Early Acoustic Blues: 2 Styles, Famous Representatives and Immortal Songs

Acoustic blues can be traced back to the dawn of American history, witnessing a spectacular evolution during the 19th and 20th centuries and blessing the entire world with immortal exponents and masterpieces that are actual even today. Acoustic blues is often seen by specialists as an umbrella – concept comprising different styles and figures and today we will take a trip back on history lane and explore two styles and their highlights on and off stage. Of course, if we are to talk about early acoustic blues, we cannot overlook the year 1911, the moment blues as music genre was about to be forever changed by Robert Johnson who would later become one (if not the most) influential blues singer and guitarist in the history of the genre. Holding this memory in our hearts, let’s see two early acoustic blues styles and the artists whose legacy is still strong and breathtaking even today.

Acoustic Memphis Blues

For the untrained blues fan, making perfect distinctions between acoustic country blues, Memphis blues, Delta blues and so on could be quite difficult, as they all evolved together and from one another and if we could talk to somebody living the glorious era of the 20′ and 30′ we could ask them to relate first – hand the changes and the developments of these early acoustic blues styles imposed on themselves and on blues later on in history, but unfortunately, we can only rely on historical documentations. Acoustic Memphis Blues brought two major changes in the subsequent life of blues, namely it propelled the jug music bands and it let lead guitarists in bands to show off with their own solo skills and rhythm works, an influence that is common today in all blues (and not only) bands. Acoustic Memphis Blues owes its fame today to artist Walter E. “Furry” Lewis, a true virtuoso and a singer who not only contributed to making the history of blues, but also setting his own place in it by leaving us with immortal masterpieces and some stage performances that will never be soon forgotten (two memorable openings for Rolling Stones). One of the greatest representatives of this genre are Furry Lewis, Memphis Minnie, Gus Cannon and many more. Songs like Frankie Jean, Less Than a Man or Goin’ Back (To Memphis, TN) are the era’s highlights and it would be a pity to be overlooked by true blues fans.

Dirty Blues

You may raise a brow reading this, but dirty blues, as debated as it was back in the day, managed to shape the genre as we know it and history proved its worth when this early acoustic blues style was revived in the 60′ together with others. This style revolved around double meanings, puns and flirtatious suggestions on sexual matters without falling into pure vulgarity. It played well with metaphor and some taboo topics which might have upset the traditionalists used to the “love and lamentations” themes normally found in blues, but which made it through time, as their influence on other genres, such as modern rock and blues. And those who say that Georgia Grind belonging to Louis Armstrong isn’t a classic, they should also listen to Chick Willis‘s Stoop Down Baby Let Your Daddy See or the albums of Bull Moon Jackson, a representative figure of this style.

Early acoustic blues gathers a lot of other historically important styles and famous figures which definitely influenced music and musicians as we know them today: Piedmont Blues, Pre-War Blues, Regional Blues are only a few of these styles with distinctive traits, artists, albums and tunes among others, while icons of acoustic blues, such as Blind Boy Fuller, Sleepy John Estes or Jae Sinnett should be always seen as timeless inspiration.

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