The Mississippi Delta gave birth to the blues.There is a long and complex musical history behind this genre. The blues was strongly influenced by the social changes of the nineteenth century.
Throughout the twentieth century, the genre kept branching out. It formed the basis of rock’n’roll. It’s impossible to imagine contemporary music without the blues.
Let’s take a whirlwind tour of the history of this genre.
The Beginnings of the Blues
“The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning.” – John Lee Hooker
Slavery was there at the roots of this genre. The blues developed from the musical traditions that African slaves brought to America.
It was based on two forms of music: spirituals and work songs. Both of these were developed by African American slaves and freedmen.
Spirituals were religious songs. They were based on Christian hymns and psalms, but these songs were performed in an entirely new way. African American congregations added polyphony,call-and-response, and other innovations to these hymns. The lyrics changed overtime as well. Using vocal harmony, these congregations made a musical genre that lasts to this day.
And what about work songs?
These a capella songs were created by slaves working in the fields. Work songs also featured a call-and-response and a drumbeat.
Drumming was a sophisticated form of communication in various African traditions. Slaves used it to pass on messages to each other. Eventually, they were banned from using drums or trumpets.
Country and City Blues
“People should hear the pure blues - the blues we used to have when we had no money.” – Muddy Waters
Country blues developed from these two musical genres throughout the 19th century. It was also influenced by the folk music of white European settlers.
This genre featured a solo singer and a piano or guitar. The songs centered on the performer’s struggles. Some of the lyrics had spiritual themes, while other songs focused on worldly topics.
After the Civil War, many African Americans relocated to the north of the US. The music spread along with them. By the end of the 19th century, the blues was loved all over the US.
During the 20th century, the blues split into different styles. Together, all of these styles are referred to as city blues. They were largely played in African American bars and clubs in the 40s and 50s.
The Blues at the Roots of Other Genres
“You hear a rock n' roll song. That's the blues. Somebody playing a guitar solo? They're playing the blues.” – Wynton Marsalis
Starting from the 1920s, rhythm n’ blues records became a staple in African American households.
Electric blues became well-loved in the late forties. This was also when saxophones became widely used by blues performers.
Starting from the 60s, the blues spread all over the world. Blues players inspired many other musicians to start making innovations. Rock n’ roll grew out of rhythm n’ blues.
Jazz and blues were never fully separate from each other. Many performers were outstanding in both genres.
The Kings and Queens of Blues
“You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life.” – Ma Rainey
The blues was always a highly emotive genre. The audience went in looking for something to connect to.
Solos are an important part of blues songs. But in the beginning, the goal of these solos wasn’t to show off the performer’s technical skills. The aim was to stir up emotions in the audience.
Improvisation was always welcome, as long as it added to the emotional effect of the music.
Who are the greatest names of the genre?
W. C. Handy was a music teacher and blues performer from the late 19th century. He copied down various blues songs performed by other musicians. He noted that these songs followed a 12-bar structure.
Ma Rainey is considered to be the mother of the blues. She performed at the turn of the 20th century. Her style has inspired blues performers ever since.
Bessie Smith and Lead Belly are also among the greats of the early blues period.
B. B. King is the best-known city blues performer. T-Bone Walker was another great name in the genre. He was a city blues performer who inspired the rock guitar sound.
But there are many other musical geniuses who deserve recognition. And the best way to get to know them is to just start enjoying the music.
"People all over the world have problems. And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die." – B. B. King
Today, blues has many different faces. It’s adored all around the world. In Australia, blues was pioneered by Paul Marks, among others, in the late fifties.
Blues performers honor their roots, but they also value innovation. Lovers of the genre know that this music will always adapt to the changing world. Like the Mississippi, the blues will never stop flowing.
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The 2019 Music Festival will be held on Saturday the 23rd of February from 12 noon til 8pm. Please stay tuned for another great line-up to be announced shortly.
On Sunday the 24th there will be a band (TBA) performing at the Otway Estate from 1pm-4pm. There is a $5 Cover charge to pay at the door, the Cellar Door will be open from 11am. There will be Light Lunches available so BYO Picnic Rug, but please Please NO BYO drinks.
This will be our eighth annual Festival, we are continuing our tradition of bringing you the best blues bands in the country at the Otways Tourist Park venue in Gellibrand. We have eight hours of non-stop Blues as well as good food, we will also have drinks from the Otway Estate Winery and Brewery. This is a ticketed event, entry is $30 for adults and $20 for under eighteens and concession holders. We look forward to seeing you there!
The 2017 Festival is fast approaching,
The line-up is: Dog Gone South, Blues Mountain , Blue Eyes Cry and John-Luke Shelley and High Speed Steel.
Saturday 25th Feb ..12noon-8pm Otways Tourist Park (Full Line-Up)
Saturday 25th Feb ..7.30pm til late Gellibrand River Hotel (Dirty Soul + Special Guest)
Sunday 26th Feb ..1pm-4pm Otway Estate (Blues Mountain) $10 entry
**early-bird tickets $35 include entry to Otways Tourist Park Saturday and Otway Estate on Sunday**
Blues Mountain won the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society (MBAS) Blues Challenge (Band) 2016 competition. They will represent the MBAS, along with other Australian Blues Clubs Challenge winners, in Memphis in January 2017 at the International Blues Challenge., well done guys.
This Festival will be our sixth annual Festival, we are continuing our tradition of bringing you the best blues bands in the country at the Otways Tourist Park venue in Gellibrand. We have eight hours of non-stop Blues as well as good food , and Otway Estate Winery and Brewery will be here again with handcrafted ciders and beers. This is a ticketed event, entry is $30 for adults and $10 for children (12-16yrs). Looking forward to seeing you there!
Please click here to purchase tickets.
5 Apps Every Blues Music Enthusiast Needs
Music apps are very handy and, when mixed with genre love, can be the best apps around.
The blues may not be your go-to music genre for app lovers—something about the blues evokes a certain vintage quality that eschews all modern technology for more retro outfits—but the truth is, the digital age has made loving the blues that much easier and that much more accessible.
For enthusiasts who really dig the history, rich sounds, and incredible performances of blues musicians, there are great options for discovering even more. From internet radio stations primed for blues only to a “blues trail” app that takes the listener down a historic journey, these are the five must-have apps for every person who says he loves the blues.
1. Blues Music Radio Stations
Discover your favorites and new hits with this music radio app that allows you to choose between different blues radio playlists to arrive at the one station that is absolutely perfect for you. With over 50 different subgenres of radio to choose—from American Road Radio to Bar Rockin’ Blues—you can sit back and let the radio stations pick the best tunes for you.
Available for iOs. Free.
The YouTube app may be an obvious go-to, but it’s breadth and width of music is as deep as the internet goes—and for blues lovers this is great news. From blues around the world to the latest ingénues, YouTube is hands down the best website (and app!) around for accessing free music. For vintage or lesser-known favorites, YouTube can be the only source for it, and with great tools like a virtual private network, it can be accessed anywhere in the world.
For customizing the app for blues, create your own playlists, like people’s videos, and follow users who post your favorites to create a personal experience with this mega platform. My advice is always to start with one of your favorite artists, like B. B. King or John Lee Hooker, and let the YouTube rabbit hole lead you down.
Available for iOS, Android. Free.
3. Mississippi Blues Trail
Mississippi Blue Trail is the app for the history buff who just can’t get enough blues tunes. Begin in the homeland of the genre and take a tour down memory lane with this app that will point out all the hotspots in Mississippi, USA. Perfect for a die-hard blues enthusiast or a casual alternative tripper, this app will lead you to markers along the timeline of the blues genre to hear both music and fun facts you’ve never encountered before.
You can create your own itinerary, chase down must-see markers, and discover the connections between your favorite artists and the places that created them. Funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more, this is one app that will expand your knowledge not just musically but culturally as well.
Available for iOS. Free.
4. Blues Music Radios
While Blues Music Radios app isn’t one of the free ones, it definitely delivers with the best, most curated blues playlists around and without all of the annoying ads that come with most internet radios. From delta blues to contemporary blues, you can select the subgenre of your liking and jam until your battery runs out of power. With an easy to use interface and plenty of options to choose from, this app is by far the best on the market for straight-up blues tunes with zero fuss.
Available for iOS. $5.99.
5. Blues Music Trivia
For blues lovers who are confident in their genre skills, I suggest downloading the Blues Music Trivia App to challenge your knowledge. With over 90 different trivia questions about the genre, this app can provide the perfect distraction on your commute to work or while you wait in line for your morning cup of joe. With obscure facts and folkloric tidbits, genre fans will love getting ahead with some of their blues-loving friends by testing them on subgenre history, famous artists, songs and more.
Available for iOS. $0.99.
Blues has a long history that leads all the way through cultural upheaval and ends with influencing almost every modern song you hear on the radio. So to get a little closer to the style that’s responsible for everyone from Leon Bridges to John Mayer, invest a little time and iCloud space to include these great apps into your every day.
About me: Cassie is an avid music lover with interest in everything from Czech dechovka folk music to European freetekno and is always on the search for the next great thing. From blogging to spending hours finding the coolest music festivals around—she hopes to be off to the Blues & Blueberry Festival next—she loves to discover the best jams and apps for making listening and discovery easier than ever. She hopes you enjoy these five apps for listening to the blues; it’s one of her most beloved genres!
Website : www.culturecoverage.com
By popular demand, Otways Tourist Park again hosted the 5th Annual Blues & Blueberry Festival on the 27th of February 2016, The Market Day took place on the 28th.
What a weekend we had. A big thank you to everybody who came, the bands which were absolutely fantastic, Hamish and Kelly from the Otway Estate Winery for helping everyone stay hydrated, Kim and the girls from the Otways Tourist Parks Bistro for the great food, and everyone that helped make this years festival such a success.
Keep an eye out on the Blues & Blueberry Web Site and Facebook Page for details of next years festival.
Why not plan to make a weekend of it next year? Book your accommodation at the Otways Tourist Park, get in early!
Here are some packages for those making last minute plans to join in the fun @ The Gellibrand River Blues & Blueberry Festival this weekend :)
Otway Estate will be at the festival again this year and they want to let you all know you can go to Otway Estate and enjoy some more blues music on Sunday 28th
By popular demand, Otways Tourist Park will again host the 5th Annual Blues & Blueberry Festival on the 27th of February 2016, from 12.00 noon to 8.00 pm.
Again, there will be a great music line-up as well as the Otway Estate Winery & Brewery mobile bar, food stalls and hot and cold beverages. For those people who have attended before, we can guarantee another memorable day and for those first timers, we look forward to having you here to experience a great day.
Keep an eye out here for upcoming event details.
Why not make a weekend of it? See the Otways Tourist Park Web Page, or click on the accommodation link on this website to book, be sure to get in early!
Just so you can pencil it in way in advance, the 2016 Gellibrand River Blues and Blueberry Festival will be held on Saturday the 27th of February, we are looking forward to seeing you there!
Add this to your bookmarks for all the latest on the upcoming festival and all the fun from the previous year :)