Style of Blues
The multi-cultural tapestry of Louisiana and urban centers of Texas life gave rise to numerous new styles of the blues.
The piano and horn-driven New Orleans style of blues was enlivened by Caribbean and Dixieland rhythms, while in the Southwest of the state, accordion-driven zydeco emerged from the melding of French folk music, Native and African-American religious and social music, and electric blues. The "Swamp blues" emerged on record in the 1950s; influenced heavily by the style of the Chicago area's Jimmy Reed, this featured a slower take on the Louisiana style, with lazy vocals sometimes lagging just behind the rhythm, and incorporated unique studio production techniques.
Listen for Professor Longhair's distinctive Louisiana style, highly influenced by complex Latin and Caribbean rhythms in "Big Chief" below:
Title: "Big Chief"
Performed by: Professor Longhair
Written by: Earl King Johnson (Publisher: Shirley's Music, BMI, c/o Don Williams Music Group, Inc.)
Source: Houseparty New Orleans Style (Rounder, 2057)
Available to teachers on: The Blues Teacher's Guide CD
The innovative blues guitarists and songwriters of Texas put a unique stamp on the blues. Texas blues is characterized by inventive guitar techniques (perhaps influenced by Mexican flamenco style), use of arpeggios, and jazz-inspired improvisation as well as the up-tempo, piano-driven "barrelhouse" style pioneered in Dallas, Houston, and Galveston, and the prominent vocals of slower blues shuffles more reminiscent of Delta traditions.