Blues Books that inform and entertain

The blues are the heartbeat of rock and roll and a worldwide phenomenon. Musicians, scholars, and fans remain fascinated by the amazing number of blues guitar styles that have developed across the genre’s history, the soulfulness of blues musicians that communicates beyond the limitations of a specialized vernacular style, and the expressiveness of the lyrics.

Blues Books from Routledge

There are numerous books devoted to blues artists such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. At Routledge we have published a small selection of insightful and entertaining books for blues fans covering the Early Blues, Country Blues, St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blues, Electric Blues and the new generation of blues artists. Books such as Blues: The Basics, Broadcasting the Blues by Paul Oliver and Josh White, Society Blues by Elijah Wald provide the perfect introduction and overview to this fascinating story.

Broadcasting the Blues: Black Blues in the Segregation Era is based on Paul Oliver's award-winning radio broadcasts from the BBC that were created over several decades.

It traces the social history of the blues in America, from its birth in the rural South through the heyday of sound recordings. Noted blues scholar Paul Oliver draws on decades of research and personal interviews with performers--some of whom he "discovered" and recorded for the first time--to draw a picture of how the blues aesthetic developed, giving new insights into the role blues played in American society before racial integration.

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A gifted and charismatic entertainer, Josh White (1914-1969) was one of the best-known folk-blues artists of his day. In the early 1960s, one survey ranked him as America's third most popular male folksinger, surpassed only by Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.

He appeared on national television, performed at numerous college concerts and club dates, and released several dozen albums - all featuring his distinctive guitar style, supple voice and unique showmanship.

In this biography, Elijah Wald traces White's journey from the ""coloured"" side of Greenville, South Carolina, to the heights of Manhattan cafe society. He explores the complexities of White's music, his struggles with discrimination and stereotypes, his political involvements, and his sometimes raucous personal life

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Acoustic Blues Guitar Styles is an introduction to fingerstyle acoustic blues guitar, the style made popular by Robert Johnson, Bill Broonzy, and Mance Lipscomb. Following the success of the popular Acoustic Guitar Styles, Larry Sandberg’s Acoustic Blues Guitar Styles is an instructional book geared towards the intermediate guitar player, not only to teach fingerstyle blues technique, but also to approach the music creatively and with feeling and rhythm

Part One teaches you the preliminaries, such as reading a chord chart and working out a 12-bar blues in different keys. Part Two teaches you touch, timing, and basic fingerpicking technique. Part Three teaches you how to play stylistically, with lessons on how to incorporate bends, vibrato, alternating bassnotes, and rhythmic variations into your playing. All musical exercises are presented in both standard notation and tablature, and are supported by audio tracks.

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Whenever you hear the prevalent wailing blues harmonica in commercials, film soundtracks or at a blues club, you are experiencing the legacy of the master harmonica player, Little Walter.

Immensely popular in his lifetime, Little Walter had fourteen Top 10 hits on the R&B charts, and he was also the first Chicago blues musician to play at the Apollo. Ray Charles and B.B. King, great blues artists in their own right, were honored to sit in with his band. However, at the age of 37, he lay in a pauper's grave in Chicago.

This book will tell the story of a man whose music, life and struggles continue to resonate to this day.

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Blues: The Basics gives a brief introduction to a century of the blues, ideal for fans and students who want to learn more. The book is organized chronologically, focusing on the major eras in blues’ growth and development.

Each chapter includes a timeline relating significant social and historical events to developments in the blues. The book concludes with lists of key recordings, books, and videos.

Blues: The Basics serves as an excellent introduction to the players, the music, and the styles that make blues an enduring and well-loved musical style.

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A Blues Bibliography remains the most authoritative and comprehensive reference for scholars and libraries specializing in the blues.

Published in 2007, this revised and enlarged 2nd edition contains material previously omitted from the first edition and the bibliography has been expanded to include works published since then.

In addition to biographical references, this work includes entries on the history and background of the blues, instruments, record labels, reference sources, regional variations and lyric transcriptions and musical analysis.

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How Britain got the Blues explores how, and why, the blues became a central component of English popular music in the 1960s. It is commonly known that many 'British invasion' rock bands were heavily influenced by Chicago and Delta blues styles. But how, exactly, did Britain get the blues?

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Talkin' to Myself: Blues Lyrics, 1921-1942 is a compendium of lyrics by the great blues recording artists of the classic blues era. It includes over 2000 songs, transcribed directly from the original recordings, making it by far the most comprehensive and accurate collection of blues lyrics available.

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