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Rough Guide To Hillbilly Blues

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The "Rough Guide To Hillbilly Blues" offers a poignant insight into the profound entwining of racial boundaries in the music of the early 20th-century American South. Contrary to the stark racial segregation that record companies tried to impose, this compilation illuminates the fluidity and symbiosis between white 'hillbilly' and black 'race' music.

Historical Context:
At a time when record companies starkly classified music for 'black' or 'white' audiences, the true, on-ground musical reality was quite the opposite. Both races shared, borrowed, and celebrated a common musical lineage. Both expressed their respective woes, whether it be the struggle of black sharecroppers or the agonies of the white working class.

Key Highlights:

  1. Frank Hutchison: A white musician from West Virginia, Hutchison's music exemplified how intermixed the musical sensibilities were. His rendition of "Stackalee" is an epitome of the mutual influence of black and white musical traditions.
  2. Dick Justice's "Cocaine": His version showcases how white musicians would often cover songs by their black contemporaries, blurring racial boundaries.
  3. Larry Hensley and Clarence Greene: Both show the unmistakable influence of the great Blind Lemon Jefferson, indicating the ubiquity of musical exchange.
  4. Jimmie Rodgers: Known as the "Father Of Country Music", Rodgers embraced the blues, which in turn inspired black legends like Howlin' Wolf and Tommy Johnson.
  5. Cliff Carlisle: He merged yodeling with a Hawaiian slide guitar style, an example of the eclectic amalgamation of different musical styles.
  6. Dixon Brothers and Darby And Tarleton: Their music is a testament to how global influences, like the Hawaiian guitar craze, were absorbed into country and blues music.
  7. Charlie Poole and Doc Boggs: Their music, though less directly influenced by black musicians, included blues nuances, showing how deeply blues permeated the wider musical milieu.
  8. Parlour Guitar Tradition: Originating from European light classical pieces, this style moved down the social ladder in America, influencing blues traditions significantly.

Closing Thoughts:
The "Rough Guide To Hillbilly Blues" isn't just a collection of songs; it's a mirror reflecting the rich tapestry of American musical history. It challenges the perceived notions of racial music segregation, showcasing the intertwined roots of hillbilly and blues music. By emphasizing the mutual influences and shared musical expressions of black and white artists, this compilation dispels misconceptions and celebrates the unity of music.

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Vinyl Available to Ship From Ireland or for Click & Collect from:

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