A Conversation for Early American Blues

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 1

Lear (the Unready)

Thanks for this article, you've sent me scuttling back to the darkest corners of my record collection...

A personal favourite from this period is Mississippi John Hurt. He had a versatile guitar-picking style and a characterful sardonic voice, plus what generally seems to have been a pretty sanguine take on life for a blues singer. But music didn't provide a way out of poverty for him, and he only really became well-known after the folk and blues revival of the 1960s kind of adopted him as a father of the scene. Listen to Ain't No Telling, a cheery little number from (it says here) 1928.

Maybe you could mention a few more female performers. I would have thought Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, just to name two great women blues singers off the top of my head, could feature highly on a list such as this.

I guess you can never please everybody one hundred percent. Nice work.

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 2


Is it not strange , whenever I listen to the blues they raise me from the depths of despair , give me the fight to go on . Discuss .
The first time I met the blues was The Band`s fairwell concert and there was A Mr Conquer Root: Muddy Waters ..... changed my life for ever . The other memorable time I met the blues was in a small pub in the south of Scotland where Cephas and Wiggins ( Piedmont blues ) played a one nighter . They played a cover of Leadbelly`s Alberta . Phil Wiggins ( harmonica player ) hovered 4 inches above his chair for the whole five mins ( why he was seated I`ll never know ) that harp spoke to us . Let us hear your blues stories .


Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 3

Lear (the Unready)

You said 'discuss'. Okay...

I think those old blues players were playing that music because it helped them to get outside of their *own* despair. In other words, the music came from their own personal need, and as such it's understandable that it should have a similar effect on us, even as we listen to it today.

At the risk of sounding naive, I think the blues still 'speaks' to us today simply because it was more 'authentic' - ie, it came from an inner need - than much of the stuff that gets churned out of the hit factories today.

The thing that surprises me most about those early blues musicians is the wide range of their subject matter. It's all in there - myth, morality, religion, folk tales about gangsters, etc. Nowadays, popular music seems to be about little other than sex and entertainment (ie, escapism). Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's only one valid reason for producing music. There are so many other possible inspirations as well. Not a great deal of music today seems, to my ears, to come from within - from the inner compulsion to survive, to find the strength to go on...

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 4


I agree that people listen to the blues today for the same reasons they listened 80 years ago, like you said to "lift them up out of despair". The thing to look at is who is listening to the blues. Most commonly you will see middle class, working class people listening to the blues and getting it. Rarely have I seen a truly well to do individual in a dark blues club (and I've been in my share). The blues is the music of the people, it speaks to their hearts and souls, they can relate to this music and this music speaks to them. They know where the feeling is coming from unlike someone who has never known true heartbreak, hard times or tragedy. That's what keeps the blues the powerful force that it is.

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 5

Percy von Wurzel

The Head of Steam in Huddersfield has a regular Monday night live blues feature. The band that played on 4th of September, forgive but I have forgotten what they were called, showed that blues is not solely the domain of the middle aged. They were none of them out of their early twenties - mere paperboys - but they could play blues. They brought a following of nymphettes that brightened the entire evening, and left me with hope that there is a future for a fine musical genre.

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 6

Lear (the Unready)

Hey, not all of us here are middle-aged you know...

Tho' I daresay I'll still be enjoying those timeless classics long into my dotage. Especially if I can get hold of a few of those nymphettes... smiley - winkeye

Rooting out my dusty old blues records...

Post 7


I just read your article and thought it was great. As the only person in my town how listens to the blues i get really excited to meet other enthusiests.

Muddy Waters is amazing but I think the most important, at least most insperational player is John Lee Hooker. Even up to The Healer his music is alive and real. This was a man who really brought the blues to the public in the 60's.

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more