Category Archives: Hillbilly

Country Music & The Blues

The beginnings of Country Music and the beginnings of Blues are very similar. These genres were first recorded in the 1920s, and at the time the difference between country, then called hillbilly music, and the blues, then called race music, was really only the race of the artist, which was often confused. The famous Bluesmen of the 1920s like Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Mississippi John Hurt sang mostly traditional and religious songs, later moving onto songs about other topics such as personal and cathartic stories. These types of songs were also sang by those such as Jimmie Rodgers and Eck Robertson. If you listen to the songs of this period one after another the similarities between these two genres of music are apparent

In the time since the beginning of these genres Country and Blues have have undergone many changes and gone in many different directions. For blues the biggest change was during the Great Migration when many African Americans moved out of the rural south for big northern cities like Chicago. During this time the blues was electrified and artists like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were revolutionizing the genre. In the meantime country, music was undergoing many changes like honkeytonk music and the Nashville sound. At this time country music and blues were definitely distinct and very different despite sharing similar roots.

Today I think that blues and country are closer than they have been in a long time. There has been a push towards more traditional ways for each genre while also having a modern spin. I am glad to see this trend because hearing new music from two of my favorite genres. Gary Clark Jr. is one of the artists keeping the blues alive and revolutionizing it at the same time. He keeps the iconic electric guitar and soulful lyrics while adding a modern sound. On the country side of things Chris Stapleton, winner of the 2015 CMA Male Vocalist award, is leading the movement back to a more roots based music with his own modern spin.

Listening to these two artists really shows the similarities that they have in their music. These two genres shared similar roots as traditional music that were initially recorded as “hillbilly” and “race” music. The genres grew up in the 1900s into very different types of music but due to their roots and changing tastes the genres are beginning to become more similar.


Filed under Americana, Blog Post 4, Hillbilly

The Beverly Hillbillies

Flipping through the channels I stumbled upon a show called “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Now I do not have cable so I usually find myself watching the black and white station more than in color. I know a 20-year-old college girl probably wasn’t their ideal target but I’ve been told that I’m an old soul as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is my absolute favorite movie. “The Beverly Hillbillies” was right up my alley as it is filled with corny jokes, banjo instrumentals and all around good humor.

First aired in September of 1962, “The Beverley Hillbillies,” initially deemed as unsophisticated by some critics, quickly rose to become a very popular show in America. Its episode “The Giant Jackrabbit” is still to this day the most watched half hour episode of a sitcom. I think this is one of the funnier episodes that I have watched.

The_Beverly_HillbilliesThe Clampett family was (I’m sure) a huge pull for audiences because they are amusing and likeable. While the show does give the image of simple-minded country folk it is all in good humor and doesn’t aim to do harm to any class of people. The hillbillies are the ones that come out on top in both money and familial ties the end. Besides the actual visuals of the show the music, whether it be the introduction or in the background, is very vital. At the beginning of every episode their theme song, The Ballad of Jed Clampett, is performed. It is a very catchy bluegrass tune, which was performed by Flatt and Scruggs. I didn’t know this at the time, but I watched an episode in which they were the guest stars.

This video is only a snippet of the entire episode, but I feel that it highlights their talent. It shows the influence of country music on “The Beverly Hillbillies” though there really is no other genre that would be suitable for this show. You can see in this episode that even the cast enjoys singing and dancing along with Flatt and Scruggs, as they are very gifted and charismatic. I invite all of you to sit and watch an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I know that anything that is black and white is a deterrent for television viewers now a days, but I think it is nice to go back to a simpler time when good honest humor didn’t have to have “R-Rated” references to be funny. Watch an episode and tell me what you think! Did it put you to sleep or did you enjoy the simple comedy?

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Filed under Hillbilly, Movies and TV, Reflection, Reviews