A Scattered History of American Blues Vol 1: Folk Blues

folk blues v1

Inspired by the BBC’s 2009 two part series on American Folk music the Washerman’s Dog presents its own series of early American blues.  It is not intended to be a complete or authoritative series, hence the name, A Scattered History of American Blues.  The series will run for the next 8 days and I hope you enjoy this amazing American music.

I Got a Pretty Flower: Volume 1 Folk Singers features the very different personalities and music of Leadbelly and Josh White.

Leadbelly

Leadbelly

Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly, was a unique figure in the American popular music of the 20th century. Ultimately, he was best remembered for a body of songs that he discovered, adapted, or wrote, including “Goodnight, Irene,” “Rock Island Line,” “The Midnight Special,” and “Cotton Fields.” But he was also an early example of a folksinger whose background had brought him into direct contact with the oral tradition by which folk music was handed down, a tradition that, by the early years of the century, already included elements of commercial popular music. Because he was an African-American, he is sometimes viewed as a blues singer, but blues (a musical form he actually predated) was only one of the styles that informed his music. He was a profound influence on folk performers of the 1940s such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who in turn influenced the folk revival and the development of rock music from the 1960s onward, which makes his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, early in the hall’s existence, wholly appropriate. (Read more)

Joshn White

Josh White

Josh White was a folk revival artist. It’s true that the second half of his music career found him based in New York playing to the coffeehouse and cabaret set and hanging out with Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and fellow transplanted blues artists Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. In Chicago during the 1960s, his shirt was unbuttoned to the waist à la Harry Belafonte and his repertoire consisted of folk revival standards such as “Scarlet Ribbons.” He was a show business personality — a star renowned for his sexual magnetism and his dramatic vocal presentations. Many listeners were unaware of White‘s status as a major figure in the Piedmont blues tradition. The first part of his career saw him as apprentice to some of the greatest blues and religious artists ever, including Willie Walker, Blind Blake, Blind Joe Taggart (with whom he recorded), and allegedly even Blind Lemon Jefferson. On his own, he recorded both blues and religious songs, including a classic version of “Blood Red River.” A fine guitar technician with an appealing voice, he became progressively more sophisticated in his presentation. Like many other Carolinians and Virginians who moved north to urban areas, he took up city ways, remaining a fine musician if no longer a down-home artist. Like several other canny blues players, he used his roots music to broaden and enhance his life experience, and his talent was such that he could choose the musical idiom that was most lucrative at the time. (AMG)

Track Listing:

01 Irene – 1943

02 Midnight Special – 1935

03 Good Morning Blues – 1940

04 Bourgeois Blues – 1939

05 Oh Monday – 1943

06 Pigmeat – 1935

07 Black Snake Moan – 1935

08 See See Rider – 1935

09 Alberta – 1940

10 Take This Hammer – 1945

11 Yellow Gal – 1945

12 Little Sally Walker – 1944

13 I Got A Pretty Flower – 1944

14 Little Brother Blues – 1932

15 Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed – 1933

16 While The Blood Runs In Your Veins – 1935

17 My Soul Gonna Leave With God – 1935

18 Trouble – 1940

19 Jerry – 1940

20 Bad Housing Blues – 1941

21 Number 12 Train – 1944

22 St James Infirmary – 1944

23 Blues In Berlin – 1944

24 T.B. Blues – 1944

25 I Left A Good Deal In Mobile – 1945

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One thought on “A Scattered History of American Blues Vol 1: Folk Blues

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