05 - The Focus of My Inquiry into Boogie Woogie

by John Tennison — History of Boogie Woogie

The quotations above from E. Simms Campbell and Clarence Williams are among the earliest accounts that attribute an origin of Boogie Woogie music to a specific geographical region, namely Texas.  Their comments above are also noteworthy in that neither E. Simms Campbell nor Clarence Williams were from Texas.  Campbell was from St. Louis and spent time living and conducting research in both Chicago and New York.  Williams was from Louisiana, and also spent considerable time living in Chicago and New York.  Thus, neither man had a conflict of interest or a Texas bias that might have contributed to a distortion in their thinking about the geographical origin of Boogie Woogie.  Moreover, in 1986, after many years of researching the development of the Blues in America, historian Paul Oliver corroborated the idea that Boogie Woogie music originated in Texas (See below).  Consequently, part of my current analysis will focus on looking at evidence and at the music and migratory patterns of early Texas Boogie Woogie players.  At the same time, I want to see if it is possible to account for other early reports of the performance of Boogie Woogie that seem to be geographically discontinuous with the preponderance of early reports.  In summary, I hope to engage in a sort of "meta-analysis" that will yield a coherent theory for development of Boogie Woogie that takes into account all known evidence.

I will describe the musical features that distinguish Boogie Woogie.  Moreover, when appropriate, I will also take the opportunity to defend the musicality of and dispel misconceptions about Boogie Woogie.

Ultimately, I want to consider Boogie Woogie in a much broader context of human evolution and universal aesthetic sensibilities.  Part of this broader consideration will examine how the formal elements of Boogie Woogie have strong correlates and associations with ancient spiritual, religious, and sexual practices.

Another attribution of the geographical origin of Boogie Woogie to Texas was in the radio script, "The Boogie Woogie Beat: Rompin’ Stompin’ Rhythm," (broadcast the week of 1/17/02, Riverwalk script ©2001 by Margaret Moos Pick).  Moos wrote [when referring to the developers of the Boogie Woogie]:

“They had a captive audience:  loggers from the lumber camps deep in the piney woods, and workers laying track for the Texas and Pacific railroad, carving a line of steel through the wilderness.  The sounds of barrelhouse Boogie Woogie spread out in all directions following the path of the newly emerging railroad lines.”


© 2004-2008 John Tennison — All Rights Reserved

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