Blues by the Decade
Blues was a small niche in the recording industry at its inception. Record Labels such as Sun, Chess, Stax, Atlantic and Vanguard helped blues to gain wider acceptance by popularizing blues, R&B, and soul artists. Today labels such as Rounder, Blind Pig, Delmark and Alligator promote national and regional blues artists of the modern blues revival.
Many blues enthusiasts heard their first blues tunes from a rock album, and this is generally credited as helping to revive the genre (considered an "on-ramp" to the blues). A lot of these listeners find it satisfying to go back and listen to the original blues recordings that American and British rock artists based their style upon. Below is a partial list of blues musicians who have made notable contributions, sorted by decade.
The early phase of blues includes formative players and music some would call primitive. These are foundational players and need to be heard to fully appreciate the evolution of the blues.
The period between the world wars brought about a surge in blues music popularity, and was influenced by other emerging styles from New Orleans. These are artists from outside the delta blues guitar tradition who represent that influence in the development of blues music:
The delta guitar blues which had been filtering into the big cities was first amplified. The recording industry took notice and the blues music which we think of as typical today began to take shape.
Further diversification of the blues genre was taking place. All of those emerging forms gained in popularity, and radio shows such as King Biscuit Time took hold. People moved to the cities for the jobs available in wartime production.
Some of the iconic blues artists most known today were starting to gain influence:
This period saw the beginning of the modern form of blues as we know it today. It included some measure of success for mainstream blues artists and also for crossover and R&B musicians such as Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley. Blues artists were starting to become better known during this period:
1960s - Modern Blues
While America became infatuated with cover versions of blues songs made palatable for a mass audience by American and British rock bands, the great blues artists of the modern era were honing their craft. Some of the blues artists that we revere today were given a long overdue measure of success, while hard rock blues acts such as Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan followed in their footsteps.
The Blues is an art form that continues to evolve. There is an increasingly diverse and talented group of blues musicians coming on the scene today. Unfortunately, they drawing smaller audiences. There are an unprecedented number of very talented blues artists at the local level, no matter where you live. We encourage you to support your local and regional blues musicians by buying their CDs and attending their concerts.
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