PATTON, CHARLEY/BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON
DEVIL'S BEST FRIEND (GREAT AMERICAN)
If the Delta country blues has a convenient source point, it would probably be Charley Patton, its first great star.
His hoarse, impassioned singing style, fluid guitar playing, and unrelenting beat made him the original king of the Delta blues.
Much more than your average itinerant musician, Patton was an acknowledged celebrity and a seminal influence on musicians throughout the Delta.
Rather than bumming his way from town to town, Patton would be called up to play at plantation dances, juke joints, and the like.
He'd pack them in like sardines everywhere he went, and the emotional sway he held over his audiences caused him to be tossed off of more than one plantation by the ownership, simply because workers would leave crops unattended to listen to him play any time he picked up a guitar.
He epitomized the image of a '20s "sport" blues singer: rakish, raffish, easy to provoke, capable of downing massive quantities of food and liquor, a woman on each arm, with a flashy, expensive-looking guitar fitted with a strap and kept in a traveling case by his side, only to be opened up when there was money or good times involved.
His records - especially his first and biggest hit, "Pony Blues" - could be heard on phonographs throughout the South.
Although he was certainly not the first Delta bluesman to record, he quickly became one of the genre's most popular.
By late-'20s Mississippi plantation standards, Charley Patton was a star, a genuine celebrity.**************************Country blues guitarist and vocalist Blind Lemon Jefferson is indisputably one of the main figures in country blues.
He was of the highest in many regards, being one of the founders of Texas blues (along with Texas Alexander), one of the most influential country bluesmen of all time, one of the most popular bluesmen of the 1920s, and the first truly commercially successful male blues performer.
Up until Jefferson's achievements, the only real successful blues recordings were by women performers, including Bessie Smith and Ida Cox, who usually sang songs written by others and accompanied by a band.
With Jefferson came a blues artist who was solo, self-accompanied, and performing a great deal of original material in addition to the more familiar repertoire of folk standards and shouts.
These originals include his most well-known songs: "Matchbox Blues," "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," and "Black Snake Moan." In all, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded almost 100 songs in just a few years, making his mark on not only the bluesmen of the time (including Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins) but also on music fans in the years to come.
The legacy of Jefferson's unique and powerful sound did not fade with the passing decades.