Sun 31 May 2015
|Peg Leg Howell||New Prison Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||Fo' Day Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||Coal Man Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||Tishamingo Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||New Jelly Roll Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||Beaver Slide Rag||Violin, Sing The Blues For Me|
|Macon Ed & Tampa Joe||Mean Florida Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Macon Ed & Tampa Joe||Worrying Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell & His Gang||Moanin' & Groanin' Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell & His Gang||Peg Leg Stomp||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell & His Gang||Papa Stobb Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell & His Gang||Hobo Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell||Skin Game Blues||Before The Blues Vol. 2|
|Peg Leg Howell & His Gang||Too Tight Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Sloppy Henry||Long, Tall, Disconnected Mama||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Sloppy Henry||Say I Do It||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell||Rock & Gravel Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony||Banjo Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony||Turkey Buzzard Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony||Lonesome Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928|
|Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony||Georgia Crawl||Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow!|
|Peg Leg Howell||Turtle Dove Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell||Walkin' Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell||Away From home||Hard Times Come Again No More Vol. 2|
|Macon Ed & Tampa Joe||Everything's Coming My Way||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Macon Ed & Tampa Joe||Winging That Thing||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Brothers Wright And Williams||I've Got A Home In Beulah Land||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Sloppy Henry||Caned Heat Blues||My Rough And Rowdy Ways Vol. 2|
|Sloppy Henry||Royal Palm Special Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell||Broke & Hungry Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell & Jim Hill||Monkey Man Blues||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peg Leg Howell & Jim Hill||Chittlin' Supper||Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Henry Williams, Eddie Anthony, Peg Leg Howell|
Like Memphis, Atlanta was a staging post for musicians on their way to all points. It’s not surprising then that the first country blues musician, Ed Andrews, was recorded there in 1924. The company that recorded him, Okeh, was one of many to send their engineers to Southern cities to record local talent. Companies like Victor, Columbia, Vocalion and Brunswick made at least yearly visits until the depression. One of the earliest recorded Atlanta bluesmen, Peg Leg Howell, bridged the gap between the era of pre-blues and the period when the blues eventually became the popular music of the day. Born Joshua Barnes Howell in Eatonton, Georgia on March 5, 1888, he was a self-taught guitarist who acquired his nickname after a 1916 run-in with an irate brother-in-law which ended in a shotgun wound to the leg and, ultimately, amputation. Unable to continue working as a farmhand, he migrated to Atlanta, where he began pursuing music full-time; in addition to playing street corners for passing change, Howell supplemented his income by bootlegging liquor, an offense which led to a one-year prison sentence in 1925. He recorded four songs at the end of 1926, eight sides in 1927 with guitarist Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony which were billed as Peg Leg Howel and his gang. Ten final sides were recorded in 1929. Tony Russell described the music as "rugged and without artifice. Howell's early recordings like 'Coal Man Blues' do no lack appeal but are rather overshadowed by his trio sides with Anthony and Williams, which give us a stringband music both less suave and more diverse than that of their near-contemporaries the Mississippi Sheiks." Howell backed singer Sloppy Henry on a few sides and his pals Eddie Anthony and Henry Williams also recorded on their own.
|Peg Leg Howell featured on a 1927 Columbia catalog|
In 1963 three high school students – George Mitchell, Roger Brown, and Jack Boozer tracked Howell down. Mitchell coaxed him into recording again. After a month of practicing on the guitar, Howell made the field recordings that were issued by Testament Records as The Legendary Peg Leg Howell. Howell was also interviewed by Mitchell the results of which were published in Blues Unlimited (the full article is provided below) which is where the below quotes come from.
"My friends call me Peg, …Peg Leg Howell. I was born on the fifth of March. in 1888. I was born in Eatonton, Putnom. County, Georgia. …My father was a farmer. when I was a child I went to school in Putnam County; I went as far as the ninth grade before I stopped. After that I worked on my father's farm with him…plowed. Worked on the farm until 1916, when I was about 28. …I had lost my leg in 1916 and had to quit farm work. I got shot by my brother-in-law; he got mad at me and shot me. …I came to Atlanta when I was about 35 years old. …I learned how to play the guitar about 1909. I learnt myself – didn't take long to learn. I just stayed up one night and learnt myself."
He began performing music in parks and on the streets of Atlanta, sometimes working alongside mandolinist Eugene Pedin, guitarist Henry Williams, and violinist Eddie Anthony, his closest friend. “The men from Columbia Records found me there in Atlanta. A Mr. Brown – he worked for Columbia – he asked me to make a record for them. I was out serenading, playing on Decatur Street, and he heard me playing and taken me up to his office and I played there. …My first record. was "New Prison Blues" (coupled with "Fo Day Blues" on Columbia 14177D). In 1925 I had been in prison for s selling whiskey and I heard the song there. I don't know who made it up. As for selling the whiskey, I would sell it to anybody who came to the house. I bought the moonshine from people who ran it and I sold it. I don't know how they caught me; they just ran down on me one day."
Howell was back before the microphone five months after his debut this time with Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony. His “New Jelly Roll Blues” from this session was his bestselling number and advertised in the Chicago Defender newspaper (Columbia ran eight ads for Howell between 1927 and 1929). The record was listed as Peg Leg Howell and His Gang. The label promoted Peg Leg Howell by putting his photo on the cover of its 1927 catalog. In November 1927, Peg Leg Howell and His Gang recorded three more 78's. "Eddie Anthony recorded with me. He played violin. And Henry Williams; he played guitar. We called the group Peg Leg Howell and His Gang. Made quite a few records with them two."At the November 1st session “Too Tight Blues,” “Moanin’ and Groanin’ Blues,” “Hobo Blues,” and “Peg Leg Stomp” were recorded. Howell made three final Columbia 78's in April 1929. Ollie Griffin was probably the violinist. Three days later, Howell fronted four songs that came out credited to Peg Leg Howell and Jim Hill.
During the spring of 1929 Eddie Anthony recorded eight sides for OKeh Records as part of a duo called Macon Ed and Tampa Joe (the identity of Tampa Joe has never been established). On April 19, 1928, Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony recorded a Columbia 78 on their own, the raucous “Georgia Crawl” backed with “Lonesome Blues.” Howell and Anthony were probably the accompanists on a four song session by Sloppy Henry recorded on August 13, 1928. Henry cut sixteen sides between 1924 and 1929 for Okeh. It's been speculated that Anthony plays on on the record "I've Got A Home In Beulah Land" by the Brothers Wright And Williams recorded in 1930.
Henry Williams perished in jail in 1930, and Peg Leg Howell was soon back serving time for bootlegging. After Eddie Anthony died in 1934, Howell told Mitchell, “I just didn’t feel like playing anymore. I went back to selling liquor. Then I ran a woodyard for about two years around 1940. I lost my other leg in 1952, through sugar diabetes.” Howell's final recordings issued on the Testament label captured him in sad shape so those songs will not be featured. Better to remember Howell and his pals in their prime.
Related Reading: -Welding, Pete; Mitchell, George. “I’m Peg Leg Howell.” Blues Unlimited no. 10 (Mar 1964) [PDF]
-Welding, Pete; Mitchell, George. “I’m Peg Leg Howell.” Blues Unlimited no. 10 (Mar 1964) [PDF]