Blues took root on the cotton plantations in the Deep South. It has since become a voice of resilience.
Born from the work songs and field hollers of slaves, blues was first brought to the attention of non-African Americans in the works of bandmaster W.C. Handy in the 1900’s. The audience had never experienced music of such personal nature in a public arena until then. Since it had been adapted to “white” sensibilities, it found a wider resonance. Blues had become a quintessential part of American life.
Built around a twelve-bar structure, its call-and-response pattern builds a narrative of the audio drama for the listener. Its often gritty nature makes the music “real”.
Blues is a cultural artifact, instrumental in shaping gospel, jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip hop music. A testament to its honesty and ability to evolve.
1850’s-1890’s The Dark Age of blues owing to poor documentation.
W.C. Handy’ introduces non-African Americans to blues music with his “The Memphis Blues”, and Mamie Smith with her performance of Perry Bradford’s “Crazy Blues”. 1920’s-30’s
Evolves into the Mississippi Delta Blues with Son House, Charlie
Patton, Robert Johnson and others as its proponents. 1940’s-50’s
Chicago-based Jimmy Yancey pioneers the boogie-woogie style, and the Boogie-Woogie Trio perfects it. 1950’s to mid-60’s
Delta Blues transforms into the electrified Chicago Blues
under Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed. Mid 1960’s to early 70’s
The baton of innovation is shared between John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Taj Mahal in the US, while a parallel-rock movement led by the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, the Yardbird’s Eric Clapton garners more listeners for this highly adaptive genre. 1970’s to early 80’s
70’s witnesses the emergence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, and Johnny Winter. 1980’s
Shirley Brown, Sir Charles Jones, Z.Z. Hill, Little Milton give a twist to
blues and pioneer southern soul. 1990’s
onwards Joe Bonamassa, Ben Harper, Jason Ricci, Eric Clapton and the other talented blues musicians take it to its next logical direction.