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.


Blind Willie & Curley Weaver Georgia RagThe Classic Years 1927- 1940
Blind Willie & Curley Weaver Warm It Up To MeThe Classic Years 1927- 1940
Lucille Bogan & Walter Roland Groceries On The ShelfShave 'Em Dry: The Best
Lucille Bogan & Walter RolandBaking Powder BluesShave 'Em Dry: The Best
Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson IIThrow a Boogie Woogie Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson IIDon't You Leave Me HereBig Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonLow Down DogRadio Broadcasts 1939-1947
Big Joe Turner & Pete Johnson Roll 'Em PeteRadio Broadcasts 1939-1947
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie NixonDown South BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie NixonNeed More BluesJailhouse Blues
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie NixonStop That Thing I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
The Sparks BrothersLouisiana BoundDown On The Levee
The Sparks BrothersEast Chicago Blues Twenty First. St. Stomp
The Sparks BrothersDown On The Levee Twenty First. St. Stomp
Willie Ford & Lucious Curtis High Lonesome Hill Mississippi Blues 1940-42
Willie Ford & Lucious Curtis Times Is Getting HardDeep River Of Song Mississippi: Saints & Sinners
Butch Cage & Willie B ThomasMean Old FriscoRaise A Ruckus Tonight
Butch Cage & Willie B ThomasBugle Call BluesOld Time Black Southern String Band Music
Butch Cage & Willie B ThomasForty Four BluesI Have to Paint My Face
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldWest Kinney Street BluesPlay My Juke Box
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldBroome Street BluesDown Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
Nugrape Twins The Road Is Rough & RockySinners & Saints 1926-1931
Nugrape Twins Got Your Ice Cold NugrapeAmerican Primitive Vol. II
John Cephas & Phil WigginsReno FactoryLiving Country Blues USA: Introduction
John Cephas & Phil WigginsPony BluesLiving Country Blues Vol. 1
John Cephas & Phil Wiggins Ain't Got No Lovin Baby NowLiving Country Blues Vol. 1
Big Joe Turner & Pete JohnsonJohnson & Turner BluesHave No Fear, Big Joe Turner Is Here
Big Joe Turner & Pete Johnson Rebecca Big Joe Turner 1941-1946
Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson II King Biscuit StompBig Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Big Joe Williams & Sonny Boy Williamson II I'm a Highway ManBig Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Lucille Bogan & Walter RolandShave 'Em DryShave 'Em Dry: The Best
Lucille Bogan & Walter RolandJump Steady DaddyShave 'Em Dry: The Best
Blind Willie & Curley Weaver Good Little ThingThe Classic Years 1927- 1940
Blind Willie & Curley Weaver Don't Forget It Don't Forget It: The Post War Years

Show Notes:

Today's show is part two of a spotlight on some great blues partners that made commercial and non-commercial recordings between the 1920's on up. On part one we spotlighted some of the more famous partnerships such as Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Tampa Red and Georgia Tom. Big names this time out include Big Joe Turner and  Pete Johnson who first partnered in Kansas City in the 1920's and made some great sides together starting in the 30's and ending in the 1950's.  Blind Willie McTell and Curley Weaver also had a long partnership, with Weaver and McTell backing one another on many sessions in the 1930's, with a final batch of recordings in 1950.  Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon recorded prolifically together in the 1930's, resuming recording again in the 1960's during the blues revival.  Butch Cage and Willie Thomas had been playing together for some time before Harry Oster began recording them in 1959. He continued to recorded them in the 1960's and the duo performed together until Cage's death in 1975. We hear from some talented siblings today including the wonderful Nugrape Twins and the Sparks Brothers. Others heard from today include Lucille Bogan and pianist Walter Roland who recorded extensively together between 1933 to 1935, and the team of Big Joe Williams and Sonny Boy Williamson, stars in their own right, who cut some great records together particularly in the 1940's. Other heard from today include Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis who recorded together and individually for the Library of Congress, the under-recorded Skoodle Dum Doo and Sheffield and John Cephas and Phil Wiggins who performed and recorded together for three decades.

Blind Willie McTell was a major figure with a local following in Atlanta from the 1920's onward, recording dozens of sides throughout the 1930's under a multitude of names — all the better to juggle "exclusive" relationships with many different record labels at once — including Blind Willie, Blind Sammie, Hot Shot Willie, and Georgia Bill, as a backup musician to Ruth Mary Willis. McTell's recording career began in late 1927 with two sessions for Victor records, eight sides including "Statesboro Blues." McTell's sometime partner, Curley Weaver, was a younger contemporary who made his debut for Columbia in 1928. Weaver and McTell first recorded together in 1931, recording extensively together in 19333 with McTell backing Weaver on some 1935 sides. The two didn't record together again until a 1950 session for the Regal label where they recorded as a duo and solo.

Lucille Bogan got off to a rather shaky start on her two 1923 sessions. The feisty, boisterous singing she became known for came into much better focus when she returned to the studio in 1927 backed by papa Charlie Jackson on fine numbers like "Sweet Patinua", "Jim Tampa Blues" and "Cravin' Whiskey Blues." As Tony Russell writes in the Penguin Guide To Blues: "Over the next few years she constructed a persona of a tough-talking narrator – 'They call me Pig Iron Sally, 'cause I live in Slag Iron Ally, and I'm evil and mean as I can be,' she sings in 'Pig Iron Sally' – who knew the worlds of the lesbian and the prostitute. She reports from the former in 'Women Don't Need No Men' and 'B.D. Woman's Blues', and the latter in 'Tricks Ain't Walking no More' – best heard in the affectingly somber version titled 'They Ain't Walking No More' …and 'Barbecue Bess.' Other notable recordings are 'Coffee Grindin' Blues' …and the first recording of  'Black Angel Blues,' which after a great change became a blues standard." On these recordings she finds strong backing from pianists Will Ezell and Charles Avery. "…Thanks to the generally better sound quality and the ever sympathetic accompaniment of Walter Roland, her mid-30s recordings …are the most approachable." Roland backed Bogan on dozens of sides between 1933 and 1935 and cut over forty sides under his own name during this period.

Both Big Joe Williams, who made his debut in 1935, and Sonny Boy Williamson I, who made his debut in 1937, had successful recording careers of their own, but teamed up on several occasions until Sonny's untimely death in 1947. Big Joe backed Sonny Boy at his first Bluebird session in 1937 and Sonny Boy backed Big Joe at the same session. Big Joe also backed Sonny Boy on sessions in 1938. As a team, their  best collaborations were in the 1940's; trio sides in 1941 backed by Alfred Elkins on bass, another trio session in 1945 backed by drummer Jump Jackson and a final session in 1947 with Ransom Knowling on bass and Judge Riley on drums.

Pete Johnson began his musical career in 1922 as a drummer in Kansas City before switching to piano. From 1926 to 1938 he worked as a pianist, often working with Big Joe Turner. An encounter with record producer John Hammond in 1936 led to an engagement at the Famous Door in New York City. In 1938 Johnson and Turner appeared in the From Spirituals to Swing concert at Carnegie Hall. After this show the popularity of the boogie-woogie style was on the upswing. Johnson worked locally and toured and recorded with Turner, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons during this period.  In 1945 Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson established a bar in Los Angeles, The Blue Moon Club. That same year Turner contracted with National Records cutting some of their finest sides for the label through 1947. Johnson wasn't as active in the 1950's although he did some recording with Big Joe, notably the 1956 Boss of the Blues album for Atlantic.

Hammie Nixon, born Hammie Nickerson in Brownsville, Tennessee, began his music career with jug bands in the 1920's. He is best known as a harmonica player, but he also played the kazoo, guitar and jug. He played with Sleepy John Estes for half a century, first recording with Estes in 1935 for Decca Records, recording again with Estes in 1937. During the blues revival period they began performing  and recording again starting with a 1962 session for Delmark.. They cut numerous recordings together until Estes passing in 1977. In 1964 they played both the the Newport Folk Festival and the American Folk Blues Festival.

Butch Cage & Willie B. Thomas, photo by Harry Oster

The Sparks brothers, Aaron and Marion (he changed his name to Milton in 1929), were twins born to Ruth and Sullie Gant in Tupelo, Mississippi. Both brothers were fine singers, and Aaron learned piano at school, becoming an exceptional accompanist in the St. Louis tradition.The brothers 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. Their recording careers ended in 1935, and Aaron died soon after, though Marion lived  until 1963.

In October 1940 John Lomax and his wife came to Natchez, Mississippi from Baton Rouge to look for musicians to record. During that trip they recorded Lucious Curtis, Willie Ford and George Bolwdin. Between Curtis and Ford ten songs were recorded. "When Lucious Curtis was there, Willie "followed after" him, but he did it skillfully, watching the leader carefully." So reads the first paragraph of John Lomax's notes for the recording session. He went on to write that "Lucious Curtis is a honky-tonk, guitar picking Negro, living on a precarious income from pick-ups at dance halls. His 'complementer" Willie Ford has a regular job at a big saw mill but had a 'sad-day' off." Curtis claimed to have made commercial records with Bo Carter but this hasn't be verified.

Fiddler James "Butch" Cage was one of the last artists in the black string band tradition. Born on March 16, 1894, in Hamburg, Mississippi, Cage's first real instrument was a cane fife. He moved to southwest Louisiana following the devastating Mississippi floods of 1927, eventually settling in Zachary, where he worked a succession of menial jobs while playing string band music at house parties and church functions, often in conjunction with guitarist Willie B. Thomas. Musicologist Harry Oster heard Butch Cage and Willie Thomas playing in Zachary in 1959 and recorded them extensively. The duo was also a huge hit at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival.

Both men were born in Washington D.C. John Cephas, who was 24 years older than Phil Wiggins, grew up in Bowling Green, Virginia. They first met at a jam session at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in 1976 and played together with "Big Chief" Ellis appearing together an album on Pete Lowry's Trix label. Lowry was the first to record Cephas, although those recordings were never issued. When Ellis died, they decided to continue as a duo. They were first recorded in 1980 by Siegfried Christmann and Axel Küstner for the German L&R label. Their first U.S. release, the album Dog Days of August, was issued by Flying Fish Records in 1986. They cut their final album in 2008, with Cephas passing the following year.

Phil Wiggins & John Cephas, photo by Axel Küstner

Seth Richards, possibly from Virginia, recorded a couple of tracks under his real name in 1928 ("Lonely Seth Blues b/w Skoodeldum Doo"), which would be his last recordings until he recorded four songs as Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield in 1943 for the Regis label. John Sheffield played harp while Seth Richard played guitar and sang.

It’s possible the Nugrape Twins were Matthew and Mark Little, born September 16, 1888, in Tennille, Georgia. Matthew died in 1962 and Mark in 1965. The Nugrape Twins recorded six tracks for Columbia Records between 1926 and 1927; four gospel numbers and two versions of "I Got Your Ice Cold NuGrape." The latter song was mentioned in a 1926 Columbia catalog.


I just want t wish everyone a happy holiday and to thank all our loyal  listeners who enjoy the show we've put out weekly for the past ten years. Big Road Blues will be off the next two weeks although we will airing shows from our archives those weeks. In the meantime have a great holiday and behave yourselves – you don't want to be like Leroy Carr and spend Christmas in jail!

I'll leave you with a  Christmas show we aired a few years back. I've been doing a Christmas blues show for many years and was always frustrated with the lack of a really good collection of early blues Christmas songs. In 2005 I hooked up with the Document label to put together a 2-CD, 52 track collection of blues and gospel songs from the 1920's to the 1950's called Blues, Blues Christmas. The record proved to be popular and a second volume was released in 2009, a third volume in 2013 and finally a fourth volume in 2015. Most of today's tracks come from those collections. You can read the liner notes to those collections by visiting my writing page.



Tampa Red & Georgia TomNo Matter How She Done ItTampa Red: Bottleneck Guitar
Tampa Red & Georgia Tom It's Tight Like That Tampa Red Vol. 1 1928-1929
Tampa Red & Georgia TomDead Cats On The LineTampa Red Vol. 5 1931-1934
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheCustard Pie BluesThe Folkways Years 1944-1963
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheClimbing On Top Of The HillThe Bluesmen
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheStranger BluesKey To The Highway
Butterbeans & SusieCold Storage Papa (Mama's A Little Too Warm For You) Butterbeans & Susie Vol. 1 1924-1925
Butterbeans & SusiePapa Ain't No Santa ClausBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 1
Butterbeans & SusieTimes Is Hard (So I'm Savin' for a Rainy Day)Classic Blues & Vaudeville Singers Vol. 5 1922-1930
Bobby Leecan & Robert CookseyNeed More Blues #1Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey Vol. 1 1924-1927
Bobby Leecan & Robert CookseyWhiskey and Gin Blues #1Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey Vol. 1 1924-1927
Bobby Leecan & Robert CookseyWash-Board Cut OutBobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey Vol. 2 1927
Joe Evans & Arthur McClainTwo White Horses In A LineAmerican Primitive, Vol. II
Joe Evans & Arthur McClainJohn Henry BluesThe Two Poor Boys (Joe Evans & Arthur McClain) 1927-1931
Joe Evans & Arthur McClainShook It This Morning BluesDown In Black Bottom
Rufus & Ben QuillianHoly RollHokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930s
Rufus & Ben QuillianGood Feeling Blues Uptown Blues A Decade Of Guitar: Piano Duets
Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas Pick Poor Robin CleanI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas Over to My HouseAmerican Primitive, Vol. II
Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas Eagle On A HalfI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Alec Seward & Louis Hayes Ups And Downs BluesCarolina Blues
Alec Seward & Louis HayesTravelin' Boy's BluesCarolina Blues
Alec Seward & Louis HayesBig Trouble BluesCarolina Blues
Mississippi Sarah & Daddy StovepipeBurleskin' BluesBlues From The Vocalion Vaults
Mississippi Sarah & Daddy StovepipeThe SpasmGood for What Ails You
Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley Every Day In The Week BluesMama Let Me Lay It On You
Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley Gonna Tip Out TonightGood for What Ails You
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellI Believe I'll Make a ChangeWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellPapa Wants to Knock a JugHow Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone
Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell Memphis TownSloppy Drunk
Memphis Minnie & Joe McCoyGoin' Back to Texas Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe Vol. 1 1929- 1930
Memphis Minnie & Joe McCoyI Called You This MorningMemphis Minnie & Kansas Joe Vol. 2 1929- 1930
Memphis Minnie & Joe McCoyWhat's The Matter With The MillBlues Images Vol. 2

Show Notes:

TodIt's Tight Like Thatay's show spotlights some great blues partners that made commercial recordings between the 1920's and 1950's. Perhaps the most famous was the team of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee whch spanned the from the 1940's through the 1970's with countless recordings made together and individually. For sheer longevity the honor goes to Butterbeans and Susie who's career spanned from the 1920's through the 1960's. During the heyday of commercial blues recordings few duos were as popular as Tampa Red and Georgia Tom,  Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell and Memphis Minnie & Joe McCoy. Other partnerships featured today include recordings by Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey, Joe Evans & Arthur McClain, Rufus & Ben Quillian, Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas, Alec Seward & Louis Hayes, Mississippi Sarah & Daddy Stovepipe and Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley.

In the 1920's, having already perfected his slide technique, Tampa Red moved to Chicago, and began his career as a musician, adopting the name "Tampa Red" from his childhood home and red hair. His big break was being hired to accompany Ma Rainey and he began recording in 1928. In 1928, through the intercession of J. Mayo "Ink" Williams, he teamed up with pianist Thomas Dorsey a. k. a. Georgia Tom and recorded the Paramount label hit "Tight Like That. “The success of "Tight Like That” initiated the blues genre known as hokum. Early recordings were mostly collaborations with Georgia Tom. Tampa Red and Georgia Tom recorded almost 60 sides, sometimes as "The Hokum Boys" or, with Frankie Jaxon, as "Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band". Tampa had actually met Georgia Tom around 1925 and Tom recalled those early years: "We played Memphis, I think Louisville, down to Nashville; we was down in Tennessee, or in Mississippi just across he line. We recorded in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel in 1929), and I left him down in Memphis and he got another week's at the Palace Theater there. They liked him so well they hired him with just he and his guitar. …We played just anywhere. Party, theater, dance hall, juke joint. All black. See we wasn't high-powered enough. Other fellows who were in the high music echelon got those jobs with the whites. The money was bigger up there."

Sonny Terry first got on record backing Blind Boy Fuller in 1937 for a session for Vocalion. In 1938 when he was invited to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall at the fabled From Spirituals to Swing concert. He recorded for the Library of Congress that same year and cut his first commercial sides in 1940. Terry had met McGhee in 1939, and upon the death of Fuller, they joined forces, playing together on a 1941 McGhee date for OKeh and settling in New York as a duo in 1942. There they broke into the folk scene, working alongside Leadbelly, Josh White, and Woody Guthrie. They recorded and performed together until the mid-'70s.

Butterbeans and Susie were a comedy duo made up of Jodie Edwards and Susie Edwards. Edwards began his career in 1910 as a singer and dancer. The two met in 1916 when Hawthorne was in the chorus of the Smart Set show. They married on stage the next year. The two did not perform as a comic team until the early 1920s. Their act, a combination of marital quarrels, comic dances, and racy singing, proved popular on the TOBA tour. They later moved to vaudeville and appeared for a time with the blackface minstrel troupe the Rabbit's Foot Company. They cut over sixty sides between 1924 and 1930.

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at the Marquee Club, 1958


Bobby Leecan (guitarist and banjo) & Robert Cooksey (harmonica) first recorded in September 1926, cutting fives sides for Victor and recorded again in October and pair of sessions in November. They also backed singer Helen Baxter and Margaret Johnson during this period. In 1927 they recorded around twenty sides.

The Two Poor Boys were a duo, composed of Joe Evans and Arthur McLain. Evans and McLain were based in Tennessee. They recorded twenty sides between 1927 and 1931.

Rufus and Ben Quillian were born in Gainesville, northeast of Atlanta, on February 2, 1900, and June 23, 1907, respectively. Between 1929 and 1931 they recorded first for Paramount as the Blue Harmony Boys and later for Columbia under their own names.

Geeshie Wiley recorded six songs for Paramount Records, issued on three records in 1930 and 1931. In March 1930, Wiley traveled with singer and guitarist Elvie Thomas from Houston, Texas to Grafton, Wisconsin, to make recordings for Paramount Records. Wiley recorded "Last Kind Words Blues" and "Skinny Leg Blues", singing and accompanying herself on guitar, with Thomas providing additional guitar accompaniment. Thomas also recorded two songs, "Motherless Child Blues" and "Over to My House," with Wiley playing guitar and singing harmony. Some sources suggest that in March 1931 Wiley and Thomas returned to Grafton and recorded "Pick Poor Robin Clean" and "Eagles on a Half."

Alec Seward, one of fourteen siblings, was born in Charles City County, Virginia and came up to New York in 1924.There Seward befriended Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He and the blues musician Louis Hayes performed together, variously billed as the Blues Servant Boys, Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly, and the Back Porch Boys cutting sides in 1944 and 1947.

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy

Johnny Watson, alias Daddy Stovepipe was born in Mobile, Alabama, on April 12th 1867 and died in Chicago, November 1st 1963. By the 1920's he was working as a one-man band on Maxwell Street in Chicago, where he acquired the name "Daddy Stovepipe" from the characteristic top hat he wore. A veteran of the turn of the century medicine shows, he was in his late fifties when he became one of the first blues harp players to appear on record in 1924. In 1927 he made more recordings, this time in Birmingham, Alabama for Gennett Records. He made more recordings back in Chicago in 1931 for the Vocalion label with his wife, "Mississippi Sarah", a singer and jug player and made more recordings with her in 1935. He spent his last years as a regular performer on Chicago's famous Maxwell Street, where he made his last recordings.

In 1916 in Spartanburg, South Carolina Pink Anderson met Simeon "Blind Simmie" Dooley, from whom he learned to be a blues singer, this after experience in string bands. Anderson and Dooley would play to medicine shows in Greenville, Spartanburg, and other neighboring communities. They recorded four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta in April, 1928, both playing guitar and singing.

Teamed with the exemplary guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis, Leroy Carr became one of the biggest blues stars of his day, composing and recording almost 200 sides during his short lifetime. arr met guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis in 1928 and the duo began performing together. Shortly afterward they were recording for Vocalion, releasing "How Long How Long Blues" before the year was finished. The song was an instant, surprise hit. For the next seven years, Carr and Blackwell would record a number of classic songs for Vocalion, including "Midnight Hour Blues," "Blues Before Sunrise," "Hurry Down Sunshine," "When The Sun Goes Down," and many others.

For nearly 30 years Memphis Minnie was, along with Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red, was one of the giants of the Chicago blues scene. Between 1929 and 1953 she recorded some 200 sides for a variety of labels. Her marriage and recording debut came in 1929, to and with Kansas Joe McCoy, when a Columbia Records talent scout heard them playing in a Beale Street barbershop in their distinctive 'Memphis style.' etween 1929 and 1934 Minnie and Joe cut around one hundred sides together.


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