Classic Blues Essentials

Classic Blues Essentials

The blues came straight out of the early Southern black experience, as African-Americans endured slavery, then sharecropping and the hope of Reconstruction. By the 1920s and ‘30s, singers like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson brought a haunted wail and sophisticated guitar technique to the table, while raunchy female singers delivered an urbanized, piano-backed sound, sometimes rubbing elbows with jazz. The music was multifaceted from the start, and it never quit growing—by mid-century, Southern bluesmen like Muddy Waters were moving to the Midwest, plugging in, and turning up, creating Chicago blues and influencing rock 'n' roll. The latter came full circle in the ‘60s, digging into rock’s black origins and birthing blues rock. From love and lust to darker themes, the blues was built to contain the entirety of the emotional spectrum, but in its heart of hearts it was always music to make you feel better about feeling bad.

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