HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips
BUMPER MUSIC- "Rollin' And Tumblin" (Jerome Chapman)
ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe
Having covered the origins of the blues, in Pt.1 of this series, it's time to dig in to the genres that emerged from these origins during the early stages of the blues. Join us, as we discuss country blues and delta blues, the styles involved and the musicians that continued to make this such a popular genre.
This genre dates as far back as the early 1900’s but the term wasn’t coined until the 1940’s, by folklorist Alan Lomax. This style was very sparse in instrumentation, often a singer and an accompanist. The music captured the African American experience of the Deep South in that time period, including the hardships of oppression, work, love and life. Some artists even continued to include some of the old field hollers of their forefathers in their acts. It was that “call and response”, from these work songs, that later evolved into blues as we know it.
Sarah Martin (b.1884) came from the African American vaudeville tradition. She was one the most recorded female singers of the country blues genre. She recorded and toured with Fats Waller, King Oliver and other great musicians. Her recording of “T’aint Nobody’s Business If I Do”, with Fat’s Waller, was the most famous at the time.
Sylvester Weaver (b.1897) was a pioneer of the country blues style. While recording with Okeh Records he did some solo work that would bring us “Blues Guitar”. This was one of the first known recordings of the slide style. On the B-side of that 78 was "The Guitar Rag", played on a “guitjo” (6-string banjo).
In 1924, Paramount released “Airy Man’s Blues” and “Pappa’s Lawdy Lawdy Blues”, by Papa Charlie Jackson. William Henry Jackson (b.1887), who also got his start in the minstrel and medicine show scene, sang the blues along with his own accompaniment of banjo, guitar, guitjo or ukulele. He also accompanied many of the great blues queens, such as Ma Rainy, Ida Cox and Hattie McDaniel. He was also a pioneer of what became known as the bawdy “hokum” genre. Among these songs, he had a great little number called “Shake That Thing”
Lonnie Johnson (b.1899) had a very musical family in New Orleans. In childhood, he studied mandolin, banjo and piano. In 1925, Lonnie won a record deal from a talent contest, set up by Okeh records. Over the next 7 years, Lonnie would perform on over 130 tracks and tour and record with artists like Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey and Louis Armstrong. While recording “Savoy Blues” with Louis Armstrong, he played what may be the first recorded guitar solo. His “one string” soloing technique would later influence T-Bone Walker, Django Reinhardt and other great soloist.
The Mississippi Delta region reaches from Northwest, Mississippi to the Vicksburg area (mid southwest, MS). Music from this region is characterized by the slide guitar sound. This is also where that unmistakable “call and response” sound came from. While other genres of blues began to fade in popularity out after WWII, this style seemed to prevail and paved the path for the Chicago, Detroit and Electric genres of blues.
Charlie Patton “Father of the Delta Blues” was born circa 1891 in Hinds County, Mississippi. Charlie Patton was a performer! He would play his guitar between his legs and around his back and jump around on stage. His heavy smoking and drinking could be heard in his voice. In 1929, Paramount release his big hit “Pony Blues”. Between that time and 1934, he recorded 70 songs. His stage antics and playing style would heavily influence the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Son House and Bukka White.
Robert Johnson (b.1911 in Hazelhurst, Mississippi) was already learning guitar and harmonica when he met Willie Brown, who played guitar with Charlie Patton. Brown took him to the Dockery Plantation where he met Patton and was given his first guitar. This is where Robert also met Tommy Johnson, who inspired him with his intense guitar style and high voice. He also played with Son House, who taught him the slide guitar technique. His style involved complex chords, alternated tunings, slide techniques and walking bass lines with his thumb. Considered the King of the Delta blues, he wasn’t recorded a whole lot. His ecording sessions in Texas between 1936 and 1937 produced a total of 29 songs including “Traveling Riverside Blues” and “Cross Road Blues”.
Muddy Waters (b.1913) grew up in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area. By age 17 he was playing guitar and harmonica in the style of Robert Johnson. He traveled around the south, onto St. Louis and eventually to Chicago in 1943. Though Muddy would later be known as the “Father of Chicago Blues”, he had a passion for Delta Blues and wanted to record it. He found himself playing in bigger and bigger venues. This inspired him to take up the electric guitar for more volume. By 1946 he was recording with Columbia and Aristocrat records. Some of his big hits are, “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” and “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. His style was, hard driving and electrifying.
MUSIC STUDENT 101