It’s time to revisit America’s musical Mother Lode—southern country blues. It’s hard to overstate the influence and emotional power of this rich, primal, raunchy, reverent, dynamic, gentle, joyous, aching, deeply human music. No need to discuss its importance to jazz. No need to mention that without the blues there would be no rock ‘n roll. No need to talk about the impact of the blues on 20th-century music from Tin Pan Alley to the concert stage.
Country blues stands on its own, as these 3-CD sets amply demonstrates. These collections, drawn from some 30 years of historic recordings, presents many of the greatest artists in the form in all of their raw power and honesty—and all their subtlety and variety.
Where the first collection was a historical overview, spanning the decades from the 1920s to the 1970s, this latest installment concentrates on the early days, Southern Country Blues, Vol. 2 is drawn from the vast archives of Document Records, long respected for its dedication to finding and preserving early blues recordings. The selections were made by Johnny Parth, Document’s president. The three-CD result is a panorama, a wide-angle snapshot of the rich variety of our blues heritage.
“It is difficult to think of America without thinking of the blues,” writes Steve Tracy in his admirable liner notes to Southern Country Blues. He’s absolutely right. Indeed, it’s difficult to think of 20th century music without thinking of the blues. Jazz, pop, even European classical music have all been enriched by the seemingly limitless expressive power of the blues.