It’s A Family Affair -Henry Spaulding

In January 2022  we got a message on our Facebook inbox , it read “ I have a question on the blues singer and guitarist Henry Spaulding who recorded “Cairo Blues” back in the 20’s. He is my husband’s great grandfather. Do you happen to have an article and a picture of him by any chance?”

Early Christmas Blues and Jazz Songs. 12 Good Reasons to Discover them

If you thought that “Fairytale of New York” is the epitome of an alternative Christmas song, you need to think again! From dead drunk to death row, the earliest Christmas Blues Music blew the lid off the traditional music syrup can. The lyrics were edgy and the performers were pros. Even if “White Christmas” is more your thing, you can still learn to love these gritty festive gems.

21 Current Blues Musicians to Know in 2021

At Document Records, our main focus is compiling and sharing historic recordings of traditional American music. These were the works of innovators, artists who helped music to grow and change into what would become the blues (and jazz, and gospel, and country). However, traditional American music didn’t begin or end with the artists represented by … Continue reading “21 Current Blues Musicians to Know in 2021”

Nobody Sings The Blues Like Blind Willie McTell

Seen the arrow on the doorstepSaying, “This land is condemnedAll the way from New OrleansTo Jerusalem.”I traveled through East TexasWhere many martyrs fellAnd I know no one can sing the bluesLike Blind Willie McTell.Bob Dylan, “Blind Willie McTell” Semi-mythical in his own time, a shadowy legend to the blues revivalists, and known mainly to blues … Continue reading “Nobody Sings The Blues Like Blind Willie McTell”

Ramona Baker Reviews ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Even with all the negative comments from serious historians, the most striking element of the film was the attention to detail with the costumes. Any costume historian could tell you that such bright and gaudy colors were appropriately exhibited in the film, and the hairstyles all seemed to match. To clothing historians and collectors it … Continue reading “Ramona Baker Reviews ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’”

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”

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”

‘You Got To Move’ A Reflection upon Rev. Gary Davis by Jonathan Oldstyle

You like the blues. That’s why you’re here, reading about Reverend Gary Davis. Maybe you like jazz as well, maybe classical music. If you want to read about someone who played jazz like Davis played the blues, you might be reading about Art Tatum. Classical, it would be Frederick Chopin. These are guys who challenged … Continue reading “‘You Got To Move’ A Reflection upon Rev. Gary Davis by Jonathan Oldstyle”

Blind Willie Johnson

Blind Willie Johnson (1897–1945) By Bill Berry “Probably the finest slide guitar playing you’ll ever hear” – Eric Clapton, commenting on Blind Willie Johnson’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine “The greatest example of slide guitar ever recorded” – Jack White, on Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground “I’ve tried all my life – worked … Continue reading “Blind Willie Johnson”