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Blues BESIDES Delta, Chicago, etc.

Big Ballad Singer 05 Nov 13 - 01:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Nov 13 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 05 Nov 13 - 02:01 PM
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Subject: Blues BESIDES Delta, electric, etc.
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 01:10 PM

I've been loving listening to "Bowling Green John" Cephas (RIP) and "Harmonica Phil" Wiggins lately.

They were considered the masters of what is known as the Piedmont style of blues playing, which emphasizes double-thumbed bass patterns on fingerpicked guitar and a wider spectrum of vocal melodies than is typical of Mississippi delta blues styles.

What other blues traditions are there in the US besides Delta, Piedmont and "amplified" blues, which I understand to encompass Chicago, West-Coast, Texas and Kansas-City band-based, primarily electric styles.

Are there elements of blues that are prevalent in the music of minstrel, songster and other rural folk styles that are different than Delta-style music?

I've been playing the guitar and the harmonica for over 25 years now, and I can say that I am definitely NOT meant to be a classic amplified or electric blues player. That said, however, I am not from the Delta, so I don't naturally tend towards playing that guitar style either.

My biological family has roots in south Texas, and I can definitely see, even in my earliest song writing, a more corrido/ranchero guitar influence, and my harmonica playing has always been more influenced by accordion playing and even straight/folk harp style than it has by typical Chicago/amplified tone and style. I adopted that sort of thing for a while, but it's clear that my strengths are not there.

Curious to see if anyone living in the US has any experience with forms of blues that are particular to certain regions or cross-cultural influences.

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Subject: RE: Blues BESIDES Delta, Chicago, etc.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 01:48 PM

East Texas Blues! Some good stuff.
Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin Hopkins and others.

Texas Blues- from the cities. Thornton, etc.

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Subject: RE: Blues BESIDES Delta, Chicago, etc.
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 05 Nov 13 - 02:01 PM

There's plenty of blues been recorded in Texas. Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin' Hopkins, Juke Boy Bonner, Blind Willie Johnson etc.

There's also quite a lot of blues been recorded in Louisiana, much of it by Harry Oster, and much of it released by Arhoolie Records. Plus of course there's the blues/Cajun hybrid, zydeco. Again check the Arhoolie catalogue for some of the best examples.

Surprisingly enough not a lot of blues came out of Alabama, other than barrelhouse piano. That seems to be tied in with the fact that a lot of turpentine camps exist(ed) in Alabama and they were a handy way of enabling barrelhouse pianists to earn a living. Also, if you want to broaden the field of enquiry slightly, make sure you cop an earful of the wonderful Vera Hall Ward. There's recordings of her on Southern Journey (Rounder) and Southern Folk Heritage, both sets produced by Alan Lomax, and various Library of Congress LPs/CDs. However, the best place to start would be with a 10" LP which she recorded with her cousin Dock Reed about 12947 and which Folkways released. It was called Spirituals and it's still available as a download on the Smithsonian Folkways site.

Then of course there's the so called 'classic blues' of jazz/vaudeville based singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

That lot barely scratches the surface of course and ignores other great centres such as Atlanta and Tennessee.

Perhaps the best way of mapping the blues is to read about it. I'm a bit out of touch with what's available in the way of general introductions these days, but I could certainly recommend the following:-

The Devil's Music. Giles Oakley.
Looking Up at Down. William Barlow.
Pretty well anything by Paul Oliver.

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