George Higgs Katie Mae BluesUnreleased
George Higgs Skinny Woman BluesUnreleased
Eddie Burns Papa' Boogie Detroit Ghetto Blues 1948-1954
Eddie Burns SuperstitionTreat Me Like I Treat You

Eddie Burns Biscuit Bakin' Mama Treat Me Like I Treat You

Sam Collins Dark And Cloudy BluesJailhouse Blues
William HarrisI'm Leavin' Town(But I Sho Don't Wanna Go)The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Johnnie HeadFare Thee Blues Part 2Country Blues Collector's Items 1924 - 1928
The Two Charlies Don't Put Your Dirty Hands On Me Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935 - 1937

The Two Charlies Bad Feeling Blues Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935 - 1937
Effie Smith Wee Baby Brother BluesEffie Smith 1945- 53
Cecil GantMy House Fell DownCecil Gant Vol. 5 1947-1949
Ray Charles I Got A Break BabyComplete Atlantic recordings
Lonnie Clark Broke Down EngineDown In Black Bottom
Pinetop BurksJack of All Trades BluesSan Antonio Blues 1937
Barrelhouse Buck Got To Go BluesDevil At The Confluence
Jackie Brenston The Blues Got Me AgainThe Mistreater
Jackie Brenston Much LaterThe Mistreater
Jelly Roll MortonMake Me a Pallet on the Floor Pt. 2 The Complete Library of Congress Recordings
Willie Brown Make Me a Pallet on the Floor Mississippi Blues: Library of Congress Recordings 1940-1942
Bill WilliamsMake Me a Pallet on the Floor Low and Lonesome & Blues, Rags and Ballads
Willy Flowers Levee Camp Holler Red River Blues
Sonny Chestain Po' Boy Long Way From Home Red River Blues
Otis Spann Country BoyComplete Candid recordings
Sonny Boy Williamson II Open RoadBummer Road
Big Mama Thornton I'm Feeling AlrightBall N' Chain
Alice Moore w/ Kokomo Arnold Grass Cutter Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936 - 1937
Merline Johnson Pallet On The FloorThe Yas Yas Girl Vol. 1 1937-1938
Lillian Glinn Atlanta BluesLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Eddie Burns Orange DriverTreat Me Like I Treat You
Eddie Burns Hard Hearted Woman Treat Me Like I Treat You

Show Notes:

***Just a quick update regarding George Higgs. I erroneously reported that he had passed which I'm glad today is not the case. Tim Duffy, who recorded George, passed along the news.***

Eddie Burns

We open the first show of the year on a somber note with several blues deaths. On today's program we pay tribute to the recently departed George Higgs and Eddie Burns. We also lost the legendary Jimmy McCracklin who I'll be spotlighting in-depth next week. Also on deck today are twin spins by the mysterious Two Charlies and a pair by fine singer Jackie Brenston backed by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. There's plenty of excellent piano blues from the pre-war and post-war eras including Pinetop Burks, Lonnie Clark, Cecil Gant, Ray Charles, Otis Spann, some fine blues ladies such as Alice Moore, Lillian Glinn, Merline Johnson and Effie Smith and a batch of songs revolving around the blues standard "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor."

George Higgs was born in 1930 in a farming community in Edgecombe County near Speed, North Carolina (“a slow town with a fast name” as he is fond of saying.) and was a fine guitar and harp player in the Piedmont tradition. Throughout the 40’s and 50’s he was a popular performer at fish fries and house parties and later on performed gospel with a local quartet. Pete Lowry recorded him and partner Elester Anderson extensivley in 1979 but these sides remain unreleased. In the early 2000's he cut a pair of albums for the Music Maker label. Today's two cut were graciously sent to me by Pete Lowry and have not be released in any form before.

Eddie Burns passed on December 12th at the age of 84. Born in Belzoni, Mississippi, he grew up in the small town of Dublin, close to Clarksdale, where he became acquainted with the popular blues artists of the 30s and 40s by hearing their records in his grandfather's club. Burns left home at 16 and, after a spell in Clarksdale, moved to Waterloo, Iowa then to Detroit in 1948. At a house party he met John Lee Hooker. Burns went along to a recording session with Hooker and played harmonica on "Miss Eloise" and "Burnin' Hell." Hooker, in turn, accompanied Burns at a 1951 session but these recordings would not be issued until many years later. Burns was also developing as a guitarist, and in 1966, when he and Hooker were reunited on Hooker's Chess album The Real Folk Blues, he played guitar throughout. Burns made his debut in 1948 and through the 50's cut sides for JVB, Deluxe and Chess. He continued to cut scattered singles through the 60's. Thanks to the new international blues audience of the 1970s, Burns had the opportunity to visit Europe several times. Burns cut his last album for Delmark in 2001. Among today's featured tracks are "Papa's Boogie," his 1948 debut, a harmonica/guitar duet recorded by Bernie Bessman and leased to the Holiday label which issued it under the pseudonym Slim Pickens. We also spin both sides of his superb Checker single from 1954, "Superstition b/w Biscuit Baking Mama" (released as Big Ed and his Combo) and both sides of his 1961 Harvey single, "Orange Driver b/w Hard Hearted Woman."

The Two Charlies were Charlie Manson & Charlie Jordan who cut eight sides for the ARC label in 1936. Today we spin "Don't Put Your Dirty Hands On Me" and "Bad Feeling Blues." Nothing is known about the duo. It's generally accepted that Charlie Jordan of the Two Charlies has no connection with Charley Jordan of St. Louis.

Sam Phillips produced "Rocket 88," Jackie Brenston's debut in Memphis. The singer/saxist was backed by Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm, an group that Brenston had joined the previous year. Billed as by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, "Rocket 88" hit the top slot on brenston-much-ltrthe R&B charts and remained there for more than a month. But none of his Chess follow-ups had the same impact, though "Real Gone Rocket" was certainly a good one. After a few more Chess singles went nowhere, Brenston reunited with Turner in 1955, holding down the baritone sax chair until 1962. He cut a series of terrific sides fronting Turner's Kings of Rhythm along the way: "Gonna Wait for My Chance" and "Much Later" for Federal in 1956, "You've Got to Lose" for Chicago's Cobra label in 1958 (also doing session work there with Otis Rush and Buddy Guy), and "You Ain't the One" for Sue in 1961. After a final single for Mel London's Mel-Lon imprint, Brenston's career ran out of steam.

"Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" is a song, according to the Encyclopedia of the Blues, that most likely dates from the end of the nineteenth century. Its earliest known appearance is in the 1908 piano ragtime composition "Southern Rag Medley No. 1" by black concert pianist Blind Boone. The lyrics first appear in a 1911 article by folklorist Howard Odum who had transcribed them from a performance he had heard in Mississippi a few years before. The first recording to quote the melody was a 1917 Columbia disk by W. C. Handy’s band of "Sweet Child." It was Handy who first published a song version of "Make Me a Pallet" in 1923 and retitled ‘‘Atlanta Blues.’’ This version was recorded by several blues singers including Lillian Glinn who's version we feature today. In the later 1920's,"Make Me a Pallet" appeared in blues recordings by Ethel Waters, Virginia Liston, Mississippi John Hurt (as "Ain't No Tellin'"), Willie Harris (as "Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door") among others. There were many versions in the post-war era as well. Today we spin versions by Jelly Roll Morton, who cut a four-part version for the Library of Congress in 1938, each successive version dirtier than the previous, a  magnificent 1941 version by Willie Brown also cut for the  Library of Congress and a post-war version by Bill Williams a one-time running buddy of Blind Blake.

The West Coast had a thriving blues and jazz scene in the 1940’s and 50’s with most of the activity centering around the Los Angeles, Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco Bay areas. There were several strains of blues that rose to prominence including a moody, after hours brand of piano blues popularized by the inimitable Charles Brown. Brown’s influence was profound, setting the stage for fellow pianists like Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Little Willie Littlefield, Ivory Joe Hunter, Roy Hawkins and Cecil Gant among others . There's was also something of a trend circa the mid to late 40's of boogie- woogie blues ladies, most based around the Los Angles area. Among those active during this period were Camille Howard, Betty Hall Jones,  Hadda Brooks, Vivianne Green, Effie Smith among others. Today we hear from Cecil Gant and Effie Smith.

Gant was a first rate ballad singer in the vein of Nat King Cole and Charles Brown but he was also a superb bluesman who could lay down some storming boogie-woogie. Gant recorded prolifically for the L.A. labels Gilt-Edge and 4 Star and in Nashville, which was probably his hometown, for Bullet, Dot and Decca, meanwhile playing in nightclubs throughout the country. Between 1944 and 1951 he waxed over 150 sides before his untimely death in 1951 at the age of 38. Today we spin "My House Fell Down" from 1950, a terrific bluesy number sporting fine guitar from an unknown guitarist.

Willie Brown: Make Me A Pallet On The FloorDuring WWII Effie Smith had been featured on several AFRS "Jubilee" radio transcriptions and, after touring with Benny Carter's Orchestra in early 1945, her own solo recording career began with sides for the G&G and Gem labels, with small bands organised by Johnny Otis. Smith went on to record for Aladdin, Miltone, an unissued session for Modern, and then Decca. Smith didn't get any Billboard R&B chart action until the 1960's, when two of her own, self-produced comedy records made the charts: the two-part "Dial That Telephone." During the late 1960's and early 1970's she was employed by Stax Records to handle promotion work, behind the scenes, until her premature death in 1977 in Los Angeles, from cancer. Her early sides can be found on Effie Smith 1945- 53 on the Classics label.