A reassessment of the Blues Revival in America, 1951-1970

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Blues Revival 60s, Post War Blues, Scott Wilkinson

Author: Scott Wilkinson
A Thesis Presented for the Master of Arts Degree University of Mississippi – August 1998

______________________________________________________

“This thesis attempts to demonstrate how white involvement affected the blues revival in America from 19s1 to 1970. Although the blues is a product of African-American culture, the music and its performers did not receive wider recognition until a coterie of white enthusiasts assisted in attracting a larger audience. In order to determine the impact that these revivalists had in interpreting the blues for other devotees, the thesis analyzes the movement from five different perspectives. First, the study of earlier revival movements where whites had taken interest in older black musical styles suggests that the blues revival is merely another example of a

recurring historical phenomenon unique to America. Second, the differing interpretations of the blues by the two largest groups of white enthusiasts involved in the movement demonstrates that their differing analyses of the music were not purely objective. Third, the recording of the blues before and during the revival reveals that whites have always been involved, to one degree or another, in the production of the music. Fourth, analysis of the discovery and

rediscovery of blues singers makes evident that the whites involved in such expeditions did not always find what they had expected. Fifth, an assessment of the venues at which discovered or

rediscovered bluesmen appeared shows that such environments had an effect on how they performed and how the audience reacted to them.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Al Kaatz says:

    ” the recording of the blues before and during the revival reveals that whites have always been involved, to one degree or another, in the production of the music.”

    Wait a minute — whites were involved in the production of the RECORDINGS, the production of the actual music, no. Blues music was created by and for black people. Whites recorded, marketed and sold it, but they did not create it.

    “…the study of earlier revival movements where whites had taken interest in older black musical styles suggests that the blues revival is merely another example of a recurring historical phenomenon unique to America.”

    Another way to describe this “recurring phenomena” would be that the white majority has always been a about 10-20 years behind in their musical tastes. White music fans were generally way behind the curve, getting into jazz and blues styles only after these genres had been abandoned by the majority of black people as being the outdated, old-fashioned music of an earlier generation. Thus we have white fans in love with blues in the late 1960s while most black people at that time preferred hearing soul music. Similarly, white folks became fans of traditional dixieland jazz after the fact, while black music lovers had already moved on to newer styles such as swing, boogie woogie, and R&B.

    • Scott D. Wilkinson (author) says:

      Did you read the entire thesis? Or just the abstract above?

      Regarding your first point, you’re really splitting hairs about the word “production.” Recording music is indeed part of the production process. Ask anyone in the music business. “Production” does not equal “creation.” Please do not conflate the two words. I do not make any claims that white people created blues.

      Regarding your second point, if you read my work in detail, you will see that we’re in agreement. I’m not sure why you seem to be taking issue with me on this one. Nevertheless, there have always been a minority of whites “ahead of the curve” when it comes to black music (e.g. Caucasians who went “slumming” in Harlem’s jazz clubs during the 1920s and 1930s, early country musician Jimmie Davis’s recordings with Louisiana blues guitarist Oscar Woods in 1932, etc.).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s