The first appearance of blues music is not clear but is thought to date from the emancipation of slaves between 1870 and 1900. It evolved from the unaccompanied vocal and oral traditions of African-American slaves and rural blacks into a wide variety of styles and sub genres. For example:
- "Gut-bucket" blues songs are typically "low-down" and earthy, about rocky or steamy man-woman relationships, hard luck and hard times.
- Hokum blues celebrated both comedic lyrical content and a boisterous, farcical performance style.
- The (Mississippi) Delta blues was a rootsy sparse style with passionate vocals accompanied by slide guitar.
- Boogie-woogie was another important style of 1930s and early 1940s urban blues.
- Jump blues is influenced by big band music and uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory vocals.
The early practioners were called ‘field hollers' and following the Civil War could either work as field labor or become traveling minstrels. Fitting that we take the Blues back to their origin ... in a meadow.
In the 1920s, the blues became a major element of African American and American popular music, reaching white audiences. The blues has gone on to influence Western popular music, as the roots of jazz, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, heavy metal music, hip-hop, and other popular music forms.
"The blues" - a reference to the “the blue devils” - a term for depression, sadness or just simply 'down in dumps’. Earliest reference is 1798 one act farce by George Colman called Blue Devils.