Sun 25 Mar 2012
|Lonnie Johnson||Another Night To Cry||American Folk Blues Festival 1962-65|
|Lonnie Johnson||Lonnie's Traveling Light||Spivey's Blues Parade|
|Lonnie Johnson||Mr. Blues Walks||Stompin' At The Penny|
|Lonnie Johnson||Bring It On Home To Mama||Stompin' At The Penny|
|Lonnie Johnson||Falling Rain Blues||Complete Folkways Recordings|
|Lonnie Johnson||I want To Talk To You||WHAT-FM Radio Broadcast|
|Valaida Snow||If you Don't Mean It||1940-1953|
|Valaida Snow||I Ain't Gonna Tell||1940-1953|
|Original Washboard Band & Julie Davis||Jasper Taylor Blues||Johnny Dodds 1927-1928|
|Original Washboard Band & Julie Davis||Geechie River Blues||Johnny Dodds 1927-1928|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Funny Feeling Blues||Blind Boy Fuller: Remastered 1935-1938|
|Dennis McMillon||Goin' Back Home||Down Home Blues Classics Vol.6: New York & The East Coast States|
|Bessie Smith||J.C. Holmes Blues||The Complete (Frog)|
|Lottie Kimbrough||Rolling Log Blues||I Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1|
|John Lee Hooker||How Can You Do It||The Classic Early Years 1948-1951|
|Lightnin' Hopkins||Don't Need No Job||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Eli Framer||God Didn't Make No Monkey Man||The Songster Tradition 1927-1935|
|Charlie Patton||Going To Move To Alabama||Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues|
|Sonny Boy Williamson II||Temperature 110||The Complete Chess Recordings|
|Sonny Boy Williamson II||Somebody Help Me||The Complete Chess Recordings|
|Eddie King Blues Band &. Mae Bee May||Buttermilk And Cornbread||The Blues Has Got Me|
First off I just want to thank those who've supported the show during our pledge drive. As we move into week two of the pledge drive I hope to hear from some more of you. Today's show is a mix show of sorts although we do have a short feature on Lonnie Johnson. Today we spotlight some late period Lonnie Johnson sides inspired by Mark Miller's new book, Way Down That Lonesome Road: Lonnie Johnson in Toronto, 1965-1970. In addition we'll play part of interview I did with Mark a couple of weeks back. Toronto was Lonnie Johnson’s last stop in a career of stops, at least the eighth city in which he lived for any length of time. Johnson traveled north for a brief appearance at the New Gate of Cleve in May 1965 and returned for a longer engagement at the Penny Farthing in June. Over the next five years — the last five years of his life — he rarely left the city again. In part a biographical study and in part a social history, Way Down That Lonesome Road follows Johnson from the generous welcome that he received from Toronto’s critics on his arrival and the successes and failures that followed.
Johnson's contract with King Records ended in 1952 and the rest of the 50's were a down time for him. He spent much of the decade outside of music working construction or toiling as a janitor. His fortunes changed with the assistance of Chris Albertson who got Johnson back on record and performing again. Between 1960 and 1962 he cut five albums for the Bluesville label, three of which were produced by Albertson, and showed that Johnson had lost little despite several years outside of music. He spent the early 1960's working a busy schedule that eventually took him back to Europe for the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival. As he said to Valerie Wilmer in 1963: "I have enough work now back in the States to do me for the next fifteen years." Despite the boast the second half of the 60's found Johnson scuffling and recording sparingly. The latter part of the 60's saw far fewer recordings; there were sides cut for the Folkways label in 1967, some scattered sides for Victoria Spivey's Spivey label and the album Stompin' At The Penny with the Metro Stompers. All of today's sides come from the 60's including a gorgeous version of "Another Night To Cry" recorded at the American Folk Blues Festival in 1963 and "I want To Talk To You" from a 1960 radio broadcast. The latter cut comes from Chris Albertson. In the 50's Albertson was a disc jockey at WHAT-FM a Philadelphia station that offered jazz around the clock, seven days a week . After meeting Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden, he wrote: "I also asked my newfound friends to appear live on my Sunday afternoon WHAT show, and they did that on several occasions. That was fifty years ago, but—and who says miracles don't happen—some of my airchecks have survived in the recesses of a closet.” Chris was kind of enough to let me air these recordings about a year ago and I thought it was fitting to revisit one of these recordings again.
In addition to the Lonnie Johnson book, Mark Miller has written several other books including High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm: The Life and Music of Valaida Snow. Mark was nice enough to send me a copy and also pointed me to two terrific blues numbers Snow waxed for Chess in 1953 which we spotlight today.
Raised on the road in a show-business family, she learned to play cello, bass, banjo, violin, mandolin, harp, accordion, clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone at professional levels by the time she was 15. She also sang and danced. After focusing on the trumpet, she quickly became so famous at the instrument that she was named "Little Louis" after Louis Armstrong, who used to call her the world's second best jazz trumpet player besides himself. She played concerts throughout the USA, Europe and China. Her most successful period was in the 1930s when she became the toast of London and Paris. Around this time she recorded her hit song, "High Hat, Trumpet, and Rhythm." She performed in the Ethel Waters show, "Rhapsody In Black", in New York. In the mid-30s she made films with her husband, Ananias Berry, of the Berry Brothers dancing troupe. After playing New York's Apollo Theater, she revisited Europe and the Far East for more shows and films. She cut dozens of sides between the early 30's and early 50's.
We have some other fine blues ladies on tap today including sides by Lottie Kimbrough, Bessie Smith and Julia Davis. Lottie Kimbrough was born in 1900 in Kansas City, Missouri, and enjoyed a recording career between the years 1924 to 1929. She was a famously large woman, nicknamed "the Kansas City Butter-ball", and throughout her career, she recorded and performed under several pseudonyms. She started performing professionally in the early 1920's singing in the city's red light district clubs and speakeasy's. She shared her first recording session for Paramount with the legendary Ma Rainey in 1924. In the same year there followed recording sessions for the Kansas City based Merrit Records, which was was owned by performer and promoter Winston Holmes. The two soon began to collaborate further, recording in Richmond, Indiana, and Holmes provided yodels, bird calls, and train whistles on the 1928 masterpieces "Lost Lover Blues" and "Wayward Girl Blues. She recorded prolifically during this period, recording for Gennett, using her own name, and under different other names she also recorded for Champion, Supertone and Superior. She made her final recordings in 1929 and by 1930 had disappeared from the Kansas City music scene.
Singer Julia Davis cut one 78 for Paramount in 1924 and onefinal terrific record in 1928, "Jasper Taylor Blues b/w Geechie River Blues", backed by the Original Washboard Band featured washboard player Jasper Taylor and the legendary Johnny Dodds on clarinet.
Also featured today is music from Eddie King who passed on March 14, 2012. Kingwas working with bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon, which lead to his first recordings playing second guitar on several Sonny Boy Williamson II sides in 1960. The next major period in his career was as lead guitarist with Koko Taylor for more than two decades. In 1969, he and bassist Bob Stroger formed Eddie King & the Kingsmen, a group that worked together off and on for the next 15 years, overlapping with the Taylor stint. King had two fine albums under his name: The Blues Has Got Me issued on the Dutch Double Trouble label on 1987 in partnership with his sister Mae Bee Mae and 1997's Another Cow's Dead which won a W.C. Handy Award for best comeback album of the year. Our selection, "Buttermilk And Cornbread", comes from the earlier record and is a fine reworking of Lucille Spann's "Country Girl." We also spin Sonny Boy Williamson's "Temperature 110" and "Somebody Help Me" from 1960 featuring King and Luther Tucker on guitars and Otis Spann on the piano.
-Listen to the Mark Miller/Lonnie Johnson Feature (edited, MP3, 49 min.)
-Listen to the Mark Miller/Lonnie Johnson Feature (edited, MP3, 49 min.)