Vibing with the Blues

Have you ever sat in a room alone thinking about nothing? Plenty of us have and plenty of us have not. So what do we usually do when we feel this way? It does not make us sad, it does not make us happy, neither does it depresses us it just feels like nothing. Generally, we grab a cup of coffee and listen to the music that we like. What do you prefer in this state of mind? Blues music right? Well, it is the best choice to feel the emotions again. To feel the warmth of love, sadness and despair. Listening to blues music does get you down but it also gives you the feeling of helping somebody else who has seen a harder time than you. These songs help you get out of the bad mood and feel better. When you listen to one or two songs you know that your life is not as bad as you think it is. Blues music also makes you feel better and calm, in a certain way it can be very relaxing.

So when did blues introduce itself in San Francisco? Let us take a walk through blues music history and its origin.

In the 1940s as the African American emerged in the San Francisco bay area to work in the shipyards, they brought the audience blues music and all its forms. Soon clubs started to open and flourished through the 1950s. Across the bay, blues music has even an older history from the 1920s. After the second World War, many clubs opened in San Francisco and provided the best jazz and blues music they could. El Matador, Jazz Workshop, Basin Street West, Keystone Korner, Off-Broadway, The Cellar, and Turk Murphy’s Earthquake McGoon’s. In the entire city, Black hawk (Turk and Hyde) were scattered where Dave Brubeck played the piano on Sunday afternoons.

Blues music originated in the 1870s in the Deep South of the United States. Its roots were African-Americans, African-American work songs, African musical traditions, and spirituals. Blues music is characterized by the call and response pattern. Blues music is also famous for its lyrics, instrumental music and bass lines. Earlier blues music consisted of one line repeating four times. The characterization of blues music we hear now days became standard very recently in the 20th century.

Earlier Blues music mostly took the form of a narrative which indicted suffering of African-Americans such as racial discrimination. Many elements of blues music can be traced back to African music such as call and response pattern. The first appearance of the blues music can be dated to the end time of slavery and the introduction of the juke points. This music can be associated with the recently acquired freedom of the slaves. Blues music captured the suffering, anguish, hopes of 300 years of tenant farming and slavery. The blues was performed by solo musicians who roamed around with their guitar, piano, or harmonica.


Sub Genres

  • Country Blues
  • Delta blues
  • West Coast Blues
  • Piedmont Blues
  • Chicago Blues
  • World War II
  • Electric Blues

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new genre developed which was called blues-rock. It was a mixture of blues music with rock music.

Now that the crowd is not so crazy about blues music and forgetting about its history, there are still some people who hold it close to them. The Poor House Bistro has become one of the only living establishments that provide blues in the San Jose area right now.