Blues Genre: Muddy Waters

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McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield left Stovalls plantation outside Clarksdale for Chicago in 1943, drawn by the wartime boom in factory jobs. By the late 1940s his electrified rural delta style brought him success as a blues musician with hits such as “I Cant Be Satisfied” (1948). Having signed to Chess records, Waters’ started to enjoy the commercial success that his music allowed him. The audience responded, Marshall Chess recalled to R&B historian Arnold Shaw that “Waters hit the local crowds like Elvis Presley hit the rock n roll scene. .. On Saturday they’d line up ten deep”.(1)

Working in the fields of Mississippi Delta, Water’s was brought up surrounded by the “field hollers” that provided blues with its distinctive vocal textures. Amongst these were also a number of musicians who were able to begin to break free from the confines of working the fields. Arguably the most notable being that of Robert Johnson who created a body of work which summed up the Delta culture and sound. At first this received little attention outside of Delta but it did influence other blues musicians in the area such as Muddy Waters and this is evident in his early acoustic recordings such as “Country Blues”. Johnson’s recordings also inspired Alan Lomax to visit Delta on behalf of the Library of Congress in search of similar artists. After recording some early acoustic tracks with Lomax, Water’s was able to hear himself back and he later recalled that the experience of hearing himself on these records convinced him he could be a serious professional.(2)
Following this Water’s moved to Chicago where in the noisy and raucous clubs and nightspots, his country style had to change. The rural and acoustic sound of Delta was transformed into the edgy ...

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King, S. 2011. I’m Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blue Tourism in the Mississippi Delta. University press of Mississippi.
Lawson, R. A. 2010. Jim Crows Counterculture: The Blues and Black Southerners, 1890-1945.
Louisina State University
6. Press Max Jones review of “Rolling Stone Blues” b/w “Walkin’ Blues” by Muddy Waters. Melody maker. 10th May 1952
7. Schwartz, R.F. 2008. How Britain Got The Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American
Blues Style in the United Kingdom
8. V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra, S. T. Erlewine. 2003. All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive
Guide to the Blues. Pages 700-2.
9. Palmer. R. 1981. Deep Blues. Penguin Books
10. Cushing. S. 2009. Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews. University of Illinois Press
11. Kim-Cohen, S. 2009. In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art

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