Blues Then and Now - The History of the Blues (Chapter 5, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 5

Boogie-woogie was in vogue again. Boogie pianist Pete Johnson recorded "Goin' Away Blues" on the Vocalion Label Blue Note 4, recorded "Chicago in Mind" by Albert Ammons. Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded "Boogie-Woogie" on Victor Records in 1938. Charlie Barnet's orchestra recorded "Scrub Me Marna with a. Boogie Beat" in 1940 on the Bluebird Label. Columbia Records released "Boogie-Woogie Conga" by Will Bradley in 1942 and Count Basie's "Basie.'s Boogie" in 1941 on the Okeh Label.

During the World War II years, boogie-woogie was still going strong. There was Freddie Slack's hit of "Cow Cow Boogie" with Ella Mae Morse. Will Bradley followed up with another hit with "Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar," and the immortal Andrew Sister's hit of "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy." Boogie-woogie was so widely accepted by the public that it became a standard feature of the blues. Helping to keep the blues alive were, 'Big Bill' Broonzy (William Lee Conley), John Lee (Sonny Boy) Williamson, Blind John Davis, 'Big Maceo' (Major Merriweather), 'Little Brother' Montgomery and Joe Turner.

When the decade of the 1930s began, Leroy Carr, a popular urban blues singer and pianist from Nashville, Tennessee with his partner guitarist Scrapper Blackwell made several hits on the Vocalion Label, they included, "How Long, How Long Blues," Midnight Hour Blues," "Hurry Down Sunshine" and "Prison Bound. Unfortunately, Leroy's career was cut short on April 28, 1935 when he died of cirrhosis of the liver. He was 30 years old.

His music was an inspiration to other blues singers that even after his death other artists were recording his songs and imitating his easy going melancholy style. St. Louis' pianist Walter Davis and Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) along with Roosevelt Sykes, 'Little Brother' Montgomery and Peetie Wheatstraw who refers to hirnself as being the 'High Sheriff from Hell' were among Leroy Carr's admirers.

In the beginning of 1930, a time when the nation was trying to recover from its financial disaster, the lyrics of the blues singer were cynical and contemptuous. They were expressing their feelings about the Depression and the conditions they had to endure because of it. Peetie Wheatstraw (William Bunch) from Ripley, Tennessee sang about gamblers, prostitutes and bootleggers as his hit on Vocalion Label, "Kidnapper's Blues" would indicate. He was a favorite among the black people because he was singing about their problems.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected as the 32" President of the United States, his "New Deal" policy was to provide an enormous measure of hope and inspiration for the people. Employment and relief became available through the many federal agencies that were organized to stabilize the recovery. On January 22, 1932, Congress established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) in make federal loans to banks in an effort to stimulate business.

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