Blues

6:14pm

Sat May 16, 2015
Music Interviews

In HBO's 'Bessie,' Queen Latifah Stars As Empress Of The Blues

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 7:16 pm

Queen Latifah plays blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO movie Bessie.
Frank Masi Courtesy of HBO

A Mississippi car accident in 1937 cut short the life of Bessie Smith.

She was just 43 years old. But she'd already established her legacy as "Empress of the Blues" — a pioneering American performer who demanded respect and equal pay in a world dominated by men and controlled by whites.

She'd also achieved a degree of infamy for her boozing, her brawling and her sexual appetites.

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5:35am

Sat May 16, 2015
The Record

B.B. King And The Majesty Of The Blues

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 10:42 am

B.B. King performs at the Newport Jazz Festival at Yankee Stadium in 1972 (the festival temporarily relocated to New York in the 1970s).
David Redfern Getty Images

3:04pm

Fri May 15, 2015
Music Interviews

B.B. King On Life, Plantation Living And His 'Droopy-Drawers' Sound

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 7:56 am

B.B King in 1996.
David Redfern Redferns

B.B. King, the legendary blues musician, died Thursday after spending much of the month in hospice care. He was 89.

Born Riley B. King in Indianola, Miss., in 1925, King began his life on a plantation, where he was born the son of a sharecropper. Speaking to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1996, King remembered an early life without telephones, electricity or any outside opportunities. "A lot of the people, including myself in the early years, just thought this was it, you raise your families and you get old, you die, your families take over, kids, what have you," King said.

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4:35pm

Mon May 11, 2015
Mountain Stage

Buckwheat Zydeco On Mountain Stage

Buckwheat Zydeco.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Buckwheat Zydeco returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live at West Virginia's Culture Center Theater. The artist, born Stanley Dural Jr., has spent more than 30 years as the chief ambassador for one of Louisiana's most distinctive musical products.

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3:29pm

Mon May 4, 2015
Mountain Stage

Eric Bibb On Mountain Stage

Eric Bibb.
Brian Blauser Mountain Stage

Acoustic blues master Eric Bibb makes his fifth visit to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater on West Virginia's State Capitol grounds.

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8:03am

Wed March 11, 2015
The Record

Benjamin Booker Faces The Past

David Goldman Courtesy of the artist

11:39am

Tue March 3, 2015
World Cafe

Sinkane On World Cafe

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 5:26 pm

Sinkane.
Erez Avissar Courtesy of the artist

There's something entrancing about the electro-funk of Sinkane. The Brooklyn band is led by Ahmed Gallab, who spent time in Sudan as a child before moving around the U.S.

Sinkane subtly incorporates East African sounds, complete with a loping repetition of lyrics and musical phrases. Last year, the band released its third album, Mean Love, and it's the most concise and poppy Sinkane record yet.

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5:10pm

Sat February 21, 2015
Music

'That Blew My Mind': Raiding The Lead Belly Vault

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 8:30 am

Lead Belly.
William Gottlieb Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways and the Library of Congress

The story of Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter reads like a parody of the brutal bluesman biography: Kill a man, go to prison — twice — then appeal for a pardon in a song. According to the legend, Lead Belly's undeniable talent convinced Texas Governor Pat Neff to let him go.

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7:23am

Sat February 14, 2015
Music News

A Hero At Home, Deacon John Moore Is New Orleans' Best-Kept Secret

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 2:04 pm

New Orleans bandleader John Moore chose his "Deacon" nickname at the suggestion of a mischievous drummer. At 73, he's one of the city's most beloved musicians.
Courtesy of the artist

Deacon John does it all. The veteran New Orleans bandleader plays weddings, birthdays, proms, debutante parties. He holds his own at Jazz Fest and at carnival balls. He'll play 1950s R&B, rock, jazz, gospel, soul and disco — whatever the people want to hear. But when it's up to him, he chooses the blues.

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7:37am

Sat January 31, 2015
Music News

In A Few Fateful Years, One Record Label Blew Open The Blues

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 1:20 pm

Charley Patton was the grandaddy of the Delta blues musicians, according to Jack White: "He's the one that all the other blues musicians looked up to. He's almost the beginning of the family tree."
Courtesy of the Revenant Archives

The story of Paramount Records is a story of contradictions. It was a record label founded by a furniture company, a commercial enterprise that became arguably the most comprehensive chronicler of African American music in the early 20th century. And yet, for Paramount's executives, music was an afterthought.

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