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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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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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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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RACE MUSIC

Blues, jazz, R&B, funk, rap and hip-hop are all examples of the Black music that helped to shape our culture today, but this music grew and developed in a historical context. From the beginning of the 20th Century, African music’s rhythms and tradition of improvisation have dominated popular music, but in the early days this…

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WEST COAST BLUES

California is not the place you expect to find the Blues. It does not reek of the murderous working conditions of Chicago‘s killing floor, the hardscrabble existence of sharecroppers in the Delta, or the relentless dehumanision of production lines in Detroit and a hundred other industrial cities. In fact, the low numbers of Black Americans…

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THE DEATH OF BESSIE SMITH

It is 3a.m. in the middle of a sultry, moonless Saturday night in late September 1937. A Packard car is cruising south down Highway 61 in Coahoma County, Mississippi. At the wheel is Richard Morgan, a well-known Chicago club owner and ex-bootlegger: the passenger is his girlfriend Bessie Smith. She is still a star of…

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THE THREE KINGS OF BLUES

While they didn’t establish the genre B.B., Albert and Freddie King are without a doubt the biggest names in Blues, and while they are no longer with us today their influence continues to be felt to this day. But are the Three Kings of Blues all related to each other? You’d be surprised to found…

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PIEDMONT BLUES

Blind Blake To most people the term ‘East Coast’ conjures up sophisticated images of New York, Washington or New England, but the Blues has its roots in the warmer soil further south where the tobacco grows. The respected Blues writer Bruce Bastin coined the phrase Piedmont Blues to describe the music from the coastal plain…

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