Category Archives: Chicago Blues

Blues Masters from the Delta (Blues Stories, 21)

 A Review of Ted Gioia, Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. [NOTE: Once upon a time,  I hoped to write a book on the origins … Continue reading

Posted in "Charley Patton", Age of Jim Crow, Alan Lomax, American History, B.B. King, Bessie Smith, Books, Chicago Blues, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Delta Blues, History, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Popular Culture, Retirement, Robert Johnson, Son House, Southern History, The "Great Migration", The Blues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Early Blues Divas (Blues Stories, 19)

[NOTE:  A different take on an earlier post, “20th –Century Blues Women,” this time emphasizing the decade of the 1920s.] * * * * * 2003 was designated by Congress as “The Year of the Blues” to commemorate W.C. Handy’s first encounter with that music, … Continue reading

Posted in American History, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Blues Women, Books, Chicago Blues, Historical Reflection, History, Interdisciplinary Work, Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Memphis Minnie, Popular Culture, Research, Retirement, Sippie Wallace and Bonnie Raitt, Southern History, Teaching, The Blues, Uncategorized, WP Long Form, WP Long Read | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Blues Had a Baby” (Blues Stories, 18)

A Review of John Milward, Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll (And Rock Saved the Blues). Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2013. “’The blues had a baby,’ Muddy Waters sang, ‘and they called it rock and roll.’ Yeah, and … Continue reading

Posted in Alan Lomax, American History, B.B. King, Big Bill Broonzy, Books, Chicago Blues, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Delta Blues, Historical Reflection, History, History of Rock and Roll, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters, Popular Culture, Research, Retirement, Robert Johnson, Son House, Southern History, Teaching, The Blues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Early Blues–Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Everything (Blues Stories, 17)

A Review of R.A. Lawson, Jim Crow’s Counterculture: The Blues and Black Southerners, 1890-1945. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010. [NOTE: As I’ve explained elsewhere, my initial interest in the Blues developed because my older son and I were … Continue reading

Posted in Age of Jim Crow, Alan Lomax, American History, Big Bill Broonzy, Chicago Blues, Civil Rights Movement, Delta Blues, Historical Reflection, History, History Curriculum, History of Rock and Roll, Interdisciplinary Work, Leadbelly, Popular Culture, Robert Johnson, Southern History, Teaching, The Blues, Uncategorized, Urban Blues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Big Bill Broonzy–The Blues Man as Pragmatist (Blues Stories, 9)

A Review of Robert Riesman, I Feel So Good:  The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy.  Chicago and London:  The University of Chicago Press, 2011. [NOTE:  2011 was a very good year for Blues biographies:  three reputable university presses … Continue reading

Posted in Alan Lomax, Big Bill Broonzy, Books, Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, History, Muddy Waters, Research, Retirement, Southern History, The Blues | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Electric Mud–The Life and Music of Muddy Waters,1915-1983 (Blues Stories, 7)

Muddy Waters (April 14, 1915-April 30, 1983) was born McKinley A. Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. His family moved farther north, to the Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, when he was about three, and it was there that he eventually taught … Continue reading

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20th-Century Blues Men (Blues Stories, 5)

[Note:  This post is the companion piece to “20th-Century Blues Women.”  A slightly different format this time, without an introductory essay (for those interested in one, go here.); instead, I offer biographical sketches of some favorite 20th-century Blues men and a song or two that capture the essence … Continue reading

Posted in "Charley Patton", Alan Lomax, American History, Blind Willie McTell, Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, History, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Piedmont Blues, Research, Robert Johnson, Son House, Southern (Georgia) History, Southern History, The Blues | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

20th-Century Blues Women (Blues Stories, 4)

A funny thing happened when I researched the role of women in developing the Blues in the twentieth century:  I found an alternative narrative that contained a few surprises.  For example, the year 2003 was designated by Congress as “The … Continue reading

Posted in American History, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Blues Women, Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Francine Reed, History, Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Memphis Minnie, Ruth Brown, Sippie Wallace and Bonnie Raitt, Southern History, The Blues | 3 Comments

Blues Geography (Blues Stories, 3)

Any discussion of geographical variations in the Blues, while important in developing some understanding of the music, is also problematic, because those labels can be slippery.  As Francis Davis points out, “the widespread availability of country blues records quickly blurred … Continue reading

Posted in "Charley Patton", Alan Lomax, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Brownie McGee, Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Minnie, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters, Piedmont Blues, Robert Johnson, Son House, Southern (Georgia) History, Southern History, TBone Walker, Texas Blues, The Blues, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments