Jack White's Blues Explosion

The rocker reissues classic Paramount recordings

In 1922, Port Washington, Wis., was hardly a hotbed of the blues. Yet that was the year the so-situated Wisconsin Chair Co. made a canny decision that came to have a defining impact on the history of the blues and jazz. A decade earlier, the furniture maker had set out to goose sales of its phonograph cabinets by manufacturing its own records. When its Paramount label failed to produce any hits, the imprint changed course and began marketing "race records." For the next 10 years, Paramount would preserve the electrifying performances of an amazing array of blues and jazz legends, including...

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