I decide to check out Blues Lyrics Online at www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Delta/2541.
The index page is a strange piece of work - “ The blues is the
soundtrack to reality...” it proclaims at the top, and goes on to say,
“Yes folks, here you will find the answer to all of the following
questions which I just know have been nagging you and keeping you
awake for nights on end with those I-wish-I-knew-blues...Has anybody
ever written a blues song about space flight?….
Kinsey Report?,” the anonymous author writes. “Or Godzilla? Or
President Eisenhower? President Johnson? Napoleon Bonaparte? …Has
there ever been a blues recorded to the accompaniment of a sewing
machine? Is there a blues about bad breath? ….And how do I know
if my mojo is working?… And
most importantly, what is the blues, anyway???”
I’m afraid to click on the link leading to the
answers, but somehow muster the nerve. Expecting more tackiness, I
instead find down –to-earth answers with links to the lyrics of the
songs in question. Moreover, the site is a solid resource, with links to
hundreds of songs listed by both artist and title. Scrolling down to the
bottom of the index page, I also discover there is a lyrics webring to
which the site also belongs. I bookmark the site and return to the list.
On the second page I spot a website for Contraband (http://contra.band.tripod.com),
a “blues movement” based in Pune, a city near Bombay. Blues in
India? You’re kidding. But surprisingly, Pune has a cadre of fans, one
band at least, and a string of venues- the basic ingredients of a blues
scene. Timbuktu must be next, I think, and flip back to the list, ready
I’m a fan of blues photojournalism, and Beale Street Photos (www.bealestreetbluesphotos.com),
a site by pro lensman Steve Fletcher listed on the fourth page, looks
hot. I log on, and see an extensive list of artists shot performing on
the legendary Memphis drag. Being a harmonica player, I go to the
Charlie Musselwhite page, and admire some pix of the roguish looking
harp ace plying his trade bathed in yellow and red stage lights.
Fletcher clearly has a fine sense of composition, and I like his site.
With so many pages of listings, all I can do for now is scratch the
surface of the Official Blues webring. Besides, there is a final detail
about webrings that needs explaining- how to have your Web site included
in a ring. For this, you’ll first have to go to Webring’s home page
and register as a member (it’s free). Then go the master list page of
any ring you want to join, and apply by clicking on the Join this Ring
link at the top right of the page and filling out an online form. The
ringmaster will then vet your site. Assuming it qualifies, he will
direct you to a page where you will find HTML code for the webring and
give you ID values for your site (a name, a number, etc.). You’ll have
to know enough about HTML to copy and paste it correctly onto the bottom
of your web page (try the HTML tutorial at www.w3schools.com/html
if you need help with this). After you fill in the ID values and the
ringmaster confirms them, you’ll be in the loop. Joining a webring is
worthwhile both for the extra traffic to your site it will bring and the
sites you can learn about.
Whether you’re just surfing a webring or you have a site in one, the
essential point is that webrings strengthen the World Wide Web by making
it a more interconnected place. And that strengthens the blues as well.