The blues recording industry began in New York City and for most of the 1920s, musicians travelled from all parts of the country to make their mark in the recording studio. Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey were amongst the most popular female singers but they were soon rivaled by the likes of Lonnie Johnson, Robert ‘Barbecue Bob’ Hicks, Texas Alexander and Mississippi John Hurt. Kansas Joe McCoy cut ‘When The Levee Breaks’, justly famous in its Led Zeppelin incarnation, in the city.
Music was paramount in New Orleans, a town where they liked jazz with their blues. Regular blues musicians like Richard ‘Rabbit’ Brown got on disc when the record companies came to town. In general bluesmen and women came from out of town for their sessions, Texans like Lillian Glinn, Will Day, Oscar Woods and Blind Willie Johnson or Mississippians Bo Carter, the Mississippi Sheiks and Walter Jacobs, or out-of-towners like Little Brother Montgomery. New Orleans also saw the first recordings by fascinating Cajun musicians like Amédé Ardoin, Dewey Segura, Lawrence Walker and Cléoma Falcon, who put down their version of 12-bar blues.