Somewhere between the demise of the swinging big bands and the birth of rock and roll there was a brief period in the history of American music that glowed with an intensity that can still be felt today. For during this time there arose new forms of music that intertwined, freely borrowed and inspired each other. The music for the first time in America crossed racial and cultural barriers, for the musicians as well as the listeners.
No one can really say when, who, why, or how this all started. Oh, there are plenty of musicologists out there with their theories on the subject. But no one can seem to agree on all of the details and facts. So many of the facts have to be left to speculation and conjecture. However, the fact is that it doesn't really matter who, what or why it happened. Just be glad it did.
All of a sudden people were listening and dancing to the swinging boogie woogie sound of the Jump Blues by artists like Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, and Kansas City's own legendary Big Joe Turner.
There was the new squawking and honking saxophone driven music that was dubbed Rhythm and Blues played by the likes of a young Ray Charles, Big Maybelle, and Johnny Otis.
Up North, recently transplanted southern delta blues musicians discovered electrically amplified musical instruments and invented the Urban Blues. Yes, I'm talking about Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Howlin' Wolf, to name but a few.
Down South, young white hillbillies were listening to race records and concocting their own musical cocktail known as Rockabilly. Some of the original Rockabilly artists include Elvis, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps and The Johnny Burnette Trio.
Even further south a Swamp Sound was being developed, as performed by Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester and Lonesome Sundown.
All of this musical revolution was happening at pretty much the same time, with most of these musical forms at the very fringes of popularity. It was so widespread and abundant, that for a time, record companies and radio stations couldn't get a handle on it. This gave the musical forms time to evolve their own distinct personalities, in a pure musical environment, shaped solely by the musicians and their fans. They were new, and like most great musical innovations it scared the old folks, while their kids dug it.
So there you have it. These are some of the roots of popular American Music. This is the music that drives and inspires Lonesome Hank and the Heartaches. If you're not familiar with some of these musical genres or the artists who created them, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with their music.
A final note of irony...
What brought a halt to this powerful avalanche of American Musical expression and left most of its' gifted pioneers obscured and forgotten? A little phenomenon known as the British Invasion. So what is the irony? According to the British musicians themselves, the music they were playing was all derived from the very musical forms I've been talking about.
Of course that's just my opinion. I suppose I could be wrong.
~ Lonesome Hank