1930’s Blues

Tampa Red & Mary Johnson Dawn of Day BluesBarrelhouse Mamas
Tampa Red & Lucille Bogan Coffee Grinding BluesThe Essential
Tampa Red & Madyln Davis It's Red Hot Tampa Red: Bottleneck Guitar
Big Bill Broonzy & St. Louis Jimmy Back on My Feet, Again Jimmy Oden Vol. 1 1932-1944
Big Bill Broonzy & Famous Hokum Boys Black Cat RagFamous Hokum Boys Vol. 1 1930
Lonnie Johnson & Peetie Wheatstraw304 BluesBroadcasting The Blues
Lonnie Johnson & Keghouse Keghouse Blues Lonnie Johnson Vol. 3 1927-1928
Sonny Boy Williamson I & Henry TownsendA Rambling MindThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1
Sonny Boy Williamson I & Elijah JonesOnly A Boy ChildThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1
Sonny Boy Williamson I &Yank Rachell Lake Michigan BluesThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1
Tampa Red & Ma Rainey Leaving This MorningMother of the Blues
Tampa Red & Bertha "Chippie" Hill Some Cold Rainy DayBaby, How Can It Be?
Big Bill Broonzy & Washboard Sam Flying Crow BluesRockin' My Blues Away
Big Bill Broonzy & Sonny Boy Williamson I Good GravyThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1
Big Bill Broonzy & Famous Hokum Boys Pig Meat StrutFamous Hokum Boys Vol. 1 1930
Lonnie Johnson & Victoria SpiveyIdle Hour BluesThe Essential
Lonnie Johnson & Victoria Spivey Murder In The First DegreeThe Essential
Lonnie Johnson & Merline JohnsonHe May Be Your ManMerline Johnson Vol. 1 1937-1938
Sonny Boy Williamson I & Big Joe Williams Highway 49 Big Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935 - 1941
Sonny Boy Williamson I & Big Joe Williams Someday Baby Big Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935 - 1941
Sonny Boy Williamson I & Big Joe Williams King Biscuit StompThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.2
Tampa Red & Lil Johnson House Rent Scuffle Tampa Red: Bottleneck Guitar
Tampa Red & Big MaceoTexas StompBig Maceo Vol. 2 1945-1950
Lonnie Johnson & Clara Smith You're Gettin' Old On Your JobThe Essential
Lonnie Johnson & Clara Morris Cry On DaddyFemale Chicago Blues 1936-194
Sonny Boy Williamson I Joe Williams Peach Orchard MamaThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.1
Sonny Boy Williamson I &Yank RachellI'm Wild And Crazy As I Can BeThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.1
Tampa Red & Georgia TomGrievin' Me BluesThe Essential
Tampa Red & Papa Tadpole Have You Ever Been Worried In Mind? Part OneTampa Red Vol. 4 1928-1934

Show Notes:

Tampa Red
Tampa Red

Some time back I did a couple of show called “Sideman Blues” where we shined the light on some superb session musicians who backed blues artists in the pre-war era. On today's sequel to that show we focus on some of the stars of the pre-war blues era who were also active session artists. Artists featured today include some of the era's big names such as Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Boy Williamson I. These artists backed dozens of artists, both well known and obscure on record. Many of these artists also acted in the role as talent scouts for the labels.

During his heyday in the 1920's and 30's, Tampa Red was billed as "The Guitar Wizard," and his stunning slide work on steel National or electric guitar shows why he earned the title. His 25 year recording career produced hundreds of sides: hokum, pop, and jive, but mostly blues (including classic compositions "Anna Lou Blues," "Black Angel Blues," "Crying Won't Help You," "It Hurts Me Too," and "Love Her with a Feeling"). Jim O'Neal neatly summed up Tampa's place in blues history when he wrote the following in 1975: "Few figures have been as important in blues history as Tampa Red; yet no bluesman of such stature has been so ignored by today's blues audience. As a composer, recording artist, musical trendsetter and one of the premier urban blues guitarists of his day, Tampa Red remained popular with black record buyers for more than 20 years and exerted considerable influence on many post-World War II blues stars who earned greater acclaim for playing Tampa's songs than Tampa himself often did."

Tampa was a very busy session guitarist mainly in the early years of his career, circa 1928-1929. Among those he backed include Big Maceo, Lucille Bogan, Bertha "Chippie" Hill, Lil Johnson, Frankie Jaxon, Victoria Spivey, Romeo Nelson, Ma Rainey, Mary Johnson and many others. Tampa's work behind underrated singer Mary Johnson has always been among my favorites. Johnson cut six sides at two sessions in 1930. The April 8, 1930 was outstanding do in large part to the shimmering slide guitar of Tampa and the excellent piano of the under recorded Judson Brown. The two work beautifully behind Johnson on the mournful "Three Months Ago Blues" with Tampa shinning on "Dawn Of Day Blues" and the magnificent "Death Cell Blues."

Lonnie Johnson was a true musical innovator who's remarkable recording career spanned from the 1920's through the 1960's. During that time his musical diversity was amazing: he played piano, guitar, violin, he recorded solo, he accompanied down home country blues singers like Texas Alexander, he played with Louis Armtrong's Hot Fives, recorded with Duke Ellington, duetted with Victoria Spivey and cut a series of instrumental duets with the white jazzman Eddie Lang that set a standard of musicianship that remains unsurpassed by blues guitarists. In Johnson's single-string style lie the basic precedents of such jazz greats as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, while being a prime influence on bluesman as diverse as Robert Johnson, Tampa Red and B.B. King. Thus Johnson enjoys the rare distinction of having influenced musicians in both the jazz and blues fields. Like Tampa, Johnson backed dozens of artists on record including Texas Alexander, Jimmie Gordon, Merline Johnson, Alice Moore, Victoria Spivey, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and a host of others.

As Bob Riesman wrote in his biography of Big Bill Broonzy: "…Bill's recording career took off in this era, and his prodigious output was nearly unmatched among blues musicians. From 1934 until 1942, when the combination of a musicians’ union ban and the diversion of shellac to the war effort halted virtually all recording for two years, Bill averaged better than thirteen double-sided 78 rpm records each year as a featured artist. In addition, he played on an average of forty-eight sides each year as a sideman. In other words, for nearly a decade, he averaged one new Big Bill record a month, and he appeared on two more as a studio guitarist. …As 'Big Bill,' he was one of the most productive and popular artists in the business, with a name that was familiar to his audiences and reinforced by his easily recognized singing style. At the same time, he became the first-call studio guitarist for dozens of recording sessions that Lester Melrose organized for several record companies, particularly Bluebird. In that capacity, he was an integral part of the distinctive sound of numerous musicians, including some of the most popular artists of the era. Two artists whose careers were interwoven with Bill’s were Washboard Sam and Jazz Gillum. Bill played guitar on a most every one of the more than 150 recordings that Sam made over a period of twenty years, as well as on many of the sides that Gillum recorded."

Big Bill Broonzy
Big Bill Broonzy

Broonzy's 40's work with Washboard Sam really hit a high point with Big Bill laying down some lengthy, swinging amplified guitar on featured tracks like "Life Is Just A Book", "My Feet Jumped Salty" and "River Hip Mama." Washboard Sam recorded hundreds of records between 1935 and 1949 for the bluebird label, usually with backing by guitarist Big Bill. In 1932, Sam moved to Chicago, initially he played for tips, but soon he began performing regularly with Broonzy. Within a few years, Sam was supporting Broonzy on the guitarist's Bluebird recordings. Soon, he was supporting a number of different musicians on their recording sessions, including pianist Memphis Slim, bassist Ransom Knowling, and a handful of saxophone players, who all recorded for Bluebird. In 1935, Sam began recording for both Bluebird and Vocalion Records. Throughout the rest of the '30s and the '40s, Sam was one of the most popular Chicago bluesmen, selling plenty of records and playing to packed audiences in the Chicago clubs.

Broonzy was also prominent on the recordings of Lil Green who's "Just Rockin'" we feature today. Her professional career was launched around 1940, when the manager of a Chicago club hired her on the spot after a group of her friends had arranged for a bandleader to call her up from the audience to sing.By May 1940 Green had come to the attention of Lester Melrose, who brought her into the studio to record on the Bluebird label. He assigned a trio of musicians to back her, including Big Bill, Simeon Henry on piano, and New Orleans veteran Ransom Knowling on bass. That session produced her first hit, "Romance in the Dark." As Broonzy noted in his autobiography: "I played for Lil Green for two years as her guitar player. I wrote some songs for her, like "My Mellow Man" and "Country Boy," "Give Your Mama One More Smile" and some more that I fixed up for her.

Sonny Boy Williamson was already a harp virtuoso in his teens. He learned from Hammie Nixon and Noah Lewis and ran with Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell before settling in Chicago in 1934. Sonny Boy signed to Bluebird in 1937. Henry Townsend recalled driving Sonny Boy, Robert Nighthawk, Walter Davis and Big Joe Williams to Aurora, Illinois, in his 1930 A Model Ford for their 1937 sessions: "I transferred them to Aurora, Illinois. There was about eight or nine of us …we stacked them in the car like sardines." This led to a marathon recording session resulting in six songs by Nighthawk (as Robert Lee McCoy), six by Sonny Boy Williamson I, four by Big Joe Williams and eight sides by Walter Davis. It was Sonny Boy's songs, especially, "Good Morning Little School Girl", "Bluebird Blues" and "Sugar Mama Blues" which were the biggest hits. Sonny Boy recorded prolifically for Victor both as a leader and behind others in the vast Melrose stable (including Robert Lee McCoy and Big Joe Williams, who in turn played on some of Williamson's sides). Sonny Boy cut more than 120 sides in all for RCA from 1937 to 1947


Joe Green, Joe Battle...Rock Island LineLibrary of Congress Website
Gene Raymond, Jimmie Lee Hart, Hattie Ellis...Cap'n Don't 'low No Truckin' Rround in HereLibrary of Congress Website
Curtis Jones Private Talk BluesCurtis Jones Vol. 3 1939-1940
Bill Gaither Bloody Eyed WomanBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
Cripple Clarence Lofton House Rent StruggleCripple Clarence Lofton Vol. 2 1935-1939
Tommy McClennan Cotton Patch BluesBluebird Recordings 1939-42
Alfred Fields '29 BluesChicago Blues 1937-1941
LeadbellyNoted Rider BluesLeadbelly: The Remaining LOCR Vol. 5 1938-1942
Smith Casey Shorty GeorgeTwo White Horses Standin' In Line
Roger "Burn Down Garnett Lighthouse BluesThe Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No. 1
Bukka White Po' BoyThe Complete Bukka White
Rosetta Howard Men Are Like StreetcarsMen Are Like Streetcars
Alberta Hunter Chirpin' The BluesAlberta Hunter Vol. 4 1927-1946
Ida CoxOne Hour MamaThe Essential
Jimmy Yancey State Street Special Hey! Piano Man
Roosevelt Sykes Papa LowThe Essential
Albert Ammons Shout For JoyHey! Piano Man
Mattie May Thomas No Mo' freedom Women from Parchman Penitentiary: Jailhouse Blues
Ace Johnson & L. W. Gooden Mama Don't 'low No Swingin' Out In HereJailhouse Blues
Beatrice Perry I Got A Man On The WheelerField Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Big Bill Broonzy Just A DreamBig Bill Broonzy Vol. 9 1939
Tampa Red Bessemer BluesThe Guitar Wizard: 1935-1953
Big Joe Turner Lovin' Mama BluesBig Joe Turner 1938-1940
Pete JohnsonClimbin' and Screamin'Pete Johnson 1938-1939
Mary James with Four Girls Go 'Way Devil Leave Me Alone Field Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Richard L. Lewis and Wilbert Gilliam Long Freight Train BluesTwo White Horses Standin' In Line
Unidentified performersWe Don't Have No Payday HereLibrary of Congress Website
Blu Lu Barker Lu's BluesBlu Lu Barker 1938-1939
Rosetta CrawfordI'm Tired Of Fattenin' Frogs For SnakesThe 30's Girls
Lonnie Johnson Why Woman Go WrongHe's a Jelly Roll Baker
Johnnie TempleJelly Roll BertThe Very Best Of Teddy Bunn
Merline Johnson Reckless Life BluesMerline Johnson Vol. 2 1938-1939
Memphis Minnie Bad Outside FriendsMemphis Minnie Vol. 4 1938-1939

Show Notes:

Library of Congress Note Cards

Today’s show is the thirteenth installment of an ongoing series of programs built around a particular year. 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 Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. Sales of blues records plummeted in the years 1931 through 1933. Things picked up again in 1934 with the companies recording full-scale again. During this period there was far less recording in the field during this period and in view of the popularity of Chicago singers there was less need. From 1934 until 1945 there were three main race labels, all selling at 35 cents: Decca, the Brunswick Record Corporation's Vocalion, and RCA-Victor's Bluebird. There were two other labels that featured a fair number of blues during this period; the store group Montgomery Ward, with a label of the same name, drew at various times on Gennett, Decca and Bluebird and Sears Roebuck used ARC material on its Conqueror label. Race record sales were up around 15 per cent in 1937. Sales were a bit down by 1938 and by 1939 a quarter of of race releases were gospel, against an eighth the prior year. In the post-'37 years most releases were by established artists: Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill, Washboard Sam, Tampa Red, Bill Gaither, Walter Davis, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Boy Williamson (Kokomo Arnold and Bumble Slim had stopped recording in 1938).

Outside of the commercial recordings, 1939 was notable for some excellent field recordings captured by John Lomax and Herbert Halpert. Lomax made a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States beginning in Port Arkansas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939. Some 700 recordings were made. In 1938 and 1939, folklorist Herbert Halpert traveled through the mid-Atlantic states recording  songs funded in part by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and Columbia University. Most notable were some remarkable recording in the notorious Parchman Farm in 1939.

1939 Decca Advertisement

The Lomax's first visited Parchman in 1933 and returned numerous times to record blues, work songs, spirituals, and personal interviews with inmates. One of the most famous bluesman the Lomax's recorded was Bukka White. In 1937 White recorded a minor hit, “Shake ‘Em On Down,” in Chicago, but that year he was also sentenced for a shooting incident to Parchman, where John Lomax recorded him performing two numbers in 1939. After his release White recorded twelve songs at a Chicago session in 1940. Among the songs he recorded were two songs about his time in prison: "Parchman Farm Blues" and "When Can I Change My Clothes?." Parchman isn't the only prison the Lomax's recorded at; other recordings were made at Cummins State Farm in Gould, Arkansas, Goree State Farm, Women's Camp, near Huntsville, Texas, State Penitentiary ("The Walls"), Huntsville, Texas and the Florida State Prison (Raiford Penitentiary).

One of the best performers the Lomax's recorded was Smith Casey. He was born in 1895, probably in Riverside near Huntsville, and learned music in San Jacinto and Jackson Counties.  While serving time in prison, he performed on a remote weekly radio program from the Huntsville Penitentiary called 'Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls'.  He was paroled in 1945 and moved to Huntsville, dying of tuberculosis in 1950." He was recorded by the Lomax's at Clemens State Farm, Brazoria in Texas on April 16, 1939.

I've always been fascinated by the females who recorded at Parchman and whom I first heard on the album Jailhouse Blues on the Rosetta label. These recordings were made in May and June 1939 by Herbert Halpert in the sewing of the Woman's Camp in Parchman. Camp 13 was the woman's camp where white and black women occupied separate wards. The women's primary work was making clothes for the prisoners, mattresses and bedding. The woman also did canning and helped out in the fields. The Parchamn women were asked to sing a song, any song they chose. There were no restrictions about length or subject, but most of the songs were short and some merely fragments. The best of those singers is the remarkable Mattie May Thomas. Thomas was a senior member at Parchman for she had served twice before. She recorded four sides.

Read Liner Notes

The most prolific artists of 1939 were those performing in the urban blues style such as Curtis Jones (18 sides), Bill Gaither (33 sides), Tampa Red (18 sides), Sonny Boy Williamson I (24 sides), Washboard Sam (16 sides) and Big Bill Broonzy (33 sides). A couple of down home blues artists were popular including Blind Boy Fuller, who had been recording since 1937, and newcomer Tommy McClennan who cut forty sides (at five eight-song sessions), every one issued at the time, between 1939 and 1942.

Some the classic women blues singers reappeared briefly including Trixie Smith (1938-1939), Alberta Hunter (1939) and Ida Cox (1939). Cox was invited to participate in the Carnegie Hall concert series From Spirituals to Swing, (the first concert was in 1938) produced by John Hammond in 1939. It gave her career a much-needed boost and she resumed recording, with a series of sessions for Vocalion Records in 1939 and Okeh Records in 1940. Several other woman singers made notable records including Blu Lou Barker, Memphis Minnie, Merline Johnson and Rosetta Howard among others.


Scrapper Blackwell Trouble Blues Pt. 1The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Scrapper Blackwell Penal Farm Blues The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Scrapper Blackwell Kokomo Blues The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellSloppy DrunkWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellI Believe I'll Make a ChangeWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellMemphis TownNaptown Blues 1929-1934
Georgia Tom Dorsey Gee, But It's Hard Georgia Tom Vol. 2 1930-1934
Georgia Tom Dorsey Levee Bound Blues Georgia Tom Vol. 2 1930-1934
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellHow Long Has That Evening Train Been GoneHurry Down Sunshine
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellGeorge Street Blues The Piano Blues Vol. 7: Leroy Carr 1930-1935
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellPapa's on the Housetop Naptown Blues 1929-1934
Scrapper Blackwell Morning Mail BluesBad Liquor Blues
Scrapper Blackwell D BluesBad Liquor Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Bad Liquor BluesBad Liquor Blues
Black Bottom McPhail Down In Black BottomThe Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Bumble Bee SlimMeet Me In the Bottom (Hey Lawdy Mama) Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 6 1936
Georgia Tom Dorsey Maybe It's The Blues The Essential
Scrapper Blackwell My Old Pal Blues (Dedicated to the Memory of Leroy Carr)Bad Liquor Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Blue Day BluesThe Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Scrapper Blackwell Down South BluesThe Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Scrapper Blackwell Little Girl BluesScrapper Blackwell Vol. 2 1934-1958
Scrapper BlackwellNo Good Woman BluesScrapper Blackwell with Brooks Berry 1959-1960
Brooks Berry & Scrapper BlackwellCold Blooded MurderMy Heart Struck Sorrow
Scrapper Blackwell Nobody Knows You When You're Down and OutMr. Scrapper's Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Shady LaneMr. Scrapper's Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Rambling BluesBad Liquor Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Alley Sally BluesBad Liquor Blues
Scrapper Blackwell Be-Da-Da-BumBad Liquor Blues
Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell Mean Mistreatin' MamaHurry Down Sunshine
Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell Barrelhouse Woman No. 2The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell
Brooks Berry & Scrapper BlackwellHow LongMy Heart Struck Sorrow
Scrapper Blackwell Little Boy BlueMr. Scrapper's Blues

Show Notes:

Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell

Scrapper Blackwell was born Francis Hillman Blackwell in February 21, 1904 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was given the nickname "Scrapper" by his grandmother, because of his fiery nature. Blackwell was a self-taught guitarist, building his first guitar out of a cigar box, wood and wire and also learned to play the piano. Blackwell had met with an English entrepreneur and store owner simply remembered as Mr Guernsey. Guernsey was eager to break into the record business and, having heard both musicians, arranged for Blackwell and Leroy Carr to meet. As Scrapper recalled: "Talkin' to Leroy. He said, glad I met you. l said, well, I'm glad I met you too. I said, I kind of like your blues old boy… so we sat down and played together. l said, it does sound pretty good… now where are those record makers at?" From that first encounter in 1928, Guernsey was so impressed with this musical partnership that he suggested that he take the pair to Chicago to "make a record." Blackwell refused to travel and a makeshift studio was set up in Indianapolis. Using the local W.F.B.M. radio station as a studio, the record company cut two titles including "How Long – How Long Blues" which became one of the biggest selling blues records of all time. The duo's piano/guitar pairing inspired numerous similar duos like Georgia Tom and Tampa Red, Charlie Spand and Blind Blake, Bill Gaither and Honey Hill among others.

Blackwell actually made his solo recording debut three day prior to his debut with Carr, on June June 16, 1928, cutting "Kokomo Blues b/w Penal Farm Blues." "Kokomo Blues", was transformed into "Old Kokomo Blues" by Kokomo Arnold and later reworked as "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson. Blackwell cut two 78's under his own name in 1928, the second pairing was "Trouble Blues – Pt. 1 b/w Trouble Blues – Pt. 2." Several sessions from 1928 went unissued. In 1929 he cut "Mr. Scrapper's Blues b/w Down And Out Blues" as well as playing with singer Bertha "Chippie" Hill and on "Be-Da-Da-Bum" Blackwell took the vocals while Carr played the piano. Blackwell recorded behind Georgia Tom on a eight song session for Gennett in 1930 and the same year cut some solo sides as well as playing behind singer Teddy Moss. He cut eight sides in 1931 and 1932 and another tens sides between 1934 and 1935 under his own name. He backed several other artists on record including Bumble Bee Slim (1935), Black Bottom McPhail (1932), Josh White (1934) and Dot Rice (1935).

Brooks Berry & Scrapper Blackwell
photo by Art Rosenbaum

Blackwell and Carr toured throughout the American Midwest and South between 1928 and 1935 as stars of the blues circuit. Between 1928 and 1935 the duo cut a remarkably consistent body of work of hundreds of sides notable for the impeccable guitar/piano interplay, Carr's profoundly expressive, melancholy vocals and some terrific songs. As Paul Oliver noted: “together they made an incomparable team, with a driving movement and lilting swing which was extremely infectious. Neither was at his best alone; it was their perfect timing and effortless mutual support which made them.” As for the songs, Oliver notes, “they were carefully composed and far from causally planned but they had a rare and simple poetry.”

Blackwell eventually grew dissatisfied with the lack of credit given his contributions with Carr; the situation was remedied by Vocalion's Mayo Williams after 1931 – in all future recordings, Blackwell and Carr received equal songwriting credits and equal status in recording contracts. Blackwell's last recording session with Carr was in February 1935, for Bluebird Records. The session ended bitterly, as both musicians left the studio mid-session and on bad terms, stemming from payment disputes. Two months later Blackwell received a phone call informing him of Carr's death due to heavy drinking and nephritis. Blackwell soon recorded a tribute to his musical partner "My Old Pal Blues" and then shortly retired from the music industry.

Chicago Defender June 29, 1929

Indianapolis had some notable blues talent, with several fine artists who gravitated to Scrapper's orbit; there was Shirley Griffith who moved to the city in 1928 and became friendly with Scrapper and Carr, Pete Franklin, whose mother was good friend with Leroy Carr (he roomed at their house shortly before he passed in 1935), Jesse Ellery who appeared on Jack Dupree's first sessions and singer Brooks Berry who met Scrapper shortly after she moved to Indianapolis.

Blackwell returned to music in the late 1950’s where he was recorded first in 1958 by Colin C. Pomroy, the recordings issued and first released on a 7 inch 45 rpm EP called Longtime Blues on the Collector label and was next recorded by Duncan P. Schiedt in 1959 and 1960. These latter recordings were issued on the British 77 label as Blues Before Sunrise. Art Rosenbaum recorded him in 1962 for the Prestige/Bluesville label resulting in his finest latter day recording, the album Mr. Scrapper’s Blues which ranks as one of the great blues revival records of the 1960's. Rosenbaum recorded him again for Bluesville, this time with singer Brooks Berry, resulting in the marvelous My Heart Struck Sorrow that has yet to be issued on CD. For a few years it seemed that Blackwell was at last receiving the acclaim and rewards that he had long deserved, but it was all to end abruptly when in October 1962 he was shot in the chest at point blank range. Police arrested a 75-year-old neighbor named Robert Beam for his murder.

Related Articles

-Watts, Theodore F. “An Interview with Scrapper Blackwell.” Jazz Monthly 6, no. 5 (Jul 1960): 4–6.

-Rosenbaum, Arthur. Scrapper Blackwell: Mr. Scrapper’s Blues. USA: Bluesville BV-1047, 1961

-Rosenbaum, Art. Blues of Brooks Berry and Scrapper Blackwell: My Heart Struck Sorrow. USA: Bluesville BV-1074, c1963.

-Calt, Stephen; Epstein, Jerry; Perls, Nick; Stewart, Michael. The Virtuoso Guitar of Scrapper Blackwell. USA: Yazoo L-1019, 1971.

-Rijn, Guido van; Vergeer, Hans. Francis ‘Scrapper’ Blackwell: ‘Blues That Make Me Cry’. Holland: Agram AB 2008, c1980.


John TeftellerInterview
Jim Jackson My Monday BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Blind Blake Wabash RagBlues Images Vol. 13
Charlie KyleWalking BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Jed DavenportBeale Street BreakdownBlues Images Vol. 13
Jaydee ShortTar Road BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Jaydee ShortFlaggin’ It To GeorgiaBlues Images Vol. 13
Willie BrownM & O Blues Blues Images Vol. 3
Willie BrownFuture BluesMasters of the Delta Blues
King Solomon HillMy Buddy, Blind Papa LemonBlues Images Vol. 2
Son HouseMississippi County Farm BluesBlues Images Vol. 2
Hattie HydeSpecial QuestionBlues Images Vol. 13
Hattie HydeT & N O BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Charlie McCoy Country Guy BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Charlie McCoy Boogie WoogieBlues Images Vol. 13
Blind Lemon JeffersonSee That My Grave's Kept CleanBlues Images Vol. 13
Blind Lemon Jefferson ’Lectric Chair BluesBlues Images Vol. 13
Blind Willie JohnsonWhen The War Was OnBlues Images Vol. 13
Blind Joe Reynolds Ninety-Nine BluesBlues Images Vol. 2

Show Notes:

2016 Blues Calendar Today's program revolves around record collector John Tefteller who's record collection contains some of the rarest blues 78's in existence. I spoke with John a couple of weeks back and I'll be airing the interview today. According to his website he has the world's largest inventory of blues, rhythm & blues and rock & roll 78's with over 75,000 in stock. Every year around this time Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. This year marks the thirteenth year of the calendar and CD's and once again Tefteller has turned up newly discovered sides which I'll be featuring today. Among those are newly discovered sides by J.D Short, Charlie McCoy and Hattie Hyde. Several years ago Tefteller uncovered a huge cache of Paramount promotional material. Paramount marketed their "race records", as they were called, to African-Americans, most notably in the pages of the Chicago Defender, the weekly African-American newspaper, and sent promotional material to record stores and distributors. In later years they created artwork to advertise their records for mail order. Tefteller bought a huge cache of this artwork from a pair of journalists who rescued them from the rubbish heap some twenty years previously and  has been reprinting the artwork in his annual calendars. This year's calendar contains some great ads and fabulous photos, some not seen before. Check out Tefteller's website Blues Images for more details.

Tefteller's reissue are not only noteworthy for the newly discovered records but also for the quality of the mastering which make these old, often battered 78's sound so good. In the past the mastering was done by Richard Nevins of Yazoo records.This time out a brand new method has been used to make these records sound even better. The method is a mix of using old equipment and new computer technology. If you want to know more you'll need to listen to the interview. This technology will also be used in  a series to air on PBS and BBC called American Epic which will be devoted to early American music.

Among the newly discovered 78's are records by Jaydee Short, Charlie McCoy and Hattie Hyde. Eighty-four years after it was recorded and originally released, J.D. Short's, Paramount 13091, "Tar Road Blues" b/ w "Flagin' It To Georgia" has been found. As Tefteller said: "It turned up shoved into the back of an old Victrola record player cabinet along with a stack of other Blues records from the same time period." To other other 78's by Short have yet to be found: "Steamboat Rousty" b/w "Gittin' Up On The Hill" and "Drafted Mama" b/w "Wake Up Bright Eye Mama" both recorded at the same Paramount session in 1930. Singer Hattie Hyde cut one record in Dallas in 1929 for Victor with backing from an unknown guitarist and harmonica player. Tefteller attributed the record to Memphis singer Hattie Hart backed by the Memphis Jug Band but this appears to Jaydee Short: Tar Road Bluesbe incorrect. It's still a fine record that's never been heard since it was released so nothing to complain about. The Charlie McCoy 78, "Country Guy Blues" b/w "Boogie Woogie" is also a one-of-the-kind record and a typically excellent one by McCoy.

The rest of today's playlist is all made up from 78's from Tefteller's collection. From his latest CD we hear classic tracks by Jim Jackson, Blind Blake, Charlie Kyle, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Willie Brown  and others. Speaking of Kyle, there's a fabulous photo of him in the calendar that's has not been published before. Kyle played 12-string guitar and was said to have been from Texas where he may have traveled to Memphis in 1928 along with female blues singers Bessie Tucker and Ida Mae Mack to record. Six of his songs were recorded, only four were issued. One of the two Jefferson songs played today is his "See That My Grave's Kept Clean" which Son House used the melody for on his 1930 recording of "Mississippi County Farm Blues" also featured today and discovered several years back. Other records played today are something of a greatest hits of Tefteller's past discoveries including legendary sides by Blind Joe Reynolds, King Solomon Hill and others.


Next Page »