Hazel MeyersI'm Every Man's Mama Hazel Meyers Vol. 1 1923-1924
Hazel MeyersMississippi BluesFemale Blues: The Remaining Titles 1921-1928
Boll Weavil Blues TrioThings Ain't What They Used To BeSouthside Screamers
Dixie Boy & His ComboOne More Drink Southside Screamers
Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band High Behind BluesMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classics
Big Joe Williams Mellow Apples The Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.2
Sister Rosetta Tharpe99 Half Won't DoSister Rosetta Tharpe Vol. 5 1953-1957
Sister Rosetta TharpeLet It ShineSister Rosetta Tharpe Vol. 5 1953-1957
Hound Dog Taylor Sitting Here AloneChess Blues Box
Big Walter HortonNeed My BabyBig Walter Horton: Blues Harmonica Giant
Johnny LittlejohnKeep On RunningSultans of Slide Guitar
Maggie Jones North Bound Blues Maggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
Maggie Jones Box Car Blues Maggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
Madlyn DavisWinter BluesFemale Blues Singers Vol. 5 1921-1928
Teddy Darby The Girl I Left BehindBlind Teddy Darby 1929-1937
Roosevelt SykesSouthern BluesRoosevelt Sykes Vol. 9 1947-1951
Boll Weavil Thinkin' BluesChicago Boogie! 1947
Sleepy John EstesHarlem BoundChicago Boogie! 1947
Cryin' Sam Collins It Won't Be Long Sam Collins 1927-31
Kokomo ArnoldDown and Out Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 2 1935-1936
Bumble Bee Sim12 O’clock Midnight Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 8 1937-1951
Larry DavisSweet Black AngelSweet Black Angel
Leroy Washington Don't Blame It On Me MamaWild Cherry
Jack Ranger T.P. Window Blues Dallas Alley Drag
Leroy CarrAlabama Women Blues Sloppy Drunk
Texas Bill Day Burn The Trestle Down Dallas Alley Drag
Walter Brown I'm Glad To Be BackWalter Brown 1945-47
Louis JordanOfay And Oxford GreyLouis Jordan & His Tympany Five: Chapter 4
David 'Honeyboy' EdwardsSpread My Raincoat DownBig Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Lightnin' HopkinsHouston BoundRemaining Titles: 1950-1961
Pete Johnson & Joe TurnerGoin' Away BluesRadio Broadcasts, Film Soundtracks, Alternate Takes 1939-1947
Pete Johnson Dive BomberRadio Broadcasts, Film Soundtracks, Alternate Takes 1939-1947

Show Notes:

Maggie Jones
Maggie Jones

A wide and diverse set of blues on tap today spanning the years 1924 through 1969. A bit of a running theme throughout today's show with several songs dealing with geography, some dealing with a sense of nostalgia for the South others taking the opposite view.  Along the way we'll hear from some fine blues ladies, a batch of excellent pre-war blues, some rare recordings courtesy of the St. George label, a pair of sides by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a pair of numbers featuring Pete Johnson, a set of vintage piano blues as well as some topical numbers.

It might be hard to believe to modern listeners but there were quite a number of blues songs that took a nostalgic view of the South.  In our opening set we spin two numbers by the obscure Hazel Meyers including "Mississippi Blues"from 1924 in which she sings:

Folks I'm feeling blue today
Gonna make my getaway
Down in Mississippi, that's where I long to be
Wanna wander there once more
'Long the Mississippi Shore
I miss Mississippi, Mississippi misses me

Meyers cut eighteen and a half 78's issued between 1923 and 1926, some of hem accompanied by major jazz figures, yet nothing seems to be known about her. Maggie Jones offers a similar sentiment in her wonderful "Box Car Blues" cut the same year:

 Every time I see a railroad track (2x)
Feel like riding, feel like going back
Catch a train that's headed for the South (2x)

In 1927 Madyln Davis and her Hot Shots cut "Winter Blues" which has Davis echoing the same sentiment: "I'm leaving Chicago but I'm not going to stay/I'm gonna back my trunk going back to Tennessee." Maggie Jones recorded thirty-eight songs between 1923 and 1926 and was billed as "The Texas Nightingale." In 1925 Jones cut "North Bound Blues" with very different view:

Got my trunk and grip all packed
Goodbye, I ain't coming back

Going to leave this Jim Crow town
Lord, sweet papa, New York bound

Got my ticket in my hand
And I'm leaving dixieland

Going north child, where I can be free (2x)
Where there's no hardships, like in Tennessee

Going where they don't have Jim Crow laws (2x)
Don't have to work there, like in Arkansas

When I cross the Mason Dixon Line (2x)
Goodbye old gal, yon mama's gonna fly

We jump up to 1937 to hear "The Girl I Left Behind" by Teddy Darby featuring piano by Roosevelt Sykes, one of Darby's finest numbers, a wistful, nostalgic song:

One Monday night and I had just laid down (2x)
I heard Roosevelt Sykes say 'Darby you are Chicago bound'
He put me in a V-8, and it was fairly flying (2x)
He was at the mind on Chicago,  I had my mine on the girl I left behind
When we hit Springfield I did not have much to say (2x)
But the boys were singing about Chicago, I was thinking about the other way

Darby was born in Henderson, Kentucky March 2, 1906 and brought to St. Louis at seven years old. At 15 he had his first taste of trouble when he "cut a boy with a razor" and was sent to a correctional institution. Released after 14 months he found work in a barrel factory until he lost his sight through glaucoma, around 1926. Another cutting incident over a woman saw him incarcerated in the city workhouse where he learned to play guitar from one Jesse Riley – "I really worked on the guitar; not much else a blind man could do then", he said. Riley taught him "Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues" while "My Leona" Darby composed for the girl he lost. On release he performed on the streets, at house-parties and at a gambling club. He first found his way into the recording studio in 1929, following with sessions in 1931, 1933, 1935 and 1937. After the Darby Song we move up to hear "Southern Blues" by Roosevelt Sykes cut in 1948: "

Well I'm going back down South
Where men are men, and woman are glad of it
Woh, woh I've got those Southern blues
Cotton prices going higher, and I got no time to lose
Chicago and Detroit, folks have you heard the news
Old Dixieland is jumping, I've got those Southern blues

Soutside ScreamersMoving up to the late 40's we spotlight two collections from the St. George label run by George Paulus (he also operated the Barrelhouse label): Southside Screamers and Chicago Boogie! 1947.These collections feature rare acetates, some made by Bernard Abrams who operated the Ora Nelle label. The Ora Nelle label which was founded in 1947 by Abrams who operated Maxwell Street Radio and Record shop located at 831 Maxwell Street. Two 78's were released; "I Just Keep Loving Her" (Ora Nelle 711) and "Money Taking Woman" (Ora Nelle 712). The label's name supposedly came from Walter's girlfriend. These were Walter's first recordings. Additional recordings were made by Jimmy Rogers (also his first), Boll Weavil, Sleepy John Estes, Johnnie Temple which were not released at the time. Boll Weevil (Willie McNeal) cut a pair of acetates for the label circa 1947-48, including "Christmas Time Blues" b/w "Thinkin' Blues" and as the Boll Weavil Blues Trio cut "Things Ain't What They Used To Be b/w Streamline Woman"  in 1956 for  the Club 51 label. A letter from Bill Greensmith to Blues & Rhythm magazine  #45 describes this Club 51 "metal dub" with the purple-on-white stick-on label carrying some typed information.

We feature a couple of topical numbers today by Louis Jordan and Walter Brown. The fascinating song "Ofay And Oxford Grey" was from a 1945 New York radio broadcast. Jordan sang this song at gigs at the time, but it was too controversial to be released on record. It was not publicly available until it appeared on a CD of Jordan's radio broadcasts in 1990. It was played live at the Hotel Zanzibar Nightclub and sent by wire to the radio station, and the radio station recorded it live on a 16 inch transcription disc. Jordan was well ahead of the curve on this number:

I'm a fella who wants to say
Discrimination has gone its way
So let's all smile and just be gay
There's no line between ofay and oxford grey
Now soon in the Wedgewood room
The band'll be jumpin' with a solid tune

If you hep to the jive
You know ofay means white
And oxford grey means colored they say
And believe me they're alright

Piano keys are black and white
They make the harmony that is right
So don't be square and don't delay
he blending of ofay and oxford gray

Teddy Darby: The Girl I Left BehindWalter Brown's 1945 number "I'm Glad To Back" is one of many numbers celebrating those just back from the war.

We pay tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe with a pair of of later period cuts from 1956 and 1957.  Tharpe has just gotten some mainstream exposure with a feature on the PBS American Masters Series called Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll. I haven't seen the feature yet but I'm a huge fan of Tharpe's. It wasn't all that long ago when she wasn't all that well served on reissues but now it seems most of her output is available. There's the excellent 4-CD set The Original Soul Sister on Proper which spans the years 1938 though 1949, the French Fremeaux & Associes label which to date has issued seven 2-CD collections that chart Tharpe's recordings through 1961 as well a a few live recordings available.

We close the program with two cuts featuring the great pianist Pete Johnson. Both tracks comes from the excellent Document collection Pete Johnson Radio Broadcasts, Film Soundtracks, Alternate Takes 1939 – c.1947. As Axel Zwingenberger writes in the notes: "This compilation, gives the overall impression of a player who had good knowledge of harmonic structures, great command of rhythm and plenty of experience of swinging along with high caliber Jazz musicians." Today we spin the radio broadcasts "Goin' Away Blues" featuring Big Joe Turner and the rollicking instrumental "Dive Bomber."