Chicago has been the home of the blues for a long time. Even in the 1920's, when most blues singers still lived in the Southern States (Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Ten- nessee, Alabama and Arkansas in particular), many blues recording sessions took place in the Windy City. The 1930's and 1940's saw the crystalization of the city style of blues in Chicago and other urban centres of the North. The Bluebird artists such as Tampa Red, Big Maceo, Sonny Boy Williamson, Dr. Clayton, Jazz Gillum and Big Boy Grudup reflected this style. So too did such people as Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Mirmie who recorded for Okeh/Vocalion labels.

This “city” style of blues singing was characterized by the use of the piano as the leading accompanying instrument with the addition of bass and drums. The guitar be- came more of a rhythm instrument, a much different role than that employed by the the earlier, more rural artists. The fore- runner of the whole style was Leroy Carr, whose poignant yet boisterous blues were exceptionally popular in the early 1930's. Carr’s “barrelhouse” blues piano playing was musically coherent, obeyed bar struc- tures and set a precedent. Other pianists emerged around the same time - such as Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery and Albert Luandrew. The latter uses the name Sunnyland Slim professionally and is one of the blues artists to appear at this year's festival.

Sunnyland Slim is from Vance, Mississippi, a hamlet located some 17 miles south-east of Clarksdale in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. He was born in 1907 and spent his childhood, like many others in those parts, assisting his family in the “serfdom" that is cotton farming. He began playing piano early and by the mid l920’swasworking throughout the Delta country, Arkansas and Louisiana. He survived the Depression years as best he could and arrived in Chicago in 1942. He worked with Lonnie Johnson, Peetie Wheat- straw and Dr. Clayton during those years and the influence of the latter two can be heard in the high falsetto cries that are a basic ingredient of his style. In 1947 he began to make records and so became known outside the closed world of Chicago blues. He has written many blues and made close to a


hundred recordings. Brown Skin Woman and Johnson Machine Gun are two of his better known numbers.

Sunnyland Slim’s rolling barrelhouse blues piano with his characteristic little turns of phrase to identify it is a permanent part of the blues language. That, combined with his blues shouting - full of hollered exclamations is a stirring musical experience. His most recent Canadian appearance was for the CBC’s television show “The Blues” last February. It is a pleasure to have himwith us at Mariposa.

The second big Negro migration to the North commenced during the Second World War. Better work opportunities and more money were the prime factors behind this move. Chicago’s teeming ghetto - “The South Side” - didn’t exactly constitute heaven but it pro- vided some alleviation from the Middle Ages servitude of the South. With the rapid ex- pansion in population came a change in the music . The newly arrived migrants preferred a tough urbanized version of their own Deep South blues. It was an era that saw such singers as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf gain prominence. The high pitched whine of the Mississippi bottleneck was harnessed to the electric guitar, the rhythms became heavily accented and the wail of the harmonica was always there. This too, in time, had become amplified. The instrument was held close to a hand microphone, enabling a fas- cinating variety of sounds to be created.

The stylistic origins of today's blues har- monica goes back to Sonny Boy Williamson (the pre-war artist who recorded for Blue- bird) but three names are synonymous with Chicago’s post-war blues resurgance. These are Little Walter, Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Little Walter achieved fame early - firstly as Muddy Waters’ harp player and then as a recording artist on his own. Junior Wells, recently, seems to have established himself but fame seems to have eluded Walter Horton so far, even though his stature is comparable with the other two. Hortonwas Muddy Waters’ harp player after Little Walter left and remained with him for some two years.

Walter Horton was born in Horn Lake, Mississippi, in 1918 and began learning the harmonica at the age of five. He moved to Memphis when l2 and the following year