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date: 06 December 2019


  • Paul Oliver


A style of piano playing that originated among black American blues musicians in the early 20th century. It was first practised in the makeshift saloons of lumber camps in the South and is related to Boogie-woogie, which it may have preceded as a blues piano style (see Blues, §4). Barrelhouse was played in regular 4/4 metre, whereas boogie developed as fast music largely of eight beats to the bar. Ragtime bass figures or the heavy left-hand vamp known as ‘stomping’ were often employed with occasional walking bass variations. Characteristic early recordings are Barrel House Man (1927, Para.) by the Texas pianist Will Ezell, The Dirty Dozen by Speckled Red (Rufus Perryman) (1929, Bruns.) and Soon This Morning by Charlie Spand (1929, Para.); Perryman and Spand worked in Detroit after leaving the South. Diggin’ My Potatoes (1939, Bb), by Washboard Sam with Joshua Altheimer on piano, and ...

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