|Thunder Smith||Santa-Fe Blues||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|Thunder Smith||Low Down Dirty Ways||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Thunder Smith||Can't Do Like You Used To||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|L.C. Williams||Strike Blues||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|L.C. Williams||You'll Never Miss the Water||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|L.C. Williams||Fannie Mae||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Manny Nichols||Walking Talking Blues||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Manny Nichols||No One to Love Me||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Manny Nichols||Forgive Me||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Ernest Lewis||In My Girlish Days||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Ernest Lewis||West Coast Blues||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Ernest Lewis||No More Lovin'||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Little Son Willis||Skin And Bone||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Little Son Willis||Nothing But The Blues||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Little Son Willis||Bad Luck And Trouble||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Thunder Smith||Big Stars Are Falling||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|Thunder Smith||Cruel Hearted Woman||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Thunder Smith||Little Mama Boogie||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|L.C. Williams||The Lazy J||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|L.C. Williams||Hole in the Wall||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|L.C. Williams||Boogie All the Time||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|Luther Stoneham||January 11, 1949 Blues||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Luther Stoneham||Sittin' Here Wonderin'||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|James Tisdom||Winehead swing||Hollywood Blues|
|James Tisdom||Throw This Dog A Bone||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|J.D. Edwards||Playboy Blues||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|J.D. Edwards||Hobo||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Perry Cain||All The Way From Texas||Texas Blues (Bill Quinn's Gold Star Recordings)|
|Andy Thomas||Angel Child||Down Home Blues Classics: Texas|
|Andy Thomas||I Love My Baby||Texas Country Blues 1948-1951|
|Sunny James||Please Mam Forgive Me||Texas Country Blues 1948-1951|
|Sunny James||Excuse Me Baby||Texas Country Blues 1948-1951|
|Thunder Smith||L.A. Blues||California Blues 1940-1948|
|L.C. Williams||Don't Like To Travel||The Mercury Blues & Rhythm Story|
Today's show s a belated sequel to a series of shows we aired several years back spotlighting some fine West Coast artists that I wanted to feature in more depth. All of today's artists are from Texas, cutting sides for the myriad labels that popped up in Texas and California in the immediate port-war era. All of today's sides were recorded between 1946 and 1953 for small labels that loom large in blues history such as Gold Star, Freedom, Elko, Swingtime and Sittin' In With as well as bigger outfits like Aladdin, Imperial and Mercury. The shadow of Lightnin' Hokpkins looms large over these artists, both in style and association, although none garnered the success that Lightnin' would. Hopkins' makes appearances on sides by Thunder Smith and L.C. Williams. In addition to recording on some of the same labels, some of today's artists intermingled musically such as guitarist Luther Stoneham who can be heard on records by Thunder Smith, Andy Thomas and Sunny James, Thunder Smith who also backed the latter two artists and Ernest Lewis who worked with Little Son Willis. Other artists featured today include Manny Nichols, Ernest Lewis, Little Son Willis, James Tisdom, J.D. Edwards and Perry Cain.
Married to a dentist, Lola Ann Cullum was instrumental in giving Lightning Hopkins his first opportunity as a recording artist for Aladdin Records. Born in Waimer, Texas,she was always interested in blues and knew a good thing when she saw it, in Lightning's case working on Dowling Street with singer Texas Alexander. The plan was to take the pair to Los Angeles, along with pianist Wilson' Thunder' Smith, to record for Aladdin. In the event, Mrs Cullum became wary of Texas Alexander and just took the other two west to California. There, it was she who christened Smith 'Thunder' for the loudness of his playing and Hopkins 'Lightning' for his proficiency as a guitarist her mind, Smith would be the star but turned out otherwise.
Thunder Smith plays piano behind Hopkins on his first two sessions for Aladdin in 1946 and 1947, never achieving the success that Hopkins did. Hopkins backed Smith on a four song session for Aladdin in 1946 with Smith cutting one session apiece in 1947 for Gold Star and in 1948 for Down Town. He reportedly died in Houston in 1965.
Luther Stoneham was born in Phelps, TX. on September 28, 1913. Relocating to Houston later he backed pianist Wilson "Thunder" Smith in 1947 for Gold Star Records. The next year he backed Andrew "Andy" Thomas & Sunny James on recordings and returned again as a sideman to Thunder Smith on discs for Down Town where he assumed the pseudonym of "Rockie". 1949 saw his last tracks as a sideman, playing on two sides with Thomas on the tiny Swing With The Stars label, where he was billed as Luther Stoner. In 1951, he waxed three sides for Mercury under his own name, with one being unissued. Stoneham passed away in Houston on February 25, 1973.
L.C. Williams was a singer/tap dancer who also occasionally drummed behind Hopkins. He arrived in Houston in 1945 and was one of the many characters who hung around in Lightning’s orbit sitting on stoops drinking beer and wine, shooting the breeze with passers-by. He made his first record in 1947 for with Hopkins on piano and guitar. Hopkins plays guitar on a four-song session for Gold Star in 1948 with Williams making some final sides for Eddie’s and Freedom between 1948-1950. He died in Houston of TB in 1960.
Sometime in 1949, Manny Nichols cut just one session at Houston's ACA studios, initially for the tiny FBC label, located in Rosenberg, Texas, some fifty miles south-west of Houston. In the event,only "Walking Talking Blues" and "Tall Skinny Mama Blues" were released, although an acetate of "Walkin' Blues" and "Forgive Me Baby" also survived. The other four titles were sold to Imperial, who subsequently released them as two singles. Nichols was located in the 1970s, living on a farm in Victoria, Texas; a photograph appeared on an Arhoolie album cover but if he was interviewed at the time, nothing has appeared in print.
Ernest Lewis cut nine sides between 1949-1953 for several small labels, first in Texas and then in California. He also may have recorded as West Texas Slim. He backed Little Son Willis on two of his recordings.
Malcolm Willis was a blues singer and pianist from Fort Worth, TX. At sometime in his youth he made the trek to California to join the West Coast blues scene. He cut his first disc for J.R. Fullbright's Elko label in Los Angeles, CA. in 1951. In 1952 and 1953 he recorded eight more numbers for the Swingtime label billed as Little Son Willis. Willis owns a strong debt to the popular Doctor Clayton.
James Tisdom was born in Texas c. 1912. He seemed to live most of his life moving around from Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande valley. Tisdom never saw the inside of a Dallas or Houston recording studio, but he did travel to California to record three 78's. In 1950 he cut another single in San Benito, TX. for Original. The recordings were believed to be forever lost until a copy turned up four decades later. Tisdom also made recordings for Ideal in South Texas in 1951, but they were shelved since the label specialized in Hispanic music. The acetates were found in the 1990's by Arhoolie Records. Tisdom was known to have been residing and farming in Goliad, TX. in 1967.
Guitarist and singer Perry Cain was born in Waverly, TX in 1925 and was very active in the Houston blues scene during the late 1940's and 1950's, recording a number of singles in which pianist Buster Pickens shines throughout. During the 1960's, Perry was a noted DJ at KCOH's Houston. He died 24 April 1975 at his Houston's home.
Andrew Thomas may or not have been from Houston. He recorded two 78's for Bill Quinn's Gold Star label billed as Andy Thomas in 1948 and 1949. Later in '49 Quinn recorded two more songs by him, but instead of issuing them on his label, he leased the sides to a record label in Paris, Texas. Thomas was never heard from again.
Little is known about Sunny James, who was around 18 years old at the time of his first recordings in 1948. He had one follow up 78 for Sittin' In With in 1951, recording as Jesse James. He is believed to have died sometime in the early to mid 1950's. He is not to be confused with Jesse James who recorded for Decca in the 1930's.