Sun 27 Nov 2011
|Earl Gilliam||Petite Baby||Sarg Records Anthology: South Texas 1954-1964|
|Earl Gilliam||Wrong Doing Woman||Sarg Records Anthology: South Texas 1954-1964|
|Mississippi John Hurt||Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me||Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt|
|Mississippi John Hurt||Richland Woman Blues||Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt|
|Ramblin' Hi Harris||I Haven't Got A Home||The Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Vol. 55|
|Morris "Big" Chenier||I Wanna Know I Know Now||Goldband Blues Collection Pt. 3|
|Left Handed Charlie Morris||You Thrill Me||Goldband Blues Collection Pt. 2|
|Jed Davenport||Jug Blues||Memphis Shakedown|
|Memphis Jug Band||Going Back To Memphis||Memphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stompers|
|Minnie Wallace||Let's All Do That Thing||Memphis Shakedown|
|Howlin' Wolf||I'm Leaving You (Alternate Take)||Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960|
|Howlin' Wolf||My People's Gone||Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960|
|Skip James||No Special Lover||Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond|
|Lightnin' Hopkins||Up On Telegraph (Avenue)||Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond|
|Mance Lipscomb||Mean Boss Man||Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond|
|Johnny Sayles||Food Stamps Pt. 1||The Johnny Sayles Story|
|Good Time Charlie (Charles Taylor)||Welfare Blues||President Ford's Blues 1974-1976|
|B.B. Odom & The Earbenders||The World's In Trouble||President Ford's Blues 1974-1976|
|Kid Cole||Sixth Street Moan||Rare Country Blues Vol. 3 1928-1936|
|George Torey||Married Woman Blues||Blues Images Vol. 3|
|Blind Willie McTell||Travelin' Blues||The Classic Years 1927-1940|
|Memphis Slim||Cold Blooded Woman||Savoy Blues 1944-1994|
|Sonny Boy Williamson II||Can't Do Without You||The Chess Years Box Set|
|Mighty Joe Young||Why Baby||N.Y. Wild Guitars|
|Big Joe Williams||Hand Me Down My Old Walking Stick||Hand Me Down My Old Walking Stick|
|John Dudley||Clarksdale Mill Blues (previously unissued version)||I'll Be So Glad When The Sun Goes Down|
|Babe Stovall||Woman Blues||Babe Stovall|
|Blind Willie Johnson||The Rain Don't Fall On Me||The Rain Don't Fall On Me: Country Blues 1927-1952|
|Hattie Hart||Coldest Stuff in Town||Memphis Blues 1927-1938|
|Bessie Jackson||That's What My Baby Likes||The Essential|
|K.C. Douglas||Hear Me Howling||Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond|
|K.C. Douglas||Had I Money||Deadbeat Guitar And The Mississippi Blues|
We've had a run of interesting theme shows in the past few week and this time we take a pause with a mix show. We open today on a sad note with a pair of tracks from Houston stalwart Earl Gilliam. Also on deck we spotlight the following recent collections: Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond, Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt, Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 and President Ford's Blues 1974-1976. In addition we spin a trio of fine artists from Louisiana, a batch of vintage Memphis blues and some outstanding country blues sides both pre-war and post-war.
We open up with "Petite Baby" and "Wrong Doing Woman", two fine sides Earl Gilliam recorded back in 1955. Pianist Earl Gilliam passed away on Wednesday, October 20, 2011. He was part of the Houston blues scene for the past 60 years. Over the years, Gilliam would become known as Houston's premiere blues pianist, and he performed alongside such greats as Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert King, Albert Collins, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes, among many others. By 17 Gilliam landed a gig playing the Eldorado Ballroom with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. He cut a four song session for the Sarg label in 1955 backed by Lucian Davis & His Orchestra and cut one side for the Ivory label in 1962. Gilliam also led his own band, performing frequently in Houston clubs throughout the 1990's and 2000's. Gilliam only released one album under his own name, 2005's excellent Texas Doghouse Blues for the Dialtone label. I recall playing this one quite a bit when it first came out and even got an opportunity to interview Gilliam.
We feature four tracks today from the superb Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond, an anthology of recordings made by Chris Strachwitz in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1954 and 1971 in the early days of his Arhoolie record label. Arranged chronologically over four discs and 72 tracks, and packaged with a 136-page hardcover book, these sides (many of them previously unreleased) were recorded at coffeehouses, festivals, and living rooms, and sometimes in studios. When performers came through the area, Strachwitz would tape them at a show, at a party, or in somebody’s home – often his own. He wound up with more material than he could release at the time. Some of the leftovers, collected for the first time, are stunning. We hear tracks from Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb, clearly among Strachwitz' favorites, plus the gorgeous "No Special Lover" one of several Skip James tracks from 1965 and the title track by K.C. Douglas.
Speaking of K.C. Douglas we also play his "Had I Money" from the album Deadbeat Guitar And The Mississippi Blues (subtitled Street corner blues 'bout women and automobiles). I've always been intrigued by this album which was states that this material was "collected" by Sam Eskin in Oakland in 1952. The album was issued possibly in 1954 or maybe 1956 which would make it one of the earliest blues records issued that wasn't a reissue of older material. As for Eskin, he was a folklorist who made field recordings between 1939 and 1969 and during this period made many cross-country trips from New York to California where he recorded American folk music. Beginning in 1950 he made recordings abroad in Mexico, Israel, Spain and the British Isles. Eskin's recordings and notes are now housed at the Library of Congress. Other artists he recorded include Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Leadbelly.
This has been a good year for Mississippi John Hurt. Earlier this year so the publication of the biography Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues and now we get Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt, a collection of previously unissued recordings. In in 1963 guitarist and blues fanatic Thomas Hoskins rapped on the door of a small house in rural Mississippi. Inside the house Hoskins found found an amiable, humble man, who farmed to make a living. John Hurt was surrounded by family and friends. He hadn't owned a guitar in years, and was amazed that a young white man had sought him out 35 years after his last recording sessions. Hoskins gave Hurt his guitar and turned on his reel to reel recorder. On Discovery Hurt plays several of the songs from his 1928 sessions as well as some others that later became staples of his folk festival repertoire including "Let The Mermaids Flirt With" and "Richland Woman Blues" both featured today. Overall sound quality is surprisingly good considering the source and Hurt is much less polished then his studio recordings. All in all a fascinating document from the dawn of the blues revival. It's hard to believe that within a few year Hurt, Bukka White, Skip James and Son House would all be back in circulation. Amazing times.
|Read Liner Notes|
Two other collections featured today: Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 and President Ford's Blues 1974-1976. The Wolf collection is a 97-track, four-disc limited-edition box set containing everything the Wolf cut in his first decade of recording. President Ford's Blues is a companion CD to the book The Nixon and Ford Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on Vietnam, Watergate, Civil Rights and Inflation 1969-1976. Guido van Rijn has written four previous books on topical blues and gospel songs. Good Time Charlie's (Charles Taylor) "Welfare Blues" is a funky slab of 70's blues while B.B. Odom & The Earbenders deliver the tough "The World's In Trouble." Although from a different collection we also hear Johnny Sayles "Food Stamps Pt. 1", another hard hitting topical number.
We head down to Louisiana to hear records from the Lake Charles based Goldband label and a recording by legendary producer J.D. Miller. Goldband was formed by Eddie Shuler in 1945. In the early 1950's Shuler established the Goldband complex – including recording studio, record store, and TV store in Lake Charles, and began recording all genres of music, including R&B, blues, country, rock and roll, swamp pop and Cajun. Hit recordings included Boozoo Chavis' "Paper in My Shoe" (1954) and the company's biggest seller, Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love" (1959). The label recorded a fair bit of blues including sides by Clarence Garlow, Juke Boy Bonner, Hop Wilson and today's selections from Morris "Big" Chenier and Left Handed Charlie Morris. Of Miller, Bruce Bastion wrote: "Close to South Louisiana bayou country, Crowley is the home of J.D. Miller's studio, responsible as much as any other factor for the sound we now know as the moody, loping blues of the Louisiana swamps. Many completely unknown artists found fleeting fame through Miller's recordings and through the Excello issues of his recordings, he helped support one of the most consistent blues labels of the 1950's." Today we spin "I haven't Got A Home" by the mysterious Ramblin' Hi Harris who waxed just three sides for Jay Miller that were unissued at the time.
We head to Memphis for a fine set of vintage blues by the Memphis jug Band, Jed Davenport and Minnie Wallace. Davenport came from a tent show and medicine show background. Davenport cut around a dozen sides as leader between 1929-30. Wallace Cut six sides at sessions, plus several unissued sides, in 1929 and 1935 backed by members of the Memphis Jug Band.
I remember picking up the album Praise God I'm Satisfied by Blind Willie Johnson on Yazoo over twenty years and it was one of those albums that made a huge impression on me. I suppose I was more interested in his slide numbers that I overlooked today's featured track, the beautiful, "The Rain Don't Fall On Me" with second vocal by Johnson's wife Willie B. Harris. The track comes from an album on the Mississippi label that a friend gave me called The Rain Don't Fall On Me: Country Blues 1927-1952. The Mississippi label reissues an an eclectic mix of music strictly on vinyl including some interesting blues collections.
I also want to mention a great post-war recording by John Dudley. In early October 1959 Alan Lomax recorded an inmate named John Dudley in the "Dairy Camp" portion of the Mississippi prison camp known as Parchman Farms. Our selection, an unissued version of "Clarksdale Mill Blues", is a cover of Charley Patton's "Moon Going Down." Only three songs were issued but several others remain unreleased. This version comes from the album I’ll Be So Glad When the Sun Goes Down issued on the Mississippi label. Lomax didn't give us much information on Dudley: "Lastly, in John Dudley's blues, we meet a country musician of the sophisticated, yet completely folk, tradition of the 1930's. Dudley and Robert Johnson both come from Tunica County, Mississippi and belong to the same school." In all Dudley recorded the following numbers: "Clarksdale Mill (2 takes)", "You Got a Mean Disposition","Big Road Blues", "Cool Drink of Water Blues (2 takes)", "Poor Boy Blues", "I'm Gonna Move To Kansas City" and an interview about "playing guitar at dances."