On 29/07/06, steven c wrote:
> In 1916, the ODJB cut what are supposed to be the first recordings
> of jazz; note that one of the tunes was not only titled as a "blues"
> but was indeed a 12-bar blues tune. These records led in turn to
> a "jazz" fad (which included blues). One of the side effects of
> this development was the recording (by the smaller labels) of
> Black blues and jazz performers. When Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues"
> became popular and made money for the Okeh label, that firm
> decided to issue "race" records, aimed at Black customers
> (note that Okeh already had a profitable sideline of "ethnic"
> records using sides obtained via its Lindstrom connection...
> the Black demographic was viewed as another ethnic group!).
> Since the record companies, almost all based in New York
> City or recording there, had no idea where/how to find
> artists whose blues records would sell, they usually
> trusted people they knew...often salesmen based in
> the US south!
> The firms had started by recording "vaudeville blues"
> artists...usually female singers recounting "tales of
> woe" of how they had been abused by their menfolk, but
> still loved them anyway...backed up by small jazz bands
> or, occasionally, pianists. Around 1923-24, Paramount
> and Okeh first experimented with "country blues"...
> male blues singers self-accompanied on a stringed
> instrument (usually guitar, althouh mandolin and
> banjo are also known). This style came closer to
> reflecting the music that Black record buyers across
> the US south knew; when it sold well, the labels set
> out to issue more of it, but realized they knew
> absolutely nothing about whomever played it! They
> hired artists to record "by guess and by gosh"...and
> evidence of both competence and INcompetence survives
> on shellac!
> One effect of this, of course, was that blues music
> itself trended toward standardization. The blues
> artists performing in the "jook joints" knew they
> would be asked for recorded "hits"...and therefore
> made a point of learning those tunes off the records.
> Note that I could go on to recount how electric guitars
> replaced acoustic ones, and how "Big Bill" Broonzy
> introduced (AFAIK) the idea of using a small combo for
> backup instead of his own guitar...but this message
> is already getting unmanageably long...
I wonder why male blues singers also played the guitar, but female
singers just sang?
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