A Short History Of Blues Rock
Thu 18 May 2023
It's that time of the week again, and in today's blog we're going to tell you a little bit about the history of this music genre we all love so much and that influences Black Wolf Blues' music down to its roots: the blues rock.
Let's begin by telling you a little bit about the blues.
In case you don't know, to put it in simple terms, the blues is the father of rock and most of all popular music in the Western world in the 20th century.
It can be found in pretty much all forms of contemporary music, including jazz, pop, rock and roll and all its different styles.
It is a music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads from the African American culture.
Musically speaking it is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale, and specific chord progressions (usually the I-IV-V progression), of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. The so-called blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound.
Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove. It is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation.
Early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars.
Muddy Waters - widely considered one of the best blues musicians of all time
Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals.
The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908.
Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and subgenres. Blues subgenres include country blues styles such Delta blues and Piedmont blues, as well as urban blues styles such as Chicago blues and Texas blues.
Rock and roll in its turn is a genre of popular music that evolved also in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, originating from African-American music such as jazz, boogie-woogie, gospel, country music and last but not least: the blues. While rock and roll's formative elements can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until the 1950's.
World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock developed, which blended blues styles with rock music.
Blues rock is a fusion music genre that combines elements of blues and rock music. It is mostly an electric ensemble-style music with instrumentation similar to electric blues and rock (electric guitar, electric bass guitar, and drums, sometimes with keyboards and harmonica).
From its beginnings in the early to mid-1960s, blues rock has gone through several stylistic shifts and along the way it inspired and influenced hard rock, Southern rock, and early heavy metal.
Blues rock started with rock musicians in the United Kingdom and the United States performing American blues songs. They typically recreated electric Chicago blues songs, such as those by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed, at faster tempos and with a more aggressive sound common to rock.
In the UK, the style was popularized by groups such as the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and the Animals, who put several blues songs into the pop charts. In the US, Lonnie Mack, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Canned Heat were among the earliest exponents.
Some of these bands also played long, involved improvisations as were then commonplace on jazz records. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the style became more hard rock-oriented. In the US Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Winter, the early Allman Brothers Band, and ZZ Top represented a hard rock trend, along with Ten Years After, Savoy Brown, Foghat and Led Zeppelin in the UK.
In the 1980s, more traditional blues styles influenced blues rock, which continued into the 2000s, with more of a return to basics. Along with hard rock, blues rock songs became the core of the music played on album-oriented rock radio in the United States, and later the classic rock format established there during the 1980s.
Blues rock can be characterized by bluesy improvisation, extended boogie jams typically focused on electric guitar solos, and often a heavier, riff-oriented sound and feel to the songs than found in typical Chicago blues. Blues rock bands borrowed the idea of an instrumental combo and loud amplification from rock and roll.
Blues rock songs often follow typical blues structures, such as twelve-bar blues, sixteen-bar blues, etc. They also use the I-IV-V progression, though there are exceptions, some pieces having a "B" section, while others remain on the I.
Johnny Winter - widely considered one of the best rock blues musicians of all time
So basically guys, from the blues came the rock and roll, and from that came the blues rock, rock, metal, punk, and from there it stems into pretty much all of the popular music in the 20th century Western world.
The blues rock is in the very essence of Black Wolf Blues' music, and we hope you've enjoyed us sharing a little bit of the history of this awesome musical style with you.
Our next gig is on 27 May at The Spice Of Life. An amazing venue right in the heart of Soho, on a rocking Saturday night!
A few other bands will be playing before us and we’ll be headlining the event at 10:30 PM. This is gonna be a really special performance we’re preparing for you so stay tuned for more details. This is an event by Hot Vox.
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Black Wolf Blues
Rafael, Jake, Liam & Cam