Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AMERICAN BLUES MUSIC: Creation and Continuation of Ground breaking Music.

Blues is often considered the root from which many other types of music derived their inspiration. Although blues music has no official genesis, many claim to have heard the blues throughout the south in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s throughout the Mississippi Delta. Forms of slave and sharecropper music such as: work songs, field hollers, spirituals, and chants, serve as the roots of blues music in the South. Today, blues is known as an emotion, a music genre, a vocal and instrumental form of music, and a foundational base for other forms of music. The codified musical elements of blues include a 12 bar format, AAB, and I IV V progression. These earliest “blues” contained influences from the Tin Pan Alley writers, many of whom were Jewish, and therefore the earliest blues recordings are yet another mixture of cultures and styles. Blues is mostly known as a musical influence on other styles of music from jazz, to hip hop, and funk to rock and roll. However the blues as musical style in itself had a major socio-cultural impact on American society. Throughout my playlist I attempt to analyze the blues, not solely as a source of inspiration for other forms of music, but creation, success, and continuation of blues as a genre of music of its own.

I wanted to analyze blues from its earliest conception to more modern and popular music that followed. In choosing my playlist I wanted to introduce songs and artists that people may not have heard before, who may have been less mainstream but still powerful and influential. The songs that I chose for my playlist I feel not only encompass a representative body of influential musicians for the blues, but also represent the changes, shifts, and path breaking occurrences in history of blues music. I focused my playlist mainly on artists and songs that were groundbreaking, and proved to be so, by receiving inductions into the Hall of Fame, breaking records of music charts, or being recognized with other honorable awards for their influence and impact on music. Many of the artists and songs I chose are now among the Library of Congress’ music collection, to be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.

I argue that my playlist serves to reflect the changing social environment throughout the 20th century. The playlist acts as a storyline in which one can understand racism, society, politics and the innovations in technology throughout the century. The songs I chose serve to represent a demographic of people, both blacks and women, who have rarely before had their voices heard in the United States prior to this time. The playlist includes both the first female recording and the first black recording, both setting a precedent for other musicians and leaders in society to follow. The musicians I included served as some of the first minorities to claim national fame, money, and success, all while enduring discrimination, exploitation, and racism that heavily dominated society at the time. The blues itself refers to sad emotions that were expressed through the medium of music. The blues expanded into an arena where, for the first time, musicians were able to openly express feelings of sexuality, violence, and racism- - all vices that were previously kept out of music. Recordings of the blues not only introduced minorities to music that may have reminded them of their history on plantations or as sharecroppers, but the blues served to introduce black music to whites for the first time through minstrel shows, vaudeville's, and hit records.

(Note: Because many of the songs were originally recorded in the early 1900’s many do not have specific discography information such as catalog numbers. However, I have provided the information to the fullest extent that it was available from the time period. Additionally, since many of the songs have been re-mastered and re-released, when possible I have included both their original and re-released record information)


1. Buddy Bolden- “Funky Butt”
2. Jelly Roll Morton. Jelly Roll Blues
3. Sophie Tucker- “Some of These days”
4. Mamie Smith- “Crazy Blues” was her first recorded song in 1920.
5. Ma Rainey “Prove it on me Blues”
6. Bessie Smith: Downhearted Blues
7. Victoria Spivey- “Black Snake Blues”
8. Lead Belly: “Goodnight Irene”
9. Charley Patton: “Pony Blues”
10. Blind lemon Jefferson- “Matchbox Blues”
11. Tommy Johnson: Song- Maggie Campbell Blues
12. Son House. SONG: “My Black Mama”
13. Blind Willie McTell: Statesboro Blues
14. Muddy Water- Why Don’t You Live So God Can Use You”
15. Muddy Waters- Hoochie Coochie Man
16. Muddy Waters- “Got my Mojo working’
17. Howlin’ Wolf: How Many More Years
18. “Little Walter” Jacob: Juke
19. Robert Johnson: “Kind Hearted Woman”
20. Robert Johnson- Cross Road Blues
21. Robert Johnson: Terraplane Blues
22. Jimmy Reed: Bright Lights Big City
23. Freddie King: “Hide Away”
24. Albert King: Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong
25. BB King. Song: Three O’clock Blues

BUDDY BOLDEN, "Funky Butt"

“Father of Jazz”

Buddy Bolden he was born in New Orleans in 1877. He is a very influential figure in the New Orleans style of ragtime, also known as jazz. Bolden was a member of, what many consider, one of the very first jazz bands. He is credited with creating a looser, more improvised version of ragtime and adding blues to it. Buddy was the first player to pursue an improvisational style. He was considered by Louis Armstrong as, “ a genius ahead of ‘em all.” Furthermore, Bolden is also recognized as one of the greatest trumpet players of all time.

“Funky Butt” later became known as “buddy Bolden’s Blues” represents one of the earliest references to the concept of ‘funk’ in popular music. ‘Funky Butt’ was a song in reference to exactly what the title alludes to, a scent that was produced from a lot of sweaty people, packed together in one room. The song represented his loud, powerful, and ‘open’ playing style.

As a tribute to Bolden and his work, Sidney Bechet wrote “Buddy Bolden Stomp” in his honor. Almost all early New Orleans jazz musicians were influenced by his playing. Jelly Roll Morton called Bolden, “the most powerful man in the history [of jazz].”

Although few resources offer audiences to listen to 'Funky Butt', here is a 'Funky Butt' rendition reconstructed by Humphrey Lyttleton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9diLGxlGWqw

Here also is Jelly Roll Morton singing "Buddy Bolden Blues' (I thought I heard Buddy Say)": http://www.last.fm/music/Jelly+Roll+Morton/_/Buddy+Bolden%27s+Blues+%28I+Thought+I+Heard+Buddy+Bolden+Say%29

Informational sources: http://www.redhotjazz.com/Buddy.html

JELLY ROLL MORTON, "Jelly Roll Blues"

Jelly Roll Mortion was an important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano styles. He was widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, and Jelly Roll claimed to have invented jazz in 1902.
Morton began to tour around 1904 working minstrel shows and composing.
In 1915 his song “Jelly Roll Blues” was the first jazz composition ever published.

Morton has record music and interviews preserved now in the Library of Congress. Morton's ‘Jelly Roll’ nickname is a sexual reference and many of his lyrics were very vulgar. Some of the Library of Congress’ recordings were unreleased until near the end of the 20th century due to their distasteful nature. The Library of Congress released his interviews and records in 2005 and the collection won two Grammy Awards, in addition Morton was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Check out Jelly Roll Blues here for yourself and enjoy: http://www.last.fm/music/Jelly+Roll+Morton/Jelly+Roll+Blues
Jelly Roll Blues was a 88- note instrumental roll series, Titled: The Jelly Roll Blues, Record Comapny: The Vocalstyle Music Co., Catalog No.: 50505, Released: Nov 1924

SOPHIE TUCKER, "Some of these Days"

"Last of the Red Hot Mamas"
Sophie Tucker was born in Russia in 1884 and moved to the United States at the turn of the century. She became known as a ‘coon shouter’ by performing in minstrel shows and in vaudeville.
She recorded “Some of these Days” in 1911 with Edison Records. The record sold millions and stayed in the #1 position on music charts for five weeks in 1926. The song is hailed as the first true 20th century popular standard. She made a song that sounded modern and updated the racist 10th century music hall songs. She was scheduled to record "Crazy Blues" but was replaced by Mamie Smith in 1911.
The song was very influential on the conception of American music and was rerecorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Louis Armstrong, and a few other artists.
If you'd like to hear "Some of These Days" for yourself, check it out here: http://www.last.fm/music/Sophie+Tucker/_/Some+of+These+Days
Some of These Days, Sophie Tucker, Edison Record Company, catalog no. 3821, release date: 1911. release date of CD: Jan 13, 2008

MAMIE SMITH, "Crazy Blues"

“Queen of the Blues”

Mamie Smith was the first black woman to record a blues song, “Crazy Blues”, on August 10, 1920. The song became a best seller, selling a million copies on just one year. She was phenomenally successful and her “authentically black” records were termed “race records.” Her records were largely purchased by African Americans, a market that the record industry had previously neglected. Her work mainly in New York City gave her a competitive advantage in making and landing recordings. Her success prompted record companies to seek out other female blues singers to record and she initiated an era of classic female blues music, opening up the record industry to blacks.

Her music was so influential that her recordings were re-released in the 1980’s. The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 2005 was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.

Mamie Smith, Crazy Blues, Okeh Records, original release date: august 10, 1920
Mamie Smith. COmplete Recorded Works Vol 3. CD, catalog no. 1021436, re-released d ate Mar 21, 2002

MA RAINEY, "Prove it on Me Blues"

“Mother of the Blues”

Ma Rainey was one of the earliest American professional blues singers. After hearing a sad song sun in Missouri in 1902, she started performing in blues style and claims that she was the one who named the blues. Started performing “blues” songs in 1902. She and William, aka “Pa” Rainey, performed as a song and dance team.

She was able to speak openly about vices such as alcohol and sex. She spoke openly about her sexual desires. The lyrics of “Prove it on me blues” even hit the idea that she was bisexual. The song spoke of a cross-dressing, man hating persona that was distinct from her public image at the time.

She set the standard for the women following her, specifically Bessie Smith who she took under her wing and helped to train. She was an enormous figure in the development of the blues, R & B, and rock ‘n’ roll.

To listen to "Prove it on Me Blues" for free, click here and enjoy :

Ma Rainey, Put it on Me Blues. Paramount Record Label. Release date: 1928
re-release: July 17, 2007. catalog no. 7793

BESSIE SMITH, "Downhearted Blues"

"Empress of Blues”

Bessie Smith is known as one of the greatest female blues singers. She was among the first musicians to blend African and Western modes of music.

She was highly influenced with Ma Rainey and spent some time in t 1915 touring with her. She recorded on Columbia’s record label, which hosts a predominately male label and field of music. Her song “Downhearted blues” was recorded with Clarence Williams on the piano in 1923. It song was about loving someone that doesn’t reciprocate your love. Her first record sold 750,000 copies within the first six months, launching her into superstar status with the unprecedented record sales. She had a female voice of struggle that inspired others that came after her.

She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and ‘Downhearted Blues’ was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs to have shaped rock music.
Check out Bessie Smith's record 'Downhearted Blues' here: http://www.last.fm/music/Bessie+Smith/_/Down+Hearted+Blues
informational sources: www.rockhall.com/inductee/bessie-smith
Bessie Smith, Downhearted Blues, Columbia Record Label, 8.120660, Released: 1923.

VICTORIA SPIVEY, "Queen of the Blues"

The “Queen of the Blues”.

'Black Snake Blues’ was her first record which she created with Okeh Records in 1926 and proved to be successful. This record was the cause of a several year rift between her and her long time friend Blind Lemon Jefferson. When Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded "Black Snake Moan" and it proved to be more popular than Spivey's, Spivey accused Jefferson of stealing her song. The dispute was settled amicably and Jefferson and Spivey remained friends

Victoria Spivey's vocal style was characterized by angularity, nasality, and a type of moan, which she called the "tiger moan," reminiscent of a style of black church singing. She also altered the familiar twelve-bar blues structure by adding another four bars, resulting in a sixteen-bar form. Her songs were filled with sexual overtones, double entendres, and outright pornography. The lyrics dealt with contemporary subjects and problems including drugs, the penal system, capital punishment, and lesbianism, all of which were of concern in the daily lives of her listeners.

She formed her own label “Spivey Records”. In 1951 Spivey retired from show business to play the pipe organ and lead a church choir, but she returned to secular music in 1961 upon the revival of folk music and opportunities for a comeback. In 1962, Bob Dylan recorded on her label as a backup harmonica player.

If youre interested in hearing "Black Snake Blues", check it out here: http://www.last.fm/music/Victoria+Spivey/_/Black+Snake+Blues

You can also check out Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan" and hear the song that caused the long standing rift between the two freinds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3yd-c91ww8
Victoria Spivey, Black Snake Blues, Okey Records, 1926.

**NOTE: Music at this time is undergoing a signficant shift. Because of the onset of the Great Depression in the late 1920's and early 1930's, in addition to the grandiose nature of female performances (which included costumes, stage props, back up instruments, ect) there was a signficant shift from the popularity and viability of producing female music that now began to focus on male music. Male music was downscaled to a great degree and was more economically effective to market at the time.**

LEAD BELLY, "Goodnight Irene"

Lead Belly could play anything for anyone and was considered a true ”songster”.

In 1917 he shot and killed a lover’s rival and was sentenced to 30 years in jail but managed to write flattering songs about the Texas governor Pat Morris Neff for his early release. The governor ran for political office with the pledge not to issue pardons but let Lead Belly out early, only to be sentenced again for life in prison. But AGAIN he gained his release with the supposed help of record producer John A. Lomax. Allegedly, Lomax placed a petition for Lead Belly’s release on the back of the song “Goodnight Irene” for the Louisiana Governor. His songs were so popular that he made records that are still kept in the Library of Congress.

The lyrics of “Goodnight Irene” tell the story of the singer’s troubled past with his lover Irene, while expressing sadness and frustration. Several verses make explicit reference to suicidal inclinations such as the line, “sometimes I take a great notion to jump in the river and drown.”

Lead Belly has influence infinite number of bands from the Beach Boys, Pete Seeger, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Ludacris and many others.

To hear Lead Belly's 'Goodnight Irene', click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmQXmqbZ3Pc
Lead Belly, Goodnight Irene, American Record Company, Released: 1934

Monday, April 6, 2009


"Father of the Detla Blues"

He was known for his sexual prowess and was criticized by many for always breaking time in his music. He played guitar in many exciting new ways, such as behind his head, behind his back, allegedly tossing the guitar in the air, and even played with his feet. He was also unique in playing, in that he would beat time on the guitar while he was playing. He also used the slide as a vocal element, using it to complete words of a song. Patton gained notoriety for his showmanship by playing his guitar behind his head, down on his knees, or behind his back.

“Pony Blues” was composed by Charley Patton and with the help of record store owner H.C. Speir; Patton first recorded his song in 1929 for Paramount Records. The song later served as a Delta staple and was part of every young guitarist’s repertoire.

Robert Palmer considers Charley Patton as one of the most important musicians that America produced in the 20th century, influencing almost every Delta Bluesman that followed him.

Check out 'Pony Blues' for yourself at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ1zOarIoEA
Charley Patton, Pony Blues, Paramount Records. Released 1929


“Father of the Texas Blues”

Blind Lemon Jefferson one of the earliest, and most prominent, figures in the blues movement developing in Dallas. His first few recordings were gospel and were released under the name “Deacon L.J. Bates”, before finally turning to the blues. He had such recording success that Paramount Records made their own special label for his records called “Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Birthday Records.” His music was often criticized for “breaking time” and not keeping a steady 12- bar count but his playing was always clean and clear. Blind Lemon is also known for having taught T-Bone Walker the blues basics on the guitar, who himself went out to pioneer the electric guitar and become one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

After his work with Paramount, he switched record labels and began working with OKeh Records. From there, he recorded ‘Matchbox Blues’ in 1927, a song about a mean spirited woman. It was only one of two Okeh recordings, probably because of his contractual obligations with Paramount. It has better sound quality than his Paramount records.

Blind Lemon Jefferson is considered by many to be the founder of the Texas Blues sound. He was a very influential figure on the musical careers of Lead Belly and Lightinin’ Hopkins, and Doc Watson. B.B. King even maintains Jefferson’s huge influence on his own singing and guitar playing. More modern artists that drew inspiration from Blind Lemon include Bob Dylan, The White Stripes, and the Beatles, who also sang their version of “Match Box Blues”.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed “Matchbox Blues” by Blind Lemon Jefferson as one of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll, in addition to being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Click here if you'd like to check out Blind Lemon Jefferson's Matchbox Blues:
Blind Lemon Jefferson. Matchbox Blues. Black Snake Moan Record. Okeh Records. 1927

TOMMY JOHNSON, "Maggie Campbell Blues"

Tommy Johnson had a unique style of singing, incorporating falsetto and yodeling, which complemented his intricate guitar playing and helped to eastblish himself as a premier Delta bluesman of the day. Maggie Campbell explored Johnson’s talents by showcasing his ability to blend fragments of folk poetry and personalized lyrics into set guitar accompaniments. The song came to epitomize Mississippi Blues at its most poetic and expressive. He was able to impress crowds by playing his guitar between his legs, behind his back, and often throwing it up in the air during a performance. His style influenced Howlin’ Wolf and blues singer Robert Nighthawk.

What Tommy Johnson may be most remembered for was his ploy to gain popularity by starting a rumor about himself that he sold his sold to the devil in return for learning how to play the guitar at the crossroads. Soon thereafter he began carrying around a rabbits foot with him in order to conjure up his sinister image.

He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1986 as a performer, and his song Big Road Blues was inducted in 1987 as a classic blues recording.

If you'd like to hear 'Maggie Campbell Blues for yourself, click here: http://www.nps.gov/history/delta/blues/people/tommy_johnson.htm
Tommy Johnson, Maggie Campbell Blues, Victor Records, released: 1928.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SON HOUSE, "My Black Mama"

Unlike all other musicians, Son House played on the National Steel guitar. This guitar was popularized after the Panama-Pacific American Exposition of 1915. The steel guitar allowed Son House to mimic the crying moan of the human voice. His style used strong, repetitive rhythms, which he often played with the aid of a bottleneck. His singing incorporates elements of southern gospel and spiritual music. He recorded ‘My Black Mama’ in 1930 for Paramount Records. Son House was an innovator of the Delta blues style and was very influential on Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson and remains influential today with groups such as The Whites Stripes. In 1941 Alan Lomax had him record for the Library of Congress.

Check out Son House's "My Black Mama" here: http://www.last.fm/music/Son+House/_/My+Black+Mama+Part+1
Son House. My Black Mama. Paramount Records. Released: 1930 in Grafton Wisconsin.

BLIND WILLIE McTELL, "Statesboro Blues"

Blind Willie McTell was a Piedmont Blues musician and was highly influential on the modern music and art scene, although his songs never earned mainstream popularity. He really was blind and was impressively able to read and write music in Braille. His sound helped to bridge the gap between the earlier blues and newer renditions of the 20th century that had a more refined sound. “Statesboro Blues” was first recorded in 1928 and refers to the town of Statesboro, Georgia. McTell's family moved to Statesboro and that is where he learned to play the guitar. McTell borrowed part of the lyrics for the song from “Up the Country Blues, a Sippie Wallace recording from just five years earlier. The song has been very influential and was recorded by Taj Mahal, David Bromberg, The Allman Brothers Band, The White Stripes.
To hear the Statesboro Blues, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50nfZIO5ZQ
Blind Willie McTell. Statesboro Blues. Columbia Records. Released: 1928

Saturday, April 4, 2009

MUDDY WATERS, "Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You"

“Father of Chicago Blues”

Referring to his nickname, “Muddy Water” he says that as a child his grandmother used to tell him not to play in the muddy water and eventually the name stuck. He even refers to himself as ‘Muddy Water’, no ‘S’. It was Leonard Chess who inadvertently added the ‘S’ to his first commercial recording and his new name was thus created. The songs that Muddy recorded for Lomax are extremely important for the history of the blues because they give a great indication as to not only the place to which the blues were heading, but also the continuing power of the older styles, even the proto-blues.

The song “Why Don’t You Live So God Can Use You” was important in reflecting the influences and musical divides that Muddy was not afraid to cross. He had a mix of many different influences and this song in particular is out of the guitar evangelist tradition. The song is almost identical to Blind Benny Paris’ “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” which is important in highlighting that ideas of ownership or authorship were not very important at the time.

Muddy referred to his own style as country style. He also used a thumb pick, which had not been used before, and became his signature sound.

check out Muddy Water's song here: http://www.emusic.com/album/Muddy-Waters-Muddy-Waters-1941-1946-MP3-Download/11364297.html

informational sources:http://www.muddywaters.com/bio.html

Muddy Waters. Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You Up. Chess Records. 1942.

Re-released. Muddy Waters Library of Congress Recordings (1941-1942) and Early Commercial Records (1946-1951).Document Records. Jan 1, 1992

MUDDY WATERS, "Hoochie Coochie Man"

Hoochie Coochie Man was written in 1954 and achieved great success, reaching #8 on Billboard magazine’s Black Singles chart. The song was also featured on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Most of Muddy’s songs were about sex and sexual image, and in his personal life he proved to be a very famous womanizer. The song Hoochie Coochie was a sexual dance that was performed by women, while a ‘hoochie coochie man’ either watched them or ran the show.

informational soruces: www.rockhall.com/inductee/muddy-waters

Muddy Waters. Hoochie Coochie Man. Chess Records. Released 1954.

MUDDY WATERS, "Got my Mojo Working"

Muddy tended to have a delay in his singing and does not sing on beat. Rather, he sings behind it which is an important elemnt in shaping the blues guitar playing in Chicago.

The song “Got my Mojo Working” was popularized by Muddy Waters in 1957 and his rendition featured in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, in addition to being inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000. On top of those great achievements, the song was included in the list of Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Muddy not only shaped what the blues music was, but he invented the concept of a pop group.The band “The Rolling Stones” got their name from one of Muddy's songs titled, "Rolling Stones".

click here to see Muddy in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhTCYqJsfqs

informational sources: http://www.muddywaters.com/bio.html

Muddy Waters. Got My Mojo Working. Chess Records. 1951

HOWLIN' WOLF, "How Many More Years"

Chester Arthur Burnett, aka, Howlin’ Wolf is considered one of the leading performers in the electric blues. ‘How Many More Years’ which was released in 1951 after he moved to Chicago and switched managers, became Howlin’ Wolf’s biggest hit. The song reflected a much more modern sound than did ‘Moaning at Midnight,’ which was his first recording and helped to make him an instant star
the song made it to #4 in 1951 on the Billboard charts.

Additionally, In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #51 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Listen to How Many More Years here :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ou-6A3MKow

Informational Source:Taylor, B. Kimberly. "Howlin' Wolf Biography". www.musicianguide.com. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608000661/Howlin-Wolf.html

Howlin' Wolf. How many more years. Moanin' At Midnight. Chess Recoreds. Released: August 1951


Jimmy Rogers discovered Little Walter on Maxwell Street in 1947 playing the harp. He immediately brought Little Walter to Muddy Waters, where he played for him and immediately became a member of the band Muddy was forming.

Jacobs is regarded as one of the greatest harp players and was perhaps its greatest innovator in that he was the first player to truly incorporate a cupped mike played through a guitar amp, thereby revolutionizing harp playing. Little Walter utilized amplification to explore radical new timbres and sonic effects previously unheard from a harmonica

The song “Juke” was a massive hit and spent 8 weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts. Juke proved to be the only harmonica instrumental ever to become a #1 hit on R & B charts.

Together, with Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters they formed a band which became known as Head Hunters. The name formed because they had a reputation as being the best players in Chicago. They made a habit out of walking into performances unannounced and talking over and playing with the featured bands, a practice that became known as “cutting heads”.

His work earned him a spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, specifically for his work as a harmonica player.

Check out "Juke" here, http://www.last.fm/music/Little+Walter/_/Juke

Also, here is something really worth checking out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaqTyDC0TZg&feature=PlayList&p=7E8424FAD3CBCA4F&index=0&playnext=1
its Little Walter's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a slideshow tribute to his work

informational sources: http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/little-walter
Little Walter. Juke. Chess Record Label. October 1952
Re-released "The Blues World of Little Walter" from Delmark Records in 1993

ROBERT JOHNSON, "Kind Hearted Woman"

The "Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll" and the first post-modern blues artist.

Kind Hearted Blues was the first song that Johnson recorded. It was written as an answer to “Cruel Hearted Woman Blues” by Bumble Bee Slim and tells the story of a women who, quite obviously, treats you right. The technique of creating songs to “answer” another was a very common practice. The song’s lyrics are a little jumbled and both praise and criticize women, but the music itself is groundbreaking. Instruments were only used as mere accompaniments at this time, but Johnson departs from the looser guitar style playing and creates a full-fledged arrangement.

In the first verse Johnson bases his guitar on the piano lines that Carr played.

The second verse has Johnson changing to a high guitar riff and having his vocal follow that riff, rather than the other way around.

For the third verse he goes to a bridge and throws in a startling falsetto. Then he does something totally unexpected for a blues guitarist at this time: he does an instrumental break.

He ends with the fourth verse and a haunting plea: “You well’s to kill me, as to have it on your mind.”

The record had two takes, the first of which contains his only recorded guitar solo. This song was recorded by many other contemporary artists that followed including Muddy Waters, Robert Lockwood Jr, and Keb’ Mo’, and was also included on Eric Clapton’s album, Me and Mr. Johnson.

Check out "Kind Hearted Woman" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC0HpG8pLts

informational sources: www.robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org/Bio.html

Robert Johnson. Kind Hearted Blues. Brunswick Records. Recorded on:Nov 23, 1936 in San Antonio, TX

ROBERT JOHNSON, "Cross Road Blues"

In 'Cross Road Blues' Johnson makes much greater use of the slide and the piece becomes much more focused on the guitar. The lyrics are much more urgent than audiences have heard before, and there’s a distinct heightened sense of intensity in his singing. His singing style conveys a sense of desperateness and crying, with his opening lyrics being “I went to the cross roads, fell down on my knees.” You can hear him pushing and straining, both on the guitar and his voice, but neither seem to win.

To hear Cross Road Blues for yourself, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd60nI4sa9A

informational sources: http://www.robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org/Bio.html

Robert Johnson. Cross Road Blues. Brunswick Records. Recorded on Nov 23, 1936.

ROBERT JOHNSON, "Terraplane Blues"

Recorded in San Antonio in 1936, Terraplane Blues became a very popular song and served as a metaphor for sex. The lyrics narrated the story of his car not starting and suspicions that his girlfriend let another man drive it. The song became a regional hit and he successfully sold over 5,000 copies of this record. The fact that Johnson did not record more songs like Terraplane Blues could mean that he was either out of touch with what the public wanted or that he was ahead of his time in creating something new. The Led Zeppelin song Trampled Under Foot is regarded as a tribute to Johnson's Terraplane Blues, with Robert Plant using car parts as sexual metaphors.
Johnson’s major influence has been on rock. Although he was not very well known in African American's music community at the time, he was admired by a small, but influential, group of white record collectors involved in the New Orleans Jazz Revival.

Click here if you'd like to listen to Terraplane Blues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0033iRJLuB8

informational sources:http://www.robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org/Bio.html

Robert Johnson. Terraplane Blues. Brunswick Records. Nov 23, 1936.

JIMMY REED, "Bright Lights Big City"

Reed was a major influence in electric blues, but was opposed to the acoustic based sound of others at his time. After unsuccessfully trying to get a contract with Chess Records, he got signed at Vee-Jay records, in part because of the drummer Reed was playing with, Albert King. Reed played harp in a holder while he played guitar and was a very accomplished harp player for that style. He had a stylistic voice that made him immediately stand out from the rest of the singers at the time.

He has proved to be very influential, specifically to The Rolling Stones, who also recorded a “Bright Lights, Big City”, among many other of Reed’s songs. Additionally, “Big Boss Man” proved to be a major hit when Elvis Presley recorded it again in 1967. Both records were voted into the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

To hear "Bright Lights Big City" by Jimmy Reed click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeaX-Jh_47g

Also, if you're interested in listening to The Rolling Stones rendition of the song here it is:

informational source:http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/JimmyReed.htm

Jimmy Reed. Bright Lights, Big City. Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall Album. Track 1. Vee-Jay Records. 1961


"The Texas Cannonball King"

Freddie started playing guitar at the age of 6 years old and was highly influenced by Lightnin’ Hopkins. When he was 16 years old he won a bet that he could sit in with Howlin’ Wolf and soon thereafter began to sit in with all the bands in Chicago.

His single of the song 'Hide Away 'reached #5 on the Billboard R & B charts and #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was named after a Chicago blues club where many of the blues musicians of the era played. Although he attained much fame from the song it was originally sang by Hound Dog Taylor. His instrumentation in the song contains some of the most brilliant guitar licks in blues history.

Check out Freddie King in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbqtnNorgQA

informational sources:http://www.freddiekingsite.com/

Freddie King. Hide Away. The Federal Record Label.August 26, 1960

re-make of Hide Away on Freddie King Is A Blues Master Album(Cotillion SD 9004, produced by King Curtis). 1969.

ALBERT KING, "Dont Throw Your Love on Me So Strong"

"King of the Blues"

Albert King began his professional career playing guitar for a band called 'The Groove Boys' with Jimmy Reed. Albert was highly influenced by Blind Lemon Jefferson and used the electric guitar as his signature instrument. He had a very unusual style of playing because he played a right handed guitar with his left hand in addition to not restringing it, essentially leaving the strings upside down. He also tuned his guitar down, oftentimes two whole steps, which allowed the strings to be looser making them easier for King to bend them further. The song “Don’t Throw Your love on Me So Strong” became his first major hit in 1961 and hit #14 on the R & B charts. Additionally the song's popularity sparked the attention of the famous Stax record label, who offered him a record deal.

King was heavily influential on Stevie Ray Vaughan, who took a similar approach to tuning his guitar down. He also made a big impression on Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Taylor, and Mike Bloomfield, among many others.

to listen to "Don't Throw Your love on Me So Strong" for free, go to : http://www.last.fm/music/Albert+King/_/Don

informational sources:http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/AlbertKing.htm

Albert King. Dont throw your love one me so strong. Album: Wednesday Night In San Francisco. Bobbin Record Label. 1961.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

B.B. KING, "Three O'clock Blues"

B.B. King, originally named Riley King, formed the Famous St. John’s Gospel Singers in 1943 where he would play in churches during the day and then play blues on Saturday nights throughout Delta towns making triple the money. He landed a gig on WDIA, a new radio station in Memphis, and his popularity grew exponentially. He renamed himself from Riley King to the “Beale Street Blues Boy” and later shortened it to “B.B. King.”
Three O’clock Blues was a national hit in 1951 and reached #1 on the R & B charts in 1952 and stayed there for 15 weeks. The song was a return to the more much basic blues form. Although most people still think of King primarily as a blues guitarist, it’s his vocal mastery and rapport with an audience that are some of his greatest talents

To see and hear B.B. King in action playing Three O'Clock blues check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6xSpIRYa7I

informational sources:www.bbking.com/

B.B. King. Three O'Clock Blues. King of the Blues. RPM Records. 1951