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The Big Book of Blues: a biographical encyclopedia by
Call Number: ML102.B6S26 1993
Publication Date: 1994-02-01
Can't Be Satisfied: the life and times of Muddy Waters by
Call Number: ML420.M748G67 2002
Publication Date: 2002-05-23
Delta Blues: the life and times of the Mississippi Masters who revolutionized American music by The definitive account of how the rough sounds of the Mississippi Delta--from legendary greats Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and others--changed the course of American popular music.
Call Number: ML3521.G56 2008
Publication Date: 2008-10-17
Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the invention of the blues by Robert Johnson's story presents a fascinating paradox: Why did this genius of the Delta blues excite so little interest when his records were first released in the 1930s? And how did this brilliant but obscure musician come to be hailed long after his death as the most important artist in early blues and a founding father of rock 'n' roll? Elijah Wald provides the first thorough examination of Johnson's work and makes it the centerpiece for a fresh look at the entire history of the blues. He traces the music's rural folk roots but focuses on its evolution as a hot, hip African-American pop style, placing the great blues stars in their proper place as innovative popular artists during one of the most exciting periods in American music. He then goes on to explore how the image of the blues was reshaped by a world of generally white fans, with very different standards and dreams. The result is a view of the blues from the inside, based not only on recordings but also on the recollections of the musicians themselves, the African-American press, and original research. Wald presents previously unpublished studies of what people on Delta plantations were actually listening to during the blues era, showing the larger world in which Johnson's music was conceived. What emerges is a new respect and appreciation for the creators of what many consider to be America's deepest and most influential music. Wald also discusses how later fans formed a new view of the blues as haunting Delta folklore. While trying to separate fantasy from reality, he accepts that neither the simple history nor the romantic legend is the whole story. Each has its own fascinating history, and it is these twin histories that inform this book.
Call Number: ML420.J735W35 2004
Publication Date: 2004-01-06
Ma Rainey and the Classic Blues Singers by
Call Number: ML400.ST49 1970
Publication Date: 1970-01-01
Bessie by Considered by many to be the greatest blues singer of all time, Bessie Smith was also a successful vaudeville entertainer who became the highest paid African-American performer of the roaring twenties. This book—a revised and expanded edition of the classic biography of this extraordinary artist—debunks many of the myths that have circulated since her untimely death in 1937. Chris Albertson writes with insight and candor about the singer’s personal life and her career, supplementing his historical research with dozens of interviews with her relatives, friends, and associates, in particular Ruby Walker Smith, a niece by marriage who toured with Bessie for over a decade. For this new edition he includes more details of Bessie’s early years, new interview material, and a chapter devoted to events and responses that followed the original publication in 1971.
Publication Date: 2005-05-01
Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews by This collection assembles the best interviews from Steve Cushing's long-running radio program Blues Before Sunrise, the nationally syndicated, award-winning program focusing on vintage blues and R&B. As both an observer and performer, Cushing has been involved with the blues scene in Chicago for decades. His candid, colorful interviews with prominent blues players, producers, and deejays reveal the behind-the-scenes world of the formative years of recorded blues. Many of these oral histories detail the careers of lesser-known but greatly influential blues performers and promoters. The book focuses in particular on pre-World War II blues singers, performers active in 1950s Chicago, and nonperformers who contributed to the early blues world. Interviewees include Alberta Hunter, one of the earliest African American singers to transition from Chicago's Bronzeville nightlife to the international spotlight, and Ralph Bass, one of the greatest R&B producers of his era. Blues expert, writer, record producer, and cofounder of Living Blues Magazine Jim O'Neal provides the book's foreword.
Publication Date: 2009-01-01
Blues Before Sunrise 2 : Interviews From the Chicago Scene by In this new collection of interviews, Steve Cushing once again invites readers into the vaults of Blues Before Sunrise, his acclaimed nationally syndicated public radio show. Icons from Memphis Minnie to the Gay Sisters stand alongside figures like schoolteacher Flossie Franklin, who helped Leroy Carr pen some of his most famous tunes; saxman Abb Locke and his buddy Two-Gun Pete, a Chicago cop notorious for killing people in the line of duty; and Scotty'The Dancing Tailor'Piper, a font of knowledge on the black entertainment scene of his day. Cushing also devotes a section to religious artists, including the world-famous choir Wings Over Jordan and their travails touring and performing in the era of segregation. Another section focuses on the jazz-influenced Bronzeville scene that gave rise to Marl Young, Andrew Tibbs, and many others while a handful of Cushing's early brushes with the likes of Little Brother Montgomery, Sippi Wallace, and Blind John Davis round out the volume.Diverse and entertaining, Blues Before Sunrise 2 adds a chorus of new voices to the fascinating history of Chicago blues.
Publication Date: 2019-12-05
Blues Legacy : Tradition and Innovation in Chicago by Chicago blues musicians parlayed a genius for innovation and emotional honesty into a music revered around the world. As the blues evolves, it continues to provide a soundtrack to, and a dynamic commentary on, the African American experience: the legacy of slavery; historic promises and betrayals; opportunity and disenfranchisement; the ongoing struggle for freedom. Through it all, the blues remains steeped in survivorship and triumph, a music that dares to stare down life in all its injustice and iniquity and still laugh--and dance--in its face. David Whiteis delves into how the current and upcoming Chicago blues generations carry on this legacy. Drawing on in-person interviews, Whiteis places the artists within the ongoing social and cultural reality their work reflects and helps create. Beginning with James Cotton, Eddie Shaw, and other bequeathers, he moves through an all-star council of elders like Otis Rush and Buddy Guy and on to inheritors and today's heirs apparent like Ronnie Baker Brooks, Shemekia Copeland, and Nellie'Tiger'Travis. Insightful and wide-ranging, Blues Legacy reveals a constantly adapting art form that, whatever the challenges, maintains its links to a rich musical past.
Publication Date: 2019-09-17
Blues Mandolin Man: The Life and Music of Yank Rachell by Yank Rachell and his mandolin playing style moved every musician lucky enough to hear him perform in the early sixties. When he died in April 1997, he left behind a stack of unanswered requests to tour Europe and to play blues festivals in the United States. In Blues Mandolin Man: The Life and Music of Yank Rachell, Richard Congress delivers the first biography of a family man whose playing inspired and energized the likes of David Honeyboy Edwards, Sleepy John Estes, and Henry Townsend. No other biography discusses the mandolin's influence and role in the blues. Guitar great Ry Cooder said, "Yank's style fascinated me because it had a lot of power and it's very raw-and what a great thing to do, just attack this little instrument like that." Charlie Musselwhite, the noted harp player, worked with Rachell and club hopped in Chicago with the elder bluesman. "He just had a great spirit about him," Musselwhite said of Rachell's playing and singing, "really just shouting it out. If the world was made up of people like Yank Rachell it would be a wonderful place to live." Blues Mandolin Man chronicles the life, times, and music of a man who was born into a family of sharecroppers in 1910 in rural western Tennessee. An active musician for 75 years, Rachell mastered several musical instruments and first recorded for Victor in Memphis in 1929. Through the blues, Rachell's world expanded to include Chicago, New York, recording studios and, after the sixties, radio, TV, and national and European tours. Yank's recollections reveal new information about personalities and events that will delight blues history buffs. Rich appendixes detail Yank's mandolin and guitar style and his place in the blues tradition. For this book Richard Congress, who reissued two of Rachell's old LPs in CD format, worked closely with him to record memories spanning decades of blues playing. Congress tells a compelling and engaging story about a colorful and thoughtful character who as a child picked cotton and plowed a field behind a mule, who grew to manhood coping with the southern Jim Crow system, and who participated in the creation and perpetuation of the blues. Richard Congress is the owner of Random Chance Records, a record company based in New York City.
Publication Date: 2001-05-01
Blues Unlimited : Essential Interviews From the Original Blues Magazine by British blues fan Mike Leadbitter launched the magazine Blues Unlimited in 1963. The groundbreaking publication fueled the then-nascent, now-legendary blues revival that reclaimed seminal figures like Son House and Skip James from obscurity. Throughout its history, Blues Unlimited heightened the literacy of blues fans, documented the latest news and career histories of countless musicians, and set the standard for revealing long-form interviews. Conducted by Bill Greensmith, Mike Leadbitter, Mike Rowe, John Broven, and others, and covering a who's who of blues masters, these essential interviews from Blues Unlimited shed light on their subjects while gleaning colorful detail from the rough and tumble of blues history. Here is Freddie King playing a string of one-nighters so grueling it destroys his car; five-year-old Fontella Bass gigging at St. Louis funeral homes; and Arthur'Big Boy'Crudup rising from life in a packing crate to music stardom. Here, above all, is an eyewitness history of the blues written in neon lights and tears, an American epic of struggle and transcendence, of Saturday night triumphs and Sunday morning anonymity, of clean picking and dirty deals. Featuring interviews with: Fontella Bass, Ralph Bass, Fred Below, Juke Boy Bonner, Roy Brown, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Arthur'Big Boy'Crudup, Joe Dean, Henry Glover, L.C. Green, Dr. Hepcat, Red Holloway, Louise Johnson, Floyd Jones, Moody Jones, Freddie King, Big Maceo Merriweather, Walter Mitchell, Louis Myers, Johnny Otis, Snooky Pryor, Sparks Brothers, Jimmy Thomas, Jimmy Walker, and Baby Boy Warren.
Publication Date: 2015-10-20
Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell by Evoking the turbulent past of the subject’s time and place, this odyssey to rural Georgia peels back the many layers of Blind Willie McTell’s compelling, occasionally shocking, but ultimately uplifting story. Portraying him as one of the most gifted artists of his generation, this account uncovers the secrets of McTell’s ancestry, the hardships he sufferedincluding being blind from birthand the successes he enjoyed. Traveling throughout the South and beyond, this personal and moving journey unearths a lost world of black music, exploring why he drifted in and out of the public eye, how he was rediscovered” time and again through chance meetings, and why, until now, so little has been written about the life of this extraordinary man. Part biography, part travelogue, part social history, this atmospheric, unforgettable tale connects the subject’s life to the tumultuous sweep of history, exploding every stereotype about blues musicians and revealing a vulnerable milieu of poverty and discrimination, demonstrating that little may have changed in the Deep South, even today.
Publication Date: 2009-09-01
I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues by Skip James (1902–1969) was perhaps the most creative and idiosyncratic of all blues musicians. Drawing on hundreds of hours of conversations with James himself, Stephen Calt here paints a dark and unforgettable portrait of a man untroubled by his own murderous inclinations, a man who achieved one moment of transcendent greatness in a life haunted by failure. And in doing so, Calt offers new insights into the nature of the blues, the world in which it thrived, and its fate when that world vanished.
Publication Date: 2008-04-01
In Tune: Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Roots of American Music by Born into poverty in Mississippi at the close of the nineteenth century, Charley Patton and Jimmie Rodgers established themselves among the most influential musicians of their era. In Tune tells the story of the parallel careers of these two pioneering recording artists -- one white, one black -- who moved beyond their humble origins to change the face of American music. At a time when segregation formed impassable lines of demarcation in most areas of southern life, music transcended racial boundaries. Jimmie Rodgers and Charley Patton drew inspiration from musical traditions on both sides of the racial divide, and their songs about hard lives, raising hell, and the hope of better days ahead spoke to white and black audiences alike. Their music reflected the era in which they lived but evoked a range of timeless human emotions. As the invention of the phonograph disseminated traditional forms of music to a wider audience, Jimmie Rodgers gained fame as the "Father of Country Music," while Patton's work eventually earned him the title "King of the Delta Blues." Patton and Rodgers both died young, leaving behind a relatively small number of recordings. Though neither remains well known to mainstream audiences, the impact of their contributions echoes in the songs of today. The first book to compare the careers of these two musicians, In Tune is a vital addition to the history of American music.
Publication Date: 2014-10-06
The Invention and Reinvention of Big Bill Broonzy by Over the course of his long career, legendary bluesman William'Big Bill'Broonzy (1893–1958) helped shape the trajectory of the genre, from its roots in the rural Mississippi River Delta, through its rise as a popular genre in the North, to its eventual international acclaim. Along the way, Broonzy adopted an evolving personal and professional identity, tailoring his self-presentation to the demands of the place and time. His remarkable professional fluidity mirrored the range of expectations from his audiences, whose ideas about race, national belonging, identity, and the blues were refracted through Broonzy as if through a prism. Kevin D. Greene argues that Broonzy's popular success testifies to his ability to navigate the cultural expectations of his different audiences. However, this constant reinvention came at a personal and professional cost. Using Broonzy's multifaceted career, Greene situates blues performance at the center of understanding African American self-presentation and racial identity in the first half of the twentieth century. Through Broonzy's life and times, Greene assesses major themes and events in African American history, including the Great Migration, urbanization, and black expatriate encounters with European culture consumers. Drawing on a range of historical source materials as well as oral histories and personal archives held by Broonzy's son, Greene perceptively interrogates how notions of race, gender, and audience reception continue to shape concepts of folk culture and musical authenticity.
Publication Date: 2018-11-26
Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues by Based on scores of interviews with the artist’s relatives, friends, lovers, producers, accompanists, managers, and fans, this brilliant biography reveals a man of many layers and contradictions. Following the journey of a musician who left his family's poor cotton farm at age eight carrying only a guitar, the book chronicles his life on the open road playing blues music and doing odd jobs. It debunks the myths surrounding his meetings with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander, his time on a chain gang, his relationships with women, and his lifelong appetite for gambling and drinking. This volume also discusses his hard-to-read personality; whether playing for black audiences in Houston’s Third Ward, for white crowds at the Matrix in San Francisco, or in the concert halls of Europe, Sam Hopkins was a musician who poured out his feelings in his songs and knew how to endear himself to his audienceyet it was hard to tell if he was truly sincere, and he appeared to trust no one. Finally, this book moves beyond exploring his personal life and details his entire musical career, from his first recording session in 1946when he was dubbed Lightnin’to his appearance on the national charts and his rediscovery by Mack McCormick and Sam Charters in 1959, when his popularity had begun to wane and a second career emerged, playing to white audiences rather than black ones. Overall, this narrative tells the story of an important blues musician who became immensely successful by singing with a searing emotive power about his country roots and the injustices that informed the civil rights era.
Publication Date: 2010-05-01
Love in Vain: A Vision of Robert Johnson by Robert Johnson was undoubtedly the most outstanding of the Mississippi Delta blues musicians and also one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but his short life remains steeped in mystery and wrapped in some of the most enduring legends of modern music. Love in Vain is Alan Greenberg’s remarkable, highly acclaimed, and genre-defying screenplay and is widely considered to be one of the foremost books on Robert Johnson’s life and legacy and an extraordinary exercise in American mythmaking. Newly revised and complete with extensive historical notes on Johnson’s life and the culture of the Mississippi Delta and blues music during the 1930s, Love in Vain is at once a classic of music writing and a screenplay whose reputation lies firmly in the realm of great American literature
Publication Date: 2012-10-28
Mississippi John Hurt : His Life, His Times, His Blues by When Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966) was "rediscovered" by blues revivalists in 1963, his musicianship and recordings transformed popular notions of prewar country blues. At seventy-one he moved to Washington, D.C., from Avalon, Mississippi, and became a live-wire connection to a powerful, authentic past. His intricate and lively style made him the most sought after musician among the many talents the revival brought to light. Mississippi John Hurt provides this legendary creator's life story for the first time. Biographer Philip Ratcliffe traces Hurt's roots to the moment his mother Mary Jane McCain and his father Isom Hurt were freed from slavery. Anecdotes from Hurt's childhood and teenage years include the destiny-making moment when his mother purchased his first guitar for $1.50 when he was only nine years old. Stories from his neighbors and friends, from both of his wives, and from his extended family round out the community picture of Avalon. U.S. census records, Hurt's first marriage record in 1916, images of his first autographed LP record, and excerpts from personal letters written in his own hand provide treasures for fans. Ratcliffe details Hurt's musical influences and the origins of his style and repertoire. The author also relates numerous stories from the time of his success, drawing on published sources and many hours of interviews with people who knew Hurt well, including the late Jerry Ricks, Pat Sky, Stefan Grossman and Max Ochs, Dick Spottswood, and the late Mike Stewart. In addition, some of the last photographs taken of the legendary musician are featured for the first time in Mississippi John Hurt.
Publication Date: 2011-06-06
Mojo Hand : The Life and Music of Lightnin' Hopkins by Through vivid oral histories backed by extensive research, Mojo Hand tells the story of one of America's greatest bluesmen, whose deeply authentic songs and unique style of guitar playing indelibly shaped modern roots, blues, rock'n'roll, singer-songwriter, and folk music.
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House by In June of 1964, three young, white blues fans set out from New York City in a Volkswagen, heading for the Mississippi Delta in search of a musical legend. So begins Preachin' the Blues, the biography of American blues signer and guitarist Eddie James "Son" House, Jr. (1902 - 1988). House pioneered an innovative style, incorporating strong repetitive rhythms with elements of southern gospel and spiritual vocals. A seminal figure in the history of the Delta blues, he was an important, direct influence on such figures as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. The landscape of Son House's life and the vicissitudes he endured make for an absorbing narrative, threaded through with a tension between House's religious beliefs and his spells of commitment to a lifestyle that implicitly rejected it. Drinking, womanizing, and singing the blues caused this tension that is palpable in his music, and becomes explicit in one of his finest performances, "Preachin' the Blues." Large parts of House's life are obscure, not least because his own accounts of them were inconsistent. Author Daniel Beaumont offers a chronology/topography of House's youth, taking into account evidence that conflicts sharply with the well-worn fable, and he illuminates the obscurity of House's two decades in Rochester, NY between his departure from Mississippi in the 1940s and his "rediscovery" by members of the Folk Revival Movement in 1964. Beaumont gives a detailed and perceptive account of House's primary musical legacy: his recordings for Paramount in 1930 and for the Library of Congress in 1941-42. In the course of his research Beaumont has unearthed not only connections among the many scattered facts and fictions but new information about a rumoured murder in Mississippi, and a charge of manslaughter on Long Island - incidents which bring tragic light upon House's lifelong struggles and self-imposed disappearance, and give trenchant meaning to the moving music of this early blues legend.
Publication Date: 2011-01-01
Robert Johnson: Lost and Found by With just forty-one recordings to his credit, Robert Johnson (1911-38) is a giant in the history of blues music. Johnson's vast influence on twentieth-century American music, combined with his mysterious death at the age of twenty-seven, has allowed speculation and myths to obscure the facts of his life. The most famous of these legends depicts a young Johnson meeting the Devil at a dusty Mississippi crossroads at midnight and selling his soul in exchange for prodigious guitar skills. In this volume, Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch examine the full range of writings about Johnson and sift fact from fiction. They compare conflicting accounts of Johnson's life, weighing them against interviews with blues musicians and others who knew the man. Through their extensive research Pearson and McCulloch uncover a life every bit as compelling as the fabrications and exaggerations that have sprung up around it. In examining Johnson's life and music, and the ways in which both have been reinvented and interpreted by other artists, critics, and fans, Robert Johnson: Lost and Found charts the broader cultural forces that have mediated the expression of African American artistic traditions.
Publication Date: 2003-01-01
Soul of the Man: Bobby "Blue" Bland by Bobby "Blue" Bland's silky smooth vocal style and captivating live performances helped propel the blues out of Delta juke joints and into urban clubs and upscale theaters. Until now, his story has never been told in a book-length biography. Soul of the Man: Bobby "Blue" Bland relates how Bland, along with longtime friend B. B. King, and other members of the loosely knit group who called themselves the Beale Streeters, forged a new electrified blues style in Memphis in the early 1950s. Combining elements of Delta blues, southern gospel, big-band jazz, and country and western music, Bland and the Beale Streeters were at the heart of a revolution. This biography traces Bland's life and recording career, from his earliest work through his first big hit in 1957, "Farther Up the Road." It goes on to tell the story of how Bland scored hit after hit, placing more than sixty songs on the R&B charts throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. While more than two-thirds of his hits crossed over onto pop charts, Bland is surprisingly not widely known outside the African American community. Nevertheless, many of his recordings are standards, and he has created scores of hit albums such as his classic 1961 Two Steps from the Blues, widely considered one of the best blues albums of all time. Soul of the Man contains a select discography of the most significant recordings made by Bland, as well as a list of all his major awards. A four-time Grammy nominee, he received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Blues Foundation, as well as the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame. This biography at last heralds one of America's great music makers.
Publication Date: 2011-02-07
Waiting for Buddy Guy : Chicago Blues at the Crossroads by In the late 1970s and early 1980s, British blues fan Alan Harper became a transatlantic pilgrim to Chicago.'I've come here to listen to the blues,'he told an American customs agent at the airport, and listen he did, to the music in its many styles, and to the men and women who lived it in the city's changing blues scene. Harper's eloquent memoir conjures the smoky redoubts of men like harmonica virtuoso Big Walter Horton and pianist Sunnyland Slim. Venturing from stageside to kitchen tables to the shotgun seat of a 1973 Eldorado, Harper listens to performers and others recollect memories of triumphs earned and chances forever lost, of deep wells of pain and soaring flights of inspiration. Harper also chronicles a time of change, as an up-tempo, whites-friendly blues eclipsed what had come before, and old Southern-born black players held court one last time before an all-conquering generation of young guitar aces took center stage.
Publication Date: 2016-02-01
Willie Dixon: Prescher of the Blues by One of the greats of blues music, Willie Dixon was a recording artist whose abilities extended beyond that of bass player. A singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer, Dixon's work influenced countless artists across the music spectrum. In Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues, Mitsutoshi Inaba examines Dixon's career, from his earliest recordings with the Five Breezes through his major work with Chess Records and Cobra Records. Focusing on Dixon's work on the Chicago blues from the 1940s to the early 1970s, this book details the development of Dixon's songwriting techniques from his early professional career to his mature period and compares the compositions he provided for different artists. This volume also explores Dixon's philosophy of songwriting and its social, historical, and cultural background. This is the first study to discuss his compositions in an African American cultural context, drawing upon interviews with his family and former band members. This volume also includes a detailed list of Dixon's session work, in which his compositions are chronologically organized.
Publication Date: 2010-02-01
The World Don't Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards by This vivid oral snapshot of an America that planted the blues is full of rhythmic grace. From the son of a sharecropper to an itinerant bluesman, Honeyboy’s stories of good friends Charlie Patton, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter Jacobs, and Robert Johnson are a godsend to blues fans. History buffs will marvel at his unique perspective and firsthand accounts of the 1927 Mississippi River flood, vagrancy laws, makeshift courts in the back of seed stores, plantation life, and the Depression.
Publication Date: 2000-03-01