Blues heroes | Junior Wells

“As a boy I was listening to Sonny Williamson records and I would close my eyes and visualize myself playing the harp.”

– Junior Wells

jr wells002

Photo by Brett Littlehales

One of the best-loved harp players in Chicago blues was Junior Wells. He took inspiration from the top living harmonica players and brought a passion and fire that was all his own.

Born and raised in West Memphis Arkansas, Wells learned from local blues hero Junior Parker. He was a skillful harmonica player by the time he was seven.

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Sidemen – The Road to Glory

Sideman (n) — a supporting musician in a band or group

Sometime earlier this year I saw a Facebook post from my friend Ross Woods that really grabbed my attention.

It was an advertisement for a new film, Sidemen – Long Road to Glory.

Sidemen - Long road to glory


I did a little research and found that ‘Sidemen’ was a film about 3 bluesmen who played ‘in the shadows’ of the big name band leaders Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

I was intrigued.

Who were these men?

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Fancy Footwork | Dancin’ the blues

Guest post by Greg Dyke

As a dancer (in the blues partner dance scene), trying to understand blues music can be challenging. The variety is huge and the set of music that gets DJed or is played by live bands is not always representative of this variety, or can include songs from various blues-adjacent genres.

Tallmusicguidetotheblueshe way blues music is often described and categorized has never seemed directly relevant to me as a dancer. If you take the All Music Guide to Blues, for example, various subgenres of blues are described by period, history, geographical area and instrumentation.

If you take the different blues idiom dances, many of them are also attached to a period and geographical area, and to specific types of music.

Knowing this history and how things relate *is* important if we want to develop a meaningful practice that is respectful of where the music and dance come from. [^1]

However, coming from a “I just want to have fun and dance nicely to whatever music is playing” perspective, there is just too much information to assimilate over a short period of time, and too little that is directly (or obviously) relevant to dancing.

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Why do we call it ‘The Blues’?

Guest post by Laura KoAn

“Blues tells a story. Every line of blues has a meaning.”

 John Lee Hooker


Where do we begin in plumbing the depths of the blues?

— With the first recording by an African American singer in 1890s? *

— With the first publications of blues sheet music in 1912? **

— With the chroniclers reporting about the appearance of blues music in Southern Texas and Deep South at the dawn of the 20th century? ***

— Among the plantations and cotton fields of the antebellum South?

— On the slave ships?

— Or in the musical tradition of mother Africa?

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