Rim Country Leaders Are Singing The Blues

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Since it's likely there is no musical form that's hipper than "the blues," and since Payson has for nine years hosted the June Bug Blues Festival which unspools Saturday at the Payson Event Center it seems safe to conclude that Payson is one exceptionally hip town.

But how hip is it, exactly?

To find out, several Rim country notables were each asked the same question:

"What do the blues mean to you?"

Their answers will surprise you. Shock you. Stun you. And make you consider the possibility of moving to a hipper place.

"The blues are a way of life," said the town's attorney, Sam Streichman, before drifting into dead silence.

"C'mon. You're a lawyer," a reporter admonished. "You can do better than that."

"I rarely have the blues," Streichman said, struggling like a greenhorn lawyer in the process of losing his first case. "No, I have an answer for you: It's a quintessential American musical form."

The reporter was not satisfied.

"So you don't like that one either, huh? Well, it's down-home, home-grown American music."

But does Payson's top legal eagle listen to the blues?

"Absolutely," Streichman said. "I love it."

And his favorites?

"Uhhh ... well ... I don't listen to ... uhhh ... I couldn't tell you ..."

The next call went to Bob Ware, executive director of the Rim Chamber Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"The blues mean soul, a tieback to a time when people were probably happy and sad at the same time, and they found joy out of rhythm," Ware said without pause. "And no matter how you put the words together, they always fit."

Impressive answer. It didn't make a lot of sense, but you got the feeling that Ware unlike Streichman had, at least once in his life, heard the blues.

Next up, Payson Community Development Director Bob Gould.

"Don't ask me that!," Gould begged. "The blues mean music. That's it. I'm staying safe here. Very safe. I don't listen to the blues, so I can't give you much of a quote on that."

Gould may not be hip, but he's a straight-shooter.

"When I think of blues music, I think of Louie Armstrong," answered Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner, as if he thought it was a really stupid, time-wasting question. "That's it. I gotta go."

The smoothest answer came from Payson Fire Chief John Ross.

"I have always been a music fan, and I enjoy all types of music," Ross said. "I have an eclectic interest in music, and the blues have always been interesting to me. I enjoy listening to them, they soothe me, and it's great to watch the performers. Those that typically sing the blues have a lot of passion, and that's very attractive to me."

There were dozens of other Payson notables the reporter tried to reach, but couldn't. One more notable did return the Roundup's call.

"What do the blues mean to me?," repeated the town's public works director, Buzz Walker. "They mean Eric Clapton. He's the blues. I'm a product of the '60s. The outshoot of the original blues artists were those great '60s rhythm and blues performers: Clapton, John Mayall, Carlos Santana. Man! Those are the blues!"

Right there was the answer that the reporter had been searching for.

Think about it.

How hip can a town be when it's hippest resident is a grown man named Buzz?

See the local news section of the Roundup's Internet edition to read a rundown of this year's June Bug Blues Festival.

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