Cities in Blue takes you on an essential American music tour, with a focus on one of the country’s most iconic styles: The Blues. You’ll make a stop at every key city in Blues’ history—from New Orleans, Mississippi, Memphis, and Austin, to Piedmont, Kansas, Chicago, and New York. Distinguish between the raw, honest “call and response” blues born in the Deep South the polished sound performed to audiences in the city—it’s a journey through a much celebrated and storied genre.
Part 1: Chicago
Chicago played host to some of the earliest electrified blues sounds as African American workers migrated north to industrialized cities for work in the first half of the twentieth century.
Part 2: New York
Much like the city itself, New York’s two kinds of Blues finds its niche blending inspiration from its roots, culminating in two Blues sounds, Jazz and Folk.
Part 3: Kansas City
Despite its jazz town reputation, Kansas City gave birth to the sound that laid the foundation for Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll: Jump Blues.
Part 4: Piedmont
The rhythms of New Orleans’ rag-time influence traditional Delta sounds in the Piedmont Plateau region to establish a distinctly “country” Blues sound.
Part 5: Memphis
The Memphis Blues sound found its home on Beale Street; a rollicking, entertainment-filled environment that proved to be one of the early incubators of the rock and roll sound.
Part 6: Mississippi
Considered the birthplace of the Blues, Mississippi’s harsh working conditions and social unrest among Black communities fostered a sparse, rootsy style of music that came to be known as Delta Blues.
Part 7: New Orleans
Christened the city where jazz was born, the blues sound of New Orleans sits comfortably away from the limelight, slowly collecting the influences of its region: Caribbean beats, jazz riffs, and an undeniably upbeat attitude.
Part 8: Texas
It is argues that Blues sprang out of the cotton fields, oil fields and lumber camps of Texas around the same time as it developed in the Mississippi Delta, forming an independently guitar-heavy swing style of Blues that we now call the Texas sound.