Professor Longhair

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Posted by motoman 04/29/2009 @ 10:09

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Recorded: New Orleans, 1992 - Jazz.com
While the good Doctor has recorded many tributes to Professor Longhair (his inspiration and early mentor) over the years, none tops his tune called "'Fess Up." To portray the Professor, Mac employs a dash of "Hadacol," a brief trace of "Tipitina," and...
Standards, Toussaint-Style - Wall Street Journal
The CD is informed by his style, which has as its foundation his careful study of the work of the pianist Henry Roeland Byrd, who's better known as Professor Longhair. When we met last month in New York, Mr. Toussaint reminded me that his childhood in...
Down by the River - OffBeat Magazine
If The Bright Mississippi would have been about Toussaint's past, it would have focused far more on Professor Longhair. He celebrated Fess with “Tipitina and Me” for Mark Bingham's post-Katrina project, Our New Orleans, and “Ascension Day” on The River...
Chris O'Brien - man of the mind led from the heart - Daily Telegraph
Professor Chris O'Brien, 57, has been lauded from the Prime Minister down since his death was announced yesterday morning. They have stood and uttered the words they do when men of great quality die. In the foyer outside Gloucester House's volunteers...
Playlist: Aaron Neville Goes 'High Natural' - ABC News
He said there's something in the music made by New Orleans natives, like Fats Domino or Professor Longhair, that can't be found anywhere else. "It's a rhythm that everybody walks to," Neville said. "It comes from the second-line funerals, you know,...
Coco Montoya pays homage to Koko Taylor - Las Vegas Sun
Brant Leeper tore it up with swelling organ rides and a touch of Professor Longhair piano. Bassist Nathan Brown and drummer Randy Hayes locked down the rhythm. And Montoya poured his soul through his purple Strat, growling, crying, roaring and coaxing...
Bonerama goes from top to bottom of slide - South Bend Tribune
“The influence of The Meters and Professor Longhair weighs so heavily on us,” he says. “That stamp is on every note we play, whether we want it or not. In one way, it can be considered a rock and funk band, but it's definitely a brass band,...
Fats Domino: Swanee River Hop - Jazz.com
Singer/pianoman Fats Domino and arranger/bandleader Dave Bartholomew took the polished loping rhythm of Professor Longhair into the studio, added some pop standards patina, and emerged with scores of regional and national hits, from "The Fat Man" to...
Matthew Ball brings down the house at First Congregational in Saginaw - The Bay City Times - MLive.com
He delivered interesting takes on Professor Longhair, as interpreted by Dr. John, in his own arrangement. Ball gave a musical nod to ragtime -- Scott Joplin, anyone? -- and went Chicago with a long, slow ode to the blues. OK, it wasn't that slow,...
Be sure to catch Jack's top 12 jazzy acts - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Jon Cleary, a rollicking piano player in the grand tradition of the so-called New Orleans piano professors, like Professor Longhair, James Booker and Dr. John. The superb and deeply schooled Canadian pianist Jon Ballantyne. Cedar Walton, a tasteful,...

Professor Longhair

Professor Longhair (born Henry Roeland Byrd, also known as Roy "Bald Head" Byrd and as Fess) (19 December 1918 - 30 January 1980) was a New Orleans blues singer and pianist. Byrd is noteworthy for having been active in two distinct periods, both in the heyday of early rhythm and blues, and in the resurgence of interest in traditional jazz after the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. At that time Byrd became a New Orleans icon. He was noted for his unique piano style, which he described as "a combination of rumba, mambo, and Calypso." He had an unusual and expressive voice, described once as "freak unique". He was called the Bach of Rock and Roll for the clarity, varied and extremely accurate and "funky" syncopation, and the beautiful tone of his piano playing.

Byrd was born 19 December 1918 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. He grew up around music and showed early talent.

Professor Longhair began his career in New Orleans near the end of the 1940s. Throughout the 1950s, he recorded for Atlantic Records, Federal Records and other, local labels. Professor Longhair had only one national commercial hit, "Bald Head" in 1950. He lacked the early crossover appeal of Fats Domino for white audiences. But his rollicking, idiosyncratic, rumba-based piano playing and exuberant singing made him one of New Orleans biggest rock stars.

In the 1960s Byrd's career faltered. He became a janitor to support himself, and fell into a gambling habit.

In 1969 Professor Longhair was rediscovered as the growing white audience for blues learned to appreciate him. He was referred to as the "Father of New Orleans R&B". During this period, his albums, such as Crawfish Fiesta on Alligator Records and New Orleans Piano for Atlantic, became readily available across the country.

In 1980, Professor Longhair died.

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Blues

Sheet music from "St. Louis Blues" (1914)

Blues is a music genre based on the use of the blues chord progressions and the blue notes. Though several blues forms exist, the 12-bar blues chord progressions are the most frequently encountered. Blue notes are sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. Blues emerged at the end of the 19th century as an accessible form of self-expression in African-American communities of the United States from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The use of blue notes and the prominence of call-and-response patterns in the music and lyrics are indicative of African influences. The blues influenced later American and Western popular music, as the blues form became a basic pattern of jazz, rhythm and blues, bluegrass and rock and roll. In the 1960s and 1970s, blues evolved into a hybrid form called blues rock. In the 1990s, punk blues appeared as an outgrowth of the blues rock and punk movements.

The term "the blues" refers to the "the blue devils", meaning melancholy and sadness; an early use of the term in this sense is found in George Colman's one-act farce Blue Devils (1798). Though the use of the phrase in African American music may be older, it has been attested to since 1912, when Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" became the first copyrighted Blues composition. In lyrics the phrase is often used to describe a depressed mood.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, blues music was not clearly defined in terms of a chord progression. There were many blues in 8-bar form, such as "How Long Blues", "Trouble in Mind", and Big Bill Broonzy's "Key to the Highway". Idiosyncratic numbers of bars are also encountered occasionally, as with the 9-bar progression in "Sitting on Top of the World". The basic twelve-bar lyric framework of a blues composition is reflected by a standard harmonic progression of twelve bars in 4/4 or (rarely) 2/4 time. Slow blues are often played in 12/8 (4 beats per measure with 3 subdivisions per beat).

When the IV chord is played in bar 2, the blues is called a "Quick-Change" blues.

In this example, C is the tonic chord, F the subdominant. Much of the time, some or all of these chords are played in the harmonic seventh (7th) form. Frequently, the last chord is the dominant (V) turnaround, marking the transition to the beginning of the next progression. In this example, G is the turnaround.

The use of the harmonic seventh interval is characteristic of blues and is popularly called the "blues seven" . At a 7:4 ratio, it is not close to any interval on the conventional Western diatonic scale . Through convenience or necessity it is often approximated by a minor seventh interval or a dominant seventh chord.

The lyrics generally end on the last beat of the tenth bar or the first beat of the eleventh bar, and the final two bars are given to the instrumentalist as a break; the harmony of this two-bar break, the turnaround, can be extremely complex, sometimes consisting of single notes that defy analysis in terms of chords. The final beat, however, is almost always strongly grounded in the dominant seventh (V7), to provide tension for the next verse.

In melody, blues is distinguished by the use of the flattened third, fifth and seventh of the associated major scale. These specialized notes are called the blue or bent notes. These scale tones may replace the natural scale tones, or they may be added to the scale, as in the case of the minor pentatonic blues scale, in which the flattened third replaces the natural third, the flattened seventh replaces the natural seventh and the flattened fifth is added between the natural fourth and natural fifth. While the twelve-bar harmonic progression had been intermittently used for centuries, the revolutionary aspect of blues was the frequent use of the flattened third, flattened seventh, and even flattened fifth in the melody, together with crushing—playing directly adjacent notes at the same time (i.e., diminished second)—and sliding, similar to using grace notes. The blue notes allow for key moments of expression during the cadences, melodies, and embellishments of the blues. Where the three line verses end, for example, there is a falling cadence that approaches just shy of the tonic, combining the falling of a speaking voice with the shape of the blues scale in a unique, expressive way. This melodic fall, placed at the turnaround, is employed most clearly in the modern Chicago blues sound. A similar sound, melisma, occurs in gospel and R&B, but not to the same effect.

Whereas a classical musician will generally play a grace note distinctly, a blues singer or harmonica player will glissando, "crushing" the two notes and then releasing the grace note. In blues chord progressions, the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords are often played as harmonic seventh chords. (NB: While the harmonic seventh may be voiced easily on equally tempered instruments like the guitar, it is approximated by means of a minor seventh, which is a third of a semitone higher.) Blues is occasionally played in a minor key, such as in the style of Paul Butterfield. The scale differs little from the traditional minor, except for the occasional use of a flatted fifth in the tonic, often sung or played by the singer or lead instrument with the perfect fifth in the harmony. Janis Joplin's rendition of "Ball and Chain", accompanied by Big Brother and the Holding Company, provides an example of this technique. Minor-key blues is often structured in sixteen bars rather than twelve, in the style of gospel music, as in "St. James Infirmary Blues" and Trixie Smith's "My Man Rocks Me".

Blues shuffles reinforce the trance-like rhythm and call-and-response, and they form a repetitive effect called a groove. The simplest shuffles, used in many postwar electric blues, rock and roll, or early bebops, were a three-note riff on the bass strings of the guitar. When this riff was played over the bass and the drums, the groove "feel" is created. The walking bass is another device that helps to create a groove. The last bar of the chord progression is usually accompanied by a turnaround.

Blues in jazz is much different from blues in other types of music. Jazz blues normally stays on the V chord through bars 9 and 10, emphasizing the dominant-tonic resolution over the subdominant-tonic structure of traditional blues. This final V-I cadence lends itself to many variations, the most basic of which is the ii-V-I progression in bars 9, 10 and 11. From that point, both the dominant approach (ii-V) and the resolution (I) can be altered and "substituted" in a variety of ways, even including abandonment of the I chord altogether (bars 9–12: ii | V | iii, vi | ii, V |). In this case, bars 11 and 12 function as an extended turnaround to the next chorus.

The traditional blues verse was probably a single line, repeated four times. It was only later that the current, most common structure of a line, repeated once and then followed by a single line conclusion, became standard. Two of the first published blues songs, however, Dallas Blues (1912) and St. Louis Blues (1914), each featured lines repeated twice, followed by an "answer" line, played over 12 bars of music. W.C. Handy wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines repeated three times. These lines were often sung following a pattern closer to a rhythmic talk than to a melody. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative. The singer voiced his or her "personal woes in a world of harsh reality: a lost love, the cruelty of police officers, oppression at the hands of white folk, hard times." Typical authority figures often include train conductor, judge, landlord/lady, captain (boss), and chief of police.

Author Ed Morales has claimed that Yoruba mythology played a part in early blues, citing Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues" as a "thinly veiled reference to Eleggua, the orisha in charge of the crossroads". However, many seminal blues artists such as Charley Patton, or Skip James had in their repertoire several religious songs or spirituals. Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Willie Johnson are examples of artists often categorized as blues musicians for their music but whose lyrics clearly belong to the spirituals.

Hokum blues celebrated both comedic lyrical content and a boisterous, farcical performance style. Tampa Red's classic "Tight Like That" is a sly wordplay with the double meaning of being "tight" with someone coupled with a more salacious physical familiarity. Lyrical content of music became slightly simpler in post war-blues in which focus was often almost exclusively on singer's relationship woes or sexual worries. Many lyrical themes that frequently appeared in pre-war blues such as economic depression, farming, devils, gambling, magic, floods and dry periods were less common post war blues.

The first publication of blues sheet music was Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" in 1912; W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues" followed in the same year. The first recording by an African American singer was Mamie Smith's 1920 rendition of Perry Bradford's "Crazy Blues". But the origins of the blues date back to some decades earlier, probably during the late 19th century. They are very poorly documented, due in part to discrimation within American society, including academic circles. A testimony of blues music as it was before the 1920s is given by the recordings of artists such as Lead Belly or Henry Thomas. They show many different structures distinct of the twelve-, eight-, or sixteen-bar structure based on tonic (I), subdominant (IV) and dominant chords (V), which became later the most common forms. What is now recognizable as the standard 12-bar blues form is documented from oral history and sheet music appearing in African American communities throughout the region along the lower Mississippi River, in Memphis, Tennessee's Beale Street, and by white bands in New Orleans.

There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performances. However, there are some characteristics that were present long before the creation of the modern blues. An early form of blues-like music were call-and-response shouts, which were a "functional expression... style without accompaniment or harmony and unbounded by the formality of any particular musical structure." A form of this pre-blues was heard in slave ring shouts and field hollers, expanded into "simple solo songs laden with emotional content".

Blues has evolved from an unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of African-American slaves (imported from West Africa; principally present day Mali, Senegal, the Gambia and Ghana) and rural blacks into a wide variety of styles and subgenres, with regional variations across the United States. Though blues, as it is now known, can be seen as a musical style based on both European harmonic structure and the African call-and-response tradition, transformed into an interplay of voice and guitar, the blues form itself bears no resemblance to the melodic styles of the West African griots, and the influences are faint and tenuous. In particular, no specific African musical form can be identified as the single direct ancestor of the blues. However many blues elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The Diddley bow, a homemade one-stringed instrument found in parts of the American South in the early twentieth century, and the banjo are African-derived instruments that may have helped in the transfer of African performance techniques into the early blues instrumental vocabulary. The banjo seems to be directly imported from the western African music. It is analogous to the musical instrument that griots played and which was called halam or konting by African peoples such as the Wolof, Fula and Madinka. However in the 1920s, at the time country blues began to get recorded, the use of the banjo in blues music was quite marginal and limited to individuals such as Papa Charlie Jackson and later Gus Cannon.

Blues music also adopted elements from the "Ethiopian airs", minstrel shows and Negro spirituals, including instrumental and harmonic accompaniment. The style also was closely related to ragtime, which developed at about the same time, though the blues better preserved "the original melodic patterns of African music".

The musical forms and styles that are now considered the "blues" as well as modern "country music" arose in the same regions during the nineteenth century in the southern United States. Recorded blues and country can be found from as far back as the 1920s, when the popular record industry developed and created marketing categories called "race music" and "hillbilly music" to sell music by blacks for blacks and by whites for whites, respectively. At the time, there was no clear musical division between "blues" and "country," except for the ethnicity of the performer, and even that was sometimes documented incorrectly by record companies. Though musicologists can now attempt to define “the blues” narrowly in terms of certain chord structures and lyric strategies thought to have originated in West Africa, audiences originally heard the music in a far more general way: it was simply the music of the rural south, notably the Mississippi Delta. Black and white musicians shared the same repertoire and thought of themselves as “songsters” rather than “blues musicians.” The notion of blues as a separate genre arose during the black migration from the countryside to urban areas in the 1920s and the simultaneous development of the recording industry. “Blues” became a code word for a record designed to sell to black listeners.

The origins of the blues are closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The origins of the religious music of the Afro-Americans are much older than the blues and are usually dated to the mid of the 18th century when the slaves were christianized and began to sing and play Christian hymns, in particular those of Isaac Watts which were very popular. When the blues appeared, before blues gained its formal definition in terms of chord progressions, the blues was defined as the secular counter part of the spirituals. It was the low-down music played by the rural Blacks. Depending on the religious community a musician belonged to, it was more or less considered as a sin to play this low-down music: blues was the devil's music. Musicians were therefore segregated into two categories: gospel and blues singers, guitar preachers and songsters. However, at the time rural Black music began to get recorded in the 1920s, both categories of musicians used very similar techniques: call-and-response patterns, blue notes, slide guitars. Gospel music was nevertheless using music forms compatible with christian hymns and therefore less marked by the blues form than its secular counter part.

The American sheet music publishing industry produced a great deal of ragtime music. By 1912, the sheet music industry published three popular blues-like compositions, precipitating the Tin Pan Alley adoption of blues elements: "Baby Seals' Blues" by "Baby" F. Seals (arranged by Artie Matthews), "Dallas Blues" by Hart Wand and "The Memphis Blues" by W. C. Handy.

Handy was a formally trained musician, composer and arranger who helped to popularize the blues by transcribing and orchestrating blues in an almost symphonic style, with bands and singers. He became a popular and prolific composer, and billed himself as the "Father of the Blues"; however, his compositions can be described as a fusion of blues with ragtime and jazz, a merger facilitated using the Cuban habanera rhythm that had long been a part of ragtime; Handy's signature work was the "St. Louis Blues".

In the 1920s, the blues became a major element of African American and American popular music, reaching white audiences via Handy's arrangements and the classic female blues performers. The blues evolved from informal performances in bars to entertainment in theaters. Blues performances were organized by the Theater Owners Bookers Association in nightclubs such as the Cotton Club and juke joints such as the bars along Beale Street in Memphis. This evolution led to a notable diversification of the styles and to a clearer division between blues and jazz. Several record companies, such as the American Record Corporation, Okeh Records, and Paramount Records, began to record African American music.

As the recording industry grew, country blues performers like Bo Carter, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red and Blind Blake became more popular in the African American community. Kentucky-born Sylvester Weaver was in 1923 the first to record the slide guitar style, in which a guitar is fretted with a knife blade or the sawed-off neck of a bottle. The slide guitar became an important part of the Delta blues. The first blues recordings from the 1920s are categorized as a traditional, rural country blues and a more polished 'city' or urban blues.

Country blues performers often improvised, either without accompaniment or with only a banjo or guitar. Regional styles of country blues varied widely in the early 20th century. The (Mississippi) Delta blues was a rootsy sparse style with passionate vocals accompanied by slide guitar. The little-recorded Robert Johnson combined elements of urban and rural blues. In addition to Robert Johnson, influential performers of this style included his predecessors Charley Patton and Son House. Singers such as Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller performed in the southeastern "delicate and lyrical" Piedmont blues tradition, which used an elaborate ragtime-based fingerpicking guitar technique. Georgia also had an early slide tradition with George Carter, Curley Weaver, Tampa Red, "Barbecue Bob" Hicks and James "Kokomo" Arnold as representatives of this style.

The lively Memphis blues style, which developed in the 1920s and 1930s near Memphis, Tennessee, was influenced by jug bands such as the Memphis Jug Band or the Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers. Performers such as Frank Stokes, Blind Old Tom Anderson, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Wilkins, Big Boy Brazier, Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie used a variety of unusual instruments such as washboard, fiddle, kazoo or mandolin. Memphis Minnie was famous for her virtuoso guitar style. Pianist Memphis Slim began his career in Memphis, but his distinct style was smoother and had some swing elements. Many blues musicians based in Memphis moved to Chicago in the late 1930s or early 1940s and became part of the urban blues movement, which blended country music and electric blues.

City or urban blues styles were more codified and elaborate as a performer was no longer within their local, immediate community and had to adapt to a larger, more varied audience's aesthetic. Classic female urban and vaudeville blues singers were popular in the 1920s, among them Mamie Smith, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Victoria Spivey. Mamie Smith, more a vaudeville performer than a blues artist, was the first African-American to record a blues in 1920; her second record, "Crazy Blues", sold 75,000 copies in its first month. Ma Rainey, the "Mother of Blues", and Bessie Smith each " around center tones, perhaps in order to project her voice more easily to the back of a room." Smith would "...sing a song in an unusual key, and her artistry in bending and stretching notes with her beautiful, powerful contralto to accommodate her own interpretation was unsurpassed." Urban male performers included popular black musicians of the era, such Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Leroy Carr. Before WWII, Tampa Red was sometimes referred to as "the Guitar Wizard". Carr accompanied himself on the piano with Scrapper Blackwell on guitar, a format that continued well into the 50s with people such as Charles Brown, and even Nat "King" Cole.

Boogie-woogie was another important style of 1930s and early 1940s urban blues. While the style is often associated with solo piano, boogie-woogie was also used to accompany singers and, as a solo part, in bands and small combos. Boogie-Woogie style was characterized by a regular bass figure, an ostinato or riff and shifts of level in the left hand, elaborating each chord and trills and decorations in the right hand. Boogie-woogie was pioneered by the Chicago-based Jimmy Yancey and the Boogie-Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis). Chicago boogie-woogie performers included Clarence "Pine Top" Smith and Earl Hines, who "linked the propulsive left-hand rhythms of the ragtime pianists with melodic figures similar to those of Armstrong's trumpet in the right hand." The smooth Louisiana style of Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles.

Another development in this period was big band blues. The "territory bands" operating out of Kansas City, the Benny Moten orchestra, Jay McShann, and the Count Basie Orchestra were also concentrating on the blues, with 12-bar blues instrumentals such as Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" and boisterous "blues shouting" by Jimmy Rushing on songs like "Going to Chicago" and "Sent for You Yesterday". A well-known big band blues tune is Glenn Miller's "In the Mood". In the 1940s, the jump blues style developed. Jump blues is influenced by big band music and uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory vocals. Jump blues tunes by Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, based in Kansas City, Missouri, influenced the development of later styles such as rock and roll and rhythm and blues.

After World War II and in the 1950s, new styles of electric blues music became popular in cities such as Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis. Electric blues used amplified electric guitars, electric bass, drums, and harmonica played through a microphone and a PA system or a guitar amplifier. Chicago became a center for electric blues in the early 1950s. Chicago blues is influenced to a large extent by the Mississippi blues style, because many performers had migrated from the Mississippi region. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Reed were all born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago during the Great Migration. Their style is characterized by the use of electric guitar, sometimes slide guitar, harmonica, and a rhythm section of bass and drums. J. T. Brown who played in Elmore James's bands, or J. B. Lenoir's also used saxophones, but these were used more as "backing" or rhythmic support than as solo instruments.

Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) are well known harmonica (called "harp" by blues musicians) players of the early Chicago blues scene. Other harp players such as Big Walter Horton were also influential. Muddy Waters and Elmore James were known for their innovative use of slide electric guitar. B. B. King and Freddie King (no relation), who did not use slide guitar, were influential guitarists of the Electric blues style, even though they weren't from Chicago. Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were known for their deep, "gravelly" voices.

Bassist and composer Willie Dixon played a major role on the Chicago blues scene. He composed and wrote many standard blues songs of the period, such as "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (both penned for Muddy Waters) and, "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Back Door Man" for Howlin' Wolf. Most artists of the Chicago blues style recorded for the Chicago-based Chess Records label. Other prominent blues labels of this era included J.O.B. Records and Vee-Jay Records.

In the 1950s, blues had a huge influence on mainstream American popular music. While popular musicians like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry were influenced by the Chicago blues, their enthusiastic playing styles departed from the melancholy aspects of blues. Chicago blues also influenced Louisiana's zydeco music, with Clifton Chenier using blues accents. Zydeco musicians used electric solo guitar and cajun arrangements of blues standards.

Other blues artists, such as T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker had influences not directly related to the Chicago style. Dallas-born T-Bone Walker is often associated with the California blues style, which is smoother than Chicago blues and is a transition between the Chicago blues, the jump blues and swing with some jazz-guitar influence. John Lee Hooker's blues is more "personal", based on Hooker's deep rough voice accompanied by a single electric guitar. Though not directly influenced by boogie woogie, his "groovy" style is sometimes called "guitar boogie". His first hit, "Boogie Chillen", reached #1 on the R&B charts in 1949.

By the late 1950s, the swamp blues genre developed near Baton Rouge, with performers such as Lightnin' Slim, Slim Harpo, Sam Myers and Jerry McCain. Swamp blues has a slower pace and a simpler use of the harmonica than the Chicago blues style performers such as Little Walter or Muddy Waters. Songs from this genre include "Scratch my Back", "She's Tough" and "I'm a King Bee".

By the beginning of the 1960s, genres influenced by African American music such as rock and roll and soul were part of mainstream popular music. White performers had brought African-American music to new audiences, both within the US and abroad. In the UK, bands emulated US blues legends, and UK blues-rock-based bands had an influential role throughout the 1960s.

Blues performers such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences, inspiring new artists steeped in traditional blues, such as New York-born Taj Mahal. John Lee Hooker blended his blues style with rock elements and playing with younger white musicians, creating a musical style that can be heard on the 1971 album Endless Boogie. B. B. King's virtuoso guitar technique earned him the eponymous title "king of the blues". In contrast to the Chicago style, King's band used strong brass support from a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, instead of using slide guitar or harp. Tennessee-born Bobby "Blue" Bland, like B. B. King, also straddled the blues and R&B genres. During this period, Freddie King and Albert King often played with rock and soul musicians (Eric Clapton, Booker T & the MGs)and had a major influence on those styles of music.

White audiences' interest in the blues during the 1960s increased due to the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the British blues movement. The style of British blues developed in the UK, when bands such as Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and Cream performed classic blues songs from the Delta or Chicago blues traditions.

The British blues musicians of the early 1960s inspired a number of American blues rock fusion performers, including Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, The J. Geils Band, Ry Cooder and The Allman Brothers Band. Many of Led Zeppelin's earlier hits were renditions of traditional blues songs. One blues rock performer, Jimi Hendrix, was a rarity in his field at the time: a black man who played psychedelic rock. Hendrix was a skilled guitarist, and a pioneer in the innovative use of distortion and feedback in his music. Through these artists and others, blues music influenced the development of rock music.

In the late 1960s, the West Side style blues emerged in Chicago with Magic Sam, Magic Slim and Otis Rush. West Side style has strong rhythmic support from a rhythm guitar, bass electric guitar, and drums. Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Luther Allison had a West Side style that was dominated by amplified electric lead guitar. Since the early 1970s, The Texas rock-blues style emerged which used guitars in both solo and rhythm roles. In contrast with the West Side blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British rock-blues movement. Major artists of the Texas style are Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and ZZ Top. These artists all began their musical journey in the 1970s, but they did not achieve major international success until the next decade.

Since the 1980s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the blues among a certain part of the African-American population, particularly around Jackson, MS and other deep South regions. Often termed "soul blues" or "Southern soul," the music at the heart of this movement was given new life by the unexpected success of two particular recordings on the Jackson-based Malaco label: Z. Z. Hill's Down Home Blues (1982) and Little Milton's The Blues is Alright (1984). Contemporary African-American performers who work this vein of the blues include Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, Sir Charles Jones, Bettye LaVette, Marvin Sease and Peggy Scott-Adams.

During the 1980s, blues also continued in both traditional and new forms. In 1986, the album Strong Persuader revealed Robert Cray as a major blues artist. The first Stevie Ray Vaughan recording Texas Flood was released in 1983, and the Texas based guitarist exploded onto the international stage. 1989 saw a revival of John Lee Hooker's popularity with the album The Healer. Eric Clapton known for his performances with the Blues Breakers and Cream, made a comeback in the 1990s with his album Unplugged, in which he played some standard blues numbers on acoustic guitar. However, the technological progresses which appeared in the 1990s in the domain of digital multitrack recording, and the evolution of the marketting strategies, which now include the production of video clips, have lead to an increase of the costs of production and also to some loss of the spontaneity and improvisation which always have been an important component of blues music.

In the 1980s and 1990s, blues publications such as Living Blues and Blues Revue began to be distributed, major cities began forming blues societies, outdoor blues festivals became more common, and more nightclubs and venues for blues emerged.

In the 1990s, blues performers explored a range of musical genres, as can be seen, for example, from the broad array of nominees of the yearly Blues Music Awards, previously named W. C. Handy Awards or of the Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary and Traditional Blues Album. Contemporary blues music is nurtured by several blues labels such as: Alligator Records, Ruf Records, Chess Records (MCA), Delmark Records, NorthernBlues Music, and Vanguard Records (Artemis Records). Some labels are famous for their rediscovering and remastering of blues rarities such as Arhoolie Records, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (heir of Folkways Records) and Yazoo Records (Shanachie Records).

Young blues artists today are exploring all aspects of the blues, from classic delta to more rock-oriented blues, artists born after 1970 such as Sean Costello, Shannon Curfman, Anthony Gomes, Shemekia Copeland, Jonny Lang, Corey Harris, Susan Tedeschi, Joe Bonamassa, Michelle Malone,The White Stripes, North Mississippi Allstars, Gracie B, Everlast, The Black Keys, Bob Log III, Jose P and Hillstomp developing their own styles. Memphis, Texas-based William Daniel McFalls, also known as "Blues Boy Willie" is a performer of traditional blues.

Blues musical styles, forms (12-bar blues), melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music. Prominent jazz, folk or rock performers, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and the White Stripes have performed significant blues recordings. The blues scale is often used in popular songs like Harold Arlen's "Blues in the Night", blues ballads like "Since I Fell for You" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", and even in orchestral works such as George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Concerto in F". Gershwin's second "Prelude" for solo piano is an interesting example of a classical blues, maintaining the form with academic strictness.

The blues scale is ubiquitous in modern popular music and informs many modal frames, especially the ladder of thirds used in rock music (e.g., in "A Hard Day's Night"). Blues forms are used in the theme to the televised Batman, teen idol Fabian's hit, "Turn Me Loose", country music star Jimmie Rodgers' music, and guitarist/vocalist Tracy Chapman's hit "Give Me One Reason".

R&B music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. Musically, spirituals were a descendant of New England choral traditions, and in particular of Isaac Watts's hymns, mixed with African rhythms and call-and-response forms. Spirituals or religious chants in the African-American community are much better documented than the "low-down" blues. Spiritual singing developed because African-American communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings, which were called camp meetings.

Early country bluesmen such as Skip James, Charley Patton, Georgia Tom Dorsey played country and urban blues and had influences from spiritual singing. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music. Gospel music developed in the 1930s, with the Golden Gate Quartet. In the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown used gospel and blues music elements. In the 1960s and 1970s, gospel and blues were these merged in soul blues music. Funk music of the 1970s was influenced by soul; funk can be seen as an antecedent of hip-hop and contemporary R&B.

Before World War II, the boundaries between blues and jazz were less clear. Usually jazz had harmonic structures stemming from brass bands, whereas blues had blues forms such as the 12-bar blues. However, the jump blues of the 1940s mixed both styles. After WWII, blues had a substantial influence on jazz. Bebop classics, such as Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time", used the blues form with the pentatonic scale and blue notes. Bebop marked a major shift in the role of jazz, from a popular style of music for dancing, to a "high-art," less-accessible, cerebral "musician's music". The audience for both blues and jazz split, and the border between blues and jazz became more defined. Artists straddling the boundary between jazz and blues are categorized into the jazz blues sub-genre.

The blues' twelve-bar structure and the blues scale was a major influence on rock and roll music. Rock and roll has been called "blues with a back beat"; Carl Perkins called rockabilly "blues with a country beat". Rockabillies were also said to be twelve-bar blues played with a bluegrass beat. "Hound Dog", with its unmodified twelve-bar structure (in both harmony and lyrics) and a melody centered on flatted third of the tonic (and flatted seventh of the subdominant), is a blues song transformed into a rock and roll song. Jerry Lee Lewis's style of rock and roll was heavily influenced by the blues and its derivative boogie woogie. His style of music was not exactly rockabilly but it has been often called real rock and roll (this is a label he shares with several African American rock and roll performers).

Early country music was infused with the blues. Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe and Hank Williams have all described themselves as blues singers and their music has a blues feel that is different to the country pop of Eddy Arnold. A lot of the 1970s-era "outlaw" country music by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings also borrowed from the blues. When Jerry Lee Lewis returned to country after the decline of 1950s style rock and roll, he sang his country with a blues feel and often included blues standards on his albums. Many early rock and roll songs are based on blues: "That's All Right Mama", "Johnny B. Goode", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On", "Shake, Rattle, and Roll", and "Long Tall Sally". The early African American rock musicians retained the sexual themes and innuendos of blues music: "Got a gal named Sue, knows just what to do" ("Tutti Frutti", Little Richard) or "See the girl with the red dress on, She can do the Birdland all night long" ("What'd I Say", Ray Charles).

Like jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal music, hip hop music, reggae, country music, and pop music, blues has been accused of being the "devil's music" and of inciting violence and other poor behavior. In the early 20th century, the blues was considered disreputable, especially as white audiences began listening to the blues during the 1920s. In the early twentieth century, W.C. Handy was the first to popularize blues-influenced music among non-black Americans.

During the blues revival of the 1960s and '70s, acoustic blues artist Taj Mahal and legendary Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins wrote and performed music that figured prominently in the popularly and critically acclaimed film Sounder (1972). The film earned Mahal a Grammy nomination for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture and a BAFTA nomination. Almost 30 years later, Mahal wrote blues for, and performed a banjo composition, claw-hammer style, in the 2001 movie release "Songcatcher," which focused on the story of the preservation of the roots music of Appalachia.

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Ellen McIlwaine

The album cover of We the People.

Ellen McIlwaine (born October 1, 1945) is a singer-songwriter and musician best known for her career as a slide guitarist.

Born in Nashville, McIlwaine was adopted by missionaries and raised in Kobe, Japan giving her exposure to multiple languages and cultures. She attended Canadian Academy, graduating in 1963. Her first experience in music was playing the Ray Charles, Fats Domino and Professor Longhair songs on piano that she heard on Japanese radio. On moving to the US she bought a guitar, beginning a stage career in Atlanta, Georgia in the mid-1960s.

In 1966 she had a stint in New York City's Greenwich Village where she opened every night at the Cafe Au Go Go, playing with a young Jimi Hendrix, and opening for such Blues greats as Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Williams. She returned to Atlanta to form the band Fear Itself, a psychedelic blues-rock band.

After recording one album with Fear Itself, McIlwaine went solo, recording two highly-regarded albums for Polydor, Honky Tonk Angel (1972) and We the People (1973), the latter featuring a hit single, "I Don't Want to Play". Those albums, and most of her work since, have featured McIlwaine's innovative approach to acoustic slide guitar.

As a female vocalist who is known more for her acoustic guitar, her music tends to be classified in the folk sections of record stores, despite her strong roots in blues, soul and rock music and her cover versions of songs by artists such as Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and Browning Bryant. She has also recorded several covers of songs by Jimi Hendrix: she wrote "Underground River" about him.

By the mid-1970s McIlwaine was highly regarded as a guitarist. Her songs "Sliding", "We the People" and "Losing You" were included on the best-selling all-star various artists compilation The Guitar Album.

McIlwaine's critically acclaimed album The Real Ellen McIlwaine, recorded in Montreal in 1975 won the NAIRD Indie Award. A 1982 project, Everybody Needs It, was also very successful, and featured bassist Jack Bruce, an artist who influenced her strongly and whose songs she has covered on several of her albums.

In 1980 she made her first tour of Australia after being spotted by Australian singer-guitarist Margret RoadKnight, who was one of the co-promoters of the tour. She returned to Australia in 1984 and during this tour was the last performer to appear at Sydney's famed Regent Theatre, an opulent picture palace that was later demolished.

Since moving to Canada in 1987 (first Toronto, later Alberta), Ellen recorded Looking for Troublefor Stony Plain Records, which has also re-released her early vinyl material on CD. Her next CD Women in (e)motion Festival/Ellen McIlwaine recorded live in Germany in 1999 and then Spontaneous Combustion featuring Taj Mahal are on the German Tradition und Moderne label.

In spite of debilitating arthritis in her hips, she undertook a third tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2003, which reunited her with Margret RoadKnight and the other Hony Tonk Angels, who had first brought her to Australia in 1980. McIlwaine has since successfully undergone hip replacement surgery.

Ellen has long favoured Guild brand guitars. She plays Guild S-250 and S-300D electric guitars; in earlier years, even when performing solo, she often played her electric guitar through an octave multiplier to emulate a bass player.

Her acoustic guitar is a venerable and well-travelled Guild instrument, purchased for her in New York by a friend in 1966. This guitar has a unique history, being a former Guild company "loaner" which was used by leading artists including Mississippi John Hurt and Richie Havens while Guild repaired their own guitars.

In 2006 Ellen started her own label Ellen McIlwaine Music and released Mystic Bridge featuring the genius of Indian Tabla Drummer Cassius Khan. They are joined by the Soprano Saxophone stylings of Linsey Wellman on three cuts including their rocking version of "Take Me to the River", and soulful Harmonium playing by Amika Kushwaha on the last cut "The Question", a poem by Christine Steele recited over Cassius Khan's beautiful vocal rendition of the ancient Urdu poem set to music, "Darbari Raag".

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Earl King

Earl King on stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 1997

Earl King (February 7, 1934 – April 17, 2003) was a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, most active in blues music. Being a composer of well known standards such as "Come On" (covered by Jimi Hendrix), and Professor Longhair's "Big Chief", he is considered to be one of the most important figures in New Orleans R&B music and beyond.

King was born with the name Earl Silas Johnson IV in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, a local piano player, died when King was still a baby, and he was brought up by his mother. With his mother, he started going to church at an early age. In his youth he sang gospel music, but took the advice of a friend to switch to blues to make a better living.

King started to play guitar at age 15. Soon he started entering talent contests at local clubs including the Dew Drop Inn. It was at one of those clubs where he met his idol Guitar Slim. King started imitating Slim, and his presence gave a big impact on his musical directions. In 1954, when Slim was injured in an automobile accident (right around the time Slim had the #1 R&B hit with "The Things That I Used To Do"), King was deputized to continue Slim's band tour, representing himself as Slim. After succeeding in this role, King became a regular at the Dew Drop Inn.

His first recording came in 1953. He released a 78 "Have you Gone Crazy b/w Begging At Your Mercy" on Savoy label as Earl Johnson. The following year, talent scout Johnny Vincent introduced King to Specialty label and he recorded some sides including "Mother's Love" which created a little stir locally. In 1955, King signed with Johnny Vincent's label, Ace. His first single from the label "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" become huge hit reaching #7 on the R&B chart. He continued to record during his stay at the label which lasted for 5 years, and during the time, he also he started writing songs for other artists such as Roland Stone and Jimmy Clanton.

In 1972, he was joined by Allen Toussaint and the Meters to record the album "Street Parade". Though Atlantic initially showed interest in releasing it, they eventually declined. The title cut "Street Parade" was released as a single from Kansu label at the time, but the rest had to wait till 1982 to see the light of the day when the album was finally released by Charly in UK.

During the 1970s, he recorded another album "That Good Old New Orleans Rock 'n Roll" which was released by Sonet in 1977. He also is on "New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976" album.

In the early 1980s, he met Hammond Scott, co-owner of Black Top Records and started to record for the label. The first album "Glazed", backed up by Roomful of Blues was released in 1986. Second Album "Sexual Telephathy" came in 1990. It featured Snooks Eaglin as a guest on 2 tracks, and also Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters backed him up on some tracks. His third from the label "Hard River To Cross" (1993) was backed by stalwarts such as George Porter, Jr., David Torkanowsky, and Herman V. Ernest, III, and probably the most solid effort among his Black Top releases. Though he sounds well on this release, his health slowly went downhill thereafter, and he did not record again before he died in 2003.

In fall of 2001, he was hospitalized for an illness during a tour to New Zealand, however, that did not stop him from performing. In December of the same year, he toured Japan, and he continued to perform off and on locally in New Orleans until his death.

He died on April 17, 2003, just a week before the New Orleans Jazz Fest. His funeral was held during the Fest period on April 30, and many musicians including Dr. John, Leo Nocentelli and Aaron Neville were in attendance. His Imperial recordings, which have been long out-of-print, were reissued on CD soon after he died. The June 2003 issue of a local music magazine OffBeat paid a tribute to King by doing special articles on him.

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Source : Wikipedia