Blues Music History

The British Invasion.

The United States and Britain have enjoyed (or endured) a ‘Special Relationship’ for a long time. After that Revolutionary War nastiness, we have pretty much remained ‘two nations separated by a common language’, and on the subject of War, we usually end up on the same side. During the sixties, however, there was a lot…

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HOKUM BLUES

‘Hokum’ is a term applied to a kind of raunchy Blues song that was popular in the late 20s and early 30s in America. The lyrics on some of those records that sold in their hundreds of thousands were quite explicit in their references to sexual practices, prostitution, homosexuality and other things which would scare…

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Blues Shouters

The term ‘Blues Shouter’ means something more than the sum of the two individual words. It is true that most Blues Shouters belt out their songs at constant full volume, with very little regard for vocal dynamics. But to really qualify for the title, a performer also has to project a fervour and energy into…

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TEXAS BLUES

Texas has long been a fertile source of Blues music, and it continues to uphold that tradition, but there is a difference between the early days and the present. What we know today as ‘Texas Roadhouse Blues’ is typically a boogie-heavy dance music that sprang from a long tradition of live music in bars. Austin…

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GOSPEL MUSIC

The roots of Gospel music are buried deep in the 18th Century, when the African culture of slaves in the American South met with the Christian faith of the white population. The Church was keen to save the Souls of the Oppressed, but afraid of any exclusively black assembly becoming a focus for rebellion, so…

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THE GREAT MIGRATION

It took a long time for The Blues to move from its rural heartlands to the big cities of America and from there out across the world, but it took that journey embedded in the memories and emotions of the people who loved the music. Fifty years after the end of the Civil War and…

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PIANO BLUES

The piano has been at the heart of Blues music from the earliest days, but unlike the ‘wandering songsters’ with a guitar or a harp in their hand, Blues pianists had to rely on whatever instrument they could find to play their music. Most juke-joints, brothels, bars and drinking dens had some kind of beaten…

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CONGO SQUARE

Congo Square, on Rampart Street in New Orleans, is a place of special significance for lovers of modern American music. A statue of ‘Satchmo’ stands in what is now called Louis Armstrong Park, near the Municipal Auditorium, and this location is the birthplace of The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Back in the 50s,…

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THE PETRILLO BAN

Trumpeter James C Petrillo had already been President of the Chicago Local 10 chapter of the American Federation of Musicians since 1922, when he was elected National President in 1940. Soon afterwards, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) wanted to re-negotiate the royalty rates their members were paid when their work was…

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FIFE & DRUM MUSIC

Fife and drum music is a branch of country Blues that has survived from the 19th Century in a few remote rural districts of northern Mississippi. With modest home-made instruments and a simple structure, it is neverthless a joyful music, made for dancing and sharing with friends and neighbours, from a time when time itself…

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