CIBS News – April 2011

New Corporate Sponsor

The Central Iowa Blues Society is proud to have Summit Brewing as a sponsor along with Budweiser and Doll Distributing of Des Moines. Summit Brewing Company started in 1986 in St Paul MN and is the brainchild of founder Mark Stutrud. Nearly 25 years later, Summit Brewing Company has kept its roots close to home doing business in only about 12 states, but obtaining the status of being one of the top 20 craft breweries in the United States. (1) Producing a wide variety of styles of beer, Summit has recently received much acclaim for their flagship brand “Extra Pale Ale”. The brand that got the brewery off the ground is still winning awards across the country. In 2010 alone, this remarkable Pale Ale received a medal at the Great American Beer Festival, (its 3rd in 4 years) and received the gold medal at the World Beer Championships for “Best British Style Pale Ale”. Other recognizable brands in their portfolio include “Horizon Red Ale, India Pale Ale, Bohemian Style Pilsner, Great Northern Porter and Oatmeal Stout”. Summit also produces exceptional seasonal offerings, including; Maibock, Hefe Weizen, Oktoberfest and Winter Ale. Check out their brewery and array of products at www.summitbrewing.com. Look for Summit brands at the next CIBS event.

Deepest Sympathy

CIBS sends our deepest sympathy to CIBS member Linda Tweedy on the recent death of her mother.

Please keep Linda and her family in your thoughts and prayers as they go thru this most difficult time.

Short History of the Blues

This short history of the Blues was written (and written very well) by Jeanette Strong of the Southside Music Studio as part of a presentation for “Freight Train” Frank Strong to be made to the Ray’s Society at Drake University on Tuesday April 12, 2011. CIBS is happily sponsored Frank at this presentation.

The Blues were born in the North Mississippi Delta following the Civil War. African roots, field hollers, ballads, church music and rhythmic dance tunes called jump-ups mixed together. The music evolved into a call-and-response for a singer and his guitar. He would sing a line, and the guitar would answer.

The blues have strongly influenced almost all popular music including jazz, country, and rock and roll and continues to help shape music worldwide. From the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49, the blues headed north to Beale Street in Memphis. Most blues music is comprised of 12 bars (or measures) with a specific chord pattern (I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, IV, I, I).It employs ‘blues’ notes that flat the thirds, fifths and seventh degrees of the scale.

Bad luck and trouble are always present in the Blues, pressing upon unfortunate and down trodden poor souls, yearning to be free from life’s troubles. The Blues are the essence of the African-American laborer. This music is not very far removed from the field hollers and work songs of the slaves and sharecroppers. Many of the earliest blues musicians incorporated the blues into a wider repertoire that included traditional folk songs, vaudeville music, and minstrel tunes.

No single person invented the blues, but many people claimed to have discovered the genre. The blues form was first popularized about 1911 by the black composer W.C. Handy (1873- 1958) who insisted that he first heard the blues in 1903 from an itinerant street guitarist at a train station in Tutwiler, Mississippi. Handy published “Memphis Blues” in 1912 and “St. Louis Blues” in 1914. Instrumental blues had been recorded as early as 1913. Mamie Smith recorded the first vocal blues song, “Crazy Blues” in 1920. The Blues influence on jazz brought it into the mainstream and made possible the records of blues singers like Bessie Smith and later, in the thirties, Billie Holiday. Well-known blues pioneers from the 1920s such as Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson usually performed solo with just a guitar. Occasionally they teamed up with one or more fellow bluesmen to perform in the plantation camps, rural juke joints, and rambling shacks of the Deep South. Blues bands may have evolved from early jazz bands, gospel choirs and jug bands. Jug band music was popular in the South until the 1930s. Early jug bands variously featured jugs, guitars, mandolins, banjos, kazoos, stringed basses, harmonicas, fiddles, washboards and other everyday appliances converted into crude instruments.

Many of Memphis’ best Blues artists left the city in the twenties when Mayor “Boss” Crump shut down Beale Street to stop the prostitution, gambling, and cocaine trades, effectively eliminating musicians’ and entertainers’ jobs. The Blues migrated to Chicago, where it became electrified by Chicago bluesmen such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. They were the first to electrify the blues and add drums and piano in the late 1940s. In northern cities like Chicago and Detroit, during the later forties and early fifties, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James played what was basically Mississippi Delta blues, backed by bass, drums, piano and occasionally harmonica, and began scoring national hits with blues songs.

When the country blues moved to the cities and other locales, it took on various regional characteristics. At about the same time, T-Bone Walker in Houston and B.B. King in Memphis were pioneering a style of guitar playing that combined jazz technique with the blues tonality and repertoire. B.B. King invented the concept of lead guitar, now standard in today’s Rock bands. Leadbelly, and Son House, left Country Blues to create the sounds most of us think of today as traditional unamplified Blues.

Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, Wyonnie Harris, and Big Mama Thorton wrote and preformed the songs that would later make a young Elvis Presley famous. In the early nineteen-sixties, the urban bluesmen were “discovered” by young white American and European musicians. Many of these blues-based bands like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Canned Heat, and Fleetwood Mac, brought the blues to young white audiences, something the black blues artists had been unable to do in America except through white cross-over covers of black rhythm and blues songs.

Since the sixties, rock has undergone several blues revivals. Some rock guitarists, such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen have used the blues as a foundation for offshoot styles. The originators like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and B.B. King (and their heirs Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Eric Clapton) continued to make music in the blues tradition. The latest generation of blues players like Robert Cray and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan have drawn a new generation listeners to the blues.

Today there are many different shades of the blues. Forms include:

  • Traditional country blues – A general term that describes the rural blues of theMississippi Delta, Piedmont and other rural locales.
  • Jump blues – A danceable mix of swing and blues and a precursor to R&B. Jump blueswas pioneered by Louis Jordan.
  • Boogie-woogie – A piano-based blues popularized by Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson, and derived from barrelhouse and ragtime.
  • Chicago blues – Delta blues electrified.
  • Cool blues- A sophisticated piano-based form that owes much to jazz.
  • West Coast blues – Popularized mainly by Texas musicians who moved to California,heavily influenced by the swing beat.

Adapted from:  http://www.history-of-rock.com/blues.htm and http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=18724