Chasing the Blues explores the roots of the blues---the music birthed in the Mississippi Delta by African Americans who fashioned a new form of musical expression grounded in their shared experience of brutal oppression. They used the power of music to survive that oppression, creating a simple-in-structure, emotionally complex form that transformed and upended culture and became the bedrock of popular song.
Tracing the music back to its geographical and cultural origins in the Delta is key to understanding how the blues were shaped. Over time, the Delta blues have touched virtually every form of popular music (rock and roll, soul, R&B, country-western, gospel), creating the soundscape of our lives.
What makes this book unique? Fathoming how the music flowed from living and working conditions in the heart of the Deep South; appreciating how life-changing events like the Flood of 1927 sparked a mass migration away from plantation life, spreading the blues to the cities in the North and becoming the soundtrack to the civil rights movement; how blues musicians interacted, "cross-fertilizing" their music by learning, influencing, and imitating each other.
The habits of travel are shifting, and there is more interest and a larger market for diving deep into destinations closer to home. Interest in Black history and culture and the role Black Americans played in shaping America is at an all-time high. By appreciating the roots of this most American style of music, readers will have a richer experience listening to songs and visiting blues' holy and sacred sites.
Josephine Matyas is a multi-award-winning travel writer who has published extensively for two decades on destinations around the globe. Culture, history, and food are her areas of expertise.
Craig Jones is a lifer-musician trained in political economy at Queen's University, Canada. The eclectic mix of music, history, politics, and current affairs is what drives his writing, lecturing, teaching, and performing with bands and choirs.
If you're planning to visit the USA, especially the Mississippi Delta, this is a book you just have to pack before you go [...] Great facts and some great photos mean this is one book from which to learn so much more about the music we love.
"Some of the finest books on the blues have been released over the years by Backbeat Books and this one invites you to join the authors on a journey to the very heartland of the blues and its origins. If you're planning to visit the USA, especially the Mississippi Delta, this is a book you just have to pack before you go; it's indispensable. Even if you're not going, it's one any blues lover will read again and again. There's not much omitted: the towns, the sites, the roads, the marker stones, the people, all are woven into a rich and fertile history of the blues from its beginnings to what's there today . . . Great facts and some great photos means this is one book from which to learn so much more about the music we all love."—Pete Clack for Blues in Britain