A Quick Look at the History of the Blues
Listen and Notice…
You might be surprised to hear how much of the following will sound very similar. As far as piano goes, one of the things that really makes different times and places pop out are the left hand patterns. Once we are naming cities and states there is not much that you will notice that sets them apart…until you get to “New Orleans”. And make sure and listen to some “Stevie” at the end!
The blues started as vocal music, including “field hollers,” spirituals, and work songs. The lyrics expressed problems experienced by African-American culture during those hard times.
Driving rhythms and sweet horn sections and vocals. Some well known jump blues pianists are Big Joe, Turner, Amos Milburn, and Floyd Dixon.
Look for a fast-paced and groovin’ left-hand that’s very percussive. Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Cow-Cow Davenport.
Kansas City Blues
Jazz and swing influenced, driving rhythms and many times “shouted” vocals. Count Basie, Pete Johnson, and Jay McShann.
Maybe the most recognized blues form. Muddy Waters, Lafayette Leake, and Memphis Slim.
St. Louis Blues
Roosevelt Sykes and Peetie Wheatstraw.
More relaxed and swinging feel that used acoustic guitar. T-Bone Walker, Doctor Hepcat, Joe Pullum, and Dave Alexander.
New Orleans Blues
Known for the African and Carribean rhythms and syncopation. A lot more “funky” than other blues styles. Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Allen Toussaint, and Dr. John.
Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.