Cover image for Yonder come the blues : the evolution of a genre
Yonder come the blues : the evolution of a genre
Oliver, Paul, 1927-
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 358 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
General Note:
"First published as three volumes by Studio Vista 1970 and in the USA by Stein and Day Publishers (November Books) 1970"--T.p. verso.
Yonder come the blues / Paul Oliver -- Savannah syncopators : African retentions in the blues / Paul Oliver -- Blacks, whites, and blues / Tony Russell -- Recording the blues / Robert M.W. Dixon and John Godrich -- Afterword / Howard Rye.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3521 .Y66 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Yonder Come the Blues combines three influential and much-quoted books: Savannah Syncopators; Blacks, Whites and Blues and Recording the Blues. Updated with additional essays, this 2001 volume discusses the crucial early development of the blues as a music of Blacks in the United States, explaining some of the most significant factors that shaped this music. Together, these three texts emphasise the significance of the African heritage, the mutuality of much white and black music and the role of recording in consolidating the blues, thus demonstrating the importance of these formative elements in its complex but combined socio-musical history. Redressing some of the misconceptions that persist in writing on African-American music, this book will be essential reading for all enthusiasts of blues, jazz and country music and will be important for students of African-American studies and music, popular music and popular culture.

Author Notes

Paul Hereford Oliver was born in Nottingham, England on May 25, 1927. He trained as a painter and sculptor at the Harrow School of Art, but switched to graphic design because most art materials aggravated his asthma and various allergies. After receiving a diploma from Goldsmith's College in London in 1948, he returned to the Harrow County School to teach art. In 1955, he received an art-history degree from the University of London.

He wrote numerous books on blues music including Bessie Smith, Blues Fell This Morning, The Story of the Blues, Screening the Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition, Savannah Syncopators: African Retentions in the Blues, Songsters and Saints: Vocal Traditions on Race Records, Broadcasting the Blues: Black Blues in the Segregation Era, and Barrelhouse Blues: Location Recordings and the Early Traditions of the Blues.

He was also as an architectural historian. His books on architecture included Shelter and Society, English Cottages and Small Farmhouses: A Study of Vernacular Shelter, Dwellings: The House Across the World, and Built to Meet Needs: Cultural Issues in Vernacular Architecture. He died on August 15, 2017 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

What a delight to have three classic works on blues reissued under one cover. Oliver is to be congratulated for conceiving of the idea and for bringing it to fruition. Included here are Oliver's Savannah Syncopators (CH, Mar'71), an examination of possible African retentions in the blues; Tony Russell's Blacks, Whites, and Blues (CH, Mar'71), which examines similarities between country music and blues; and Robert Dixon and John Godrich's Recording the Blues (CH, May'71), a history of blues recording from the beginning of the 20th century until the early 1940s. Originally published in 1970, these three books helped to inaugurate Stein and Day's "Blues Series" in the US (and Studio Vista's "Blues Paperbacks" series in the UK). They quickly became recognized as important contributions to blues scholarship. Although out of print and difficult to obtain by the early 1980s, all three titles continued to be widely cited. The decision to reprint these books in their original form with supplementary chapters was wise, because the present volume provides a solid sense of scholarly development in each area. This book should be in every academic library. Blues scholars will want it in their personal collections, too. H. J. Ottenheimer Kansas State University

Table of Contents

Introduction: yonder come the BluesPaul Oliver
Book One Savannah Syncopators: African retentions in the Blues
1 Afternoon - Nangodi
2 Africa and jazz historian
3 Music in West Africa
4 Savannah song
5 The source of the slaves
6 Africa and the Blues
7 Afterword Paul Oliver
Book Two Blacks, Whites and Blues: Foreward
8 Minstrelsy
9 Old familiar tunes
10 Letting out the Blues
11 The Idea of the White People
12 Out West
13 Out East
14 Afterword Tony Russell
Book Three Recording The Blues
15 The birth of a new industry
16 The new market 1920-1922
17 The classic blues
18 Into the field 1927-1930
19 Hard times
20 Urban blues 1934-1940
21 End of an era 1941-1945 Robert M. W. Dixon and John Godrich
22 Afterword Howard Rye