Mon 19 Sep 2011
|Honeyboy Edwards||Build A Cave||Juke Joint Blues|
|Honeyboy Edwards||Drop Down Mama||Drop Down Mama|
|Honeyboy Edwards||Ride With Me Tonight||I've Been Around|
|Bertha "Chippie" Hill||Lonesome Weary Blues||Louis Armstrong & the Blues Singers 1924-1930|
|Sippie Wallace||Lazy Man Blues||Louis Armstrong & the Blues Singers 1924-1930|
|McKinley James||Ain't Gonna Pick No Cotton||45|
|McKinley James||Tuskegee Boogie||45|
|Little Sonny||I Hear My Woman Callin'||Harp Suckers: Detroit Blues Rarities|
|Alec Seward||Creepin' Blues||The Bluesville Years Vol. 11|
|Blind Willie McTell||Lay Some Flowers On My Grave||The Classic Years 1927-1940|
|Charlie Patton||Some Summer Day||Primeval Blues, Rags, and Gospel Songs|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Sombody's Been Talkin'||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2 (JSP)|
|Leroy Washington||Hello Stranger||Wild Cherry|
|Leroy Washington||Women Are Trouble||Wild Cherry|
|Lovey Williams||Going Away Blues||Bothered All The Time|
|James Brewer||Big Road Blues||Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle|
|Robert Wilkins||I'll Go With Her Blues||Before The Blues Vol. 1|
|Robert Wilkins||Do Lord Remember Me||Memphis Gospel Singer|
|Little Son Willis||Nothing But The Blues||Blues 'N Trouble vol. 2|
|Robert Shaw||Turn Loose My Tongue||Blues 'N Trouble vol. 2|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone||Classic Sounds Of New Orleans|
|Unknown||Don't Go To Georgia||Cap'n, You're So Mean - Negro Songs of Protest Vol. 2|
|Unknown||Why Didn't Somebody Tell Me||Cap'n, You're So Mean - Negro Songs of Protest Vol. 2|
|Unknown||Cap'n, You're So Mean||Cap'n, You're So Mean - Negro Songs of Protest Vol. 2|
|Johnny Shines||Blood Ran Like Wine||President Nixon's Blues|
|J. B. Lenoir||Everybody Is Crying About Vietnam||President Johnson's Blues|
|The Daylighters||Something Is Wrong||Forth Worth Shuffle - Texas RNB 1958-1964|
|Travis Phillips & his Wonder Boys||That's Allright||Forth Worth Shuffle - Texas RNB 1958-1964|
|Guitar Slim||Hard Headed Blues||Walkin' Blues|
|Guitar Shorty||I'm Going Home||Carolina Slide Guitar|
Today's show spans from the 1920's through 1980, covering a wide variety of recordings and styles. Among the artists featured include a trio by the recently departed Honeyboy Edwards, a pair by the obscure McKinley James, two by fine Louisiana guitarist/vocalist Leroy Washington and two by the great Memphis blues and gospel artists Robert Wilkins. Also on tap are a batch of fine field recordings, some classic female blues singers, a set of piano blues, some fascinating topical recordings and the usual batch of hard to find albums.
We open things up by paying tribute to Honeyboy Edwards who just passed on August 29, 2011 in Chicago. A couple of weeks back we played his slashing version of "Sweet Home Chicago" that he cut for Sun in 1953. Today we open with "Build A Cave", Honeyboy's commercial debut cut for the ARC label in 1950 recorded under the moniker Mr. Honey (the flipside was "Who May Your Regular Be"). The song is related to Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1951 Cold War/the Korean War number " I'm Gonna Dig Myself A Hole" which was also recorded the same year by Robert Lockwood and is also kin to Jimmy Rogers' "The World Is In A Tangle" also the same year. We spin another early number, "Drop Down Mama", part of a four song session he cut for Chess in 1953. "Drop Down Mama" eventually surfaced on the 1970 Chess album of the same name. As far as I know the remaining three sides have never been issued.
We feature both sides of McKinley James' 1966 45 "Tuskegee Boogie b/w Ain't Gonna Pick No Cotton." James was a blues musician who was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1935 and raised in Macon County, Alabama. "Tuskegee Boogie" rolls along at an easygoing pace, featuring some fine low-down slide guitar. McKinley began singing gospel in The Golden Four Quartet and joined The Wings of Victory two years later, where he sang and played guitar. From there he became a one-man band and played at local shows that ranged from jails to fish fries to weddings and funerals. "I was here, there and everywhere, just like Old MacDonald's farm," McKinley recalled with a laugh. In 1955, several well-known bluesmen including Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed played in Tuskegee. McKinley was inspired to make a go at a blues career. Work was hard to find but he was able to get gigs singing 15 minute spots on local radio programs. In 1965, he joined a federal adult-education program and ended up playing "Tuskegee Boogie" at his class graduation party. He'd written the song in 1962 about Tuskegee's first black sheriff, Lucious Amerson and his personal war on public drunkenness.
When the teachers saw how much the audience like the song, they decided to arrange a recording session in Columbus, GA which McKinley raised the $250 to pay for. He recorded "Tuskegee Boogie" and "Ain't Gonna Pick No Cotton" which were released as a 45 on the Tomahawk label. McKinley strapped all 500 copies to his bicycle and rode around selling them for 50 cents each in Tuskegee, Notasulga and Opelika. In 1973 he recorded another 4, "Misunderstanding b/w A Closer Talk" which was distributed locally, but neither record was picked up by a larger label. Despite that, McKinley became a prominent musician in the region and played many times at the Chattahoochee Folk Festival in Columbus, GA.
|Read Liner Notes|
Little is known about Leroy Washington, who recorded several sessions between 1957 and 1961 for Jay Miller. He was recalled by Miller as perhaps his favorite blues guitarist. He only released a handful of sides, however, he had recorded a considerable legacy of material for Miller, which had lain unissued for decades. As Bruce Bastin wrote: "Like another fine Miller guitarist, Guitar Gable, Leroy Washington was from Opelousas. …Washington's polite, easy-going nature and keenness to record made him a highly suitable artist for Miller, who carefully built up his artist's sessions, in order to create a satisfactory potential "hit' record. Three couplings submitted by Miller to Ernie Young of the Nashboro Record Co. saw release on his Excello label in 1958-59 but Miller clearly submitted material which did not find favor." Today we play "Hello Stranger" and "Woman Are Trouble" from 1959, both unissued at the time.
I've played Robert Wilkins often on the show and today we contrast one of his pre-war songs with one of his post-war recordings. Wilkins passed away in 1987 and it's a shame he made so few recordings in his later years. He did make one of the great albums of the blues revival, Memphis Gospel Singer cut in 1963 for the Piedmont label and sadly never issued on CD (it was reissued on vinyl in 1984 on the Origin Jazz Library label.) Andy Cohen has been threatening to issue this on CD with bonus tracks but that was announced several years ago and I have no idea what the current status is. There's a few other scattered tracks available including some live cuts from the Newport Blues Festival and the 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival plus excellent sides on the Biograph CD When I Lay My Burden Down and the Adelphi CD …Remember Me. I should also mention This Old World's In A Hell Of A Fix on Biograph which has four great Wilkins sides but like the Piedmont this is long out of print.
I've always been intrigued by topical songs and and field recordings and we play both today. Awhile back I played songs by Lawrence Gellert off the album Negro Songs of Protest issued on Rounder in the 70's. Today we spin three from the follow-up album Cap'n You're So Mean, issued by Rounder in the 80's. According to Gellert's notes some of these recordings were recorded in Greenville, South Carolina in 1924. It seems likely that these recordings are actually from the 30's although according to eyewitnesses Gellert was indeed recording in South Carolina in 1924. Other recordings hail from Atlanta, Georgia and date from 1928 through 1932. As one reviewer noted: "The most interesting thing about these two albums was the outspokenness of the songs against authority. Gellert was accepted as an insider in the African American communities in which he worked and was able to record protest songs that eluded other collectors of the time." The Document label has also issued some of this material on the CD Field Recordings Vol. 9: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky 1924 – 1939. Many of Gellert's recordings have yet to be issued.
We play a couple of more modern protest songs with Johnny Shines' "Blood Ran Like Wine" and J.B. Lenoir's "Everybody Is Crying About Vietnam" both about the Vietnam war. These songs come from companion CD's to a fascinating series of books written by Guido Van Rijn; Roosevelt's Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR, The Truman and Eisenhower Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs, 1945-1960, Kennedy’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on JFK , President Johnson's Blues: African American Blues and Gospel Songs on LBJ, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and Vietnam 1963-1968 and the just published The Nixon and Ford Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on Vietnam, Watergate, Civil Rights and Inflation 1969-1976.
We spotlight a batch of fine field recordings from the 60's, 70's and 80's. The 70's is generally considered a down period for the blues which may be true commercially but there was terrific field recordings being made by folks like Pete Lowry, Kip Lornell and George Mitchell among others, and in 1980 an ambitious field trip conducted by a pair of German blues fans. One of the artists they recorded was Guitar Slim who hailed from Greensboro, North Carolina. He recorded Greensboro Rounder for Flyright in the 1970's . He was accomplished on six and twelve string and a fine piano player to boot. He made final batch of sides in 1980 as part of the Living Country Blues USA series, recordings made by two young German blues enthusiasts, Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann who came to America with the idea to document the remaining country blues tradition. Additional recordings by Slim have been issued on a CD called Walkin' Boogie which also features sides by Memphis Piano Red.
Pete Lowry called Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) "One of the most spontaneous musicians around; right up there with Lightnin' Hopkins, maybe more so." He cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the album long out-of-print Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) which is where our selection comes from and a final album for Lowry's Trix label, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975.
From the 1960's we play Lovey Williams' "Going Away Blues" from the album Bothered All The Time (Southern Culture, 1983) which collects field recordings made in Mississippi in 1968 by William Ferris. Ferris did some good field work in Mississippi in he 1960's preserved on some fine long out-out of-print records like Mississippi Folk Voices (Southern Culture, 1983), James 'Son' Thomas: Highway 61 Blues (Southern Culture, 1983) and James 'Son' Thomas, Lee Kizart & Lovey Williams: The Blues Are Alive
|Read Liner Notes: Pt. 1 – Pt. 2 – Pt. 3|
And Well (XTRA, 1970). Some of his field recordings were issued on a companion CD to his most recent book Give My Poor Heart Ease – Voices Of The Mississippi Blues. In addition Ferris has written several books including the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture nominated for the Pulitzer prize and and Blues from the Delta.
As listeners know I always like to dredge up rare and hard to find records for the show. In that vein we spotlight some tough R&B tracks from the Krazy Kat album Forth Worth Shuffle – Texas RNB 1958-1964, a pair from the Arhoolie record Blues N' Trouble Vol. 2 including "Turn Loose My Tongue" a tremendous piano workout from Texas piano man Robert Shaw and James Brewer's rendition of "Big Road Blues" from Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle a collection of live tracks cut at the famous club in 1963.