An earlier version of this paper was first presented at a seminar entitled
‘Fingerstyle Guitar: 150 years of Musical Tradition and Innovation’ at Middle
Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, 17 February, 1995.
On the rarity of the guitar in American folk music before the 1890s, the
emergence of guitar-based blues in the Deep South at the turn of the century,
and its somewhat later prevalence in the East Coast States, see Epstein (1977);
Evans (1982); Bastin (1986); Cohen (1996).
For views of the Delta and its music during this period see Cobb (1992) and
A juke house is a structure designed for music, dancing, drinking, and sometimes other activities such as gambling and prostitution. It can be either a place
used exclusively for these purposes or an actual house converted temporarily
For more on possible black-Mexican musical interaction see Narvaez (1978).
Discographies of this and other recording artists mentioned here are printed in
Dixon, Godrich, and Rye (1997).
For a survey of African musical instruments in the United States see Evans
Bastin, B. (1986), Red River Blues: The blues tradition in the southeast, Urbana:
University of Illinois Press.
Cobb, J.C. (1992), The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi delta and
the roots of regional identity, New York: Oxford University Press.
Cohen, A.M. (1996), ‘The Hands of Blues Guitarists’, American Music, 14: 455–
Conway, C. (1995), African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A study of folk traditions,
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
Dixon, R.M.W., Godrich, J., and Rye, H.W. (1997), Blues and Gospel Records:
1890–1943, 4th ed., Oxford: Clarendon.
Epstein, D. (1977), Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black folk music to the Civil War,
Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Evans, D. (1970), ‘Afro-American One-Stringed Instruments’, Western Folklore,
Evans, D. (1971), Tommy Johnson, London: Studio Vista.
Evans, D. (1978a), ‘African Elements in Twentieth-Century United States Black Folk
Music’, Jazzforschung, 10: 85–110.