Blues

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The Blues
The Blues
Blues is a genre and musical form originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The genre developed from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs and European-American folk music.  Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.[3] The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes (or “worried notes”), usually thirds or fifths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Blues as a genre is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation. Early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating the troubles experienced in African-American society.

Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and subgenres. Blues subgenres include country blues, such as Delta blues and Piedmont blues, as well as urban blues styles such as Chicago blues and West Coast blues. World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock evolved.

 Etymology

The term blues may have come from “blue devils”, meaning melancholy and sadness; an early use of the term in this sense is in George Colman‘s one-act farce Blue Devils (1798).  The phrase blue devils may also have been derived from Britain in the 1600s, when the term referred to the “intense visual hallucinations that can accompany severe alcohol withdrawal”. As time went on, the phrase lost the reference to devils, and “it came to mean a state of agitation or depression.” By the 1800s in the United States, the term blues was associated with drinking alcohol, a meaning which survives in the phrase blue law, which prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sunday.  Though the use of the phrase in African-American music may be older, it has been attested to in print since 1912, when Hart Wand‘s “Dallas Blues” became the first copyrighted blues composition.  In lyrics the phrase is often used to describe a depressed mood. Some sources state that the term blues is related to “blue notes“, the flatted, often microtonal notes used in blues, but the Oxford English Dictionary claims that the term blues came first and led to the naming of “blue notes”.

 On this page, I’ll be looking at classic American Blues artists from the 20th century. I have a strong interest on Rural Mississippi Delta Blues snd from there we’ll expand geographically throughout the United States and outside, back to Africa and Europe.

Some of the artists I’m interested in are Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Leadbelly, Billie Holiday, Mississippi John Hurt, Bessie Smith, Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Skip James, B.B. King, Albert King, Mance Lipscomb, John Lee Hooker, Lonnie Johnson, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie McTell, Bo Diddley, R.L. Burnside, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ray Charles, John Mayall, Roy Buchanan, Ali Farka Toure, Taj Mahal, Bukka White,Buddy Guy & Junior Wells,  Tommy Johnson Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, Elmore James, Charley Patton, Otis Rush, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, Etta James, Willie Dixon, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Robert Cray, Memphis Minnie, T-Bone Walker.

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 Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings

Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings
Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings
Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy and poorly documented life and death at age 27have given rise to much legend. One Faustian myth says that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of Mississippi highways to achieve success. As an itinerantperformer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, Johnson had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime.
After the reissue of his recordings in 1961, on the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers, his work reached a wider national audience. Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta blues style. He is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; Eric Clapton of the band Cream has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.”
Johnson was inducted in 1986 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first induction ceremony, noted as an early influence in the genre.  In 2010, David Fricke ranked Johnson fifth in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
 Listen to Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings and more……..
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Skip James: Blues From The Mississippi Delta
Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James (June 9, 1902 – October 3, 1969)  was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter. His guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor-key sound, played in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique.
James first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931, but these recordings sold poorly, having been released during the Great Depression, and he drifted into obscurity. After a long absence from the public eye, James was “rediscovered” in 1964 by three blues enthusiasts, helping further the blues and folk music revival of the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, James appeared at folk and blues festivals, gave concerts around the country and recorded several albums for various record labels.
Skip James: Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers is the debut album by the American blues singer Skip James, released in 1965. It was his first album released after his rediscovery in 1964.
Listen to Skip James: Blues From The Mississippi Delta & Blues From The Delta by Skip James and more at…….
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Folk Singer is the fourth studio album by Muddy Waters, released in April 1964 by Chess Records. The album features Waters on acoustic guitar, backed by Willie Dixon on string bass, Clifton James on drums, and Buddy Guy on acoustic guitar. It is Waters’s only all-acoustic album. Numerous reissues of Folk Singer include bonus tracks from two subsequent sessions, in April 1964 and October 1964.
Listen to “Folk Singer” by Muddy Waters and more ……..
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Son House: Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions
Son House: Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions
Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. (March 21, 1902– October 19, 1988) was an American blues singer and guitarist, noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.

After years of hostility to secular music, as a preacher and for a few years also as a church pastor, he turned to blues performance at the age of 25. He quickly developed a unique style by applying the rhythmic drive, vocal power and emotional intensity of his preaching to the newly learned idiom. In a short career interrupted by a spell in Parchman Farm penitentiary, he developed to the point that Charley Patton, the foremost blues artist of the Mississippi Delta region, invited him to share engagements and to accompany him to a 1930 recording session for Paramount Records.

Listen to Son House: Father of the Delta Blues: The Complete 1965 Sessions and more………
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Roy Buchanan: A Street Called Straight
Roy Buchanan: A Street Called Straight
Roy Buchanan (September 23, 1939 – August 14, 1988) was an American guitarist and blues musician. A pioneer of the Telecaster sound, Buchanan worked as both a sideman and solo artist, with two gold albums early in his career, and two later solo albums that made it on to the Billboard chart. Despite never having achieved stardom, he is still considered a highly influential guitar player. Guitar Player praised him as having one of the “50 Greatest Tones of all Time.” He appeared on the PBS music program Austin City Limits in 1977 during Season 2.
Roy Buchanan was one of America’s true geniuses of the electric guitar. Even posthumously, he commands the ardent respect of his fellow guitarists and a devoted army of fans. The Buchanan sound is unique: heartbreaking, searing solos, trademark shimmering tone, gorgeous melodies and a mixture of lightning quickness and technical creativity that mark him as a wizard of the instrument. He was a pioneer in the use of controlled harmonics, and although this technique has been used by the likes of Jeff Beck, Robbie Robertson and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, all acknowledge Buchanan as the master.
Listen to Roy Buchanan “A Street Called Straight” & Roy Buchanan Live: Amazing Grace and more…..
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East-West is the second album by The Butterfield Blues Band, released in 1966 on Elektra Records, EKS 7315 in stereo, EKL 315 in mono. It was recorded at the famed Chess Studios on 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It peaked at #65 on the Billboard pop albums chart, but is regarded as highly influential by rock and blues music historians.
Listen to East-West Live by The Butterfield Blues Band (Studio & Live Versions) and more……
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Huddie William Ledbetter   (January 20, 1889 – December 6, 1949) was an American folk and blues musician notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced. He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly”, he himself wrote it as “Lead Belly”, which is also the spelling on his tombstone and the spelling used by the Lead Belly Foundation.
Lead Belly usually played a twelve-string guitar, but he also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and “windjammer” (diatonic accordion). In some of his recordings he sang while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.
Lead Belly’s songs covered a wide range, including gospel music; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, Jack Johnson, the Scottsboro Boys and Howard Hughes.
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Chill Out by John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker (c. August 22, 1912 – June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. The son of a sharecropper, he rose to prominence performing an electric guitar-style adaptation of Delta blues. Hooker often incorporated other elements, including talking blues and early North Mississippi Hill country blues. He developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, distinct from the 1930s–1940s piano-derived boogie-woogie.
Some of his best known songs include “Boogie Chillen'” (1948), “Crawling King Snake” (1949), “Dimples” (1956), “Boom Boom” (1962), and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (1966). Several of his later albums, including The Healer (1989), Mr. Lucky (1991), Chill Out (1995), and Don’t Look Back (1997) were album chart successes in the U.S. and U.K. Additionally, Don’t Look Back won a Grammy Award in 1998.
Listen to Chill Out by John Lee Hooker & more…….

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 Sam John “Lightnin'” Hopkins  (March 15, 1911 – January 30, 1982) was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber from from Centerville, TexasRolling Stone magazine ranked him number 71 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins‘ nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour.
 The musicologist Robert “Mack” McCormick opined that Hopkins is “the embodiment of the jazz-and-poetry spirit, representing its ancient form in the single creator whose words and music are one act”.
Hopkins’s style was born from spending many hours playing informally without a backing band. His distinctive fingerstyle technique often included playing, in effect, bassrhythmlead, and percussion at the same time.
Listen to  Lightnin’ Hopkins – Country Blues and more……………….

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Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads is a British documentary film, released in 1991, and made by music critic and author Robert Palmer and documentary film maker Robert Mugge, in collaboration with David A. Stewart and his brother John J. Stewart. The film provided insight into the location, cast and characteristics of Delta blues and North Mississippi hill country blues. Filming took place in 1990 in Memphis, Tennessee, and various North Mississippi counties. Theatrical release was in 1991 and home video release in the United Kingdom, the next year, as was a soundtrack album. A United States consumer edition came in 2000.
 Stewart initiated and financed the project, inspired by Palmer’s 1981 book of the same name. Palmer provided many of the insights into the background and history of the blues, as a guide to Stewart and the film narrator.
Listen to Deep Blues and more……

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