Entries tagged with “Snooks Eaglin”.

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.


James RussellI Had Five Long YearsPrison Worksongs
Robert Pete WilliamsSome Got Six MonthsAngola Prisoner's Blues
Hogman MaxeyStagoleeAngola Prisoner's Blues
Otis WebsterBoll Weevil BluesCountry Negro Jam Session
Smokey Babe & Sally DotsonYou're Dice Won’t PassCountry Negro Jam Session
Butch Cage & Willie ThomasJelly RollCountry Negro Jam Session
Billie & DeDe PierceNobody Knows When You're Down And OutGulf Coast Piano
Billie & DeDe PierceJelly RollGulf Coast Piano
Speckled RedEarly In The MorningPrimitive Piano
Snooks EaglinCountry Boy Down New OrleansCountry Boy Down New Orleans
Robert Pete WilliamsJust Tippin' InI'm Blues As A Man Can Be
Smokey BabeI’m Goin' Back To MississippiHottest Brand Goin'
Emanuel DunnWorking on the Levee, Pt. 1Prison Worksongs
Guitar WelchHighway 61Angola Prisoner;s Blues
Robert Pete WilliamsMississippi Heavy Water BluesCountry Negro Jam Session
Snooks EaglinMama Don't You Tear My ClothesCountry Boy Down New Orleans
Smokey BabeOcean BluesHottest Brand Goin'
Herman E. JohnsonI Just Keep Wanting YouLouisiana Country Blues
Rev. Rogers, Big Louisiana, & Jose SmithStewballPrison Worksongs
Guitar WelchFast Life WomanAngola Prisoner's Blues
Clarence EdwardsSmokestack Lightnin’Country Negro Jam Session
Robert Pete WilliamsPardon Denied AgainI'm Blues As A Man Can Be
Otis WebsterThe Boss Man BluesCountry Negro Jam Session
Butch Cage & Willie ThomasBugle Call BluesOld-Time Black Southern String Band Music
Odea MatthewsThe Moon Is RisingAngola Prisoner's Blues
Roosevelt CharlesWasn't I Lucky Blues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs
Clarence EdwardsYou Don't Love MeCountry Negro Jam Session
A Capella GroupAngola BoundAngola Prisoner's Blues

Show Notes:

Willie B. Thomas, Harry Oster, and Butch Cage 1960 (photographer: David Gahr)

Harry Oster was teaching at Louisiana State University a well-received lecture on Old World traditional ballads prompted a colleague to suggest that he apply for a grant to collect local folklore. "Before long," he recalled, "I found a profusion of unusual material – ancient French ballads, Cajun dance music, Afro-French spirituals… I got the idea that I should issue with my own funds a long-playing record to be called A Sampler of Louisiana Folk Songs." This and succeeding records such as Folk Songs of the Louisiana Acadians, the first LP of Cajun music, appeared under the auspices of the Louisiana Folklore Society, which Oster created with a couple of friends. Later recordings were on his own label, Folk-Lyric. Oster's greatest discovery came on a trip to the state penitentiary at Angola. Oster found many impressive blues singers, among them Robert Pete Williams. The singer's intense improvised narratives about prison life and the events that had brought him there, were presented to the world on the 1959 album Angola Prisoner's Blues. Oster was also the first to record Snooks Eaglin, the fiddle-and-guitar duo Butch Cage and Willie Thomas, blues guitarist Smokey Babe and Georgia street musician Reverend Pearly Brown. Oster left Louisiana in 1963 to teach at the University of Iowa, where he remained until his retirement in 1993, working on the American Dictionary of Folklore and pursuing his passion of making and disseminating records. His Folk-Lyric catalogue was acquired by Arhoolie Records and has largely been transferred to CD.

Read Liner Notes

Oster formed his Folk-Lyric label in 1959 and in an interview described the label’s genesis: “Eventually I heard that RCA had a customs pressing plant in Indianapolis and I started sending stuff to them and getting stuff professionally printed. I would send out review copies to major newspapers like New York Times, Down Beat Magazine, Saturday Review, and some newspapers. They gave them good attention and I got in touch with some distributors. My label was essentially one-man operation. I would find performers, record them, edit the tapes, take photographs, write liner notes, etc. I would generally press about 300 copies. I borrowed $5,000 from a bank to subsidize the operation. I also did some assignments for other companies, and that helped finance it also. I did one record for Elektra which was eventually sold to Folkways. I did some for Prestige Bluesville and Prestige International.”

Oster explained to an interviewer his approach to field recording: “I actually operated rather differently than some of people who've found old time blues singers. Usually they track down someone who recorded in '20s or 0s and disappear from sight for a while. I sort of went about it in a quite different way, which in fact produced some interestingly different results, more offbeat performances and more unusual repertoire. Anyhow, I talked to a psychologist who'd done some research in a prison and he suggested I go see the head of institutions for the state and get his permission to get access to the prison and ask him to spell out the specific privileges that I wanted to have, lot of which should be the right to call out a specific convicts, in other words, to get someone excused from work for the day or afternoon so he could be interviewed and recorded by me. The head of institution was quite cooperative and friendly, probably influenced by the fact that I was teaching in a state university. He wrote to the warden and asked him to cooperate with me. The warden was cooperative too and he suggested the good way to proceed would be to start with the recreational director and go down from there. They had a choir of black singers who did spirituals and he said that would be a good place to make contacts. I started there and they gave me some leads on prison work songs and I started going into the different camps. These camps were not maximum security camps and people worked in fields in in daytime.”

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The recordings on Angola Prisoner’s Blues were recorded in 1959 and 1960 at Camp H in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. An impromptu studio was set up in the tool room. Oster uncovered many fine bluesman like Hogman Maxey, Guitar Welch, Otis Webster, Roosevelt Charles and most importantly Robert Pete Williams. Roosevelt Charles was classified a habitual criminal and spend most of his adult life in prison. Charles was recorded extensively by Oster both in Agola and on the outside in 1959 and 1960. A full album of his recordings appeared on Vanguard 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. Another talented performer was Robert Welch, called “Guitar” and “King of the Blues” by the other convicts and was born in Memphis in 1896. He learned from the records of Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson and played in bands starting in the late 30’s.

Robert Pete Williams, however, was in a class by himself as Oster wrote in the liner notes: “The blues of Robert Pete Williams are more original, more directly personal, and more evocative in their expression of love, frustration, and despair.” Williams did some playing at house parties in the 30’s. In 1956, Williams shot and killed a man in a local club. Williams claimed the act was in self-defense, but he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was sent to Angola prison, where he served for two years before being discovered by Oster and Richard Allen. The pair recorded Williams performing several of his own songs, which were all about life in prison. Impressed with the guitarist's talents, Oster and Allen pleaded for a pardon for Williams. The pardon was granted in 1959, after he had served a total of three and a half years. For the first five years after he left prison, Williams could only perform in Lousiana, but his recordings — which appeared on Folk-Lyric, Arhoolie, and Prestige, among other labels — were popular and he received positive word of mouth reviews. In 1964, Williams played his first concert outside of Louisiana — it was a set at the legendary Newport Folk Festival. Williams' performance was enthusiastically received and he began touring the United States, often playing shows with Mississippi Fred McDowell. During the 60’s and 70’s he performed at several festival including the 1966 American Folk Blues Festival. He passed in 1980.

The album Prison Worksongs focuses on recordings of worksongs recorded in Agola Prison and on the outside between 1959 and 1963. By this point the prison worksong was a dying tradition but Oster managed to record some fine material. "I’'ve always been fascinated with black worksongs, “ Oster recalled, “group work songs, and I had heard that they were essentially extinct in the regular world because of mechanization of farming, and the only place to find them would be in southern prison farms. I decided it would be a good idea to do some recordings in the prison camp in Angola, and I made my first trip there in 1957.”

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The songs on the album Country Negro Jam Session were recorded in Southwestern Louisiana between 1959 and 1962, some in Angola Prison, others at house parties around Baton Rouge (the remaining 5 titles on CD reissue were recorded by Chris Strachwitz and Paul Oliver in 1960). In it's earliest incarnation, the first 14 tracks of the 25 title program were released on Dr. Oster's now-defunct Folk Lyric label, and then re-released on Arhoolie intact after Chris Strachwitz purchased the Folk Lyric catalog. Oster did a series of field recordings, informal jams with a group of obscure blues men and women, only one of whom, Robert Pete Williams, won fame. Otis Webster was recorded extensively by Oster in 1959 and 1960 all in Angola Prison. Many of the sides remain unissued. Willie B. Thomas (vocal & guitar) and James ‘Butch' Cage (vocal & fiddle) make up a good part of Country Negro Jam Session. The duo’s string band music is reminiscent of Peg Leg Howell and his gang and the two play not only blues but also pop, and religious music. They also back singer/guitarist Clarence Edwards on several numbers. Butch Cage was born in 1894 near Meadville, MS, and whom Oster describes aptly in the liner notes as "a great representative of the now virtually extinct 19th century black fiddle tradition", while Willie B. Thomas was born near Lobdell, LA in 1912.

Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, Robert Brown AKA Smoky Babe had found his way to Scotlandville, Louisiana by the age of 20. It was there that Oster recorded him on several occasions between 1959-1961 with material appearing on the labels Folk-Lyric, Storyville and Bluesville. As Oster wrote in the liner notes to his Bluesville album: “In February 1960 I was present at a jam session in Scotlandville at the house of the sister of Robert Pete Williams, Mable Lee. …Smoky, who lives a short distance from Mable Lee Williams, swaggered in – a muscular wiry man of about 5’ 8”, wearing a hat tilted at a rakish angle. His guitar was in pawn so I loaned him mine. As soon as he played a few bars, rich, full, resonant, and excitedly rhythmic, I knew here was an outstanding bluesman.” Nothing is know about his later life.

New Orleans pianist and singer Billie Pierce played jazz and blues with her cornetist husband Dede. The two recorded and toured extensively in the 1950’s and 60’s. Oster issued an LP of them titled Gulf Coast Blues with some other titles appearing on the anthology Primitive Piano that also has tracks by Bat Robinson and Speckled Red. Billie Pierce was a marvelous blues, ragtime, and jazz pianist and a very expressive singer who grew up in Florida where she accompanied Bessie Smith at a Pensacola theatre in the early 1920s. She later moved to New Orleans where she played professionally in honky tonks and later spent much time working for Preservation Hall and touring all over the world with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Her husband, De De Pierce was one of the most joyful and powerful New Orleans trumpeters as well as a superb vocalist specializing in the unique, regional Creole French patois.

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Blind from boyhood, Snooks Eaglin played everything he heard on records and the radio, be it jazz, blues, pop or country. When not playing R&B in the New Orleans clubs, Eaglin busked with an acoustic guitar, which is how Harry Oster first encountered him. Besides issuing an LP of Eaglin’s on his Folk-Lyric label, Oster licensed material to other companies with material appearing on labels like Storyille and Bluesville. In an interview Oster recalls how he came across Eaglin: “I heard of him through Richard B. Allen who was first associate curator and then curator of the Jazz Archive in the Tulane University. He had encountered Snooks Eaglin who was young blind man singing on the porch of his house. Snooks Eaglin was different than performers like Robert Pete Williams for example. He actually was not a real specialist in blues, he was a popular performer and he wanted to be more popular. And he was. But he could do a lot of blues and he had a wonderful memory. His father said that he didn't really make up songs. He was like a mockingbird, he had everybody's song but his own.”

Other artists featured today include Herman E. Johnson of Scotlandville who was recorded in 1961 and Clarence Edwards. Johnson's tracks appeared on the LP Louisiana Country Blues alongside sides by Smoky Babe. Born near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Clarence Edwards began playing blues in the area in his teens. He was taped by Oster between 1959 and 1962 and by Chris Strachwitz for Arhoolie in 1970. He quit music for a stretch and cut his debut album in 1990. He did festival appearances in the US and Europe before his death in 1993.

Houston Paige and GroupDown The LineOld Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2
Jesse Wadley Alabama Prison BluesPrison Blues
Ace Johnson & L. W. Gooden Mama Don't 'low No Swingin' Out In HereField Recordings Vol. 6: Texas 1933-1958
Teddy Moss w/ Herve Duerson Texas Dream Blues (Dreamin' Of Texas) Barrelhouse Piano Blues and Stomps 1929-1933
Cow Cow DavenportSlow DragThe Essential
Eddie Gorman Beef Ball BabyBeef Ball Baby! The New Orleans R&B Sessions
Chubby 'Hip Shakin' Newsom
Chubby's ConfessionBeef Ball Baby! The New Orleans R&B Sessions
Bo Weavil JacksonYou Can't Keep No Brown (Test Recording)Hot Papa Blues
William HarrisI'm Leavin' Town (But I Sho Don't Wanna Go)Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Bukka WhiteAberdeen Mississippi BluesThe Complete Bukka White
Big Joe Williams Wild Cow MoanThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.2
Jimmy McCracklinBlues Blasters BoogieRockin' All Day: The Complete Modern / RPM Recordings
Max "Blues" Bailey Lonesome Man BluesObscure Blues Shouters Vol. 1
Juke Boy Bonner Rock With Me Baby 1950's Oakland Blues
Casey Bill Weldon Somebody's Got to Go Casey Bill Weldon Vol. 1 1935-1936
Big Joe TurnerSomebody's Got to Go All the Classic Hits 1938-52
Eddie VinsonSomebody's Got to Go Cleanhead Blues
Ralph WillisSomebody's Is Got to Go Blues Complete
Dewey Corley Dewey's Walkin' BluesThe Memphis Blues Again Vol. 1
Big Joe Williams, Coot Venson Long Road BluesBluesScene USA Vol. 4
Julia Moody He'll Do You WrongTight Women & Loose Bands
Essie Whitman & Jazz Masters If Anybody Here Wants A Real Kind Mamma (Here's Your Opportunity)Tight Women & Loose Bands
Gabriel BrownStick With MeShake That Thing
Leroy Johnson Log House on the Hill Texas Country Blues 1948-1951
William "Talking Boy" Stewart They Call Me Talking BoyThe Sun Blues Box 1950-1958
Snooks Eaglin Nobody Knows the Trouble I've SeenThe Complete Imperial Recordings
Pee Wee Crayton Bounce Pee WeeThe Modern Legacy Vol. 1
Robert Pete WilliamsRolling StoneFree Again
John Lee Granderson My Home Ain't HereRamblin' On My Mind
Lillian Glinn Moanin' Blues Lillian Glinn 1927-1929
Mississippi Matilda Happy Home Blues Catfish Blues: Mississippi Blues Vol. 3

Show Notes:

Old Rattler Can't Hold MeAn entertaining mixed show for today, spanning the years 1925 through 1969. Along the way we feature some excellent field recordings, several fine blues ladies, trace the history of a blues standard, play some classic pre-war blues performances and some fine down-home blues from the post-war plus much more.

We open the show with a trio of field recordings, one recorded in the 60's by Bruce Jackson and two by the intrepid John Lomax. Bruce Jackson wrote: “I started recording in Texas prisons in July 1964. I think Texas had about 12,000 prisoners in 14 prisons back then …My primary interest in Texas was the black convict worksongs, which seemed to me to be part of an unbroken musical tradition going back to West Africa." There are several albums worth of Jackson's field recordings including Wake Up Dead Man (a companion to the book of the same name), Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons plus single artists albums by J.B. Smith (recently reissued on Dust-To-Digital) and Eugene Rhodes. Our featured track comes from Old Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2 which, along with the first volume, I'm Troubled With A Diamond: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 1, were cassette only releases issued in 1990 with only 250 copies of each produced.

Ace Johnson & L. W. Gooden's "Mama Don't 'low No Swingin' Out In Here" was recorded by John Lomax at Clemens State Farm, Texas in 1939 and wouldn't be out of place as a commercial record. Guitarist and singer Jesse Wadley recorded five tracks for Lomax at Bellwood Prison in Atlanta, GA, on December 11, 1934 including his marvelous "Alabama Prison Blues" featured today:

Judge read my verdict, rocked in his easy chair (2x)
Says, "I'm sorry, Jesse Wadley, you can't have no mercy here"

Mr. Whitman come got me, Pat Campbell carried me down for trial (2x)
Holly hung her head and cried like a baby child

 Several superb blues ladies are featured throughout today's show including Julia Moody, Essie Whitman, Mississippi Matilda, Lillian Glinn and from the postwar era, Chubby 'Hip Shakin' Newsom. Julia Moody started recording in 1922, made 16 sides; two of which have not turned up and one Ralph Willis: Somebody's Is Got To Goremains unissued. This was over a short period with her last disc cut in 1925.

Essie Barbara Whitman was a member of the renowned Whitman Sisters Company. The group of African-American sisters, who were entrepreneurs as well as entertainers, developed their own musical, dance, and comedy performing arts Company. From 1901 to 1943, the group performed throughout the United States, becoming the longest-running and highest-paid act on the TOBA circuit. In 1921, Essie Whitman released two solo recordings with the Jazz Masters for Black Swan Records and in 1924 and 1925 with Paramount Records.

Mississippi Matilda was married to Eugene Powell AKA Sonny Boy Nelson. Powell backed her on guitar on four sides cut in 1936 (he cut six sides himself) at the St. Charles Hotel in Louisiana in 1936 which was part of a mammoth session conducted by Bluebird between October 15-16th. These were her only recorded sides.

The Chubby Newsom recording, plus the one by Eddie Gorman, comes from an excellent new collection from Ace called Beef Ball Baby! The New Orleans R&B Sessions. These sessions were recorded by DeLuxe which was the first indie label to tap into what was going on in the Crescent City in the years immediately following WWII. The label’s biggest find during that time was Roy Brown. Newsom cut some good sides backed by Paul Gayten's band and others with a band led by Dave Bartholomew.

As we often do, today we chart the course of a blues song that went on to become a blues standard. Casey Bill Weldon recorded several songs in the 30's that became blues standards including our featured number, "Somebody’s Got to Go” in 1936, as well as “Somebody Changed the Lock on My Door” and “We Gonna Move on the Outskirts of Town.” The first cover of the song was by Big Bill Broonzy in 1937 followed by Washboard Sam in 1938. In February 1941 Lonnie Johnson cut a song by the same name which was substantially different, which itself was covered a few months later by Big Joe Turner. Singing with Cootie Williams Orchestra, Eddie Vinson recorded the song in 1945 which hit number one on the Harlem Hit Parade. This version was related to the Weldon version as is the other version we play today by Ralph Willis (the grammatically incorrect "Somebody's Is Got to Go"). Willis cut the song in 1950 featuring Brownie McGhee on guitar.

Bo Weavil Jackson: You Can't Keep No BrownFrom the pre-war era we hear great performances from Bo Weavil Jackson, William Harris, Bukka White and pianists Herve Duerson and Cow Cow Davenport. Paramount Records promoted Bo Weavil Jackson as having come "from down in the Carolinas"; but it is widely believed that he actually originated from Birmingham, AL. As Bo Weavil Jackson, he recorded six sides for Paramount in 1926 and the same year recorded under the name Sam Butler for Vocalion, cutting six more sides. Little is known of William Harris who may have hailed from the Mississippi Delta. Harris recorded sixteen sides, fourteen being issued, for Gennett in 1927 and 1928. Our track, "I'm Leavin' Town (But I Sho' Don't Wanna Go)" was his debut backed on the 78 by Ollis Martin's "Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down." His other song from that first session, "No Black Woman Can Sleep In My Cowlot", was rejected. We also spin Bukka White's classic 1940 number  "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues" which was used as a clue to track him down in the 1960's.

We feature two tracks from the post-war era by Big Joe Williams including "Wild Cow Moan" from 1945 with Sonny Boy Williamson I and a 1964 recording with partner Coot Venson. Other down-home performances from the 60's including fine sides by the prolifically recorded Robert Pete Williams and the under recorded John Lee Granderson.


Richard "Rabbit" Brown James Alley BluesNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Richard "Rabbit" Brown Never Let The Same Bee Sting You TwiceNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Boogie Bill Webb Bad Dog Rural Blues Vol. 3
Boogie Bill Webb Drinkin' And Stinkin' Roosevelt Holts & Friends
Snooks Eaglin Country Boy Down In New OrleansCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Snooks Eaglin Mama Don't You Tear My ClothesCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Arzo Youngblood Four Women Blues Goin' Up The Country
Arzo Youngblood Bye And Bye Blues Goin' Up The Country
Babe Stovall Woman Blues Babe Stovall Story
Babe Stovall I'm Gwine To New Orleans Babe Stovall
Babe Stovall The Ship Is At The Landing The Old Ace
Newton Greer Born Dead Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingBaby Don't You Know Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Richard "Rabbit" Brown Sinking Of The Titanic Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Richard "Rabbit" Brown I'm Not Jealous Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Boogie Bill Webb BoogieRual Blues Vol. 3
Boogie Bill WebbBig Road Blues Living Country Blues USA – Introduction
Snooks Eaglin Mailman PassedCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Snooks Eaglin Lonesome RoadI Bluskvarter Vol. 3
Arzo Youngblood I Can't Be Successful Living Country Blues USA – Introduction
Arzo Youngblood Goin Up The Country Living Country Blues:Vol. 7
Lemone Nash New Orleans Blues The Country Blues -Storyville Blues Anthology Vol.10
Edgar Blanchard & Papa LightfootCreole Gal Blues Down Home Blues Classics 1943-1953
Monroe Vincent AKA Polka Dot Slim Ain't Broke, Ain't Hungry Forest City Joe & Polka Dot Slim: Downhome Delta Harmonica
Pee Wee Hughes Sugar Mama Juke Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues 1943 -1956
Pee Wee HughesI'm A Country Boy Juke Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues 1943 -1956
Babe Stovall Going Away To Wear You Off My Mind The Old Ace
Babe Stovall Worried Blues The Old Ace
Babe Stovall See See Rider South Mississippi Blues
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingHighway 82 Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Little Freddy King The King Special Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingJuke Boy Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King

Show Notes:

Richard Rabbit Brown: James Alley BluesI had been toying around with the idea of this show for awhile and was finally inspired to put this  together after reading Scott Baretta's article, "Downhome New Orleans Blues", a couple of months back in Living Blues magazine. New Orleans has always been a music city, and some would say jazz was its most significant invention, formed around the dawn of the twentieth century and passed on to the rest of America and the world thereafter. That being said, anyone who's listened o the early New Orleans jazz records knows that blues was the bedrock for many of the bands such as Oscar 'Papa' Celestin, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Louis Dumaine, The Chicago Footwarmers, Freddie Keppard and Johnny Dodds among others.

Certainly before the war the blues not well documented on record outside of early performers like Richard "Rabbit" Brown, Lizzie Miles and Blu Lu Barker. Even in the 1940's the scene was dominated by jazz and dixieland bands like Kid Thomas, Billie and De De Pierce, George Lewis and John Handy. During the 1940's and into the 1950s a distinctly New Orleans approach to blues and R&B emerged. Usually piano-driven and backed by inventive rhythms that showed the marked influence of second-line marching and brass bands. While surrounding states like Mississippi, Texas had significant downhome blues scenes that's not the case with New Orleans. Today's show documents some of the few downhome New Orleans  bluesmen who made records including the pre-war blues of  Richard “Rabbit” Brown, and post-war sides by Snooks Eaglin, Boogie Bill Webb, Arzo Youngblood, Babe Stovall and others. Below is some background on today's featured performers.

Born circa 1880, Richard "Rabbit" Brown spent much of his life in New Orleans where he was reported to have worked as a street singer and singing boatman on Lake Ponchartrain. On March 11, 1927, Brown cut six sides for the recording pioneer Ralph Peer. Brown was a very much the songster and his recordings are an interesting mix of original blues, pop covers and event songs like his "Sinking Of The Titanic" and "Mystery of the Dunbar's Child." Brown passed away in 1937. It's been suggested that Brown also be he man behind Blind Willie Harris who cut "Does Jesus Care? b/w Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" for Victor in New Orleans in 1929. In  the notes to Dust-To-Digital's Goodbye Babyblon box set the following is noted: "Two swallows don't make a summer either, but the resemblance of Willie Harris' voice and guitar to those of Richard 'Rabbit' Brown suggest the existence of a local shared troubadour style.  The voice on this track and the accompanying side Does Jesus Care is strikingly similar to the 5 titles recorded by Brown in New Orleans in March 1927.  This is B.W.H's only recording."

Babe Stovall
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Lemon Nash played with Richard "Rabbit" "Brown in the 1920's. Nash was one of the few musicians who remembered Brown. In an interview in 1959 he recalled that Brown made his money playing on the streets of New Orleans' sporting district. He was a regular at Mama Lou's on Lake Pontchartrain. If "business was slow and [Brown] need a ride home, he would turn in a false fire alarm." The firemen answered the call and found out it was only their friend, who sang to them as they went back to the station. "He knew all the firemen," Nash recalled, and they did not seem to mind the inconvenience. For Nash, Brown seems to have been a comic figure with little musical talent. He "played so badly, I had to let him go," Nash remembered. "He just hit the guitar and yell." Brown was "what you call a clown man." Nash was a veteran of many string bands of and cut a handful of sides in 1959 and 1960 including today's featured track "New Orleans Blues".

Born in 1907 in Tylertown, MS, Babe Stovall was the youngest of 11 children, most of them musicians. Stovall learned guitar when he was around eight years old, and was soon playing breakdowns, frolics, and parties in the area, even meeting and learning "Big Road Blues" from Tommy Johnson. He moved to Franklinton, LA, in the 1930's, and split his time between there and Tylertown for several years, picking up whatever work he could as a farmhand. In 1964 he moved to New Orleans, where he was "discovered" working as a street singer in the French Quarter. He recorded an LP for Verve in 1964, simply titled Babe Stovall (re-released on CD by Flyright in 1990), and did further sessions in 1966 (released on CD by Southern Sound as The Babe Stovall Story) and with Bob West in 1968 (which form the basis of The Old Ace: Mississippi Blues & Religious Songs, released on Arcola in 2003), and became active on the folk and blues college circuit, as well as holding down a house gig at the Dream Castle Bar in New Orleans. He passed in 1974.

Boogie Bill Webb was born in Jackson, Mississippi, his greatest influence was Tommy Johnson. He settled in New Orleans in 1952. Webb obtained a recording contract with Imperial Records, after his friendship with Fats Domino led to his introduction to Dave Bartholomew. In 1953 Webb released his debut single, "Bad Dog" and three other songs at this session. Frustrated by lack of recognition, Webb relocated to Chicago, where he worked in various factories. Webb returned to New Orleans in 1959 to work as a stevedore, performing music infrequently. However, in the late 60's he recorded several songs for the folklorist David Evans, which appeared on several anthologies. In the 1970's Webb began performing in Europe. Finally in 1989, with financial assistance from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Webb released his only full-length record, Drinkin' and Stinkin'. Webb died in New Orleans in August 1990, at the age of 66.

Snooks Eaglin: New Orleans Street Singer
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Azo Youngblood was a pal of Boogie Bill Webb and learned guitar as a teenager from Tommy Johnson who married Youngblood's aunt. Youngblood was first recorded in 1966 by David Evans with songs appearing on the anthology Goin' Up The Country on Decca and other sides on the collection The Legacy Of Tommy Johnson. He was recorded a final time in 1980 by Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann with songs appearing on the Living Country Blues USA series of albums.

In 1947, at the age of 11, Snooks Eaglin won a talent contest organized by the radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the Flamingos, a local seven-piece band started by Allen Toussaint.He stayed with The Flamingos for several until the mid-1950's. The first recordings under his own name came when Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 during seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. He started waxing R&B records for Imperial Records with the help of producer Dave Bartholomew in 1960 and stuck with the label through 1963. Eaglin's resurgence came with his signing to Black Top in the 80's where he cut a series of great records though the 90's.

We spotlight several cuts from the LP Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King cut for the Ahura Mazda label in 1971. This is supposedly the first electric blues album recorded in New Orleans and marks the debut of Little Freddie King. It would take until 1995 before King made his full-length debut with Swamp Boogie. In addition to Williams and King there is a powerful version of J.B. Lenoir's "Born Dead" sung by Newton Greer. Greer was a local club owner and a blues singer who often worked with local groups.

A guitarist and band leader, Edgar Blanchard was a permanent feature of the New Orleans music scene from the 40s to the 60s. In 1947 he was in charge of the resident band at the Down Beat Club on Rampart Street, with Roy Brown as one of the vocalists. Blanchard’s most well-known band was the Gondoliers. Although he frequently played on sessions, Blanchard seldom recorded under his own name. "Creole Gal" is the only downhome song he recorded, this one featuring Papa Lightfoot on harmonica.
Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Monroe Vincent AKA Polka Dot Slim was born in Woodville, MS., and was influenced by the harmonica playing of Sonny Boy Williamson I. Vincent made his debut in 1956 recording a single for Excello as Vince Monroe. In 1957 he recorded over two dozen sides for the Zynn label but only released two recordings. Vincent returned to recording in 1965 and the following year waxing two singles for Instant & Apollo. Even after his recording career stalled, he remained a fixture on the New Orleans performing scene up until about 1976.

Nothing is known about Pee Wee Hughes.  Hughes cut four sides for the Deluxe label in 1949 in New Orleans.