Daddy Played the Blues
Author: Michael Garland
Illustrator: Michael Garland
“I was six years old the day we left the farm in Mississippi,” remembers Cassie in this richly textured picture book. “Between the boll weevils, the floods, and the landlord, there was no way a family could scratch out a living there anymore.”
Packing themselves into an old jalopy—with Daddy, Uncle Vern, and Mama in the front seat and Cassie and her two brothers in the back—they joined the Great Migration from the impoverished Deep South to Chicago, where there was work to be had in the stockyards. Across the kids’ laps lay Daddy’s prized possession, a six-string guitar. Daddy worked hard to put food on the table, but what he really loved was playing the blues. This evocative tale of the African-American odyssey in search of a better life is also a homage to the uniquely American music that developed from African music and American spirituals, work songs, and folk ballads.
In the book’s backmatter, Garland relates how he first heard and fell in love with blues music, beginning a lifelong fandom. Portraits and thumbnail biographies of great blues musicians and landmark songs complete this tribute to the great American music and the yearnings that produced it.