The King Biscuit Time Columns
Blues Online, # 7- Webrings
By Glenn Weiser

These are the archived columns I've written for my King Biscuit Time column, The Blues Online. - GW


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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.


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 (http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Music/Styles/Blues).

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?….
 the 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 for more.

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.

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.   

Email: banjoandguitar100@yahoo.com
  

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