Sun 2 Sep 2012
|Snooky Pryor & Moody Jones||Stockyard Blues||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor & Moody Jones||Keep What You Got||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor & Moody Jones||Snooky and Moody's Boogie||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Johnny Young||My Baby Walked Out||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Baby Face Leroy||Take A Little Walk||1948-1952|
|Snooky Pryor & Moody Jones||Telephone Blues||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor||Boogy Fool||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Moody Jones||Rough Treatment||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor||Real Fine Boogie||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor||Going Back on the Road||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Sunnyland Slim||Back To Korea||Sunnyland Slim & His Pals|
|Sunnyland Slim||Going To Memphis||Sunnyland Slim & His Pals|
|Homesick James||12 St. Station||Chicago Slide Guitar Legend|
|Willie Nix||All By Yourself||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Willie Nix||No More Love||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Snooky Pryor||Cryin' Shame||Gonna Pitch a Boogie Woogie|
|Snooky Pryor||Crosstown Blues||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Willie Nix||Nervous Wreck||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Willie Nix||Just Can't Stay||Downhome Blues Classics: Chicago|
|Floyd Jones||Schooldays On My Mind||1948-1953|
|Floyd Jones||Ain't Times Hard||1948-1953|
|Snooky Pryor||Judgment Day||Vee Jay, The Chicago Black Music|
|Snooky Pryor||Uncle Sam Don't Take My Man||Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie|
|Floyd Jones||Any Old Lonesome Day||1948-1953|
|Floyd Jones||Floyd's Blues||1948-1953|
|Snooky Pryor||Dangerous Woman||Big Bear Sessions|
|Snooky Pryor||I Feel Alright||Big Bear Sessions|
|Snooky Pryor||Mighty Long Time||And The Country Blues|
|Homesick James||Fayette County Blues||Ain't Sick No More|
In his obituary for the Guardian, Tony Russell wrote: "Snooky Pryor, who has died aged 85, was the last of the group of harmonica players who distinguished the Chicago blues scene of the 1940s and 50s. If not quite the equal of men like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Walter "Shakey" Horton or Junior Wells, he was none the less a player with a distinctive sound, and his contributions to the early development of the Chicago blues-band idiom are held in high regard. In particular, the recordings he made in the late 40s, both in his own name and accompanying the singers Floyd Jones and Johnny Young, established him among blues enthusiasts of the 1960s as one of the defining figures of the primeval Chicago scene."
He was born in Lambert, Mississippi, spent parts of his early life in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois, and had a spell of army service in the early 1940s before settling in Chicago. He had been playing the harmonica since he was 14, and gigged in the evenings and at weekends, in clubs like the Jamboree and the 708, with a circle of musicians that included Floyd and his cousin Moody Jones, pianist Sunnyland Slim and guitarists Eddie Taylor and Homesick James. His style on the harmonica was derived in roughly equal parts from John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson and Aleck Miller (aka Sonny Boy Williamson #2). He got the idea of amplifying his harmonica while serving in the military during World War II, and in 1945 began performing at the Maxwell Street market with portable PA system he purchased at a store at 504 South State. As the first to amplify a harmonica, Pryor should rightly be recognized as a blues pioneer. As he boasted to Living Blues, "I started the big noise around Chicago." In the late 40's he cut a batch of great sides for small Chicago labels such as Marvel, Swingmaster and JOB.
Between 1950 and 1954 Pryor recorded steadily, cutting fine sides for JOB, Parrot, Ve-Jay backed by Chicago legends like Homesick James, Floyd Jones and Eddie Taylor. During this period he also backing Floyd Jones, Moody Jones and Sunnyland Slim on their records. He cut a few final sides in 1956, several unissued, for Vee-Jay before retiring from music for a spell in 1962.
Frustrated with the rough, low paying life of a bluesman, he dropped out of the music scene in the mid-1960s to become a carpenter and by 1967 relocated to Ullin, Illinois, to raise his large family. A chance encounter with the editors of Living Blues magazine in 1971 prompted a brief comeback that included a European tour and recordings for Today, Big Bear, and BluesWay in 1973. Remaining fairly inactive for the next fifteen years, Pryor was coaxed out of retirement in 1987 and recorded for Blind Pig. Throughout the 1990s, he recorded albums for Antone’s, Electro-Fi, and Blind Pig, and played sporadically at clubs and festivals. He passed in 2006.
Snooky's early partner, Moody Jones, played guitar and bass. He was born in Earle, Arkansas on April 8, 1908. Jones got his grounding in blues guitar by learning Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson songs. He moved north to Wolf Island, Missouri, then to East St. Louis, and arrived in Chicago in 1939. He developed his musicianship further in the Maxwell Street market, playing with his first cousin, guitarist Floyd Jones, as well as Snooky Pryor, Johnny Shines, Robert Nighthawk and others. After recording with Pryor, Moody Jones never had another release under his name. He appeared on several sessions for JOB in 1951 and 1952. He sang three numbers on a session that took place on April 28, 1952, but were not issued. Moody Jones continued to record for JOB through January 1953; then he gave up the blues and joined a gospel group. He later became a minister. Jones died in Chicago on March 23, 1988.
Guitarist Floyd Jones, was Moody Jones's cousin, and specialized in dark, blues that often spoke to tough times like "Stockyard Blues," "Dark Road," "Hard Times." He was born on July 21, 1917, in Marianna, Arkansas, and after several years of dabbling with the guitar began playing it in earnest after Howlin’ Wolf gave him an instrument. Through much of the 1930s and early 1940s he worked the South as an itinerant musician and settled in Chicago in 1945. He began playing on Maxwell Street and in non-union venues with such artists as Little Walter, John Henry Barbee, and Sunnyland Slim. In the fall of 1946, Jones teamed up with Snooky Pryor, soon joined by Moody Jones. The three were playing in a club on Sedgwick, when Chester Scales happened by and offered to record the trio, having remembered seeing Snooky on playing on the street sometime earlier. However, on the day of the session, Floyd Jones missed out on recording "Telephone Blues" and "Boogie," because he could not be located. Scales made up for it by recording the trio with Floyd Jones as the leader on "Stockyard Blues" and "Keep What You Got," two classics of postwar Chicago blues written by Jones. Much to Jones’s everlasting distress, when the record was released, Scales put Snooky and Moody down on the label as the main artists, and listed Floyd as mere vocalist. He also claimed composition credit on both titles.
According to his union file Homesick James was born in 1924; according to himself it might have been 1914 or 1910 or even 1905; 1910 seems the most probable. In his professional life he tended to call himself Homesick James Williamson, but his surname seems likely to have been Henderson.He claimed to have played in the 1930s with blues notables such as Memphis Minnie, Sleepy John Estes and Sonny Boy Williamson I, which may well have been true, and to have recorded in 1939 with the diminutive Memphis street-singer, Little Buddy Doyle, which almost certainly was not. As the blues writer David Whiteis comments: "He was a bluesman of the old school, through and through – a trickster from his heart."
At some time during the late 1930's or 40's he moved to Chicago, where he had a day job in a steel mill. During the 1950's he played in the city's clubs, often with the harmonica player Snooky Pryor (obituary, November 10 2006) or with the pianist Lazy Bill Lucas, who accompanied him on his first recordings for the Chance label. During the late 1950's and early 60's he played bass guitar in Elmore's band, experience that prompted him to record some of the other man's material, such as "Set a Date" and "Crossroads." Issued in Britain, these singles – possibly his best work – helped to raise his profile among blues enthusiasts. Soon after Elmore's death, Homesick recorded his first album, Blues on the South Side (1964). The spread of blues enthusiasm throughout Europe in the 1970's provided Homesick with numerous bookings, and he made at least five visits during the decade, often working in a duet with Pryor. Several live cuts from their tour appear on the album Big Bear album American Blues Legends. They also appear together on Snooky's And The Country Blues (1973), Homesick James' Ain't Sick No More (1973) and a pair of albums in the 70's for the Big Bear label. All of the Big Bear sides plus bonus cuts were issued on the 2-CD set the Big Bear Sessions. Little was heard from him in the 1980's, but he greeted the 1990's with a salvo of albums for various labels. He passed in 2007.
Of his pal Snooky, Homesick told Chris Millar in 1994: "Me and Snooky been playing nearly fifty tears. I'd known Snooky for many years., from every time I used to go through his place, a plantation down there in Vance, Mississippi. We were just like brothers man, me and Snooky usedto finish playing in the clubs early in the morning and go off fishing."
John O. Young, known as "Man" because he played mandolin as well as guitar, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on January 1, 1918. In the mid-1930s he played with a string band in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. He said he worked with Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon in Tennessee before moving to Chicago in 1940. In Chicago, he claimed to have performed with such notables as Memphis Minnie and Big Bill Broonzy, but one has to wonder how many of these were club dates, as Young was still essentially a street musician. By the late 1940s, he had become a regular in the Maxwell Street scene, playing with a cousin, guitarist Johnny Williams, along with Snooky Pryor, Floyd Jones, and Moody Jones. Pryor backs hom on one 78 for Swingmaster cut in 1948.
Born in Memphis, Willie Nix first entered performing as a tap dancer at age 12, and as a teenager during the late '30s, he toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels Shows as a dancing comedian. He appeared in various variety venues during the early '40s, and performed on streets and parks around Memphis. In 1947, Nix appeared with Robert Lockwood, Jr. on a Little Rock, AR radio station, and subsequently worked with Sonny Boy Williamson II, Willie Love and Joe Willie Wilkins as the Four Aces in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.Nix joined B.B. King and Joe Hill Louis for appearances on Memphis radio, and worked with The Beale Streeters during the late '40s. He made his first records in Memphis for RPM in 1951, and cut sides for Chess Records' Checker offshoot in 1952. Sam Philips signed him up as "the Memphis Blues Boy" for Sun in early 1953, as a singing drummer with a band, and he later cut sides for Art Sheridan's Chance label in Chicago which featured Snooky Pryor. He worked with Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnny Shines, and Memphis Slim during the mid '50s, but at the end of the decade was back in Memphis, and did a short stretch in prison late in the decade. Nix's health and abilities deteriorated during the '60s and '70s, and he hoboed around, performing occasionally, telling tall tales about his life and generally acting erratically.