The American Folk Blues Festival – The British Tours 1963-1966

Before British Invasion hit North America, a blues movement, often ignored in the US, took Europe by storm. This helps explain why so many of the Brit bands were Blues-based.

15 August 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

The American Folk Blues Festival was a music festival that toured Europe as an annual event for several years beginning in 1962.

It introduced audiences in Europe, including the UK, to leading blues performers of the day such as Muddy WatersHowlin’ WolfJohn Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson, most of whom had never previously performed outside the US.

The tours attracted substantial media coverage, including TV shows, and contributed to the growth of the audience for blues music in Europe.

German jazz publicist Joachim-Ernst Berendt first had the idea of bringing original African-American blues performers to Europe. Jazz and rock and roll had become very popular, and both genres drew influences directly back to the blues. Berendt thought that European audiences would flock to concert halls to see them in person.

Promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau brought this idea to reality.

By contacting Willie Dixon, an influential blues composer and bassist from Chicago, they were given access to the blues culture of the southern United States. The first festival was held in 1962, and they continued almost annually until 1972, after an eight-year hiatus reviving the festival in 1980 until its final performance in 1985. (Wikipedia)

Blues musicians who performed on the American Folk Blues Festival tours included Muddy WatersSonny Boy WilliamsonJohn Lee HookerSippie WallaceT-Bone WalkerSonny Terry & Brownie McGheeMemphis SlimOtis RushLonnie JohnsonEddie BoydBig Walter HortonJunior WellsBig Joe WilliamsMississippi Fred McDowellWillie DixonOtis SpannBig Mama ThorntonBukka WhiteJimmy ReedHowlin’ Wolf (with a band made up of Sunnyland SlimHubert Sumlin, Willie Dixon and drummer Clifton James), Champion Jack DupreeSon HouseArmand “Jump” JacksonSkip JamesSleepy John EstesLittle Brother MontgomeryVictoria SpiveyJ. B. LenoirLittle WalterCarey BellLouisiana RedLightnin’ HopkinsJoe TurnerBuddy GuyMagic SamLee JacksonMatt “Guitar” MurphyRoosevelt SykesDoctor RossKoko TaylorHound Dog TaylorArchie Edwards,[8]Helen Humes and Sugar Pie DeSanto.


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