Re: RE: RARA-AVIS: Blues settings?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 25 Sep 2000

Tribe wrote:

"I assumed that it had to do that early blues was not "acceptable" music, whereas jazz was more commonly accepted and listened to by white audiences."

Jazz was not entirely accepted in the '30s or even the '40s. It was crossing over, with more whites listening and performing (is Paul Whiteman the perfect name for a non-black musician who crowned himself the "KIng of Jazz" or what?), but still somewhat disreputable -- isn't that the formula for popularity in music? This is also why it was so perfect as background for hardboiled tales, right on the border between danger and sophistication.

"In fact, even in early african american culture, the blues was devil's music."

Not "even," only. Blues on Saturday night, Church on Sunday morning. However, blues was so far below the white reformers' radar screen that I have been unable to find a single reference to whites complaining about blues (and I've looked, hard, but only in print sources; so there may very well have been complaints from the pulpit, particularly in the south where, as has been noted, black and white culture were probably not nearly as separate as some would have liked or liked to think), although I have found volumes of complaints (in order) about ragtime, jazz, swing, r & b, rock 'n' roll, rock, heavy metal, rap and techno.

And I agree that juke joints and roadhouses seem like a perfect setting for a period noir.


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