The Roots of BluesMusic Influenced by early slave field hollers,work songs and spirituals, the blues growout of the souls of those who yearned tobe free from life’s troubles The blues are the essence of theAfrican American laborerFor many years it was recorded only bymemory and relayed only live in person It’s origins can be traced back to theNorth Mississippi Delta following theCivil War
Early In TheMornin’ (Old work song ) The call-and-responsestyle used in work songsand spirituals is atraditional sound of theblues
In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinctphrases usually played by different musicians, where thesecond phrase is heard as a direct commentary on orresponse to the first or with a lead singer will would sing aline and the other would sing it back.
The Sound Of the BluesThe use of “blue notes” usuallythe 3rd,5th, and 7th flattened notesfor expressive purposes are sungor played flattened or graduallybent in relation to the pitch of themajor scale, this is a signaturesound of the blues as well as thecall-and-response style.The typical instruments of theblues are: Guitar Bass guitar Piano Drums Saxophone Trumpet Trombone
The Founding Father and mother of the Blues Mamie Smith (1883-1946) W.C Handy (1873-1958) Mamie was the first black woman Handy is considered the “Father of the vocalist to record the blues. The 1920 Blues”. He was the first to publish a song “Crazy Blues” was a hit selling song with the term “Blues” in the title over a million copies in less then a and the first to use the blue notes. The year. She opened the market to blues song was “Memphis Blues” published music with record labels and talent in 1912. Handys second hit “St. Louis scouts scouring the country for more Blues” in 1914 helped to bring the blues singers to record. genre to the mass pubic.
Born in the fertile Mississippi Delta where cotton was king, the first style of playing the blues was called the “Delta Blues”. This sound was fine tuned by artists like; Charley Patton Robert Johnson Leadbelly Kokomo Arnold The defining characteristic of Delta blues is is instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm and "bottleneck" slide
The dominant instruments used in playing the “Delta Blues” is the Guitar,harmonica and slide guitar (usually on the steel guitar) being a hallmark of thestyle. The vocal styles range from introspective and soulful to passionate andfiery.The earliest blues recordings were by the major record labels and consistmostly of one person singing and playing an instrument, though the use of aband was more common during live performances.
One of these great Delta bluesmen was “Leadbelly” Leadbelly survived a life that included brutalizing poverty and long stretches in prison to become a great folk singer and musician. Leadbelly lived the Blues and his songsreflect his life’s troubles.
Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter (1885 -1949) Born 1885 in rural northwest Louisiana, Lead Belly rambled across the Deep South from the age of 16. While working in the fields and odd jobs, he absorbed a vast repertoire of songs and styles. Leadbelly mastered primordial blues. Leadbelly was known to have a hot temper and enormous strength and was convicted on charges of murder in 1917 and attempted murder in 1930 but because of his talents he literally sang his way to freedom, receiving pardons from the governors of Texas and Louisiana. Leadbelly was known as the “King of the 12-string Guitar” His powerful percussive guitar playing commanded attention as well.
Leadbelly is renowned for his songs. The best of which include“Rock Island Line,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “The Midnight Special”,“Cotton Fields” and “House of the Rising Sun”
IF some of Leadbelly’s songs sound familiar that is because they have beencovered by: The Beach Boys, the Animals, CreedenceClearwater Revival, Abba, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, JohnnyCash, Tom Petty, Dr John, Ry Coodey , Grateful Dead, Gene Autry, BillyChildish (who named his son Huddie), Mungo Jerry, Paul King, Led Zeppelin,Van Morrison, Michelle Shocked, Tom Waits, Rod Stewart, Ernest Tubb, NickCave and the Bad Seeds, The White Stripes, The Doors, Old Crow MedicineShow, Meat Loaf, Ministry, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band,Deer Tick, Hugh Laurie, X and Nirvana among many others.
Here is two examples of Leadbelly’s songs being covered byThe Animals ( “ House of the Rising Sun” )and CreedenceClearwater Revival ( “Cotton Fields” )
In the late 1940’s and 1950’s anew style of the blues migrated to theNorthern cities of America This is called, “CHICAGO BLUES” Chicago electrified the blues Benefiting from the migration of Deltablues musicians to the big city, theChicago blues were shaped by a mix ofrural roots and urban life. Originally, the Chicago Blueswas a street-corner based music.But quickly gained popularity tobecome a giant commercialenterprise.As legendary guitarist RobertJohnson put it, Chicago has beena “sweet home” for the blues.
The Chicago sound was taking the basic acoustic guitar andharmonica and making them louder with an amplifier. The electricguitar, amplified bass guitar, drums, piano, harmonica andsometimes saxophone and or trumpet was now the band of theChicago blues scene. Chicago Blues has a more extended palette of notes than thestandard six-note blues scale; often, notes from the major scale anddominant 9th chords are added, which gives the music a more of a"jazz feel" while remaining in the confines of the blues genre. Chicagoblues is also known for its heavy rolling bass.
Some of the most legendary blues artists was from this period of the blues.Muddy Waters Junior Wells Howlin Wolf Buddy Guy
The single the most importantpresence on the postwarChicago scene was Willie Dixon ( 1915 – 1992) What distinguished Willie frommost others of his day was hisability to read, write, compose, andarrange music . His talents movedhim to legendary status amongbluesmen and fans.Dixon is arguably best known asone of the most prolificsongwriters of his time.
A short list of his most famous songs include "Little RedRooster", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Evil", "Spoonful", "BackDoor Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You", "I AintSuperstitious", "My Babe", "Wang Dang Doodle", and "Bring ItOn Home". They were written during the peak of Chess Records,1950–1965. “I can’t quit you babe” Willie playing double bass
Willie was also an important link between the blues and rock and roll, working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the late 1950s. Willie was known as “the father of modern Chicago blues.” Willie was quoted was saying, “The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.”
Early rock artists grew up on theblues from Chicago and theMississippi Delta and byincorporating it into their musicthey created the genre known as “Blues-Rock” The style began to develop in the mid-1960s in England and the United States. By combining bluesy improvisations over the 12-bar blues and adding extended boogie jams with rock and roll styles and you have blues rock sound.
The sound of blues rock is created by the electric guitar, piano, bass guitar and drum kit. UK and American Bands in the early 1960’s experimented with music from the older American bluesmen, like Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King. The video is the blues rock band Cream covering a Willie Dixon song “Spoonful”
Blues rock guitarist Eric Clapton has been referred toas one of the most important and influential guitaristsof all time. Clapton ranked fourth in Rolling Stonemagazines list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of AllTime" and fourth in Gibsons Top 50 Guitarists of AllTime.
In the mid 1960s, Claptonplayed with several blues rockbands until pursuing a solocareer. Below are a few of thebands; The Yardbirds CreamJohn Mayall & theBluesbreakers.(Clapton gained the nickname “Slowhand”while playing with Mayall )Clapton is the only three-timeinductee to the Rock and RollHall of Fame: once as a soloartist, and separately as amember of The Yardbirds andCream.
The Future of theblues is in goodhands. There are a handful of bands todaythat are keeping the blues stylealive .The picture is of Derrick Trucks
The 32 year old Trucks is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist,songwriter, and record producer. He is the founder of The Derek Trucks Band.He is married to fellow modern blues musician Susan Tedeschi. Rolling Stonehas described him as "the most awe-inspiring electric slide guitar playerperforming today"
Here are a few modern blues bands tocheck out; Joe Bonamassa The Breeze Kings Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears Band of Skulls Radio Moscow Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Magic Slim and the Teardrops The Derek Trucks Band