Gavin's Blues Heritage Tour
Riding Highway '61
April 16, 2010 01:22 PM PDT
I've reached the final destination on this trip - I'm in Chicago, the windy city.
This is a special place for me. Chicago blues is my favourite of all the blues styles.
In the 1960s, the south side of Chicago was the hub of blues. Artists like Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf were at the height of their powers and leading the scene.
The sound is urban, amplified, and raucous. You get harsh guitars, harps amplified to distortion, walking bass, uptempo shuffling rhythms. The vocals have Southern-style soul in them but you also get fierce, dynamic shouting, capturing urban anger.
It's this Chicago scene that really took blues global - this is the style that hooked Alex Korner, John Mayall and the Rolling Stones, kicking off the British blues scene.
The Yardbirds were rooted in this style and a training ground for two guitarists that went on to rock supremacy; Eric Clapton with Cream and Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin.
The king of the Chicago was Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield). He grew up in Clarksdale, where he learnt slide guitar.
He moved to Chicago and formed a band in the 50s with other players who were influential in their own right.Episode5 — Memphis
April 02, 2010 09:17 AM PDT
Welcome to my Blues Heritage Tour. I'm on a road trip in a beautiful red 1966 Ford Mustang working my north from New Orleans up Highway 61 - the blues highway - to Chicago.
Today I'm Memphis, Tennessee, to get a taste of the electric Memphis blues.
Further north now, the blues sound is more polished, more electric, more of a polished performance.
I've left the juke joints and low-down bars back in Baton Rouge and Clarksdale. Here in Memphis, it's sharp suits, backing bands full of brass, elegant theatres and putting on a show.
And the king of putting on a show - a man many call 'King of the Blues' - is B. B. King.
Born Riley B. King, in Itta Bena, Mississippi, he moved to Memphis in the 40s and has been recording, playing and touring ever since. At age 76, he's still going strong and defining the blues for new audiences.
King is a pioneer of electric blues guitar. He was soloing way before his blues contempories caught up with him and he continues to be a model for aspiring blues guitarists today.
If you want to learn about the blues - and the heritage of African American music - a good place to start is the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum. Let's go in.Episode 4 - The Crossroads
March 26, 2010 02:11 PM PDT
Welcome to the third leg of my Blues Heritage Tour. I'm on a road trip in a beautiful red 1966 Ford Mustang working my north from New Orleans up Highway 61 - the blues highway - to Chicago.
Today I'm in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
'I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees' — said Robert Johnson
The junction between Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Clarksdale is a famous crossroads. This is the place where, according to legend, Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery over the guitar.
Meeting at the crossroads at midnight, the Devil tuned Johnson’s guitar so that Johnson could play any song he wanted.
Johnson's peers were so taken aback at his sudden mastery of the guitar and his repertoire of songs in such as short space of time that the story gained momentum.
I'm here now with new guitar - bought specially for the trip. It's a beautiful semi-acoustic Peerless Songbird but stone me if I can get a blues tune out of it. There's something missing. Let's see if I can get some inspiration here in Clarksdale.Episode 4 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - home of the 'swamp blues'
March 19, 2010 05:00 PM PDT
Welcome to the second leg of my Blues Heritage Tour. I'm on a road trip in a beautiful red 1966 Ford Mustang working my north from New Orleans up Highway 61 - the blues highway - to Chicago.
I'm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana - home of the 'swamp blues'. Famous for harmonica stars Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester, and the guitarist Lightning Slim.
It's also the home of 'zydeco', a strange mix blend of French Cajun music, blues, and rock n roll. Accordion player Clifton Chenier kick started this off in 1955.
I'm not here for the zydeco though.
I've come to Baton Rouge to meet Larry Garner, a blues singer and guitarist. He was the first blues artist I ever saw playing live. He played at Woodford Community Centre, Stockport, backed up by the Norman Beaker Band.Episode 2 - BJ's Lounge
March 12, 2010 04:37 PM PST
Gav hangs out at the joint that's home to Little Freddie WilliamsonEpisode 2
March 13, 2010 02:01 AM PST
Gavin visit's BJ's Lounge in New Orleans and hears from Little Freddie King.Episode 1
March 01, 2010 03:26 PM PST
Gavin starts his trail in New Orleans, first he's got to hire a car.
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