Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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p. ix

And I guess all history is folk history. I grew up in a musical family in which several generations had already, by the time of my birth, devoted at least a significant portion of their lives to music. My grandfather was a clarinetist in the “Big Band” era, and several of my uncles likewise were jazz musicians...

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Sound Check: Call and Response: The Blues of Accommodation, the Blues of Resistance

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pp. 1-22

While female blues stars such as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Bessie Smith were box office and record catalog hits, playing in big-audience venues with large instrumental ensembles, lesser-known male musicians...

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Verse One: To Be Black Is to Be Blue: The Blues Profession and Negotiating the “Black Place” during Jim Crow

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pp. 23-80

Cultural traditions, naturally, are handed down from elder to younger, decade after decade. This generational transmission of knowledge and skill was particularly strong in the blues musical culture of the early twentieth-century South, where mentoring...

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Verse Two: Leavin' the Jim Crow Town: The Great Migration and the Blues's Broadening Horizon

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pp. 81-115

Mamie Smith cried that it had been a long run of “bad news” that pushed her over the edge, giving her the “Crazy Blues.” Unlike their enslaved ancestors, southern blacks of Smith’s generation were free to try to escape “bad news” by moving away, and mobility—“ramblin’ ” in blues parlance—has been long recognized as a fundamental theme in blues lyrics...

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Break: Jim Crow's War for Democracy: The Blues People and World War I

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pp. 116-127

Historians increasingly interpret the Great War as a watershed event in the wider cultural history of the United States. Bolshevism (or at least the threat of it), mass advertising, suffrage, racism, progressive politics, and a host of other important cultural elements shaped American life through the war years.1 The seeming dissonance...

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Verse Three: Workin' on the Project: The Blues of the Great Flood and Great Depression

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pp. 128-168

Historians increasingly interpret the Great War as a watershed event in the wider cultural history of the United States. Bolshevism (or at least the threat of it), mass advertising, suffrage, racism, progressive politics, and a host of other important cultural elements shaped American life through the war years.1 The seeming dissonance...

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Verse Four: Uncle Sam Called Me: World War II and the Blues Counterculture of Inclusion

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pp. 169-200

With the Second New Deal providing relief jobs and the nation’s economy ramping up for war production, more and more African Americans joined their countrymen in digging out of the Great Depression during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Blues, jazz, and other African American music remained very popular in northern...

Images Plates

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p. 115

Discography

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pp. 201-210

Notes

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pp. 211-244

Bibliography

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pp. 245-266

Index

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pp. 267-275