Pioneers of the Blues Revival

An updated edition of the acclaimed collection with new, rare interviews

Steve Cushing, the award-winning host of the nationally syndicated public radio staple Blues Before Sunrise, has spent more than thirty years observing and participating in the Chicago blues scene. In the expanded second edition of Pioneers of the Blues Revival, Cushing adds new interviewees to the roster of prominent white researchers and enthusiasts whose advocacy spearheaded the blues' crossover into the mainstream starting in the 1960s. Rare interview material with experts like Mack McCormick supplements dialogues with Paul Garon, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Paul Oliver, Sam Charters, and others in renewing lively debates and providing first-hand accounts of the era and movement. Throughout, the participants chronicle lifetimes spent loving, finding, collecting, reissuing, and producing records. They also recount relationships with essential blues musicians like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, and Bukka White—connections that allowed the two races to learn how to talk to each other in a still-segregated world.


"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


Steve 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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