Blues Eras Recording Guide

The three main blues eras.
Occasionally I get asked about blues sources. Admittedly, I am not a blues scholar. I'm a player. That said, I've done my own research and study. And I briefly lived in Chicago during the end of its last genuine blues era. I was there when it was still real.

Here's my simplified overview of the main blues eras. With brief descriptions of the recording artists, and their best recordings.

Early Blues
No one knows when or specifically where blues first originated. All that can be inferred is blues was probably created by plantation slaves as a secret music form. There are also theories that blues music, as we know it, started in Texas. And for all we know, it could have evolved from muntiple sources. Much of this early period was during the Reconstruction Era of the southern states, when there was very little accurate historical documentation. So there's no proof for any of these conjectures. If it started in Texas, it obviously drifted east, into the southern states. We do know most of the influential players were from the Delta region, in the vicinity of Dockery Farm. Here's some brief information on a few of the highly important early players, and their recordings.

Mid-Era Blues
After its initial era of creation and innovation in the Delta area, the blues took to the road. Legendary blues players traveled throughout the south. This was the era of Robert Johnson and many other boxcar-riding blues musicians. Thanks to several re-releases, some of these players can now be heard again.

Chicago Blues
The blues eventually moved north to Chicago. And shifted from acoustic to electric blues. The Chicago blues era is another period of rapid music advancement, as the players invented a new form of electric blues that would soon become rock and roll. Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf were the two main driving forces. And the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, along with Canned Heat, would later extend blues into psychedelic rock.


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