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Related: blue - American music - black music


Blues is a vocal and instrumental music form which emerged in the African-American community of the United States. Blues evolved from West African spirituals, work songs, shouts and chants and has its earliest stylistic roots in West Africa. The form has been a major influence on later American and Western popular music, finding expression in ragtime, jazz, big bands, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and country music, as well as conventional pop songs and even modern classical music. -- [Aug 2005]

The music of the Civil Rights, Black Pride and Free Speech movements

The appeal of blues remained strong in later decades. The music of the Civil Rights, Black Pride and Free Speech movements in the U.S. prompted a resurgence of interest in American roots music in general and in early African-American music, specifically. -- [Oct 2004]

Jukebox [...]

In the book "The Story of the Blues" by Paul Oliver, published 1969, the following sentence can be found on page 21: "...Saturday night was for good times, with the liquor flowing, the shouts and laughter of dancers rising above the noice of a juke band or gin-mill piano, and sometimes the staccato report of a revolver fired in jest - or in earnest...". In this case juke band surely means dance band. Another word connected to music and dance, that the people of the Deep South had taken from Elisabethan English, was jazz, a corruption of the word jass that had survived in the vernacular of the houses, where usually only members of the male population came. This is mentioned in the book "The Jazz Record Book" by Charles Edward Smith et al., published 1942.

Blues dances

Dick Hebdige in his book, "Cut 'N' Mix" described Jamaican 'toasting' as when the Jamaican disc jockies talked over the music they played. This style developed at dances in Jamaica known as "blues dances". "Blues dances" were dances which took place in large halls or out in the open in the slum yards. "Blues dances" were a regular feature of ghetto life in Jamaica. At these dances black America R&B records were played. Jamaicans were introduced to these records by black American sailors stationed on the island and by American radio stations in and around Miami which played R&B records.

Some favorite R&B artists were Fats Domino, Amos Melburn, Louis Jordan, and Roy Brown. There was a great demand for the R&B type of music, but unfortunately there were no local Jamaican bands which could play this type of music as well as the black American artists. As a result, 'sound systems' (comprised of DJs, roadies, engineers, bouncers) which were large mobile discotheques were set up to meet this need. --Cut 'N' Mix: Culture, Identity, and Caribbean Music - Dick Hebdige [Amazon US]

House Music

I remember Arthur Baker being astonished, because I'm not a clubgoer and I liked the first house records that he played for me. And I liked them because I understood the ostinato piano figures as being basically a sped-up version of Chicago blues, which they are. -- Dave Marsh


This website explores the way in which blues brought the races together and improved their relationship during the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century. To the left, you can click on different options that will each take you to a new page describing the impact of minstrel shows and medicine shows, plantation musicians, integrated bands, the British Invasion, Chuck Berry, and other early rock stars on race relations. Though I know there are many scholars who disagree that the blues positively affected race relations in this country, my thesis is an optimistic one. I am examining the beneficial effects blues had on race relations of which I have found evidence in many books and in the words of the blues musicians with whom I have spoken. -- Jessica Grant


    Deep Blues () Robert Palmer
    [FR] [DE] [UK] There's no other way to put it, this is simply the best book out there on the blues both as a music form and as force in shaping American culture. At once simple and concise, yet broad and in depth enough to tell a very complete story, this one work should satisfy everyone from the novice to the experienced blues fan.
    Meticulously researched, Palmer uses Muddy Waters as a jumping off point to explore the history and evolution of the blues as music as well as the society and culture from which it sprang. He peppers his work with amazing anecdotes, from the story of Robert Johnson, the Band meeting a dying Sonny Boy Williamson, an aging Howlin' Wolf giving a phenominal concert that add color to his story and helps make his frequent forays into musicology more tolerable to the non-musician. Best of all is the sense of time and place the book evokes, from plantations and dark swamps in rural Mississippi, to the noisy, crowed streets of South Chicago at the peak of the Great Migration, to small clubs and long forgotten juke-joints.
    I read this book for the first time 10 years or so ago and have probably reread it 5 times since. I keep coming up with new things to admire about the book every time. That so much richness can be packed into such a short readable work is amazing. This book triumphs over everything else written on the subject and only leaves you wanting to explore further. for [...]

  1. The Story of the Blues- Paul Oliver [1 book, Amazon US]
    "Impressive . . . splendid . . . the cumulative effect is shattering." --American Record Guide "Paul Oliver is without doubt the leading authority on the history and development of the blues. . . . This remarkable book really lives up to its title. No longer can the cry go up, 'But there's no one book that's really got it all in.' There is now!" --Rolling Stone [...]


  1. Skip James [1 CD, Amazon US]
    Saw 'Ghost World' the other night, which just got its theatrical release here in Belgium. While the movie in itself is OK, there is one song in there that I really liked: 'Devil Got My Woman' by Skip James, an old blues cut.

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