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Bentonia Bluesmen

Skip, Duck, and the Grammy Awards: The Rise of the Bentonia Blues

Bentonia, Mississippi is a small town of just over 400 residents, about the same number it had in 1931. That year, the town’s most famous son went north to record for the Paramount Record Company. The railroad Nehemiah “Skip” James left on still runs through Bentonia, but the station is long gone. Still, not far … Continue reading “Skip, Duck, and the Grammy Awards: The Rise of the Bentonia Blues”


Ball And Chain Blues: 10 Prison Songs From The Document Catalogue

by D’Arcy Rix-Hayes The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with one in every 15 people in the country expected to go behind bars. According to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow “more African American adults are under correctional control today…than were enslaved in 1850.” In many ways, slavery was … Continue reading “Ball And Chain Blues: 10 Prison Songs From The Document Catalogue”


Louis Jordan campaigning at the Apollo Theater

Everybody Loves Them Dead Presidents

From the Mississippi Delta to the streets of Chicago; from Mamie Smith at the Howard Theatre to Kingfish at Red’s, the blues has always been a fundamentally American genre of music. Although it sounds silly to say so, no other country could have given us “61 Highway Blues” or “Sweet Home Chicago”. In honor of … Continue reading “Everybody Loves Them Dead Presidents”


Perry (Mule) Bradford Escorts African American Singers Through The Closed Doors Of The 1920s Recording Industry.

By Elva D. Green Perry (Mule) Bradford In 1920, Mr. Perry (Mule) Bradford, African American songwriter, minstrel, and vaudeville performer was responsible for convincing White owned Okeh Records to record the first African American female blues singer. Bradford, born in Alabama, spent years traveling the country in minstrel shows and Vaudeville where he heard many … Continue reading “Perry (Mule) Bradford Escorts African American Singers Through The Closed Doors Of The 1920s Recording Industry.”


Famous Jazz Musicians of the 1930s

Introduction In the 1930s we move from the “Jazz Age” to the “Swing Era”. New York is now the Jazz Capital of the World, although other cities, such as Chicago and Kansas City, enjoy a thriving Jazz scene. With Hollywood firmly established, many of the big bands spend more time on the West coast. New … Continue reading “Famous Jazz Musicians of the 1930s”