blues is a low-down shakin' chill,
(Yes, listen now)
......... is a lowdown shakin' chill,
You ain't never had 'em, I hope you never will."
The blues is the roots, the rest is the
In the Artists Index there are links
toprofiles of "first generation blues" artists who were performing
before the Second World War, primarily during the 1920's and 1930's. A
minority of these artists continued to perform after this period, and some
achieved further recognition during the "College" folk/blues boom of the
1960's and received belated success towards the end of their careers.
In the profiles greater
emphasis is placed on detail of the lifestyle and culture of the time.
Individual profiles are intended to provide a snapshot of the
performer, but collectively it is hoped that they provide a modest portrayal
of the way of life of these early blues pioneers, set against the
progressive development of the music. Less emphasis is placed on an artist's discography, on which there are many extensive
sources elsewhere. Many of the profiles include a song or excerpt
intended to illustrate the artist's work.
Some profiles include a "Youtube" link.
In addition there are
few jottings on topics intended to provide background to
the profiles of the artists.
ISSUES:- The embedded Wimpy player
may not function with some versions of Safari.
The Artist Index may not open with some versions of Firefox.
Sorry, haven't found a solution to these yet.
This is NOT a music download site and songs can only be listened to, using
the Wimpy player.
A link to a podcast for download from itunes or from the host site is in the left hand menu.
Listen to Honeyboy as he chats with BBC Radio Suffolk journalist
Go to the Honeyboy Edwards page.
WHAT THIS SITE IS ABOUT
The Blues Trail (formerly The Blues Farm) is a non
commercial site and is being developed to cover some aspects of the history
of blues music, told through the lives of some of its earliest performers,
during a period that begins around the start of the twentieth century and
lasts until the Second World War. At the beginning of that era, music "genre
distinctions" between folk, blues, gospel, hokum, jazz, boogie and ragtime
were not as clear cut as they are today, and it was commonplace for
musicians to perform and record within a wide musical 'community', as both
solo acts and as players in the early ensemble bands. It was from that
musical 'milieu' with its predominantly rural roots that after the second
world war modern electric blues evolved, arising from an area that for
the most part encompassed a group of southern States with the great
Mississippi river at its heart.
influences on the
lives of these itinerant performers were the grinding
impoverishment to which they were born, gambling, temporary escape via moonshine whiskey
and other alcohol substitutes such as canned heat and Jake (a
legally available "tonic" with a high alcoholic content), and the ever present risk of assault or robbery. Working the
joints, house parties and labor camps during a period of prohibition, they were often forced to adopt aliases and/or
nicknames to reduce the risk of physical attack by jealous spouses or
partners, and frequently just to keep ahead of the law. Often travelling in
small groups to afford themselves greater protection, even the more
established artists who made it into legitimate theatres could not avoid
harassment & prejudice. Southern theatre owners, who were almost exclusively
white, worked within an organisation known as TOBA - the Theatre Owners
Booking Association, but this was ironically referred to by performers as
Tough On Black Artists!
This was set
within a creative tension arising
between the blues (devil's music), and sanctified music (God's music)
in which many performers
had their earliest
roots. Many performers
took the music north, via Highway 61,
by jumping trains
the Mississippi river, to Chicago,
primarily to the south side. This
area was destined to become the home of
electric blues, amplified blues that would result,
paradoxically, in the
demise of many country blues singers.
A few artists enjoyed renewed interest in their style
of country blues during the 'College folk boom' of the 1960's,
but for many their
early recordings became the legacy that they
left to succeeding
generations. Sadly many hundreds of early artists
who were never recorded may now only be appreciated through surviving anecdotes from their contemporaries, or heard by proxy through their influences on later artists.
for the beast fables, which are anciently derived from the world’s
multi-racial heritage, American Negro humor is rooted in social oppression.
And, again excepting the animal fables, it differs from classical Western
and white American humor in another respect. It is totally devoid of those
myth-making and myth-transmuting elements and symbols that appeal so deeply
to the American mind in the works of the tall-tale tellers such as Davy
Crockett, Seba Smith, Mike Fink, and Mark Twain. There are no Rip Van
Winkles, Johnny Appleseeds, Paul Bunyans, or Calamity Janes, and none
bearing the faintest resemblance to them, in Negro American humor. The
myth-making figures in the literature of black Americans are the
blues-haunted characters. They are Stagolee, John Henry, and Big Boy; they
are Mary Lou, Frankie, and Sister Caroline. And they are not funny, least of
all to the nameless hundreds of folk-Negroes who created them and the
still-living thousands who love them and perpetuate them in song and story."
(1906–1988), U.S. educator. Laughing on the Outside, introduction, ed.
Philip Sterling, Grosset (1965)