In the past couple years of reviewing music for various blogs one of the nicest personal discoveries I've made is the amazing diversity to be found within specific genres. That's turned out to be especially true about the Blues; it's such a highly individual mode of expression that it almost changes from performer to performer.
Maybe it's because of the inherent simplicity of the form. A twelve bar chord progression that can be repeated repeatedly to a particular rhythm is everyone's starting place, but where they go from there is what makes the music so incredible. All you have to remember is that everything from the heaviest of heavy metal to the frothiest of disco hits originated with those twelve chords, and it will give you some idea of how truly versatile the sound can be.
Of course you don't even have to leave the Blues to get an earful of diversity; there's Texas Blues, Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, West Coast Blues, and the St. Louis Blues to name just a few. Within each of those categories, there are all sorts of subdivisions that are too numerous to itemize here. Sufficient to say, that you could travel around the world, stop into a Blues bar, and tell the provenance of a band's style just by a quick listen.
That is if you have the ear to do so. On a good day, I'm able to tell the difference. There's the urban and rural Blues, and then there is the more modern version as played by Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, as opposed to the more traditional music of folk like Muddy Waters and B. B. King.
But after that the lines get real blurry.
You can't even go by a person's age to tell what he or she is going to be playing. John Hammond Jr. plays like he would have been right at home jamming with Robert Johnson, while Albert Collins played his guitar with his teeth and burnt down the house like Jimi Hendrix.
Now I'm a bit of an old fashioned guy so I've always been drawn to the more traditional rural music. But I've also developed quite a taste for Chicago style Blues with its uptempo, harmonica driven beat a la the late Carey Bell. Well, I've finally found the perfect marriage of the two in Delmark Records' re-mastering of the Sleepy John Estes's 1968 recording Electric Sleep on CD, with the new name of Sleepy John Estes On The Chicago Blues Scene.