There can be little doubt that the blues grew up in the Mississippi Delta as an elaboration on work chants, slave songs, and the lyrical and haunting field hollers. Developing around the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, the Delta blues became the most influential of all the blues forms, rising out of the fertile agricultural triangle located between Vicksburg, Mississippi to the south and Memphis, Tennessee to the north, and bordered by the Mississippi River to the west and the Yazoo River to the east. The regular flooding of these rivers left the land incredibly flat and blessed with some of the most fertile soil on the planet -- perfect conditions for growing cotton. It was here that black sharecroppers worked the land in one of the harshest systems of slavery ever known. Poverty was rife throughout the Delta and it was this punishing environment which gave birth to the blues. Typically blues songs were handed down by word of mouth and artists would freely add new lyrics in order to make them their own. The guitar became the primary tool of the Delta bluesman due to the ease of carrying it around, and this spawned incredible instrumental virtuosity amongst performers. One such figure was Charley Patton who is widely considered to be the 'Father of the Delta Blues'. An immensely gifted performer, Patton was amazingly prolific and served as a major influence on other legendary Delta bluesmen who followed including Robert Johnson, Son House and Howlin' Wolf. Tommy Johnson was a contemporary of Charley Patton and was also an incredibly gifted writer, singer and guitarist. Renowned for performing tricks with his guitar, playing it between his legs, behind his head and throwing it in the air while playing, Tommy Johnson unfortunately recorded very little -- only 16 songs in three sessions between 1928 and 1929. Many of the original Delta bluesmen either died at a relatively early age or drifted into obscurity..

Rough Guide to Delta Blues CD