December 8, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 207 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, December 8th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

This week, we carry on with our survey of blues hits from the R&B charts of the 1950s. We left off our first installment in this series, somewhere in 1954.  In this week’s program we resume our survey of 1954 and move to the year 1955. 1955 was the year that rock and roll emerged as a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, a development that would have a large impact upon blues and R&B. 1955, however, was a year in which there were a significant number of blues hit records within the R&B charts. What we can observe is that down home blues records largely disappeared from the charts  in 1953 and ’54 and what remained, with some notable exceptions, was the electric blues of Chicago, the “urban” blues style of Memphis and Houston, and, from the Coast, the former Memphis Blues Boy,  B.B. King’s recordings. Of course, this is partly a matter of definitions. Was Johnny “Guitar” Watson a figure in blues or R&B? We place him on the R&B side, as we do Earl King, who, for a time, filled engagements for Guitar Slim, whom we have placed in the blues category. We think most people would agree that the artists we will be featuring are “blues” artists. Some may quibble with some of the exclusions.

Product Details                                                            ARTHUR GUNTER - BLUES AFTER HOURS  (BLUE HORIZON LP)                           

Whatever else it meant, rock and roll ushered in a new era of youth-oriented music for a youthful audience. Blues and R&B were adult-oriented and came to be seen as something from the past by the new youth audience. But we think there were larger cultural forces at work at the same time. 1954 was the year of the Brown versus Board of Education decision, the legal case that is said to have paved the way to integration and certainly was a catalyst and inspiration for the Civil Rights movement Blues continued to appeal to a segment of the adult population but to an ever smaller demographic.  The rise of Soul music also pushed blues further to the margin in the sixties. There’s a longer argument to be made but we won’t make it tonight.

J.B. Lenoir

Whatever the future of blues in 1955, blues continued to have a strong appeal in the cities of the Midwest, and in the South and blues records could still occasionally attain the upper reaches of the R&B charts. 

On the Show:

Guitar Slim – Howlin’ Wolf– B.B. King – Lowell Fulson – Arthur Gunter – Billy Boy Arnold – Little Junior Parker – Louis Brooks and the Hi-Toppers – J.B. Lenoir– Little George Smith – Little Walter – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until January 4th

Contact Us:

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (December 15th)




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