Blues music is rooted in African-American history and believed to have originated in the mid 1800s, when the sharecroppers sang back and forth to each other whilst working in the cotton fields of the Deep South. A lot of early material was never recorded but the first known demo was put down in 1909, this being W.C. Handy’s Memphis Blues. The recording inspired more and more African-American sharecroppers to leave their day jobs and take up life on the road as blues players, and in doing so spread the genre northwards. Recording when they could and performing for residents in the regions they visited, they inspired others with their music, and thus the various sub-genres of the Blues were born. The ‘Original’ or ‘Delta’ blues mainly consisted of one person singing and playing an instrument, usually guitar, and with a heavy emphasis on rhythm, whilst the completely different ‘New Orleans blues’ was largely piano based, and is considered more upbeat. The ‘Texas blues’, meanwhile, typically contained more swing than other blues genres, whilst the ‘West Coast blues’ had a very strong jazz piano and guitar influence. The genre has countless other forms, with many of these not necessarily based on regional style naming – for example ‘Rhythm and Blues’ and ‘Rock Blues’ were both born in the 1960s.
‘The blues is the roots; everything else is the fruits’- Willie Dixon