History of the Blues

The History of the Blues is a presentation based on the Blues component of the 2013 Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music, part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street project. It consists of:

A slide presentation featuring origins of blues music and audio/video clips of early bluesmen and women
A demonstration of the structure of the blues, both musically and lyrically
Performance of a blues medley to illustrate both similarities and differences of classic blues songs
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An interactive workshop to write a blues song with the audience

Early blues artists featured in this presentation 

  • Charley Patton (1891 – 1934)
  • Son House (1902 – 1988)
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893 – 1929)
  • Arthur “Blind” Blake (1890 – 1933)
  • Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck “Rice” Miller, 1899 – 1965)
  • Sylvester Weaver (1897 – 1960)
  • Joseph Lee “Big Joe” Williams (1903 – 1982)
  • Francis Hillman “Scrapper” Blackwell (1903 – 1962)
  • James “Kokomo” Arnold (1901 – 1968)
  • Robert Leroy Johnson (1911 – 1938)
  • Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White (1906 – 1977)
  • Big Bill Broonzy (1893 – 1958)
  • Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield, 1915 – 1983)
  • Chester Arthur “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett (1910 -1976)
  • Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker (1910 – 1975)
  • “Little Walter” Jacobs (1930 – 1968)
  • Otis Spann (1930 – 1970)
  • John Lee Hooker (1917 – 2001)
  • Riley “B.B.” King (1925 – 2015)
  • Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (1886-1939)
  • Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
  • Mamie Smith (1883-1946)
  • Ida Cox (1896-1967)
  • Big Mama Thornton (1926 – 1984)

History of the Blues presentation

I  delivered my History of the Blues presentation on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at the Music District, 639 S College Ave, Fort Collins, CO. Click the button for an overview.

Music District event info

From all of us at the Music District, I wanted to thank you so much for your presentation on the History of the Blues this week. Participants seemed to have had a wonderful time learning and listening to you speak on a topic about which you are clearly passionate.

Kebrina Chirdon

Educational Programs, The Music District

Blues History interview on South Dakota Public Radio

by Paul Dennis | 14:50

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