Program Note

Jazz90.1 WGMC-FM is pleased to announce they will launch a brand new internet radio station beginning this summer. The new stream, “Jazz90.1 Swing & Blues”, will feature 108 hours of classic and new blues music each week from 6 a.m. Monday – 6 p.m. Friday, and big band music all weekend long from 6 p.m. Friday – 6 a.m. Monday. The new internet station is expected to launch by Aug. 1, streaming live on and via its free mobile app for iPhone and Android. The station will include rebroadcast programs already enjoyed on Jazz90.1 FM, such as Sinatra and Co., Dick Robinson’s American Standards by the Sea, Big Band Friday, Blues Spectrum, Big Road Blues and more. Click here for the program schedule.

If you have the Jazz90.1 app for your iPhone or Android device you can be one of the first to check out the new Jazz90.1 Swing and Blues internet radio station! On Monday July 25 at 9 a.m., those with the app can tune in and enjoy our brand new station before anyone else! You can download it for free in the iTunes app store or Google Play Store.


MixcloudJust a head's up that there's no new show this week but there are plenty of older shows to check out. We've been making big strides in getting our older shows uploaded to Mixcloud and currently have over two hundred shows available. Big Road Blues has been on the air since mid-2007 so  as you can imagine there's a large number of shows archived. Eventually we'll have all of them uploaded outside of a few that didn't get recorded due to technical reasons. You can find all the shows on the Mixcloud website and you'll also find an embedded player above each week's post.



A new addition to the website is our Listen page (permanent link on the top right menu) where you will find an embedded player that gives you easy access to all of our shows, displaying the newest show by default. Clicking "Up Next" on the player will let you scroll through and play all of our older programs.

New shows will be posted shortly after the show airs on Sunday right above the playlist and show notes. I'll be rolling out older shows in batches. As of now we have the past three years worth of shows up on the website. You can also find the shows on the Mixcloud website and Mixcloud also has apps for iOS and Android.


Lottie KimbroughRolling Log BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Winston Holmes & Charlie TurnerThe Kansas City CallKansas City Blues 1924-1929
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonPiney Brown BluesThe Boss Of The Blues
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonRoll 'Em PetePete Johnson: Radio Broadcasts
Pete JohnsonDive BomberRadio Broadcasts, Film Soundtracks, Alternate Takes
Jay McShann & Walter BrownConfessin' The BluesWalter Brown 1945-47
Jay McShann & Walter Brown 'Fore Day RiderWalter Brown 1945-47
Hot Lips Page Sunset BluesHot Lips Page 1944-1946
Hot Lips Page Rock It For MeHot Lips Page Vol.1 1938-1940
Pete JohnsonKaycee on My MindPete Johnson 1939-1941
Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonLow Down Dog Pete Johnson: Radio Broadcasts
Jay McShann & Crown Prince Waterford Crown Prince BluesJay McShann & The Blues Singers 1941-1949
Jay McShannVine Street BoogieJay McShann Vol.1 1941-1943
Jesse Price Kansas City BoogieJesse Price 1946-1957
Jesse Price Kansas City BoogieJesse Price 1946-1957
Lottie KimbroughWayward Girl BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 1
Winston Holmes & Charlie TurnerThe Kansas City Dog WalkKansas City Blues 1924-1929
Sylvester Kimbrough Bird Liver BluesKansas City Blues 1924-1929
Harlan Leonard & His RocketsRide My Blues AwayHarlan Leonard 1940
Earl Jackson and his OrchestraKansas City JumpsSwinging Small Combos Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Myra Taylor I'm In My Sins This Morning Swinging Small Combos Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Myra TaylorTell Your Best Friend Nothin'Swinging Small Combos Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Jay McShann & Walter BrownHootie BluesJay McShann & The Blues Singers 1941-1949
Geechie SmithThe Kaycee KidSwinging Small Combos Kansas City Style Vol. 2
Geechie SmithT-Town JumpSwinging Small Combos Kansas City Style Vol. 2
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonGoin' Away BluesPete Johnson: Radio Broadcasts
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonIntroduction/Johnson and Turner BluesPete Johnson: Radio Broadcasts
George E. Lee & his Novelty Singing Orchestra Down Home, Syncopated BluesKansas City Star 1944-1952
Julia LeeWon't You Come Over to My House?Kansas City Star 1944-1952
Julia LeeShow Me Missouri BluesKansas City Star 1944-1952
Jay McShann & Jimmy WitherspoonGone With The BluesJumpin' The Blues
Jay McShann & Crown Prince WaterfordHometown BluesJay McShann Vol.1 1941-43

Show Notes:

Wayward Girl Blues 78As Paul Oliver writes: "In the Twenties and Thirties they called it 'Tom's Town' – Kansas City was 'wide open' under the regime of Tom Pendergast. There were over three hundred nightspots in the city, not to mention the saloons and bars that were dotted throughout the neighborhoods, both black and white." The blues and jazz scenes through the heyday of the 1920's to 1950's centered in the bustling commercial downtown Kansas City area near the river bottoms. The district between 12th to 18th streets, and from Central to Vine streets was lined with clubs, playing six nights a week to jam-packed crowds. Like New York City's Harlem, Kansas City’s 18th and Vine area developed into a self-contained community. During the days of public segregation, the intersection of 18th and Vine served as the hub of a bustling business and entertainment district—the heart and soul of an African American community. Kansas City  gained national recognition with a distinctive sound that blended the blues with an up-tempo swing beat. The music scene peaked from the 1920s until the early 1950s. Charlie ‘‘Bird’’ Parker, Lester Young, Jay McShann, and Big Joe Turner are just a handful of the legends who sprang from the Kansas City area. Kansas City's blues scene of the 1920's is most notable for a handful of great records by singer Lottie Kimbrough who was assisted by music entrepreneur Winston Holmes. The bulk of today's recordings come from the 30's and 40's as we spotlight Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, Jay McShann who recorded with several exceptional blues shouters like Walter Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon and Crown Prince Waterford. We also hear from fine blues ladies like Julia Lee and Myra Taylor as well as a number of other lesser know Kansas City artists.

Lottie Kimbrough was born in West Bottoms, Kansas City. She was nicknamed "The Kansas City Butterball." She was managed by Winston Holmes, himself a local musician and music promoter. Her music career began in the early part of the 1920's, when she performed in Kansas City's nightclubs and speakeasy's. In 1924 she cut her first recording session for Paramount Records. Her earliest recordings used the twins Milas (banjo) and Miles Pruitt (guitar). In 1926 she cut some tracks for the Holmes owned Merrit Records as well as the Gennett label. She cut more sides in 1928 for Paramount and finals sides for Brunswick in 1929. Holmes supplied a series of yodels, and vocalised bird calls and train whistles on Kimbrough's "Lost Lover Blues" and "Wayward Girl Blues" (1928). Kimbrough's brother Sylvester appeared with her in vaudeville, and in 1926 he supplied recording accompaniment with Paul Banks' Kansas City Trio. He cut one 78 under his own name for Brunswick in 1929.

George E. Lee Singing Novelty Orchestra, Kansas City, 1924 with Julia Lee on piano


Winston Holmes was a Kansas City music promoter who owned the Winston Holmes Music Company, established in April 1920 at 18th and Highland. Holmes leveraged his contacts in the phonograph industry to win regional distribution rights for the Gennett, Black Swan, Columbia, Paramount, OKeh, and other fledgling race labels. Holmes facilitated the recording sessions for the OKeh and Paramount labels, before launching his own Meritt label. In 1929 Holmes and his partner Charlie Turner cut a session for Paramount with Milas Pruitt possibly on guitar.

As Frank Driggs writes in his book Kansas City Blues: "At the Sunset Club situated on the southwest corner of 12th and Woodland, pianist Pete Johnson effortlessly rolled chorus after chorus of boogie-woogie, accompanying Big Joe Turner, apron clad, hollering the blues while dispensing drinks from behind the bar." Leaving school in the sixth grade, Turner got his start with blind street singers and jug bands on Kansas City's 12th Street. John Hammond, while in Kansas City scouting Basie in the summer of 1936, pledged to help Johnson and Turner get established in New York. In the spring of 1938, Hammond made good on his promise and negotiated a contract on their behalf with the Music Corporation of America, as well as a short run at the Famous Door on 52nd Street. In 1938 Turner and Johnson appeared at the Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall. Pete Johnson and Joe Turner joined Billie Holiday, Albert Ammons, and Meade Lux Lewis for an extended run at Café Society in 1939. Turner and Johnson’s regular appearances on Benny Goodman’s radio program and the release of their first recording, “Roll ’Em, Pete,” established their careers nationally.

Jay McShann was a mostly self-taught as a pianist, worked with Don Byas as early as 1931 and played throughout the Midwest before settling in Kansas City in 1936. In 1940 he made records with Charlie Parker. He cut some blues based session in 1941 and 1942. McShann worked with several exceptional blues shouters including Walter Brown who hit big with "Confessin' the Blues." Brown worked with McShann through 1945. Sometime around early 1945, Crown prince Waterford, by now billing himself as "The Crown Prince Of The Blues", scored a top job with Jay McShann's Orchestra as a replacement for the unreliable Walter Brown. He stayed less than a year, recording just three songs with McShann's new sextet during the summer of 1945 before striking out alone. Jimmy Witherspoon made his first records with Jay McShann's band in 1945. He first recorded under his own name in 1947, and two years later with the McShann band, he had his first hit, "Ain't Nobody's Business,"[ a song which came to be regarded as his signature tune.

Jay McShann, 1940 with singer Walter Brown

A popular entertainer who recorded frequently for Capitol during 1944-1950, Julia Lee's double-entendre songs and rocking piano made her a major attraction in Kansas City. She played piano and sang in her brother George E. Lee's Orchestra during 1920-1934, recording with him in 1927 and 1929 and cutting two titles of her own in 1929. Lee worked regularly  in Kansas City after her brother's band broke up. In 1944, she started recording for Capitol and among her sidemen on some sessions were Jay McShann, Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Red Norvo, and Red Nichols, along with many local players. After 1952, Julia Lee only recorded four further songs, but she was active up until her death in 1958.

Myra Taylor was born in Bonner Springs, Kansas, but her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri's historic 18th and Vine area when she was a child. n the 1930s, she toured the Midwest with Clarence Love's band. She moved to Chicago in 1937 and worked with Warren “Baby” Dodds, Lonnie Johnson, Roy Eldridge and Lil Hardin Armstrong. She returned to Kansas City in 1940 and Harlan Leonard hired Taylor as the featured singer for his new band Harlan Leonard and His Rockets. She made her first record with the group in 1940 and cut a few sides for Mercury in 1946.

Jesse Price moved to Kansas City in 1934, and became an important fixture, playing with Count Basie's orchestra prior to Jo Jones, touring with Ida Cox and later working with Harlan Leonard and Jay McShann. Price moved to Los Angeles in 1941 where he back a variety of artists. Price recorded 23 selections as a leader from 1946-48 (mostly for Capitol); they were usually blues-based but often used top jazz players.

Vernon "Geechie" Smith was a trumpeter/vocalist from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, aera. He played early on with Ernie Fields Orchestra. He was a Kansas City stalwart, spent many years in Kansas City and played in countless Kansas City styled bands. He moved to L.A. where he joined Joe Lutcher's band. recording under his own name for the Bihari Brother' Modern subsidiary Colonial in 1950 and for the obscure Kicks label in 1954, he drifted into obscurity.

Hot Lips Page was of the great swing trumpeters in addition to being a talented blues vocalist, Page gained early experience in the 1920's performing in Texas, playing in Ma Rainey's backup band. He was with Walter Page's Blue Devils during 1928-1931, and then joined Bennie Moten's band in Kansas City. Page freelanced in Kansas City and in 1936 was one of the stars in Count Basie's orchestra but, shortly before Basie was discovered, Joe Glaser signed Hot Lips as a solo artist. He died in 1954 at the age of 36.


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