Elijah Wald discusses Jelly Roll Blues

In Jelly Roll Blues: Censored Songs and Hidden Histories, Elijah Wald takes readers on a journey into the hidden and censored world of early blues and jazz, guided by the legendary New Orleans pianist Jelly Roll Morton. Morton became nationally famous as a composer and bandleader in the 1920s, but got his start twenty years earlier, entertaining customers in the city's famous bordellos and singing rough blues in Gulf Coast honky-tonks. He recorded an oral history of that time in 1938, but the most distinctive songs were hidden away for over fifty years, because the language and themes were as wild and raunchy as anything in gangsta rap.

Those songs inspired Wald to explore how much other history had been locked away and censored, and this book is the result of that quest. Full of previously unpublished lyrics and stories, it paints a new and surprising picture of the dawn of American popular music, when jazz and blues were still the private, after-hours music of the Black "sporting world." It gives new insight into familiar figures like Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong, and introduces forgotten characters like Ready Money, the New Orleans sex worker and pickpocket who ended up owning one of the largest Black hotels on the West Coast.

Revelatory and fascinating, these songs and stories provide an alternate view of Black culture at the turn of the twentieth century, when a new generation was shaping lives their parents could not have imagined and art that transformed popular culture around the world--the birth of a joyous, angry, desperate, loving, and ferociously funny tradition that resurfaced in hip-hop and continues to inspire young artists in a new millennium. (Hachette Books)

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Event Type: 
Jelly Roll Blues: Censored Songs and Hidden Histories By Elijah Wald Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780306831409
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - April 2nd, 2024