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Texas Blues

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Texas Blues is a subgenre of the blues, and of course is not limited to Texas-based musicians. It has had various style variations but typically has been played with more swing than other blues styles.

 

Texas blues differs from styles such as Chicago blues in use of instruments and sounds, especially the heavy use of the guitar. Musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan contributed by using various types of guitar sounds like southern slide guitar and different melodies of blues and jazz. Texas blues also relies on guitar solos or "licks" as bridges in songs.

 

Texas Blues began to appear in the early 1900s among African Americans who worked in oilfields, ranches and lumber camps. In the 1920s, Blind Lemon Jefferson innovated the style by using jazz-like improvisation and single string accompaniment on a guitar; Jefferson's influence defined the field and inspired later performers, like Lightnin' Hopkins and T-Bone Walker. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many bluesmen moved to cities like Galveston, Houston and Dallas. It was from these cities that a new wave of popular performers appeared, including slide guitarist and gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson and legendary vocalist Big Mama Thornton. Duke Records and Peacock Records were the most important labels of the scene.

 

In the 1960s, however, the record industry moved north, reducing Texas's importance in the blues scene. The area's importance returned in the 1970s when a Texas blues rock sound developed, led by ZZ Top and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. This set the stage for the revival of the 1980s, which produced Stevie Ray Vaughan and moved the blues capital of the state to Austin.

 

Notable performers

 

Albert Collins

The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Lightnin' Hopkins

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Billy Gibbons

Freddie King

Leadbelly

Guitar Shorty

Big Mama Thornton

Jimmie Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

T-Bone Walker

Johnny Winter

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