Pioneers of the Blues Revival
About the BookSteve Cushing, the award-winning host of the nationally syndicated public radio staple Blues before Sunrise, has spent over thirty years observing and participating in the Chicago blues scene. In Pioneers of the Blues Revival, he interviews many of the prominent white researchers and enthusiasts whose advocacy spearheaded the blues' crossover into the mainstream starting in the 1960s.
Opinionated and territorial, the American, British, and French interviewees provide fascinating first-hand accounts of the era and movement. Experts including Paul Oliver, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Sam Charters, Ray Flerlage, Richard K. Spottswood, and Pete Whelan chronicle in their own words their obsessive early efforts at cataloging blues recordings and retrace lifetimes spent loving, finding, collecting, reissuing, and producing records. They and nearly a dozen others recount relationships with blues musicians, including the discoveries of prewar bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, and Bukka White, and the reintroduction of these musicians and many others to new generations of listeners. The accounts describe fieldwork in the South, renew lively debates, and tell of rehearsals in Muddy Waters's basement and randomly finding Lightning Hopkins's guitar in a pawn shop.
Blues scholar Barry Lee Pearson provides a critical and historical framework for the interviews in an introduction.
About the AuthorSteve Cushing has hosted Blues Before Sunrise for over thirty years. He is the author of Blues Before Sunrise: The Radio Interviews. Barry Lee Pearson is a professor of English at the University of Maryland and the author of Jook Right On: Blues Stories and Blues Storytellers.
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Reviews"Mr. Cushing, a longtime blues broadcaster, gathers his own interviews with seventeen figures who forged a legacy that reaches far beyond their record rooms. . . . whatever underlies the mania of this strange tribe of hunters and gatherers, their achievement is undeniable, and America's musical heritage would be much the poorer without their efforts."--Wall Street Journal
"Cushing's detailed discussions with significant blues revival researchers tell crisscrossing artist- and record-rediscovery stories, portraying a close-knit scene with its own rituals, famous incidents, lost heroes, and well-recalled ne'er-do-well connivers."--New Republic
"An excellent read for those interested in more than the music. . . . for those whose interests go far beyond the notes and singing, into the realms of history, discovery, dissemination and documentation."--Living Blues
"Pioneers of the Blues Revival is an important contribution to the literature on this crucial moment. An invaluable accomplishment."--The Journal of Southern History
"Any student or historian with a serious interest in country Blues, urban Blues, jug bands, Jazz, gospel, and related styles will find this book very informative and illuminating. Thanks to Cushing we may all learn a good deal more about a diverse lot of individuals who passions were ignited by the Blues."--Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
"The book makes an extraordinary contribution to the field. . . . The author creates a rich portrait of the whole blues revival movement."--Robert Pruter, author of Chicago Soul