Sun 21 Feb 2016
|Little Boy Fuller (Richard Trice)||Blood Red River||Carolina Blues 1937-1947|
|Carolina Slim||Mama's Boogie||Carolina Slim 1950-1952|
|Baby Tate||You Can Always Tell||Another Man Done Gone|
|Pink Anderson||I've Got Mine||Gospel, Blues and Street Songs|
|Rev. Gary Davis||Lord, I Feel Like Just Goin' On||Harlem Street Singer|
|Babe Reid||One Dime||Music from the Hills of Caldwell County|
|Cora Phillips||John Henry||Music from the Hills of Caldwell County|
|Elester Anderson||Out On The Farm||Eight-Hand Sets & Holy Steps|
|George Higgs||Skinny Woman Blues||Unissued|
|Peg Leg Sam Jackson||Hand Me Down||The Last Medicine Show|
|Henry Johnson||Who's Going Home With You||Union County Flash|
|Tarheel Slim||The Guy With A 45||Too Much Competition|
|Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee||My Bulldog Blues||Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48|
|J.C. Burris||Blues Around My Bed||Classic Appalachian Blues from Smithsonian Folkways|
|Wilburt Atwater||Goin' Away Baby And I Sure Don't Want To Go||Orange County Special|
|Jamie Alson||Goin' Away||Ain't Gonna Rain No More|
|Joe & Odell Thompson||Going Down The Road Feeling Bad||Ain't Gonna Rain No More|
|Big Boy Henry||I'm Not lying this Time||I'm Not Lying This Time|
|Doug Quattlebaum||Don't Be Funny Baby||East Coast Blues|
|Marylin Scott||Straighten Him Out||Carolina Blues & Gospel 1945-1951|
|Guitar Shorty||Working Hard||Alone In His Field|
|Guitar Slim Stephens||Worried Blues||Greensboro Rounder|
|Willie Trice||Shine On||Blue & Rag'd|
|Algia Mae Hinton||Chicken, Lord, Lord||Eight-Hand Sets & Holy Steps|
|John Dee Holeman||Early Morning Blues||The Roots Of It All Acoustic Blues Vol. 4|
|Dink Roberts||Georgia Buck||Black Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia|
|John Snipes||I Think I Heard The Chilly Wind Blow||Ain't Gonna Rain No More|
|Etta Baker||Never Let Your Deal Go Down||One Dime Blues|
|Elizabeth Cotton||Going Down the Road Feeling Bad||Freight Train & Other NC Folk Songs & Tunes|
|Lesley Riddle||Red River Blues||Classic Appalachian Blues from Smithsonian|
|Drink Small||You Can Call Me Country||I Know My Blues are Different|
On last week's program we spotlighted the rich pre-war blues scene of the Carolinas. This week we move to the post-war era, featuring some fine commercial recordings made in the immediate post-war and large number of field recordings from the 1960's and 70's. Several pre-war recording artists made records in later years including Pink Anderson, Richard Trice, Rev. Gary Davis and of course the prolific duo, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Several Carolina counties produced a number of fine blues artists such as South Carolina's Union County from which sprang Arthur “Peg Leg" Sam Jackson, Baby Tate and Henry Johnson. All three were recorded by Pete Lowry, who between 1969 and 1980 amassed hundreds of photographs, thousands of selections of recordings, music and interviews in his travels through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Some of the recordings saw release on his Trix label formed in the early 70's. Other artists featured today that Lowry recorded include Elester Anderson, George Higgs, Guitar Shorty and Willie Trice who recorded in the 30's and was an acquaintance of Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller still exerted an influence in the post-war years, evidenced in the music of Baby Tate, Carolina Slim and others. North Carolina's Orange and Caldwell counties yielded several fine blues artists who were recorded in the field including Wilburt Atwater, Jamie Alson, Dink Roberts, Etta Baker, Babe Reid and Cora Phillips among others. Much good field recording was one in the Carolinas, particularly in the 70's; in addition to Lowry, others who did fieldwork included Kip Lornell, Bruce Bastin, Danny McLean, Mike Stewart, Glen Hinson and major talents were still to be found such as Guitar Shorty and Guitar Slim Stephens. For an in-depth look at Carolina blues, and of the Southeast, check out Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues, the definitive book on the topic.
Blind Boy Fuller's influence extended into the post-war era either by those who worked with Fuller or were inspired by his records. Willie Trice and his brother Richard became close friends with Blind Boy Fuller and Fuller took them up to New York where they cut six sides together for Decca in 1937. Richard Trice recorded after the war for Savoy in 1946 as Little Boy Fuller as well as a couple of sides in 1948 and 1952/53. Richard Trice was later recorded by Pete Lowry but those recordings remain unreleased. Willie recorded the a full-length record for Pete Lowry Trix label in the early 70's, Blue & Rag'd with other sides on anthologies.
Carolina Slim's main role model seems to be Lightnin' Hopkins' but Blind Boy Fuller was certainly an influence as evidenced on songs such as "Mama's Boogie" and "Rag Mamma." Carolina Slim was born Edward P. Harris in Leasburg, North Carolina. In 1950, he relocated to Newark, New Jersey, and made his recording debut for the Savoy label, billed as Carolina Slim. In 1951 and 1952, he recorded eight tracks for the King label in New York, this time using the name of Country Paul. In June 1952, Slim recorded four more tracks for Savoy, but these were to be his final sides. He passed away the following year at age 30.
|Read Liner Notes|
Another who knew Fuller was Baby Tate who was born Charles Henry Tate in Elberton, Georgia,and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. Tate started performing locally, after seeing Blind Blake in Elberton. He later formed a trio with Joe Walker (the brother of Willie Walker) and Roosevelt "Baby" Brooks and, up to 1932. Relocating to Spartanburg, South Carolina, he performed solo before forming an occasional duo with Pink Anderson; a working relationship that endured through to the 1970's. At some point before Fuller died in 1940, the two ran together for a bit and he even dated Fuller's sister. Tate released his only album, Blues of Baby Tate: See What You Done Done, in 1962, and twelve months later appeared in Sam Charters' documentary film The Blues. Utilizing harmonica player, Peg Leg Sam, or guitarists Baby Brooks or McKinley Ellis, Tate recorded nearly sixty tracks in 1970 and 1971 for Pete Lowry, but the proposed album remained unreleased once Tate unexpectedly died in the summer of 1972. A 45 was release of Tate on Trix circa 1970, "See What You Done Done b/w Late In The Evening."
Tate was active in Union County, South Carolina which boasted several fine bluesmen including Arthur "Peg Leg" Sam Jackson and Henry Johnson. Sam was a member of what may have been the last authentic traveling medicine show, a harmonica virtuoso, and an extraordinary entertainer. Born Arthur Jackson in in Jonesville, South Carolina, he acquired his nickname after a hoboing accident in 1930. His medicine show career began in 1938, giving his last medicine show performance in 1972 in North Carolina, and was still in fine form when he started making the rounds of folk and blues festivals in his last years. Lowry captured Sam and Chief Thundercloud (the last traveling medicine show) on the Flyright album The Last Medicine Show. There's also some footage of the medicine show act in the film Born For Hard Luck. Sam delivered comedy routines, bawdy toasts, monologues, performed tricks with his harps (often playing two at once) and served up some great blues (sometimes with a guitar accompanist, but most often by himself). Lowry released one album by Sam, Medicine Show Man, and he recorded only once more for Blue Labor in 1975 which was originally issued under the title Joshua and subsequently reissued as Early In The Morning and Peg Leg Sam with Louisiana Red.
Henry Johnson's recordings were the result of Peg Leg Sam pushing his good friend to record. "I feel Henry Johnson is the finest finger-picking blues artist to come along in a hell of a long time, and this album should demonstrate that with ease" Pete Lowry wrote in the notes to The Union County Flash!, his lone album. "It was Sam who introduced us (Bastin and I) to Henry…His musicianship was surpassed only by his magnificent voice – I have UNC concert tapes where he plays piano, Hawaiian guitar, and harp w. his guitar… he stuck it in his mouth and worked without a rack (like Harmonica Frank)!" Johnson died 19 1974, shortly after the record was released and there is enough material in the can for another release. Lowry wrote" His complete talent will never be heard by those who never saw him in person." Additional sides appear on the Flyright anthologies Another Man Done Gone and Carolina Country Blues.
|Read Liner Notes|
It's unclear how many counties or regions in the Carolinas boasted a unique musical subculture as most were not documented. Two counties that were researched were Orange and Caldwell. Orange County lies in Central North Carolina, a rural county in the arc of urban industrial towns like Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro. Bruce Bastin and Pete Lowry researched and recorded artists from this area, the results making up the album Orange County Special issued on Bastin's Flyright label in the early 70's. The music was a mix of blues, country dance tunes with a definite crossover influence from white music. Some of these artists are also featured on the album Ain't Gonna Rain No More: Blues And Pre-blues From Piedmont North Carolina. Caldwell County lies some 70 miles north of Charlotte and produced several fine traditional musicians who were connected by marriage and intermarriage. Among those were Babe Reid, Cora Phillips and Etta Baker. Recordings from the region were documented on the album Music from the Hills of Caldwell County and several albums of recordings by Baker herself.
Blues in the Carolinas remained a vital tradition even in the 1970's. In addition to the aforementioned "Peg Leg" Sam Jackson and Henry Johnson, two other major talents recorded during this period were Guitar Shorty and Guitar Slim. Guitar Shorty was born John Henry Fortescue in the town of Belhaven, North Carolina. He cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the long out-of-print album Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) and an album for Lowry's Trix label, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975. During his brief period of recording he played at the Chapel Hill Blues Festival and at coffee houses in the same town. Performances of him at the Chapel Hill Blues Festival can found on the Flyright albums Carolina Country Blues and Another Man Done Gone. James “Guitar Slim” Stephens was first recorded in the early 70's by Kip Lornell who recorded him on several occasions in 1974 and 1975. His first LP, Greensboro Rounder, was issued in 1979 on the Flyright label and are comprised of these recordings. Stephens also appears on the anthologies Eight Hand Sets & Holy Steps and on several volumes of the Living Country Blues USA series. He passed away in 1991.