West Coast Blues

I watched the movie Devil In a Blue Dress in 1995.  The movie is based on the book of the same name by Walter Mosley.  It is the first book in the Easy Rawlins series of mysteries.  The book and movie take place in Los Angeles in post-World War II 1940s.  The movie soundtrack is music from the period, and it’s from that soundtrack that I first heard examples of West Coast Blues.

The West Coast Blues is music of the African-American exodus from the Jim-Crow south.  As described beautifully in The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, African-Americans from the western part of the former slave states migrated to California.  The musicians, particularly those from Texas, played important roles in the West Coast Blues.

West Coast Blues are very different from but much less familiar than the Chicago Blues.  I am not a musicologist, so be careful about quoting me as an authority on West Coast Blues.  With that caveat, I think West Coast Blues owes more to the jazz and swing dance music of the era than Chicago Blues.  Musicians from the Mississippi moved tended to move north towards Kansas City and Chicago.  Chicago Blues is more tinged with gospel and the country blues of the Mississippi Delta region south of Memphis.

Here are some songs you might check out.

Good Rockin’ Tonight – Wynonie Harris

Blues  After Hours – Peewee Crayton

Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’ – Louis Jordon

Ain’t Nobody’s Business – Jimmy Witherspoon

Old Time Shuffle Blues – Lloyd Glenn

T-Bone Jumps Again – T-Bone Walker, an example of Jump Blues

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