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  • keyboard_arrow_right The Blues, Episode 5: From Country to City


The Blues, Episode 5: From Country to City

BMPAudio August 31, 2003

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Reporting locale: Memphis

Beale Street in Memphis was to blues what 52nd Street in New York was to jazz.  Packed clubs, street musicians, all night card games, ladies of the night, fights, and some of the best music heard anywhere were all part of Saturday night on Beale Street.  This episode documents the importance of Memphis and Beale Street in particular in blues history.  Many an artist launched his career from Memphis, including B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Sonny Boy Williamson trolled Beale Street clubs.  Memphis’s WDIA, the first all-black radio station, put blues on the airwaves in a big way.  Sam Phillips and his fledgling company, Sun, recorded the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner and many other Mississippi bluesmen.  In the mid and late 1940s, Memphis was the blues capital of America; this episode explains why.  Interviews with Robert Gordon, who wrote “It Came from Memphis,” Sam Phillips, B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Ike Turner, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Charlie Musselwhite and others fill out the Memphis story.  The show concludes with a live recording from 2003’s W.C. Handy Awards, held every year in Memphis.

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