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real blues

jb 13 Nov 99 - 07:30 PM
Kernow John 13 Nov 99 - 07:34 PM
Rick Fielding 13 Nov 99 - 10:16 PM
reggie miles 13 Nov 99 - 10:59 PM
Paul S 14 Nov 99 - 08:08 AM
Paul S 14 Nov 99 - 08:19 AM
JedMarum 14 Nov 99 - 10:57 AM
Roger in Baltimore 14 Nov 99 - 01:59 PM
Lonesome EJ 14 Nov 99 - 07:34 PM
Stewie 14 Nov 99 - 09:07 PM
Brad Sondahl 15 Nov 99 - 10:06 AM
Amos 15 Nov 99 - 10:21 AM
Steve Latimer 15 Nov 99 - 10:43 AM
Roger the skiffler 15 Nov 99 - 11:00 AM
Fortunato 15 Nov 99 - 11:06 AM
15 Nov 99 - 11:17 AM
Steve Latimer 15 Nov 99 - 11:28 AM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 11:30 AM
JedMarum 15 Nov 99 - 11:38 AM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 11:42 AM
Jon W. 15 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Nov 99 - 01:30 PM
Fortunato 15 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 02:09 PM
Stewie 15 Nov 99 - 06:37 PM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 07:37 PM
kendall 15 Nov 99 - 08:01 PM
WyoWoman 15 Nov 99 - 10:26 PM
Stewie 16 Nov 99 - 12:49 AM
WyoWoman 16 Nov 99 - 01:05 AM
Stewie 16 Nov 99 - 01:33 AM
thosp 16 Nov 99 - 02:15 AM
Lonesome EJ 16 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM
Easy Rider 16 Nov 99 - 11:06 AM
Steve Latimer 16 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM
WyoWoman 17 Nov 99 - 01:06 AM
Mark Clark 17 Nov 99 - 11:35 PM
Roger the skiffler 18 Nov 99 - 04:17 AM
Lonesome EJ 29 Mar 00 - 02:13 AM
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reggie miles 05 Oct 09 - 03:05 PM
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Subject: real blues
From: jb
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 07:30 PM

Hi everyone. This is my first time posting a message to this group, and I hope these are appropriate questions.

I am interested in people's definitions of what the blues is. For example, do you consider Eric Clapton a blues musician? What about bands such as the Jon Spenser Blues Explosion? What does it take for a song to be considered a blues song? Where do you draw the line between blues and other types of music?

I appreciate any resonses. JB


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Kernow John
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 07:34 PM

JB
Don't know much about the blues but welcome to the CAT.
Baz


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 10:16 PM

Welcome JB. (oh by the way don't mind the current argument in the "not worth opening" thread. We do this every 5 weeks!)

Like folk music, you're going to find it difficult to get an actual definition of blues. You may however get lots of opinions. With any luck you WON'T get Broonzy's "horse" line. (don't ask. I'm sorry I mentioned it!)
For what it's worth, W.C. Handy claimed to have "invented" blues, and Brownie McGhee said "I AM the blues" (so did Willy Dixon) They've both left us now so we'll never know who was right! Thousands of singers have "got the blues", and an equal number were "born with the blues". (Perry Bradford titled his autobiography that way.)

Personally I like "country" blues (a term made up by white collectors in the sixties) and artists like Blind Boy Fuller, Willie MacTell, Son House, Robert Johnson, and Bill Broonzy. Hundreds more actually. There's always been an argument about whether white people can be blues singers. Me? Don't see why not.
Have fun at Mudcat.
Rick


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: reggie miles
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 10:59 PM

Blues songs are just songs about pain and desire, something we all share each to his mire.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Paul S
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 08:08 AM

A definition of the blues? I'm not going to attempt that one. However, I can respond to the next part of your question, about Eric Clapton, et al.

When I was in my early twenties, and first discovered the blues, I learned the old acoustic country blues from the 1920's and 30's. At that time, I considered anything electric or variant from the "standard" patterns to be a bastard child of the blues: e.g. Keb Mo, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Fabulous Thunderbirds, even Muddy Waters (did I really believe that?).

Through the past ten years (I'll be thirty in a couple of months; Yike!), my tastes have changed, and I have progressed through the progression of the blues. I've developed a taste for the electric blues of the '50's, the British blues of the '60's, and even a bit of the psychedelic blues of the '70's.

A lot of purists will say that the majority of the style of non-traditional blues played in the 1970's, 80's and 90's isn't the blues at all. However, as has been pointed out in other threads, musical styles change and progress. Clapton, Vaughn and others are playing the blues of the 90's. I don't really like their stuff; I'll always have a soft spot for most of the stuff made from the 20's through the 50's. But they are the natural next extension of the blues. Big Bill Broonzy and the wide assortment of dead Johnsons would probably be playing just like that if they were alive today.

Paul


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Paul S
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 08:19 AM

Sorry, I just had another thought on this topic.

An interviewer once asked Willie Dixon how people could enjoy such a depressing music as the blues. His response: The blues isn't about all of the bad things that happen in your life; it's about the joy in sharing them with others.

An example that illustrates this perfectly is on BB King's Live at Cook County Jail album. In the song How Blue Can You Get, the final verse has some stops while BB shouts about what a selfish woman he has. At the end of each of these lines, you hear an increasingly loud burst of applause and joy at his hardships. The audience is totally into his whining and moaning.

That is what the blues are about.

Paul


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 10:57 AM

blues is a style blues is an attitude blues is a way of life

blues is a musical style blues is a musical expression blues is a musical genre

the subjectis wide, and there will be lots of opinions about what 'blues' is ... I would argue that most are correct.

I heard that Townes Van Zandt said 'there are two kinds of music; the blues and zip-a-dee-doo-dah'

makes sense to me!


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 01:59 PM

jb,

Welcome to the Mudcat. As you can see, no one will answer your question definitively, because there is no definitive answer.

We've had this question asked before in other ways, and the answers are always the same.

So, you get opinions, and I'm not shy about adding mine. For some blues has been a way of life. For others it has been a way they feel. For others it has been a musical style. But it's all blues.

Somedays on some songs Eric is a blues singer, other times he is pop singer. Somedays on some songs Lead Belly was a blues singer, other times he was a children's artist.

I guess I'm saying it ain't the singer, it is the song and the particular performance.

In the end, we don't need the label except to classify our CD collections. Labels by necessity become exclusive. I prefer to be inclusive, so it's blues if you say it is blues. It doesn't mean I'll like it.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 07:34 PM

"Real" blues has a very different connotation than "real" Folk. I think the essence of Folk lies in the narrative and traditional aspects of the form. Blues is different. The 12 bar standard structure is a way of identifying the form, as is the triplet rhyming pattern. Instrumentation and tradition are important, but not definitive. The essential aspect that does or doesn't make a song "real" Blues is primarily depth of feeling. That is the main reason that Clapton only occasionally qualifies, and Janis Joplin always did. That "feeling" is an interesting blend of ecstacy and desperation. It isn't a racial thing- Robert Cray only occasionally engenders real Blues, while John Lee Hooker always does. It can be electric,acoustic,or accapella. But Real Blues attains an intimacy between player and listener that no other music can.You certainly do Know it when you Hear it.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Stewie
Date: 14 Nov 99 - 09:07 PM

Greetings, jb.

As has been pointed out, your questions are simple and straightforward but, unfortunately, there are no simple and straightforward answers to them. What can be said is that the blues is the wellspring of most modern American music, including jazz ? nearly all genres of American music are affected, directly or indirectly, by the blues. The blues is musical genre, a state of mind and the folk music of African-American people ? and much more. The subject is vast and complex because the blues means different things to different people.

To gain a glimpse of the diversity and complexity of the subject, one need only reflect on the variety of approaches that writers on the blues have taken in an attempt to impose some pattern, however fleetingly or artificially, on the flux that is the blues. The basic divisions usually taken are pre-WWII and post-WWII blues, and country blues and urban blues. Some writers have approached the subject by examining the diversity of the blues in significant blues cities ? New Orleans, Kansas City, Memphis, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas etc. Others have taken regional approaches ? the Mississippi Delta, Tex-Arkana, the Piedmont , the West Coast etc. Even acoustic 'country' blues is not easy to pin down: there are the rural bluesmen, such as Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Son House, Bukka White etc, but also acoustic 'country' bluesmen, particularly street singers, whose base was a city ? Lightning Hopkins, Blind Willie McTell, Furry Lewis, Blind Lemon Jefferson etc. That is the reason why some blues writers have preferred 'downhome blues' to 'county blues' as a descriptive term. There are 'downhome' bluesmen, such as Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, who later turned to a totally different style of blues in the bars of Chicago and Detroit.

Another world of the blues, and one that has received huge attention, is jazz blues and the 'classic' blues ? the women singers, such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox etc, who were the first blues singers to make it to record. There were the jug bands ? Memphis Jug Band, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Dixieland Jug Blowers etc ? and the hokum bands led by people like Tampa Red and Blind Boy Fuller. Writers with a more folky bent have tended to concentrate on songsters such as Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, Jesse Fuller, Henry Thomas, Bill Williams etc. There were the rural fiddle and dance bands such as the Mississippi Sheiks, the Dallas String Band, Jim and Andrew Baxter etc. There were the gospel inspired bluesmen such Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Joe Taggart, Washington Phillips, Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother etc. Some believe that the 'real' blues was to be found in the cities, in particular Chicago ? the 4 Ws: Howling Wolf, Sonnyboy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Little Walter ? and Detroit ? John Lee Hooker ? not to mention Sam Phillips' recordings in Memphis and J.D. Miller's work in Louisiana. These, of course, spawned hundreds of groups ranging in style from blues rock to soul blues.

Of course, as someone has said, 'the long white locks of American country music has short dark roots'. In recent years, there has been increased interest in white rural blues influenced musicians such as Roy Harvey, the McGee Brothers, Darby and Tarlton, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carlisles, Frank Hutchison etc. The post-WWII years saw the emergence of individuals such as John Hammond, Michael Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite and bands such as the Kweskin Jug Band, Koerner, Ray and Glover, Electric Flag, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Geoge Thoroughgood and, over the few decades, thousands and thousands of others. And, in the UK, American blues was taken up with a vengeance by white groups.

If one reflects on the mutation of the blues into 'rhythm and blues', essentially danceable blues that had been the staple of the southern honky tonks and juke joints (borrowing the beat from gospel and subject matter from the blues), the picture becomes even more complicated. There were the dancehall blues that featured big bands, shouters and screamers, such as Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris etc, cry-ers, such as Roy Brown, Junior Parker, BB King etc, the jump blues and combos which varied in approach and style from west coast people such as T-Bone Walker and Amos Wilburn, to Memphis players like Ike Turner, Junior Parker, Rosco Gordon etc, to New Orleans people like Professor Longhair, Fats Domino etc, to eastern seaboard people like Chuck Willis; the club blues that featured silky-voiced, cocktail piano playing performers like Nat King Cole, Ivory Joe Hunter etc; the bar blues, such as typified by the 4Ws mentioned above; the group singing styles such as doo-wop etc; and gospel based styles.

The above is simply to give an indication that, as a musical genre, 'the blues' is vast and diverse. To reach an understanding, you need to make your own explorations and come to your own conclusions. If you are serious about it, you need to listen to a wide variety of material and read a few of the basic texts by experts such as Paul Oliver. The problem with blues CDs at the moment is that there is such a vast choice available that the beginner may well not know where to begin. A sound guide is Charles Shaar Murray's 'Essential Guide to Blues on CD', although not all the CDs mentioned will be still available. Perhaps a little more up to date is Tony Russell's fine 'The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray' (Harper/Collins). David Harrison, the blues reviewer for Froots magazine, has 'The World of Blues' (Studio Editions/London). The reissues and compilations on labels like Arhoolie, Indigo, Yazoo and Catfish are excellent. Some basic texts that may be consulted include Paul Oliver's classic 'The Blues Fell This Morning' and his 'Story of the Blues'. Jeff Todd Titon's 'Early Downhome Blues' is great and Robert Palmer's 'Deep Blues' still stands up well. Read some of the articles and follow the links on the bluesworld site http://www.bluesworld.com ? Roots and Rhythm has a link there; it is an excellent source with many reviews of blues albums.

I hope the above is of some use to you. Explore and enjoy, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Brad Sondahl
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 10:06 AM

Stewie's appraisal is great. I would add that blues grew out of, or along side of, ragtime, and a lot of the early blues musicians mixed rags and blues in their repertoire. In fact, the early blues was not "stereotyped," it had a wide variety of forms and progressions. Only in the last 30 years has the blues come to mean a 12 bar I IV V progression like those you hear on beer commercials... I associate that kind of playing with BB King, although he was able to rise above his own set style on occasion. "Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin too..." Brad http://www.camasnet.com/~asondahl/music.html


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Amos
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 10:21 AM

The pathos is the diagnostic trait. You can trace the form through ragtime and chain gang chants into African tribal traditions, but the form won't tell you the blues. The traditional 8-bar and 12-bar blues forms, usually played in E or A, are completely set aside in some of the greatest cuts from Bessie Smith's Barrelhouse Blues number,for example; but there is no mistaking the down-deep protest against pain that is the real earmark of blues.

One couplet says the blues ain't nothin but a low down dirty shame. Another says it is a ten-dollar woman hooked up with a two dollar man. You won't get far defining it in any cut and dried way, because it is a hot, volatile, shifting voice of deep feeling. But, however this occurs, it is always the blues. That underlies all the musicological parsing and gives you the deeper grasp of what it is. Then you'll see it in thousands of forms from gospel to rock to Coltrane, unmistakably.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 10:43 AM

Don't know the Jon Spencer band, but I sure have mixed feelings about Clapton. I had given up on Eric years ago, felling that he had become a middle of the road pop star, then he released "From The Cradle", a blues CD which I quite enjoyed. I don't think of Eric as a bluesman though, I see him as a good guitarist who is capable of playing many styles quite well, the blues being one of them. But he just doesn't move me the way Son House, Bukka White, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt and Johnny Winter do.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:00 AM

Dabbling in the blues has been popular with many other guitarists whose work is mainly in other genres: Chuck Berry, Mickey Baker, Ike Turner and Jimi Hendrix come to mind.
RtS (white boy* lost in the blues)
*poetic licence, "white old fogey" doesn't sound as good!


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Fortunato
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:06 AM

From the above it would appear that only men play or sing the blues. Since I am a player not a ethnomusicologist I will challenge others to help us with the history of great women of the blues. I will offer the following:

Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor, Ma Rainey Help me out here folks. Oh and that part about who can sing the blues. Well I'm white, and I can, Jack.

Fortunato.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From:
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:17 AM

other women? Victoria Spivey in the golden era, later Big Mama Thornton, in the UK Ottillie Paterson, Beryl Bryden & Dana Gillespie. Odetta dabbled at times as did Rosetta Tharpe in her secular moments...
RtS (Damned right I got the blues)


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:28 AM

Can a white, English, woman have the blues? Joanne Kelly was the real deal.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:30 AM

Sippie Wallace, Alberta Hunter, Ruth Brown, Big Maybelle, Dinah Washington, and my personal fave, Etta James, honey.

Rory Block is another one of those musicians who is a wonderful guitar player who sometimes plays the blues, among several other musical styles.

And I'm white and definitely can sing 'em, too. Only I was raised in the South and am sort of condemned to always sound "country blues" when I sing ANY blues.

Here's a question: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee did a song "Hot Little Cookie" (actually may be "You Bring Out the Boogie In Me") that is upbeat, cute. Now, I've only heard them referred to as "blues artists." But what's THAT song? It doesn't sound bluesy at all.

And Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women, does a couple ("I Want my Money Back" and "Middle Aged Blues Boogie") that are pretty saucy, not at all lowdown and feelin' bad all over.

So, what's the relationship of boogie-woogie to the blues? And what about some of those songs with suggestive lyrics that we've mentioned in previous threads? A lot of them aren't feel-bad songs, but they're definitely blues.

By the way, one of the things I notice about white boy blues players such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton is that they tend to go sailing off into the pyrotechnics of outrageous guitar licks more than the black blues players. I mean, B.B.King kicks ass, but he never adds one more lick than is necessary. Any thoughts on that?

I LOVE this thread. Thanks for starting it, JB.

WyoWoman


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: JedMarum
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:38 AM

Eric Clapton is a great guitarist, and performer who has been heavily influenced by Blues. While he may actually play some blues, I would say the lionshare of his music is Rock and that he is one of the major innovatirs of Rock. His blues influence is evident in his rock styles - but I think the majority of his art is just beyond the 'blues' threshold.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 11:42 AM

And what's the distinction? Where's that dividing line? (I ask myself these questions all the time, knowing there are no actual answers, but trying to articulate a feeling I have about it -- "I know it when I hear it" -- is a fun exercise anyway.)

ww


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Jon W.
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM

Memphis Minnie. She could not only sing but she could outplay any of her husbands.

And I disagree about the 12-bar form being only 30 years old (you didn't really mean that, did you Brad?). Most of the older bluesman used it a lot although they certainly felt free to vary it according to mood. It became necessary to standardize it more when the blues was transfered from a one- or two-musician form to a four or more musician form, so everyone would know when to change chords. Actually that is one of the things I find most appealing about the blues - the virtuosity and intensity of feeling that can be displayed within a very simple structure. The simplicity means that even a beginner can evoke the feeling, but a master can be as expressive as his or her ability allows, still staying within the framework.

Jon W.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 01:30 PM

Crossroads as written and performed by Robert Johnson and as performed by Cream(Clapton on guitar)is an interesting example of a Blues taken effectively in two completely different directions. The Johnson version is classic Delta Blues with effective fingerpicking and a dramatic telling of the story. The Cream version is balls-to-the-wall rocknRoll with the most blistering guitar solos Clapton ever achieved, but is it blues? I believe it is, although it has only the faintest resemblance to the original. I believe it achieves the "real blues" label through the passion that underlays both the instumental and vocal performance by Clapton,Bruce and Baker.

I am sure many would disagree, just like the lead guitarist in my band who refuses to profane Robert Johnson with any version we could muster. But I believe that Clapton and the boys paid high homage to Johnson, in spirit, in their version.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Fortunato
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM

I agree with EJ, Clapton achieved "bluesality" in his version of Crossroads. I have listened to both Johnson and Clapton back to back to hear the influence. If Clapton lives to BB King's 80 years he may play more sparingly. But BB's spare approach is not the only model in electric blues players. T Bone Walker and Clarence Brown have been known to cram a whole lot of notes into a line. And ain't nobody asked do they play 'real' blues.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 02:09 PM

Well, that's the joy of art -- we hear something and get to add our licks to it, whether it's painting, sculpture, tap dance or the blues.

It's all a dance between the basics and the filigree.

WW


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Stewie
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 06:37 PM

Many fine post-war women blues singers have been mentioned above - my favourites are Jo-Ann Kelly and Rory Block. I also like Bonnie Raitt and Toni Price (but they don't sing blues exclusively or even predominantly). The Antone's group of women artists is worth investigating - Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli and, best of all, Sue Foley - her 'Young Girl Blues' album is great. Another fine young blues singer and guitarist is Deborah Coleman who recently released 'Do You Want My Love?' on Blind Pig.

My personal focus in respect of the blues, however, is the pre-war material and the 'blues women' there were a very neglected group indeed. A handful of women blues singers, such as the great Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey or Alberta Hunter, are well-remembered today but, except for collectors of pre-war blues, fine performers such as Lil Green, Georgia White, Bessie Jackson, Hattie Hudson, Clara Smith, Kansas Katie, Ethel Waters, Victoria Spivey, Bessie Tucker, Ida May Mack and Ida Cox, remain virtually unknown. This has been slightly redressed with the release of albums of singers like Memphis Minnie and compilations such as the fine RCA Bluebird release 'Better Boot That Thing: Great Women Blues Singers of the 1920s' which may have been deleted already (the Bluebird reissue series itself has been abandoned, probably because the bean counters found that it wasn't making enough) - but progress is slow.

By and large, these pre-war blues women were tough and uncompromising. Paul Oliver suggests that the aggressiveness of the women singers related directly to their position in black society before the war. In the main, women were more able to obtain jobs than men and therefore became the head of the household. This accounted also for the relatively few women recording artists because recording held no special economic attraction for them. However, the inability of the lower class women to break out of their class gave men the sexual advantage and gave rise to what has been described as a 'defensive hardness' among these women. Rosetta Reitz, who founded a women's blues label (Rosetta Records), suggests that perhaps a counteraction of 'their feelings of powerlessness in world not of their own making' was the underlying impulse for lines such as 'I got something between my legs that would make a dead man come'. Indeed, to sing the 'devil's music' at all required a certain independence for a man in black American society, let alone a woman.

Cheers, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 07:37 PM

Well, their profile in the white recording industry was minimal, but the race records were full of women blues singers. The trouble came when they started trying to sing their sass for the white producers wanting to do crossover recordings. The white guys just wanted the women to sing "Poor Me" songs, not the gutsy, strong stuff they were singing on the race records. I had read somewhere years ago that discouragement over all this was partly what drove Billie Holiday to such despair...Does anybody know anything about that?

ww


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: kendall
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 08:01 PM

I dont know squat about the blues, but, Jimmie Rodgers once said "The blues aint nothin' but a good man feelin' bad" 'course he was white,so, what did he know?


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 15 Nov 99 - 10:26 PM

I honestly don't think color has much to do with the blues now. Soul has a great deal to do with it, however. Everything to do with it. That may be why Stevie Ray Vaughn sometimes doesn't quite reach me with his -- it's more about the showy licks and less about the soul of the music.

(Not that I"m dissin' Stevie Ray Vaughn. His playing is awesome, of course. Just sometimes not quite to my taste as far as the blues go...)


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Stewie
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 12:49 AM

Just to make a correction, the album by Deborah Coleman that I mentioned is titled 'Where Blue Begins' - 'Do You Want My Love' is one of the tracks that stand out and it stuck in my head.

Also, for those who may be interested in women blues singers on race records in the 20s, I draw attention to the 2 fine compilations in the Yazoo 2000 series. The first 'I can't be satisfied Vol 1' (Yazoo 2026) concentrates on 'the country' and has very rare recordings by relatively obscure artists like Ruby Glaze, Lottie Kimborough, Rosie Mae Moore and others - 23 sides in all. Its companion, 'I can't be satisfied Vol 2' (Yazoo 2027), focuses on 'the town' and features better known artists such as Victoria Spivey, Ma Rainey, Lucille Bogan, Bertha Chippie Hill etc.

Cheers, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 01:05 AM

Thanks, Stewie. Where can these be gotten?

ww


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Stewie
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 01:33 AM

WW.

CDNow has them, but under the subtitle 'Early American Women Blues Vol 1 and 2' rather than the actual title 'I Can't Be Satisfied'. Just put 'Yazoo' in the label option. They also have another nice set, which I overlooked, called 'Barrelhouse Mamas: Born in the Alley, Raised in the Slum' Yazoo 2044. These are of women blues singers accompanied by barrelhouse pianists.

Alternatively, you can go direct to Shanachie of which Yazoo is a subsidiary. http://www.shanachie.com/

Regards, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: thosp
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 02:15 AM

well i'm going to take the plunge(but first -Stewie -what do you sacrafice to your muse(s) to treat you so well?)
now from much of what i've read above -why wouldn't Edith Piaf be considered a blues singer-- or torch singers in general?


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM

thosp...although Piaf met the criteria for "ecstacy and desparation" in her vocals, some attention must be paid to the traditional structure of Blues music for a performer to qualify as a Blues singer, otherwise we get into the kind of blurring of definition that leads to statements like "rap is folk". There is necessarily some difference in basic styling so that we might have a common ground for intelligent discussion of types of music.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Easy Rider
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 11:06 AM

This is all much too serious. We have to remember that, back in the 20s and 30s, Southern Country Blues was primarily DANCE Music. It was played, professionally, at Saturday night barrelhouse dances. People got drunk, got into fights, got laid, at these affairs. They had a good time and let off some steam, after a long hard week of back breaking work. To me, this music is mostly joyful and humorous. It swings.

You should try to find an old thread called "How to Sing The Blues". If I find it, I'll refresh it.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 16 Nov 99 - 11:58 AM

Further to Easy Rider's post, I read somewhere that one reason that the National Steel Guitar gained so much favour with the people who played the Juke Joints was that it provided better protection if a fight broke out or stray bullets were flying. .


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 01:06 AM

On my recent trip to Memphis, I visited the Music Hall of Fame and I stood *this far* from Robert Johnson's old steel-bodied National.

It was a religious experience.

WyoWoman


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Nov 99 - 11:35 PM

An earlier post made reference to W.C. Handy and it reminded me of a question I've always wanted to ask of such a learned assemblage as this. On the Folkways "Lead Belly's Last Sessions" recordings LB is heard to say something like "...St. Louis Blues, oh yeah... we used to sing that when I was a boy... called it St. Louis Song... Wasn't til I got to New York I come to find out W.C. Handy was the man that wrote that song."

I've always wondered about that comment. Is he saying that "St. Louis Blues" was being sung in Louisiana before Handy could have written it? Or is he simply expressing the fact that Handy's song was so widely performed no one knew where it came from?

Thanks,

- Mark


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 18 Nov 99 - 04:17 AM

RE: W.C.Handy, I'd always assumed from reading between the lines that WC probably wrote down, tidied up and copyrighted traditional blues and claimed them for his own as well as writing new ones.
But then every blues record tends to attribute the old favourites to the artists performing them, even though the tunes are the same and the words vary little, he just didn't record them himself,but disseminated them to a wider audience from which we've all benefitted since.
And then again, what do I know, I'm just total flake- official!
RtS


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 02:13 AM

In the light of the "What is Blues?" thread, I thought it might be useful to dredge this one up. It at least saves some of us from having to repaet ourselves.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 29 Mar 00 - 08:45 AM

Stewie...great post, man. I'm going to use it as reference.

It can be argued whether E.C. is a blues guitarist, but the liner notes to "From The Cradle" quote Clapton as saying that's how he essentially sees himself, pop ditties notwithstanding.

Personally, I think he's diluted his style too much over the years to be considered purely a "blues" guitarist. Thirty years ago, maybe.

But what do I know, I'm not God, EC is.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: TinDor
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 12:29 PM

Great post by Stewie and yes, Clapton outisde of his more poppy stuff is a Blues player. By the way, I want to know who ( all responses are welcomed) do you think is more of a "Blues" musician/player and then give a short reason why you picked who you picked.

jimmy rodgers or blind blake

henry thomas or dock boggs

bill monroe or josh white

jimmy page or wes montgomery

leadbelly or frank hutchison

Duane Allman or charlie christian


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 02:16 PM

Jimmy Rodgers is more of a Country singer , and WHICH Blind Blake do you mean ? The Barbadian or the American ??


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: TinDor
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 02:57 PM

The American Blind Blake


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 02:27 AM

You should start a new thread for this--this thread is nine years old.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 03:47 AM

I've always felt that the "real blues" is the deep intense blues of the delta blues singers, and I suppose Son House is the towering example of that genre. Robert Johnson drew his influences from a lot wider area than Son, and embraced more sophisicated atrists such as Lonnie Johnson. For me there is a lonesome quality in the music of one man and his guitar that is lost when other instruments are added, and then when Muddy plugged in ...


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Bobert
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 08:26 PM

Haha...

The "real blues", heh???

Blues. like any other musical form is evolutionary... Yeah, I enjoy playin' one man/one geetar... That's cool and allows me some freedom I don't have when I have a band with me but...

...there's also a very nice feelin' of gettin' a band cookin' behind you... Listen to the late RL Burnside with his band and maybe you'll get it... Maybe not???

B~ (alias Sidewalk Bob)


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: TinDor
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 12:03 PM

any opinions on what I posted above? (who is more blues)


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: reggie miles
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 03:05 PM

Early blues music has influenced all of the performers you've mentioned in your previous post. Some of those performers focused their musical efforts in others stylistic directions. For instance, though his early musical efforts leaned toward country style playing, Bill Monroe, via his various musical experimentation and combo combinations, eventually established what is widely recognized as a separate genre of musical expression, bluegrass.

Change is, and always will be, a primary part of the nature of musical expression. Many forms of musical inspiration draw upon the influences of earlier artists. Every musical endeavor can be interpreted, recombined and then reinserted into our collective ears.

Many years ago, while many of my peers looked elsewhere for their musical influences, I began investing my time in finding songs on 78 rpm records. I enjoyed the inspiration that this source of material provided. Discovering long forgotten songs, reinterpreting them and offering them to contemporary listeners, provided me with a unique niche.

About 30 years ago, I was surprised when I heard one of the old songs that I had recently found and reinterpreted being played by my friend's band. Their interpretation of my interpretation of the song was so different from my approach that it took me a while to even recognize what they were playing. At the time, it didn't occur to me that the song would be of any interest to any other player. It was kind of quirky.

I haven't played that song in years. I can hardly even remember the lyrics. I wonder if it's still being played out there in the vast mix and remix of musical soup?


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 03:49 PM

...there's also a very nice feelin' of gettin' a band cookin' behind you... Listen to the late RL Burnside with his band and maybe you'll get it... Maybe not???


I somehow feel that "nice feelin'" and "cookin'" has got to take a lot of the real blues out of the blues!

I'd have loved to have seen Buddy and Junior playing in a Chicago club in the 60s BUT if I really wanted to hear really deep, lonesome, nothing to do with showbusiness blues, I have to take a walk back in time to a street corner in Wortham, Texas...


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: TinDor
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:25 PM

Reggie Miles wrote:

"Early blues music has influenced all of the performers you've mentioned in your previous post. Some of those performers focused their musical efforts in others stylistic directions"

Reggie, that's part of the reason why I made the comparisons I did. I wanted to see how those artists were perceived which in turn would help me understand the kind of definitions some are using on here when they suggest that there is a "Real Blues"


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: TinDor
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:55 PM

GUEST, TuneSmith wrote:

"
I somehow feel that "nice feelin'" and "cookin'" has got to take a lot of the real blues out of the blues!

I'd have loved to have seen Buddy and Junior playing in a Chicago club in the 60s BUT if I really wanted to hear really deep, lonesome, nothing to do with showbusiness blues, I have to take a walk back in time to a street corner in Wortham, Texas...


Tunesmith, who said that true Blues must be lonesome? Im sure Etta Baker never though the Blues of her region was "fake blues" or "lonesome".

Etta Baker - Knoxville Rag (Listen to 2:39->3:15 for her thoughts)


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 08:44 PM

Hey, who said that the blues has to be this lonely thing??? Read Elija White's "Escaping the Delta"... Listen to early Son House... Nuthin' loney about the blues... Nuthin' at all... You want lonely music then plenty of country music outta Nashvile from the 50's and 60's... "I'm so loney I could cry" (Hank Williams)... No, the real blues ain't what ltta folks thin... The real blues is what was played on Saturday night in juke joints where folks would get together and celebrate survivin' another miserable week of workin' in some bad situations, doin' hard, hard labor... But you take the words, "Got a letter this mornin', what do you think that letter siad, saif hurry, hury, 'cause your baby is dead" and you just leave it at that an' don't bother to watch Son House play it or listen to how this story was told... Yeah, if you just take the words it isn't all that different from "I'm so lonesome I could cry" but you can't stop there 'casue that song is rockin'... No weepin' style either but rockin'... That's the way folks who played the "real blues" played because they were telling the stories but that didn't want folks around them to feel bad... Sheet fire... The folks they knowed allready knew of sorrow and apin... No, the real blues rocked out some very bad stuff... They had too... These "real blues" folks didn't have the luxary of callin' "time out' 'er callin' mon and askin' for money or callin' their lawyers 'er callin.... That was the real blues... Folks getting together at the end of the week and rockin' out... The blues had a baby and they called it rock 'n roll... That's true... You won't hear no weepin' in the realo blues... So if ya' want weepin'... If ya want loney, sycik with Nashville, the weepin' lonely capital of the world... Bunch of middle class weepers, too... Didn't have to be in no cotton field come Monday mornin'...

Just MHO, of course...

B~


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 09:33 AM

I know Son used to play in a small ensemble BUT! BUT! BUT! that's not what made him a legend! One man, one guitar and an insensity that would be disapated with the addition of bass, drums etc. That's what we're talking about!


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:06 PM

The Cabaret blues of the whorehouses in New Orleans were a different style of blues, many written where the composers were known and played piano behind famous Divas of the blues such as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and the subsequent "white" popularizers such as Sophe Tucker.

Then you have New Orleans jazz blues by Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton and others which is played with horns and vocals.

Finally be-bop blues which was
augmented by Charlie Parker coming from another source, the Kansas City horn blues bands such as Jay McShann.

The blues is basically a style of performance not limited to the so-called twelve bar structure. It's apex is through African-American singers depicting
the misery that they were subjected to from slavery on.

There are different styles of blues. The early shout or field holler was a carryover from
Africa via slavery.

The twelve bar blues with singer/guitar player (which often turned out to be a twelve and 1/2 or 11 or 13 bar blues) was popular in the Twenties. It was a rural expression that moved to the city and became "electrified". It was often associated with dancing in night clubs such as on the Southside of Chicago or Harlem.

There were "party" blues as well as sad blues. There was regional country blues such as
the Mississippi Delta or Piedmont style blues. There was bottleneck guitar styles or "teasin" with a knife.

There were big band blues shouters such as Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams with Basie.

It has taken on different musical forms from basic harmonies to sophisticated complex ones. The rock and roll blues came out of the recording company designation of Rhythm and Blues intended for dancing. Clapton is an outgrowth of that.

There was the "white" adaptation of blues, much of what finds its way into bluegrass and early white country music. There's the talking blues and the blue yodels of Jimmie Rodgers.

If we have a narrow view of what blues is, this is because there are partisan interests in one specific form.


The blues style has been assimilated into American folk and popular music.

Any attempt to pin it down to just one style is futile.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:20 PM

Although Charlie Parker is fanastic, I somehow think that his bebop blues are so far removed from Son House's Jinx's Blues that there is no point of comparison.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:29 PM

For the record... Son House's second geetar player was none other than the infamous Willie Brown... "You can run, you can run... Tell my friend Willie Brown"... Legend has it that when Willie Brown died in the late 40s (I think '48) Son House laid his geetar down and didn't play it again until he was coaxed outta retirment in the 60's... But, yeah, Son was fine playin' by hisself... There an excellent video out there of him doing "Death Letter" and "John the Revelator" from the 60's with him alone and he sho nuff bringin' it on... BTW, lotta folks cover "Emprie State Express' (including me) and far as I know this song was written in Son's post-WillieBrown days after he had worked as a porter on the railroad in the 50s... Yeah, I like one man, one geetar just fine... Half the time that's the way I perform... It's cool and allows for more freedom of expression than havin' to lead the band... But no matter... Either way, the blues is still the blues and the blues is mostly celebration... Okay, there are a few weepy blues songs... Skip James "Hard Time Killin' Floor" is purdy weepy as is Blind Lemon's "One Kind Favor I Gotta Ask of You"... Yeah, thems is purdy weepy and lonesome... Nuthin' like some of Hank Williams and alot of them 50s country folks... Yeah, Frank is right... Hard to pin down the "real blues" by saying what it is because of so many styles but one thing it ain't, IMHO, is lonesome music... Heck, alot of the alt stuff today that ain't blues is alot more lonesome than the blues... Counting Crows, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo all have have high weepablity elememtns... Down right depressin' for the most part... Hey, don't get me wrong... There's a time and place for depressin' music... I like to toke up, put on the headphones now and then an listen to that kinda stuff myself... lol... not really on the lol but I do listen to that stuff now and then... I don't much listen to any old Hank Williams, tho, 'cause he's over the edge...

B~


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: gnu
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:37 PM

Hank, why do you drank, the way you do?


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 04:25 PM

The other Hank, gn-zer...

B~


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: mikecardenas
Date: 20 Jul 10 - 01:51 AM

I'm a big fan of authentic country gibberish.


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Subject: RE: real blues
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Jul 10 - 06:23 AM

The question "What is REAL Blues?" has as many answers as the quuestion "What is REAL Folk!" and provokes just as many arguments .


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