Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson can be seen as the epitome of the St. Louis blues. 

With so much creativity and skills so far advanced of his time, the brilliance of Lonnie Johnson stands alone and often uncategorized in typical blues history writings. The blues purist authors avoid Johnson's amazing guitar dexterity that makes nearly all other pre-war guitar work seem primitive, and the jazz music history writers cold-shoulder him because he was not working from arrangement sheets.

The prolific careers of so many musicians in the St. Louis area in the 1920s and 30s and the innovative art they created defined the blues as more than only rough rural guitar from the southern United States. And like Lonnie Johnson, they made their art and advanced the field of music by inspiring other blues artists to keep up with the avant-garde from the city of the confluence. They made their own category of blues from what came before it and defined what was to come after it, but the St Louis blues have not yet been recognized as its own category, primarily because of the progressive concepts and the variety of the music from the many artists from the city.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man oh man oh man oh
    I've known this book was in the works for years and have been anticipating it. I am so excited at it finally seeing the light of day. I've known Kevin's work and have been acquainted with him for some time. Finally, a book on early St Louis Blues! This will begin to fill a void in blues history that has been gaping for a long time. New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago have long recieved their due and finally Kevin will go a long way to putting St Louis in its proper place. Congratulations Kevin. I wish Charlie o'Brian was around to see this. I am sure you give him his due, too.