Under the Hood: Levon Helm on Different Styles of Blues

Most people think of the Band as a roots-driven American band, but Levon Helm was the only actual U.S. born person in the otherwise all-Canadian group.  As a drummer, as a singer, as a mandolin player, and as a one-man library of roots music, he was about as American as you get.  I once asked Levon about the many kinds of blues styles that come from the U.S.

“I grew up of course in Phillips County, Arkansas which is right on the river down in the Delta so the Delta blues or Chicago blues as they’re sometimes called is the flavor of music.  Robert Junior Lockwood and Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters and those types of players, Memphis Slim, that’s the Delta blues.  There’s sort of a Piedmont blues which is like Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry.  For me, it’s more of a high stepping kind of a blues then Delta blues.  Then there is a Texas kind of a blues that’s got a hell of a swing to it.  You can get a map and locate yourself and good luck, you’ll enjoy it.” – Levon Helm