Mississippi John HurtGot The Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)Avalon Blues
Skip JamesCrow JaneToday!
Guitar NubbitGeorgia Chain GangBlues Town Story Vol. 1
Babe StovallWorried BluesRuff Stuff - Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
Scott DunbarIt's So Cold Up NorthGive My Poor Heart Ease
The Sparks BrothersDown On The LeveeDown On The Levee
Charlie ''Speck'' PertumWeak-Eyed BluesCharlie ''Specks'' McFadden 1929-1937
Mack Rhinehart & Brownie StubblefieldTPN MoanerDeep South Blues Piano 1935-1937
Montana Taylor & Bertha 'Chippie' HillMistreatin' Mr. DupreeThe Circle Recordings
Memphis SlimI Am The BluesThe Sonet Blues Story
Memphis SlimEl CapitanBad Luck & Trouble
Blind Connie WilliamsPapa's Got Your Bath Water OnI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Drink SmallYou Can Call Me CountryI Know My Blues Are Different
Arvella GrayHave Mercy, Mr. Percy Pt. 2Blues From Maxwell Street
Ma RaineyLeaving This MorningMother Of The Blues
Mary JohnsonFriendless Gal BluesMary Johnson 1929-1936
Bessie SmithSlow And Easy ManThe Complete Recordings (Frog)
The Four BlazesWomen, WomenMary Jo
Jimmy WitherspoonYou Gotta Crawl Before You WalkSings the Blues Sessions
Blind Lemon JeffersonOne Dime BluesThe Best Of
Blind Willie McTellMama, 'Taint Long Fo' DayThe Classic Years 1927 - 1940
Peg Leg HowellAway From HomePeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930
Rev. Gary DavisI'm Throwin' Up My HandsMeet You At The Station
Sonny TerryCrow JaneThe Folkways Years 1944-1963
Jr. WellsI’m A StrangerMessin' With The Kid
Homesick JamesFayette County BluesAin't Sick No More
L.C. RobinsonStop NowHouse Cleanin' Blues
Charlie PattonMean Black CatPrimeval Blues, Rags, and Gospel Songs
Charlie PattonElder Greene BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues
Blind Pete & George RyanBanty RoosterBlack Appalachia
Buster BennettI'm A Bum AgainBuster Bennett 1945-1947
Joe "Mr. Google Eyes" AugustRough And Rocky RoadThe Very Best Of
Hattie BurlesonSadie's Servant Room BluesSunshine Special
Hattie HudsonBlack Hand BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1

Show Notes:

We cover a wide swath of blues spanning from 1927 through 1976. Along the way we spotlight some fine piano blues, several superb blues ladies, lots of pre-war blues including twin spins of Charlie Patton and two by Memphis Slim. Among the featured piano players are a couple from St. Louis; Aaron "Pinteop" Sparks and Charlie McFadden. According to Henry Townsend McFadden could play a little piano but on his records deferred to others including Roosevelt Sykes, Eddie Miller and Aaron "Pinteop" Sparks. McFadden was a marvelous vocalist who possessed a plaintive, laid back delivery and was a good lyricist to boot. McFadden used the name "Speck" Pertum when he recorded for Brunswick, nicknamed for the glasses he always wore. Based in St. Louis, he toured extensively with Roosevelt Sykes, traveling as far south as Texas. McFadden cut two-dozen sides between 1929 and 1937 for a variety of different labels. According to Townsend he passed sometime in the early 1940's.

The Sparks BrothersThe Sparks brothers were based in St. Louis and cut four sessions, the first for Victor and the other three for Bluebird, between 1932 and 1935. Milton cut two songs for Decca in 1934 under the name Flyin’ Lindberg. Aaron backed a number of St. Louis artists at their second session: Elisabeth Washington, Tecumseh McDowell, Dorotha Trowbridge, James “Stump” Johnson and Charlie McFadden.Townsend remembered the brothers well:   “He [Marion] just kept getting better and better and got to playing for illegal joints y’know. …Pinetop was doing a lot of house-party playing and uh ’cause this was a trend then. We would go from house-party to house-party and make some money to pay the rent. We’d go from place to place like that I mean it’d be announced at this party before it was over that there would be such and such a place to get their rent paid and Pinetop would play for those kind of parties where they had a piano–and I kinda went around him quite a bit.” Now at that time Milton wasn’t singing, Pinetop was the star when it come to singing. And so just out of nowhere Milton decided he was going to sing and he’d start. …Aaron got the name Pinetop because “He was very good at the number that Smith made [Pinetop Smith's "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie"]. Today's selection, “Down On The Levee”, is a typically sensitive mid-tempo number featuring Milton’s fine, mellow delivery and some wonderful right hand flourishes from Aaron.

Mack Rhinehart and Brownie Stubblefield were a piano/guitar team that cut a dozen sides in 1936 and 1937. Rhinehart also recorded solo as Blind Mack in 1935 but only two of his ten  sides were ever released.  According to Blues & Gospel Records some twenty-two sides by the duo remain unissued. Nothing is known about the duo although noted researcher David Evans called Rhinehart "a major artist" with "an outstanding recorded legacy."

Better known is Montana Taylor who was born Arthur Taylor in Butte, Montana, where his father owned a club. The family moved to Chicago and then Indianapolis, where Taylor learned piano around 1919. Later he moved to Cleveland, Ohio. By 1929 he was back in Chicago, where he recorded a few tracks for Vocalion Records, including "Indiana Avenue Stomp" and "Detroit Rocks". He then disappeared for some years but was rediscovered by jazz fan Rudi Blesh, and was recorded both solo and as the accompanist to Bertha "Chippie" Hill who sings on today's track, "Mistreatin' Mr. Dupree." His final recordings were from a 1948 radio broadcast. Taylor died in 1954. Taylor's final recordings are collected on the CD Circle Recordings on the Southland label.

Bertha "Chippie" Hill

We showcase several fine blues ladies including stars Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith plus lesser known singers like Mary Johnson, Hattie Burleson and Hattie Hudson. From 1928 we hear Bessie in top form in "Slow And Easy Man." The Columbia Records 1927 catalog gave prominence to Bessie as "The Empress of the Blues" and listed a full three pages of her recordings. The advertising read: "Wherever the blues are sung, there you will hear the name of Bessie Smith, best loved of all the Race's blues singers. Bessie has the knack for picking the songs you like and the gift of singing them the way you want them sung. Every year this famous 'Empress of the Blues' tours the country appearing before packed houses."  Like Bessie Ma Rainey made her debut in 1923. Born in 1886, she said that she added blues in her act in 1902 and by the 1920's it certainly dominated her repertoire. Our selection, "Leaving This Morning", is one of eight numbers she cut in 1928 backed by the team of Tampa Red and Georgia Tom Dorsey.

Of the lesser known ladies, Mary Johnson of St. Louis (sometimes billed as “Signifying Mary”) made her debut in 1929. She cut just shy of two-dozen songs, achieved modest success and never recorded again after 1936 despite living until 1970. Johnson was blessed with superb backing musicians throughout her brief career that elevated her recordings above many of her contemporaries. She was accompanied by either Henry Brown, Judson Brown, Roosevelt Sykes, or Peetie Wheetstraw on piano, many selections featuring trombonist Ike Rodgers, guitarists Tampa Red and Kokomo Arnold and violinist Artie Mosby. Hattie Burleson and Hattie Hudson both hail from Dallas. Hudson cut one 78 in Dallas in 1927.Texas blues singer Hattie Burleson recorded four tracks in Dallas, TX, for Brunswick Records in October 1928. Two years later she recorded three sides in Grafton, WI, for Paramount Records. Little else is known about her life, save that she lived in the famed Deep Ellum area of downtown Dallas, where she operated a dancehall for a time. Her "Sadie’s Servant Room Blues" is a rare protest song dealing with domestic service:

Missus Jarvis don't pay me much
They give me just what they think I'm worth
I'm gonna change my mind, yes change my mind
Cause I keep the servant room blues all the time

I receive my company in the rear
Still these folks don't want to see them here
Gonna change my mind, yes change my mind
Cause I keep the servant room blues all the tim

We spin a pair of tracks apiece by Memphis Slim and Charlie Patton. From Slim we play tracks form two excellent 1960's records: Sonet Blues Story cut for Verve in 1967 and  Bad Luck & Trouble cut for Candid in 1961 a session he shared with Jazz Gillum and Arbee Stidham. The former session is a nice date featuring excellent contributions from guitarist Billy Butler and tenor man Eddie Chamblee. Slim is in majestic form on today's number, "I Am The Blues." The latter date finds Slim running through some favorites and offering up some spoken commentary about the songs' originators like Leroy Carr, Big Maceo and Curtis Jones.

We return again to Charlie Patton who we spotlighted at the end of November. I never get tired of listening to Patton and this time we spin a couple of tracks I didn't get to last time: "Elder Greene" and "Hammer Blues." "Elder Greene" was likely a song Patton picked up from his mentor Henry Sloan.  As David Evans noted the song is "related melodically to versions of "Alabama Bound," a song that Patton’s niece identified in Sloan’s repertoire. Of the latter number Evans writes  "'Hammer Blues' there are brief mentions of serving a sentence on a road gang and being shackled in preparation for a train ride to Parchman Penitentiary in northern Sunflower County. It is not known whether these verses refer to an experience of Patton or of one or more of his friends."

We play some more modern blues, relatively speaking, from the 1960's. Among those are cuts by L.C. Robinson (House Cleanin’ Blues) and Homesick James (Ain’t Sick No More) cut for the Bluesway label. ABC-Paramount formed the BluesWay subsidiary in 1966 to record blues music. The label lasted into 1974, with the last new releases coming in February, 1974. The label issued over 70 albums, numerous 45's plus several titles that remain unreleased. The label has been ill served reissue wise with only a handful of releases issued on CD, usually by labels other than the parent company MCA, and in many cases these CD's themselves are out of print. MCA has largely left the catalogue languish. The BluesWay label has a decidedly mixed reputation, cutting many very good records and many downright bad ones. At some point I'll be doing a feature on the Bluesway label.