Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wide musical world. This week, we highlight the significance of a Blues document being released sixty years after its inception, explore KOKOKO!’s debut LP Fongola, and soak up some new music and visuals from around the world.
Unfinished Book on Blues Music in Texas Issued Almost 60 Years After its Inception
Stories of ‘lost’ masterpieces: unfinished works that showed great promise, but ultimately fell short of their creator’s vision, are common throughout music history. This is also true in the fields of ethnomusicology and music research, where dedicated scholars pore over written sources, interviews, artefacts, recordings and their own memory banks to piece together important historic documents of the music they adore, but occasionally, fall short of their target.
The Blues Come to Texas is one such ethnomusicological example. A collaborative project began between blues scholars Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick (Oliver based in England, McCormick in Houston) in 1959, its development continued well into the nineteen-seventies, with both men determined to make a definitive document of blues in the Lone Star state. However, what the Houston Press reports as ‘personal and professional issues and conflict,’ eventually put pay to their endeavour. Both men, who passed away in 2017 and 2015 respectively, were left with hundreds of documents: Oliver having been responsible for the academics and writing, McCormick the first-hand interviews and on-the-ground research — exchanging ideas and information by mail in the days prior to e-mail and International Direct Calling.
It wasn’t until 1996, when Alan Govenar, the scholar responsible for the definitive biography on Houston blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins, reached out to Oliver about the lost work, that things got back on track. Now, finally, 23 years after Govenar made his first enquiries, the unfinished book has been published by Texas A&M University’s house press, complete with vital editorial work from Govenar and additional essays from both he and folklorist Kip Lornell. Find it here and listen to legendary Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb below.