Swamp blues

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Swamp blues is a type of Louisiana blues that developed in the Black communities of Southwest Louisiana in the 1950s.[1] It incorporates influences from other genres, particularly zydeco and Cajun. Its most successful proponents include Slim Harpo and Lightnin' Slim, who enjoyed national rhythm and blues hits.

Characteristics[edit]

Lazy Lester in 2004

Swamp blues has a laid-back, slow tempo, and generally is a more rhythmic variation of Louisiana blues, incorporating influences from New Orleans blues, zydeco, soul music and Cajun music.[2] It is characterized by simple but effective guitar work and is influenced by the boogie patterns used on Jimmy Reed records and the work of Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters.[3] The sound of swamp blues was characterized by "eerie echo, shuffle beats, tremolo guitars, searing harmonica and sparse percussion".[4]

History[edit]

Swamp blues originated in the Black communities of Southwest Louisiana in the 1950s[1] and was particularly associated with record producer J. D. "Jay" Miller.[4] In the 1950s, Miller recorded many blues artists around the city, distributing their recordings through Excello Records in Nashville, Tennessee.[5] The most successful and influential artist with whom he worked was guitarist and harmonica player Slim Harpo.[6] Other major artists included Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester, Silas Hogan, Lonesome Sundown,[4] and piano player Katie Webster.[5] A number of their songs, particularly those of Slim Harpo, were covered by British Invasion bands, including the Rolling Stones, The Kinks and the Yardbirds.[7] The popularity of the genre faded in the 1970s, with many swamp bluesmen turning to zydeco which remained popular with black audiences.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Malone, Evelyn Levingston, "Swamp Blues: Race And Vinyl From Southwest Louisiana" (2016). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 2457. https://repository.upenn.edu/edissertations/2457
  2. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 161. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  3. ^ Koda, Cub. "Swamp blues". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 18, 2010..
  4. ^ a b c R. Unterberger, S. Hicks and J. Dempsey, Music USA: the Rough Guide (London: Rough Guides, 1999), ISBN 1-85828-421-X, p. 175.
  5. ^ a b c G. Herzhaft, Encyclopedia of the Blues, trans B. Debord (University of Arkansas Press, 2nd ed., 1997), ISBN 1-55728-452-0, pp. 140–4.
  6. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  7. ^ R. Unterberger, "Louisiana blues", in V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra, S. T. Erlewine, eds., All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues (Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, 3rd ed., 2003), ISBN 0-87930-736-6, pp. 687–8.