Joe Bihari: His Modern Records Label Helped Give Us the Blues

In the 1950s, Joe Bihari scoured African American bars and nightclubs in the South for undiscovered blues phenoms. Bihari, who passed away on Nov. 28 at age 88, tried to elevate those he found to stardom at Modern Records, the Los Angeles-based label that he cofounded with his brothers, Jules and Saul. Bihari traveled the South behind the wheel of a red 1952 Lincoln convertible. One southern lawman trying to dissuade Bihari from trying to make records with black performers, …

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland: 5 Facts About ‘Little Boy Blue’

If I had a million dollars I’d give you every, a-every dime Just to hear you call me, “Bobby,” one more time. That’s what Bobby “Blue” Bland sang in his trademark 1958 single, “Little Boy Blue,” which unveiled his trademark vocal style: a restrained, silky-smooth crooner’s delivery, punctuated at the right moment by a high-pitched, pleading squall. It fused the earthy raw power of rural blues singers such as Robert Johnson with the jazz-inflected urbanity of Nat King Cole. And …

Ann Rabson: Oh, Her Bawdy, Middle-Aged Blues

If your listening tastes run to sedate, genteel and G-rated, you probably wouldn’t like the distinctive musical style of Ann Rabson. As the cofounder of a band called Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, pianist and sometime guitarist, Rabson wrote and performed an updated version of the bawdy blues once performed by the likes of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, but filtered through a modern feminist sensibility, with a healthy dose of self-deprecating midlife humor. Rabson, who died on Jan. 30 …