"Going Up The Country" and the roots of the Blues

Dec 28, 2012

Henry Thomas is literally a link to an earlier time.

Born in 1874, his music is a patchwork of blues, rags and folk songs. His use of quills, or pan-pipes, is a relic of a nearly vanished African American tradition. Listening to Henry Thomas gives a glimpse of what music might have sounded like before “the blues."

Thomas recorded “Bull Doze Blues” in 1928. This is a website with a lot of information on the history of quills in American folk music: The Quills: the forgotten American folk woodwind

Forty years later in 1968, Canned Heat had a hit with a song called "Going Up The Country." They changed the lyrics to “Bull Doze Blues," replaced the quills with flute, but the song is the same. Some consider it the unofficial anthem of 1969’s Woodstock gathering.

Here’s a somewhat rare music video of Canned Heat lip-synching their hearts out:

In 1969 guitarist Duane Allman recorded an instrumental version with musicians from the legendary Muscle Shoals studio, including Eddie Hinton on guitar.

This was about the same time that the Allman Brothers Band was forming. Here’s a documentary clip that features some of Duane Allman’s studio partners:

Here are the complete version of this week’s songs:

Henry Thomas “Bull Doze Blues” 1928

Canned Heat “Going Up The Country” 1968

Duane Allman “Going Up The Country” 1969