|Beans Hambone||Beans||Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37|
|Willie Walker||South Carolina Rag||Mama Let Me Lay It On You 1926-1936|
|Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley||Every Day In The Week Blues||Times Ain't Like They Used to Be Vol. 4|
|Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley||Gonna Tip Out Tonight||Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37|
|Robert Higgins||Prison Blues (Cold Iron Bed)||Field Recordings Vol. 2 1926-1943|
|Unknown||I've Been Pickin' And Shovellin'||Nobody Knows My Name: Blues From South Carolina & Georgia|
|Unknown||Nobody Knows My Name||Nobody Knows My Name: Blues From South Carolina & Georgia|
|Floyd Council||I'm Grievin' And I'm Worryin'||Carolina Blues 1937-1945|
|Floyd Council||Poor And Ain't Got A Dime||Carolina Blues 1937-1945|
|Lil' McClintock||Sow Good Seeds||Blues Images Vol. 10|
|Cedar Creek Sheik||I Believe Somebody's Been Ridin' My Mule||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
|Roosevelt Antrim||I Guess You're Satisfied||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
|Julius Daniels||Richmond Blues||Trouble Hearted Blues 1927-1944|
|Julius Daniels||Ninety-Nine Year Blues||When The Sun Goes Down|
|Richard & Willie Trice||Let Her Go God Bless Her||Carolina Blues 1937-1945|
|Willie Trice||Trembling Bed Springs||Carolina Blues 1937-1945|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Three Ball Blues||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind||Blind Boy Fuller: Remastered 1935-1938|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Funny Feeling Blues||Blind Boy Fuller: Remastered 1935-1938|
|Lillie Knox||Got the Keys to the Kingdom||Deep River Of Song: South Carolina - Got The Keys To The Kingdom|
|Blind Gussie Nesbit||Pure Religion||Guitar Evangelists Vol.2|
|Jack Gowdlock||Rollin Dough Blues||Stuff That Dreams are Made Of|
|Sonny Terry||Forty-Four Whistle Blues||Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48|
|Sonny Terry||The Red Cross Store||Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48|
|Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry||Knockabout Blues (Carolina Blues)||Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48|
|Unknown||6 Months Ain't No Sentence||Nobody Knows My Name: Blues From South Carolina & Georgia|
|Arthur Anderson||If You Want To Make A Preacher Cuss||Field Recordings Vol. 9|
|Wheeler Bailey & Preston Fulp||Never Let Your Deal Go Down||Field Recordings Vol. 9|
|Josh White||Black & Evil Blues||Josh White 1929-33|
|Josh White||Greenville Sheik||Josh White 1929-33|
|Rev. Gary Davis||I Saw The Light||Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949|
|Rev. Gary Davis||You Got To Go Down||Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949|
|Sonny Jones||Won't Somebody Pacify My Mind||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
|Bull City Red||Black Woman & Poison Blues||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
|Brother George And His Sanctified Singers||I Feel Like Shoutin'||Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2|
The Carolinas had a rich pre-war blues tradition with several fine blues artists from South and North Carolina making commercial recordings plus some notable recordings made in the field. Today's show is the first of two-parts, with next week's program covering the post-war era. From South Carolina several bluesman emerged from Greenville. Greenville had a string band tradition before WWI out which of came superb guitarists Gary Davis and Willie Walker. Another fine guitarist from Greenville was Josh White. Some forty miles away was Spartanburg whose best known bluesman was Pink Anderson who first recorded in 1930. Some sixty miles away was Union County which boasted several fine bluesman, most who didn't record until the post-war era such as Arthur "Peg Leg" Sam Jackson, Baby Tate and Henry Johnson. One who did record in the pre-war era was Blind Gussie Nesbit who shared a session for Victor with local musician named Jack Gowdlock in Charlotte in 1931. Also recorded at this session was South Carolina born James Albert who recorded as Beans Hambone. The Cedar Creek Sheik was from South Carolina as well, and recorded in Charlotte in 1936. Lil' McClintock was from Clinton, some forty miles from Spartanburg. Charlotte became a major recording center for Victor/RCA with numerous recording sessions between 1927 and 1938. One local Charlotte artist who didn't record at these sessions was Julius Daniels. The most famous and influential Carolina artist was undoubtedly Blind Boy Fuller. In Durham he developed a local following which included guitarists Floyd Council and Richard Trice, as well as harmonica player Sonny Terry and washboard player/guitarist Bull City Red. In addition to commercial recordings, field recordings in the Carolinas were captured by Alan Lomax, Edwin Kirkland and Lawrence Gellert.
We spotlight fine Greenville musicians including Gary Davis, Willie Walker and Josh White. Davis was an accomplished guitar player at an early age, supposedly playing in a string band at the age of fourteen in Greenville with legendary guitarist Willie Walker. By the late 20's Davis had moved to Durham. In 1935 storekeeper and talent scout J. B. Long, the manager of Blind Boy Fuller "discovered" Davis. "Oh, [Gary] could play the guitar up and down, any way in the world," he later recalled (from Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues). Davis exerted a considerable influence on Fuller. Davis and Fuller were among a group of Durham musicians Long escorted to New York City to record for ARC, the race music subsidiary of Columbia Records. Between July 23 and July 26 Davis recorded 15 sides (1 unissued): ten religious songs, and two blues numbers.
|Blind Boy Fuller|
Little is known of Willie Walker who was born in South Carolina in 1896 and was playing in a string band with Gary Davis as early as 1911. Among his contemporaries like Pink Anderson, Gary Davis and Josh White, he was considered to be the finest guitarist in the region. He recorded only two sides in 1930 for Columbia, "South Carolina Rag b/w Dupree Blues."
Josh White was born in Greenville in 1914. White left home with a blind, black street singer named Blind Man Arnold and later worked with Blind Joe Taggart, and in time White quickly mastered the varied guitar stylings of all his blind masters. While guiding Taggart in 1927, White arrived in Chicago, Illinois. Mayo Williams, a producer for Paramount Records, recognized White's talents and began using him as a session guitarist. White was signed to ARC in 1930 and moved to NYC where he began an extensive recording career.
Also from South Carolina we hear from Pink Anderson, Blind Gussie Nesbit, Jack Gowdlock, Lil' McClintock and James Albert AKA Beans. Pink Anderson, spent many years on the road with medicine shows and learned guitar from his early partner Simmie Dooley, and older musician who was born in 1881. They recorded four titles together in 1930 for Columbia. Anderson was born in South Carolina and toured throughout the Southeast mainly with William R. Kerr’s Indian Remedy, remaining with the show for some thirty years. He was employed not only as a musician and a singer but as a dancer and comedian. Anderson was extensively recorded by Sam Charters in 1961 resulting in three albums of material.Gussie Nesbit was a guitar evangelist from Spartanburg. His first recording session was in 1930 in Atlanta for Columbia. Four titles were recorded but only two were issued. Five years later he had his second and final session in New York City for Decca. Ten songs were recorded in one day, but only four made it onto shellac. Between his two sessions, Nesbit also recorded two duets with Jack Gowdlock for Victor in 1931. This was Gowdlock's only session, cutting four sides, two were unissued. Lil McClintock was from Clinton, SC, and traveled to Atlanta where he recorded four songs for Columbia on Dec. 4, 1930. Beans Hambone and his partner El Morrow cut one 78 in Charlotte, NC in 1931. His real name was James Albert who was born in South Carolina around 1880.
Performers traveled an informal circuit of cities across the Piedmont: Atlanta, Georgia; Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina; Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and others in between. They would take up residence in a city for several months until the area had been “played out,” and then move on. For several reasons, Charlotte became a key stop on this circuit. In 1927 Ralph Peer, executive of the Victor Talking Machine Company, began a series of southern recording trips that put his company at the forefront of pre-war country, blues, and gospel recording. He first recorded in Charlotte on August 9, 1927, returning in 1931, 1936, twice in 1937, once in 1938 and again in 1939.
One local Charlotte artist who didn't record at these sessions was Julius Daniels. Daniels was born in Denmark, South Carolina and lived in Pineville, North Carolina, from 1912 to 1930, when he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. He cut eight songs for Victor at two sessions in 1927 in Atlanta.
Unlike blues artists like Big Bill or Memphis Minnie who recorded extensively over three or four decades, Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. Fuller could play in multiple styles: slide, ragtime, pop, and blues were all enhanced by his National steel guitar. Fuller worked with some fine sidemen, including Gary Davis, Floyd Council, Sonny Jones, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and washboard player Bull City Red. Initially discovered and promoted by Carolina entrepreneur J. B. Long, Fuller recorded for ARC and Decca. He also served as a conduit to recording sessions, steering fellow blues musicians to the studio.
Floyd Council was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and began his career playing in the streets of Chapel Hill in the mid-20s with musical brothers Leo and Thomas Strowd. Floyd occasionally worked with Blind Boy Fuller in the ‘30s, which may have led to his first recording sessions. In late January 1937 ARC Records scout John Baxter Long heard him, playing alone on a street in Chapel Hill. Long invited Floyd to join Fuller on his third trip to New York. Floyd agreed, and a week later the three traveled to the city. During his second visit to New York in December, Floyd was used as a second guitar only. His solo tracks were later issued under the name ‘Blind Boy Fuller’s buddy’. In all he cut six sides under his own name and seven backing Fuller.
Willie Trice and his brother Richard became close friends with Blind Boy Fuller and Fuller took them up to New York where they cut six sides together (two unissued) for Decca in 1937. Richard Trice recorded after the war for Savoy in 1946 as Little Boy Fuller as well as a couple of sides in 1948 and 1952/53. Richard Trice was later recorded by Pete Lowry but those recordings remain unreleased. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Willie Trice recorded again. Blue And Rag’d, his sole album, was released on Pete Lowry's Trix label in 1973.
Sonny Terry was born in Greensboro, NC. He began traveling to nearby Raleigh and Durham, performing on street corners for tips. In 1934, he befriended Blind Boy Fuller who convinced Terry to move to Durham, where the two immediately gained a strong local following. Between 1937 and 1940 he backed Fuller on over two-dozen sides. A year later, Terry would be back in New York taking part in John Hammond's legendary Spirituals to Swing concert. Upon returning to Durham, Terry continued playing regularly with Fuller and also met his future partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, who would accompany Terry off and on for the next two decades.
|Lil McClintock Ad from John Teftteller's
2013 Blues Images Calendar
In late 1940 Brownie McGhee came into contact with washboard player Bull City Red who in turn introduced McGhee to J.B. Long. Long got him a recording contract with OKeh/Columbia in 1940; his debut session in Chicago produced a dozen tracks over two days. Long's principal blues artist, Blind Boy Fuller, died in 1941, precipitating Okeh to issue some of McGhee's early efforts under the alias of Blind Boy Fuller No. 2. McGhee cut a moving tribute song, "Death of Blind Boy Fuller," shortly after the passing. McGhee's third marathon session for OKeh in 1941 paired him for the first time with Sonny Terry.
Bull City Red, whose real name was George Washington, is best known as a sometimes sideman on washboard to the likes of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry, and Blind Gary Davis. Red led an otherwise blind group that included Fuller, Sonny Terry and, for a time, Blind Gary Davis as well, and with help from their manager, J.B. Long, landed a contract with Vocalion. At one point in their history, Red, Fuller, Terry, and guitarist Sonny Jones performed together as "Brother George and His Sanctified Singers," and made several recordings of gospel-themed material. Red cut more than a dozen sides showing off his skills as a singer and guitarist as well as on the washboard, between 1935 and 1939.
Those who recorded in the field in the Carolinas were Alan Lomax, Edwin Kirkland and Lawrence Gellert. Gellert was among the first to make recordings in the field in the 1920's, although the issued recordings are all from the 1930's. It wasn't until the 70's that his recordings were finally issued. Kirkland, and his wife Mary, made several hundred field recordings between 1935 and 1939 in Tennessee, the Carolinas, Kentucky and Georgia.