From the delta region of Mississippi and Louisiana, the blues traveled to different regions and in each city, took on its own flavor. There was Kansas City Blues, St. Louis Blues, Memphis Blues, Texas Blues, Chicago Blues and even Detroit Blues. But each was simply the rural, delta blues given a unique twist or tempo or riff or new instrumentation.
Most of the “city” forms of the rural blues mixed other elements into the rural formula. In Memphis and Chicago, electric guitar was needed to amplify the sound to be heard in the larger (and noisier) halls. In St. Louis, piano was mixed in with the blues, utilizing a primitive style called barrelhouse piano.In New Orleans, blues elements were mixed with early jazz as part of the songs played by Louis Armstrong and hundreds of other jazz musicians in Storyville. And in the metropolitan cities of New York, Philadelphia and Boston, W.C. Handy had already established a pop version of the blues called the “classic” blues.
In the late ‘20s, country legend Jimmie Rodgers combined blues with a novel style of singing to record several “Blue Yodels.” Like Robert Johnson, Rodgers’ career was tragically cut short, in his case, by tuberculosis. But Rodgers effectively fused blues with hillbilly music to create a type of “white man’s blues” that was surprisingly true to both traditions.
In Kansas City and other locations, the blues formula was combined with a style of piano playing called “boogie-woogie” which created a blur out of the left hand fingerings.
In the late ‘40s, blues was again combined with high energy swing jazz to form a hybrid called “jump blues” which made Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five well-known on “race” radio stations. His jump blues gave a driving beat to the 12 bar blues and was an important stepping stone to the birth of rhythm and blues (R & B) and rock ‘n roll in the mid 19’50s.
Example: jump blues