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Wichita Blues - Music in the African American Community

Wichita Blues

Music in the African American Community

By Patrick Joseph O'Connor
Foreword by David Evans
Series: American Made Music Series

Hardcover : 9781496853011, 288 pages, 34 b&w illustrations, September 2024
Paperback : 9781496853004, 288 pages, 34 b&w illustrations, September 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-09-16
Expected to ship: 2024-09-16

Table of contents

Chapter One: Early African Americans in Kansas: Cowboys, Soldiers, Settlers, and Minstrels
Chapter Two: Early Urban Centers in Kansas: Topeka and Wichita
Chapter Three: The 1930s: Walton Morgan, Shirley Green, Perry Reed
Chapter Four: The 1940s: Gene Metcalf, Harold Cary, Arthur Bates
Chapter Five: The 1950s: Franklin Mitchell, Jerry Childers, Henry Walker
Chapter Six: Folk Artists in the 1950s: Harmonica Chuck, Albert Tucker
Chapter Seven: The 1950s Oklahoma Influence: Jesse Anderson, Donald Dunn, Berry Harris, Charles Walker, Remona Hicks
Chapter Eight: The 1960s: Joe Lotson, Ray Valentine, Barbara Kerr
Chapter Nine: Discussion of Results: Narrative Analysis; Wichita, Its Importance in Blues History
Appendix: Jazz Performers Who Played Prewar Wichita

An examination and celebration of the distinct sound of Wichita's regional blues tradition


In conversations on regional blues, the traditions of the Mississippi Delta, the Carolina Piedmont, Chicago, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, and Los Angeles are frequently lauded. But until now, little attention has been paid to the Midwest, despite the presence and popularity of blues in these heartland communities. Wichita Blues: Music in the African American Community seeks to address this gap in music history by exploring the lively Wichita blues tradition. In interviews with nineteen African American Wichita blues performers, author Patrick Joseph O’Connor reveals the evolution of the blues from the 1930s to the 1960s and beyond.

Utilizing twenty-five years of fieldwork, Wichita Blues details the history of performance and camaraderie among the musicians of this often-neglected regional sound. The personal interviews offer unique insight into topics that shape Wichita’s sound, including how migration from Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas brought varied artists to the area and the ways musical traditions cross racial divides and generations. The artists articulate the poetics of the blues and the diverse regional influences that can be detected in their music. In exploring the Wichita blues tradition, O’Connor traces African American history in Kansas, ranging from the Exoduster movement in the late nineteenth century and minstrel shows across the state to Black cowboys and growing urban African American communities in Topeka and Wichita.

Including a foreword by renowned music scholar David Evans, Wichita Blues allows seasoned blues musicians to tell their own stories and paints a picture of the vibrant Black music scene in the city.