By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Speaking of Kentucky styles, jug-band music was invented in that state. Check out one of my favorite groups, Dixieland Jug Blowers. Also, Kentucky was the home of one of the most influential guitar players of all time, Merle Travis. Plus there are so many great string bands, banjo players and fiddler players from the '20s and '30s. After Texas, Kentucky is quite possibly the second-most-versatile state when it comes to the old music, even though it didn't have too many blues artists other than Sylvester Weaver and Louisville's Clifford Gibson.
St. Louis Ragtime. It's important to know that ragtime is a Missouri invention, and these are its king pianists: Tom Turpin, Scott Hayden, Artie Matthews, Louis Chauvin, Arthur Marshall, Scott Joplin — all St. Louis natives. A living ragtime machine is St. Louis' own Trebor Tichenor. Ragtime wasn't just piano music, remember. There were great ragtime banjo players, too, such as Vess Ossman from New York. There were a lot of great string bands playing it, too, like the 6 and 7/8's String Band of New Orleans.
St. Louis Jazz. The string band the Mound City Blue Blowers included Red McKenzie on vocals; he was a huge influence on a young Bing Crosby. Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. "Ukelele Ike," was a novelty musician and the first voice of Jiminy Cricket. The city also had great upright bass players such as Jimmy Blanton and Wendell Marshall, and great trumpeters such as Charles Creath, Dewey Jackson and Oliver Cobb. Then there was the great bandleader Fate Marable, who made a living early on playing on steamboats. Members of his band — including Red Allen, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds and Zutty Singleton — went on to great prominence.
St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately, we're a town people like to forget about when it comes to blues. We had such giants as Roosevelt Sykes, Lonnie Johnson, Henry Townsend, Charley Jordan and Peetie Wheatstraw.
Early Memphis. Everyone knows about the reputation this town has for great music. But whereas now they're too busy preserving Elvis, the old days down on Beale Street are where the legends live. Frank Stokes, Furry Lewis, Robert Wilkins, Sleepy John Estes and the Memphis Jug Band all recorded there in the '20s and '30s.