Blind Lemon Jefferson - Rambler Blues

Rambler Blues (MP3)

As we continue to reprint the blues ads that appeared in the Chicago Defender we turn to Blind Lemon Jefferson, one of the biggest male blues artists of the 1920's. He was also the most heavily advertised blues artist, just behind Lonnie Johnson and Bessie Smith, with forty-four ads appearing in the Chicago Defender between 1926 and 1930. Today we spotlight "Rambler Blues" recorded September 1927 and "Hot Dogs" from June 1927.

In 1925 Jefferson was discovered by a Paramount recording scout and taken to Chicago to make his first records either in December 1925 or January 1926. Though he was not the first country blues singer/guitarist, or the first to make commercial recordings, Jefferson was the first to attain a national audience. His extremely successful recording career continued until 1929 when he died under mysterious circumstances. He recorded 110 sides including alternate takes. Jefferson's first session produced "I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart" b/w "All I Want Is That Pure Religion" using the name Deacon L.J. Bates. It was the second session, however, that made Jefferson a star. "Got The Blues" b/w "Long Lonesome Blues" hadn't been on sale long in the spring of 1926 when Paramount asked him to record it again because of the huge demand for the record. This was unheard of for a male blues artist. Prior to Jefferson the blues had been recorded primarily by women backed by piano or bands. This was reflected in the ads in the Chicago Defender which featured women almost exclusively, women such as Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter, Lucille Hegamin, Clara Smith and Bessie Smith among others. Tony Russell describes Jefferson's impact: "Jefferson offered instead blues sung by a man playing guitar – playing it, moreover, with a busyness and variety that showed up many of those pianists and bands as turgid and ordinary. The discovery that there was an audience for Jefferson's type of blues revolutionized the music business: within a few years female singers were out of favor and virtually all the trading in the 'race' market (jazz aside) was in men with guitars."

Blind Lemon Jefferson - Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs (MP3)

By all accounts a good portion of Jefferson's large repertoire consisted of reels or dance songs. "Hot Dogs" is a buck-dance tune as Jefferson plays some formidable ragtime flavored guitar over mostly spoken patter with a few snatches of singing. And yes, that's Jefferson tap dancing during the song a fact that's prominently mentioned in the accompanying ad. The style is strongly similar to the style of his fellow Paramount star Blind Blake. "Rambler Blues" is a straight blues and one of my favorites by Jefferson with its seamless marriage between vocal and guitar:

Well, it's train time now, and the track's all out of line (2x)
And I come here soon, I wanna catch that Number Nine

I am worried and bothered, don't know what to do (2x)
Reason I'm worried and bothered, it's all on the 'count of you

When I left my home, I left my baby cryin' (2x)
She keeps me worried and bothered in the mind

Now, don't your house look lonesome, when your baby pack up and leave (2x)
You may drink your moonshine, but, baby, your heart ain't free

If you take my rider, I can't get mad with you (2x)
Just like you're takin' mine, I'll take someone else's too

I got a girl in Texas, I've got a brown in Tennessee (2x)
Lord, but that brown in Chicago have put that jinx bug on me