Evolution of Blues Show - Part 1: "Tribute to the Harmonica Gods"
In Part 1, we went on a journey of Blues music from its beginning in around 1930 through to today's Blues.
Our tribute covers featured the harmonica gods - great harp players such as Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Well, the music of Muddy Water, Willie Dixon, J.L. Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
It was a star-studded line up, with many of Australias top Harmonica players backed by All Stars Backline Boogie Band.
Hookin Up Boogie. written by Smokin Sam, featuring Des Kennedy and Smokin Sam on Harp
The origins of blues is not unlike the origins of life. For many years it was recorded only by memory and relayed only live and in person.
The Blues were born in the North Mississippi Delta following the Civil War. Influenced by African roots, field hollers, ballads, church music and rhythmic dance tunes called jump-ups evolved into a music for a singer who would engage in call-and-response with his guitar. He would sing a line, and the guitar would answer.
From the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49, and the platform of the Clarksdale Railway Station, the blues headed north to Beale Street in Memphis. The blues have strongly influenced almost all popular music - including jazz, country, and rock-n-roll and continues to help shape music worldwide.
The Blues, a 12-bar bent-note melody, is the anthem of a race bonding itself together with cries of shared self victimization. Bad luck and trouble are always present in the Blues, and always the result of others pressing upon unfortunate and down trodden poor souls yearning to be free from life's' troubles. Relentless rhythms repeat the chants of sorrow and pity of a lost soul many times over. This is the Blues.
Many of Memphis' best Blues artists left the city at the time when Mayor "Boss" Crump shut down Beale Street to stop the prostitution, gambling, and cocaine trades, effectively eliminating the musicians, and entertainers' jobs, as these businesses closed their doors. The Blues migrated to Chicago, where it became electrified, and Detroit.
In northern cities like Chicago and Detroit, during the later 40's and early 50's, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, and Elmore James among others, played what was basically Mississippi Delta blues, backed by bass, drums, piano and occasionally harmonica, and began scoring national hits with blues songs.
At about the same time, T-Bone Walker in Houston and B.B. King in Memphis were pioneering a style of guitar playing that combined jazz technique with the blues tonality and repertoire.
Meanwhile, back in Memphis, B.B. King invented the concept of lead guitar, now standard in today's Rock bands. Bukka White (cousin to B.B. King), Leadbelly, and Son House left Country Blues to create the sounds most of us think of today as traditional unamplified Blues.
In the early 1960's, the urban bluesmen were "discovered" by young white American and European musicians. Many of these blues-based bands - like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Canned Heat, and Fleetwood Mac - brought the blues to young white audiences, something the black blues artists had been unable to do in America except through the purloined white cross-over covers of black rhythm and blues songs.
Since the 60's, rock has undergone several blues revivals. Some rock guitarists, such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen have used the blues as a foundation for offshoot styles. While the originators like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and B.B. King and their heirs Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and later Eric Clapton and the late Roy Buchanan, among many others, continued to make fantastic music in the blues tradition.
The latest generation of blues players like Robert Cray and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others, as well as gracing the blues tradition with their incredible technicality, have drawn a new generation of listeners to the blues.
Evolution of Blues Show - Part 2: "Evolution of Blues to Rock "