On November 29th, Bear Family Records will release The Memphis Blues Box – Original Recordings 1914–1969. This magnificent new 20-CD boxed set with its 534 tracks and an accompanying 360-page book traces the blues as recorded by Memphis-area musicians and singers. Starting over one hundred years ago with W.C. Handy’s tune “Memphis Blues,” this set includes classic blues, jug band blues, and itinerant blues from the 1920s and ’30s, the R&B bands and small combos of the 1940s and ’50s, and the tougher blues styles recorded up until the close of the 1960s.
Among the hundreds of performers included here are: W. C. Handy, Beale Street Frolic Orch, Memphis Jug Band, Memphis Stompers, Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, Jim Jackson, Frank Stokes, Minnie Wallace, Robert Wilkins, Furry Lewis, Jed Davenport, Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe, Fleming and Townsend, Jimmie Lunceford, Douglas Williams, Allen Shaw, Charlie Burse, James DeBerry, Buddy Doyle, Memphis Slim, Jack Kelly, Bukka White, Joe Hill Louis, Rufus Thomas, Al Jackson Band, Rosco Gordon, Howlin’ Wolf, B. B. King, Bonita Cole and Bill Harvey, Ford Nelson, Willie Nix, Junior Parker, Harmonica Frank, James Cotton, Doctor Ross, Elvis Presley, Little Milton, Tuff Green, Willie Mitchell, Bobby Bland, Willie Cobbs, Albert King, Willie Sanders, Big Amos, Cliff Jackson, and finally, tracks by Ike and Tina Turner. The accompanying book features an introduction by blues harmonica star and GRAMMY® winner Charlie Musselwhite, biographies of every performer (many newly researched), notes on each recording, full tracklisting, and many unseen photographs among the 800-plus illustrations.
The project was produced and part-written by historian Martin Hawkins. The book also includes important essays by other experts on various aspects of the Memphis blues. The box presents the recorded Memphis blues as defined by the performers and their record companies during the years 1914 to 1969 – the period when blues was issued on singles (78 RPM records and later 45s). The box includes at least one side of every blues record made in Memphis by Memphis-area musicians.The Memphis Blues Box – Original Recordings 1914–1969 focuses on how each disc fits within the evolving picture of the blues, either contributing something new, reinforcing trends of the moment, or harking back to tradition.