Shadows of the Blues haunt the railroad tracks of America. From the heart of the Delta to “Sweet Home Chicago!”, the railway lines have carried the blues from West African rhythms, work songs,and field hollers to the birth of rock and roll. Many a bluesman has “hoboed” the rails spreading this entirely unique take on musical expression.

William Christopher Handy, better known as W.C. Handy, is certainly considered one of many fathers of the blues. It was 1903 when Handy heard what he would later call “the weirdest music I had ever heard”. While waiting for an overdue train in Tutweiler, Mississippi, Handy heard an itinerant bluesman playing slide guitar and singing about “goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog” referring to the junction of the Southern and Yazoo & Mississippi Valley railroads.

Amidst the echoes of train yards and haunting blues, the 2004 Blue Devils take a contemporary journey across the soundscape of W. C. Handy’s musical revelation as they present The SummerTrain Blues MIX.

Got a railroad ticket,
Pack my trunk and ride.
And when I get on the train
I'll cast my blues aside.

     Langston Hughes

The journey emerges from an atmospheric train yard. The ghosts of field workers and the passing rail rhythms energize a lone brass player to announce the essence of the blues. A musical collage blends the feel of the blues through a variety of melodies both traditional and contemporary. Gershwin’s Summertime inhabits the program with an emotion that comes from, and appeals to the head, and the heart. Railway rhythm, visual poetry, and the unique elements of blues music blend to create a lyrical commentary on what Andre’ Malraux describes as la condition humane.

Bill Dahl wrote “….the blues has grown, adapted, remained abreast of the times as the decades sailed by. It remains a living, breathing entity, its future assured as long as folks search for relief from their suffering or require a rollicking soundtrack for their Saturday night soirees.

The blues is as honest a musical form as it is uplifting. The blues is life -- with all its ups and downs intact. We hope you enjoy the Blue Devils 2004 production, The SummerTrain Blues MIX.

  • "BluesTrain" Dave Glyde
  • "Summertime" Geroge Gerswin
  • "PowerTrain" Dave Glyde
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