Following the end of the Civil war, black men had few options other than back-breaking manual field labor or becoming a traveling minstrel. Many chose the occupation of traveling minstrel playing raucous, all-night country dances, fish-frys, and jukejoints. These musicians relied on their physical stamina and mental repertoire of many blues songs. Although the lyrics of many blues songs are soulful and melancholy, the music as a whole is a powerful, emotive and rhythmic music celebrating the life of black Americans. The lyrics of the songs reflected daily themes of their lives including: sex, drinking, railroads, jail, murder, poverty, hard labor and love lost.
Although it is difficult to pin down, one of the first documented blues to be written is W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues" written in 1909. The popularity of country blues grew among Southern black folks during the teens and 1920's. During the late 1920's, with the advent of the 78 RPM phonograph, some of the more popular country blues artists were recorded by Paramount , Aristocrat and other record labels. During 1941-1943 the famous blues folklorist Alan Lomax made field recordings of bluesmen in their surroundings. This important body of work served to expose white folks to the blues, as well as give the fledgling artists exposure to national, yet segregated record labels.
During the Great depression, blacks migrated north along the route of the Illinois Central Railroad toward Chicago. They brought with them blues music, and soon the sound of it filled rowdy urban nightclubs. To compensate for the loud crowds and bigger venues, some of the more inventive performers such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, made the switch to electric guitars and added drum sets to their bands.
This new electric Chicago blues was more powerful than its predecessor. Blues fell somewhat out of popular favor until the late 1950's. In 1958 The Kingston Trio recorded the number 1 hit, Tom Dooley ,and gave birth to the folk revival. For seven years, from 1959-1966, the Newport Folk Festival reintroduced folk and blues music to a mainstream white American audience.
After this time, blues was increasingly merged with rock music to form the rock blues bands of the 1960's and 70's. The Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Led Zeppelin and others carried on the noble tradition of their forefathers, the blues minstrels.
extraction, was an early fiddler and bandleader from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In the musical world he is chiefly noted for publishing the "Dallas Blues" in March 1912 (copyrighted in September). "Dallas Blues" was the first ever published twelve-bar blues song. Little is known about Wand. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Hart P. Ancker. Wand was an 89er, coming with his parents, a brother, and two sisters from Kansas at age two. His father John, an immigrant from Frankfurt, Germany, and successful druggist in Topeka, immediately after the run set up a tent drugstore in what would become Oklahoma City. After his father's death in 1909, Hart Wand took control of the Wand & Son manufacturing plant in Oklahoma City, and kept up his musical interests. Wand moved his business to Chicago sometime before 1920, and by 1920 had settled in New Orleans. He traveled through Europe, Latin America, and Asia for his business. Samuel Charters, who interviewed Wand for his book The Country Blues (1959), stated that Wand was respected and well liked in New Orleans. Wand's wife, Alberta, died in 1982.