Red River Blues

The Blues Tradition in the Southeast
Author: Bruce Bastin
The genesis and evolution of an art from
Paper – $35
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1995
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About the Book

Drawing on archives and interviews with musicians, Red River Blues remains an acclaimed work of blues scholarship. Bruce Bastin traces the origins of the music to the turn of the twentieth century, when African Americans rejected slave songs, worksongs, and minstrel music in favor of a potent new vehicle for secular musical expression. Bastin looks at the blues' early emerging popularity and its spread via the Great Migration, delves into a wealth of field recordings, and looks at the careers of Brownie McGhee, Blind Boy Fuller, Curly Weaver, Sonny Terry, and many other foundational artists.


"The opening chapters are among the best things ever published on the blues. It's a thoughtful, substantial, solidly constructed, information packed work, and should be in every serious blues enthusiast's library. But more than that, it is a major contribution to the study of popular culture."--Paul Oliver, Juke Blues

"A brilliant and exhaustive study of Afro-American secular music in the Southeast in this century. And it is a broader tradition, and not the blues per se, that is being examined here. . . . Bastin illuminates the importance of black string band traditions, balladry, music derived from minstrel and medicine show traditions as well as sacred forms not just as blues antecedents, but as significant parallel strains to blues in the repertories of many musicians up to the present."--Art Rosenbaum, Georgia Historical Quarterly


•  Winner, ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, 1987
• Winner, Classic of Blues Literature, The Blues Foundation, 2022