Before the Blues, Vol. 2: The Early American Black Music Scene

Before the Blues, Vol. 2: The Early American Black Music Scene


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The title of this compilation, Before the Blues, may be a deceiving one, particularly as it comes from Yazoo Records, a label that specializes in the earliest music of the genre. While the performances here date back to the first commercial recordings (made during the mid-'20s), the blues, as a musical form, was probably born a good 20 years earlier, at the turn of the century. Maintaining a looser format than many of their compilations, Before the Blues follows the music from the juke joint on a Saturday night to church the next morning. Included are tracks from some of the most popular musicians of the period (Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, the Memphis Jug Band, and Frank Stokes), as well as curios from little-known performers. At one end of the spectrum, there is the raw, earthy mountain music of Frank Jenkins' "ng Cowboy," the violin and vocal performance that closes the collection. At the other is Tommy McClennan's "Deep Sea Blues," the song Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix (among many others) would record as "Catfish Blues." Though his performance is loose, McClennan's guitar sounds ripe for urban electrification. In the process of migrating to the city, the music witnessed the extinction of rural string combos like the Memphis Jug Band. "K.C. Moan" is an example of the type of material they recorded before the pressure to adapt brought jazz influences into their music. By the 1940s, the commercial heyday of this music had come and gone. Never again would companies seek out recordings like "Cold Morning Shout" (an otherworldly blend of fiddle, banjo, and guitar by the Southside Trio) or the deep gospel of slide guitar master Blind Willie Johnson. Thanks to Yazoo, the music has been preserved with the best possible fidelity. As always, songs have been arranged according to listenability. Boundaries of style and chronology are ignored, with the gaps filled in by extensive liner notes.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/19/1996
Label: Yazoo
UPC: 0016351201621
catalogNumber: 2016
Rank: 31809

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Blind Lemon Jefferson   Track Performer,Bottleneck Guitar
Blind Willie Johnson   Guitar,Track Performer
Lonnie Johnson   Fiddle
Tommy McClennan   Guitar,Track Performer
Memphis Jug Band   Track Performer
Charley Patton   Guitar,Track Performer
Frank Stokes   Track Performer
Sam Harris   Guitar
Howard Armstrong   Fiddle
Sonny Scott   Guitar,Track Performer
Dallas String Band   Track Performer
Carl Martin   Guitar
Tewee Blackman   Guitar
Nap Hayes   Guitar,Mandolin
Lulu Jackson   Guitar,Track Performer
Coley Jones   Mandolin
Charley Jordan   Guitar,Track Performer
Walter Roland   Guitar,Track Performer
Will Shade   Vocals
Blind Joe Taggart   Guitar,Track Performer
Marco Washington   Bass
Willie Tyson   Piano
Alfred Martin   Guitar
Emry Arthur   Guitar,Track Performer
Blue Boys   Track Performer
Eck Robertson   Fiddle,Track Performer
Peg Leg Howell   Track Performer
Matthew Prater   Guitar,Mandolin
Hattie Hudson   Vocals,Track Performer
Roland Martin   Bass
Minnie Wallace   Vocals,Track Performer
Louise Johnson   Track Performer
Geeshie Wiley   Guitar,Track Performer
South Street Trio   Track Performer
Golden P. Harris   Vocals
Frank Jenkins   Banjo,Fiddle

Technical Credits

Blind Willie Johnson   Composer
Memphis Jug Band   Contributor
Frank Stokes   Contributor
Dallas String Band   Contributor
Texas Alexander   Composer
Don Kent   Producer,Liner Notes
Richard Nevins   Producer,Liner Notes
Robert Cooksey   Contributor
Bobby Leecan   Contributor
Blue Boys   Contributor
Joan Pelosi   Art Direction
Peg Leg Howell   Contributor
Louise Johnson   Composer,Contributor
Unidentified Prisoner   Composer
Traditional   Composer
South Street Trio   Contributor
Tennessee Chocolate Drops   Contributor

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