The annual Bradenton Blues Festival is on Dec. 2, and in support of that award-winning event, the Manatee County Library System is teaming up with the Suncoast Blues Society to provide educational blues concerts in all of its branches.
Clearly, now is the time to get lost in the blues. Along with the educational concerts and the Bradenton Blues Festival itself, there are loads of blues-based materials to check out at the bibrary.
Start off with the small volume “The Blues: A Very Short Introduction” by Elijah Wald. Two other good primers are Howard Elmer’s “Blues: Its Birth and Growth,” in which Elmer traces the origins of blues music, its evolution in the United States, and how it influenced jazz and rock ’n’ roll, and Arnold Adoff’s “Roots and Blues: A Celebration,” which is written as poetry.
Next, explore the people who made and shaped this musical genre as well as its evolution and philosophy with the book “Blues People” by Imamu Amiri. “Big Star Fallin’ Mama,” which is a collective biography featuring portraits of five blues greats: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holliday and Aretha Franklin.
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Buzzy Jackson’s “A Bad Woman Feeling Good” focuses on the history of women blues singers. And don’t forget to discover how the blues fathered and influenced other American music with Howard Elmer’s “Blues: Its Birth and Growth”; “Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock ’n’ Roll (And Rock Saved the Blues) by John Milward; and the DVD “Bluesland: A Portrait in American Music.”
Of course, all of our library branches have scores of blues music to check out on CD or to download from our music database called Freegal. Albums that are available include “Genius Loves Company” with Ray Charles, “Luck of the Draw” with Bonnie Raitt, “Aretha’s Best” with Aretha Franklin, and “Back to Now” with the band Labelle. We also have two by Stevie Ray Vaughan, “The Collection,” a three-disc anthology of works by this blues master as well as “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” Freegal has albums from these and other artists and can be downloaded on to your favorite device.
And don’t forget to check out the Blues in the Library educational concerts hosted by the Manatee Library System and provided by The Suncoast Blues Society: George Worthmore, 6 p.m. Nov. 27 at the downtown branch; Nat Langston, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at South Manatee Branch; Bodie Valdez, 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at Rocky Bluff Branch; Steve Arvey, 2:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at Palmetto Branch; RJ Howson, 2 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Island Branch; and Steve Arvey & Bill Buchman, 2 p.m. Dec. 1 at Braden River Branch.
Jyna Johnson is a Librarian and Programming Coordinator for the Manatee County Library System. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday.