Black History Culture : DEMYTHOLOGIZING THE BLUES...

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Isaiah, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Speaking of RECALIMING OUR STOLEN CULTURE...

    Demythologizing the Blues
    by David Evans

    The following is a condensed version of the Phillips Barry Lecture delivered by David Evans at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society in Memphis, TN, 22 October 1999.
    Blues music has enjoyed a tremendous resurgence in popularity over the past decade. Once the sole domain of its southern African American creators, blues has crossed racial, regional, and international boundaries so successfully that today it stands as a major genre of world popular music alongside jazz, rock, rap, country, and gospel. This recent expanded interest in blues can be traced back to the folk revival of the 1960s when an appreciation for blues was nurtured in American and European intellectual circles. This initial blues revival in turn was made possible by the early efforts of the commercial recording industry and by the pioneering collecting projects of folk song scholars like John and Alan Lomax, Howard Odum, Harry Oster, Zora Neale Hurston, and John W. Work.

    All this interest on the part of scholars, popular writers, collectors, and blues fans has fostered a number of blues “myths” among the general public and occasionally within academic discourse. Like many popular myths and stereotypes, these blues myths are based on some degree of fact, truth, or observable reality. Under close scrutiny, however, they fall short as general explanations or interpretations of the blues. They function as easy and reassuring explanations of the blues for those who are newcomers to the genre, for those who have an ideological ax to grind and want to use blues as a weapon in their battle plan, and for those who are uncomfortable with some aspect of the blues or its purveyors.

    Blues myths can be divided into two broad categories: myths of origin and evolution, and myths of ideology and meaning. Myths of origin try to place the beginnings of the blues in some earlier time, place, or social situation. One such myth that used to be widely held, especially in the early days of research into jazz history, was that blues arose in the era of slavery. This notion seems to be based almost entirely on the seemingly logical assumption that the slaves must have had the blues. But this view confuses blues as a melancholy feeling with blues as a genre of musical expression, a genre that includes a range of feelings from sadness to happiness, from pessimism to optimism. The historical record reveals that the earliest actual evidence for a musical genre recognizable as the blues comes from a period around the beginning of the twentieth century. If the blues genre had originated in the slavery period, surely we would have some descriptions of it from that period, as we do for other genres of music, or if it had been a secret underground music of the slaves, it surely would have emerged into plain sight immediately after Emancipation, as indeed the spirituals did.

    Not content with a “slave origins” theory, some writers have sought to trace the blues to Africa. While there are indeed many African musical traits in the blues, as described in Gerhard Kubik’s Africa and the Blues (1999), there is no evidence in Africa of a fully developed, blues-like genre that contains personal expression of feeling and a form close to twelve bars and three lines in an AAB arrangement. Paul Oliver, in his influential Savannah Syncopators (1970), identifies the Savannah region of West Africa as an important source for stylistic elements of the blues, noting that a significant percentage of the United States slave population was taken from this area that includes Mauretania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinée, Mali, and northern parts of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria. Oliver also documents the existence of an occupational caste of entertainers known as griots who demonstrate many characteristics similar to those commonly associated with blues performers–a preference for stringed instruments, a repertoire including songs of praise, derision, and social commentary, an itinerant lifestyle, and a rather marginal social status with an aura of disrepute. Oliver is certainly onto something here, but his findings have unfortunately been overly simplified and distorted by others to the point of absurdity, so that we now hear of “blues griots.” This myth suggests that the blues performer is a direct cultural descendent of the African griot, his six-string guitar and stage outfit being a replacement for the twenty-one-string kora and flowing robes of a Mandinka bard. But blues artists do not constitute a caste, and few, until recently, learned their craft directly from a parent or even a member of their parent’s generation. The creators of the first blues would, by the turn of the twentieth century, have had no first-hand knowledge of Africa, and were hardly in a position to perpetuate an African caste in America where they were under constant assault from Jim Crow laws and night riders. Moreover, griot repertoires contain many historical epics set in a past heroic age, while blues are almost always set in the present or recent past. Blues music and blues singers, while embodying many African characteristics, must be viewed first in their immediate American musical and social setting.

    Another African blues myth holds that the devil who sometimes appears in blues lyrics or in legends about blues singers selling their souls to Satan at the crossroads is not really the devil of Christianity (viewed as the white man’s religion) but is actually a disguised form of an African trickster deity such as the Dahomean Legba or the Yoruba Eshu. The blues artist now becomes a reinterpreted initiate or even a priest in a cult of such a trickster deity. This view has been advocated by Julio Finn in The Bluesman (1986) and Jon Michael Spencer in Blues and Evil (1993), and to a lesser degree by Samuel A. Floyd, Jr., in The Power of Black Music (1995). Like the griot myth, this crossroads myth connects the blues to a fully functioning historical African society while adorning the blues artist with a priestly robe. There are, however, several serious problems with this crossroads myth. The devil imagery found in the blues is thoroughly familiar from western folklore, and nowhere do blues singers ever mention Legba or any other African deity in their songs or other lore. The actual African music connected with cults of Legba and similar trickster deities sounds nothing like the blues, but rather features polyrhythmic percussion and choral call-and-response singing.

    Moving from myths of blues origin to those of blues evolution we encounter a school of thought holding that some sort of pure “folk” or “country” blues became corrupted by popular, commercial, and urban influences. The first to express this view were folklorists in the 1920s, such as Howard Odum, Guy Johnson, and Newman White, who had done most of their blues collecting before the advent of commercial blues recording. They warned that the imitation of inferior commercial recordings by folk blues singers would lead to the rapid demise of the blues genre. These predictions proved false, but the myth of corruption persisted with writers like Rudi Blesh and Samuel Charters. The latter, in his influential book The Country Blues (1959), consistently found urban Chicago blues of the 1930s and early 1940s, as well as most modern electric blues, to be “cheap” and “derivative” in comparison to authentic rural blues. In addition, these scholars were bothered by the explicit sexual content found in many commercial blues recordings. But close comparison of field and commercial recordings reveals that like artistic merit, explicit sexual references are found across the folk/popular spectrum.

    Another emerging myth of blues history is a Delta to Chicago to London narrative. This myth holds that the blues was born in the plantations of the Mississippi Delta, migrated to Chicago where it became electrified in the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually immigrated to London where it shaped the bluesy rock sound of groups like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. This story of blues evolution, which posits a direct line of development from Delta pioneer Charley Patton to Son House to Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, is most clearly expressed in Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues (1981). Although the Delta and Chicago were enormously important blues centers and this line of historical development is indeed one of the big stories of the blues, it is not the only way the story can and should be told. For example, the Delta to Chicago myth ignores the contributions of W. C. Handy and other composers to the mass popularity of the blues early in the twentieth century. It further disregards the early activities of great women vaudeville blues singers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Mamie Smith. And it discounts other significant centers such as Texas and Memphis where artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, and B. B. King contributed substantially to the stylistic development of the blues.

    Ideological myths of the blues generally result from a search for meaning in the blues and are based on study of the lyrics of blues songs or the lives of blues singers. Like myths of origin and evolution, these ideological myths often have a degree of truth to them but suffer from over-generalization and the selective use of evidence to fit a preconceived theory. Proponents of such myths might take heed of the insightful observations made by Sterling Brown in his 1930 study of blues poetics: “Stoicism is here as well as self-pity, for instance; rich humor as well as melancholy. There are so many blues that any preconception might be proved about Negro folk life, as well as its opposite.”

    One of the earliest ideological myths was that of blues as social protest. Although blues, as a highly personal form of expression, would seem to be an ideal vehicle for expressing protest, this myth quickly founders from the relative dearth of blues material expressing overt protest. Personal dissatisfaction with all sorts of situations can be found in abundance, but blues rarely serves as an expression of collective solidarity or aims at changing the system. During the years that the blues appealed most strongly to black Americans, many of the institutions that would have been worth changing were so entrenched and immutable that blues singers preferred to sing about things over which they had some degree of personal control or alternatives for action. In a sense, the entire existence of blues constitutes a massive but subtle form of social protest, since blues challenges many of the basic tenets of American society and constantly exposes hypocrisy, but there is only a small amount of specific protest in its lyrics. Nevertheless, the hope that blues could expand to become a significant vehicle for protest led ideologically minded fans to encourage a few bluesmen like Leadbelly and Joshua White to create and perform a good number of such songs, while other artists like J. B. Lenoir seem to have gone in this direction on their own.

    Somewhat related to the protest myth is what could be called the myth of black essentialism and the blues. A number of black commentators on the blues, beginning with Amiri Baraka in his book Blues People (1963), have expressed the idea that blues is intimately tied up with a collective black experience and is a rich source for understanding that experience. This idea had not escaped white researchers as well. As early as 1911 sociologist Howard Odum found blues lyrics to be a key to understanding “the southern Negroes.” Paul Oliver’s 1959 study of blues lyrics and black culture was appropriately titled The Meaning of the Blues. One could hardly argue against the idea that blues has much to teach all of us about black American life, or at least about certain segments of it. However, blues has never appealed to nor represented the opinions and experiences of all segments of black society, any more than country music or alternative rock have represented the sentiments of all segments of white American society. The black middle class has historically preferred more sophisticated types of music such as jazz and soul, while many black churchgoers have condemned blues as the “Devil’s music.”

    Further ideological myths portray blues as mere entertainment or as chaos. The myth of blues as entertainment is expressed most notably by Stephen Calt in various album notes and his extended studies of the lives of Mississippi bluesmen Charley Patton and Skip James. Nobody would deny that blues entertains its audience and operates within a mass media entertainment industry, but a focus on entertainment as the primary function of the blues downplays or ignores its functions as spiritual, philosophical, political, and artistic expression, as well as the ritualistic quality of blues performance in many traditional contexts. This infatuation with blues as entertainment demeans and trivializes the music while separating it from any African American historical, social, and creative setting.

    The myth of blues as chaos is a more recent product and has not yet been fully articulated, but one can detect it in some of the album notes of Robert Palmer and in the approach to production of the Fat Possum record company of Oxford, Mississippi. Focusing on the riff-driven styles of Mississippi artists such as R. L. Burnside and the late Junior Kimbrough, Palmer and Fat Possum have often emphasized sloppy production, unrehearsed jamming, and cameo appearances by famous white rock musicians screaming and playing loud guitar solos over the music of these artists in drunken orgies of sound. This approach has not surprisingly found favor among the fans of these alternative rock stars, who are now beginning to view Mississippi blues as the “roots” of their music. One can grant that the music and lives of these artists might appear chaotic in comparison to the more regulated middle-class experience that proponents of this myth are evidently fleeing, but the latter are confusing dissatisfaction, experimentation, and improvisation in the blues with chaos and anarchy. The open-ended quality of this type of blues is not an indication that it was thrown together haphazardly with no formal structural qualities.

    Ultimately the “chaos” myth puts the blues up for grabs, reducing it to a mere collection of found objects. It should not be surprising that the latest step in Fat Possum’s production program has been to take samples from R. L. Burnside’s blues and subject them to the studio remix process under the guise of making the blues relevant to the contemporary young audience. In other words, they have now supplied the structure and form that the blues apparently formerly lacked.

    The preceding discussion may appear unduly pessimistic about the state of blues writing, but I do not want to leave with this impression. There is a great deal of impressive scholarship being produced in the 1990s, and certainly more thorough writing about blues with greater subtlety and analytical depth will help combat the uncritical acceptance of the myths outlined above. As scholars of American music we are particularly well positioned to join in this effort to demythologize the blues—first, by encouraging quality research and writing on the subject, and second, by correcting our students’ misconceptions about this venerable tradition.



    http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/isam/evans.html
     
  2. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    WHAT ARE THE BLUES???

    What are the Blues?



    The Blues; images of smoke filled backwater honkytonks, sad, tears in your beer lyrics, the blues brothers. Are the blues jazz? Is jazz the blues?
    So what makes the blues the blues? The blues are a purely African-American musical form of the 20th century. From obscure and largely undocumented rural American origins, the blues became the most extensively recorded of all folk music types. The blues have evolved over time, subject to social changes that have affected its character. Since the early 1960s, the blues have been the most important single influence on the development of western popular music.

    The most important extra-musical definition of the blues is a state of mind. Since the 16th century the blues has symbolized a state of depression or melancholy. But, the blues did not enter popular useage until after the Civil War. As a description of music that expressed such a state of mind among blacks, the term did not enter current useage till after 1900. It has been suggested that the form evolved around the Civil War but according the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, there is no supporting evidence. The state of mind is so closely associated with the blues as music that some performers maintain that they cannot effectively play or sing the blues unless one is feeling blue.

    Musically, the blues are structured as a 12 bar composition that was later to become a three line stanza in which the second line repeated the first and enabling the singer to improvise a third rhyming line. The structure was supported by a fixed harmonic progression of four bars on the tonic with the fourth usually introducing a flattened seventh, also known as a "blue note"* (see below). That is followed by two bars in the subdominant, two more on the tonic, two on the dominant 7th and two concluding bars on the tonic. The blues evolved mainly through improvisation by talented musicians who understood music but unfortunately most of whom could not read or write music. As a result, much of the development is undocumented. Around 1912, blues compositions began to emerge in published compositions, the first of which included The Dallas Blues by Hart Wand and Lloyd Garret and The Memphis Blues by W.C. Handy. W.C. Handy's St. Louis Blues, published in 1914 is one of the most famous early blues compositions and Handy and the Memphis style further defined and arguably, became the predominant model of the written blues.

    Handy was born in Florence, Alabama. He began his musical career as a cornet soloist and bandmaster with minstrel shows; one of his engagements was with the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. From 1900 to 1902 he was a music teacher at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Huntsville, Alabama. Handy turned to composition in 1907; his first published song was "Memphis Blues" (1912). Among his other popular songs are "Saint Louis Blues" (1914), "Beale Street Blues" (1917), and "Loveless Love" (1921). Handy also founded a music publishing house and edited and wrote several books, including the autobiographical Father of the Blues (1941). Handy's songs brought the blues to international attention. Some of the greatest blues singers were from Memphis and the Mississippi delta region, among them was the great Bessie Smith, called "The Empress of the Blues".

    Around 1920 the first recordings of blues music were made and along with the many popular sheet music works, recordings helped make the blues one of the most popular styles in history. Click on the title to listen to a 30 second cut from an authentic original recording of St. Louis Blues. Over the years, the blues evolved and many different styles emerged. Many rock artists owe their music to the blues and African-American rhythms and style. It was in the late 1950's when two young men from the Memphis/Mississippi area, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis introduced blues styles into popular music. Though they were not the first to do so, they were the first to gain national fame and popularity and through them and others as well, American popular music was changed forever.


    * BLUE NOTE: A blue note is created through a microtonal lowering of the 3rd, 7th and sometimes the 5th scale degrees. The precise pitch or intonation is not fixed and varies according to the performer's instinct or expression. As such, the blue note is difficult to notate in traditional composition and must be interpreted by the performer. Certain instruments and the human voice are capable of such nuances while others, such as the piano are limited in pitch variation.


    http://parlorsongs.com/insearch/blues/blues.asp
     
  3. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Looking at the last part of that piece about Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis...and I'll add , the Allman brothers,Lynrd Skynrd,Rolling Stones, Aerosmith,Led Zepplin ,Janis Joplin, and on and on and on make me wonder what's the difference between influence and outright thievery....we all know Elvis among others stole whole songs......I mean entire songs without changing a note and was considered geniuses, "the king".....but never gave a cent to the cats he got the songs from or the people that taught them to play the guitar the way they did....how man rock artists learned how to play from John Hurt, Howling Wolf, Son House.....B.B. King....and all they gave them were thank yous........that's bout worth as much as a bucket of old dog s&^t .....and like I've said before it seems we're (for the most part) more than happy to give the Blues,work songs , tradition and Jazz away to whoever wants to claim them.......


    Red
     
  4. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yo, Sip, I wanted to kinda "edit" that out, but it would've looked weird so I left it in there... Plus, I know that incites us a bit, and stimulates convo, soooo...(smile!)

    But, in truth, I want our young people to understand what constitutes The Blues, that it has a traditional structure that makes it, fundamentally, what it is... The article, however, is really what folks need to read... Once we begin this education among our young, and the GRASP, the importance of this seminal artistic contribution to all that moves in the world of music in the world, then they can truly understand their importance in upholding the honor of African American tradition...



    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  5. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Very true Brother Isaiah...very true.....sometimes it takes one of those " they did what !! " moments to get some of us to finally start taking notice of the importance...especially of something so fundamentally musically,historically and traditionally important as the Blues.......like this for instance

    "Take this hammer and carry it to the captain
    Tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone
    Take this hammer and carry it to the captain
    Tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone

    I don't want your cold iron shackles
    Round my leg, round my leg, round my leg
    I don't want your cold iron shackles
    Round my leg, round my leg, round my leg

    It's a long way from Colorado
    To my home, to my home, to my home
    It's a long way from Colorado
    To my home, to my home, to my home

    This is the hammer that killed John Henry
    Won't kill me, won't kill me, won't kill me
    This is the hammer that killed John Henry
    Won't kill me, won't kill me, won't kill me

    Take this hammer and carry it to the captain
    Tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone
    This is the hammer and carry it to the captain
    Tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone, tell him I'm gone"


    if that ain't us and isn't relevant to us even now....then I don't know what is......gon have me singing..."Take this puta and carry it to the captain".....if i don't get my extra slice in a minute...lol....


    MississippiRed
     
  6. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    maybe I can also contribute in demythologizing the Blues

    Brother Isaiah, I appreciate this contribution, but it is slightly problematic…I want to digress somewhat to make my point.

    I remember the story about a white professor at the prestigious Julliard school of Music who was making reference to the social circumstances he felt inspired the Blues, in his attempt to define the more melancholy harmonic structures and lamenting melodies of the Blues, he related their origins to the suffering, impoverishment and depressive state in which “Negroes” lived. So happen, one of his students was a young Miles Davis, which upon hearing this explanation, made it clear he could play the Blues and rebutted his instructors observations by paraphrasing a lyric from the song Summertime, “my daddy’s rich and my mother’s good lookin’” (Miles’ father was a Dentist in East St. Louis).

    This was an important statement, because it has been a misnomer that the blues were only about depression and hard times. The Blues dealt with sex, love, happiness, superstition, wisdom, sadness, African-derived religiosity, love, strength and even weaknesses.

    Now I’m not disputing that Blues people didn’t live under oppressive conditions, but this oppression wasn’t just a coincidental condition, but this oppression was a well thought out political and social institution and like racism was systemic. And Miles statement elevated the concerns of the Blues man from just an emotional response and/or reaction to hard times and suffering, but his or her music was an well-articulated political statement and a intellectually thought out lyrical pronouncement and assertion of our story and plight in America or exile, in all its complexities.

    The Blues notes and minor harmonies are derived from African (pentatonic) scales and more meditative and earthy harmonic modalities. But Instead of embracing the hypnotic and earthy resonance, linear-Europeans could only relate to what was seemingly the melancholy sadness that haunted them in every song (even though it is true that some Blues speak to loneliness and sadness). It’s like how Whites were always jittery when they heard African drums. Now they liked the exotic melodies and the “savage” beats but they could not discern their complexity.

    This is the true science of our music…it was more than just an emotionally simplistic choice of notes.

    They do this with our politics, In other words you are only politically conscious, militant and progressive because you’re angry, and you’re angry because you feel insecure (fear), and you’re poor and are reacting to some traumatic incident in your life (like Pavlov’s dog). And you really have no ideological stance or intellectual reason for your politics....or your music..

    h_mmmm...mmmm?

    Peace:cool:
     
  7. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hey, brother Sun, I feel you... In fact, to say the piece if "problematic" is an understatement... This particular paragraph oozed major inaccuracies:

    "Another emerging myth of blues history is a Delta to Chicago to London narrative. This myth holds that the blues was born in the plantations of the Mississippi Delta, migrated to Chicago where it became electrified in the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually immigrated to London where it shaped the bluesy rock sound of groups like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. This story of blues evolution, which posits a direct line of development from Delta pioneer Charley Patton to Son House to Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, is most clearly expressed in Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues (1981). Although the Delta and Chicago were enormously important blues centers and this line of historical development is indeed one of the big stories of the blues, it is not the only way the story can and should be told. For example, the Delta to Chicago myth ignores the contributions of W. C. Handy and other composers to the mass popularity of the blues early in the twentieth century. It further disregards the early activities of great women vaudeville blues singers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Mamie Smith. And it discounts other significant centers such as Texas and Memphis where artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, and B. B. King contributed substantially to the stylistic development of the blues..."

    LONDON! Where in God's name does LONDON ever enter the picture where BLUES is concerned??? Again, brother, I am feeling you all the way, and then some, when you talk of the problems with the piece... David Evans, if I am not mistaken, is also an AFrican American, and you have to wonder what the academy DOES to these folks... Does it stop us from having our own independent thoughts, or something????(SMILE!) Yikes!

    Even Handy's "blues" writting is questionable, and too studied and stilted to truly be considered authentic blues... So when we talk about London being a major center for BLUES development - please, the idea and notion are totally absurd! It is said that NOWHERE outside of the south has an authentic BLUES singer been born, even among African Amercans, so how do we get Real BLUESMEN from LONDON???

    I've been posting these articles to get our blood stimulated about our culture... Taking our temp on this, I am finding that only a few of us have a pulse rate when it comes to African American Cultural traditions... I am happy as hell to see yourself and Mississippi Red taking a strong and leading interest in bringing us the truth... I am at work now, so my time is limited, but I'd like to continue to see us dissect these things, and distill something valuable to the young people who might just drop in out of curiousity... I'll hit back a little more tonight...


    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  8. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hey, brother Sun, I feel you... In fact, to say the piece if "problematic" is an understatement... This particular paragraph oozed major inaccuracies:

    "Another emerging myth of blues history is a Delta to Chicago to London narrative. This myth holds that the blues was born in the plantations of the Mississippi Delta, migrated to Chicago where it became electrified in the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually immigrated to London where it shaped the bluesy rock sound of groups like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. This story of blues evolution, which posits a direct line of development from Delta pioneer Charley Patton to Son House to Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, is most clearly expressed in Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues (1981). Although the Delta and Chicago were enormously important blues centers and this line of historical development is indeed one of the big stories of the blues, it is not the only way the story can and should be told. For example, the Delta to Chicago myth ignores the contributions of W. C. Handy and other composers to the mass popularity of the blues early in the twentieth century. It further disregards the early activities of great women vaudeville blues singers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Mamie Smith. And it discounts other significant centers such as Texas and Memphis where artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, and B. B. King contributed substantially to the stylistic development of the blues..."

    LONDON! Where in God's name does LONDON ever enter the picture where BLUES is concerned??? Again, brother, I am feeling you all the way, and then some, when you talk of the problems with the piece... David Evans, if I am not mistaken, is also an AFrican American, and you have to wonder what the academy DOES to these folks... Does it stop us from having our own independent thoughts, or something????(SMILE!) Yikes!

    Even Handy's "blues" writting is questionable, and too studied and stilted to truly be considered authentic blues... So when we talk about London being a major center for BLUES development - please, the idea and notion are totally absurd! It is said that NOWHERE outside of the south has an authentic BLUES singer been born, even among African Amercans, so how do we get Real BLUESMEN from LONDON???

    I've been posting these articles to get our blood stimulated about our culture... Taking our temp on this, I am finding that only a few of us have a pulse rate when it comes to African American Cultural traditions... I am happy as hell to see yourself and Mississippi Red taking a strong and leading interest in bringing us the truth... I am at work now, so my time is limited, but I'd like to continue to see us dissect these things, and distill something valuable to the young people who might just drop in out of curiousity... I'll hit back a little more tonight...


    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  9. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I just re-read that first article again and am shocked to find out old boy is Black......I thought a white cat wrote that......he's sadly mistaken on a lot of points.....one being the fact that basically it was the poor imitation and corruption of Blues that lead to the demise of Blues.....unless of course you like Kenny Wayne Sheppard or the Yardbirds or any number of white Blues musicians out and about now.....the quality of the music the soul of the Blues is all but gone like some old folk at home used to say...white mane ain't got no soul....(in more ways than one)

    and yeah Brother Isaiah....I must've missed London the first time or my mind just couldn't conceive of someone actually putting London and Blues in the same sentence.....on W.C.Handy...great musician but I've never liked his music much and never considered him a major contributor to the type of Blues I love the Country Blues....Handy even called Blues Primitive at one point.....he was the self-claimed "Father of the Blues"....even though his first exposure was at a performance where he was playing for white folk and they asked him to play what they called (your music) when he couldn't and his band took a brake some Brothers got on stage and played Country Blues which forced the classically trained Handy to take another look at the Blues.....but even then he didn't really get it until that day in 03 at a train station where he heard a taildragger singing bout the Southern crossing the dog....Handy was never a Bluesman in my estimation he is thought as such by some due to commercial success among whites and well to do Blacks he didn't love the Blues because of what they were he did the Blues because of what it could do for his pockets....this cat was playing what he and whites called Blues with an orchestra..an orchestra..come on ....and as such I get kind of hot whenever folk through Handy in the mix......

    His assumption that Blues needed a revival which of course was led by intellectual Blacks and whites is way off.....no revival was needed because to the regular Black folk in the South they never died..folk still played Blues in the jukes and thangs and we still listened I think the more correct statement would have been"people like myself finally opened our eyes and ears to the foundation of modern American music and in an attempt to not look behind the times or hypocritcal of what we for so long put at the bottom of the musical and traditional pile we had to now claim it as our own and put out a revisionist history making us look as smart and forward as we think we are"....now that's better......

    You're right though Isaiah....don't nobody care bout Blues,Jazz,Jug,Zydeco,Work Songs,Stompin non of that....it's too backward and makes Black folk look bad so they say sets us back makes us look ignorant.....if that's the case set me back and make me look bad....send be back to when Black folk in a community looked out for each other and each others kids and thangs now we act like we can't ebem speak to one another....just be looking crazy when I say "hey" or chunk the deuce at em....we just ain't got no home training no mo.... :)....guess we done give that up like we gave up our Southern music and Tradition....



    MississippiRed
     
  10. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    'Sup, Brother 'Sippi RED!

    You put some good food on the plate with the Handy info... In fact, I remember when I first heard about him, and his "discovery" of the Blues, I knew this guy was an opportunist and a hustla... Nothin' wrong with "goin' shoppin'" for what a man wants, but FATHER OF THE BLUES he aint, and never will be... Has anyone ever met THE DADDY anyway???(smile!)

    But what I've read over the years about, both, the Blues and Jazz is, it's first GREAT players - the guys who sang the Blues, and the HOT JAZZ players - didn't READ MUSIC... The Lousiana CREOLES, who are credited with those original "JAZZ" formulations are said to have really been playing RAGTIME by none other than Jellyroll Morton, himself a Creole... He said that it was those poor BLACK cats who didn't know ish about READING music that played by ear and feeling, and played the socks off everybody else...

    I've gotten into arguments with cats about this whole business of reading... They say BLUES catz couldn't read nor write the music down, thus had to play the pieces differently everytime they played, and I ask what is wrong with a new interpretation everytime one hears a song???(smile!) That gives it a beautiful flexibility and originality that written music doesn't...

    W.C. Handy, classically-trained musician that he was, could NEVER have been the FATHER of the BLUES... Fact is, there is absolutely no way a classically-trained musician could invent or be the father of this music, because Blues guys do everything WRONG according to the readers(smile!) So too did those early Jazz guys, and GOSPEL singers, too! Interesting, isn't it, that the TRAINED folk are still stuck in the 18-century without the music of the untrained - LOL! You think that rankles them a wee bit??? Of course, it does, and that is why they've always felt the need to savage our style... Like how can these people be so creative and inventive off the top of their heads like that??? Aren't they supposed to be flat stupid??? I guess their attempts to commandeer our culture is borne of their inability to author such creativity...



    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
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