Blues Music from Austin’s East Side

Blues music is characterized by the call-and-response pattern born out of Southern African-American work songs and spirituals, that later became incorporated into church songs and eventually jazz, R&B, and rock and roll.

In Texas, the Dallas Blues mixed with Memphis Blues mixed with St. Louis Blues mixed with Chicago Blues, which mixed with the sounds of polka, banjo, West-African story-tellers, country music, and Native American drumming.

As African-American musicians followed opportunity through the Great Depression and WWII, the blues music they played shifted from country to urban. It is around this time that musicians in Austin, coming from rural areas like Bastrop, West Texas, and Louisiana, to name a few, began to develop a unique sound that caught the ear of many music executives who tested the waters recording the occasional song with B.B. King or Muddy Waters here and there. With Elvis Pressley and the explosion of rock and roll, the popularity of blues, and its ability to sound melancholic, sexy, and inspire us to boogie-woogie.

Blues is a pivotal movement in music; in Texas, America, and world-wide. So much of that history starts in Austin, right here on the East side.

Please click here to learn more about the Blues Musicians known as the Texas Piano Professors.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.