The Delta Blues, A Little History
Delta Blues is one of the earliest known blues styles. It originally hails from the Mississippi Delta and is considered a regional variation of the country blues. The guitar and harmonica are his dominant instruments; the slide guitar is a feature of the style. Delta Blues singing styles range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.
While Delta Blues certainly existed in one form or another in the early 20th century, it was first recorded in the late 1920s when record labels opened up the potential African American market for “race records.”
The major labels produced the first recordings, which mostly consisted of a person singing and playing an instrument. However, a group of musicians participated more frequently in live performances. The current belief is that Freddie Spruell is the first Delta Blues artist to be featured; His “Milk Cow Blues” was recorded in Chicago in June 1926.
Record label talent scouts made some of the first recordings on excursions to the south, and some artists were invited on trips to rescue cities in the north. According to Dixon and Godrich, Tommy Johnson and Ishmon Bracey were established by Victor on his second stopover to the company in Memphis in 1928.
Robert Wilkins was logged by Victor in Memphis in 1928 and Big Joe Williams and Garfield Akers from Brunswick, also in Memphis, in 1929.
Son House was first recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin, in 1930 for Paramount Records. Charley Patton also recorded for Paramount at Grafton in June 1929 and May 1930.
In January and February 1934 he also traveled to New York to record sessions. Many other artists were recorded during this time.
Later, the first delta blues (as well as other genres) were recorded by John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax, who toured the recording music performed and sung by humans from the southern United States. Generally to establish the canon of the genres that we know today as Americans, His thousands of recordings are now at the Smithsonian Institution.
According to Dixon and Godrich and Leadbitter and Slaven, Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress researchers did not admit Delta blues men or women until 1941 when they heard Son House and Willie Brown near Cormorant Lake, Mississippi and Muddy Waters in Stovall, Mississip
However, this claim was rejected when John and Alan Lomax recorded Bukka White in 1939, Lead Belly in 1933, and possibly others.
Many Delta blues artists like Big Joe Williams moved to Detroit and Chicago and created a style of urban blues influenced by pop. This was superseded by the new Chicago blues sound in the early 1950s, developed by Delta Blues musicians Muddy Waters, Howlin ‘Wolf, and Little Walter, using Delta-influenced sound, but with amplified instruments.
Delta Blues was also a source of inspiration for the creation of British skiffle music, which eventually evolved into the pervasive British bands while also influencing British blues, giving rise to hard rock and heavy metal.