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KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.

KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.
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Location:

United States

Description:

KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.

Language:

English


Episodes

The long flight of Muddy's 'Honey Bee'

2/25/2014
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Muddy Waters was born in rural Mississippi, and learned his blues at the feet of Son House and Robert Johnson. By the 1940’s he took that delta blues to Chicago and led the gradual transition to electrified urban blues. He then recorded “Honey Bee” in 1951 with just bass and guitar accompaniment. The sound was closer to the delta, but you can hear the beginnings of the more aggressive modern sound starting to happen.

Duration:00:03:00

Hendrix inspired by Earl King's 'Come On'

2/7/2014
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Earl King is one of the great songwriters and performers to come out of New Orleans, and his legacy continues to live on. Many of his compositions, including “Big Chief," “Trick Bag” and “These Lonely, Lonely Nights” have become an important part of the New Orleans “songbook." His 1960 recording of “Come On Pts. 1 & 2” is punctuated with many starts and stops, featuring his expressive voice and aggressive and precise guitar work. If you look through Jimi Hendrix ’s early releases, there...

Duration:00:03:54

'Black Rat' comes from the most powerful singer to walk the Earth

1/31/2014
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The urban blues of places like Detroit and Chicago came from country blues. Little Son Joe and his better known partner Memphis Minnie were among the players who brought the blues to the cities, paving the way for Muddy Waters and others who would follow. Memphis Minnie is known as one of the best guitarists and singers in the blues, and had a prolific career lasting 40 years. She married Little Son Joe (Ernest Lawlars) in the late 1930’s and they recorded “Black Rat Swing” in 1941 with...

Duration:00:03:18

Everybody's got the 'Fever,' but Peggy Lee's got it bad

12/6/2013
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Chances are you’ve heard Peggy Lee’s iconic version of “Fever”– it’s one of the steamiest love songs ever written. But the original recording was released two years earlier by Little Willie John in 1956.

Duration:00:03:15

'Kokomo Blues' Among the Roots of 'Sweet Home Chicago'

11/29/2013
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“Sweet Home Chicago” is one of the best known blues songs ever written. But historians seem to agree that when Robert Johnson recorded the song in 1936, he borrowed heavily to make his masterpiece. “Kokomo Blues” is clearly one of the building blocks of that better known blues song. Scrapper Blackwell came out with it in 1928.

Duration:00:03:39

Following "Blues With a Feeling" through cutting-edge changes

11/22/2013
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Here’s a perfect example of a song that changed with the times, and was at the cutting edge of those changes. Drummer and singer Rabon Tarrant recorded “Blues With a Feeling” in 1947, a time when big band swing music was in transition to rock and roll. This version straddles both genres with the beat of rock and roll, but the more jazzy instrumentation of piano, sax and trumpet.

Duration:00:03:51

Robert Johnson at the Crossroads represents Delta blues the best

11/15/2013
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If I had to pick one person to represent Delta blues at the peak of its expression, it would be Robert Johnson . Saying that he was a superlative guitar player, impassioned singer and masterful lyricist seems barely adequate to convey the importance of the work he accomplished in his 27 years. Many of his songs became not only blues standards but would be a huge influence on rock music.

Duration:00:03:05

'Traveling Riverside Blues' and the Roots of Led Zeppelin

11/1/2013
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Robert Johnson has become a mythical figure of the blues, who acquired his prodigious skills in a deal with the devil at the crossroads. The truth is he was a man who worked very hard to turn himself into a musician. His early attempts at music – sitting in with legends Charley Patton and Son House—were not successful, and he didn’t appear to have much in the way of musical talent. But then Johnson found a teacher in Ike Zinneman, an unrecorded Mississippi blues player, spending a year...

Duration:00:02:47

The Piedmont Blues of "Crow Jane"

10/25/2013
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It’s hard to trace the exact source of “Crow Jane”, but it’s a song that has outlasted many others from the early days of the blues. Its roots lay in the Piedmont region of Virginia and North and South Carolina. Rev. Gary Davis was known to perform it during the 1920’s, and the first recording was made in 1927 by guitarist Julius Daniels . Daniels is important partly because he was one of the first Black guitarists to record in the Southeast, inspiring others to follow. Piedmont blues...

Duration:00:03:34

'Sitting on Top of the World' with the Mississippi Sheiks

10/18/2013
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The Mississippi Sheiks were a popular string band of the 1920’s and 30’s, with a sound that was a crossover between country music and blues. Though Mississippi-based, their music differed from delta blues in some important ways.

Duration:00:03:03

'Nobody Knows You', Classic in Any Genre

10/11/2013
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This iconic hard-luck song was a hit when Bessie Smith recorded it in 1929, and with its timeless message and memorable melody, Nobody Knows You When Youre Down And Out has been a favorite for singers in almost every genre including jazz, blues, folk and rock. Bessie Smith was the most popular female jazz and blues singer of the 1920s, and the highest paid black entertainer of the day. Known as The Empress of the Blues, she often worked with the top tier players in the business, including...

Duration:00:03:00

'Mercury Blues' Still Running after 60 Years

9/27/2013
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Cars make great musical metaphors, and theyve inspired some famous blues songs like Cadillac Boogie, Maybelline and Mustang Sally. K.C. Douglas came out with Mercury Boogie in 1949, a song that would go on to be a widely covered blues standard, known as Mercury Blues. Ford purchased the rights to the song for advertising (Crazy Bout a Ford Truck), and it was a #2 hit for country singer Alan Jackson in 1993. K.C. Douglas was born in Mississippi and as a young man in the 1930s performed with...

Duration:00:03:25

Patton's 'Pony Blues' Still Kicking

9/20/2013
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Charley Patton was one of the first to play what we might recognize as Delta blues, putting blues into a strong and syncopated rhythm. A powerful singer with an aggressive guitar style, he was also a masterful entertainer, and one of the best-known traveling performers of his time.

Duration:00:03:19

The Long Life of 'Stop Breaking Down'

9/13/2013
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Eric Clapton called Robert Johnson " the most important blues singer who ever lived." Saying that Johnson was a superlative guitar player, impassioned singer and masterful lyricist seems barely adequate to convey the importance of the work he accomplished in his 27 years.

Duration:00:03:22

Blues for the 'Big Boss Man'

9/6/2013
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Jimmy Reed is one of the most influential bluesmen in history and his songs will always be part of the blues repertoire. "Baby, What You Want Me to Do," "Bright Lights, Big City," “ You Don't Have to Go”, are just some of the songs Reed made popular. His style was easy-going and non-threatening, which made it accessible to white audiences of the 50’s and 60’s. Perhaps because of that, Reed sold more records than other blues stars like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

Duration:00:03:42

'The Milk Cow Blues'—Alive and Well 80 Years Later

8/30/2013
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Sleepy John Estes was a Tennessee-based blues singer of the 1920’s and 30’s. Though not a flashy guitarist, his voice was packed with power, and the songs he wrote have lasted through the years to be sung by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

Duration:00:03:04

4 Ways to Sing 'The Same Thing'

8/23/2013
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This deceptively simple blues song is a masterpiece of restraint and execution. Recorded first in 1964, it features the voice of Muddy Waters and the piano of Otis Spann in call-and-response. Buoyed by composer Willie Dixon’s bass, Waters slide guitar speaks only twice in the entire song, with bone-chilling results.

Duration:00:03:56

Blues Turns Electric with 'Crawling King Snake'

8/16/2013
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Big Joe Williams was part of the first generation of blues players, and lived to help spark the blues revival of the 1960’s. An active performing and recording musician, he traveled the country starting in the 1920’s, and by the 1970’s, had become very popular on the folk circuit as well. He is best known for the songs “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Crawling King Snake” which he recorded in 1941. His unique sound came in part from his custom 9-string guitar, which could sound like a mandolin...

Duration:00:03:14

Gershwin's 'Summertime' Becomes a Rock Classic

8/9/2013
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“Summertime” is considered one of George Gershwin’s finest songs. Collaborating with his brother Ira and lyricist DuBose Heyward , Gershwin composed the piece for his 1935 “folk-opera” Porgy and Bess .

Duration:00:03:37

'The Sky is Crying' with Three Legendary Guitarists

8/2/2013
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Elmore James is a giant of the blues. His work as a songwriter, singer and guitarist put him near the top of the short list of greats. The songs he wrote and revived— “Dust My Broom”, “Cry For Me Baby” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” —are revered as blues standards.

Duration:00:03:19