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The West Coast Blues is a type of blues music characterized by jazz and jump blues influences, strong piano-dominated sounds and jazzy guitar solos, which originated from Texas blues players relocated to California in the 1940s. West Coast blues also features smooth, honey-toned vocals, frequently crossing into urban blues territory.

Texas and the West Coast

The towering figure of West Coast blues may be guitarist T-Bone Walker, famous for the song 'Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)', a relocated Texan who had made his first recordings in the late 1920s. During the early 1940s Walker moved to Los Angeles, where he recorded many enduring sides for Capitol, Black & White, and Imperial. Walker was a crucial figure in the electrification and urbanization of the blues, probably doing more to popularize the use of electric guitar in the form than anyone else. Much of his material had a distinct jazzy jump blues feel, an influence that would characterize much of the most influential blues to emerge from California in the 1940s and 1950s. Other Texas bluesmen followed: Pianist/songwriter Amos Milburn, singer Percy Mayfield, famous for the song 'Hit the Road Jack', and Charles Brown moved to Los Angeles. Guitarist Pee Wee Crayton divided his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco, while Lowell Fulson, from Texas by way of Oklahoma, moved to Oakland.

Through the effort of Tom Mazzolini, producer of the legendary San Francisco Blues Festival, founded in 1974, and with the presence of excellent recording companies like Arhoolie and HighTone, the West Coast is one of the most important blues areas in the country.

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