Entries tagged with “James Brewer”.



ARTISTSONGALBUM
Joel HopkinsGood Times Here, Better Down The RoadJoel & Lightnin' Hopkins
Joel HopkinsI Ain't Gonna Roll For The Big Hat Man No MoreJoel & Lightnin' Hopkins
Lightnin' HokinsLook Out Settegast, Here Me And My Partner ComeJoel & Lightnin' Hopkins
Lightnin' HokinsWhiskey, Whiskey Joel & Lightnin' Hopkins
Snooks Eaglin Give Me The Old Box-Car Message From New Orleans
Snooks Eaglin Every Day Blues Message From New Orleans
James BrewerI'm So Glad Good Whiskey's BackBlues From Maxwell Street
Arvella Gray Have Mercy Mister PercyBlues From Maxwell Street
Daddy StovepipeMonkey and the Baboon Blues From Maxwell Street
King David Fanny MaeBlues From Maxwell Street
The Black Ace'Fore Day Creep The Black Ace
The Black AceYour Legs' Too Little The Black Ace
Buster PickensJim Nappy Buster Pickens
Buster Pickens The Ma Grinder No. 2Buster Pickens
Joe Carter Treat Me The Way You Do Mean & Evil Blues
Big John Wrencher Special Rider BluesMaxwell Street Alley Blues
Blind Joe Hill Boogie In The Dark Boogie In The Dark
Jimmy s & Little Walter Little Store Blues (Take 1) Chicago Boogie
Sleepy Johnny EstesHarlem Hound Chicago Boogie
Billy BranchHoochie Koochie ManBring Me Another Half-A-Pint
Kansas City Red K.C. Red's In TownBring Me Another Half-A-Pint
Robert RichardMotor City BluesBanty Rooster Blues
Easy Baby So Tired Sweet Home Chicago Blues
Lyin' Joe Holley So Cold in the U.S.A. So Cold in the U.S.A.
Coy “Hot Shot” LoveHot Shot Boogie45
Boll Weevil Blues TrioThings Ain't What They Used To BeSouthside Screamers! Chicago Blues 1948-1958
Dixie Boy & His Combo One More DrinkSouthside Screamers! Chicago Blues 1948-1958
Birmingham Jones I'm GladBirmingham Jones / Kid Thomas: Blues! Harp! Boogie! 1957-1965
Wooddrow AdamsSeventh Son Down South Blues 1949-1961
Little SonnyI Hear My Woman Callin' Harp Suckers: Detroit Harmonica Blues 1948
Elder R. Wilson Better Get Ready Harp Suckers: Detroit Harmonica Blues 1948

Show Notes:

Read Liner Notes

Just about all the artists featured on this program have passed, so it's not often I do tributes of that kind anymore. Lately the notable passings have been the early generation of blues historians, writers, scholars, label owners, producers and promoters who added immeasurably to our knowledge of the blues. We have lost several such men recently including Mack McCormick and Steve LaVere who I paid tribute to last year. This time out we pay tribute to two more, Tony Standish who passed  December 17th of last year and belatedly, George Paulus who passed on November 14, 2014. I never had any interaction with either men, but their recordings on their respective labels were certainly and influence on me and have been featured on several past programs.

Standish ran the short-lived, but influential, Heritage label in the late 50's and early 60's. The label was groundbreaking in being one of the earliest reissues outfits, making available recordings by Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charlie Patton among others.  These recordings have been reissued countless times since and are not the ones we will feature today. Heritage was also groundbreaking in releasing some fantastic field recordings captured by Paul Oliver, Mack McCormick and Henry Oster and those are the recordings we will spin today.

George Paulus was a noted record collector who ran the Barrelhouse label from 1974 through the early 80's as well as it's successor, the St. George label which operated from the early 80's through the early 2000's and issued primarily modern blues and rockabilly. He also released a few bootlegs and one off labels that issued a single releases such as Delta Swing, African Folk Society, Floatin' Bridge and Negro Rhythm. All the labels had an emphasis on spotlighting unheralded Chicago and Detroit blues artists. Both Standish and Paulus were also writers (Standish was the assistant editor of Jazz Journal), not only writing the liner notes to their own releases, but contributing liners to others sets and articles in various periodicals. Some of their writings can be found at the bottom of today's show notes.

Heritage 1001, the first full-length album, was a self-titled split album between Joel Hopkins and Lightnin' Hopkins. The recordings were made by Mack McCormick in 1959 in Houston. Joel was Lightnin's older brother and first gave him a guitar. Joel traveled the south with tent shows and traveling caravans. Lightnin's other brother, John Henry also played guitar. The three were recorded together in Waxahatchie, TX in 1964. The results were issued on Arhoolie under the title Hopkins Brothers: Lightnin', Joel, & John Henry.

Read Liner Notes

After releasing a series of EP's devoted to reissuing artists like Papa Charlie Jackson, Memphis Minnie and Charlie Patton, Heritage issued new recordings by Snooks Eaglin; there was an EP titled Snooks Eaglin's New Orleans Blues with all these track appearing on the full-length album, Message From New Orleans. These were field recordings  made by Harry Oster circa 1961 in New Orleans. As far as I know these recordings have never been reissued on LP or CD since.

Heritage 1004 was titled Blues From Maxwell Street. Back in 1960 Bjorn Englund, Donad R. Hill and John Steiner documented the blues on Maxwell street by recording some of the street's stalwarts including Arvella Gray, Daddy Stovepipe, King David and James Brewer. The sessions were organized by Paul Oliver who wrote the notes to the original album. The recordings were reissued a few years back on the Document label.

Heritage 1006 was titled The Black Ace with these sessions stemming from two sessions at his Fort Worth home in 1960.The recordings were subsequently issued on Arhoolie. The Ace's real name was Babe Kyro Lemon Turner. "I throwed the 'Lemon' away", he told Paul Oliver," and just used the initials of Babe Kyro – B.K. Turner." Back in the the 1930's and 40's he was well known, at least among black audiences, in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma for his regular slot on station KFJZ out of Fort Worth. He cut two sides for the ARC label in 1936 which were never issued but had better luck the following year cutting six sides for Decca in 1937 all of which were released.

In the summer of 1960 Paul Oliver came to the United States with the aid of a State Department grant and BBC field recorder to record blues. As Oliver's journey progressed west he teamed up with Chris Strachwitz and Mack McCormick who had been roaming around Texas looking for blues singers. The recording of Buster Pickens was a result of this collaboration. Pickens lone album for Heritage, the self-titled Buster Pickens, was recorded over several sessions in 1960 and 1961 and released in 1962. It was reissued on album by the Flyright label in 1977. Three years ago I persuaded Document Records to reissue the album (Edwin "Buster" Pickens: The 1959 to 1961) and I had the pleasure of writing the liner notes.

Read Liner Notes

George Paulus released the first two Barrelhouse albums in 1974: Washboard Willie's Whippin' That Board and Big John Wrencher's Maxwell Street Alley Blues. By the mid 1940's Wrencher had arrived in Chicago and was playing on Maxwell Street and at house parties with Jimmy Rogers, Claude "Blue Smitty" Smith and John Henry Barbee. In the 1950's he moved to Detroit. In 1958 Wrencher lost his left arm as a result of a car accident outside Memphis, Tennessee. By the early 1960's he had settled in Chicago, where he became a fixture on Maxwell Street Market. During the 1960's Wrencher recorded for the Testament label backing Robert Nighthawk, and as part of the Chicago String Band. In 1969 he was recorded by George Paulus and Dick Shurman, backed by guitarist Little Buddy Thomas and drummer Playboy Vinson, who formed his Maxwell Street band of the time resulting in his Barrelhouse debut.

One of the truly great unsung heroes of the Chicago club scene of the 1950's, Joe Carter was a slide-playing disciple of Elmore James. Arriving in Chicago by 1952 it was Muddy Waters who lent Carter the money to purchase his first electric guitar. Shortly thereafter, Joe started up his first group with guitarist Smokey Smothers and Lester Davenport on harmonica, quickly establishing himself as a club favorite throughout Chicago. Carter didn't end up being documented on record until he returned to active playing in the '70's, recording his lone solo album, Mean & Evil Blues, for Barrelhouse in 1976.

Robert Richard learned the guitar and the harmonica with his uncle. Like a lot of other southerners, came to work in the automobile industry in 1942. With his brother Howard he began playing the  Hastings Street clubs. He recorded with Walter Mitchell and pianist Boogie Woogie Red in 1948, then as a sideman on many Detroit recording sessions, particularly with Bobo Jenkins. He waxed some sides under his name for Chess in Chicago but those titles were never issued. Richard gave up music but was rediscovered by George Paulus who recorded him in 1975 and 1977 for the album Banty Rooster.

Alex “Easy Baby” Randle was born in Memphis in 1934. Both his grandmother and uncle were harmonica players. Easy Baby began playing professionally around Memphis as a teenager while doing odd jobs. Playing in the gambling houses and juke joints he befriended Howlin' Wolf, James Cotton, Joe Hill Louis and others. In 1956 he moved to Chicago and throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's played all over the Windy City while working as a mechanic. Easy Baby’s first recording appeared on the anthology Low Blows: An Anthology of Chicago Harmonica Blues with another track appearing on the anthology Bring Me Another Half-A-Pint. His full-length debut was Sweet Home Chicago issued on  Barrelhouse in 1977 (another full-length, Hot Water Cornbread and Alcohol, recorded for St. George in the late 90s, was never released).

Read Liner Notes

We featured a pair of tracks from the aforementioned Bring Me Another Half-A-Pint by the under-recorded Kansas City Red and early cut by Billy Branch. Also featured are some fine sides by little known artists such as Nate Armstrong, Sonny Boy McGhee and Earl Payton.

Blind Joe Hill was a one-man-band who recorded two albums under his own name: one on Barrelhouse (Boogie In The Dark) and one on the L+R label. Hill was part of the 1985 American Folk Blues Festival touring Europe.

There were two tantalizing albums that were titled with cover art completed by Robert Crumb but were never issued: Unknown Detroit Bluesmen Vol. 1 (BH-003) and Ain't No Stopper On My Faucet, Mama! Unknown Detroit Blues (BH-006).

Paulus had  a massive record collection (currently up for auction) filled with rare pre-war and post-war blues. Some of these rarities were issued on Barrelhouse and St. George. In 1969 Paulus, who had been a regular customer at Maxwell Street Record and Radio for several years, bought the surviving lacquers from the Bernard Abrams and his family. He subsequently released all 14 sides on an LP on his Barrelhouse label (in 1974) as Chicago Boogie, then, in improved sound, on his St. George label (1983). In the 1990's, P-Vine licensed the material for release in Japan, leading to an LP and a CD. There were also four albums of rare Detroit blues and gospel form the vaults of record producer Joe Von Battle that were issued on Barrelhouse, St. George and P-Vine..

In 1977-78 Paulus issued four various artist compilations on four different labels: After Midnight: Chicago Blues 1952-1957 (Delta Swing), Down South Blues 1949-1961 (African Folk Society), Birmingham Jones/Kid Thomas Blues! Harp! Boogie! 1957-1965 (Floatin' Bridge) and Going To Chicago: Blues 1949-1957 (Negro Rhythm). In addition there were also some similar unofficial recordings Paulus issued including an unnamed and unnumbered LP of Muddy Waters rarities that became the basis of Vintage Muddy Waters issued on Sunnyland in 1970, an album of Baby Boy Warren's complete recordings (BBW 901) and a 45 by Coy "Hot Shot" Love recorded  at Steve LaVere's Record Shop in Memphis in mid August 1973 ("Hot Shot Boogie, Foxchase Boogie b/w Freight Train Blues" issued as a 45 under the  Mr. Bo Weevil imprint). One other record Paulus produced was by Lyin' Joe Holley in 1977 titled So Cold In The USA issued on the JSP label with four other tracks from the sessions appearing on the JSP anthology Piano Blues Legends.

Related Articles

-Standish, Tony. “Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.”Jazz Journal 11, no. 6 (Jun 1958): 1–5.

-Standish, Tony. “Muddy Waters in London. Pt. 2.” Jazz Journal 12, no. 2 (Feb 1959): 3–6.

-Standish, Tony. Speckled Red: The Dirty Dozen. Denmark: Storyville SLP-117, c1960; Denmark: Storyville SLP 4038, 1985.

-Standish, Tony. “Champion Jack Dupree Talks to Tony Standish.” Jazz Journal 14, no. 4 (Apr 1961): 6–7, 40.

-Paulus, George. “Motor City Blues & Boogie.”Blues Unlimited no. 85 (Oct 1971): 4–6.

-Paulus, George. “Will Hairston: Hurricane of the Motor City.” Blues Unlimited no. 86 (Nov 1971): 21.

-Paulus, George. Robert Richard: Banty Rooster Blues. USA: Barrelhouse BH-010, 1977.

-Paulus, George. Blues Guitar Killers: Detroit 1950s. USA: Barrelhouse BH-012, 1977.

-Paulus, George. Easy Baby and His Houserockers: Sweet Home Chicago. USA: Barrelhouse BH-013, 1978; Japan: P-Vine PCD-5206, 1997.

-Paulus, George. Harp Suckers! Detroit Harmonica Blues 1948. USA: St. George STG-1002, 1983.

-Paulus, George. Southside Screamers: Chicago, 1948–58. USA: St. George STG 1003, 1984.

-Paulus, George. “Late Hours with Little Walter.” Blues & Rhythm no. 133 (Oct 1998): 10–12.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Garfield AkersCottonfield Blues Pt. 1 & 2Blues Images Vol. 14
Robert Jenkins TrioSteelin' Boogie Pt. 2 St. James' Infirmary Blues
Easy BabyGood Morning Mr. BluesGrab Me Another Half a Pint
Walter Horton Little Walter's BoogieSun Records The Blues Years 1950-1958
John Lee Zeiglar Used To Be Mine, But Look Who Got Her Now Georgia Grassroots Festival
Willie Guy Rainey Temper BluesGeorgia Grassroots Festival
Embry Raines All Night Boogie Georgia Grassroots Festival
Henry ThomasRed River BluesTexas Worried Blues
Josh White Blood Red River Blues Roots of the Blues
Frank EvansRed River BluesMississippi: Saints & Sinners
Little Boy Fuller (Richard Trice) Blood Red River Blues Acoustic Blues: The Roots of it all Vol. 2
Joe SavageTexas Is My HomeAmerican Patchwork
Roosevelt Charles Cane Choppin'Mean Trouble Blues
Robert Pete Williams Texas Blues–When I Was Young Sugar Farm
Eddie Mack w/Cootie Williams Orchestra Things Ain't What They Used To BeEchoes Of Harlem
Eddie Vinson w/Cootie Williams Orchestra Somebody's Gotta GoEchoes Of Harlem
Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra w/ Wynonie HarrisWho Threw The Whiskey In The WellRockin' The Blues
Frank PalmesAint Gonna Lay Ligion Down (TK 2)Blues Images Vol. 14
Blind Joe Reynolds Nehi BluesBlues Images Vol. 14
Big Bill Broonzy and The Western Kid Western BluesBlues Images Vol. 14
K. C. Douglas BluesDeadbeat Guitar And The Mississippi Blues
Big Joe Williams; Brownie McGhee; Lightnin' Hopkins If You Steal My Chickens, You Can't Make 'Em LayBlues Summit
James Brewer I Don't Want No Woman, She Got Hair Like Drops Of RainI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Mississippi Fred McDowell Meet Me Down In Froggy BottomAnd His Blues Boys
Sylvia Mars Things About Comin' My WayBlues Walk Right In
Sylvia Mars Walk Right InBlues Walk Right In
Big Walter Price Better RunRhythm 'N' Bluesin' By The Bayou
Joe (Mr. 'G') August Strange Things Happening In The Dark Rhythm 'N' Bluesin' By The Bayou
Turner Junior Johnson When I Lay My Burden DownA Treasury Of Library Of Congress Field Recordings

Show Notes:

Blues Calendar 2017Lots of strange and interesting records on tap for today's mix show. We feature several great pre-war blues and gospel sides from the vaults of collector John Tefteller, we spin a batch of great harmonica blues, spotlight a couple of long-out-of-print albums, we trace the history of the blues classic "Red River Blues", play some big band blues, showcase some fascinating field records plus much more.

Every year around this time John 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 fourteenth year of the calendar and CD's and once again Tefteller has turned up some unheard gems. As Tefteller writes: "There are two songs on the CD by Blues legend Big Bill Broonzy – both had not been heard since they were first released in 1930. Because the original master of Gennett  7320, one of the earliest release in his long career, was destroyed decades ago, all that was known were the titles, as not even a single copy of "I Can't Be Satisfied"/"Western Blues" seemed to exist in the hands of any collector anywhere. …Not until and eagle-eyed expert from Europe spotted photographs of both sides of the record label on my own Blues Images website did I realize I had in my possession the one copy left in the whole wide world!"

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. Tefteller's reissue are not only noteworthy for the newly discovered records and ads 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. Starting with last year 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. 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 and will be coming to the airwaves this year.

We spin a batch of great harmonica blues today by Walter Horton, Easy Baby and Robert Jenkins. The Jenkins sides were issued on Parkway, one of those small Chicago postwar blues labels that developed a legendary reputation based on a handful of recorded sides. In all, the label was in business for little more than 4 months and produced only 23 recordings, of which 14 were released at the time—four by the Baby Face Leroy Trio, four by the Little Walter Trio, two by Memphis Minnie, two by Sunnyland Slim, and two by harmonica-blowing Robert Jenkins. There's a fair bit bit of speculation that the harmonica player on these sides might be Little Walter. I'm no harp expert so I'll leave it up to the listener to decide.

The blues is littered with great albums that have never made to CD and likely will never be reissued. Today we play tracks from the album Georgia Grassroots Music Festival, a festival billed as "a celebration of the South's musical heritage" and which still goes on today. The recordings on this album were captured in 1976 and 1977 and produced/edited by George Mitchell. The other album we feature is Blues Walk Right In by a wonderful singer named Sylvia Mars. The recordings were made by folklorist Harry Oster in 1960. The album itself has never been reissued and no tracks that I know of have ever been anthologized.

The Red River made famous in song runs from Texas, where it forms part of Texas’ northern border with Oklahoma and Arkansas, into Arkansas, and from there into Louisiana. The earliest recorded version of “Red River Blues” is from 1924, and was recorded by Lottie Beaman. Charlie “Dad” Nelson recorded “Red River Blues” accompanying himself on 12-string guitar in 1926, Henry Thomas recorded it in 1928 and Buddy Moss recorded “Red River Blues” at his first solo session in 1933. Josh White’s 1933 version of the song, which he called “Blood Red River” was to prove very influential, especially among East Coast players. Richard Trice as Little Boy Fuller recorded "Blood Red River Blues" in 1947. One version we spin today is by Frank Evans, recorded in 1936 in the infamous Parchman Farm for the Library of Congress. Many other have recorded the song including Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Leadbelly, Jesse Fuller, Lil Son Jackson, John Jackson and others.

Henry Thomas: Red River BluesAmong the field recordings today are selections from Joe Savage, Roosevelt Charles, Turner Junior Johnson and Lonnie Frazier. From 1978 to 1985 Alan Lomax traveled the American South and Southwest with a television crew to document regional folklore with deep historical roots. The resulting 500 hours of footage became the five-program series American Patchwork ,which aired on PBS in 1991. From that footage we hear Joe Savage who was a former muleskinner and Parchman Farm inmate. This was shot by Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop, September 2, 1978, on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi. Savage recorded again in 1980 as part of the Living Country Blues series.

Roosevelt Charles was classified a habitual criminal and spend most of his adult life in prison. Charles was recorded extensively by folklorist Harry Oster both in Agola Prison and on the outside in 1959 and 1960. A full album of his recordings appeared on Vanguard (issued as Blues, Prayer, Work And Trouble Songs ? and Mean Trouble Blues) which is long out of print with other cuts showing up on various anthologies. Many of his sides remain unissued. Oster considered Charles one of his most gifted finds.

Turner Junior Johnson and Lonnie Frazier were both recorded for the Library of Congress. Johnson was a blind street singer and harmonica player recorded in 1942 for the Library of Congress.  It was during the same trip that Muddy Waters and Son House were recorded. I know nothing of Lonnie Frazier who Alan Lomax recorded in Detroit in 1938. I assume Frazier was related to Calvin Frazier who Lomax recorded in Detroit the same year.

Many blues singers and instrumentalists got their early experience working in big bands or employed these bands to back them on record. We spotlight two prominent bands today, with a full show sometime down the road; both Cootie Williams and Lucky Millinder were two such New York based bands that were very much blues based and  saw lots of talent flow their ranks. Cootie's band  employed Charlie Parker, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Bud Powell, Eddie Vinson, Eddie Mack and other young players. Millinder worked with the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bill Dogget, Wynonie Harris, Bull Moose Jackson, Tab Smith,  Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and "Sir" Charles Thompson. Today we feature both bands with vocalists Eddie Vinson, Eddie Mack and Wynonie Harris.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Tommy BrownTra La LaThe Griffin Brothers: Blues With a Beat
Tommy BrownInterview
Tommy BrownWeepin' and Cryin'The Griffin Brothers: Blues With a Beat
Willie WalkerDupree BluesBefore The Blues
Georgia White New Dupree BluesGeorgia White: Vol.1 1930-1936
Meade Lux Lewis Slow Boogie (Dupree Blues)Meade Lux Lewis 1946-1954
Montana Taylor w/ Bertha Hill
Mistreatin' Mr. DupreeMontana Taylor 1929 - 1946
Frank “Honeyboy” Pratt Bloodstains On The Wall Bloodstains On the Wall: Country Blues From Specialty
James BrewerPea Vine WhistleTough Luck
Cliff Scott Long Wavy HairThe George Mitchell Collection Vol. 24
Oscar ''Buddy'' Woods Muscat Hill Blues Oscar Woods & Black Ace 1930-1937
Gene Campbell Overalls Papa BluesGene Campbell 1929-1931
William Harris Hot Time BluesWilliam Harris 1927- 1929
Tommy BrownV-8 BabyHam Hocks and Cornbread
Tommy BrownInterview
Tommy BrownAtlanta BoogieRockin' On Acorn Regent Vol. 1
Mississippi SheiksHe Calls That ReligionBlues Images Vol. 3
The New Mississippi SheiksI Got a Letter from My WomanThe New Mississippi Sheiks
Chicago String BandRailroad BluesChicago String Band
James Russell I Had Five Long YearsAngola Prison Worksongs
George Clarke Prisoner BluesHarp Blowers 1925-1936
Sam Collins The Jailhouse BluesJailhouse Blues
Walter Bradford & The Big City FourReward For My BabyThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Howlin Wolf Well That's AlrightThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Baby Calloway Midnight Blues Stompin' Vol. 9
Tommy BrownSouthern WomanStompin' Vol 18
Tommy BrownNever Trust a WomanSavoy Blues 1944-1994

Show Notes:

Tommy Brown Tra-La-La 78We have a mixed show for today which is also a week into our Fall pledge drive. If you're a fan of the blues programming please considering pledging your support. We open our show on a sad note as we mark the passing of veteran blue singer Tommy Brown. I had been somewhat familiar with Brown's blues records from the 1950's when in 2004 I was sent a copy of his comeback record, Remember Me. This was terrific record and at the same time Brown was featured on the cover of Juke Blues magazine. After reading the article I decided reach out to Tommy for an interview. I also got to see him a bit later at the Pocono Blues Festival. After some rummaging around I managed to find the interview and I'll be playing some of it on today's show. Also up today is our usual mix of rare and vintage blues including a look at the history of the song "Betty and Dupree" and some fine string band music.

Tommy Brown passed away on March 12th. Brown was born in Atlanta on May 27, 1931. He was first recorded in 1950 as the featured singer of Roy Mayes and his orchestra. The next year he had three releases on the Dot label, credited to "The Griffin Brothers featuring Tommy Brown", all of which made the Billboard R&B Top 10. The most successful of these was "Weepin' And Crying" which was a # 1 R&B hit in early 1952. In January 1951, Brown had his first recording session as a solo artist, resulting in two singles, one on Savoy and one on Regent. Altogether, Brown had a dozen singles released under his own name, sometimes as Little Tommy Brown for labels such as King, United, Groove, Imperial and Acorn. He made his last records in the late 50's until his excellent comeback record, Remember Me released in 2004. It was at the time this record came out that I interviewed Tommy. In the 1960's, Brown switched to comedy, and had success with a live album in that genre, I Ain't Lyin' (1967), soon followed by a second volume, I Ain't Lyin', Vol. 2 (1968).

On December 15, 1921, Frank DuPre got drunk and robbed Nat Kaiser’s Jewelry in Atlanta to get an impressive diamond ring. He wanted it for his new girlfriend Betty Andrews. DuPre shot and killed a security guard in the store who was blocking his exit, and then wounded another man badly in the head during his successful escape down Peachtree Street. After hocking the ring in Chattanooga and running alone from the law across several states for weeks, he was caught. He was tried and found guilty and was hanged in Atlanta on September 1, 1922. It wasn't long before DuPre's tale made it's way into song. A version of the song was collected by Howard Odum and Guy Johnson and published in 1926 in Negro Workaday Songs. Country singer Blind Andrew Jenkins recorded "The Fate of Frank Dupree” which was released in 1925 on Okeh. Kingfish Bill Tomlin cut his track “Dupree Blues” in November 1930 and the same year Blind Willie Walker recorded "Dupree Blues" in December of 1930. Georgia White recorded it twice, once in 1935 as “Dupree Blues” and once in 1936 as “New Dupree Blues.” John Lomax captured a version in the Women's Dormitory of the Florida State Prison in 1939. Alec Seward and Louis Hayes recorded “Betty And Dupree” in 1944. The following year Josh White recorded a version of the song. In 1955 Brownie McGhee also cut a version of the song. In 1957 Chuck Willis had a hit with his version of the song.

The New Mississippi Sheiks
Read Liner Notes

The Mississippi Sheiks were the most commercially successful black string band of the pre-war era and made close to one hundred records between 1930 and 1935. "He Calls That Religion" is one of my favorite songs by them, a biting attack on the hypocritical actions many saw with their preachers. Two original members of the Mississippi Sheiks, guitarist and vocalist Sam Chatmon and guitarist Walter Vinson combined with two members of the string band Martin, Bogan and Armstrong, Ted Bogan and Carl Martin, to record as the New Mississippi Sheiks. The group cut one self-titled album for Rounder in 1972. Carl Martin was involved in another studio only band called the Chicago String Band. In 1966 producer Pete Welding gathered together four veteran Chicago blues musicians and had them re-create the style of a 1920s/'30s string band. The band included Carl Martin, Johnny Young, John Lee Granderson and John Wrencher. The group record one self-titled album.

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Sam CollinsYellow Dog BluesSam Collins 1927-1931
Bo Weavil JacksonYou Can't Keep No BrownBottleneck Blues Guitar Classics
Andrew DunhamNezeree Blues Andrew Dunham & Friends: Detroit Blues Vol. 2
Andrew DunhamWay Down In Hell Andrew Dunham & Friends: Detroit Blues Vol. 2
George Guesnon Draw's Trouble BluesCreole Blues
Guitar Slim Green My MarieStone Down Blues (Ace)
Howlin' Wolf Ain't Goin' Down That Dirt Road #2The Roots Of It All: Acoustic Blues The 1960's & 1970's
Little Willie LittlefieldTrain Whistle BluesKat On The Keys
Big MaceoTexas Blues Big Maceo Vol. 1 1941-1945
Eddie BoydI Got The BluesEddie Boyd Vol. 2 1951-1953
Al Miller 22-20 BluesAl Miller 1927-1936
Al Miller Got The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)Al Miller 1927-1936
John DudleyJohn DudleySouthern Journey Vol.3: 61 Highway Mississippi
Fred McDowell, Miles Pratcher & Fanny DavisPlaying Policy BluesSouthern Journey Vol.3: 61 Highway Mississippi
Walter DavisM & O BluesFirst Recordings 1930-1932
Willie BrownM & O BluesThe Roots Of It All: Acoustic Blues The 1920's & 1930's
Georgia TomM & O Blues Part 1Georgia Tom Vol. 2 1930-1934
Manny Nichols Tall Skinny Mama BluesLightnin' Special Vol. 2
Lightnin' HopkinsBad Things on My MindLightnin' Special Vol. 2
James Brewer Good Morning BluesJames Brewer
Blind Willie JohnsonDark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground Blues Images Vol. 10
Robert JohnsonCross Road Blues The Centennial Collection
Lonesome SundownSitting On Another Man's KneeGenuine Excello R&B
Floyd JonesYou Can't Live LongDrop Down Mama
Papa LightfootP.L. Blues Suckin' And Blowin'
Carl Martin Crow JaneThe Roots Of It All: Acoustic Blues The 1920's & 1930's
Little Hat JonesKentucky BluesMy Rough And Rowdy Ways Vol. 1
Famous Hokum BoysEagle Riding PapaFamous Hokum Boys Vol. 1 1930

Show Notes:

Al Miller 78Right now we are in the midst of out fall pledge drive, so due to the shortened time frame we have a mixed show for today. A varied set list today including twin spins by Al Miller and Andrew Dunham, a trio of songs revolving around a well known blues number, a few  tracks from from a great project by the Bear Family label, a set of piano blues and plenty more odds and ends.

Mandolinist Al Miller is not exactly a household name. As Howard Rye wrote of his music: "as a body of work, the music is not exactly blues and not exactly jazz. This failure to conform to the categories of record collectors has no doubt contributed to Miller's obscurity… However, this eclectic mixture of styles and material gave way to a heavy concentration on bawdry once he arrived at Brunswick and the series of recordings by his Market Street Boys. 'Somebody's Been Using That Thing 'was evidently his  big seller, generating five versions (three issued)." During the years 1927-1936 Miller cut twenty-six sides under his own name and under the names Al Miller's String Band, Al Miller and his Market Street Boys and  Al Miller and his Swing Stompers. He also sat in with pianist Cripple Clarence Lofton and singers Red Nelson , Luella Miller and Mozelle Alderson. After cutting his first sides for Black Patti records, Miller cut sides for Paramount and Brunswick.

A number of Miller's songs fell into the hokum genre which were characterized by a a bouncy, ragtime sound coupled with humor and risque subject matter. Hokum blues was propelled by Georgia Tom and Tampa Red's 1929 hit "It's Tight Like That." We hear more hokum from the Famous Hokum Boys, not to be confused by the group simply called the Hokum Boys. The Famous Hokum Boys were a loose-knit aggregation of blues singers that included Georgia Tom, Tampa Red, and Big Bill Broonzy.

Willie Brown M & O Blues Ad

Andrew Dunham was recorded by Bernie Besman in 1948 and 1949 in Detroit.Bessman operated the Sensation label which issued John Lee Hooker's first recordings including Hooker's smash "Boogie Chillen." Dunham may have also accompanied John Lee Hooker on a number of recordings cut in 1951 and leased to Modern and Chess. The Dunham sides, along with sides by Sylvester Cotton, were first issued on the LP Andrew Dunham & Friends 1948-1949 on the Krazy Kat label in 1984.At the time, Bessman only issued one 78 apiece by Dunham and Cotton. Several years back Ace issued most of these sides on the CD Blues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949. Several of the tracks on the Krazy Kat album have not been issued on the Ace CD although the Ace contains some unreleased material. As Chris Smith wrote in the notes to the Krazy Kat release (he also wrote the notes to the Ace record)): "The compositions that appear here show Dunham to be a guitarist who infuses considerable aggression and tension into his music by means of heavy bass figures and the use of dissonant extensions in the treble register; he is well aware of the potential of amplification for adding to the effect. His singing too, is energetic, often giving the impression of improvisation in melody and lyrics. The latter are overwhelmingly concerned with the man-woman relationship. generality in a misogynistic vein and often, one feels, with a good deal of suppressed violence lending weight."

"M & O Blues" was first recorded in 1930 by Walter Davis for Vctor. The song was a hit and Davis cut sequels to the songs. Willie Brown cut a song with the same title for Paramount the same year but it's a different song. Paramount may having been trying to cash in on the popularity of Davis' song and they did create an ad promoting the song. Several blues artists reinterpreted the song, most notably Robert Johnson who used the melody for "Rambling On My Mind" in 1936. Georgia Tom covered the song as a two-part 78 in 1932 and we feature part one today.

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Bear Family has recently issued  four 2- CD  sets called The Roots Of It All: Acoustic Blues spanning the 1923 through the 2012. From these discs we spin tracks by Carl Martin, Willie Brown and Howlin' Wolf. This can be seen as a complement to their sets of electric blues sets of a few years back, this time chronologically covering the history of acoustic blues. Each of these sets comes with excellent booklets and the selections seem thoughtfully well chosen. In the 20's and 30's the blues was a commercial product catering to a sizable black audience. In the immediate post-war numerous independent labels sprouted with similar intent. The folk scene and the blues revival came in the 50's and ramped up in the 60's with much good material recorded. The 60's was the death knell for commercial acoustic blues but a good deal of excellent acoustic blues was recorded. The 70's and 80's were an under appreciated period for acoustic blues but a good deal of great music was recorded, much of it in the field and issued on tiny labels. This period is particularly important as many of these performances are from albums long out-of-print, featuring artists who are virtually forgotten like Shirley Griffith, Robert Curtis Smith, James Brewer, Baby Tate, Frank Hovington, Guitar Slim Stephens and many others that have been long touted on this show. Sound quality is excellent throughout, particularly on the early 78's which come from very clean copies.

Other odds and ends includes songs by diverse artists such as George Guesnon and Blind Willie Johnson. Creole George Guesnon was a New Orleans banjoist, guitarist and singer. He played in bands by Papa Celestin and Sam Morgan among others. In 1936 he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he played and recorded in a band led by Little Brother Montgomery. He did two tours with the show Rabbit Foot Minstrels, then returned to New Orleans in 1938, but found little work there and moved to New York City. He worked with Jelly Roll Morton and Trixie Smith, and recorded four pieces for Decca Records in April 1940. In 1959 he cut the album Creole Blues on the Icon which is where this song comes from.

Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was The Night – Cold Was The Ground, featured today, has the distinction of being one of twenty-seven samples of music included on the Voyager Golden Record, launched into space in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on Earth. Francis Davis, author of The History of the Blues wrote: "In terms of its intensity alone—its spiritual ache—there is nothing else from the period to compare to Johnson's 'Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground', on which his guitar takes the part of a preacher and his wordless voice the part of a rapt congregation."

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