Frank Stokes

Artist Index
(including acknowledgements)





John & Alan Lomax

H C Speir

Lester Melrose

Maxwell St. Chicago

Boogie Woogie



Unrelated jottings

Eel Pie Island

Ipswich Bluesville

Nix Nomads



"The blues is a low-down shakin' chill,
(Yes, listen now)
......... is a lowdown shakin' chill,
You ain't never had 'em, I hope you never will."
Preachin' Blues}

     The blues is the roots, the rest is the fruits.
Willie Dixon

Garfield Akers * Texas Alexander * Pink Anderson * Amade Ardoin * Kokomo Arnold * Kid Bailey * Ed Bell * Scrapper Blackwell * Blind Blake * Eubie Blake * Lucille Bogan * Memphis Willie B * Caldwell Mississippi Bracey * Ishmon Bracey * Big Bill Broonzy * Richard Rabbit Brown * Willie Brown * Joe Callicott * Gus Cannon * Leroy Carr * Bo Carter * Papa Egg Shell Casey * Peter Clayton * Jaybird Coleman * Sam Collins * Ida Cox * Big Boy Crudup * Blind Teddy Darby * Cow Cow Davenport * Reverend Gary Davis * Blind John Davis * Mattie Delaney * Blind Simmie Dooley * Thomas Dorsey * Arizona Dranes * Champion Jack Dupree * Honeyboy Edwards * Sleepy John Estes * Will Ezell * Canray Fontenot * Blind Boy Fuller * Jesse Fuller * Bill Gaither * Grandpappy Gibson * Jazz Gillum * Blind Roosevelt Graves * Archibald Gross * W C Handy * Harlem Hamfats * Blind Willie Harris * William Harris * Walter Buddy Boy Hawkins * Lucille Hegamin * Barbeque Bob Hicks * Laughing Charley Hicks * King Solomon Hill * Smokey Hogg * Lightnin' Hopkins * Peg leg Howell * Son House * Mississippi John Hurt * Papa Charlie Jackson * Jim Jackson * Mahalia Jackson * Elmore James * Skip James * Blind Lemon Jefferson * Lonnie Johnson * Robert Johnson * Tommy Johnson * Blind Willie Johnson * Dennis Little Hat Jones * Charley Jordan * Freddie Keppard * Lottie Kimbrough * Rubin Lacey * Ledbelly * Noah Lewis * Furry Lewis * Mance Lipscomb * Cripple Clarence Lofton * Memphis Jug Band * Memphis Minnie * Tommy McClennan * Kansas Joe McCoy * Papa Charlie McCoy * Mississippi Fred McDowell * Brownie McGhee * Hootie McShann * Blind Willie McTell * Big Maceo Merriweather * Sara Martin * Lizzie Miles * Mississippi Sheiks * Little Brother Montgomery * Alex Moore * Buddy Moss * Romeo Nelson * Hambone Willie Newborn * Robert Nighthawk * Jack Owens * Charley Patton * Robert Petway *  Eugene Powell * Yank Rachell * Ma Rainey * Piano Red * Tampa Red * Blind Joe Reynolds * Will Shade * Johnny Shines * Henry Son Sims * Bumble Bee Slim * Lightnin' Slim * Memphis Slim * Henry Sloan * Bessie Smith * Pinetop Smith * Mamie Smith * Funny Papa Smith * Victoria Spivey * Freddie Spruell * Houston Stackhouse * Frank Stokes * Daddy Stovepipe * Sunnyland Slim * Roosevelt Sykes * Hound Dog Taylor * Johnny Geechie Temple * Sonny Terry * Elvie Thomas * Ragtime Texas Thomas * Willard Ramblin' Thomas * Jesse Babyface Thomas * Henry Mule Townsend * Black Ace Turner * Big Joe Turner * Otha Turner * Walter Vinson * T Bone Walker * Sippie Wallace * Washboard Sam * Tuts Washington * Kid Stormy Weather * Curly Weaver * Peetie Wheatstraw * Bukka White * Josh White * James Boddle it Wiggins * Geeshie Wiley * Robert Wilkins * Big Joe Williams * George Bullet Williams * Jabo Williams * Homesick James Williamson * Sonny Boy Williamson I * Sonny Boy Williamson II * Jimmy Yancey

In the Artists Index there are links to profiles of "first generation blues" artists who were performing before the Second World War, primarily during the 1920's and 1930's. A minority of these artists continued to perform after this period, and some achieved further recognition during the "College" folk/blues boom of the 1960's and received belated success towards the end of their careers.

In the profiles greater emphasis is placed on detail of the lifestyle and culture of the time. Individual profiles are intended to provide a snapshot of the performer, but collectively it is hoped that they provide a modest portrayal of the way of life of these early blues pioneers, set against the progressive development of the music. Less emphasis is placed on an artist's discography, on which there are many extensive sources elsewhere. Many of the  profiles include a song or excerpt intended to illustrate the artist's work.
Some profiles include a "Youtube" link.

In addition there are few jottings on topics intended to provide background to the profiles of the artists.

ISSUES:- The embedded Wimpy player may not function with some versions of Safari.
The Artist Index may not open with some versions of Firefox.
Sorry, haven't found a solution to these yet.

This is NOT a music download site and songs can only be listened to, using the Wimpy player.
A link to a podcast for download from itunes or from the host site is in the left hand menu.

+++++ Remembering the late Dave Honeyboy Edwards, whose passing in 2011 marked the end of an era  +++++
Listen to Honeyboy as he chats with  BBC Radio Suffolk journalist Stephen Foster.
Go to the Honeyboy Edwards page.


The Blues Trail (formerly The Blues Farm) is a non commercial site and is being developed to cover some aspects of the history of blues music, told through the lives of some of its earliest performers, during a period that begins around the start of the twentieth century and lasts until the Second World War. At the beginning of that era, music "genre distinctions" between folk, blues, gospel, hokum, jazz, boogie and ragtime were not as clear cut as they are today, and it was commonplace for musicians to perform and record within a wide musical 'community', as both solo acts and as players in the early ensemble bands. It was from that musical 'milieu' with its predominantly rural roots that after the second world war modern electric blues evolved,  arising from an area that for the most part encompassed a group of southern States with the great Mississippi river at its heart.

Important influences on the lives of these itinerant performers were the grinding impoverishment to which they were born, gambling, temporary escape via moonshine whiskey and other alcohol substitutes such as canned heat and Jake (a legally available "tonic" with a high alcoholic content), and the ever present risk of assault or robbery. Working the juke joints, house parties and labor camps during a period of prohibition, they were often forced to adopt aliases and/or nicknames to reduce the risk of physical attack by jealous spouses or partners, and frequently just to keep ahead of the law. Often travelling in small groups to afford themselves greater protection, even the more established artists who made it into legitimate theatres could not avoid harassment & prejudice. Southern theatre owners, who were almost exclusively white, worked within an organisation known as TOBA - the Theatre Owners Booking Association, but this was ironically referred to by performers as Tough On Black Artists!

This was set within a creative tension arisin
g from the juxtaposition between the blues (devil's music), and sanctified music (God's music) in which many performers had their earliest roots. Many performers took the music north, via Highway 61, by jumping trains or via the Mississippi river, to Chicago, primarily to the south side. This area was destined to become the home of electric blues, amplified blues that would result, paradoxically, in the demise of many country blues singers.

A few artists
enjoyed renewed interest in their style of country blues during the 'College folk boom' of the 1960's, but for many their early recordings became the legacy that they left to succeeding generations. Sadly many hundreds of early artists who were never recorded may now only be appreciated through surviving anecdotes from their contemporaries, or heard by proxy through their influences on later artists.

    The origin of "Memphis Blues" - WC Handy

"Except for the beast fables, which are anciently derived from the world’s multi-racial heritage, American Negro humor is rooted in social oppression. And, again excepting the animal fables, it differs from classical Western and white American humor in another respect. It is totally devoid of those myth-making and myth-transmuting elements and symbols that appeal so deeply to the American mind in the works of the tall-tale tellers such as Davy Crockett, Seba Smith, Mike Fink, and Mark Twain. There are no Rip Van Winkles, Johnny Appleseeds, Paul Bunyans, or Calamity Janes, and none bearing the faintest resemblance to them, in Negro American humor. The myth-making figures in the literature of black Americans are the blues-haunted characters. They are Stagolee, John Henry, and Big Boy; they are Mary Lou, Frankie, and Sister Caroline. And they are not funny, least of all to the nameless hundreds of folk-Negroes who created them and the still-living thousands who love them and perpetuate them in song and story."

Saunders Redding (1906–1988), U.S. educator. Laughing on the Outside, introduction, ed. Philip Sterling, Grosset (1965)