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Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House Hardcover – July 1, 2011


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Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House + Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues (American Made Music Series)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195395573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195395570
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.8 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Beaumont's work shines especially in his depiction of House's nonrecording years... the definitive portrait of this unjustly neglected lion of American Music." --Library Journal (starred review)


"Beaumont offers vivid portraits of the pre-WWII blues scene and the mid-1960s efforts of white ethnomusicologists to rediscover and promote blues singers."
--Alan Moores, Booklist


"Daniel Beaumont, who teaches Arabic language and literature at the University of Rochester, has produced an eloquent study of House's life and travails." --Benjamin Ivry, Star-Ledger


"Preachin' the Blues achieves what any music biographer most aspires to: It makes a reader want to seek out the music it describes. And even in an iTunes age, when Son House's Levee Camp Moan can be found with a click instead of a drive to Rochester, it's still a journey with rich rewards." --Charles R. Cross, The Seattle Times



About the Author


Daniel Beaumont teaches courses on Arabic language and literature and the blues at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Slave of Desire: Sex, Love and Death in The 1001 Nights (Associated University Presses 2002). He produced and directed "So Much Truth" a documentary about bluesman Joe Beard. He also worked as chief observer on a rain making project in Libya and he has been on the historic "King Biscuit Time" blues radio show.

More About the Author

Daniel Beaumont teaches at the University of Rochester. He has lived and worked in the Middle East and been on the King Biscuit Time blues radio show. He is also the author of Slave of Desire.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Weinstock VINE VOICE on June 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished reading the Son House biography, "Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House" by Daniel Beaumont and while I intend to do a lengthier review, I thought it would serve to state my brief impressions. He makes use of much of the existing published material as well as some unpublished material such as stuff he has derived from the late Stephen Calt's research. Thankfully the book is evenly written and lacks the nasty potshots that Calt was capable of taking against others. For example, if Calt had done a House biography, one would be hard-pressed to imagine Calt praising Dick Waterman's work with Son as Son's manager.

The only negatives include the fact that photo reproduction of some images could have been better and no discography of Son's recordings including CD releases. This book actually has footnotes which is quite helpful compared to the modern tendency of having endnotes at the end of a text. Another wonderful addition to the blues literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J Wasko on June 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Recently, the State of Mississippi installed an extensive set of historic markers throughout the State. It is called the Mississippi Blues Trail. By traveling around the State, and with a good guide book, one can get a sense of the importance of Mississippi in the development of Blues and Rock & Roll in the early to mid twentieth century. The area north of Clarksdale to Memphis was Son House's stomping grounds. That area, roughly called Robinsonville-Tunica Resorts, is an area of big contrasts. It has all the hallmarks of upper crust Mississippi. (Big new casinos. Big levee projects, Big Plantation/Farms and agriculture) It also has residual poverty and abandoned and little used hamlets. (Hernando, Banks, Lyon, Lula, Marks, Ashland, and Dundee). Preachin the Blues mentions all these hamlets and their significance to the Blues. With the exception of Lula, not even the State of Mississippi is up to speed with this. This is a major strength of this book, and it should be read before anyone travels or vacations on the Mississippi Blues Trail. It would add a lot to the experience.
By the time of the Blues revival in the early 1960s, Son House was the last man standing of the early Delta foundation players. Charley Patton and Robert Johnson were dead. Son House had been living in Rochester, NY for 20 years, and indulging in alcoholism. He could have been a giant. He could have been a contenda. The drinking ruined all of this. Think of Louis Armstrong to Jazz, Duke Ellington to big band Jazz, and BB King to modern day Blues. That could have been Son House to the early Delta Blues. Preachin the Blues tends to give Son House a pass on this. And the book points out that Howlin Wolf doesn't give Son House a pass on this. And neither does the verdict of history. In my opinion, that's the only shortcoming of this book. I would have deducted a 1/4 star, but the software won't allow it.
It's a great book. But it's really tragic that Son House wasn't able to offer more.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Howard Bleach on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the finest books on the subject of blues I have read. Makes a great companion to Calt's book on Skip James, though Beaumont's tone is decidedly less caustic and defamatory. The only real villain in Beaumont's book seems to be Alan Lomax, who is cast as an opportunistic sort, but mostly, the book is heavy on facts and light on conjecture and gossip. Given what I knew about House before from various accounts (such as Segrest and Hoffman's Howlin' Wolf biography, Moanin' At Midnight), I was surprised and delighted to find that the man was occasionally humble and frequently benevolent, in direct contrast to some of his contemporaries (again, Skip James, who seemed like a pretty hard guy to like), and not merely a drunken has-been, as he has often been lamentably painted. An indispensable book on a fascinating subject. Highest recommendation.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Son House was an important figure in Delta blues history and this is a very good biography of Son House, along with the history of his times and his place in blues history.

If you're interested in American music history, this is a worthwhile and informative read.
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