Sun 17 Jun 2012
|Blind Blake||West Coast Blues||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Dry Bone Shuffle||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Come on Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around||The Best of Blind Blake|
|William Moore||Ragtime Millionaire||Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30|
|William Moore||Barbershop Rag||Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30|
|Blind Blake||He's In The Jailhouse Now||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Hey Hey Daddy Blues||All The Published Sides|
|Blind Blake||Sea Board Stomp||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Bayless Rose||Jamestown Exhibition||Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30|
|Bayless Rose||Black Dog Blues||Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30|
|Blind Blake||Ice Man Blues||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Wabash Rag||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Willie McTell||Georgia Rag||Atlanta Blues|
|Blind Willie McTell||Atlanta Strut||Atlanta Blues|
|Buddy Moss||Joy Rag||Atlanta Blues|
|Blind Blake||Southern Rag||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Hookworm Blues||All The Published Sides|
|Tarter and Gray||Unknown Blues||South Carolina Rag|
|Willie Walker||South Carolina Rag||South Carolina Rag|
|Blind Blake||Georgia Bound||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Hastings St||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Buddy Boy Hawkins||A Rag||Buddy Boy Hawkins And His Buddies|
|Kitty Gray & Her Wampus Cats w/ Oscar Woods||Baton Rouge Rag||Texas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Rag Mama Rag||Blind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-1938|
|Blind Boy Fuller||Mama Let Me Lay It On You||Blind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-1938|
|Blind Blake||Chump Man Blues||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Blind Blake||Blind Arthur's Breakdown||The Best of Blind Blake|
|Rev. Gary Davis||I'm Throwin' Up My Hands||Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949|
|Rev. Gary Davis||I Belong To The Band - Hallelujah!||Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949|
|Blind Blake||Diddie Wa Diddie||All The Published Sides|
|Blind Blake||Too Tight Blues, No. 2||The Best of Blind Blake|
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."