2020 Spring Semester



A Tour of the Blues

Instructor: Frank Johnson

Tuesdays • 3/18-5/6 • 10:15 AM-12:15 PM

Class size 8-24 students
14 seats remaining
Location: Jewett 293

The course will consider influential musicians from the Mississippi Delta, Piedmont, Texas, Louisiana, Memphis, the West Coast and Chicago. Musical selections will span the period from the 1920′ to the later 1990’s. Seminal figures will be examined such as: Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Little Walter, Big Joe Williams and many others.

Musical selections will also probe lesser-known artists like Hop Wilson, Leroy Carr, Slim Harpo, Willie Wilkins and Zuzu Bollin.

We will discuss some of the major social and economic issues that contributed to the music’s development including the great migration of African Americans from the Deep South to the urban centers of the Midwest and West Coast. Other topics will include the independent record labels that produced the music and the music’s influence on rock ‘n roll.Classroom


Frank Johnson has a lifelong passion and interest in African-American music: jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, soul, and Afro-Latin. He has a collection of over 4,000 albums covering these genres. In addition, he has a personal library of over 250 books on African-American musical styles, musicians and cultural influences. Frank is a graduate of the University of Maine with a degree in Political Science and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives of State and Local Government.