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Author Topic: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology  (Read 801 times)

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Offline Annabel

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Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« on: August 17, 2017, 12:01:13 PM »
Greetings!

Does anyone know of a chronology of country blues guitarists that shows who influenced whom, etc.? I did some googling but wasn't able to find anything.

Thanks,
Annabel

Offline oddenda

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 08:07:31 PM »
Annabel -

          I'm afraid that your question falls into the same category as Abbott & Costello's "Who's on first"! An amusing, but enjoyable act of no consequence.

Peter B.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 08:34:54 PM »
Annabelle: You could look through the various sources of biographical information about individual musicians to see if there is anything of relevance.

Given Robert Johnson's high profile, Yazoo released a couple of CDs:

https://www.amazon.com/Roots-Robert-Johnson-Various-Artists/dp/B000000G87

https://www.amazon.com/Back-Crossroads-Roots-Robert-Johnson/dp/B00011V81I

And Tom Feldman has a DVD:

http://www.guitarvideos.com/Products/guitar-workshop-instructional-dvds/roots-of-robert-johnson



The problem is that what you are looking for is a comprehensive "lines of transmission" (causal links and influences - "nodes and links") study and its results. It isn't that there wasn't musical information transmitted from one person to another, either directly or indirectly--that's a given--, it's just that in all but a minority of instances or cases, it's impossible to reconstruct with any certainty.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2017, 08:12:36 AM »
Actually I think a lot of this information is already available in liner notes and books, though not organized into a chart. I don't think its entirely impossible to put such a thing together, allowing for inevitable omissions and blank spaces. Even where declarations of exact lines of transmission are missing, there are often identifiable enough musical similarities to make a connection. There is also the clustering of similar stylistic tropes from towns, cities and states that make an overall charting possible, if not entirely accurate. I guess the question would be what purpose outside of an interesting academic exercise it would serve?
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Offline lindy

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2017, 09:36:02 AM »
I'm sure many, if not most of us, are familiar with this poster:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/124412008430510364 (click on the poster to get a slightly expanded image).

Carefully note the name, "**Highlights** of the Jazz Story."

The same could be done for the **Highlights** (not chronological influences) of the Country Blues Story. Efforts to explain the influences are best left to those willing to put the effort into researching and writing full-length books with complete sentences. That's why we appreciated Paul Oliver so much.

And, of course, it would have to include musicians whose main instruments were harp, piano, panpipes, etc.

Such a poster would be a great gift to fans of the music, as was the Jazz Story poster.

Lindy
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 09:40:30 AM by lindy »

Offline TenBrook

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 09:49:36 AM »
This chart/map doesn't include individual musicians but this type of approach could be leveraged for that purpose. I however am definitely not the one to attempt it.

Here's an article on the map:
https://www.fastcompany.com/3062814/this-interactive-map-of-music-genres-will-take-up-the-rest-of-your-da

And the map itself:
http://www.musicmap.info/

Offline Stuart

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 11:50:35 AM »
One could start by putting together a chart of "associations"--geographic, stylistic, personal contact, etc., between musicians and try to establish a timeline.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2017, 06:16:50 PM »
Hi all,
I think lines of transmission are most difficult to identify with any degree of certainty for musicians who resided in the same area.  Sometimes the first person to record an idea was simply the first person to have an opportunity to record the idea--the originator of the idea may have recorded it later or never gotten a chance to record it.  I believe lines of transmission are probably easiest to trace when someone who lives in an area where it is unlikely they ever saw or heard a particular recording artist in person plays that artist's idea after the artist recorded it.  I'm thinking of the relationship between say, Lightnin' Hopkins and Carolina Slim.  Because of where they each came from and when they each recorded, it is pretty clear that Carolina Slim got his ways of playing in dropped-D from Lightnin's recordings, and the alternative scenario, that Lightnin' got his style from Carolina Slim is altogether implausible.  It is rare that lines of transmission are so clear, though.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 09:30:13 AM by Johnm »

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2017, 08:02:29 AM »
Another factor that obfuscates the lines of transmission is the fact that many influential blues musicians were not recorded for various reasons despite their skill or regional renown.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2017, 09:28:07 AM »
That's a good point, Pete.  There is no way of knowing, for instance, what aspects of Robert Johnson's playing came from Ike Zinnerman.  It's much easier to say which parts of Robert Johnson's playing came from Scrapper Blackwell and Lonnie Johnson.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Annabel

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 01:12:31 AM »
Thanks so much for the responses, everyone!

I'm not so much interested in precise lines of transmission, definitely more of a "highlights" approach. Now that I have a decent handle on basic fingerpicking technique, I just thought it might be fun to organize my country blues guitar learning (via Grossman's Guitar Workshop videos) in more or less chronological order since I don't as yet have a strong preference for any one particular artist. For now I'm just jumping around according to my mood of the moment?so much great stuff!

Offline Stuart

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 08:16:08 AM »
Hi Annabelle: You could organize your "chart" using both the birth and death dates of the musician, the years active, and the release dates of the individual songs you are interested in (and others as well). Some musicians were only recorded in the 20s and 30s, others had a rediscovery period, and some never stopped recording. Most of the information is available either on the web or in book form.

Offline Annabel

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2017, 04:49:46 AM »
Good idea, Stuart. In case anyone else finds this useful, I serendipitously found this in the description of a YouTube Video of Charley Patton's Oh Death by user RagtimeDorianHenry:

EARLY COUNTRY BLUES
Alger "Texas" Alexander
Pink Anderson
Barbecue Bob Hicks
Scrapper Blackwell
Black Ace
Blind Blake
Big Bill Broonzy
Richard "Rabbit" Brown
Willie Brown
Bumble Bee Slim
Gus Cannon
Bo Carter
Sam Collins
Floyd Council
Ida Cox (1896-1967)
Gary Davis (1896-1972)
Sleepy John Estes (1904-1977)
Blind Boy Fuller (1908-1941)
Jesse Fuller (1896-1976)
Billy Garland (1918-1960)
Jazz Gillum (1904-1966)
Shirley Griffith (1908-1974)
Arvella Gray (1906-1980)
Smokey Hogg (1914-1960)
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)
Son House (c. 1902-1988)
Peg Leg Howell (1888-1966)
Alberta Hunter (1895-1984)
Mississippi John Hurt (c. 1893-1966)
Jim Jackson (c. 1884-1937)
John Jackson
Skip James (1902-1969)
Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945)
Lonnie Johnson (1894-1970)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Tommy Johnson (1896-1956)
Huddie William "Lead Belly" Ledbetter (c. 1889-1949)
Furry Lewis (1899-1981)
Mance Lipscomb (1895-1976)
Cripple Clarence Lofton (1887-1957)
Robert Lockwood, Jr. (1915-2006)
Mississippi Fred McDowell (1904-1972)
Brownie McGhee (1915-1996)
Blind Willie McTell (1901-1959)
The Memphis Jug Band
Big Maceo Merriweather (1905-1953)
Eugene "Buddy" Moss (c. 1914-1984)
Memphis Minnie (1897-1973)
Charlie Patton (1891-1934)
Piano Red (1911-1985)
Ma Rainey (1886-1939)
Tampa Red (1904-1981)
Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
Victoria Spivey (1908-1976)
Frank Stokes (c. 1888-1955)
Sonny Terry (1911-1986)
Henry Townsend (1909-2006)
Sippie Wallace (1898-1986)
Washboard Sam (1910-1966)
Curley Weaver (1906-1962)
Peetie Wheatstraw (1902-1941)
Bukka White (1909-1977)
Josh White (1914 or 1915-1969)
Sonny Boy Williamson I (1914-1948)

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2017, 04:39:09 PM »
Eagle and LeBlanc's recent reference book, Blues: A Regional Experience, groups all the artists by ecoregion, then by date of birth within each geographic area. Very interesting to browse it and see the geographic/chronlogic relationships. Of course for artists who learned a lot from records, the area they lived in wouldn't matter so much -- you would think! But the patterns you'll notice in this book suggest that geography trumped discography.

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: Country Blues Guitarist Chronology
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2017, 03:36:46 AM »
If someone has the time and talent, they should create something like the "rock family trees" for the various streams / genres / regions of Blues...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Rock-Family-Trees-Development/dp/0711904650/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504693974&sr=1-1&keywords=rock+family+trees

These "family trees" are great books that I still cherish and browse through regularly. I did once start a similar thing with "Sittin' On Top Of The World" at the center and then showing songs from various artists that were influenced or based on the song, etc... it gets very complicated very quickly. Only possible if you see it a true labour of love.
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

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