Ask 10 guitar players who epitomized the sound of 20th-century blues guitar and you might get 10 different answers. Ask the same question about gospel guitar and the list is likely to shrink to one: Roebuck "Pops" Staples.
Last month, we analyzed the densely layered rhythmic blend of tresillo, backbeat and triplets that powered many classic New Orleans-based R&B hits. This month, we'll look at the city's unique spin on one of the fundamental grooves of humanity itself: the two-beat.
American music—blues, jazz, R&B, country and all the rest—were formed from the blending and reblending of African, Caribbean and European musical elements in the social cauldron of these United States. New Orleans, Louisiana—a.k.a. NOLA—was a crucial first point of cultural contact and cited mainly as the birthplace of jazz, but by the early Fifties, New Orleans was also home to a distinctive style of rhythm and blues. The difference was in the rhythm itself. Records coming out of the city began featuring an unusual blend of ingredients like tresillo, triplets, backbeat, two-beat and second line (or parade beat).