Stormy Monday – T-Bone Walker
Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker was not just an exceptional guitarist and singer, he brought d theatrics to his performances. For example, he would play his electric guitar with teeth, behind his back or while doing splits without missing a stroke. His virtuosity and showmanship Influenced artists like Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix. His most famous composition is Stormy Monday Blues.
John the Revelator– Blind Willie Johnson
Blind Willie Johnson decided to become a preacher at the age of five. He made himself a cigar box guitar. Cigar box guitars were ofter played with a knife or glass or metal slide to mimic the sound of a Hawaiian guitar. He became a gospel blues musician. He played slide guitar as well as a fast, single note picking style. While he performed as a street preacher until his death, he also record 29 records. Some of these recordings featured his wife, Willie B. Harris. One of his recordings, “Dark Was the Night” is on the 12 inch golden phonograph record that was placed on the unmanned Voyager space probes. For all we know, this recording maybe why we haven’t been invaded by aliens yet. An example of Bline Willie Johnson’s storytelling gospel preaching style is “John the Revelator.”
Dust my broom – Elmore James (Elmore Brooks)
You can look at Elmore James as a cross of Robert Johnson and T-bone Walker. Traditional slide guitar blues played on an electric guitar or on a modified acoustic. Elmore was considered the King of the slide guitar. Elmore started his musical career at the age of 12 playing a one-stringed diddley bow. One of James most famous tunes, The Sky is Crying, was covered by Stevie Ray Vaughn. Dust my Broom, however, is the tune most blue fans will recognize from its screaming slide guitar intro.
Black Betty was recorded in 1933 by John and Alan Lomax for the Archive of American Folk Song project of the Library of Congress. The recording featured James “Iron Head” Baker – who was serving a 99-year sentence as a habitual criminal – and two other prisoners. Black Betty is an example a Work Song sung by laborers in the fields or by prisonors on road crews. Black Betty follows the African Call and Response pattern featuring interaction between the song’s leader and the audience. This style is also common in gospel music and the blues. There is no agreement over just what “Black Betty” refers. Some say it was a whisky bottle, a musket, a prison transfer wagon or a woman. According to “Iron Head” Baker, however, Black Betty was the whip prison guards sometimes used to punish prisoners.
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out Bessie Smith
Not all blues songs followed the traditional 12-bar format. For example, an extremely popular song record by Bessie Smith – the queen of the blues was an 8-bar, ragtime-inspired anthem. Although this song was written and performed before the Depression during a time when the economy seem to be flying high, Bessie Smith’s version was recorded in 1929 – 2 weeks before the Wall Street crash.
Everyday I have the Blues: Pinetop Sparks
Everyday I have the Blues has been recorded and recorded by artists as diverse as BB. King, Tony Bennet, Fleetwood Mac and Count Basie. One of the earliest versions of the song was recorded in 1935 by Pinetop Sparks and his brother Marion. I have only one picture here, but it works out, because they were twins. Pinetop uses a moaning falsetto voice to sing about a woman he did not intend to lose under any circumstance.
Love In Vain: Robert Johnson
Beside legends and stories told by blues artists who have since passed, most of what is known about Robert Johnson is inferred for recordings he made in 1936 and 1937. Twenty-nine songs that showcased his mastery of the guitar and wide range of emotions his voice was capable of producing. It is said that Robert sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play the guitar like no other. Robert Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27. Love in Vain was a song Robert Johnson wrote about a woman name Willie Mae Powell.