Sun 4 May 2014
|Ishman Bracey||Saturday Blues||When The Sun Goes Down|
|Ishman Bracey||Left Alone Blues||Ishman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929|
|Ishman Bracey||Brown Mama Blues||Vintage Mandolin Music|
|Sam Collins||Riverside Blues||Jailhouse Blues|
|Sam Collins||Yellow Dog Blues||Jailhouse Blues|
|Sam Collins||The Jail House Blues||Jailhouse Blues|
|Otto Virgial||Little Girl in Rome||American Primitive Vol. II|
|Otto Virgial||Bad Notion Blues||American Primitive Vol. II|
|Willie Lofton||Poor Boy Blues||Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues|
|Willie Lofton||It's Killin' Me||Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues|
|Willie Lofton||Dirty Mistreater||Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues|
|Ishman Bracey||Trouble Hearted Blues||Trouble Hearted Blues|
|Ishman Bracey||The Four Day Blues||Jackson Blues: 1928-1938|
|Sam Collins||Devil In The Lion's Den||Jailhouse Blues|
|Sam Collins||Pork Chop Blues||Jailhouse Blues|
|Sam Collins||Hesitation Blues||Jailhouse Blues|
|The Mississippi Moaner||Mississippi Moan||Mississippi Moaners|
|The Mississippi Moaner||It's Cold In China||American Primitive Vol. II|
|Rube Lacey||Mississippi Jail House Groan||Country Blues: The Essential|
|Rube Lacey||Ham Hound and Gravy||Chasin That Devil Music|
|Ishman Bracey||Leavin' Town Blues||Ishman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929|
|Ishman Bracey||Woman Woman Blues||The Return Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of|
|Sam Collins||My Road Is Rough And Rocky (How Long, How Long?)||Sam Collins 1927-31|
|Sam Collins||Lonesome Road Blues||Before The Blues Vol. 1|
|Otto Virgial||Got The Blues About Rome||When the Levee Breaks|
|Otto Virgial||Seven Year Itch||Mississippi Blues Vol. 4: Delta Blues Goin' North|
|Willie Lofton||Dark Road Blues||Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues|
|Willie Lofton||Beer Garden Blues||Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues|
|Sam Collins||Slow Mama Slow||Sam Collins 1927-31|
|Sam Collins||New Salty Dog||Jailhouse Blues|
Today's show is the first of a series of shows devoted to great early Mississippi blues artists, most little remembered today. Ishman Bracey, Rube Lacey and Willie Lofton hailed from the fertile Jackson, MS region. Little is known of Lofton who cut eight titles in 1934 and 1935. Despite cutting only one 78 Lacey was a well-known blues performer in the Jackson area and the Delta until 1932 hen he put his guitar down and became a preacher. Crying Sam Collins was raised around McComb, Mississippi and recorded relatively extensively between 1927 and 1931. Virtually nothing is know of the obscure Otto Virgial and Isiah Nettles, who went by the moniker The Mississippi Moaner.
"A rare combination of braggart, entertainer, musician, showman and eventually an ordained minister" is how Gayle Dean Wardlow, who interviewed him many times, chose to describe him in Blues Unlimited (No. 142). By Ishmon Bracey's own account to Dave Evans, he was a fighter too, "mixing it" with Saturday night drunks and the jealous lovers who came after his friend Tommy Johnson. It seems that he had always held strong religious sentiments, and had been a member of the Baptist church as a child in Byram, Mississippi. So his eventual ordination as a preacher, which was a personal relief after his "wicked ways" and life "in the world", was not so surprising.
Ishman Bracey was born in Byram, about ten miles south of Jackson, in January 1899, according to census records. He learned guitar from locals Louis Cooper and Lee Jones and moved to Jackson in the late 1920s after encountering Tommy Johnson. Bracey soon became one of the most popular musicians in the Jackson area’s vital blues scene, which consisted largely of musicians who were likewise born in small communities in the area. Jackson blues in the 1920s had a lighter feel than its counterpart in the Delta and sometimes featured the mandolin and the fiddle. Bracey and other musicians often played at dances for both black and white audiences, performing waltzes and ragtime numbers, and otherwise serenaded passersby on the busy streets of Jackson. Bracey’s music came to broader attention after he auditioned for recording agent H. C. Speir, who operated a furniture store on North Farish Street. Speir arranged for Bracey and Tommy Johnson to make their debut recordings at a session for Victor in Memphis in February of 1928. At that session and another for Victor later that year, Bracey was accompanied on guitar and mandolin by Charlie McCoy.
|Black Patti advertisement in the Chicago Defender July 2, 1927|
Bracey recorded in more of a jazz mode in late 1929 and early 1930 for the Paramount label in Grafton, Wisconsin, backed by the New Orleans Nehi Boys (Charlie Taylor on piano and “Kid” Ernest Moliere on clarinet, an instrument rarely heard on Mississippi blues recordings). By the mid-‘30s many of the musicians in Bracey’s circle had left the area, and his musical partnership with Tommy Johnson ended. In later city directories he is listed as a laborer or painter. In 1963, when blues researcher Gayle Dean Wardlow met and interviewed him in Jackson, Bracey had been a Baptist minister for over a decade, and, although he would no longer play blues, he provided important information on the early blues scene in Jackson. He died on Feb. 12, 1970.
When Sam Collins made his recording debut in April, 1927, he was not far short of his fortieth birthday; born in Louisiana in August, 1887, he was raised, according to acquaintances located by Gayle Dean Wardlow, in McComb, Mississippi, just over the border from his native state. lt's not known when he started out in music, but by 1924 he was performing in local barrelhouses at weekends. By this time he had formed a loose and partnership with Joe Holmes from Sibley, La., who recorded for Paramount in 1932 as King Solomon Hill. Collins made his debut in 1972 cutting fives, four issued on the Black Patti label who advertised them as by "Crying Sam Collins and his Git·Fiddle." It seems likely that Collins Iearned his repertoire around the turn of the century, when he was,in his Iate teens and early twenties, for it incorporates a wide spectrum of music from that era and earlier. He cut close to two-dozen issue sides between 1927-1931 for Black Patti, Gennett, Banner and ARC. Collins left behind a large number of unreleased sides. It's reported that Collins moved to Chicago where he died in 1949.
Rubin Lacy was one of the most talented and influential artists in Mississippi blues during his short career. He was a well-known blues performer in the Jackson area and the Delta until 1932, when he put his guitar down and became a preacher. Lacy played in an elite circle that included Son Spand, Ishmon Bracey, Tommy Johnson, Charlie McCoy, and Walter Vinson. He later moved to the Delta, where he formed his own group, performed with Charley Patton, and inspired artists including Son House, Tommy McClennan, and Honeyboy Edwards. Lacy made four recordings for Columbia Records at a session in Memphis in December 1927, but none were released. The following March he traveled to Chicago, where he recorded two songs for the Paramount label, “Mississippi Jail House Groan” and “Ham Hound Crave." In 1966 blues scholar David Evans located Lacy in Ridgecrest, California, and recorded him preaching and performing gospel songs together with members of his congregation. Lacy died in 1969.
Willie Lofton is a virtual biographical black hole who made four records in the fifteen months between August 1934 and November 1935.It seems he came from Jackson, Miss., where he worked as a barber before journeying to Chicago. He returned south in 1942 and died in Jackson twenty years later.
Big Joe Williams once recalled that Otto Virgil (or Virgial) was from the area of Columbus, MS., and could usually be found playing with another native by the name of Tom Turner. Virgial had a community in Sunflower County on Halloween Day of 1935 on his mind when he recorded four songs that also included "Got The Blues About Rome". He was probably living in Chicago at the time of his one and only session.
The Mississippi Moaner was the name used by Isaiah Nettles when he recorded five sides for Vocalion Records in Jackson, MS, on October 20, 1935. Only one 78 from the session was ever officially released, "Mississippi Moan" b/w "It's Cold in China Blues" (a version of Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Long Lonesome Blues"). A credible singer and a fine guitar player, Nettles lived in Carlisle, MS (in Claiborne County), as late as 1936, but his trail vanishes after that date.