If you haven’t already realized that this is a second installment, you may want to go back and read the first part, which you can find….here!
I left off with the emergence of electric blues and Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. A rather infamous Muddy Waters tour in England, during which he played loud, crass Chicago style blues, is said to have influenced artists like Cyril Davies and sparking the British Invasion a few years later.
During the 1960s and ’70s Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Soul were all the rage and the traditional blues singers needed to find new ways to stay on the charts. B.B. King does this with his song “To Know You is to Love You”.
Around this time a few names start emerging that we would usually attribute to rock music. Do Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana ring any bells? Jimi Hendrix made amazing use of distortion in his music and his psychedelic rock branched out into more unorthodox styles of blues. Carlos Santana lent a Latin flair to his blues, again creating a unique twist on the blues genre.
The fusion of blues, country and jazz, known as Tulsa Sound, was popularized in the 1970s by artists such as J.J. Cale. With a similar sound and structure, Texas rock-blues was carried into the spot light by artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and ZZ Top in the 1980s.
Beginning in the 1990s and up through the present, there have been multitudes of experiments with the genre, bending, twisting and transforming it in ways never before thought of. In recent years, there has been a trend toward a more classic style of blues, rather than the flashier styles of ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin. Grady Champion and Susan Tedeschi are excellent examples of this.
There has also been a resurgence of venues dedicated to all that is blues and jazz. Cincinnati has its very own jazz club called The Blue Wisp. Classy sounding, huh? And there are a multitude of blues festivals all over the world. A notable one in this region is the Chicago Underground Blues Experience.
In all of this research, the one thing that I have learned is that there is no one definition of blues. It is something different to everyone who plays and hears it. To me, blues is a slow, burning rhythm that makes me move. To others, it may be a fast song that expresses anger or hurt about some life situation. But the one overarching theme is perhaps the simplest of all; that of music. No matter the style, rhythm or genre, music is the one thing that every human being on Earth has in common. It is a common thread that binds us all. And whether you like rap, blue grass or soul, you are never alone.