Sunday, June 2, 2024

The NRR Project: 'Pony Blues'


‘Pony Blues’

Written and performed by Charley Patton

June 1929


Charley Patton is “the father of Mississippi Delta blues”. What does this mean?

Blues issued forth initially from two regions – the city and the country. Country blues are finger-picked, acoustic performances. Mississippi delta blues are those that originated in the region of east Arkansas and Louisiana, and western Mississippi, adjacent to the Mississippi River. Primary proponents of this style were Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Lead Belly.

Patton, born perhaps in 1891, quickly proved himself adept at the guitar and began performing throughout the region. He started performing around 1908. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he played higher-class locations consistently. He also served as a mentor to many bluesmen, including Robert Johnson.

“Pony Blues” is a typical blues tune – revolving around sexual metaphors and the idea of hooking up with someone. Patton’s growly intonation, syncopated rhythms, and percussive intensity make him a distinct voice in the blues pantheon.

The National Recording Registry Project tracks one writer’s expedition through all the recordings in the National Recording Registry in chronological order. Next up: Trovadores Regionales.



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