East Coast Blues


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Blind BlakeWest Coast BluesThe Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeDry Bone ShuffleThe Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeCome on Boys Let's Do That Messin' AroundThe Best of Blind Blake
William Moore Ragtime Millionaire Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
William Moore Barbershop RagRagtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Blind BlakeHe's In The Jailhouse NowThe Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeHey Hey Daddy BluesAll The Published Sides
Blind BlakeSea Board StompThe Best of Blind Blake
Bayless RoseJamestown ExhibitionRagtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Bayless RoseBlack Dog BluesRagtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Blind BlakeIce Man Blues
The Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeWabash Rag The Best of Blind Blake
Blind Willie McTellGeorgia RagAtlanta Blues
Blind Willie McTellAtlanta StrutAtlanta Blues
Buddy MossJoy RagAtlanta Blues
Blind BlakeSouthern Rag The Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeHookworm BluesAll The Published Sides
Tarter and GrayUnknown BluesSouth Carolina Rag
Willie WalkerSouth Carolina RagSouth Carolina Rag
Blind BlakeGeorgia BoundThe Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeHastings StThe Best of Blind Blake
Buddy Boy HawkinsA RagBuddy Boy Hawkins And His Buddies
Kitty Gray & Her Wampus Cats w/ Oscar WoodsBaton Rouge RagTexas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace
Blind Boy FullerRag Mama RagBlind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-1938
Blind Boy FullerMama Let Me Lay It On You Blind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-1938
Blind Blake Chump Man BluesThe Best of Blind Blake
Blind Blake Blind Arthur's BreakdownThe Best of Blind Blake
Rev. Gary Davis I'm Throwin' Up My HandsReverend Gary Davis 1935-1949
Rev. Gary Davis I Belong To The Band - Hallelujah!Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949
Blind BlakeDiddie Wa DiddieAll The Published Sides
Blind BlakeToo Tight Blues, No. 2 The Best of Blind Blake

Show Notes:

The syncopated music that its black originators called “ragtime” was developed as a piano music in the last decade of the 19th Century, about the same time that the blues were also taking shape. Ragtime entered the American folk consciousness, both white and black; in the Eastern states, particularly, it became a vital component in the sound of blues music. The Piedmont way of picking was ideal for dancing, had a generally faster rhythm, syncopated tempo and came from ragtime with the guitarists attempting to reproduce the complicated piano sounds to the guitar. Of all the ragtime styled guitarists, Blind Blake is still regarded as the unrivaled master of ragtime blues fingerpicking. On today's show we spotlight the music of Blind Blake as well as some of his ragtime guitar playing peers such as Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, William Moore, Blind Willie McTell and others.

Besides his music and session details, not much is known of Blind Blake. So who was Blind Blake? Despite his popularity and much investigation, he remains a shadowy figure. As to his name,  Bruce Bastin notes that "on occasion he is named Arthur Phelps, but copyright submissions on behalf of Chicago Music for his Paramount recordings give his name as Arthur Blake. They state his name in a variety of manners: Blind Blake ("Blake's Worried Blues"), Arthur (Blind) Blake ("Bootleg Whiskey" and "Goodbye Mama Moan"), Blind Arthur Blake ("Cold Hearted Mama Blues"), and simply Arthur Blake ("Detroit Bound")." During the recording "Papa Charlie And Blind Blake Talk About It," Papa Charlie Jackson asks him, "What is your right name?" Blake responds, "My name is Arthur Blake.".” On his death certificate, which turned up in 2011, Blake’s place of birth was listed as Newport News, Virginia, and 1896 was entered as his “date of birth.” “Mayo Williams, the Paramount scout, says that Blind Blake was sent up from Jacksonville by a dealer,” reports blues researcher Gayle Dean Wardlow.

Blake made his first records for Paramount during the summer of 1926, playing solo guitar behind Leola B. Wilson. He made his debut under his own name a few months late with "Early Morning Blues b/w West Coast Blues." He cut several more 78's by year's end. Less than six months after his entry into the record biz, Blake was playing behind the great Ma Rainey on several records.

TheChicago Defender advertisement declares: "Early Morning Blues" is the first record of this new exclusive Paramount artist, Blind Blake. Blake, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida, is known up and down the coast as a wizard at picking his piano-sounding guitar. His 'talking guitar' they call it, and when you hear him sing and play you'll know why Blind Blake is going to be one of the most talked about Blues artist in music." The Paramount Book of the Blues (issued in 1924 and 1927 with photographs and short bios to promote Paramount recording artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Ma Rainey) had the following bio: "We have all heard expressions of people 'singing in the rain' or 'laughing in the face of adversity,' but we never saw such a good example of it, until we came upon the history of Blind Blake. Born in Jacksonville, in sunny Florida, he seemed to absorb some of the sunny atmosphere–disregarding the fact that nature had cruelly denied him a vision of outer things. He could not see the things that others saw–but he had a better gift. A gift of an inner vision, that allowed him to see things more beautiful. The pictures that he alone could see made him long to express them in some way–so he turned to music. He studied long and earnestly–listening to talented pianists and guitar players, and began to gradually draw out harmonious tunes to fit every mood. Now that he is recording exclusively for Paramount, the public has the benefit of his talent, and agrees, as one body, that he has an unexplainable gift of making one laugh or cry as he feels, and sweet chords and tones that come from his talking guitar express a feeling of his mood."

1927 saw the release of fourteen sides including backing Gus Cannon on several sides. He waxed celebrated numbers that year including “Dry Bone Shuffle”, “Southern Rag”, “Wabash Rag”, “Sea Board Stomp” and “He's In The Jailhouse Now” among others. During the spring of 1928 Blind Blake cut his most ambitious records featuring jazz artists Jimmy Bertrand and Johnny Dodds.

Blind Blake was at the height of his powers on August 17, 1929, at what was to be his last great session. During the course of that Saturday, he recorded several of his most enduring songs: "Georgia Bound", "Hastings St.", a duet with pianist Charlie Spand, and "Diddie Wa Diddie."

Paramount boldly promoted his skills in their ads: "He accompanies himself with that snappy guitar playing, like only Blind Blake can do," read copy for "Bad Feeling Blues." The company claimed that "Blind Blake and his trusty guitar do themselves proud" on "Rumblin' & Ramblin' Boa Constrictor Blues," while "Wabash Rag" was "aided by his happy guitar." Woody Mann stated, that "playing with a terrific flair for improvisation…he is at once subtle and ornate." And as Tony Russell sums up: "Blind Blake's most remarkable achievement as a recording artist was that in a career lasting almost six years, in which he made about 80 sides, he was never reduced, whether by slipping skill, waning inspiration or the single-mindedness of record company executives, from a multifaceted musician to a formulaic blues player."

After Paramount folded in 1932, Blake never recorded again. His death certificate was discovered in 2011 by a team of astute researchers and published in Blues & Rhythm magazine issue #263, their research suggests that Blake spent the last two or three years of his life living at 1844 B North 10th Street in the Bronzeville section of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife Beatrice McGee Blake, whom he’d married around 1931. His death certificate lists his profession as “unemployed musician,” and his date of death was entered as December 1, 1934. The cause was Pulmonary tuberculosis.

Blind Blake’s records no doubt astonished and influenced other blues guitarists, such as William Moore, who patterned his Paramount 78 of “Old Country Rock” on “West Coast Blues.” A resident of Tappahannock, Virginia, Moore recorded sixteen sides for Paramount Record Company in 1928. Featured today are "Ragtime Millionaire" and "Barbershop Rag."

Virtually nothing is know of Bayless Rose who cut four issued sides in June 1930 , with several sides left unissued. Perhaps the only source for information on Bayless Rose is an article by Christopher King in 78 Quarterly #12. He interviewed Dick Justice's daughter, and she remembered her daddy hanging out with a guitar player named 'Bailey Rose' back in the '30s. She described Bailey Rose as 'the man who sounded the most like daddy', and said he was a railroad worker who traveled thru WV, OH & IN. She said he was 'quite a bit older than daddy. He taught [daddy] how to play Old Black Dog and Brown Gal. When asked whether Bailey Rose was black, she denied that he was, tho she said "he was kind of foreign-looking, though". She elaborated, saying "he was sort of short with dark, curly hair but with darker skin, sort of like an Arab". She again denied he was black. After discussion of the parallels between Rose's and Justice's repertoires, King offers the theory that he was a melungeon.

Tarter and Gay are a duo from the western tip of Virginia. They made one great record in 1928, "Brownie Blues b/w Unknown Blues." The two played in the rough coal camps of southwestern Virginia as well as for black and white dances throughout northeastern Tennessee. After the recording session they continued performing until Stephen Tarter's death around 1935. Gay all but gave up music and passed in 1983. Gay was interviewed in the 70's by Kip Lornell who published article o the duo  in Living Blues and Juke Blues magazines.

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."

The Reverend Gary Davis was one of the two most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar; 35 years later, despite two decades spent playing on the streets of Harlem in New York, he was still one of the giants in his field and an inspiration to dozens of modern guitarist/singers including Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, and Jorma Kaukonen, Larry Johnson, David Bromberg, and Ry Cooder, who studied with Davis. In South Carolina, when Davis was a young man, the acknowledged guitar master was Blind Willie Walker, who played incredibly accurately and very fast, much like Blind Blake. Davis picked up several tunes up from Walker no doubt expanding his skills and repertoire. By his own admission, Davis ‘was scared o’ no guitarist’ by the time he was 30 years old. Davis, never generous with praise, stated "I ain't heard anybody on record yet beat Blind Blake on the guitar. I like Blake because he plays right sporty."

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Baby Tate See What You Done Done See What You Done Done
Pink AndersonYou Don't Know My MindCarolina Medicine Show Hokum And Blues
Doug Quattlebaum You Is One Black RatSoftee Man Blues
James Henry DiggsPoor Boy Long Way From HomeSouthwest Virginia Blues
Eddie Lee Jones & FamilyWhich Way Does The Blood Red River FlowYonder Go That Old Black Dog
Buddy MossCome On Around To My HouseAtlanta Blues Legend
Elizabeth Cotten I'm Going Away Shake Sugaree
John JacksonBear Cat Blues Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
Cliff Scott Long Wavy Hair Georgia Blues
Nyles Jones (Guitar Gabriel) Southland Welfare Blues
Guitar ShortyGoin' Down in Georgia Carolina Slide Guitar
Willie Trice Shine OnBlue & Rag'd
Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong In The BottomMartin, Bogan & Armstrong
Henry JohnsonWho's Going Home With YouUnion County Flash
Frank HovingtonLonesome Road Blues Lonesome Road Blues
Cecil Barfield I Told You Not To Do That South Georgia Blues
Peg Leg SamWalking Cane Classic Appalachian Blues Smithsonian Folkways
Jimmy Lee Williams Have You Ever Seen PeachesHoot Your Belly
John Lee Ziegler If I Lose, Let Me Lose George Mitchell Collection Vol. 6
Willie Guy RaineySo SweetWillie Guy Rainey
Archie Edwards The Road Is Rough And RockyClassic Appalachian Blues Smithsonian Folkways
Guitar Slim Worried BluesGreensboro Rounder
James Davis Instrumental #4The George Mitchell Collection Vols. 1 - 45
George Higgs & Elester Anderson Skinny Woman Blues Unreleased
Pernell CharityWar Blues Virginia Traditions; Tidewater Blues
Carl HodgesLeaving You, MamaVirginia Traditions; Tidewater Blues
Turner Foddrell Slow Drag Western Piedmont Blues
Lewis "Rabbit" MuseJailhouse BluesWestern Piedmont Blues
John Tinsley Red River BluesWestern Piedmont Blues
Cephas & Wiggins Richmond BluesLiving Country Blues Vol. 1
Clayton Horsley Don't The Moon Look PrettyWestern Piedmont Blues

Show Notes:

Today's show is the third in series of spotlights on East Coast Blues. In previous shows we spanned the year 1927 through 1953 and today we take the story up to the end of the 1970's. The music to be found on today's program is generally classified as Piedmont Blues, a term that refers to a style and geographic region. Piedmont Blues refers to a regional of centered on musicians of the southeastern United States; from the foothills of the Appalachians west of the tidewater region and Atlantic coastal plain stretching roughly from Richmond, VA, to Atlanta, GA. Musically, Piedmont blues describes the shared style of musicians from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, as well as others from as far afield as Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The Piedmont guitar style employs a complex fingerpicking method in which a regular, alternating-thumb bass pattern supports a melody on treble strings. The guitar style is highly syncopated and connects closely with an earlier string-band tradition, integrating ragtime, blues, and country dance songs. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles. Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. By the 1960's and 70's the Piedmont style was no longer commercially viable, aided by the decline in popularity of the blues among black audiences and pushed aside by soul and electrified blues. Much of the recording done during this period were field recordings. There was much significant recording done by men like Sam Charters, Glenn Hinson, Kip Lornell, George Mitchell, Peter B. Lowry, Bruce Bastin and others. These recordings appeared mainly on small specialist blues labels geared to a predominately white audience. Many of the albums have not made it to the CD era.

Pink Anderson

The title of today's program comes from a song by Eddie Lee Jones from Georgia. Just about very southeastern bluesman sang a "Red River Blues": Josh White in 1932, Buddy Moss 1933, Virgil Childers 1938 among many others. The title a also nod to Bruce Bastion's book of the seam name, the definitive history of southeastern blues.

Samuel Charters played a central role in the folk revival of the 1950's and 1960's. His fieldwork, extensive liner notes, production efforts, and books served as a blues introduction to many. A 1961 trip for Prestige Records yielded records by Furry Lewis, Memphis Willie B., Baby Tate and Pink Anderson. Todat we spin tracks by the latter two artists.

Born in Georgia, Baby Tate grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. By the age of 14, he had taught himself to play guitar; shortly thereafter he began appearing alongside Blind Boy Fuller, from whom he picked up the basics of the blues. A few years later, Tate began performing with Roosevelt Brooks and Joe Walker in clubs and bars around Greenville. In 1932 he djoined the Carolina Blackbirds. They played numerous shows for the radio station, WFBC. During the 1930s, Tate played at local parties, medicine shows, and celebrations, and he continued performing as a mere hobby. Serving in the U.S. Army in the late 1930s and early '40s, Tate entertained in local pubs and dances while stationed in Europe. In 1942, he returned to Greenville, held a series of odd jobs, and took up music again in 1946. In the early 1950's, Tate moved to Spartanburg SC, performing by himself as well as with Pink Anderson. The two remained a duo until the 1970s. Tate recorded his first and only album, See What You Done Done, in 1961. He was featured in Samuel Charters' documentary film, The Blues the very next year. Peter B. Lowry recorded him extensivley in 1970 but these were never released. He passed in 1972.

After being raised in Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pink Anderson joined Dr. Frank "Smiley" Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company in 1914 to entertain the crowds. In 1916 in Spartanburg, Anderson met "Blind Simmie" Dooley, from whom he learned to be a blues singer. When Anderson was not traveling with Dr. Kerr, he and Dooley would play to small gatherings in Greenville, Spartanburg, and other neighboring communities, as well as recording four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta in April, 1928. After Dr. Kerr retired in 1945, Anderson stayed more close to home in Spartanburg. He still "went out" annually when he could with Leo "Chief Thundercloud" Kahdot and his medicine show, often with harmonica-player Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson. In May 1950, Anderson was recorded by folklorist Paul Clayton at the Virginia State Fair. Heart problems eventually forced Anderson to retire from the road in 1957. He was once recorded extensively in the early 60's by Samuel Charters with the material issued on several albums on the Bluesville label. A stroke in the late 1960s curtailed his musical activity. Attempts by folklorist Peter B. Lowry in 1970 to get Anderson on tape were not successful. He died in October 1974.

Read Liner Notes

Between 1969 and 1980 Peter B. Lowry amassed hundreds of photographs, thousands of selections of recordings, music and interviews in his travels through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. He formed the Trix label as an outlet to release his recordings. Lowry set up the Trix Records label in 1972 starting with a series of 45’s with LP’s being released by 1973. It lasted about a decade as an active label dealing mainly with Piedmont blues artists from the Southeastern states. In addition to the seventeen issued Trix albums there is sufficient material for another 40 to 50 CD’s. We play several of Lowry's recordings including tracks by Willie Trice, Henry Johnson and George Higgs & Elester Anderson.

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 for Decca in 1937. Unlike many of his fellow musician friends, Trice always had a day job and it wasn't until the 1970's that he recorded again. Blue And Rag'd , his sole album, was released on Trix in 1973.

Henry Johnson was born in Union County, S.C.in 1908. He was inspired to play guitar by local musicians and the records of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake & Blind Boy Fuller. Around 1933 he also took up playing the piano. All of these influences made him a multi-instrumentalist playing finger-picking as well as slide guitar styles, piano and he also picked up harmonica along the way. A buried treasure, he wasn't heard until early white blues enthusiasts chanced upon him in the early 1970's. Johnson recorded a full-length album for Trix in 1973, and a few live recordings by him were later released on a Flyright Records LP compilation. Johnson passed away in Union in February of 1974.

George Mitchell who made some remarkable field recordings throughout the South over a twenty year period beginning in the early 1960's. Many of these recordings have appeared on specialist labels like Southland, Revival, Flyright, Arhoolie and Rounder but are long out of print now. Several years ago the Fat Possum label acquired the Mitchell archive and has been reissuing the recordings through a variety of formats including CD, 7-inch record and digital download. We feature several of Mitchell's recordings by artists such as Cliff Scott, Cecil Barfield, Jimmy Lee Williams, John Lee Ziegler and James Davis.

Cliff Scott lived in Dranesville, Georgia, and learned a good deal about music from his neighbor Dixon Hunt. Approximately 40 years old in when he was recorded by George Mitchell in 1969.

Read Liner Notes

Cecil Barfield was discovered in 1976 by George Mitchell, who was touring the state for field research. He was living outside a tiny farm town on a meager disability check (in fact, the original LP was released under the name William Robertson, because Barfield was scared that he would lose his disability benefits if he released the record under his own name. the album was called South Georgia Blues and originally issued on the Southland label (since reissued in 2009 by Big Legal Mess Records). Mitchell recorded Barfield extensively and many of these recordings were unissued until recently mad available by Fat Possum as digital downloads. Barfield was also recorded by Art Rosenbaum and Pete Lowry.

Born in 1925 in Polan in Worth County, GA, guitarist Jimmy Lee Williams lived his whole life in the area, working as a farmer. He learned to play guitar in 1941, and was soon spending his weekends playing for all-night frolics in the area's juke joints. Musicologist George Mitchell recorded Williams at two sessions in 1977 and 1982.

John Lee Ziegler legacy rests on just a handful of recordings made by George Mitchell in the late 1970's and some sides made in the 1990's for the Music Maker organization.

Kip Lornell has worked on music projects for the Smithsonian Institute, has a doctorate in ethnomusicology and is the author of several articles and books. He also did some field recordings in the in the Southeast in the 70's. Among those we feature tracks by James “Guitar Slim” Stephens, Pernell charity and Carl Hodges. Some of Lornell's field recordings appear on the Virginia Traditions series issued by the Blue Ridge Institute for Appalachian Studies at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia. They released a series of eight LPs in the late '70s and early '80s. From those albums we play fine sides by Turner Foddrell and Lewis "Rabbit" Muse among others.

I want to thank Kip Lornell for send me a copy of the extremely hard to find Guitar Slim album. James “Guitar Slim” Stephens was born on March 10, 1915, near Spartanburg, South Carolina. He began playing pump organ when he was only five years old, singing spirituals he learned from his parents and reels he heard from his older brother pick on the banjo. Within a few years, Slim was playing piano. When he was thirteen, he began picking guitar, playing songs he heard at local house parties and churches. A few years later he joined the John Henry Davis Medicine Show, playing music to draw crowds. For in the next twenty or so years, he moved throughout the eastern United States living in such cities as Richmond, Durham, Louisville, Nashville, and Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1953 he arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he lived for the remainder of his life playing both guitar and piano–singing the blues at house parties and spirituals at church. His lone LP, Greensboro Rounder, was issued in 1979 by the Flyright label. In 1980 he was recorded by Axel Kunster and Ziggy Christmann which was issued as part of the Living Country Blues series on the L&R label. He passed in 1989.

Read Liner Notes: Pt. 1Pt. 2Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

Virginia guitarist Carl Hodges recorded for Pete Welding in 1961, he was also recorded by folklorist Kip Lornell in 1979. Hodges had quit his music in more recent years, but began playing again after Music Maker Foundationprovided him with a guitar and booked him some gigs. Hodges passed away earlier this year

Born in 1908 in Franklin County, VA, Lewis "Rabbit" Muse performed for white and black audiences from the 1920's until the '80s. A consummate entertainer, he played, sang and danced at medicine shows and folk festivals. He recorded a pair of hard to find albums, Muse Blues and Sixty Minute Man, for Rocky Mount's Outlet Records label in the 1970's. He passed in 1982.

We spotlight several cuts today from the recently release Classic Appalachian Blues From Smithsonian Folkways, a terrific collection spanning the late 50's through the early 80's. Particularly interesting  are the tracks recorded between 1971-1982 which have been recently digitized thanks to a preservation grant from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and were made at Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife. From that festival we spotlight songs by Virginian blues artist Archie Edwards and North Carolina's Peg Leg Sam Jackson.

Archie Edwards was born on a farm near Union Hall in rural Virginia in 1918. He would play along to some of his favorite records by Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, and Blind Lemon Jefferson.  When he was twelve, his older brother would go to house parties and brag to the musicians and other people at the party about how good Archie was.  He would then go home and wake up Archie, who would then go play at the party and be just as good if not better than the older musicians playing there. In the 1930s, he and his brother got a job at a near by sawmill. Archie played guitar in his spare time and went home on weekends to play for parties. After serving in the the war, he went to Richmond, Virginia, to become a barber. He set up a barbershop in Washington D.C. His barbershop became a musical hangout spot for many local musicians. Through the barbershop, Edwards met Mississippi John Hurt. The two started playing together and joined up with Skip James and played around the city for the new white audience. He died in 1998. His first recordings appeared on Living Country Blues Vol. 6 and he cut albums for Northern Blues and Mapleshade.

Peg Leg Sam Jackson made his living busking on the street and performing in medicine shows. Hem gave his last medicine-show performance in 1972 in North Carolina, but continued to appear at music festivals in his final years. Born For Hard Luck was a documentary about his life in 1976. He cut a coupe of albums in the 70's before passing in 1977.

Among other notable recordings today include tracks by Buddy Moss, Elizabeth Cotton, John Jackson, Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) , Frank Hovington, Turner Foddrell  and Eddie Lee Jones.

Buddy Moss playing guitar in the
Green County Convict Camp, 1941.

A talented harmonica player in his teens, Buddy Moss took up 6-string guitar after he moved to Atlanta in 1928 and began associating with Barbecue Bob, Charley Lincoln, and Curley Weaver. He advanced quickly on the instrument and within a few years was one of the Southeast’s foremost blues performers. By the mid 1930s, his output of 78s rivaled that of Blind Willie McTell, with whom he occasionally performed. ust as he was poised to become one of the Southeast’s most important bluesman, Moss was convicted of a major crime. Pete Lowry explained, “Roger Brown has seen official documentation of Moss having killed his girlfriend because he thought she was fooling around with another.” With the death of Blind Boy Fuller in 1941, J.B. Long, a record company talent scout who’d worked with Fuller, helped secure Moss’ release. Five weeks after this session, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. With it came a ban on most recordings, and Moss’ session work came to a halt. He was never able to regain the momentum he’d had in the 1930s.

John Jackson was born in Woodville, Virginia into a musical family, he learned to play as a boy before moving in his twenties to Fairfax, where he had a day job as a gravedigger, one of many jobs he performed. In the early 1960's he cut several albums for Arhoolie. He visited Europe several times, played at folk festivals, and also recorded for Rounder and Alligator Records. Jackson died in 2002.

Frank Hovington was from Pennsylvania but lived in Delaware. He was recorded by Dick Spottswood & Bruce Bastin in the summer of 1975 at Frank’s home, using a tape recorder on loan from the Library of Congress. It was released by the British Label Flyright Records in 1976 as Lonesome Road Blues. He was recorded again in 1980 for the Living Country Blues series. He disliked travel and did not play away from his Delaware home, afraid that he would lose his welfare support payments, and so did not get the publicity from music festival appearances that his talent deserved.

Pete Lowry called Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) "One of the most spontaneous musicians around; right up there with Lightnin' Hopkins, maybe more so." He cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the album long out-of-print Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) which is where our selection comes from and a final album for Lowry's Trix label, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975.

Robert Lewis Jones, known as both Guitar Gabriel and Nyles Jones, was influenced by artists such as Blind Boy Fuller and Reverend Gary Davis. After hearing of Guitar Gabriel from the late Greensboro, North Carolina blues guitarist and pianist, James "Guitar Slim" Stephens, musician and folklorist Tim Duffy located and befriended Gabriel, who was the inspiration for the creation of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. His father, Sonny Jones recorded for Vocalion Records in 1939 in Memphis, accompanied by Sonny Terry and Oh Red. In 1935, Gabriel's family moved to Durham, North Carolina, where he began playing guitar on the streets. Between the ages of 15 and 25, Gabriel traveled the country playing the guitar in medicine shows. In 1970, Gabriel went to Pittsburgh and recorded a single, "Welfare Blues," as well as an album My South, My Blues with the Gemini label under the name Nyles Jones. Tim Duffy found him in 1990 and teamed up with and several albums were released in the 90's. He passed in 1996.

Elizabeth Nevills (Cotton) was born in Carrboro, North Carolina, at the border of Chapel Hill, to a musical family. By her early teens she was writing her own songs. After getting married she gave up guitar for 25 years, except for occasional church performances. It wasn't until she reached her 60's that she began recording and performing publicly. She was discovered by the folk-singing Seeger family while she was working for them as a housekeeper.

Marvin and Turner  Foddrell were born into a musical family near Stuart in the Virginia Piedmont and for the major parts of their lives played regularly only at community gatherings, never professionally. Discovered in the 1970s', the Foddrells became a regular fixture at the annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival at nearby Ferrum College and were also featured at many other festivals including some in Europe. The Foddrell Brothers recorded albums on Swingmaster and Outlet, and also appeared alongside more famous traditional musicians on a number of recorded anthologies. Both brothers have since passed away. Lowry recorded them extensively in 1979 but none of these recordings were ever issued.

In 1965 folklorist Bill Koon was out for a walk near Lexington, GA, when he happened across Eddie Lee "Mustright" Jones playing guitar on a porch. Intrigued, Koon walked up and introduced himself, quickly realizing that Jones' archaic song repertoire, which bounced between old black spirituals, early blues, and interpretations of fiddle dance tunes, was something special. He returned with a reel-to-reel recorder and taped several hours of Jones singing and playing, often with interjections and unsolicited vocals from Jones' family and friends. The results were released on Pete Welding's Testament label. Little else is known about Jones.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldBroome Street Blues Rare Country Blues Vol. 2 1929-1943
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldWest Kinney Street Blues New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Alex Seward & Louis HayesBig Trouble Blues Downs BluesCarolina Blues NYC 1944
Alex Seward & Louis HayesUps And Carolina Blues NYC 1944
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Knockabout Blues (Carolina Blues) New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Brownie's Blues (Lordy Lord)Rub A Little Boogie: New York blues 1945-1956
Sonny Terry Dangerous Woman (with a 45 in Her Hand)Rub A Little Boogie: New York blues 1945-1956
Gabriel Brown Good-Time Papa Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Gabriel Brown The Jinx Is On MeShake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Boy Green Play My Jukebox Play My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Big Chief EllisDices DicesNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Richard TriceBlood Red RiverCarolina Blues 1937-1945
Hank KilroyHarlem WomanPlay My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Leroy DallasI'm Going Away New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Ralph WillisNeighborhood Blues Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Ralph WillisMama, Mama Blues Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Dan PickettBaby How LongShake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Dan PickettRide to a Funeral in a V-8Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Little DavidShackles Round My BodyDown Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
Tarheel Slim You're a Little Too SlowEast Coast Blues
Dennis McMillonPaper Wooden DaddyNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Curley WeaverSome Rainy Day The Post-War Years 1949
Curley Weaver Trixie The Post-War Years 1949
Blind Willie McTell Talkin' To You MamaThe Post-War Years 1949
Blind Willie McTell Talkin' To You MamaThe Post-War Years 1949
Carolina Slim Mama's Boogie Carolina Slim 1950-1952
Marilyn ScottI Got What My Daddy Likes New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Guitar Shorty I Love That Woman Play My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Champion Jack Dupree Stumbling Block BluesNew York & The East Coast States 1943-195
Julius KingMississippi Boogie A Shot in the Dark:Nashville Jumps
Robert Lee WestmorelandHello Central Please Give Me 209New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Doug QuattlebaumDon't Be Funny BabyNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Square Walton Bad Hangover New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953

Show Notes:

Today's is a sequel to a show we did a few weeks, Seaboard Stomp – East Coast Blues 1927-1941, devoted to East Coast blues from the 20's through the early 40's. Today's show takes the story through 1953. Today we emphasize the contribution to post-war blues made by singers from the Southeast and the Mid Atlantic states where many gravitated to New York. These performers tended to prefer a lighter and more melodic style than those from the Mississippi Delta who subsequently brought the blues to Chicago and Detroit. The bulk of these recordings, in fact, were recorded in New York. On today's program we spotlight well known artists like Blind Willie McTell, Brownie McGhee and Champion Jack Dupree as well as a slew of superb less remembered artists like Ralph Willis, Dan Pickett, Alec Seward and partner Louis Hayes among others. For an in-depth look at the Piedmont blues I recommend Bruce Bastin’s exhaustive study Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast which has been an invaluable resource for this show and its predecessor.

As on our first installment of East Coast Blues, the influence of the popular Blind Boy Fuller still looms large on many of these recordings. Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span (1935-1941). 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. His influence can be heard in the music of today's featured artists such as Boy Green, Carolina Slim, Richard Trice and Julius King.

Boy Green cut one 78, "A and B Blues b/w Play My Jukebox", in 1944 for Regis. Nothing is known of Green who possessed a fine voice and was an excellent guitar picker.

Carolina Slim was a Piedmont blues guitarist from North Carolina whose style was shaped as much by Lightnin' Hopkins as it was by Blind Boy Fuller evidenced on tracks like "Shake Boogie" and "Rag Mama." He was born Edward Harris in Leasburg, North Carolina, near the Virginia border. In 1950, Harris was dubbed Carolina Slim when he recorded for Herman Lubinsky's Savoy group of labels. He moved to Newark, the home of Savoy, after his first session. He recorded for King as Country Paul in 1951-52 before returning to Savoy in 1953.

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.

As Paul Garon writes in the notes to Down Home Blues Classics: New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953: "Julius King (1915-1970) was born and died in Tennessee, but his heaviest stylistic influence was North Carolina's Blind Boy Fuller, both in vocal inflection and in guitar style. "I Want A Slice of Yo~ Pudding" features a kazoo, as well as a fondness for raggy, Fuller-style pieces, and hokum material played a significant role in King's repertoire.  "One O'Clock Boogie" seems to draw inspiration from Pinetop Slim who recorded in Atlanta in 1949, and possibly  even from John Lee who recorded in Montgomery in 1951. While  "Mississippi Boogie" features King's kazoo playing, it also echoes Barbecue Bob tonally, especially the latter's flood blues." King cut a lone four-son session for Tennessee in 1952.

Several of today's artists get twin spins including the duos of Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield, Alec Seward & Louis Hayes and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, plus Gabriel Brown, Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver, Ralph Willis and Dan Pickett.

Gabriel Brown was discovered in Florida by folk music researchers Alan Lomax and Zora Neal Hurston in the '30's and launched his recording career with sides for the Library of Congress. He began making commercial recordings, starting in 1943, for A&R man, record label owner, and record producer Joe Davis and worked for him through 1952.

Seth Richards, possibly from Virgina, recorded a couple tracks under his real name in 1928 ("Lonely Seth Blues b/w Skoodeldum Doo"), which would be his last recordings until he recorded four songs as Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield in 1943 for the Regis label.

Alec Seward was born in Charles City County, Virginia and relocated to New York in 1924. Seward befriended Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, and retained his Piedmont blues styling despite changes in musical trends. He met Louis Hayes (who later became a minister in northern New Jersey) and the duo performed variously named as the Blues Servant Boys, Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly, or The Back Porch Boys. The duo recorded sides in 1944 and another batch in 1947. During the 1940's and 1950's Seward played and recorded with Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, McGhee and Terry. Seward issued the album Creepin' Blues (1965, Bluesville) with harmonica accompaniment by Larry Johnson. Later in the decade Seward worked in concert and at folk-blues festivals. He died at the age of 70, in New York in May 1972.

Brownie McGhee worked in a partnership with Sonny Terry for most of his career and also recorded with many of today's featured artists including Leroy Dallas, Champion Jack Dupree, and Big Boy Ellis. McGhee began recording as Blind Boy Fuller No. 2, immediately after Fuller's death in 1941. He sung on one side from Fuller's last session, whereas Terry had been backing Fuller on and off since 1937. McGhee's manager, J. B. Long, suggested that Brownie take Sonny Terry to Washington DC where they played together at a concert with Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. Afterwards, they recorded for the Library of Congress. They also recorded for Moe Asch, of Folkways, backing singers as diverse as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, and in 1944 they began to record for Savoy. Wartime shellac restrictions had loosened and many small and independent labels were recording the new sounds of R & B, as well as the postwar blues. During the period of today's program, the 40's and 50's, the duo cut fine sides, both together and aprat, for Savoy, Gotham, Sittin' In With, Folkways, Capitol and others. McGhee can also be heard today backing Big Chief Ellis on "Dices Dices", Ellis and McGhee back Leroy Dallas on "I'm Going Away" and with Terry backing Champion Jack Dupree on "Stumbling Block Blues."

For years James Founty, known professionally as Dan Pickett, was a mystery man. Field trips in the early 90’s have solved most mysteries although most of the research remains unpublished. He recorded five singles for Gotham plus four unreleased tracks in 1949. Pickett's repertoire was derived almost exclusively from 30’s recordings synthesizing those styles into a unique sound of his own.

According to David Evans: "Around the end of 1949, or more likely early in 1950, Curley Weaver recorded four songs for the Sittin’ In With label. It’s not certain whether there were one or two sessions and whether the recordings were made in Atlanta or New York. Two tracks were not released until 1952 and may actually have been recorded that year." Weaver and McTell also cut a batch of records made in Atlanta for Regal Records in May 1950. Weaver's "Some Rainy Day" is a remake of "Some Cold Rainy Day" is a remake of a 1933 duet with Ruth Willis while "Trixie" is a rag version of the popular "Tricks Ain't Walking No More." Weaver can be heard again backing McTell on the bouncy, perfectly integrated "Talkin' To You Mama" while McTell takes it alone on

I want to say something about a few of the other artists featured on today's program including Big Chief Ellis, Leroy Dallas, Marylin Scott, Guitar Shorty and Doug Quattlebaum.

Big Chief Ellis was a barrelhouse pianist from Alabama who recorded behind many great Piedmont blues artists in the '40s and '50s in addition to making his own fine, if lesser-selling, records. Brownie McGhee got Ellis on record by phoning Bob Shad at Continental, who recorded Chief for the label and for the Sittin' In With label he later started. Ellis backed McGhee (and his brother Sticks) several times, including Sticks' one hit, "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee." Brownie backed Ellis on the latter's signature tune "Dices Oh Dices", a song about his lifelong profession as a gambler. Ellis became a fixture of New York's small blues scene, playing every weekend with Brownie and occasionally with Sonny Terry. He also recorded with/behind a large number of the city's R&B-flavored bluesmen, including Tarheel Slim, Leroy Dallas, Mickey Baker, and Ralph Willis. He cut his lone full-length album for the Trix label in the 70's.

Leroy Dallas was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1920 and moved to Memphis in 1924. Along his travels he played washboard behind Brownie McGhee and formed a band with James McMillan playing the streets and juke joints of Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee. McMillan taught Dallas guitar and the two went on to tour the southern states working with Frank Edwards who made recordings in1949 and Georgia Slim who made records in 1937. By 1943 Dallas settled in Brooklyn New York. He made his first records for Sittin’ In With in 1949 consisting of six songs. He was accompanied by Brownie McGhee who was instrumental in setting up the session. Dallas was rediscovered by blues researcher Pete Welding and made a few recordings in the 60’s.

Mary DeLoatch, also known as Mary DeLoach, was a Norfolk, VA-based gospel singer who used the name Marylin Scott or Marylyn Scott the Carolina Blues Girl when performing blues. When performing gospel she sounded quite a bit like Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She switched to exclusively religious material after 1950 and her final recording appears to have been made in 1967 when she was photographed playing an electric guitar while wearing evangelical robes. Bruce Bastin wrote that our track, "I Got What My Daddy Likes", "is one of the finest postwar blues from the Piedmont."

Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the album Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) and his final album for Trix, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975.

Born in South Carolina in 1927, Doug Quattlebaum came to Philadelphia in the early 1940's. In 1953 he cut three sides for Gotham records; two of them appeared on a Gotham 78, but the third was only rediscovered years later. In 1961 Pete Welding recorded Quattlebaum again, after hearing that he was still around. He was driving a Mr. Softee ice cream truck and performing for his patrons. Scheduled for issue on a Testament album, the sides remained unissued until the 90's. A few months later Welding recording him, few months later Quattlebaum recorded for Bluesville, the results issued on the marvelous Softee Man Blues with a picture of the artist in his ice cream uniform on the front cover.

Related Articles:

-Carolina Slim: Blues Go Away From Me album notes by Pete Lowry

-Guitar Shorty An Appreciation and Memory by Valerie Wilmer (Blues Unlimited 120 (1976), p. 20-21) ][PDF]

-Doug Quattlebaum By Paul Sheatsley (Record Research No. 42, March/April 1962, p.12) [PDF]

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Blind Blake Georgia Bound The Best of Blind Blake
Blind Blake Blind Arthur's BreakdownThe Best of Blind Blake
Floyd 'Dipper Boy' CouncilI'm Grievin' & I'm Worryin' Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2
Blind Boy FullerUntrue BluesRemastered 1935-1938
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeBorn for Bad Luck The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 3
Willie WalkerDupree BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 1
Willie WalkerSouth Carolina RagMama Let Me Lay It On You
Rev. Gary DavisCross And Evil Woman BluesThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Rev. Gary DavisLord I Wish I Could SeeThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Luke Jordan Church Bells Blues The Songster Tradition 1927-1935
Josh WhiteBlood Red RiverThe Essential
Pink Anderson & Simmie DooleyGonna Tip Out, Tonight Good for What Ails You
William MooreOne Way Gal The Rain Don't Fall On Me - Country Blues 1927-1952
William MooreRagtime Millionaire Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Blind BlakeToo Tight Blues, No. 2The Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeSeaboard StompThe Best of Blind Blake
Carl MartinOld Time BluesVirginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues
Carl MartinCrow Jane Carl Martin & Willie '61' Blackwell 1930-1941
Charlie Lincoln If It Looks Like Jelly, Shakes Like Jelly, It Must Be GelatineCharley Lincoln & Willie Baker
Barbecue BobEase It to Me BluesThe Essential
Tarter & GayUnknown BluesA Richer Tradition
Tarter & GayBrownie Blues Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Curley Weaver & Blind Willie McTellYou Was Born to DieThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Buddy MossUnfinished BusinessNew York City Blues 1940-1950
Blind Willie McTellGeorgia RagThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Rev. Gary DavisI'm Throwin' Up My HandsThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Rev. Gary DavisI Belong To The Band Hallelujah!The Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Bayless RoseOriginal BluesRagtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Bayless RoseBlack Dog Blues American Primitive, Vol. II
Sam MontgomeryShe Stays Drunk All The TimeBlues & Gospel From The Eastern States
Bull City Red Black Woman and Poison BluesBlues & Gospel From The Eastern States
Peg Leg Howell Too Tight BluesAtlanta Blues
Julius DanielsNinety-Nine Year BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down

Show Notes:

We've explored East Coast Blues previously with shows devoted to Atlanta Blues and Blind Boy Fuller and his circle. Today's show is not as tightly focused as those shows, giving me a opportunity to focus on some fine lesser known artists plus several bigger names like Blind Blake and Rev. Gary Davis who I haven't spotlighted in depth. I have two sequels in the works; one on the immediate post-war period, roughly from 1943 through the early 50's and another on the still active scene of the 1960's and 70's (some of which we touched in our show devoted to Pete Lowry's Trix label). The music to be found on today's program is generally classified as Piedmont Blues, a term that refers to a style and geographic region.

Piedmont Blues refers to a regional of centered on musicians of the southeastern United States. Geographically, the Piedmont means the foothills of the Appalachians west of the tidewater region and Atlantic coastal plain stretching roughly from Richmond, VA, to Atlanta, GA. Musically, Piedmont blues describes the shared style of musicians from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, as well as others from as far afield as Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Influenced by ragtime, country string bands, traveling medicine shows, and popular song of the early 20th century, East Coast Blues blended both black and white, rural and urban song elements in the urban centers of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic region. The Piedmont guitar style employs a complex fingerpicking method in which a regular, alternating-thumb bass pattern supports a melody on treble strings. The guitar style is highly syncopated and connects closely with an earlier string-band tradition, integrating ragtime, blues, and country dance songs. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles. The term was coined by blues researcher Peter B. Lowry who in turn gives co-credit to fellow folklorist Bruce Bastin (Bastin's Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast is the definitive work on the subject). Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. Blind Boy Fuller's 1940 recording of "Step It Up & Go" sold over half a million copies to both blacks and whites. Below you'll find some background on today's featured artists.

Despite his popularity and much investigation, Blind Blake remains a shadowy figure. As for biographical details there is the following from his first Defenderadvertisement: "Early Morning Blues” is the first record of this new exclusive Paramount artist, Blind Blake. Blake, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida, is known up and down the coast as a wizard at picking his piano-sounding guitar. His ‘talking guitar’ they call it, and when you hear him sing and play you’ll know why Blind Blake is going to be one of the most talked about Blues artist in music." He was so popular, Paramount released at least one, and sometimes numerous, new records under his name every month. When his record sales began to fall in 1929, he contacted a good friend of his, George Williams, who managed the vaudeville show Happy-Go-Lucky. Blake played with the show until late 1930 or 1931. Blake disappeared from the Chicago music scene in 1932. He traveled to Grafton, WI, in 1932 to record his last songs with Paramount before they went bankrupt. Between the summers of 1926 and 1932, he recorded roughly 80 titles for the Paramount label. As Gary Davis noted: "I ain't never heard anybody on a record yet beat Blind Blake on guitar." And as Bruce Bastin summed up: "Arguably the finest ragtime artist who ever recorded, Blind Blake was also one of the few musicians to excel in both ragtime and blues."

In the late 1920's Gary Davis was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar. He was a considerable influence on Blind Boy Fuller who he backed on second guitar at a 1935 session. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-0s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the 1930's with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a stunning mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again.

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."

As he grew older, Josh White dropped out of school to work with various street singers throughout the southeastern United States. He sang with Blind Blake, Blind Lemon, Willie Walker, and Blind Joe Taggar,with whom he recorded with, and these musicians were his major influences in music. During the first half of his life he was an important blues artist in the Piedmont style and played primarily in the South. While guiding Taggert 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. He backed up many artists for recordings before recording his first popular Paramount recording. Late in 1930, New York's ARC Records sent two A&R men to find Joshua White, the lead boy who had recorded for Paramount in 1928.After his signing, White moved to New York City, billed as "Joshua White – The Singing Christian". Within a few months, after recording all of his religious repertoire, ARC explained to White that he could make more money if he also recorded the blues repertoire he had learned, in addition to working as a session man for other artists. White, at 18 and still underage, signed a new contract under the name "Pinewood Tom" in 1932 .As a session guitarist, he recorded with Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Buddy Moss, Charlie Spand, The Carver Boys, Walter Roland, and Lucille Bogan.

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 H. B. Long, Fuller recorded for ARC and Decca. He also served as a conduit to recording sessions, steering fellow blues musicians to the studio. Between 1935 and 1940 he cut over a 120 sides. He died in 1941 at the age of 33.

Floyd Council was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on September 2, 1911, to Harrie and Lizzie Council. Floyd later began working with Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930's, earning him the nickname Blind Boy Fuller's Buddy. ACR RecordsJohn Baxter Long invited Council to record alongside Fuller on a 1937 New York City session, after hearing him playing in Chapel Hill in January of that year. He recorded six sides at two sessions as a solo artist.

Sonny Terry was born Saunders Terrell on October 24, 1911, in Greensboro, NC. He began traveling to nearby Raleigh and Durham, performing on street corners for tips. In 1934, he befriended the popular guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller convinced Terry to move to Durham, where the two immediately gained a strong local following. By 1937, they were offered an opportunity to go to New York and record for the Vocalion label. 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? 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.

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 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.

Post-war research by Bruce Bastin reveals that Luke Jordan was a key figure in the blues enclave centered around Lynchburg, VA. Victor Records discovered him in 1927 and he recorded for them in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August of that year. Jordan? records sold well enough to justify transporting him to New York for a further two sessions in November 1929.

When he was sixteen, Pink Anderson met blind Simeon "Simmie" Dooley. He would be Pink's teacher and mentor until Simmie's death in 1961.When he wasn't traveling with medicine shows, Anderson would get together with Dooley and they would play at picnics, dances, and parties. In 1928, Pink and Simmie traveled to Atlanta and recorded four tracks together for Columbia records. He did not record again until 1950 and was extensively recorded in the 60's.

Carl Martin was born near Stone Gap, VA, on April 1, 1906. His main instrument was mandolin but he also mastered the guitar. Beginning with an Oct. 27,1934 session for Bluebird, where he cut "You can Go your way" and "Kid Man Blues", Martin participated in six additional sessions from January of the following year through mid-April of 1936, for OKeh, Vocalion, Bluebird, Decca and Champion, recording a total of 13 selections.

Peg Leg Howell arrived in Atlanta in 1923 and was recorded by Columbia in November 1926. His first session featured Howell solo and are certainly appealing but it? the rough, exciting stringband music he recorded with His Gang that really grabs attention. The gang consisted of Henry Williams on guitar and the infectious alley fiddle of Eddie Anthony. Unfortunately the trio only made a handful of recordings as Williams apparently died in jail in January 1930 while serving time for vagrancy and Anthony passed in 1934, after which Howell gave up music.

Within a year or so of Peg Leg Howell's arrival in Atlanta, Robert Hicks aka Barbecue Bob came to the city. He learned guitar, as did his older brother Charlie, and their friend Curley Weaver from the latter's mother Savannah Weaver. Robert Hicks as Barbecue Bob he became the most heavily recorded Atlanta bluesman of the 1920's with his records selling steadily for Columbia until his untimely death in 1931. He recorded over fifty issued sides between 1927 and 1930

Other featured artists today include Stephen Tarter and Harry Gay, William Moore, Julius Daniels and Bayless Rose. Tarter and Gay are an obscure duo from the western tip of Virginia. They made one great record in 1928, "Brownie Blues b/w Unknown Blues.". Virtually nothing is know of Bayless Rose who cut four issued sides in June 1930 , with several sides left unissued. Perhaps the only source for information on Bayless Rose is an article by Christopher King in 78 Quarterly #12. He interviewed Dick Justice's daughter, and she remembered her daddy hanging out with a guitar player named 'Bailey Rose' back in the '30s. She described Bailey Rose as 'the man who sounded the most like daddy', and said he was a railroad worker who traveled thru WV, OH & IN. She said he was 'quite a bit older than daddy. He taught [daddy] how to play Old Black Dog and Brown Gal. When asked whether Bailey Rose was black, she denied that he was, tho she said "he was kind of foreign-looking, though". She elaborated, saying "he was sort of short with dark, curly hair but with darker skin, sort of like an Arab". She again denied he was black. After discussion of the parallels between Rose's and Justice's repertoires, King offers the theory that he was a melungeon. A resident of Tappahannock, Virginia, Bill Moore recorded sixteen sides for Paramount Record Company in 1928.

Related Articles:

-I'm Peg Leg Howell by Pete Welding (Blues Unlimited no. 10, March 1964) [PDF]

-Buddy Moss Talks to Valerie Wilmer (Melody Maker July 15, 1972) [PDF]

-Georgia Bound: The Search For Blind Arthur Blake in 1996 by Gayle Dean Wardlow and Joel Slotnikoff [Link]

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Show Notes:

Truckin' My Blues Away

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.

What follows is a sketch of Fuller and some background on today's featured artists. For an in-depth look at Fuller and the Piedmont blues I recommend Bruce Bastin's exhaustive study Red River Blues. Bastin was assisted greatly by the efforts of Pete Lowry who was featured on the program recently.

Fulton Allen was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina to Calvin Allen and Mary Jane Walker. As a boy he learned to play the guitar and also learned from older singers the field hollers, country rags, and traditional songs and blues popular in poor, rural areas. He married Cora Allen young and worked as a laborer, but began to lose his eyesight in his mid-teens. By 1928 he was completely blind, and turned to whatever employment he could find as a singer and entertainer, often playing in the streets. By studying the records of blues players like Blind Blake and the "live" playing of Gary Davis, he became a formidable guitarist, and Blind Boy Fullerplayed on street corners and at house parties in Winston-Salem, Danville, and then Durham, North Carolina. In Durham, playing around the tobacco warehouses, he developed a local following which included guitarists Floyd Council and Richard Trice, as well as harmonica player Sonny Terry and washboard player/guitarist George Washington.  In 1935, Burlington record store manager and talent scout James Baxter Long secured him a recording session with the American Recording Company (ARC). Allen, Davis and Washington recorded several tracks in New York City, including the traditional "Rag, Mama, Rag". To promote the material, Long decided to rename Allen as "Blind Boy Fuller", and also named Washington "Bull City Red." Over the next five years Fuller made over 120 sides. In April 1936, Fuller recorded ten solo performances, and also recorded with guitarist Floyd Council. The following year, having auditioning for J. Mayo Williams, he recorded for the Decca label, but then reverted to ARC. Later in 1937, he made his first recordings with Sonny Terry. In 1938 Fuller was imprisoned for shooting a pistol at his wife, wounding her in the leg, causing him to miss out on John Hammond's "Spirituals to Swing" concert in NYC that year. While Fuller was eventually released, it was Sonny Terry who went in his stead, the beginning of a long "folk music" career.Fuller was criticized by some as a derivative musician, but his ability to fuse together elements of other traditional and contemporary songs and reformulate them into his own performances, attracted a broad audience. He was an expressive vocalist and a masterful guitar player; best remembered for his up-tempo ragtime hits including "Step It Up and Go." At the same time he was capable of deeper material. Fuller died in 1941 at the age of 33, of blood poisoning that resulted in kidney failure, popularly ascribed to his heavy drinking.

Floyd Council was born on the 2nd of September 1911 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 ACR Records scout John Baxter Long heard him, playing alone on a street in Chapel Hill. It was Long who had first brought Fuller to NYC to record in July 1935. 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. Floyd performed around Chapel Hill through the ‘40s and ‘50s, both with Thomas Strowd and on his own. In the late ‘60s, a stroke partially paralyzed his throat muscles and slowed his motor skills. Floyd moved to Sanford, North Carolina, where he died in June 1976. His final recordings, made in August 1970, did not, apparently, merit release.

Rev. Gary Davis
Rev. gary Davis

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 Lowry's Trix label in 1973.

Gary Davis was a major influence on Blind Boy Fuller. In the late 1920's he was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar. He backed Fuller on second guitar at a 1935 session. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-'20s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the 1930's with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again.

Sonny Terry was born Saunders Terrell on October 24, 1911, in Greensboro, NC. He began traveling to nearby Raleigh and Durham, performing on street corners for tips. In 1934, he befriended the popular guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller convinced Terry to move to Durham, where the two immediately gained a strong local following. By 1937, they were offered an opportunity to go to New York and record for the Vocalion label. 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. McGhee was initially sent to look after Terry by Blind Boy's manager, J.B. Long. Long figured McGhee might get a chance to play some of the same shows as Terry. A friendship developed between the two men and following Fuller's death in 1941, Terry and McGhee moved to New York.

Sonny Terry
Sonny Terry

In the late 1940 McGhee came into contact with washboard player Bull City Red who in turn introduced McGhee to talent scout 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. McGhee claimed to have never recorded with Fuller but in later years when someone played him "Precious Lord" he recalled that it was him singing with Fuller on guitar.

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, department store owner 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 was later responsible for hooking Terry up with Brownie McGhee, whom he met while on a trip to Burlington. McGhee was partnered with a blues harpist and one-man band named Jordan Webb at the time, and Red introduced the two to Fuller and Terry as well as their manager. 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.

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