Historical geography of the Blues in America

Source: pinterest.com

The list below identifies the historical geography of 17 different styles of “the Blues”. Given multitudes of music genres and sub-genres, it is likely that other forms could have been included.

The locations are listed by the decade in which research identifies the genre having begun,  followed by the city/region where this Blues style germinated. Two dates are given for Boogie Woogie blues as researchers have pinpointed its beginnings in the lumber camps of the piney woods of East Texas in the 1870s, but it didn’t become well-known outside of this region until the late 1920s. In nearly every case, each genre grew outside of its founding region largely through the migration of African-Americans to other parts of the country. Railroads were the principal form of transport that allowed the Blues to expand outward from the South, especially during the first phase of the Great Migration. The search for jobs and a better life elsewhere were the primary catalysts for both phases of the Great Migration that took place in – (1) the 1910s to the 1940s and (2) post WW-II to the 1970s.

Lastly, if there are other cities or regions that have made significant contributions to that form of the Blues, they are identified. Any additions, suggestions, or corrections are most welcome, particularly of other forms of the Blues that should be included.


Boogie Woogie (1870s/1920s) – centered in and around Marshall, Texas

the “Birthplace of Boogie-Woogie”

Source: hmdb.com

      • Chicago, Illinois later (1920s) became a center of Boogie Woogie music


Delta Blues (1890s) – centered in and around Clarksdale, Mississippi –

the “Birthplace of the Blues”

The Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS – Source: tripadvisor.com

      • Other centers of Delta Blues include: Cleveland, Greenwood, and Indianola, Mississippi

Source: en.wikipedia.org


Ragtime (1890s) – Centered in and around St. Louis, Missouri


Texas Blues (1900s) – centered originally in and around Navasota, Texas –

the “Blues Capital of Texas”

Source: texasmonthly.com/articles/birthplaces-of-the-blues/

      • Now tends to be clustered around Austin, Texas
      • Secondary centers include Galveston, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas


New Orleans Blues (1900s) – centered in and around New Orleans, Louisiana

Source: facebook.com


Memphis Blues (1910s) – centered in and around Memphis, Tennessee

Source: memphistravel.com


Piedmont Blues (1920s) – centered around the tobacco industry in Durham, North Carolina

Source: southernspaces.org

        • Other center centers formed along the corridor from Richmond, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia


Jug Band Blues (1920s) – centered in and around Louisville, Kentucky

        • A secondary center developed around Memphis, Tennessee


Zydeco (1920s) – centered in and around Opelousas, Louisiana –

the “Birthplace of Zydeco”

Source: hmdb.org

      • A secondary center formed in the “Frenchtown” section of Houston, Texas

Source: harriscountyhistoricalmarkers.com


Lower Chattahoochee Blues (1930s) – centered around Columbus, Georgia

Source: southernspaces.org


Kansas City Blues (1930s) – centered in and around Kansas City, Missouri

Source: facebook.com


Chicago Blues  (1940s) – centered in and around Chicago, Illinois

Source: chicagobluessociety.org


Detroit Blues (1940s) – centered in and around Detroit, Michigan

Source: detroitbluessociety.org


St. Louis Blues (1940s) – centered in and around St. Louis, Missouri

Source: stlouisbluessociety.org


West Coast Blues (1940s) – centered in and around Los Angeles, California

        • Secondary centers include San Francisco and Oakland, California


Swamp Blues (1950s) – centered in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Hill Country Blues (1960s) – centered in Holly Springs and Oxford, Mississippi

Source: earlyblues.com


If you are a fan of the Blues too, here are several books on the topic that are available through Amazon.com.*

http://  http://http://

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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