The White Rock Blues Society


Ted Gioia - Delta Blues

Ted Gioia (pronounced “joy ya”) has written an amazingly interesting and readable book about the origins of the blues, covering key song writers and entertainers along with the people who promoted and recorded them. To date I have yet to find a more enjoyable book on the subject. He covers the history in fine detail but it reads like a novel. He also offers a list of 100 songs that blues fans should hear to get a broad perspective of the blues talent that has come out of the Mississippi delta. A pet project of mine over the last couple of weeks was to create an iTunes play list on my iPod of these songs. I found over 50 of the tunes in my cd collection and had to track down the rest on line. What a journey! Ted’s book has allowed me to discover dozens of musicians I never would have found otherwise. Each one with a distinctive sound and tone with their guitar style and voice. In some cases, instead of just buying the song or two on the list I bought the entire album because the addition cost was not significant. Some of these old albums have 14 or more songs on them for $7.00. It goes without saying my blues collection has grown in recent weeks. One point I’d like to make, many of the songs I was hearing for the first time from the original artist were songs that bands from the 60’s and 70’s covered. Hearing the originals, along with learning about the lives of the creators made the music come alive all over again. As if I was hearing them for the first time again. Ted has done us all a great favor. He has made something new out of something old while reminding us of the origins of the music that has been the sound track of our generation. No small feat. Check out this You Tube link The blues grew out of the plantations and prisons, the swampy marshes and fertile cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. With original research and keen insights, Ted Gioia, the author of a landmark study of West Coast jazz and the critically acclaimed The History of Jazz brings to life the stirring music of the Delta, evoking the legendary figures who shaped its sound and ethos: Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and others. Tracing the history of the Delta blues from the field hollers and plantation music of the nineteenth century to the exploits of modern-day musicians in the Delta tradition, Delta Blues tells the full story of this timeless and unforgettable music. No cultural force boasts such humble origins or such world-conquering reverberations. In this evocative rags-to-riches tale, Gioia shows how the sounds of the Delta altered the course of popular music in America and in the world beyond.