When it was first recorded, country blues was played by both black and white troubadours alike, whose music shared much in common. From the legendary yodelling of Jimmie Rodgers to the sublime guitar picking of Sam McGee, The Rough Guide To Hillbilly Blues showcases many classic and forgotten recordings by white artists in the country blues style.
When the Country blues was first recorded in the mid-1920s, it was not only played and appreciated by African-Americans but also by white performers and audiences alike. During this time, it was common practice for record companies to separate the music of the American South into two categories: the ‘race’ series, aimed at a black audience; and the ‘hillbilly’ series, aimed at white audiences. This division along racial lines was in fact superficial, as black and white musicians shared much with respect to genre and repertoire and the separation of the two on commercial recordings grew out of the prejudices of record companies. Often overlooked is the fact that there was a huge amount of musical exchange and interaction between white and black musicians at this time.
For many early country musicians the blues was liberating, as it freed them from the clichés of the sentimental songs and saccharine harmonies of mainstream radio singers of the day. In the same way that black sharecroppers found solace in the blues, the white working class – such as miners and mill workers – were drawn to the blues as a way of expressing the hardships of daily life. One such performer was Frank Hutchison who came from a rough and isolated mountain community in West Virginia where both black and white miners worked side by side. Hutchison’s style was heavily influenced by local black performers and here he gives a classic rendition of the American folk song ‘Stackalee’. Dick Justice was also from West Virginia, and his version of ‘....... więcej