Sun 24 Aug 2014
|Lillian Glinn||Brown Skin Blues||Lillian Glinn 1927-1929|
|Lillian Glinn||Doggin' Me Blues||Lillian Glinn 1927-1929|
|Lillian Glinn||Come Home Daddy||Lillian Glinn 1927-1929|
|Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams||Sun Beam Blues||Dallas Alley Drag|
|Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams||Interurban Blues||Dallas Alley Drag|
|Blind Willie Johnson||I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole||Blind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists|
|Blind Willie Johnson||Dark Was the Night -- Cold Was the Ground||Blind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists|
|Coley Jones||Traveling Man||The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2|
|Washington Phillips||Denomination Blues (Part 1)||I Am Born To Preach The Gospel|
|William McCoy||Mama Blues||Meaning In The Blues|
|Dallas String Band||Dallas Rag||Vintage Mandolin Music|
|Hattie Hudson||Doggone My Good Luck Soul||Dallas Alley Drag|
|Hattie Hudson||Black Hand Blues||I Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1|
|Gertrude Perkins||No Easy Rider Blues||Texas Girls 1926-1929|
|Gertrude Perkins||Gold Daddy Blues||Texas Girls 1926-1929|
|Washington Phillips||I Am Born To Preach The Gospel||I Am Born To Preach The Gospel|
|Blind Willie Johnson||I'm Gonna Run to the City of Refuge||Spreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings|
|Laura Henton||He's Coming Soon||Spreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings|
|Laura Henton||Heavenly Sunshine||Texas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935|
|Frenchy's String Band||Sunshine Special||The Original Howling Wolf 1930-1931|
|Frenchy's String Band||Texas And Pacific Blues||Jazz The World Forgot Vol. 1|
|Emma Wright||State of Tennessee Blues||The Best Of Memphis Jug Band|
|Bobbie Cadillac||The Spasm||Good for What Ails You|
|Billiken Johnson & Neal Roberts||Frisco Blues||Dallas Alley Drag|
|Dallas String Band||So Tired||How Low Can You Go: Anthology Of The String Bass|
|William McCoy||Central Tracks Blues||Texas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935|
|Willie Reed||Dreaming Blues||Trouble Hearted Blues 1927-1944|
|Willie Reed||Texas Blues||The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2|
|Otis Harris||Walking Blues||Ramblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers|
|Otis Harris||You'll Like My Loving||Ramblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers|
|Jewell Nelson||Jet Black Snake Blues||Territory Singers Vol. 2|
|Jewell Nelson||Beating Me Blue||Territory Singers Vol. 2|
Today's show is the third installment spotlighting great recording sessions. The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label roughly a year-and-a-half apart, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930. Today we spotlight some great blues and gospel captured by Columbia in December 1927 and December 1928. In 1927 sessions were conducted December 2nd through the 6th with artists Lillian Glinn, Billiken Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Coley Jones Washington Phillips, William McCoy, the Dallas String Band, Hattie Hudson and Gertrude Perkins. Several of theses artists were recorded again the following December with sessions conducted between December 4th through the 8th. Among the new artists recorded in 1928 were Laura Henton, Texas Jubilee Singers, Frenchy's String Band, Emma Wright, Bobbie Cadillac, Willie Reed, Otis Harris and Jewell Nelson. Several other artists recorded but had no sides issued: Willie Tyson, Willie Mae McFarland, Rev. J.W. Heads and Charlie King. Columbia recorded again Dallas in 1929, recording some of the same artists.
1927 was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on.
One of the hidden stars of these sessions was pianist Willie Tyson. Tyson was active in Dallas and was part of a group of blues pianists that included K. D. Johnson and Whistlin’ Alex Moore, who accompanied various female blues singers in the 1920's and 1930's. Tyson contributed a number of fine accompaniments to several women blues singers, such as Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Ida Mae Mack, and Bessie Tucker and also backed Billiken Johnson. In addition to his piano accompaniment, Tyson recorded two piano solos that were never issued, “Roberta Blues” and “Missouri Blues.” These proved to be the only sessions for Tyson, who was most likely a theater pit pianist.
We hear several fine, obscure blues and gospel ladies today including Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Lillian Glinn, Jewell Nelson, Bobbie Cadillac, Emma Wright and Laura Henton. Singer and vaudeville performer Lillian Glinn was born in Hillsboro, Texas, about 1902 and moved to Dallas when she was in her twenties. Texas blues singer Hattie Burleson discovered her singing in a Dallas church and encouraged her to pursue a musical career. Dallas entrepreneur R. T. Ashford helped Glinn secure a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1927. She cut her first record for Columbia in December 1927, and over the next two years she recorded more than twenty-two sides.
Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins and Jewell Nelson all left behind just one 78 while Emma Wright had one song issued. Singers Bobbie Cadillac and gospel singer Laura Henton left behind six sides. Emma Wright had only one issued side in 1928 backed by trumpeter Leroy Williams who accompanied Jewell Nelson the following day. According to blues historian Paul Oliver Jewel Nelson was "one of the best-known and best loved of the Dallas singers … known to the denizens of the Park (Theatre) as "Daybreak" Nelson because of her famous "Daybreak Blues." She recorded one 78 in 1928 possibly backed on guitar by Coley Jones. Singer Bobbie Cadillac cut six sides (one unissued ) at two sessions in 1928 and the following year cut four more duets with Coley Jones and featuring Whistlin' Alex Moore on piano.
Billiken Johnson didn't sing or play an instrument, and yet he recorded six sides in the late '20s. Johnson's unique talent was his ability to imitate train whistles and provide other vocal effects, all of which made him a popular figure on-stage at the juke joints and taverns of the famed "Deep Ellum" district of Dallas. Under his own name he recorded two tracks for Columbia Records ("Sun Beam Blues" and "Interurban Blues") in Dallas on December 3, 1927, followed by two more ("Frisco Blues" and "Wild Jack Blues") a year later on December 8, 1928. He is also listed as part of a duet of sorts with Texas Bill Day on "Billiken's Weary Blues" and "Elm Street Blues," recorded December 5, 1929, in Dallas and also issued by Columbia.
As Blind Willie Johnson got older he began earning money by playing his guitar, one of the few avenues left to a blind man to earn a living. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music to the streets of the surrounding cities. While performing in Dallas, he met a woman named Angeline and the two married in 1927. The two performed around the Dallas and Waco areas. On December 3, 1927, Columbia Records brought Blind Willie Johnson into the studio where he recorded six songs. after this session, Johnson didn't return to the studio for an entire year. The second visit (which took place on December 5, 1928) found him accompanied by his wife, Angeline. Although Blind Willie Johnson was one of Columbia's best-selling race recording artists, he only recorded for them one more time — in April 1930 — after which he never heard from them again. As Stephen Calt points out in his liner notes for Praise God I'm Satisfied, the fact that Columbia waited a full year between Johnson's recording sessions probably indicates that they were disappointed with his sales. In fact, in early 1929 Johnson sold about 5000 records. By contrast, Barbecue Bob and Bessie Smith Columbia's most popular artists, sold about 6000 and from 9000-10,000 respectively. As the depression deepened, however, and interest in religion surged, Blind Willie Johnson's popularity jumped, too. He continued to sell around 5000 records annually, but Barbecue Bob's sales dropped to 2000, and Smith's to 3000. Johnson continued to perform on the Texas streets during the '30s and '40s, passing away in 1947.
Coley Jones was born probably in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is presumed that much of his life was spent in Dallas. He recorded seven sides for Columbia beginning in December 1927 as a solo act accompanying himself on guitar. Jones was also in demand as a sideman and recorded several sides in December 1929, accompanying Bobbie Cadillac and Texas Bill Day on guitar. Jones became associated with the Dallas String Band, which recorded ten sides for Columbia between 1927 to 1929.
Virtually nothing is known about William McCoy other than he was probably from Texas. He recorded six sides for Columbia at three sessions; on December 6, 1927, December 7, 1928 and a final session on December 8, 1928. His records were advertised in the Defender on May 12, 1928, February 23, 1929 and September 21, 1929.
Little is known about Willie Reed, who recorded two songs on the same day as fellow Texas bluesman Otis Harris who exhibits a similar guitar style. Reed went on to accompany blues singer Texas Alexander on ten songs in 1934.
Otis Harris and Frenchy's String Band each cut one 78. Possibly from Dallas, TX., Otis Harris only had one 78 released under his name, "Walking Blues b/w You'll Like My Loving." Frenchy's String Band cut "Sunshine Special b/w Texas And Pacific Blues" in 1928. Polite "Frenchy" Christian was one of the New Orleans jazzmen who ventured westward in the 1920s, settling in Dallas. With a line-up here consisting of cornet, banjo, guitar and bowed bass, "Texas and Pacific Blues" gives an inkling of music played around New Orleans when a string band line up was used.