The Memphis blues is a style of blues music that was created in the 1920s and 1930s by Memphis-area musicians like Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis and Memphis Minnie. The style was popular in vaudeville and medicine shows, and was associated with Memphis' main entertainment area, Beale Street. The history of the era is detailed in the early chapters of a 2000 book by James L. Dickerson entitled Goin' Back to Memphis ISBN 0815410492.
In addition to guitar-based blues, jug bands, such as Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers and the Memphis Jug Band, were extremely popular practitioners of Memphis blues. The jug band style empasized the danceable, syncopated rhythms of early jazz and a range of other archaic folk styles. It was played on simple, sometimes homemade, instruments such as harmonicas, violins, mandolins, banjos, and guitars, backed by washboards, kazoo, guimbarde and jugs blown to supply the bass.
After World War II, electric instruments became popular among Memphis blues musicians. As African-Americans left the Mississippi Delta and other impoverished areas of the south for urban areas, many musicians gravitated to Memphis' blues scene, changing the classic Memphis blues sound. Musicians such as Howlin' Wolf, Willie Nix, Ike Turner, and B.B.King performed on Beale Street and in West Memphis, and recorded some of the classic electric blues, rhythm and blues and rock & roll records for labels such as Sun Records. These musicians had a strong influence on later musicians in these styles, notably the early rock & rollers and rockabillies, many of whom also recorded for Sun Records. A more contemporary band, the North Mississippi Allstars, has embraced the blues tradition of Memphis and reflects many of the classic blues rhythms in their songs.