Says he “ain’t got the blues no more”

Local blues musician Artis Bluegill will sleep easier tonight. There’s no hellhound on his trail. There’s no more a-rambling, no more laughing to keep from crying, and no more bad luck with wine, women and song.

Artis Bluegill has found inner peace, and peace means he doesn’t have the blues anymore.

“Just amazing,” says the 83-year-old harmonica master. “I woke up this morning, I said I woke up this morning and the blues ran away, oh yeah.” His daughter, Lola Bluegill, explains: “We were watching Discovery Channel late one night, and it dawned on me that Dad didn’t have the blues, he actually had acute depression, and we took it from there.”

Artis, or Papa Bear, as he’s known in blues circles, was reluctant to start treatment, though, and the family had to resort to involuntary commitment to get Artis into therapy. The intervention took place at a high-profile gig at the Ol’ Man’s Hideout blues club in downtown Green Lake. The crowd cheered loudly when four white-coated hospital workers came onstage to grab Artis Bluegill, thinking it was a spoof of James Brown’s famous set-closing act. But their perceptions changed quickly as Bluegill dashed off the stage and through the exit, shouting “The devil’s coming for me! The devil’s coming for me!”

Dealing with a bluesman’s emotional disorder isn’t that simple, however. “Bluesmen talk in metaphors that non-bluesmen don’t always get,” said Dr. Marla Little. “I mean, you’re not going to find ‘a-shakin’ and a-stompin’ in the list of symptoms for depression. It’s not in there. I know, cause I checked four times. Stupid college, make me take an intern from the school of medicine? I’ll make ‘em pay. I’ll slip lithium in their water cooler.”

“I was standing at the crossroads,” says Papa Bear, “but I made it back from being down in the dumps.” He says therapy and a support group helped reawaken him to a “blues-less life,” as Dr. Little described it. “Hard luck and trouble ain’t my only friends anymore. I got lots of human friends now- Jerry, Dale, Merry and that guy who keeps chewing on the door frame.”

Fans of Bluegill’s music should be happy to hear that Papa Bear isn’t giving up his music, even with this drastic life change. Instead of the traditional Mississippi Delta blues he’s played for all of his 60-plus year career, Bluegill plans on making motivational, “feel-good” music that challenges those with the blues to get out of their funk. Currently working in the studio with New Age composer/producer Flanni, Bluegill says he’ll name his next record “Just Cheer Up Already!”

“Life’s been hard on me,” says Bluegill. “I’ve been tossin and turning and shakin and burnin my whole life. But now I ain’t playing with fire no more, no sir. Let me take you down to my next track, Jack, it’s called ‘Nobody Gives a Damn About You As It Is.’” He sings: “Nobody cares if you’re crying/so don’t suppose we’ll give you bliss/now that I think about it/nobody gives a damn about you as it is.”

Artis Bluegill’s next record is slated for release in the fall, with a promotional tour sponsored by Queasland Petrochemical, the company that produces the mood-altering drugs Bluegill’s been prescribed.

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