From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin- Before Bo Diddley Put The Rock In Rock And Roll-Way Before- A CD Review (Of Sorts)
Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Memphis Jug Band (with a special guest) performing their classic Kokomo.
Before The Blues; The Early American Black Music Scene –Classic Recordings from the 1920s and 1930s, Volume Two, various artists, Yazoo Records, 1996
Recently in reviewing a Masters Of Blues compilation composes of many of the greats from the R&B era like Ruth Brown, Louis Jordan, and Llyod Price, the era just before my generation of ‘68s childhood mid-1950s great rock and roll jail breakout I posed the question of who, or what Bo, Diddley (or your favorite for the honor) listening to before he put the rock in rock and roll. Today I take that same notion and step back one more generation to the great, mostly black, musical influences of the 1920s and 1930s. And pose that same question. Who did Big Joe Turner have his ear turned to when he put the rhythm into R&B.
This Jazz Age, this first serious generation of record buyers and radio listeners, was filled with all kind of wanna-bes searching for that right sound that would carry them to success. Needless to say the music had to reach down to those who could not afford concerts, musical halls or the Paul Whitman Band at the country club. So the music had to reach anyway it could (most interestingly in the primitive instruments, and great sound, of the various jug and sheik bands of the era) those hard-working five and one half sweat- shop workers, those hot Delta sun cotton plantation workers, and the others seeking refuge on a Saturday at the local juke joint, the local barn dance or the local lodge hall rented out for the occasion.
And the music had to touch that religious chord too, because sure as hell come Sunday morning, drunk or sober, there was payment due for Saturday nights brawls, fist fights, deep sea diving, etc. Repent sinner. So the two strands had to mesh, barrelhouse and storefront church. And the selections here from Frank Stokes, Eck Robertson, the Memphis Jug Band. Charley Patton, Blind Willie Johnson give great examples of those two strands. And you can feel that first blush wave forming that would, after World War II, get electrified, get jumped up, and get R&Bed (ouch). Then, of course, comes you know what. And if you don’t just think Bo.
Labels: memphis jug band