DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Roots
Our first theme of 2020 is Roots, selected by our friends from the Québec chapter. What a great way to transition into the new year. Fed by the past and growing into the future. When I think of roots, I think of the beginning, the source, the genesis of something. Musical styles are rooted in what came before, contemporary forms are simply mutations or an evolution of preexisting forms.
We can trace most popular music’s roots back to the blues. A cocktail of traditional African music, spirituals, work chants and county dance songs, the blues was an eclectic amalgam of styles originating around the mid 1800’s. Born in the deep south, the blues was the seed of numerous musical genres and a uniquely American art form. From jazz, to soul, to rock and folk, the roots of these styles can be traced back to the delta blues. I won’t pretend to be an expert, I’m just a casual fan, but if you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into the blues, PBS has a great films series from Executive Producer Martin Scorsese called The Blues. Or maybe you could plan a trip to The National Blues Museum in St Louis. And if you’re looking for a guide to some of the key recordings in the genre, pick up a copy of The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings.
Here are just a few seminal tracks to whet your appetite:
“Crazy Blues” — Mamie Smith, 1920
“Guitar Blues” — Sylvester Weave, 1923
“Cake Walking Babies” — Bessie Smith, 1925
“Matchbox Blues” — Blind Lemon Jefferson, 1927
“Down the Dirt Road Blues” — Charley Patton, 1929
Despite homage above, this month’s playlist is not a blues-centric one. Although, as with most contemporary music, many of the songs on the list clearly have roots in the blues.
This month’s Playlist uproots some great treasures, from the Nigerian dynamo Burna Boy, to Minnie Riperton’s “Les Fleurs”. The theme is Roots, and this compilation will take you beneath the surface, unearthing rich compositions to feed your soul, including favorites by Bob Marley, The Smiths, U.S. Girls, Black Star, Raveena and more.