Charley Patton: Father Of The Mississippi Delta Blues

July 29, 2009  
Filed under Music

charley-pattonIt`s mighty hot here in Texas. Hot as Hell! Gives ya the blues. I listen glumly to my Yazoo recordings of Charley Patton, where the tradition of Mississippi Delta Blues gets its start. He grew up on Will Dockery`s Plantation, between Drew and Boyle, and was the primary entertainer for local suppers, dances, or ‘Saturday night hops,’ according to Howlin` Wolf. Henry Spier, a white Jackson, Ms. record store owner, actually discovered him and got him signed on the Paramount label, which was up in Grafton, Wisconsin. He recorded forty two sides in one year (I believe, 1929), and nearly seventy all together. If you listen carefully enough, you can weave together a biography of his life, in deciphored muttered phrases. *(see “The Blues” by Peter Guralnick)

Charley was a well-rounded entertainer, a vaudeville, or better yet a ‘Barrelhouse’ entertainer, who could play his guitar behind his back (before Jimi), would beat it and throw it up in the air, and could hurl his hoarse, raspy voice majestically at any all-day hoe down or picnic. Yes, he did play blues, but he also played popular songs, ballads, spirituals, and ragtime numbers. Willie Brown said that some of these Saturday night balls would get rowdy, very loud, and the women would dip that snuff, swallow corn whiskey, and dance up a storm. For now, “Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues,” “Spoonful Blues,” and “Magnolia Blues” are my favorites. Charley Patton is the remotest descendant (the root) of Chicago Electric Blues, that naturally includes Muddy Waters, Howlin` Wolf, and all the way up to B.B. King.  He`s The Daddy of MDB!


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