“Who on earth is Carl Bludts?”, you might wonder. He does not gig or tour, has no CDs for sale. He does not even busk on the street or play at farmerʼs markets. Bludts mostly stays home to play his guitar, yet thousands of people know him and follow him. He is a contemporary phenomena: a YouTube sensation.
Nowadays, you can make a name for yourself as a musician without all the conventional prerequisites of a musicianʼs life. You donʼt have to travel, play in bands, beg club owners for gigs, or try to promote self-produced CDs. Some folks are content just to stay home and play music for its own sake, for friends and family. Thatʼs the real folk music. Up until recently, they would be completely unknown to all but their community. Now, through the internet, and especially YouTube, otherwise anonymous backporch players have a chance to get exposed internationally and the audience comes to them. As a consequence, there is an overwhelming amount of home-spun stuff by zillions of oh-so mediocre players who think they are all that, but are really not. If you dig deep enough through the ever growing YouTube blues vault, however, you will ﬁnd some worthwhile players who stand out as seriously good, even amazing musicians.
One of them is a now retired shopkeeper in Belgium named Carl Bludts who goes under the name “daddystovepipe” on YouTube. He has various clips of traditional blues and ragtime guitar performances uploaded, all of traditional acoustic blues, and combined he gets an average of 3,000 views a day. Do the math. In any given year he has an audience of a million people. Not so shabby. His videos are successful in large part because he is a skilled player, but also because his videos are professionally produced, with good lighting and clear sound. Thatʼs all good and possible if you donʼt want to make a living with music– you just give it all away for free.
Consequently, he has garnered the attention of blues bloggers and forums, and certainly has attained that ﬂeeting fame that most musicians seek. For those content to remain amateurs (a term that comes from the Latin and means “for the love of it” and should not be perceived as a negative term to imply lack of skill), to play music as a pastime and to make music for its own sake, what could be better? The difference between Carl Bludts, and a handful like him, is that he really is an extraordinarily skilled player. Most peopleʼs reaction when ﬁrst encountering his YouTube uploads is “Wow, who is this guy, daddystovepipe?”
Like I said, itʼs Carl Bludts, a Flemish bluesman in Belgium. Heʼs famous.