Memphis Blues music first appeared in the 1920s in Memphis, and Memphis ever since has been a Mecca for Blues music lovers worldwide. Beale Street, the heart of Memphis music scene, is home to everything from jug bands to jazz.
The sub genre of Memphis Blues music that is Jug Band Blues emphasizes syncopated rhythms and sounds of early jazz and folk songs. Jug bands play on homemade, simple instruments, such as harmonicas, banjos, washboards, and kazoos, and of course, jugs.
After WWII, Memphis Blues music saw the birth of electric instruments. Many musicians flocked to Memphis to the Blues scene with these electric instruments, changing the sound of Memphis blues. The musicians would gather on Beale Street, where there were recording studios up and down. West Memphis saw the same influx of musicians, who would record the most famous and renowned classic blues, rhythm and blues, and rock & roll records. Once of the most famous of these studios was Sun Records, who would also record the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, among many others.
The beginning of Memphis self expressive music was attributed by a certain sound that became familiar to the colored workers of the cornfields, the sharecroppers. Much of the early Memphis blues music was an attempt to capture the sound of the singing workers. This sound at first was nicknamed the gutbucket blues. Some of the more popular topics of the songs were those of prayer, faith, and life.
Even today on Beale Street, songs are written and recorded in the small studios by artists with their dreams in tow. The streets in Memphis are just as alive today with the Memphis Blues as they were in the 40s and 50s. The clubs and bars in Memphis fill up every night with tourists and people who sit for hours listening to the artists and their music, much the same way they always have.
With all of the new and ever changing genres of music that have come about, people may wonder what gives the Memphis Blues music such staying power. The answer is simple. The Memphis Blues remains such a huge part of tradition in Memphis because it is more than just music. It is an entire culture and lifestyle that gets passed from one generation to the next.
Ever since the Memphis Blues music was born on the curbs of Beale Street, people have been flocking to Memphis to enjoy it ever since. Chances are pretty good that it will continue to be enjoyed and loved for many more generations to come.
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