Black History Culture : TRAVELING THE BLUES HIGHWAY...

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

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Traveling the Blues Highway


    Text by Charles E. Cobb, Jr.

    Samuel Reuben Kendrick, my great-grandfather, was born a slave in Alabama.

    In 1888 he founded a farming community called New Africa on 160 acres [65 hectares] he bought from the railroad near Duncan, Mississippi. Among the tribulations he faced—floods, boll weevil infestations, bank loans due—one incident finally persuaded him to leave Mississippi. When a sharecropper on a nearby plantation asked to live and work on some of his land, Sam Kendrick sent over a wagon for the man’s family and belongings. A mob of whites led by the plantation owner trapped my great-grandfather and pounded him to the ground with ax handles, cursing him for taking one of their workers. Stealing from a white man, they called it. Soon after the incident, on a cold January day in 1909, he was repairing the little wooden bridge over the lake on the edge of his farm. His mind may have wandered—perhaps to his plans for starting anew in Texas—and he dropped his hammer. He waded into the water to get it and continued hammering. That night he felt chilled. A few days later, at the age of 56, Samuel Kendrick was dead of pneumonia.

    Well, the blues am a achin’ old heart disease,
    Well, the blues am a low down achin’
    heart disease,
    Like consumption, killin’ me by degrees.
    —Robert Johnson

    The phrase “having the blues” goes back to 18th-century England, where the “blue devils” was slang for melancholia. But it was sorrows like Sam Kendrick’s, common among blacks after the Civil War, that led to a raw new music—the blues—depicting work, love, poverty, and the hardships freedmen faced in a world barely removed from slavery.

    If he had lived, my great-grandfather would have been part of one of the largest peacetime internal movements of people in history. Between 1915 and 1970 more than five million African Americans left from every field and corner of the South, most going to the nation’s booming cities. Sam Kendrick’s eldest child, Swan, my grandfather, settled in Washington, D.C., where both my mother and I were born. Others in the family followed the heavily traveled path out of Mississippi to Memphis, where the blues spurred the rise of rock-and-roll. This “blues highway” led on to Chicago—the mecca for bluesmen and other migrants.

    One who landed in Chicago in 1936, Willie Dixon, called the blues “the facts of life.” Dixon was a blues songwriter, poet, and philosopher who campaigned for more than 50 years for recognition of the blues as the root of all American music. “Everything that’s under the sun, that crawls, flies, or swims likes music. But blues is the greatest, because blues is the only one that, along with the rhythm and the music, brings wisdom.”

    All routes from the South were paved with a people’s blues, but no place is more closely associated with the music than the Mississippi Delta. This broad, rich floodplain—anchored by the Mississippi and washed over by the Yazoo, Tallahatchie, and Big Sunflower Rivers—spreads 200 miles [322 kilometers] from Memphis, Tennessee, to Vicksburg, Mississippi. The black Delta soil steams in the broiling summer heat as I turn off Highway 61 onto a narrow paved road that was a wagon track in my great-grandfather’s time. Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues” is playing loud on my tape, his brooding voice and intense guitar seeming to conjure up Delta spirits. I stand on a steel bridge—successor to the one Sam Kendrick had worked on—and stare into the murky water. Here in the place where his life ended, I’m beginning a journey through memory and into the blues.


    CLICK ON THE WEB ADDRESS FOR MORE OF THIS GR-R-R-REAT ARTICLE!

    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/media/ngm/9904/fngm/
     
  2. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I enjoyed that ....Thanks for the article....bruh....hopefully one day young Black folk will discover then Country Blues and some of the stories of the lives of them famous Bluesmen and women.....some of them boys was wild wild.......I think it's too late though....Blues ain't cool enough and Country Blues sho aint' cool enough to pull em back ..that's why all you see in the Blues joints is ofay....all you see playing the Blues for the most part is ofay..it's a trip....when they hear me playing stuff at work they ask .."you like the Blues" like it's unexpected....then they go on the of course tell me how they love the Blues ...and have a big collection of stuff...some actually do have some good stuff but most ........always then go on to say "oh yeah...I love Eric Clapton, and a bunch of other white boys I can't remember ..it's at that point I usually turn my radio back up and go on bout my business....anyway Thanks for the article bruh it was a goodun...

    Red
     
  3. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yes, brother, they've just got to put their face on everything, and then turn 'round and call us egotistical(smile!)

    I saw a PBS Special which featured Clapton, and I heard a White Guy say that Clapton, from England no less, had made the Blues more acceptable to him...(smile!) Now, that same clown would turn around and say "the music has no color..."(smile!) That's one of their favorite phrases...LOL!

    But I dug this article too, and many of the pictures of that historic highway... It's a metaphor for Black Folks, aint it... Always traveling, always restless, always creating... Have you checked out some of the other stuff I posted on Women in the Blues??? Also, I posted another one called "Demythologizing The Blues...." It's long and insightful, and it's right here in this forum.... BTW, Charles Cobb, the author of the article, was a powerful brother in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee/SNCC... Glad you enjoyed the feast, brother...


    Peace!
    isaiah
     
  4. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yes suh I checked out the article....you know and let me say Thank you for putting some of these up which has made me read more articles about the Blues as I never really cared much about what others said or thought or the origins and such but went mostly on what I have been told by the folk before me .....guess I was turned off mainly because every site is a white Blues site...with them telling our history....like the recordings made in Parchman,Angola and others ....made by white folk....even the shows we see on TV like the one from Martin Scorsese...it's good but I have issues with white folk telling me what certain words in Blues songs mean or the history of our music and traditions, and words .........and like you said about the cat saying Clapton made Blues more acceptable to him.......they always throw their folk in their in prominent positions........as far as bringing cats back to life or bringing the Blues as a whole back to life .....I liked the article on Country music as well .....so many folk don't know about the banjo or Hank Sr. learning how to play and sing from a Brother......it seems to me that the more educated we become as a people the more stupid and arrogant we become willing to throw down the old ways and culture we created here .....oh well just ranting I only a country boy from the Sip who still hunts and fishes and keeps bulldogs under the porch.... :) and banty roosters by the back do.........

    MississippiRed

    Oh and I was born on 1 end of Hwy 61 (Memphis) and grew up and raised on the other Natchez Mississippi......yes suh.....
     
  5. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yeah, brother, I see a lot of that on the net myself, but you know what, those white folks motivated me to learn more about Da Blues, and our culture, because it is simply NOT being taught by our scholars or lay people as it should be... That's why I am so thrilled that you and brother Sun, and Brother O are discussing it here on Destees Dot Com... I mean, I'm serious about that brother... If we don't do it, who will???

    What we discuss here, and the Demythologizing thread becomes our repository of knowledge, and I'm more than happy to hear you "rant", because I understand your frustration... Like I said, I am going to continue to present and represent the Blues and Jazz at this forum... Too long I avoided it, thinking nobody cares... Well, I see a few of us DO care... That's all I need to know, brother...


    Peace!
    isaiah
     
  6. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother Isaiah I appreciate you not only saying that but posting these articles..as you and a few here and everybody that knows me in the physical I am dedicated mind body and soul to the South and our Southern tradition...(some good some bad.. ) but the Blues is such a big part of not only me but us as a people.......that's why I play Blues at home with my kids every morning...and I mean every morning.....I'm playing Blues right now as a matter of fact......I play other things that are obviously us...like Sunday I played Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers for em....they ate it up....my kids ....know more about Memphis Jug Band, Robert Johnson,Charley Patton at 11,9, and 7 ( they are getting to where they can tell who is who by the song and sound of the voice) then Black folks 3 and 4 times their age.....and on one hand I'm happy but on the other it saddens me to know that more Black folk aren't doing this with their liluns.......my kids know how to raise dogs, clean fish and game and they know Blues...(we're starting to get into Jazz now...so I'm playing Thelonius,Miles,Louis and the like)..right now though I'm playing Edith Wilson.....my daughter likes her a lot....anyway I digress.......

    You're completely right if we don't talk about it and try to teach some of these young bucks then who will ???? I'm posting on the other thread in Entertainment in a minute.......I was always raised to believe the nobody cared bout us Country folk....the heart of Black folks in the South....I'm a traditional Mississippian.......they taught me that city folk don't give a good one bout our music and traditions and to be honest I believed that and carried that chip on my shoulder for the longest...it's good to see that they were not wholly right .......I live and die for the South and raise my kids in that same way....it's more than music bruh....the Blues tells our story

    on the point of old Country Blues cats reading music......most of them couldn't like you say that's why Blues is so alive...it's not an intellectual , elitist(sp) ,music it's the music of us po Country folk getting by.....the stories of us and our folk, dogs our women, our battles, it's us complete..the drinking,dancing, barrelhousing, even fighting ,cutting, and shooting at times and I think that's why a lot of Black folk don't like the Blues...maybe because it don't show the most positive images all the time...it shows the realness and rawness of what the South was and is........and what we were and is :p

    Intellectuals I think can't stand the Blues because they can get their head around it....both Black and white....classically trained musicians the same...and they hate it.....they figa how can we know so much but can't understand this...this (as WC Handy put it ) primitive music?....they hate it because they even with all their training can't even play a decent Blues song and it kills em........I'm posting a new thread to one of my favorite Bluesmen....Mississippi John Hurt and will close this with a quote that's at the beginning of this article.......lovin ery minute a dis.....

    http://www.mindspring.com/~dennist/

    "The Blues is the first music that was here. It was born with Eve and Adam in the Garden. It is the one that tells the story."-- John Lee Hooker


    MississippiRed
     
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