Ragtime St Louis and the Memphis Blues

There's 'A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight'. Sheriff Brady "came up in an electric car" and was shot by bartender Duncan (1890), Democrat Party vote fixer 'Stack' Lee Shelton killed Billy Lyons (1895), and 'Cakewalker' Frankie Baker shot her ragtime-pianist beau Al Britt "cos he done her wrong." (1899).

“I wouldn’t want to forget Targee Street (St Louis) as it was then. I wouldn’t want to forget the high roller Stetson hats of the men or the diamonds the girls wore in their ears.” W C Handy

By 1910 Frank Stokes, Gus Cannon, 'Furry' Lewis and a young Memphis Minnie were performing in Memphis. W. C. Handy published 'Memphis Blues' in 1912 and 'St Louis Blues' in 1914 - both enormous sheet music 'hits' and immediately recorded. Black artists like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Ida Cox toured the South 'shouting' the blues in circus and minstrel tent shows, paving the way for the blues craze of the mid 'teens'.

Stringbands and jug bands

String bands were common throughout the South, originally playing a shared repertoire of dance tunes.
White bands such as Charlie Poole's N.C.Ramblers or Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers mainly stuck to old time fiddle tunes, breakdowns and minstrel and ragtime pop.
Black bands like The Dallas String Band or The Mississippi Sheiks were bluesier and focused on 'good-time' dance music, with plenty of current hits - whether Vaudeville, pop songs, or ragtime, blues and jazz material.

Bands featuring a jug were seen in Louisville and on Mississippi Riverboats by 1900 and in Memphis by 1910. Memphis bands, like Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers, The Memphis Jug Band or the Beale Street Jug Band show the transition from ragtime to blues and jazz but maintain a more 'country' feel.

Songsters and Hokum

All good clean fun - from folk and medicine shows to ragtime and vaudeville. Songsters such as Ragtime Texas Henry Thomas, Jim Jackson, Mississippi John Hurt, Pink Anderson, Papa Charlie Jackson, The Two Poor Boys, Luke Jordan or Mance Lipscombe entertained with risqué offerings or stereotyped tales of fools: ''Candy Man', 'I Got Mine', 'Salty Dog', 'In The Jailhouse Now', 'All I Want Is A Spoonful', 'Keep It Clean', etc.

The late 1920's and early 1930's saw the development of a 'jazzy' style by Chicago-based musicians such as Tampa Red and his Hokum Jug Band, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, The Harlem Hamfats and Washboard Sam, and by the likes of Bo Carter and Blind Boy Fuller, etc. with such classics as: 'It's Tight Like That', 'I Had To Give Up Gym', 'Banana In Your Fruit Basket', 'Dirty Mother For You', 'Hot Tamales'. etc...