Blues ins San Francisco in 1945-59 : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I am researching for a fictional book. I want to know where I can find information on The Blues Scene in San Francisco about 1945-50

-- Stephen Camp (, February 21, 2001


I don't think there was one !! I myself love the Blues....Chicago style..Muddy, Lil' Walter, Elmore James, et al. I had to do most of mine listening to the radio....."black" stations like KWBR (later KDIA) and KSAN. This was while I was in Hi-school 1951-55. "Jumpin' George (George Oxford) was Thee Man at that time. I'm forgetting other DJs on the stations....."Hardy's Party"..just remembered that one ! Any way during your era there may have been a little action in Oakland but not much in SF. The late great John Lee Hooker did a lot for the Oakland scene but I'm not sure of the time.

-- RE Ruef (, February 24, 2002.

The Fillmore district would have been the place to find blues performances on the SF side of the bay. Oakland also had a good blues scene then. I caught a performance by T-Bone Walker at Leola's Blue Mirror on Fillmore in 1960. There is a website about the Fillmore's musical heritage but it may concentrate more on jazz. A local bluesman was Jesse 'The Lone Cat' Fuller who I caught at an ILWU music fund benefit concert also in 1960. Two locals who went on to R & B fame were Johnny Otis (Vallejo) and Etta James (SF). Willie Mae 'Big Mama' Thorton was also playing in the Bay Area in 1960. KDIA and KWBR were local stations that played R&B and blues. There must be a hardcore fan or two out there who can help you out. There really was a scene here, particularly right after WWII, which brought in immigrants from the south to work in the ship building industry. Lots of luck-

-- Don Martinich (, February 26, 2002.

One more D. J. in that time period, Jumpin` George, John Hardy of Hardy`s party, and then "Big" Don Barksdale. These guys made raido worth while in the "old days". The best of times. "Big Don" is an addition to the already mentened in sprint2r`s list.

-- ET Walters (, March 01, 2002.

Yeah, you right 'ET"! 'Big Don' was the coolest... He made my high school years a lot more bearable. He opened his nightly show with 'Bark For Barksdale' but I can't remember who recorded it. His closing theme was Lionel Hampton's 'Midnight Sun'. It was a great mix of jazz and R&B. 'Big Don' played basketball for the Celtics and ran a night club in Oakland called the Champagne Supper Club. Another good music venue in Oakland was the California Hotel if memory serves. And there was the Lark's Club in Berkeley on Sacramento. This is probably just the tip odf the iceberg. There was an incredible amount of music happening in the 50's. The immmigration from the south also brought with it Country music and in particular western swing. De Marco's 23 Club in Brisbane goes back to that era. Some of those band leaders were Dude Martin, Blackjack Wayne, Big Jim De Noone, and Cottonseed Clark. I think there is a lot of Bay Area music history that needs to be documented.

-- Don Martinich (, March 04, 2002.

With all the nostalgia coming from the NBA concerning the 50th anniversary of Don Barksdale's selection to the NBA All Star team (the first black to be selected), I thought I would search out some sites. Don was a neighbor of mine near Haskell St in Berkeley. I only knew him as the nice guy that played with the neighborhood kids; took us to San Pablo park to play basketball and was just a nice guy in the neighborhood. Don's claim to fame (as far as us very young kids was concerned) was that he was on KDIA radio with his own show playing that great R&B. The neighborhood was 90% black, 9% Asian and 1% white. My family and my grandparents next door were the 1%.

Don was quite a trail blazer and I am glad a movie has just been made of his life and career. As kids, we knew he was a great guy .... we just didn't realize HOW great.

-- Bob (, February 22, 2003.

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