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Review: Blues Before Sunrise

Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jan 11 - 02:06 PM
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Subject: Review: Blues Before Sunrise
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jan 11 - 02:06 PM

Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews, by Steve Cushing. 2010.
University of Illinois Press, 272 pp.
(Extracts from a review by Michael Taft, American Folklife Certer, Library of Congress.
(Email to subscribers, Journal of American Folklore)

Blues singers have been among most interviewed of performers, at least since 1936 (John and Alan Lomax, Negro Folksongs as sung by Lead Belly).
Some did not go well- John A. Lomax vs. Willie McTell 1940; McTell intent on outlining his career, Lomax interested in protest songs.

The reviewer praises Cushing's interviews. His questions short, his knowledge deep, enabling him to probe the singers and elicit new information. Cushing allowed interviewees to 'free associate,' thus giving information about interrelationships in groups of performers.
There is little annotation, so the reader may miss the significance of some remarks.
"In an afterword, Cushing gives a brief history of his program. Until 1996, the show was broadcast by a local Chicago station, "he was able to rely on information supplied directly by members of the African-American community who knew blues singers or had information on the music scene in Chicago."
In 1996, the show was syndicated for national distribution.

Review online:

(I have not seen this book.)

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