The Blues Route

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9780688066116: The Blues Route

Book by Merrill, Hugh

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From Publishers Weekly:

In his search for the roots of the blues, a nationally syndicated columnist from Georgia visits cocktail lounges, juke joints and no-name dives in Mississippi, Memphis, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. Among the bluespeople whose racy stories he quotes are 70-ish Rufus Thomas ("the world's oldest teenager") of Sun and Stax records; Alligator's Bruce Iglauer, who, in the author's estimation, records the best contemporary blues; Koko Taylor ("the queen of the blues"), who recorded for Willie Dixon on Chess; Watts's Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson; trumpeter Gregory Davis of the Dirty Dozen; signer Valerie Wellington, who forsook Verdi and Wagner for Elmore James and Ma Rainey; and German-born Chris Strachwitz, the first person to record Louisiana zydeco music and the man who made Clifton Chenier famous. Merrill's route is leisurely and each step a festival for blues devotees. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In 1986 Merrill retraced the blues' path from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and the West. His journey is a kind of graveyard tour, populated by the caretakers of the blues' greatest musical legacies. Those who still play lament the flight of black music to pop radio, not seeming to understand that the rural society from which the blues grew has moved on. Merrill lets them speak in their own voices via largely unadorned narratives. Each singer tells a similar story, but dedication to their unique and important music seeps through. Merrill's own contribution is slim, and his narrative has little shape. Still, his book is more useful as an oral history documenting fathers long ago displaced by their wilder, noisier, and wealthier sons and daughters.
- Timothy L. Zindel, Hastings Coll. of the Law, San Francisco
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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