March 10, 2017
Led by the enigmatic Will Shade, the Memphis Jug band was an ever-evolving collective sporting different, talent-packed lineups for every gig and every recording session. The group was on hand for the very first commercial recording session in Memphis, TN, and went on to record over 100 sides for Victor, Champion, and Okeh Records in their heyday.
Guitars, fiddles, kazoos, washtub bass, and ceramic jugs laid the foundation of their unique sound, but what drew the crowds and sold the records were their well-crafted songs full of witty hooks and choreographed call-and-response sections.
The Memphis Jug Band would often record under different aliases. Sometimes album cuts were credited to individulal members of the band - Will Shade, Hattie Hart, and Memphis Minnie. The band recorded gospel songs under an entirely different moniker - The Memphis Sanctified Singers.
The Memphis Jug Band popularized the jug band format, which evolved into the blues combo that is the basis for most popular music today.
February 23, 2017
We continue the series with the world’s first international blues superstar, Alberta Hunter.
Alberta Hunter was a singular talent. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, she began her professional singing career at age 11. By her late twenties, she’d fronted orchestras led by King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, and written "Down Hearted Blues", a massive hit for Bessie Smith.
In the height of Jim Crow, and years before women in America had secured the right to vote, Alberta Hunter became the world’s first blues superstar by taking her talents to Paris and London, where she was received and revered as nothing less than musical royalty.
February 1, 2017
We begin this series with the first artist to be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Robert Johnson - King of the Delta Blues.
Johnson was hailed as a genius by those that knew him. His style and technique were so ahead of his time that almost a century later, his recordings still astonish listeners. His list of devotees include rock n roll royalty: Keith Richards, Eric Claption, and Bob Dylan, to name just a few.