by Rich Remsberg
foreword by Nicholas Dawidoff
afterword by Henry Sapoznik
University of Illinois Press, 2010
eISBN: 978-0-252-05620-8 | Paper: 978-0-252-07709-8 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03524-1
Library of Congress Classification ML87.R47 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 779.9780973


Showcasing American music and music making during the Great Depression, Hard Luck Blues presents more than two hundred photographs created by the New Deal's Farm Security Administration photography program. With an appreciation for the amateur and the local, FSA photographers depicted a range of musicians sharing the regular music of everyday life, from informal songs in migrant work camps, farmers' homes, barn dances, and on street corners to organized performances at church revivals, dance halls, and community festivals. Captured across the nation from the northeast to the southwest, the images document the last generation of musicians who learned to play without the influence of recorded sound, as well as some of the pioneers of Chicago's R & B scene and the first years of amplified instruments. The best visual representation of American roots music performance during the Depression era, Hard Luck Blues features photographs by Jack Delano, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Marion Post Wolcott, and others.

Photographer and image researcher Rich Remsberg breathes life into the images by providing contextual details about the persons and events captured, in some cases drawing on interviews with the photographers' subjects. Also included are a foreword by author Nicholas Dawidoff and an afterword by music historian Henry Sapoznik.

Published in association with the Library of Congress.

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