An Expat Life: Nicaragua Blues and Ruse

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Morning Blues #8

Well...the rain fell down here in Managua. The rainy season has officially begun. What better 'rainy day' music to listen to than the blues. Luckily for me, I have a few selections to choose from. Since the downpours are often violent, and flooding occurs, there is no other choice but to listen to the great Delta bluesman, Charley Patton, singing about the 'high water', the Mississippi flood of 1927, and hard living (plenty of that here in Nicaragua!).

Patton was one of the blues pioneers, a man that, along with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly, became an inspiration to generations of bluesmen, and subsequent musicians in general. His hard-hitting style of slide guitar reverberates today as loudly as it did 80 years ago. Simply put, he was one of the first legends of the blues, a Delta 'star', if you will.

Born in Hinds county, Mississippi in 1891, Patton and his family soon moved to the famous Dockery Plantation, where Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson later followed in his footsteps. He, along with Son House, Tommy Johnson, and others, more or less created the Delta blues buzz of the early 20th century. Playing behind his head, between his knees, with a loud, gravelly voice, Patton blazed a distinct trail for future bluesmen. Although small in stature, Patton is a giant in the genre.

I could elaborate further, but I feel that famed cartoonist R.Crumb sums it up best, describing Patton's eclectic life in a comic book style motif seen here. Patton lived the typical 'bluesman' life, drinking heavily, chasing women, entertaining crowds on Saturday night, and eeking by the rest of the week. Hard times, hard livin'...

For the best of the hard driving Delta blues, and insight into the Delta region in the early 20th century, check out the extensive box set, Screamin' & Hollerin' the Blues. (available for a limited time here) Patton truly was the 'Father of the Delta Blues'. After listening, you may find yourself thirsty for some of that good ole bootleg whiskey....then, you'll hear the crickets chirping, hoot owl singing, and the jubilation and misery of the Delta from a faraway time.

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