Update: Early Blues has won the “Blues Book of the Year” Award — 2016 Living Blues Critics’ Poll
For the past three years, I’ve been busy writing books about music rather than updating this website. The first of these books, Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar, is now available from the University of Minnesota Press. In it, you’ll find expanded versions of a few of the articles that were previously available here, as well as new profiles. Here are the chapters:
Sylvester Weaver: The First Blues Guitarist on Record
Papa Charlie Jackson: Six-String Stylist, Flat-Picking Pioneer
Blind Lemon Jefferson: Popular from Coast to Coast
Blind Blake: King of Ragtime Blues Guitar
Blind Willie McTell: Atlanta’s Twelve-String King
Blind Willie Johnson: Sublime Gospel Blues
Lonnie Johnson: The Era’s Most Influential Blues Guitarist
Mississippi John Hurt: Songster and Bluesman
Tampa Red: “The Guitar Wizard”
In addition, information on dozens of other great blues guitarists and hundreds of blues recordings from the Roaring Twenties appear in these pages.
“Jas Obrecht eloquently describes the pioneers and shows how they defined the sound of blues guitar for future generations.” –William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues
“Jas Obrecht has long been recognized for his writing on the blues and he shows a keen grasp of both the music of these guitar masters and the life experiences that shaped their blues. No other book has been written with this particular focus, and Obrecht offers material that will be new even to readers who have been familiar with this music for many years.” — Jim O’Neal, founding co-editor, Living Blues magazine
“If you have the slightest interest in blues, guitar and/or traditional American music, do not hesitate and purchase this book as soon as you can. It is a textual and visual treat, something that all too seldom comes our way and Jas Obrecht, as expected, has done a brilliant job. You’ll not only be proud to have this volume on your bookshelf, you will undoubtedly wear out the pages by constantly referring to it for the endless amount of information and enjoyment that it provides.” — Lawrence Cohn, producer of the Grammy-winning Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings box set and author of Nothing But the Blues.
“Since the early 1900s, blues and the guitar have traveled side by side. From the first reported sightings of blues musicians to the onset of the Great Depression, this is the most comprehensive and complete account ever written of the early stars of blues guitar—an essential chapter in the history of American music.” — Chicago Book Review
To learn more details or to purchase a copy: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/early-blues
My next book, Talking Guitar: Conversations With Musicians Who Shaped 20th Century American Music, will be available from the University of North Carolina Press in April 2017.