Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lonnie Johnson and the Confluence Blues continued.

Lonnie Johnson and Sylvester Weaver are the men who pioneered blues guitar in the earliest years and both were doing it beyond the Delta of the Mississippi river and the Gulf of Mexico. Their recordings demonstrated what the guitar could do and they were decades ahead of their time. Lonnie's music was the birth of the blues writer/singer/guitarist. His sensational guitar work rose out from a period when the piano blues and the great female voices were replacing ragtime and marching band music.

Lonnie developed his guitar and violin style and blues sensibility in St Louis, and eventually he got his opportunity to make records because of the St Louis audiences. It was in the Booker Washington theater in St Louis where Lonnie made his musical home and it was the audience of the city who discovered and appreciated his music and awarded him winner of the weekly blues contest for many months in a row - virtually forcing Okeh records to realize that there was a market for this new music. The St Louis environment and the St Louis audience appreciation and support are the important parts of this story. These elements are the crucial part of his meteoric rise to stardom. And the city was more important to him and his music than any other place he resided in. 

He made his first recordings in St Louis, he and his brother married and raised families in St Louis, the largest part of his career was in St Louis and all of the close-knit musicians of the community in St Louis were his friends and partners in recordings.

Both St Louis and Lonnie Johnson are generally under-recognized in the commonly known history of American blues music. Lonnie's story illustrates this best, but there are many more St Louis legends revealed for the first time in Devil At The Confluence.

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