Blues News

This past week Geva Theatre presented Journey to the Son: A Celebration of Son House a four-day festival that weaved together music, theatre, film, audio recordings, storytelling and lectures celebrating the life of Son House. Son lived in Rochester from 1943 through 1976 and was rediscovered here in 1964. There were fine performances by John Hammond, John Mooney, Chris Thomas King, Joe Beard, Steve Grills and others as well as musical workshops  and lectures. The biggest highlight for me was the dedication of an official Mississippi Blues Trail marker on Friday, August 28th on the corner of Clarissa and Grieg Street where Son House resided in the Corn Hill Neighborhood of Rochester. The marker is one of only a few above the Mason-Dixon line. Joining the celebration were Son's manager Dick Waterman, one of the men who tracked Son to Rochester in the summer of 1964, and Jim O'Neal founder of Living Blues magazine and research consultant for the Mississippi Trail marker project. Here's photos of both sides of the marker and a picture of Jim O'Neal and myself standing near the site of Son's apartment building which since been torn down.


Jimmy And Mama Yancey Monkey Woman Blues Chicago Blues Piano Vol. 1
Otis Spann It Must Have Been The Devil Genesis: Beginnings Of Rock Vol. 3
Al Winter Boogie 88 Hollywood Boogie: Obscure Piano Blues & Boogie Woogie From Los Angeles
Mable Hillery Lonesome Road It's So Hard To Be A Nigger
Mable Hillery Mr. President It's So Hard To Be A Nigger
Jimmy WitherspoonBig Family Blues 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Vol. 2; Toast Of The Coast
Tony AllenYou're A Mean And Evil Woman 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Vol. 1; On With The Jive
Lucille Bogan and Papa Charlie Jackson Jim Tampa Blues Papa Charlie Done Sung That Song
Laura DukesBricks In My PillowTennessee Blues Vol. 1
Elmore James Strange Angels Something Inside Of Me
Wild Jimmy Spruill Hard GrindScratchin': Wild Jimmy Spruill Story
Guitar Gable Long Way from HomeRhythm 'n' Bluesin' By The Bayou: Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies
Pee Wee CraytonRockin the Blues Texas Blues Jumpin' In Los Angeles: The Modern Music Sessions 1948-51
John Lee Hooker I Don't Be Welcome HereThe Complete1948-51 Vol. 3
Blind Joe Hill Highway 13 First Chance
Jimmy Reed I'm Just Trying To Cop A Plea Soulin'
Tampa Red I Still Got California On My MindThe Bluebird Recordings 1934-1936
Lane HardinCalifornia Desert Blues Blues Images Vol. 9
Jesse Thomas Gonna Move to California Jesse Thomas 1948-1958
Lawyer Houston Out In CaliforniaLightning Hopkins: Lightning Special Vol. 2
Howlin' WolfCalifornia BoogieSmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters
Johnny WoodsSo Many Cold MorningsSo Many Cold Mornings
John Tinsley Cotton Picking BluesCountry Blues Roots Revisted
Walter Davis Strange Land BluesWalter Davis 1930-1932
Roy HawkinsStrange LandBad Luck Is Falling
Roger (Burn Down) GarnettLighthouse BluesThe Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1
Dorothy Everetts Macon Blues The Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1
Irene Wiley Bo Hog BluesThe Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1
Jimmy RushingSomebody's Spoiling These WomenBlues & Gospel Kings Vol. 4

Show Notes:

Just a quick note that on our 3/15 show I will have my friend and bluesman Steve Grills down in the studio to help out on the pledge drive. Steve will be bring down some records to spin and I'll bring down some  as well. There will be no show notes for this show.

The Jazz90.1 spring membership campaign is underway with a goal of $50,000 to keep the great jazz, blues and specialty programs on the air. If you're a listener of the show please help support us if you can. You can call at 966-JAZZ, 966-5299 or toll-free 1-800 -790-0415. You can also pledge online by clicking here.

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OK, shameless plug time. Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2, a sequel to my 2005 release is now out on the Document label and features more  jazz, blues, boogie-woogie and gospel recordings dedicated to the season. With lively Boogie-woogie and R & B, reflective blues and the odd cautionary sermon thrown in for good moral measure, this double CD covers all the bases. The 2-CD set collects 44 numbers spanning from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, many of which have not been anthologized before. Artists include Blind Lemon Jefferson, Rev. A.W. Nix, Blind Blake, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Smokey Hogg, Fats Waller, Jesse Thomas, Gatemouth Moore, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chuck Berry and many, many others. You can read my notes by visiting the writing page. It also appears that the elusive Blues, Blues Christmas is now back in stock and has been remastered. For some reason this one was extremely hard to come by when it first came out. This one sports an eleven page booklet written by myself and I also compiled all the tracks.  The CD collects 52 numbers spanning from 1925 to 1955, many of which have not been anthologized before. Artists include Bessie Smith, Leroy Carr, Rev. J.M. Gates, Butterbeans & Susie, Lonnie Johnson, Roy Milton, Larry Darnell, Cecil Gant, Lightnin’ Hopkins and many, many others. Just a heads up that I'm not selling these so buy them where available at your favorite store.


Tommy JohnsonCool Drink Of Water BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Ishman BraceyTrouble Hearted BluesLegends Of Country Blues
William MooreOne Way GalRagtime Blues
Henry ThomasDon't Ease Me InTexas Worried Blues
Mississippi John HurtAvalon BluesAvalon Blues: Complete 1928 Recordings
Pink Anderson & Simmie DooleyEvery Day In The Week BluesSinners & Saints 1926-1931
Bessie SmithDevil's Gonna Git YouThe Complete Recordings
Hattie BurlesonJim NappyI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
Elizabeth JohnsonBe My Kid BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Uncle Bud WalkerLook Here Mama BluesMississippi Blues Vol.1 1928-1937
Johnnie HeadFare The Well Blues Pt. 1Country Blues Collector's Items 1924-1928
William HarrisBull Frog BluesMississippi Masters
Charley LincolnGamblin' CharleyCharley Lincoln 1927-1930
Nellie FlorenceMidnight Weeping BluesSlide Guitar Vol. 2 - Bottles, Knives & Steel
Barbecue BobEase It to Me BluesComplete Recorded Works Vol. 2
Blind Willie McTellStatesboro BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Curley WeaverNo No BluesAtlanta Blues
Ma RaineyBlack Eye BluesMother Of The Blues
Tampa RedIt's Tight Like ThatTampa Red Vol. 1 1928-1929
Leroy CarrPrison Bound BluesWhiskey Is My Habit...
Scrapper BlackwellDown And Out BluesScrapper Blackwell Vol. 1 1928-1932
Eddie MillerFreight Train BluesDown On The Levee
Pine Top SmithI'm Sober NowShake Your Wicked Knees
James Boodle-It WigginsKeep A-Knockin' An You Can't...Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 2
Cow Cow DavenportChimin' The BluesMama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here
Lonnie JohnsonViolin BluesViolin, Sing The Blues For Me
Bo CarterEast Jackson BluesViolin, Sing The Blues For Me
Robert WilkinsJail House BluesMasters of the Memphis Blues
Jim JacksonWhat A TimeJim Jackson Vol. 2 1928-1930
Furry LewisKassie Jones - Part 1Masters of the Memphis Blues
Frank StokesWhat’s The Matter BluesMasters of the Memphis Blues
Frenchy's String BandTexas And Pacific BluesSaints & Sinners 1926-1931
Victoria SpiveyNew Black Snake Blues Pt. 1Lonnie Johnson Vol. 4 1928-1929
Fannie Mae GoosbyDirty Moaner BluesFemale Blues Singers 7 G/H 1922-1929

Show Notes:

Tampa Red: It's Tight Like That Today’s show is the second installment of an ongoing series of programs built around a particular year. The bulk of the information for today’s show notes comes from the books Recording The Blues (reprinted along with two other titles in Yonder Come The Blues) by Robert M.W. Dixon and John Godrich and Blues & Gospel Records, 1890-1943 by Robert M.W. Dixon, John Godrich and Howard Rye.

The first year we spotlighted was 1927 which was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. The average blues or gospel record had sales in the region of 10,000. In 1928 the figure was 1,000 or so lower which was still a thriving market. Paramount, the market leader at the time, brought talent up to their northern studios. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on. The record companies advertised their record in black newspapers, mainly in the Chicago Defender, which was the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper.

During the peak years there were five major companies issuing records for the race market: Okeh, Columbia, Paramount, Brunswick-Balke-Collender (encompassing Brunswick and Vocalion (a division of Gennett). Victor was the only label  to systematically exploit the the blues talent around Memphis. Their second visit there, in January and February 1928, yielded three times as much material as their initial 1927 visit. Among those recorded were Blind Willie McTell, Jim Jackson, Memphis Jug Band, Frank Stokes, Tommy Johnson, Ishman Bracey, Furry Lewis, Cannon's Jug Stompers among many others. In August alone the label cut some 180 sides, mostly by black artists.

Jim Jackson's "Kansas City Blues" was the massive hit of 1927 and in 1928 that honor went to "How Long How Long Blues" by Leroy Carr and "It' Tight like That" by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, both records issued by Vocalion. The highly suggestive "It' Tight like That" was cut in September of 1928 which was just a few months after Vocalion dropped their tag "Better and Cleaner Race Records." Vocalion also cut several sides by Leroy Carr's guitarist, Scrapper Blackwell in 1928. In 1928 Brunswick recorded Bo Carter, Fannie Mae Goosby and Hattie Burleson among others.

boodle-knockinglgIn 1926 Columbia and OKeh merged but the labels were run by separate management for three years after the merger and did not compete for the same artists. Since 1927 OKeh had been issuing a new record every six weeks by Lonnie Johnson and issued some two-dozen sides by him in 1927 and about half that number in 1928. After the takeover by Columbia, OKeh made no field recordings until 1928 when they visited Memphis where they recorded blues singers such as Tom Dickson and the now legendary recordings by Mississippi John Hurt. They also recorded Sloppy Henry and Uncle Bud Walker in Atlanta a few months afterwards. Lonnie Johnson went with the unit, himself recording in both Memphis and san Antonio. In San Antonio he backed Texas Alexander who OKeh had initially recorded in New York the previous August. Columbia also made field recordings in Atlanta and Dallas where they recorded blues singers such as Barbecue Bob and his brother Charley Lincoln, Pink Anderson with Simmie Dooley, Peg Leg Howell, Curley Weaver, Lillian Glinn among many others.

The only race company that made no field trips was Paramount. Despite this Paramount remained the market leader in records released and singers recorded. Paramount issued records by the many of the blues biggest stars.


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