History of Blues. Part-5

Difference Between Rural and Urban Blues. Rural blues are essentially the original blues. Topics were open and basic–love, loneliness, anger and sadness. These subjects were sung about in an open setting with few people. Urban blues are blues wrapped around civilized jobs, big buildings and large populations.

Harsh living conditions in New York, Detroit and Chicago during the Depression helped to tighten and “twist” blues sound and collective performance. The center of this trend was Chicago, where in the 30s the undisputed leader was ‘Big Bill’ (William Lee Conley) Broonzy (b. Scott, Mississippi, 06/26/1893; d. Chicago, 08/14/1958).

Urban Blues of the 30’s

Having lived on a farm in Arkansas until William Lee Conley was well into his 20s, Brunzi proved to be a link between village and urban traditions. In 1920, while still a violinist, he settled in Chicago where he learned to play the guitar and 10 years later – by the beginning of his first recordings – became an outstanding performer.

Big Bill Broonzy – All the Best (FULL ALBUM – BEST OF COUNTRY BLUES)

One of the most active recording bluesmen, he played in a light, melodic style. Some of his songs were filled with poetry, diluted with plaintive notes of stringed instruments, such as “Big Bill Blues” (Champion 16400, 1932) and “Friendless Blues” (Bluebird 5535, 1934), but Brunzi also recorded many songs of a slightly dirty or sentimental nature. including “Keep Your Hands Off Her” (Bluebird 6188, 1935) or “Good Jelly” (Bluebird 5998, 1935), with Bob Black’s akin to piano accompaniment reminiscent of Leroy Carr’s Scrapper Blackwell style.

Let’s Get Drunk And Truck

By the mid-1930s, the Chicago band’s familiar line-up of guitar, piano, and often string bass had expanded to five instruments. It seems that Tampa Red was the pioneer in this and it was his “Let’s Get Drunk And Truck” (Bluebird 6335, 1936), recorded with his Chicago Five, which opened a new phase of the urban blues. It was a swinging dance number, followed by other numbers with a harder sound. Just two weeks later, in April 1936, The Harlem Hamfats recorded “Oh Red” (Decca 7182, 1936), the first of a string of over 70 songs. Despite the name, it was a Chicago band with New Orleans trumpeter Herb Morgan and clarinetist Odall Rand. Although this 7-piece band often played swing blues such as “Tempo De Bucket” (Decca 7382, 1937), it also included fellow guitarists Joe and Charlie McCoy, who played alongside Tommy Johnson and Ishman Bracey in Mississippi, Joe played and most vocals.

Washboard’s Barrel House Song

The jazzy “flavor” of the late 1930s Chicago blues is clearly audible in many of the Tampa Red’s Chicago Five recordings with Arnett Nelson (clarinet) or Bill Owsley (tenor saxophone), and in Brunzi’s recordings with trumpeters Punch Miller or Alfred Bell. Brunzi’s half-brother, Robert Brown (known as Sam Washboard), had a gruff but musical voice that matched his play on the washboard. Many of his recordings, including Washboard’s Barrel House Song (Bluebird 7291, 1937) and Down At The Village Store (Bluebird 7526, 1938), featured Arnet Nelson (clarinet) or Buster Bennett (alto saxophone) and some also featured Herb Morand against the backdrop of the massive blues sound produced by Brunzi and pianists Blind John Davis, Horace McCall or Simeon Henry.

It Sure Had A Kick

With the emphasis on harmonica as the leading instrument in Chicago bands and the presence of several particularly strong blues and boogie pianists, the blues has abandoned the influence of jazz wind instruments. The role of the harmonica was reflected in the pseudonym of William Gillam, who began recording under the name Jazz Gillam at that time. His “Sarah Jane” (Bluebird 6445, 1936) was a typical country dance tune, but under the influence of Brunzi his songs soon became harsher and turned into urban blues. He was not a particularly inventive performer, preferred short, penetratingly high notes, but in such recordings as “It Sure Had A Kick” (Bluebird 8505, 1940), “War Time Blues” (Bluebird 8943, 1941) he was enough demanding.

Shake the boogie – John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson

Above all was John Lee ‘Sonny Boy’ Williamson (born circa 1916; d. Chicago 1.06.1948) who played the harmonica and had a great influence on musicians. Except, perhaps, Little Walter, whom he also influenced, no “accordionist” ever became such a great “accordionist”; Williamson’s “squashed notes” and “cross-harmonic” techniques (eg clef at E on harmonic at A) by Williamson were widely popularized. His first recording, “Good Morning School Girl” (Bluebird 7059, 1937), introduced his unique instrumental style; his characteristic slight stutter gave his voice a unique quality in “Big Apple Blues” (Bluebird 8766, 1941). His poems were often distinguished by extreme originality; he wrote on biographical topics such as “Bad Luck Blues” (Bluebird 8265, 1939) about the murder of his cousin, stories like “Joe Louis And John Henry Blues” (Bluebird 8403, 1939) and the patriotic “War Time Blues” (Bluebird 8580 , 1940). Many of them were sustained at a lively bouncing tempo – such as “Sloppy Drunk Blues” (Bluebird 8822, 1941) and “Mellow Chick Swing” (Victor 202369, 1947), which benefited from Brunzi or Willie Lacey (guitar) on their recordings. , Blind by John Davis, or Big Maceo (piano).

‘Big Maceo’ Major Merriweather (born Atlanta, 03/31/1905; d. Chicago, 02/26/1953) was a strong pianist who worked in Detroit before joining the Tampa Red in Chicago. The contrast between Red’s distinct slide guitar and Maceo’s “walking bass” figures in “Worried Life Blues” (Bluebird 8827, 1941) inspired many of the duo’s successful recordings; but they are probably best remembered for the fast-paced instrumental number Texas Stomp (Victor 20-2028, 1945) and Chicago Breakdown (Bluebird 34-0743, 1945). Maceo lost his ability to work due to a stroke and his last recordings were made with the young pianist Eddie Boyd.

Another representative of the generation of young bluesmen was Memphis Slim, who recorded his debut album before the 2nd World War. His loud voice and powerful piano playing, focused primarily on Roosevelt Sykes, can be heard, for example, on “Beer Drinking Woman” (Bluebird 8584, 1940).

While some boogie-woogie pianists played at private parties, others grew up in blues bands, and still others – there were few of them – enjoyed greater popularity than the local. John Hammond found Mead Lux ​​Lewis and Albert Emmons as taxi drivers in Chicago in 1935. Through them other musicians were also discovered – in particular, Jimmy Yensi, whose slightly Spanish and polished simple “right-handed” figures served as a restrained accompaniment to the energetic singing of his wife – Estelle “Mama” Yensi. His contemplative approach to music did not match the stage.

Lewis and Emmons began to play together thanks to the Kansas City duo of boogie pianist Pete Johnson and vocalist Joe Turner. Emmons, Lewis and Johnson rose to fame at the New York Cafe Society under the name Boogie Woogie Trio. Tied to swing frenzy, the boogie wasn’t fashionable for long; however, many recordings were made on this wave – “Boogie Woogie” (Victor 26054, 1938) by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and “Basie Boogie” (Okeh 6330, 1941) by Count Basie. Some, like Will Bradley’s “Boogie Woogie Conga” (Columbia 35994, 1941) and Charlie Barnett’s “Scrub Me Mama, With A Boogie Beat” (Bluebird 10975, 1940), had less to do with the original piano model. Some outstanding recordings by authentic boogie pianists include “Goin ‘Away Blues” (Vocalion 4607, 1938) by Pete Johnson with vocals by Joe Turner, and “Chicago In Mind” (Blue Note 4, 1939) by Albert Emmons.

The wide popularity of the piano boogie could be considered extinct by the time of the swing frenzy, if not for the powerful singing of Joseph ‘Vernon’ Big Joe ‘Turner (born Kansas City, 05/18/1911; d. Inglewood, California, 11/24/1985) significantly influenced on the post-war blues. Starting his career at age 14 in Kansas City, he rose to fame as a “singing bartender” and soon attracted the attention of band leaders Benny Moten, Andy Kirk and Count Basie, with whom he toured. Since the mid-1930s, he was often accompanied by Pete Johnson – with him he appeared on the stage of Carnegie Hall in 1938 at concerts “From Spirituals to Swing”. A few days later, he began recording his songs for the first time. “Roll ‘Am Pete” (Vocalion 4607, 1938) features Lyta Johnson’s thrilling piano playing and Turner’s powerful vocals in the style he made famous; half shouts and repetitive phrases that create tension in the ending. Known rather as the blues “screamer”, Turner nevertheless had a musical voice that sounded quite sensual in slow blues like “Lucille” (Decca 8577, 1941). During the 40s and 50s he toured extensively with groups and individual pianists; his singing was perceived as a model of a jazz-blues approach to music filled with strength, relaxation, energy and tenderness. B “Old Piney Brown Is Gone” (Swing-time 154, 1949) reflected his experiences in Kansas City, and “You’re Driving Me Crazy” (Atlantic 1234, 1956) revealed his ability to compose a popular song with blues slope. And it was his song “Shake Rattle And Roll” (Atlantic 1026, 1954) that became the harbinger of rock and roll.


Until the very end of World War II, blues recording was controlled by several large companies, but in the late 1940s, small firms, many of which were headed by blacks, began to produce blues recordings. Some were in southern cities such as Memphis and Houston, others on the west coast, where the laid back blues created by the Texan settlers entered a new market. New firms were opening in Chicago and Detroit, so the share of blues production remained significant. Until that time, the blues was considered a “racial” music in commercial terms. This expression, adopted even in record catalogs, significantly influenced the popularity of post-war rhythm and blues – a term that does not imply race.

The war, the “Petrillo Ban” imposed by the Union of Musicians on recording and the emergence of independent record companies, contributed to the division of blues recordings into pre-war and post-war, although in fact there was a constant evolution that the recordings simply do not reflect. The wartime entertainment industry also encouraged some fleeting fashion trends such as the jive. This term has many meanings in the black American vocabulary; it may have come from the West African ‘jev’ meaning “to speak dismissively,” a meaning that has survived in America today. This word also applies to witty speech, a form of stylized jitterbug (fast dance with sharp movements to jazz music). In black music, it was especially applied to the lightweight, rhythmic “bullshit” blues popular in the 1940s during the swing “era”. Although the lyrics of the jive songs were filled with hints, wit, sophistication, or cunning, the music was associated with the “good” times.

Louis Jordan – You Run Your Mouth and I’ll Run My Business

The most prominent representative of the jive can be considered the actively recording singer and alto saxophonist Louis Jordan with his “You Run Your Mouth And I’ll Run My Business Roll” (Decca 7705, 1940), “The Chick’s Too Young To Fry” (Decca 23610, 1945), “Let The Good Times Roll” (Decca 23741, 1945), “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (Brunswick 04402, 1949). Other “jiveists” included Phil Moore with his patriotic, war-inspired number I’m Gonna See My Baby (Victor 20-1613, 1944) and the white pianist Harry “Hipster” Gibson, who recorded many disgusting songs like “Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine? ” (Musicraft 346, 1944).

Although jive itself has fallen into disrepair, it has survived in part as a form of rhythm and blues, especially in Wynonie Harris recordings such as “Grandma Plays The Numbers” (King 4276, 1948), “Bloodshot Eyes’ (King 4461, 1951 “Bloodshot Eyes” was a “cover” of a song by white artist Hank Penny, a testament to the fusion of black and white styles that began during the war and culminated in rock and roll. as well as “racial” music before. It was not only blues or blues-related numbers; many gospel recordings appeared on rhythm and blues lists – as did many vocal quartets. early band The Ink Spots, or gospel quartets of the 30s-40s, but their music became more sophisticated, “secular” and sentimental. Among them were such as The Moonglows, The Flamingoes, The Drifters, The Dominoes, The Four Baddies, The Five Satins , The Pelicans, The Platters.

Blues bands ranged from large-scale bands like Lucky Milander, Tini Bradshaw, and Todd Rhodes, to more “raw” bands, with a rough saxophone cabaret and riffed backing like Bill Doggett or Bill Musa Jackson. Close to the blues tradition, although familiar with the popular black no-nonsense art, were the singers who recorded for Bob Geddins and other new West Coast record producers.

Cecil Gant (G.I. Sing sation) – Cecil Boogie bw I Wonder GILT EDGE

Evidence of this is the combination of the ballad “I Wonder” with the powerful piano piece “Cecil’s Boogie” (Gilt Edge 501, 1944) performed by Cecil Gant’s GI Sing-Sation ‘Private. Gantt’s formula combined the popular scheme with the denser blues, symbolizing the meeting of styles found in the playing and singing of several Texans who migrated to Los Angeles or Oakland. The center of this movement was the pianist Charles Brown, whose style was influenced by the traditional playing of Alex Moore, but also owed much to the vocal Nat King Cola. Working with the Three Blazes (guitarists Johnny and Oscar Moore and bassist Eddie Williams), he made numerous recordings, including his influential Drifting Blues (Aladdin 112, 1946) and Merry Christmas Baby (Exclusive 63, 1947). The singer-pianist Floyd Dixon also came from Texas – the song “Houston Jump” (Supreme 1528, 1947) tells about his origin; his “Bad Neighborhood” (Aladdin 3121, 1950) is one of several recordings also recorded with the Three Blasers. Atuos Milborn, influenced by Charles Brown, also came from Houston; his “Train Time Blues” (Aladdin 206, 1947) was one of his hit records, but like other musicians in this group (who preferred colored ties, white suits and sophisticated “club” looks), his subsequent recordings began to gravitate strongly towards commerce.

Lowell Fulson – All the Best (THE BEST OF POP – FULL ALBUM)

Very close to these performers was guitarist Lowell Fulson, a half-Indian from Oklahoma, who worked with Texess Alexander before moving to the West Coast. He played the guitar skillfully, fluently, and sang stronger than other West Coast singers; the most significant of his many recordings are “Every Day I Have The Blues” (Swingtime 196, 1950), on which, among others, he was accompanied by pianist Lloyd Glenn, and his hit “Reconsider Baby” (Checker 804, 1954).

Wichita Falls Blues (T-Bone Walker, 1929) Blues Guitar Legend

But perhaps the greatest influence on the musicians came from other West Texas recording artist and guitarist Aaron (Tibeaux) ‘TBone’ Walker (born Linden, 05/28/1910; d. Los Angeles, 05/16/1975). At 19, he began recording under the name ‘Oak Cliff T-Bone’. “Whitchita Falls Blues” (Columbia 14506, 1929) paid tribute to Blind Lemon Jefferson, whose footsteps he followed in Dallas. He traveled extensively with medical shows in the early 1930s; when he heard Les Paul play the guitar with an amplifier, he began to play the instrument himself.

T-Bone Walker – Too Much Trouble Blues

Although he developed the electric guitar technique in blues at the same time as Charlie Christian did in jazz, Walker did not make any recordings before the war, and even until its end in 1945, Call It Stormy Monday (Black And White 122, 1947) was the ultimate blues, where Walker was accompanied by a small cast of musicians. In general, he himself performed with a group that compensated for his thin voice, this also allowed him to improvise. “Too Much Trouble Blues” (Capitol 944, 1947) and “Alimony Blues” (Imperial 5153, 1951) are examples of the characteristic mix of his slightly husky voice, witty lyrics and fast guitar phrases that fit every verse of the song. Walker’s ability to clearly improvise even on fast themes is well heard in his “Strollin ‘With Bones” (Imperial 5071, 1950). It often seems that the accompanying line-up threatens to overwhelm the musician himself, but reworked versions of his famous blues – “Stormy Monday” and “Mean The Blues” (Atlantic 8020, 1956) testify to the prevalence of his own skill. Walker’s significance as an artist is that he bridges the gap between Texas folk tradition and modern blues. This is borne out by the example of BB King’s urban sophistication, which Walker was heavily influenced.

Numerous performers who recorded in the 1940s and 1950s on the West Coast and Louisiana (especially New Orleans) – pianist Roe Longhair Byrd, vocalists Roy Brown, Charles Waterford, Eddie Winson and violin guitarist Clarence Brown – from time to time. ” there were hits.

Many female singers who were popular with black audiences were also recorded, including the brilliant Ruth Brown, who had the wide-ranging voice of ‘Big Maybelle’ Smith and who played the harmonica of Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton.

Big Maybelle – Whole Lotta Shakin´ Goin´ On

Many of these performers worked predominantly in the blues key, but there were some whose discs were recorded as R&B but were actually more compromise. Targeting a teenage audience and with an ever-increasing commercial emphasis, the products of such artists were often referred to as blues, but gravitated more towards the pop and rock and roll categories. While rock ‘n’ roll is regarded as a social phenomenon that has influenced pop music and culture in general, it falls outside the scope of the blues itself. In some cases, the boundaries of these styles are blurred and difficult to define; an example of this is the New Orleans pianist ‘Fats’ Domino (born New Orleans, 02/26/1928), who sang with the same sweet nostalgia and blues “Please Don’t Leave Me” (Imperial 5240, 1953), and the pop song “Blueberry Hill “(Imperial 407, 1956). His recordings were in great demand among the middle class (especially Ain’t That A Slame (Imperial 5348, 1955), Bo Weevil (Imperial 5375, 1956) and the blues standard Blue Monday (Imperial 5417, 1956 )) and sold in millions of copies.

The contribution to these genres of frenziedly pounding piano and squealing Little Richard is obvious – at least in the blues;


Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley (Ellas McDaniel) “gave out” apt verses, suitable for both blues and popular ballads. Yet they are not considered “pure” blues singers, but rock and roll singers who are extremely popular with both black and white audiences.

Perhaps because of the ambiguity of the blues in the context of rhythm and blues and its links to rock and roll, it is so difficult to clearly define the term rhythm and blues. There was an attempt to call it down-to-earth, traditionally “home” blues performed by singers from Louisiana and Texas. “Cairo Blues” (Gold Star 663, 1948) Leela Sean Jackson, “I’m Long Gone” (Specialty 478, 1953) by Frankie Lee Sims and “Country Gal” (Modern 20-537, 1948) by Andrew Smokey Hogg presented Texans recordings who have remained faithful to tradition.

Samuel Lightnin’ Hopkins – The Blues

One of the most famous Texas guitarists was Sam ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins (b. Centerville, Texas, 03/15/1912; d. Houston, 01/30/1982). He was not only the most recording bluesman of the post-war era, but also the most consistent musician. The styles featured in “Short Haired Woman” and “Big Mama Jump” (both Gold Star 3131, 1947) – guitar and boogie – he returned periodically. One of the few overtly political blues was his, published at 78 rpm “Tim Moore’s Farm” (Gold Star 640, 1947), but had a purely local significance. Later in New York, Hopkins recorded “Coffee Blues” (Jax. 635, 1950), which became one of his first bestsellers. Many songs echoed his surroundings, including the gambling theme in Policy Game (Decca 48842, 1953) and the slow blues Lonesome In Your Home (Herald 471, 1954). “Penitentiary Blues” (Folkways FS 3822, 1959) is one of his best recordings. It is marked by a crisp vibrato of a rough voice and clear guitar arpeggios. Many of Hopkins’ blues improvise, and he does well with stunningly poetic imagery – as in Have You Ever Seen A One-eyed Woman Cry (77 LA 12/1, 1959). On the recording, he was assisted by his fellow blues guitarists John Henry and the Joel Hopkins, and in “Wimmin From Coast To Coast” (World Pacific 1296, 1960), he threw phrases and stanzas with Brownie McGee, Big Joe Williams and Sonny Terry. There is some repetition in Hopkins’ manner, but his original handling of the phrase and the soulful sense of the blues turned his recordings into masterpieces.

Due to the entrepreneurial activities of record companies and the search for new talented artists, recordings do not necessarily give an accurate picture of the number of blues artists. However, when Crowley, Louisiana became the center of the recording industry in the mid-1950s, local talent flourished; Ligtnin Slim (Otis Hicks) from Baton Rouge, whose “Bad Luck And Trouble” (Excello 2096, 1957) was characteristically dark and crude in tone. Lonesome Sundown (Cornelius Green) and Slim Harpo (James Moore), following the blues tradition but with a more modern twist. Much the same could be said of Jackson, Mississippi, or Memphis, where among the many performers from the Mississippi Delta was pianist Willie Love, or band man Joe Hill Louis, who continued to perform in village bars and city clubs. Periodically recorded in Atlanta (there veteran blues singer Blind Willie McTell made many recordings after the war), Nashville, and, by the way, anywhere. Although quite a few southern country blues have been recorded in northern cities. For example, Gabriel Brown’s Florida blues such as Down In The Bottom (Joe Davis 5006, 1946) and Church Bells (Signature 32016, 1946) by Ralph Willis from Alabama were recorded in the 1940s in New York, where Like many other bluesmen, Brown and Willis settled.

It was the migration to the north that contributed to the design of the rustic sound of the blues of “Doctor” Isaac Ross from Mississippi or JP Bobo Jenkins from Arkansas, who recorded in Detroit, the city where one of the most amazing and outstanding bluesmen lived from the age of 30 – John Lee Hooker (born Clarksdale, Mississippi, 08/22/1917). Before coming to Detroit, Hooker worked in factories in Memphis and Cincinnati. His first recording, “Boogie Chillin” (Modern 20-627, 1948), enjoyed outstanding success, surpassing his fast, rhythmic pieces such as “Wobbling Baby” (Chart 609, 1953). With a thick, rich voice, he used vibrato effectively in his slow blues, such as “Cold Chills All Over Me” (Modern 862, 1952). Despite the fact that he was actively recording at 78 rpm, the recording of entire albums was not reflected in his work. “Black Snake” (Riverside 12-838, 1959) is a typical blues with hanging rhythm, rumbling choruses, whispered lines and free-verse structure. While reworking themes in various versions, such as Wednesday Evening Blues (Riverside 12-321, 1960), Hooker also acted as the original poetry writer. The often discordant and slow-paced couplets of his blues are united by an insistent and hypnotic rhythm. “Birmingham Blues” (Vee Jay 528, 1963) is one of his most expressive recordings. Hooker – the author of the mediocre hit “Boom Boom” (Vee Jay 438, 1961) – can be heard more often than other artists, he has performed at blues concerts and festivals since 1960, but his subsequent recordings lackluster.


By 1945, many of the pre-war blues artists — Big Bill Brunzi, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lonnie Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Maceo, Tampa Red, and Memphis Mine — were still working in black clubs. They had many followers, and the surviving racial record companies willingly recorded them. Young blues performers such as Eddie Boyd, Memphis Slim and Leroy Foster also gained popularity. Some of the older ones – pianist Sunnyland Slim (Albert Landrew) and Robert Nighthawk (Robert McCallum) – had enough local popularity, they recorded several records.

Muddy Waters – Got My Mojo Workin’

One of the sessions hosted by Sunnyland Slim featured a young blues performer (fed at Brunzi clubs) who was soon destined to play a prominent role in the Chicago blues: Muddy Waters, whose present McKinley Morganfield (born Rolling Fock, Mississippi, 4.04 .1915; d. Chicago, 04/30/1983). Formed by the recordings of Sean House and Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters switched from harmonica to guitar at the age of 17. These influences are found in his “I Be’s Troubled”, “Country Blues” (L. of C. AAFS 18, 1941), which he recorded at Clarksdale for the Library of Congress. After 2 years, he moved to Chicago, where he began recording since 1947. “Walkin ‘Blues” (Chess 1426, 1950) was based on “Country Blues”, but now it was played on electric guitar in a vibrating slide technique and his voice was louder and harder. This recording was the last on which he was accompanied by only one bass: in the wonderful “Louisiana Blues” (Chess 1441, 1950) Little Walter played along on the harmonica, and soon they were joined by his half-brother Otis Spann and second guitarist Jimmy Rogers – they and formed the core of his powerful Chicago group. By 1953, Muddy Waters was playing dramatic songs with a clear climax such as “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” (Chess 1560, 1953) and “Manish Boy” (Chess 1602, 1955). They became the model for many driving songs like “Got My Mojo Working” (Chess 1620, 1956) or “Tiger In Your Tank” (Chess 1765, 1960), which in their pompous style and loudness expressed the warlike spirit of the Negro ghettos of the time. Later, Muddy Waters toured extensively, yet gradually losing contact with the black audience. After a car accident in 1970, he was forced to sing while sitting on a chair.

Jazz Gillam and John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson discovered the power of harmonica in small group work; among their followers are southerner performers Snooki Pryor and Walter Sheiki Horton. The undisputed leader among them can be considered ‘Little Walter’ Jacobs (b. Alexandria, Louisiana, 05/01/1930; d. Chicago, 02/15/1968). At the age of 8, he made a living playing the accordion.

Othum Brown – Ora Nelle Blues

After 10 years he played on Maxwell Street in Chicago, where he recorded “Ora Nelle Blues” (Ora Nelle 711.1947). Here he paid tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson, although he soon developed his own technique for playing harmonica with an amplifier, uttering the words “vibrato” or “trill”, as heard in “Mean Old World” (Checker 764, 1952). As a singer, he had an almost colorless voice, but as an instrumentalist, he was much more expressive, especially in slow numbers: “Blue Lights” (Checker 799, 1954) with guitarist Robert Lockwood. An outstanding performer, Little Walter has brilliantly played along with other musicians, as in “Rollin ‘And Tumblin” (Parkway 501, 1950) performed by Leroy Foster and in sessions with Muddy Waters, for whom he provided truly brilliant support in “Long Distance Call” (Chess 1452 , 1951) and “All Night Long” (Chess 1509, 1952). Little Waltert had a strong influence on many young musicians; he himself was surprised to learn, on a European tour in the 60s, how well the public knew his recordings.

Performers Geordie Smith, who also called himself Little Walter Jr., and Big Walter Horton managed to adopt the style of Little Walter, although Horton, due to his curious gestures nicknamed “Sheiki”, developed an individual and exhilarating style of playing. Guitarist and accordionist Howling Wolf (traditionally blues singers still picked up colorful nicknames), with his rude, unstoppable manner and imposing physical appearance, challenged Muddy Waters.

Born Chester Burnett (born West Point, Mississippi, 06/10/1910; d. Hines, Illinois, 01/10/1976). He worked on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta and listened to Charlie Patton and Willie Brown. Possessing a rough voice, he adopted Patton’s “heavy” vocal style and, as it were, adopted his energy. While traveling in Arkansas, he met Sonny Boy Williamson (Alex Miller), and he taught him to play the harmonica. At almost 40 years old, he first recorded with a group from Memphis, which included pianist and guitarist Ike Turner: the dramatic “Moanin ‘And Midnight” (Chess 1479, 1950) was immediately noticed; with his barking cries, the singer justified the nickname.

Other versions of the song followed, including the powerful and rhythmic “Riding In The Moonlight” (RPM 333, 1951). He quickly refined his voice to produce a tense, punchy effect, as in “Smoke Stack Lightning” (Chess 1618, 1956), based on Patton’s recording of his son Hubert Samlin playing guitar.

Like Muddy Waters and Elmore James, Howlin ‘Wolfe honed the sound of the post-war Chicago blues, his direct play on the harmonica, as in “Hjjr Boy” (Chess 1679, 1957), inspired the same high quality playing and his accompaniment line. Although he could play guitar, he rarely recorded with her; the exception is “The Red Rooster” (Chess 1804, 1960), yet more notable for its menacing vocals.

Later recordings, “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy” (Chess 1870, 1963), often sounded unnatural, while his stage performances teetered on the brink of the grotesque, although wonderful for his age. But slow blues like “My Country Sugar Mama” (Chess 1911, 1964) still impress with persistent harmonica and rich vocal data. The last ten years of his life, he actively toured, but still he was best at performing in clubs in Chicago.

If Howlin Wolfe started from Charlie Patton, and Muddy Waters from Sean House, then Elmor James (born Richland, Mississippi, 01/27/1918; d. Chicago, 05/24/1963) inspired Robert Johnson. Not very well versed in musical technique, he limited himself to the slide rhythms gleaned from Johnson. His voice was strained, stifled, and, like many performers of his generation, he attached more importance to the performance and volume itself, rather than content and refined expressiveness. The attitude of the blues artist towards his audience has changed. The shift from veranda to restaurant dancing to the music of a turntable, from saloon to “hired” party, from odd jobs to long gigs in Chicago clubs contributed to the increased attention to the concert in front of the audience, and the weakening of the expression of their own feelings. The blues still represented mood music, but the blues performer began to control the mood of his listeners.

Some performers enjoyed well-deserved fame in Memphis or further south, but they had to wait a long time to achieve wider recognition. One of them was Sonny Boy Williamson (Alex ‘Rice’ Miller) (b. Glendora, Mississippi, 12/5/1897; d. Helena, Arkansas, 05/25/1965). In 1941, he took on the name of his younger but better-known performer when he began performing on radio for the Interstate Grocer Company, which advertised his concerts on radio and organized traveling road shows in the 1940s. He was in his 50s when he first recorded (“Eyesight To The Blind” (Trumpet 129, 1951)) in Jackson, Mississippi with a local band; the recording captured his quivering voice and amplified harmonics, while also revealing a strong and mature blues performer.


At the end of the 50s, significant changes took place in many areas of black music. It turned out that the partial fusion of blues, gospel vocal groups and other forms of black music was reflected in the emergence of a generalized genre of rhythm and blues. In parallel with the rapid growth in popularity of these musical directions, the areas of activity of record companies expanded. The growing interest in gospel is especially noteworthy: many performers made very passionate and expressive arrangements of them, while many groups used instrumental accompaniment. Some of the gospel performers combined their technique with the blues technique, sometimes making small changes to the lyrics. Soul – music owes much of its origin to this synthesis of styles.

Soul music is not the topic of this chapter. This is a significant cut of black music, but many of its performers still work within the blues form. Robert Calvin ‘Bobby Blue’ Bland (b. Rosemark, Tennessee, 01/27/1930) was the biggest influence on soul. Arriving in Memphis as a teenager, he sang with the local gospel band The Miniatures. In 1949 he co-created “The Beale Streeters” with John Alexander (Johnny Ace) and Roscoe Gordon – they performed on the “black” radio station WDIA. In the early 50s, Bland toured with Ace, guiding guitar style mostly on T-Bone Walker, and vocally on BB King, such as “It’s my life baby” (Duke 141, 1955). Experimenting with flowing, sentimental singing, and a gruff, screaming gospel voice, he eventually created the hit “Cry Cry Cry” (Duke 327, 1960). Far from the blues, Bland toured with accordionist Herman “Little Junior” Parker, who hosted the “Blues Consolidated” packing show. Bland carefully nurtured his stage style, with its inherent warmth and close relationship with the audience.

Singer and guitarist Riley BB ‘Blues Boy’ King (born Indianola, Mississippi, 09/16/1925) has been and remains faithful to the blues despite his close acquaintance with jazz, gospel and other styles. This perhaps the most famous and closest to the audience bluesman of our time grew up in Mississippi, from the age of eight he sang in a church choir. In Indianola, he later worked as a sharecropper and tractor driver, while simultaneously learning to play the guitar and performing gospel songs in various groups. In 1946, he moved to Memphis where he became a companion to his cousin Bukka White and made acquaintances with other Bluesmen, including Sonny Boy Williamson. On the shortly before created radio station WDIA, he rose to fame as a disc jockey under the name Billy Street Blues, which was eventually shortened and transformed into BBKing. His music was influenced by innovative electric guitarists such as T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and jazz musician Charlie Christian. From them he adopted and developed the arpeggio-based technique of solo guitar, which he used, performing with various compositions, including performers on saxophones and trumpet. In late 1949, BB King began recording, and in early 1952 his “Three o’Clock Blues” (Rpm 339, 1952) reached the top of the rhythm and blues charts in 15 weeks and all his subsequent works rarely “missed” the charts. Between the 50s and 60s, BB King toured extensively with the Tony Bradshaw group, performed at the Fillmore Auditorium (San Francisco) in 1968, has given numerous concerts abroad since 1970, was awarded two honorary doctorates and recorded over 450 songs.

A talented showman, King gave his guitar the female name “Lucille” and dedicated his album “Spotlight on Lucille” to her, developing an original stage style that emphasizes a clearly individual style of playing. Individual “curved” and “stretched” notes were replaced by cascades of descending arpeggios, in addition, his voice sounded somewhat taut due to the “suffering” manner of performance, for example, in “Every day I have the blues” (RPM 421, 1953), which is performed on background of swinging accompaniment. The difference between King’s technique and the other musicians he has worked with can be seen in “Lucille’s Granny” (Probe SPB1051, 1971): there are three lead guitar parts – King, Jesse Davis and Joe Welch. Among his most popular and frequently performed themes are the slow blues “Sweet Little Angel” (RPM 486, 1956), “My Own Fault Baby” (Crown 5188, 1960), “Confessin ‘The Blues” (ABC 528, 1966); they all showcase the elegance of his guitar improvisation. King was a significant influence on blues guitarists, many of whom also tried to compete with his popularity with white audiences.

King, as well as instrumentalists like T-Bone Walker, have influenced many singers. Among them, two of his namesakes can be distinguished, Albert Nelson was not only two years older than BB King, but was also born in Mississippi, changed his last name to King. With a heavy build, with a more traditional approach to blues playing, he is still clearly oriented towards the style of BB King (even Albert King called his guitar “Lucy”).

Freddie King expressed his gratitude to BB King in the song “Have you ever loved a woman” (Federal 12384, 1960), accompanying his screams and “suffering” with guitar decorations. He preferred playing with a large orchestra, which only emphasized the quality of his instrumental work. In “Wide Open” (Atlantic 588186, 1969), recorded with the King Oates Orchestra; his talent for gorgeous arrangements of old blues is evident in Eddie Boyd’s version of “Five Long Years” (A & M Records AMLS 65004, 1971). Freddie King died in his native Texas in 1972 at the age of 42.

The riffing line-ups studied harmonies and maintained a contrast between the main performer and his elaborate guitar playing so that the latter would form a coherent whole.

The Texan Albert Collins (born 1932), through his interpretation of B.B. King, absorbed the legacy of the T-Bone Walker, their technique found expression in “In Love Wit’cha” (Tumbleweed 3501, 1972). Collins was not immediately recognized, but his live performances in the 70s were received very loudly and many young guitarists recognized his influence on their playing. Like soul performers, its accompaniment often included an organist and sometimes a vocal group.

Since the beginning of the 70s, festivals and foreign tours began to play a significant role in the development of blues performers. So Jimmy Dawkins (born 1939) nicknamed ‘Fast Fingers’ recorded his “Lick for Licks” (Vogue (F) LDM 30.149, 1971) in Paris; in it, George Arvanitas plays the organ, and an undeservedly secondary role of the guitarist is given to the magnificent but little-known Mickey Baker. Dawkins, in principle, is an average performer, and he is far from Luther’a Allison’a (b.1939), with whom he sometimes worked, whose voice was filled with suffering and anxiety – for example in “The skies are ceying” (Delmark DS 625, 1969). Without hiding BB King’s deep influence on him, Alison was grateful to Otis Rush, one of two or three outstanding performers of that generation.

Otis Rush (born Philadelphia, Mississippi, 04/29/1934) arrived in Chicago at the age of 14 and soon began occasionally playing guitar in local clubs. His first recording, “I can’t quit you baby” (Cobra 5000, 1956), became a national hit. Although he was particularly good at the slow blues, for which his tight vocals were perfect, he also recorded several powerful fast songs like “Jump Sister Bessie” (Cobra 5015, 1957) with a band that included accordionist Walter ‘Shakey’ Horton (1917 – 1981). “So many roads, so many trains” (Chess 1751, 1960), with his expressive singing, was also a success, but Rush sometimes sounds less expressive on recording than “alive”. “All your love” (Trio PA 3086, 1975) is distinguished by his excellent guitar playing. Drawing on the experience of BB King and other musicians in his work, Rush experimented with playing the blues in minor keys and attached great importance to the lyrics of his songs.

Many aspiring Chicago bluesmen have split into at least two groups, depending on whether they followed Bobby Bland in his attitude to soul music or inspired by Otis Rush’s soul-influenced blues. ‘Magic’ Sam Maghett, who died early, belonged to Rush’s “camp”; his original version of Rush’s song “All your love” (Cobra 5013, 1957), recorded when he was 20, brings out a promising musician.

Another follower of Rush was named George ‘Buddy’ Guy (born Lettsworth, Louisiana, 07/30/1936). Until the age of 20, he lived in Louisiana, where he played with young musicians accompanying ‘Lightnin’ Slim ‘(Otis Hicks, 1913-1974). Moving to Chicago, he fell under the influence of Rush’s game, over whom he subsequently won a blues duel. His guitar playing was lyrically tuned, honed with clean sounds, skillful enough that he became, like Muddy Waters, a regular “customer” of the Chess company, with which Guy recorded “The first time I meet the blues” (Chess 1735, 1960) , remarkable high, rich vocals and expressive guitar playing. Guy played along with Sonny Boy Williamson in Truing to get back on my feet (Checker 1080, 1963) and left an impression of supporting Amos’ Junior ‘Wells’ a (born 1934) in the slow blues Shigs on the Ocean ( Dellmark DL 012, 1965). The successful collaboration with Junior Wells was complemented by the ability not only to play with great skill, but also to perform in front of a large audience. Their live performances are very popular, and during one of them Guy made some of his best recordings: “Ten Years Ago” (Red Lightnin (F) RL 0034, 1974) in Montreux; remade a song he first recorded in 1961, and the rock standard “High Heel Sneakers” in their performance was well received by the public (Bourbon (J) BMC 2001, 1975). However, some of their recent performances were more of a publicity than a quality.

Blues performed by a generation of bluesmen born in the late 30s and 40s, has been thoroughly tinted with soul tones. A typical example is Texan James Copeland (born in 1937), who, having worked in Houston bands, began touring with Freddie King and his own band in the 60s, balancing on the brink of rock, soul and blues styles. In his best acts, such as “Trid Party” (Rounder 2025, 1981), he sings at full power and plays skillfully and with feeling. A similar approach to music was found in the work of ZZHill (1941-1984), from Texas, following Bobby Bland’s soul style; “Down Home Blues” (Malako 7406, 1981) marked a step towards soul blues, which was not slow to feel the vast, almost predominantly white, audience. Hill’s early death orphaned the blues, robbing him of one of the most promising talented young performers.

Frank ‘Son’ Seals (born 1942) from Osceola, Arkansas had a wealth of experience playing with Earl Hooker and Hound Dog Taylor before he began playing with Albert King in the late 60s. He developed a technique for playing the guitar that resembled tremors, his singing was distinguished by emotionality. “Your love is like a cancer” (Alligator 4703, 1972) is his best work, but some of his later recordings fall short of live performance.

Traveling south to find local and previously unrecognized veteran performers (mostly accompanying themselves on guitars, less often on harmonica) continues, but the young bluesmen are dwindling. Signs of a resurgence of interest in blues among young blacks in the 1980s are indicative of a resurgence of interest in blues among young blacks in the 1980s: examples of this include Saddle up my pony (High Water 1001, 1983) by the Memphis group Fieldstones, or Phone Booth (Hightone 301, 1984 ) Robert Cray (born 1952). However, it cannot be denied that since the 60s the blues have found less and less echo among blacks. Therefore, the question of whether the blues in the future can be considered the music of black Americans, unfortunately, raises doubts.


Interest in the blues before World War II was minimal; and that scarce information that existed at times turned out to be distorted. However, there were enthusiasts who could sit the performers in front of the recording equipment and introduce them to a white audience. In 1933, John Hammond, as a spokesman for the British record company Parlophone, arranged for Bassey Smith’s last recording. A few years later, he hoped to track down Robert Johnson to take part in the famous Spirituals to Swing Concert Series at Carnegie Hall in 1938; it turned out that Johnson was no longer alive, and among the speakers were Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry.

The famous blues musician Josh White regularly recorded in the 1940s. As a child, Josh White (Joshua Daniel) (b. Greenville, Carolina, 02/11/1915; d. New York, 09/05/1969), lived among street evangelists and gospel performers in South Carolina cities. From them he heard and memorized many songs and, in the end, began to play the guitar amazingly.

When he was only 13, he sang with Blind Joe Taggart, sang in falsetto and played guitar in “There’s a hand writing on the wall” (Paramount 12717, 1928). In 1932 he began recording on his own, often playing blues under the pseudonym Pinewood Tom, such as “Mean Mistreater Mama” (Banner 32918, 1933). His voice was soft, with a hard fit, which he used successfully and often. By 1940, he firmly established himself in New York, where he performed with his fellow countrymen, with whom he recorded several working songs – “Told my cap’n” (Columbia 35562, 1940), “Southern Exposure” (Keynote 514, 1941).

His work became more and more sophisticated. He popularized folk songs, blues, for example, recorded his version of “The House of the Rising Sun” (ABC Para mount 124, 1957), but over time the blues audience grew cold towards Josh due to his overly commercial approach to music.

Josh White has often worked with Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly. In 1949, Leadbelly performed in France, and in 1951 Big Bill Brunzi was invited there. In Europe, Brunzi performed his old songs in the “country” style, and in the last years of his life he was more a folk singer than a “bluesist”; recorded over 200 songs: his signature songs were “John Henry” (Vogue (F) 118, 1951) and the protest song “Black, Brown And White” (Vogue (F) 125, 1951). Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry made their first appearance in England in 1958, and in the same year Muddy Waters and Otis Spann played in Europe. Interestingly, at first, Waters with his electric guitar was rejected by many listeners, despite the fact that with her help he actually shaped the look of the Chicago blues.

Knowledge of the blues and its widespread acceptance by white audiences was limited by a lack of information about it. Jazz magazines in the US and Europe paid little attention to the blues, and some observers viewed it as an outdated and even decadent tradition.

Although the Library of Congress finally curtailed the field recording campaign, Alan Lomex continued to record the blues. In 1949 he managed to make some interesting work songs at the Parchman Penitentiary. Three years later, Garold Corlander in Livingston, Alabama, recorded a number of church and secular songs, among which was Rich Emerson’s long, stringy unaccompanied blues “Black Woman” (Folkways FE 4417, 1950). Researcher Frederick Ramsey also sought out blues untouched by the influence of commercial recordings. In the process of developing a field recording project in 1951-1957, he became acquainted with the repertoire of Horace Sprott of Alabama, which included several blues without accompaniment, which clearly showed the influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Boy Fuller – “My Little Annie, so Sweet” ( Folkways FA 1659, 1954).

When Lomex returned south and reopened Sea Islands, in Mississippi he “discovered” Fred McDowell, whose powerful blues “Snake ‘Em On Down” (Atlantic 1938, 1959) was accompanied by “slide” guitar playing. Between 1959 and 1961, Harry Oster of Louisiana State University continued the tradition of recordings in state prisons and colonies, focusing more on blues compositions. Among the performers he auditioned throughout Louisiana, the brightest, most creative was Robert Pete Williams (b. Zaheri, Louisiana 3/14/1941; d. Zaheri, Louisiana, 12/31/1980), whose talent is vividly expressed in Death Blues “(Prestige Bluesville 1026, 1960). Williams’ improvisations were marked by an unusually complicated guitar playing style and structurally unrelated stanzas – “Farm Blues” (Ahura Mazda (E) AMS2002, ca. 1976).

Research, based on the position that the blues is music that exists independently, and not as an integral part of folklore or jazz, began in the late 50s. Most of them were based on information about commercial blues performers, and the reevaluation of the creativity of blues performers played an important role here. In 1956, Samuel Charters recorded Gus Canon and Will Slade, and in 1959, Fury Lewis and Laitning Hopkins; a year earlier, Bob Koster had recorded Poor Joe Williams in St. Louis. Several Belgian and French explorers have delved into the blues environments of Detroit and Chicago; they did not record the songs of the performers they interviewed, yet their “talks” provide valuable insight into the urban blues of the time.

In 1960, Paul Oliver made an intensive search for the Bluesmen in Detroit and Chicago, later Chris Strachwitz joined him on his travels to Memphis and Mississippi, and Mack McCormick in Texas. As a result of these voyages, recordings of Sam Chatman, Westley Alex Moore, Black Ace, Lil Sun Jackson, Henry Brown and many other artists appeared, previously recorded only on a commercial basis.

Many unknown performers were also recorded, the most significant of which was Mance Lipscomb (born Navasota, Texas, 04/09/1895; d. Navasota, 01/30/1976). At the age of 66, his voice first appeared on tape – the voice of a representative of the Songster tradition in its purest form. In Texas, he became famous as a tireless dancer (he later played some of them – “Buck Dance” (Reprise 2012, 1961), “Sugar Baby it’s All Over Now” (Arhoole 1001, 1960)) as well as old ballad singer – “Ella Speed ​​u ‘Freddie” (Arhoolie 1000, 1960). For over 40 years he worked as a sharecropper, and in his “Captain Captain” (Reprise 2012, 1961) Mans recalls his work on the plantation – until he got his own farm. As a guitarist, he can be put on a par with the great blues players all of whom have ever recorded.

In addition, his style was influenced by the proximity of his native Texas and Mexico. An example of this is “Spanish Flang Dang” (Arhoole 1023, 1964). As a Catholic, he arranged an old 1908 gospel song “Shine On Harvest Moon” as well as the spiritual “Motherless Children” (Archole 1026, 1964). The hero of the film “A Well Spent Life” (1971), Mance Lipscomb performed successfully at concerts and festivals until 1973, when illness forced him to return home.

In addition to biographies of WC Handy, Ethel Waters, and Big Beela Brunzi, the first blues books appeared between 1959 and 1960. With the growing public interest in this music, the demand for specialized magazines has grown: “Blues Unlimited” (founded in 1963) has been published monthly for 20 years, now 7 times a year; Blues World came out from 1964 to 1973, and Rhythm and Blues Monthly from 1964 to 1966. All of these publications were printed in the UK. Later, blues magazines began to be published in France, Germany, Italy and even in Japan. In the United States, the first regular blues magazine, Living Blues, came out only in 1972. The rise in publications testified to the popularity and international recognition of the blues, as well as an increase in the number of researchers who not only collected recordings, but also sent essays about performers, interviews with them and discography to magazines.

The most important result of research work in the field of blues studies was the rediscovery of many leading performers of the early blues. For example, Slippy John Estes, who came to Brownsville, Tennessee in 1962. With his old companions Hammy Nixon (harmonica) and Yank Rachel (mandolin), he recorded many excellent numbers, among which are “Rats In My Kitchen” (Delmark DL-603, 1962) and “Easin ‘Back To Tennessee” (Storyville (D ), 1964), recorded during a European tour.

Mississippi John Hurt in 1963 still played in a manner very reminiscent of his early, late 20s, things; his most recent recordings include the ballad “Louis Collins” (Piedmont 13157, 1963) and “Candy Man Blues” (Vanguard CRS9220, 1964). Other notable numbers included a version on a frequently used Mississippi theme called “Slidin ‘Delta” (Piedmont 13161, 1964), which featured nimble fingers. Hurt loved the audience for his friendly and gentle playing style. In 1963, he recorded over 90 songs for the US Library of Congress, but soon, tired of the attention of the public and record companies, returned to his homeland, Mississippi.

Perhaps the most remarkable re-discoveries include the appearance on the music scene in 1964 by Sean House. For about ten years he played at festivals, clubs and music colleges, in 1967-1970 he visited Europe. The composition of that time “Empire State Express” (Columbia 2417, 1965) captivates the listener with magical guitar performance and exciting singing. In the mid-70s, ill health forced him to retire, but he will forever be remembered by listeners as the personification of the Delta blues.

In addition to House, the recording sessions again included blues veterans Victoria Spivey and Westley Alex Moore (in 1960), Sippy Wallace (in 1962), Bucka White and Skip James (in 1964).

Between the 60s and the mid 80s, more than a hundred blues books were published, many of which were published outside the United States. Only a few researchers continued to turn to the black music of the Southerners until the 1980s, but they were all white. The study of the blues was and is being conducted mainly by students living outside the African-American environment in which the blues were born and flourished, but who simply have a passion for the music. Along with research, tours and concerts were organized for the performers who became their objects. In the 70s, it became profitable for many Bluesmen to perform exclusively in front of white audiences, and not in “black” clubs. This trend emerged especially clearly when soul musicians and bluesmen, gaining more and more favor with whites, ceased to interest young black audiences. It was also inevitable that the commercialization of music threatened to separate it from the cultural context. When in the late 1960s record companies published blues mainly for collectors and enthusiasts of whites, the preponderance of recordings was given to performers whose work in black shops might not be sold out. As a consequence, the intense recording activity of even talented Bluesmen such as Lightnin Hopkins and Big Joe Williams, revealing their multifaceted talent, did not necessarily reflect their popularity among black audiences.


The lives of black and white people in the south have always been closely intertwined; in towns and cities, whites often worked with blacks.

Under such conditions of their coexistence, the interchange of musical forms was hardly surprising. The music of the generation of songstores, coon songs, ballads, dance tunes, was equally perceived by both white and black performers, since they had the same original source. All of these folk music styles were recorded in both black and white, but the arrangements were different.

By the late 1920s, many white performers were using blues forms frequently; among them were brothers Austin and Lee Allen, whose “Reckless Night Blues” (Victor 40303, 1930) featured a calm guitar and banjo (as a rhythm-setting instrument), as well as a fierce blues harmonica. Their “Chattanooga Blues” (Columbia 14266, 1927) was published in a racial series – an “insult” in their opinion, for which they unsuccessfully sued the company for 250 thousand dollars.

This was not the only such case: the work of Buster And Jack (under this pseudonymous Oklahoma Ridge Runners) Jack Cowley appeared in the Victor racial series. Their Cross Tie Blues (Victor 23540, 1930) was kept in a traditional form, but nonetheless it was relatively standard music performed by a white violin Greater understanding of the black blues was felt in the playing of Frank Hutchinson of Virginia; his “Cannonball Blues” (Okeh 45378, 1929) was a true blues in form and technique.

The main influence on the white blues was Blind Lemon Jefferson, some recordings; for example Match Box Blues “(Vocalion 02678, 1934) by Larry Hensley, seemed to be an open imitation of the great Master. Some white violin groups also recorded blues, such as” Leake Country Revelers “,” Carolina Tar H eels “, as well as country duos” Darby and Tarlton “and” Narmour and Suith “.

The early “white” blues did not attract much attention, but there is evidence of a separate “white” genre characterized by a steady rhythm, with a distinctly rough accent – something that could not be confused with similar features of “black” music, and dispassionate , the narrative manner of performance. Blues was rarely used by whites as a means of expressing feelings, but more often as a free form with descriptive poetry. Traditional texts were quite common and some of them may have belonged to white writers. Blues often hinted at something obscene, sometimes performed with sly self-confidence – as in “Farm Girl Blues” (Victor 23516, 1930), “Gardina Tar Heels” and many other recordings by Clifford Carlisle.

Although Carlisle recognized the influence of black musicians on his style, the main source of inspiration for his playing and singing was Jimmy Rogers (b. Meridian, Mississippi, 09/08/1897; d. New York, 05/26/1933). No white performer has been as respected and loved by blacks as Rogers, who during his short career worked with Frank Stokes and other “songstors” on “medical” shows. In his second session, Rogers sang “Blue Yodel” (Victor 21142, 1927), which combined blues lyrics with a “yodeled” chorus. He used this formula many times – he recorded 13 “Sad Yodels”, besides them, he recorded many other blues. The ease with which he worked with black musicians is evident in “Blue Yodel no. 9” (Victor 23580, 1931), sung with Louis Armstrong. Black performers have repeatedly tried to copy Rogers’ style of performance, in particular his yodels.

Perhaps the most incredible example of a white artist’s collaboration with black musicians was Jimmy Davis, who later became Governor of Louisiana twice. “Down At the Country Church” (Victor 23628, 1931) is a sentimental version of a village service with the hum of religious brotherhood, imitated by a guitar and slide by black musician Eddie Schaeffer. He and Oscar “Buddy” Woods made a wonderful accompaniment to Davis’s “Red Nightgown Blues” (Victor 23659, 1932), which ended with a fast instrumental part.

Close to black traditions, another form of “white” blues is a fairly common “talking” blues. It was first recorded by South Carolina guitarist and auto mechanic Chris Bashllon. His Talking Blues (Columbia 15120-D, 1926) was spoken rather than sung in a laconic, dry manner to the accompaniment of guitar.

Witness and irony were inherent in many of the performers who chose this style, including Lonnie Glosson, whose “Arkansas Hard Luck Blues” (Conqueror 8732, 1936) was spoken against the backdrop of speedy playing. But it was the Oklahoma folk poet Woody Guthrie with his Talkin ‘Dust Bowl Blues (Victor 26619, 1940) that made the style really popular. Guthrie performed in New York in the 40s with Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, as well as other banjo or guitar performers, including Pete Seeger and Big Bill Brunzi, and later, in the 60s, his recordings made a noticeable impact. on Bob Dylan.

Some white musicians worked under contract for “racial” recordings or played along with blues performers. Among them was Eddie Lange, who recorded instrumental duets with Lonnie Johnson, in particular “Have to change Keys to Play these Blues” (Okeh 8637, 1928) and “A Handful of Riffs” (Okeh 8695, 1929). The two bluesmen worked very well with each other, as Lang was an inventive guitarist, albeit rhythmically a little “stiff” compared to Johnson. Lange has accompanied many black bluesmen, including Texas Alexander in his Work Ox Blues (Okeh 8658, 1928), Bassey Smith in her Kitchen Man (Columbia 14435, 1929), as well as with Gladys Bentley, Coot Grant and Sox. Wilson.

Adhering to the canons of the blues, Frank Melrose under the pseudonym “Broadway Rastus” recorded a couple of piano pieces published in the “racial” series: for example, “Woopee Stone” (Paramount 12764, 1929), and other themes (under the pseudonym “Kansas City Frank”) with the band Herb Moranda.

George Barnes’s contribution to the development of blues cannot be overemphasized by playing with mandolin performer Charles McCoy in Big Bill Brunzi’s You Know I got a reason (Conqueror 8767, 1936). He was one of the pioneers of the electric blues guitar and made several recordings as accompanist for Blind John Davis, Jazz Gillam, Sam Washboard and Merlin Johnson, in whose “About my Time to Check” (Vocalion 04150, 1938) Barnes has an excellent, albeit somewhat restrained, solo …

During the boogie-woogie era, many white jazz pianists worked in the blues key, some were successful in blues solo numbers. One of them was Joe Sullivan, whose early fame was brought by “Gin Will Blues” (Columbia 2876 – D, 1933). A few years later, he recorded with the mostly black group, the Cafe Society Orchestra; on “Low Down Dirty Shame” (Vocalion 5531, 1940), Joe Turner sang vocals. Other white pianists such as Stan Wrightsman and Art Hoads, working primarily as jazz musicians, could play good blues solos. Howdes in his style was guided by Jimmy Yansey. However, these modest “forays” of jazzmen into the blues have managed to bring little to the genre.

In the music of the “Western Swing” bands of the 40s, “hot” violin orchestras included jazz, blues, country songs and country music in their repertoire, thus creating a lively but purely superficial synthesis. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys enjoyed considerable success with the song Steel Guitar Rag / Swing Blues No. 1 (Okeh 03394, 1939), based on music by blues guitarist Sylvester Weaver and lyrics by Blind Lemon Jefferson. Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies are another Western swing orchestra that has taken a lot from the blues to create their own material. However, these bands did not bring anything new to the blues; they only deprived it of its brightness by inept popularization.

The beginning of the 50s was marked by a great interest in the blues of white country musicians. Although the personality of Monroe “Mo” Jackson is shrouded in mystery and the elements of parody in his “Go ‘way from my door” (Mercury 8127, 1951) are expressed only outwardly, the variety of blues technique in his voice and guitar accompaniment is impressive. In his approach to music, there is a possible involvement in “medical” shows in the past. Surely the same experience can be said about “Harmonica” Frank Floyd’e (b. Tucapola, Mississippi, 10/11/1908; d. Memphis, Tennessee, 08/7/1984) who played on the streets, in motels, hairdressers. Being in constant contact with black blues musicians, he was influenced by Fuller’s Blind Boy, as evidenced by the song “Step it Up and Go” (Chess 1475, 1951); while Howlin ‘Tom Cat (Chess 1494, 1951) clearly inspired Bo Carter’s blues. Floyd’s guitar playing was still in line with the white tradition, but his combination of R&B and country guitar makes “Rockin ‘Chair Daddy” (Sun 205, 1954) the first rock and roll recorded by a white performer.

However, he didn’t regain the strength of the jerk after that record — compared to one of the same year at the same studio — That’s All Right (Sun 209, 1954) by Elvis Presley, based on the blues of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Presley’s other Sun songs also came from the blues: Good Rockin Tonight (Sun 210, 19 54) was a tribute to Roy Brown and Winoni Harris, and the accelerated version of Milkcow Blues Boogie (Sun 215, 1954) was hit Kokomo Arnold. For the next several years, Presley continued to sing versions of the standard blues.

Rock and roll performers Karl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent have also made sure to include the blues in their repertoire.

In the late 1950s, the skiffle style became extremely popular in England, and Lonnie Donegan’s song “Rock Island Line” (Decca (E) F 10647, 1955), which was based on Leadbelly’s song, was a success. The term supposedly comes from the songs “Hometown Skiffle” recorded by Paramount All Stars (Paramount 12866, 1947) and “Skiffle Blues” (Arkay 1001, 1947) by pianist Dan Burley and his Skiffle Boys. Donegan’s recording became a hit in the United States, and the following year several hundred skiffle bands emerged with musicians playing “home-grown” instruments such as washboards, jugs, in addition to guitars and harmonica. This scarcity and amateur performance resulted in many uninteresting works, although many musicians who switched to R&B often started with skiffle.

While the Beatles drew inspiration from the popular Detroit version of the rhythm and blues Tamla – Motown, the Rolling Stones turned to the Louisiana blues. In the late 1950s, several members of this group worked at one time with Alexis Corner, who, in turn, played with touring musicians in blues clubs with Cyril Davis, who played the harmonica and 12-string guitar. Starting with a blues style in the manner of Scrapper Blackwell, Corner in 1962 created his own group – “Blues Incorporated”. His approach to music was experimental – for example, in “Blue Monk” (Ace of Hearts (E) ACL 1187, 1963), elements of country blues, Charlie Mingus and Tellonius Monk were intertwined. While the Rolling Stones earned their reputation for playing a sensual and very loud form of rock blues, they could just as well play and sing clean blues like “Little Red Rooster” (Decca TXS101, 1964 ) Lightnin ‘Slim.

Blues-oriented beats also included The Yardbirds and The Who. Perhaps the most respected guitarist in Britain – along with Jimi Hendrix – was Eric Clapton (formerly of The Yardbirds), who joined John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. “All Your Love” (Decca (E) LK4804, 1966), first recorded by Magic Sam, showcased Clapton’s superb guitar playing against Mayol’s piano playing. Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” blues (Polydor (E) 583. 060, 1967), recorded by Clapton with the group “Cream”, reveals the band’s strong side, but also the weakness of Clapton’s voice.

In the United States, the development of the white blues was much the same. Young guitarists imitated the country bluesmen, but there was something completely new in the music of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, in which the leader played the harmonica and Mike Bloomfield the guitar. “I got a mind to Give up Living” (Elektra 7315, 1967) was a slow blues, but the play of black musicians from Chicago – bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Billy Davenport helped the band get away from the boring rhythm. The band’s weakest point was the vocal line, and yet their blues talent made up for some of this deficiency, as proven by collaborating with Muddy Waters on the slow blues song “Mean Disposition” (Chess SRLS4556, 1969). She confirmed the superiority of the timbre and expressiveness of the voice of the black performer and his mastery of playing the guitar with a slide.

Of the other white American bands that experimented with blues — The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, Captain Beefheart — Canned Heat, with guitarists Al Wilson and Henry Westin, was the most capable; their song “Refried Boogie” (Liberty 84001, 1968) lasted about 40 minutes, although most of it was drum solos.

Janis Joplin became the martyr of the white blues. Her passionate, extravagant performances were very expressive, not only because of Janice’s tortured personality, but also because of the choice faced by the white blues; if it were kept within the black tradition, it would be inappropriately limited (since the musical education of many white blues performers allowed to do more than the canons of the genre), but if you expand the scope of white blues, then it will lose its blues authenticity. The combination of instrumental and poetic expression, which for the best black bluesmen was the pinnacle of their achievement, seemed to be rejected by white musicians when they adhered to the blues canon. Many have expanded it into rock music.

The keen interest in the blues for its performers initially hid many advantages; those of them who came on tour to Europe increased the prestige of their names and received more invitations to the United States. A number of musicians, including pianists Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Curtis Jones, Eddie Boyd, and guitarist Mickey Baker, settled in Europe with a warmer welcome and an enthusiastic audience. But at the same time, they broke away from the origins and social context of the blues, which could not but affect their work. White interest in black music always foreshadows or coincides with the departure of some black performers from the canons of the genre; when the blues win over white fans they often lose black audiences.


The word Zydeco gets its name from a colloquial Creole French expression “Les haricots ne sont pas salés” meaning “the snap beans aren’t salty” or idiomatically for “the times are hard.”

Zydeco – Louisiana Creole Cajun Music Blend

Only one form of blues can be said to be thoroughly influenced by white music – zydeco or zodico. This style grew out of the dance music of the descendants of the French settlers in Louisiana, who mixed with the Indians and later with the Negroes. They were predominantly hunters, fishermen, and their heirs live in the wetlands of southwestern Louisiana to this day. Their distorted French name is cajuns. Cajun music has taken several forms; in particular, the fais dodo, or country dance, is traditionally performed with an orchestra consisting of accordion, guitar and sometimes violin and rhythm-accompaniment.

Researcher John Lomax, while in Louisiana, recorded black cajun music performers: Alice Evans (harmonica) and Jimmy Lewis (washboard), playing “Cajun Negro Fais Dos-dos Tune” (L. of C., 1934), and French – Negro dances performed by Austin Coleman and Joe Washington Brown, singing unaccompanied in the earliest recorded version of “Les Haricots Sont Pas Sales” (C. LBC13, 1934). Leadbelly also occasionally played the accordion, for example in the country dance theme “Cornbread Rough” (Asch 101, 1942).

In the 1920s, black accordionist Amade ‘Ardoin from Eunice, Louisiana played with fellow sharecropper Dennis McGee and white violinist. Ardon’s repertoire and manner of playing were kept strictly within the cajun tradition and were represented by waltzes and to-steps accompanied by accordion and voice. Regularly playing dances for whites at Ace Place, Eunice, he also did not refuse invitations to black house parties. Ardon became famous both for his playing and for his screaming, “holler” style vocals. In addition to numerous dance tunes, he also recorded many themes that were blues in feel but not in structure, such as “Les Blues de la Prison” (Decca 17014, 1934) (with McGee) and “Les Blues de Voyages” (Bluebird 2189, 1934). One of Ardon’s cousins ​​- Alphonse Ardon – still played essentially cajun music with his black band in the mid-60s – basically all the same waltzes and tu-steps, but also blues-inspired themes, in particular – “Les Blues du Voyageur” ​​and “La Robe Barree” recorded in Louisiana with Ardon (accordion) and Conry Fontenot (violin).

In the 40s and early 50s, blues began to seep more and more into black cajun music, and the post-war rhythm and blues with its swinging rhythm contributed to the creation of a hybrid called “zydeco”. Early recordings include “Bon Ton Roula” (“Let The Good Times Roll”) (Macy’s 5001, 1950) by Clarence Garlow with romance rhythm and English vocals, as well as accordionist Buza Chavis’s hit “Paper in My Shoe” (Folk Star 1197 , 1954). However, the first recordings of zydeco in its blues-cajun form can be considered Clifton Chenier (b. Opelusas, Louisiana, 06/25/1925) “Clifton Blues” (Elko 920, 1954), recorded with his cousin, guitarist Morris “Big “Chénier was a real slow blues. While the cajun performers played a simple 4-step diatonic scale on a push-button accordion, Chenier used a universal (piano) accordion, which allowed him to play in the blues key. He also performed many dance tunes such as “Rockin ‘Accordion” (Zynn 1011, 1961). In 1956, he moved to Houston, Texas, which by then was home to most of the Louisiana French (blacks) and many dance halls where zydeco was performed.

There his younger brother Cleveland Chenier joined Chenier, playing on a corrugated metal washboard that was worn on his chest. Her staccato rhythms, enhanced by drums, are heard on many of Clifton’s best recordings, including his hit “Louisiana Blues” (Bayou 509, 1965). Even more popular was “Black Gal” (Bayou 704, 1966) (with violin part by Morris Chenier), which was based on the blues of the 30s by Joe Pallen. Chenier’s famous dance tunes, such as the fast Tu Le Ton Son Ton (Arhoolie 1082) and the slow, stringy Monfique (Arhoolie 1038, 1967), with their weighted rhythms, were typical of bal de maison music. In the 70s, Chenier toured extensively in the United States and Europe. Recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, “Jambalaya” (Arhoolie 1086, 1975) reflects the broadening of its author’s musical horizons: it has a jazz influence, is enlivened by rock rhythm and is embellished with a guitar solo by Paul Senegal. Undoubtedly, Chenier is the “king” of zydeco, whose talent and improvisational abilities are dedicated to Les Blanc’s film “Hot Pepper” (1973).

Chenier’s leadership in the zydeco genre drew attention away from other artists, many of whom also recorded their songs. The old rustic tradition of violin playing presented by Conry Fontenot is captured in his Bee de la Manche (Arhoolie (F) 5031, 1981), and the music of the Houston dance halls in its primordial power is represented in Sydney’s performance by Baben Albert Chevalier in particular in the later version of “Les haricots Sont Pas Sale” (Arhoolie (F) 1009, 1961). Marcel Dugas was known as an excellent accordionist, recording with a strong band led by violinist Bill Peethe, whose singing style was notably influenced by Jimmy Reed, for example in “Purty Lil Red Dress” (Flyright (E) LP543, 1969). Another accordionist, Elton Rabin, better known as ‘Rockin Dopsie’, has played Lafayette since the 40s; his “Ma Negresse” (Sonet (E) SNTF718, 1975) is typical for its stern push-pull and screaming vocals.

Many other bands playing zydeco were very popular in Louisiana. Alphonse Ardon’s son “Black” Ardon (born 1946), playing a traditional button accordion with an ensemble of violin and electric guitar, demonstrates a strong commitment to the roots of modern zydeco. “Bayou Two Step” (Arhoolie (F) 1091, 1984) is characteristic of this hybrid music, which in the 80’s proved to be the most flourishing of all blues forms.

— History of Blues Music: Part 5 —

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