Interviews


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Stephen WadeInterview
Kelly PaceRock Island Line The Beautiful Music All Around Us
LeadbellyRock Island Line Leadbelly Vol: 4 1944
Nashville Washboard Band Soldier's JoyThe Beautiful Music All Around Us
Nashville Washboard Band Kohoma Blues Too Late, Too Late Vol. 10 1926-1951
Blind James Campbell & His Nashville Street Band Buffalo GalBlind James Campbell & His Nashville Street Band
Vera Hall Another Man Done GoneThe Beautiful Music All Around Us
Willie TurnerNow Your Man Done Gone Negro Folk Music of Alabama, Vol. 1: Secular Music
Big Joe Williams Please Don't Go Big Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935-41
Baby Doo Caston I'm Gonna Walk Your LogChicago Blues Vol. 2 1939-1944
Leadbelly & Golden Gate Quartet Alabama BoundAlabama Bound
Dennis Gainus You Gonna Look Like A Monkey A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1
Grover Dickson & Group Grizzley Bear A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1
Dudley Alexander and Washboard Band Baby, Please Don't Go A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1
Joel HopkinsBetter Down The Road A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1
Jack Jackson & Lightnin' Hopkins The Slop A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1
Mance Lipscomb Tom Moore's Farm A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 2
R.C. Forest & Gozy Kilpatrick Tin Can Alley A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 2
R.G. WIlliams & Group Hammer RingA Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 2
Prisoners Chopping In The New Ground Negro Prison Camp Worksongs
Prisoners Go Down Old HannahNegro Prison Camp Worksongs
Jesse "G.I. Jazz" Hendricks and groupRattlerNegro Folklore from Texas State Prisons
Johnny Jackson & Group Raise 'Em Up Higher Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons

Show Notes:

The Beautiful Music All Around UsOn today’s program we spotlight some great field recordings captured between the 1930’s through the 1960’s. In the first hour we talk with Stephen Wade about his new book The Beautiful Music All Around Us which presents the fascinating back stories of thirteen performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942. Through prodigious research, Wade sought out the performers on these recordings, their families, fellow musicians, and others who remembered them and reconstructs their lives and how the music was tied to the larger community. Wade is also known for his long-running stage performances of Banjo Dancing and On the Way Home. He also produced and annotated the Rounder CD collections A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings and Black AppalachiaIn the second hour we spotlight field recordings made by Mack McCormick and others around Houston plus recording made Texas prisons  by Bruce Jackson in the 1960’s and  Pete & Toshi Seeger, John Lomax Jr., Chester Bower and Fred Hellerman in 1951.

Through the dilegence of a relatively small number of dedicated researchers we know an amazing amount of information about early blues musicians. I'm no expert on country music but I imagine the case is similar. For all our knowledge there are many gaps; a fair number of the blues artists were itinerant musicians, traveling from town to town, or state to state and the other factor comes down to the fact that the white establishment wasn't all that concerned with documenting African-Americans, and if they were listed on census records, court documents, etc. that information is often inaccurate. The artists and songs Wade covers in The Beautiful Music All Around Us were biographical blanks, leaving leaving behind little of their origins, and seemingly impervious to discovery after so many decades. Through dogged research Wade has been able to flesh out the lives of folks like Bozie Sturdivant, Ora Dell Graham and Kelly Pace and find the origins and stories behind iconic songs such as "Rock Island Line" and "Another Man Done Gone." Our show has always focused on African-American music but Wade's book covers much wider territory, and illustrates the cross pollination there was between white and black music. Our focus for the first hour plus is some of the African-American artists covered in Wade's book: Kelly Pace, Nashville Washboard Band and Vera Hall.

In October 1934 John Lomax set up his recording equipment at Cummins State Prison in Little Rock, Arkansas  and recorded a group led by Kelly Pace singing "Rock Island Line." The story of that song and its singer is one of my favorite chapters in Wade's book, fleshing out Kelly from those who knew him, he comes across as fascinating, talented man who simply could not stay out of trouble, spending half his life behind bars. "My brother," said Kelly's brother Lawrence, "was a songster. He sang all sort of songs – songs of the church, of the blues, dance songs, work songs …You couldn't beat him working. He didn't wait till the dew is off. He'd say 'I'm going to get 400 pounds of cotton.' And when you was done half-way, he done cut out and coming back. …Kelly, he was something else.'"

Handbill
Handbill from lecture given at the Library of
Congress (click to enlarge)

Wade also unlocks the origins of that famous song: 'Rock Island Line' begin its journey in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the repair shops of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Based on a traditional form and arising within a commercial setting, the song, like a trunk line whose branches radiate across the countryside, soon moved beyond this work site making new stops, shifting its contents, and streamlining its load. It migrated from a gospel quartet that the Arkansas prisoners performed to a rhythmic fable that Huddie Ledbetter created as he traveled with John Lomax as chauffeur, auto mechanic, and musical demonstrator. Eventually the song reached an incalculable number of players, singers, and listeners via skiffle, rock and roll, country, pop, and the folksong revival."

John Work IV recalled to Wade when his father, John Work III, welcomed a quartet of street musicians called the Nashville Washboard Band into his home in 1942. As Wade writes "the musicians faced them in a row, seated side by side, lodged between the Works' radio set on one end and their Steinway parlor grand on the other. One band member chorded his banjo-mandolin, and another the guitar, but Work IV fixed most on the string bass a third member of the band had cobbled together from a length of laundry wire, a broomstick, and a lard can. …[T]he band's fourth member, who was blind, sat between, who was blind, set between two washboards mounted on a sawhorse and hinged in the shape of a V. He had attached to them an assemblage of frying pans, tin plates, and a metal bell, each registering different tones. Wearing sewing thimbles on his fingers, he tapped, clocked, and hammered this clattering array of stove-top resonators and corrugated surfaces." John Work IV recollected "These people were the music. …They could just play on and on, and the house would reverberate." Twenty years after a group calling themselves Blind James Campbell And His Nashville Street Band were recorded by Chris Strachwitz for Arhoolie Records. The group members knew the earlier group, linking the two in a long, if largely undocumented, tradition of black street bands.

Treasury of Field Recordings Vol. 1 Treasury of Field Recordings Vol. 2
Read Liner Notes Pt.1 / Pt. 2

In 1940, in Livingston, Alabama, Vera Hall sang "Another Man Done" twice into John Lomax's recording machine. The song became Hall's signature number and when Alan Lomax included the number for one of the Folk Archive's first releases the song entered the mainstream, recorded by Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, John Mayall, Odetta and numerous others. In the chapter on Vera Hall, Wade provides background on Hall, the conditions she grew up in and the meaning behind the song. "When Vera recorded "Another Man Done" she told John Lomax that she learned it from her guitar-playing husband. …When writer-collector Harold Courlander came to Livingston in February 1950, he recorded both Vera singing 'Another Man Done,' as well as someone she knew: Willie Turner, a twenty-seven-year-old  confined at Camp Livingston. With his two fellow inmates, he sang and recorded 'Now Your Man Done Gone,' a piece they otherwise sang on the county road gang. …Two days before Courlander recorded Willie Turner at Camp Livingson, he stopped forty miles away in Marion, Mississippi. There he recorded a singer identified in his notes "only as Cora, who sang 'Baby Please Don't Go' . . . the same song, but with some variance in the lyrics." That song was first recorded commercially by Big Joe Williams in 1935. These songs "fit within a larger family of songs that "fit within a larger family of songs that include 'I'm Alabama Bound,' 'Don't Ease Me In,' 'Don't Leave Me Here,' and 'Elder Greene's in Town.' This network of songs that arises by the late nineteenth century uses a consistent verse pattern and, largely, a recurring subject matter."

There is a connection between the albums featured in the second hour: A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1 & 2, Negro Prison Camp Worksongs and Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons. As Mack McCormick writes in the notes to A Treasury Of Field Recordings: "The various collecting projects which have funneled into this final selection were initiated in 1951 when Pete Seeger visiting Houston, bringing together Ed Badeaux, John Lomax Jr., Chester Bower and Harold Belikoff, resulting in the founding of the Houston Folklore Group. At that time recordings were made at two of the Texas prison farms." The recordings McCormick is talking about resulted in the album Negro Prison Camp Worksongs with some songs from that session appearing on A Treasury Of Field Recordings. The recordings Bruce Jackson made over a decade later for the album Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons were recorded at the same Texas prisons and it's likely some of the same prisoners were recorded.

Negro Prison Camp Worksongs
 Read Liner Notes

A Treasury Of Field Recordings Vol. 1 & 2 were compiled by Mack McCormick and issued on the British 77 label in 1960. Sponsored by the Houston Folklore Group and the Texas Folklore Society, these Fields recordings were collected around Houston by McCormick and other collectors like Ed Bradeux, Pete Seeger, John Lomax and others. The 36 selections contained in this set were drawn from over 400 items recorded over a nine year period. The original recordings are housed at the University of Texas and the Library of Congress. As the notes state it portrays "A panorama of the traditions around Houston – the city and its neighboring bayous, beaches, prisons, plantations, plains and piney woods…” And as John Lomax writes about this collection “This is one good, long look at the guts of America – songs sung by those who make them up and pass them along, showing the character of themselves, the flavor and spirit of their lives.” Below is information on some of the albums' performers.

Joel Hopkins was Lightnin's older brother and first gave him a guitar. Joel traveled the south with tent shows and traveling caravans. Lightnin's other brother, John Henry also played guitar. The three were recorded together in Waxahatchie, TX in 1964. The results were issued on Arhoolie under the title Hopkins Brothers: Lightnin', Joel, & John Henry .

As Mack McCormick writes in the notes: "When his wife is away at church, Jack Jackson will sit down at his piano and sing "sinful" songs. Sometimes when she has an evening prayer meeting he'll invite someone like Lightnin' over to 'kick it around.' Lightnin' has ceased working with pianists (though he stills plays primarily in jook joints (for dancing) and Jack has established himself in business on the corner of Milam and Prarie in Houston's downtown business district."

Tom Moore was a powerful plantation owner who farmed land along the Brazos river in Texas. Asked about the song, sung on this collection by Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin' Hopkins, he replied: "They're happy people – they don 't always mean what they sing. He laughed deprecatingly, 'Only I best never catch one of them singing that song.'" As McCormick notes: “In order to protect him [Mance Lipscomb] and his family, his name is withheld from his recording of 'Tom Moore's Farm'. …The simple fact is that the singer and Tom Moore are neighbors, the one a poor laborer, the other a powerful and vindictive man who has long felt the song to be a thorn in his side.”

Recorded by Pete & Toshi Seeger in the winter of 1951 at two Texas prison farms, Negro Prison Camp Worksongs, released on the Folkways label, represents some of the oldest and most traditional work songs found among African American prison communities in the southern United States. In 1951, when Pete Seeger as one of the successful Singing group, The Weavers, was booked to appear at a Houston hotel ballroom, he wrote John Lomax, Jr. suggesting that he ask permission for them to visit the nearby prison farms with recording equipment. The governor granted permission and the group, with Chester Bower providing the tape machine and assisting, visited Ramsey and Rechine farms on consecutive Sunday afternoons.

Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons
 Read Liner Notes

A couple of months back we devoted half a show to recordings made by Bruce Jackson in the 60's at Texas prisons. Today we feature selections from Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons (Elektra, 1965) which I omitted last time. Jackson wrote: “I started recording in Texas prisons in July 1964. I think Texas had about 12,000 prisoners in 14 prisons back then …My primary interest in Texas was the black convict worksongs, which seemed to me to be part of an unbroken musical tradition going back to West Africa….”

-Stephen Wade Interview/Feature  (75 min,. mp3)

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Sugar Boy Crawford Troubled Mind Blues30 New Orleans Classics
Sugar Boy Crawford What's Wrong30 New Orleans Classics
Sugar Boy Crawford Jock-o-Mo30 New Orleans Classics
Beverly Scott Southern California BluesHollywood Blues
Manny Nichols No One To Love MeDown Home Blues Classics: Texas 1946-52
Juke Boy Bonner Can't Hardly Keep From CryingGoin' To Louisiana
Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes The Life Of Lightnin` Bug RhodesNow Hear This!
Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes Now Hear This!Now Hear This!
Johnny Shines Your Troubles Can't Be Like MineStanding at the Crossroads
Johnnie LewisCan Hardly Get AlongAlabama Slide Guitar
Doctor Clayton Angels In HarlemDoctor Clayton & His Buddies
Son Willis Nothing But The BluesDown Home Blues Classics: California & The West Coast 1948-1954
Richard Nevins Interview
Charley Patton High Water Everywhere – Part 1The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Charley Patton Some These Days I’ll Be GoneThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Tommy JohnsonLonesome Home BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Geeshie Wiley Last Kind Words BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Bukka WhiteThe Panama LimitedThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Lottie KimbroughRolling Log BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Ishman BraceyWoman Woman BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of

Show Notes:

A mix show for the first hour of today's show as we pay tribute to the recently departed Sugar Boy Crawford, plus we feature artists like Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes, Manny Nichols, Johnny Shines, Son Willis and Doctor Clayton among others. In the second hour we chat with Richard Nevins who runs the Shanachie/Yaz00 label. Today we spotlight tracks from The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of  the sequel to the highly acclaimed 20o6 release.

James “Sugar Boy” Crawford died Sept. 15th. He was 77. He formed a R&B band in High School and the group performed in local clubs and released a single on Aladdin Records. Leonard Chess, co-founder of Chess Records, happened to hear the band at radio station WMRY while in New Orleans. He made what was purportedly an audition tape of the group. Weeks later, a disc jockey at the station presented Crawford with a 78 rpm record of “I Don't Know What I’ll Do.” It was manufactured from the audition tape and credited to Sugar Boy & His Cane Cutters. In November 1953, at age 19, Crawford recorded his composition “Jock-A-Mo” with a band that included Snooks Eaglin on guitar. Released on the Chess subsidiary Checker Records, "Jock-A-Mo" was a hit during the 1954 Carnival season. Over the next decade, he recorded for various labels, including Imperial Records, releasing such singles as "I Bowed on My Knees,” “You Gave Me Love,” "Morning Star" and "She's Gotta Wobble (When She Walks)." But in 1963, his career, and life, took a tragic turn. En route to a show in Monroe with his band, he was stopped by police and badly pistol-whipped. He briefly attempted a comeback, but was discouraged by what he perceived as his diminished talent. He subsequently retired from music. For decades, he confined his singing to the church. It was his grandson, the pianist and singer Davell Crawford, who coaxed Crawford out of retirement. He appeared on Davell’s 1995 CD Let Them Talk, and subsequently joined his grandson onstage, including at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

We spin a pair of tracks by Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes, who I've been listening to lately. He was a fine singer and songwriter who melded down home blues with a touch of soul. Rhodes was born in North carolina but moved to New York in 1950. He began performing with gospel groups and made his first appearance on record with the Golden Arrows. He eventually made the move to R&B working with different group, cutting a few records through the 60’s and 70’s for label like Hull, Le Sarge and Mascot, recording under the monikers The Blonde Bomber and Little Red Walter. Rhodes cut a couple of strong records for the German Swingmaster label and even toured Europe before passing in 1990.

We spotlight a couple of fine Texas bluesman in Manny Nichols and Son Willis, both who cut a handful of terrific sides in the late 40's and early 50's. Nichols cut nine sides between 1949-1953 for several small labels, first in Texas and then in California. He also may have recorded as West Texas Slim. Malcolm Willis was a blues singer and pianist from Fort Worth, TX. At sometime in his youth he made the trek to California to join the West Coast blues scene. He cut his first disc for J.R. Fullbright's Elko label in Los Angeles, CA. in 1951. In 1952 and 1953 he recorded eight more numbers for the Swingtime label billed as Little Son Willis. Willis owns a strong debt to the popular Doctor Clayton. Clayton is all but forgotten today but was very popular in the 40's and who, despite a small recorded output, wielded a big a influence on numerous singers. We spin Clayton's oft covered "Angel In Harlem" which he cut in 1946. Willis recorded a cover called "Harlem Blues" in 1952 and the song has also been covered by Smokey Hogg and Larry Davis.

Back in 2006 Yazoo issued The Stuff That Dream Are Made Of subtitled "The Dead Sea Scrolls of Record Collecting." The two-disc collection was a loving testament to impossibly rare records and the obsessive collectors who tracked them down. among the treasures was the long lost Son House record, "Mississippi County Farm Blues" and "Clarksdale Moan" which had just be found. The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of  is still a goldmine of rare records, although nothing as earth shattering as the Son House, and beautifully packaged with 46 tracks housed in a over-sized DVD package which sports an eye popping illustration by Drew Friedman. It includes a fascinating 54-page booklet with rare photographs and notes that chronicle the history of collecting old 78 records from beginning in the 1920s through the 1960s. Yazoo has always been at the top of the heap when it comes to remastering old 78's and these records sound incredible. The sound Nevins has achieved on the two Patton cuts, for example, is the best I've ever heard and the mastering on Yazoo's Best Of Patton set was pretty damn  good! Today Nevins and I chat about the history of 78 collecting, those crazy early collectors, Yazoo Records, Charlie Patton and more.

-Richard Nevins Interview/Feature (edited, 36 min, MP3)

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Lane HardinI'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal YouModern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 4
Lane HardinKeep 'em DownModern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 4
Leroy Simpson & Lane Hardin13 HighwayModern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 4
Leroy Simpson & Lane HardinBluebird BluesModern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 4
King Solomon HillMy Buddy, Blind Papa LemonBlues Images Presents Vol. 2
Blind Lemon JeffersonFence Breakin' Yellin' BluesBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
Tommy JohnsonLonesome Home Blues – Test Blues Images Presents Vol. 8
Jaybird ColemanSave Your Money – Let These Women GoBlues Images Presents Vol. 8
Furry LewisCannon Ball Blues – Alternate Take Blues Images Presents Vol. 8
Blind Joe ReynoldsNinety Nine BluesBlues Images Presents Vol. 2
Jenny PopeMr. Postman BluesBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis Talkin' to You Wimmen About the BluesBlues Images Presents Vol. 5
Teddy Darby Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues Blues Images Presents Vol. 9
Charley Patton Jesus Is A Dying Bed MakerBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
John TeftellerInterview
Lane HardinCalifornia Desert Blues Blues Images Presents Vol. 9
Lane HardinHard Times Blues Blues Images Presents Vol. 9
Lane HardinCartey Blues Blues Images Presents Vol. 9
Papa Charlie JacksonPapa, Don't Tear Your PantsBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
Harum Scarum Come On In (Ain't Nobody Here)Blues Images Presents Vol. 9
Blind Joel TaggartPrecious LordBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
Blind Joel TaggartLittle Black TrainBlues Images Presents Vol. 9
Tampa RedMama Don't Allow No Easy Riders HereBlues Images Presents Vol. 9

Show Notes:

Today's program revolves around record collector John Tefteller who's record collection contains some of the rarest blues 78's in existence. We'll be chatting with John in the second hour who I've interviewed previously and each time I've found him to be extremely knowledgeable regarding blues from the 1920's with a keen insight into how the record companies operated and how they marketed blues records. According to his website he has the world's largest inventory of blues, rhythm & blues and rock & roll 78's with over 75,000 in stock. Every year around this time Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. This year marks the ninth year of the calendar and CD's and once again Tefteller has turned up newly discovered sides which I'll be featuring today. Among those are newly discovered sides by the mysterious Lane Hardin (I'll be playing all of Hardin's records today), guitar evangelist Blind Joe Taggart and as well as other records found in the past few years. Several years ago Tefteller uncovered a huge cache of Paramount promotional material. Paramount marketed their "race records", as they were called, to African-Americans, most notably in the pages of the Chicago Defender, the weekly African-American newspaper, and sent promotional material to record stores and distributors. Tefteller bought a huge cache of this artwork from a pair of journalists who rescued them from the rubbish heap some twenty years previously and has been reprinting the artwork in his annual calendars.

For decades Lane Hardin has been one of those tantalizing, mysterious blues figures who cut a handful of brilliant, garnered much interest among collectors yet has remained a cipher, resistant to all research attempts.  Now seventy-five years after his debut we  get to hear a previously unknown Hardin side and a recently published article has given his life shape. For a long time it was thought his 1935 record, "California Desert Blues b/w Hard Time Blues" was the only record Hardin ever recorded. The record is very scarce with only five or six known copies. Tefteller purchased a copy at auction recently for $5,500. Unknown to most collectors Hardin cut a vanity record circa 1948 – the A-side is Hardin's “Cartey Blues” while the B-Side is by Hardin's stand up bass player (credited to Don Tempo). The record was found by collector Steve LaVere sometime in the 1990's in Los Angeles and purchased by Tefteller.

In around 1950 a group of artists sent in a batch of unlabeled acetates that were discovered at Modern in 1970. These recordings have remained a focal point for intense discussion ever since. When these sides were first issued on the Blues From The Deep South LP,  Arkansas Johnny Todd and Leroy Simpson were invented for two sides released. It turns out that Todd is actually Lane Hardin. We play both of those numbers today: "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You" and Keep 'em Down." Hardin also backs Leroy Simpson on "13 Highway" and "Bluebird Blues" which we also feature. The identity of Simpson remains a mystery. All these sides have been reissued on the CD Modern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 4.

Only one person seems to have ever been interviewed about Hardin who actually knew him. That was Henry Townsend who remembered him from the 1930's St. Louis scene. As Townsend told Bill Greensmith in his autobiography, A Blues Life: "Now Lane Hardin was one of the least known (n) musicians around the city , because he had come into the city and hadn't exposed himself much. He had a job at Lewins Metal Company and hadn't been exposed by his music until he ran across (Peetie) Wheatstraw's buddy, Neckbones, who also worked over there. They got to  talking and found out about playing music, and that's how he got be discovered. They would meet at different houses and just do something for their own personal entertainment, but not for jobs that I know of. Lane Hardin also played out at McKnight's place in Kinloch. Lane could have been slightly older than me, but not by much. He lived on Biddle Street about Thirteenth or Fourteenth -they had built a little row of new houses, and he lived there."

In the August 2011 issue of Blues & Rhythm magazine Tony Russell published a lengthy article on Hardin, essentially reconstructing his life from public records. It's an impressive piece of research that traces Hardin's life from his birth in Kentucky to working as a deck hand on steamboats, to a residence in St. Louis from the late 1910's through the 30's (documentation includes  a lengthy police record), to a stint in Illinois and finally traces him to Los Angeles by the 40's. Hardin passed in 1975 and it's a shame no one ever tracked him down to document his story.

The other big find on Tefteller's new CD is the only existing copy of a crudely recorded acetate,  by pre-war gospel legend Blind Joe Taggart. The disc was found by collector Robert Buchholz shoved between some old 70's rock and roll records at what remains of Chicago's Maxwell Street Market. It was put on sale on ebay where it was purchased by Tefteller. Taggart made his first records for Vocalion in June 1927 then went to Paramount in 1928. He continued recording in the 30's but vanished after a final session for Decca in 1934. The new calendar also contains the only known photograph of Taggart, published for the first time.

We feature several other numbers from the latest CD including sides by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Jenny Pope, Teddy Darby, Charlie Patton, Papa Charlie Jackson and Harum Scarum. We round out the show with tracks from some of Tefteller's prior CD's including recently found sides by Tommy Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Joe Reynolds and others.

Jenny Pope was married to Will Shade leader of the famous Memphis Jug Band. Pope cut six sides at three sessions in 1929 and 1930. She may have recorded with the Memphis Jug Band under the name Jennie Clayton.

Teddy Darby recorded from 1929 until 1937 under the names of "Blind Teddy Darby", "Blind Darby", "Blind Blues Darby" and "Blind Squire Turner" for the Paramount, Victor, Bluebird, Vocalion and Decca labels. In 1960 he was "rediscovered" and recorded by Pete Welding of Testament Records, yet the recordings from this session were never released. In the late 1930s he gave up the blues and became an ordained deacon.

Papa Charlie Jackson was the first commercially successful male blues singer. Jackson is believed originally to have come from New Orleans before relocating to Chicago sometime in the early 1900's. He became a very successful street performer, especially on the Near West Side, where he routinely played at the famed Maxwell Street market. His popularity eventually led to him being signed by the Paramount label, where he waxed more than 60 sides between 1924 and 1929. Jackson also did session working backing artists such as Ida Cox, Lottie Beaman, Ma Rainey, Big Bill Broonzy and others.

Issued as Paramount 13104, Harum Scarum's "Come On In (Ain't Nobody Here) " was released in January 1931 and is extremely rare. No copy has been discovered on Paramount however the record was reissued on Varsity, a company from the 1930's that gathered up old masters they found interesting and issued them again. The Harum Scarums recorded four songs and consisted of Big Bill Broonzy, Georgia Tom and Mozelle Alderson.

King Solomon Hill signed to the Paramount label in 1932, soon traveling to Grafton, Wisconsin to record six tracks (two of them alternate takes). In 2002 Tefteller went to Grafton and discovered the long lost Hill 78 "My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon b/w Times Has Done Got Hard" in mint condition. Not much is known of Hill – whose real name was Joe Holmes. He was closely connected to Sam Collins and traveled with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Rambling Thomas. After his lone session, Hill returned to the juke joint circuit, eventually vanishing from sight; reputedly a heavy drinker, he died of a massive brain hemorrhage in Sibley, Louisiana in 1949.

A welcome surprise in recent years has been the discovery of several Tommy Johnson recordings of unissued material. In 1985 an untitled Tommy Johnson test pressing was found and issued on Document as "Boogaloosa Woman"/"Morning Prayer." Yazoo has issued "Morning Prayer" with the title "Button Up Shoes." In around 2001 yet another important batch of records came to light. A box of unissued Paramount and QRS test pressings (the QRS material likely obtained by Paramount from Art Satherley in 1930/31) has been found by an antique dealer in Wisconsin. Tefteller purchased the Tommy Johnson test pressing of "I Want Someone To Love Me" for over $12,000. The record has since been issued on the CD that accompanies the 2004 calendar. Today's featured track,is a test pressing of "Lonesome Home Blues" which was issued on the CD that accompanies the 2010 calendar.

In November 1929 at the Paramount Recording Studios in Grafton, Wisconsin, four songs were recorded at 78 rpm by a Louisiana street musician named Joe Sheppard who used the name Blind Joe Reynolds. Within a year, the four songs were released on two records. Neither record sold well, but almost 40 years later, one of the two attracted the attention of Eric Clapton who heard the song "Outside Woman Blues" on a reissue album. In 1967, Clapton and his Cream bandmates Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce recorded a more modern day version of "Outside Woman Blues" on their classic LP Disraeli Gears. The second record recorded in Wisconsin on that day, "Ninety Nine Blues" backed with "Cold Woman Blues" has been lost since it was first released in October of 1930. No copies in any condition were ever located until just a few years ago. The recorded was eventually bought and reissued on CD by John Tefteller.

In 2007 John Tefteller issued what is apparently the only known copy of Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis' "Talkin' To You Wimmen' About The Blues." The track and it's flip side, "Merciful Blues", was issued on the CD that accompanies Tefteller's 2008 blues artwork calendar. To quote Tefteller: "the record…apparently has not been heard by anyone since its release back in the late fall of 1931. I have had this record in my collection for almost ten years. I had no idea that it was potentially a one-of-a-kind record! …Late last year, legendary Blues reissue producer Larry Cohn called me about his upcoming Blind Willie McTell box set. He told me he would like to borrow certain records from my collection …I sent him a list of what I had. To my amazement, he called immediately with the comment, "I've never heard the Mary Willis record!" Apparently, there is no master in the Columbia vaults. Cohn is aware of no other copy of the record anywhere. Finding this hard to believe, I started calling "all the usual suspects" and sure enough, none of them had the record or had ever heard it."

-John Tefteller Interview/Feature (edited, 53 min, MP3)

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Leroy CarrMean Mistreater MamaWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
Robert JohnsonKind Hearted Woman BluesThe Centennial Edition
Elijah WaldRobert Johnson InfluencesInterview
Kokomo ArnoldSissy Man BluesBack To The Crossroads
Johnnie TempleLead Pencil BluesBack To The Crossroads
Robert JohnsonI Believe I'll Dust My BroomThe Centennial Edition
Calvin Frazier I'm In The Highway, ManMotor City Blues
Elmore JamesDust My BroomThe Complete Early Years
Robert LockwoodDust My BroomSweet Home Chicago
Larry CohnRobert Johnson Reissues & Box SetInterview
Kokomo ArnoldOld Original Kokomo BluesBack To The Crossroads
Robert JohnsonSweet Home ChicagoThe Centennial Edition
Honeyboy EdwardsSweet Home Chicago Sun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958
Larry CohnThe Complete RecordingsInterview
Robert JohnsonRamblin' On My MindThe Centennial Edition
Johnnie ShinesRamblin' Sweet Home Chicago
Tampa RedThing 'Bout Coming My WayBack To The Crossroads
Robert JohnsonCome On In My KitchenThe Centennial Edition
Son HousePreachin' The Blues Pt. 1Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues
Robert JohnsonPreachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)The Centennial Edition
Muddy WatersCountry Blues #1/Interview The Complete Plantation Recordings
Hambone Willie NewbernRoll And Tumble BluesBack To The Crossroads
Robert JohnsonTraveling Riverside BluesThe Centennial Edition
Robert JohnsonIf I Had Possession Over Judgment DayThe Centennial Edition
Skip JamesDevil Got My WomanBlues images Vol. 3
Elijah WaldRobert Johnson & Skip JamesInterview
Robert JohnsonHell Hound On My Trail The Centennial Edition
Robert JohnsonCross Road BluesThe Centennial Edition
Larry CohnIn The StudioInterview
Robert JohnsonMe And The Devil Blues BluesThe Centennial Edition
Robert JohnsonStones In My PasswayThe Centennial Edition
Robert JohnsonFrom Four Until LateThe Centennial Edition
Elijah WaldRobert Johnson In ContextInterview
Leroy CarrWhen The Sun Goes DownBack To The Crossroads
Robert JohnsonLove In Vain BluesThe Centennial Edition

Show Notes:

You'll notice there's no Robert Johnson photo in this week's show notes . Well there was, but Steve LaVere has come knocking demanding payment for use of the photo (see the comments). LaVere was the administrator of the Johnson estate for many years and continues to earn his 50 percent (another Johnson relative earns the other half). LaVere is a much loathed figure in the blues world who's made a pretty penny from a brilliant musician who probably never had two nickels to rub together and died in a paupers grave.

Unfortunately this obsession on every minutiae of Johnson’s life has taken away the focus on his very real talents and perhaps more importantly this lopsided focus on Johnson has obscured the fact that he was very much part of a tradition; his music firmly built on the artists who came before like Lonnie Johnson and Tampa Red who don’t get a shred of the acclaim that Johnson does. As we've heard endlessly, 2011 marks the centennial of Johnson's birth which means the Johnson hysteria ramps up all over again. Still, I thought it was important to pay tribute to Johnson, who despite the hype, cut some terrific records and ranks as one of the best of the era. After not really listening to Johnson much I've been listening to him quite a bit in preparation for this show and I almost forgot how much I enjoyed his music. In addition there's a brand new Johnson collection, The Centennial Collection, a 2-CD set of everything he recorded in the best sound to date. All today's Johnson songs come from that collection. Today's show attempts to put Johnson in his proper historical context, playing many artists who directly influenced his songs like Kokomo Arnold, Leroy Carr, Skip James, Hambone Willie Newbern, Son House among others plus those directly influenced by Johnson like Robert Lockwood, Johnny shines an others. In addition we air interviews by Larry Cohn, who produced the landmark Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings and Elijah Wald author of Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues.

I'm not going to go into Johnson's biography as there's plenty written on that already but I thought it worth quoting Tony Russell's perceptive view: "To see Johnson clearly the reader needs to steer a steady course between fanatics and debunkers, understanding the context of his music – the undeniable influence of House and Lonnie Johnson, his many allusions to records that were around him when he was learning his trade – but at the same time recognizing the skill with which he synthesized those elements, and the wholly individual character of much of his finished work. In particular, Johnson deserve to be acknowledged as the master of the complete blues:  the son conceived as a dramatic whole rather than am arbitrary sequence of scenes, of verses casually pinned to a formulaic accompaniment. Th emotional architecture of a performance like 'Come On In My Kitchen', the tender erotic plea echoed by tremulous slide guitar, or of 'Hellhound On My Trail', a distraught, fragmented reconsideration of Skip James's 'Devil Got My Woman',; the intricate interdependence of voice and guitar in 'Walkin' Blues' and 'Preachin' Blues' – all this attests to a concept of blues composition that was beyond the scope of many of Johnson's contemporaries."

"Kind Hearted Woman Blues" was the first song that Johnson recorded, and it was carefully crafted in imitation of recent hit records. It was composed as if in answer to "Cruel Hearted Woman Blues" by Bumble Bee Slim, which in turn was based on "Mean Mistreater Mama" by Leroy Carr accompanied by Scrapper Blackwell. Johnson uses the Carr melody and his guitar accompaniment echoes Carr's piano phrases in the first verse, then copies Blackwell's guitar phrases in the second verse. He then adds a musical bridge in the style of another hit record, "Milk Cow Blues" by Kokomo Arnold. "Love In Vain Blues" was another number derived from Carr. "Love in Vain" takes its musical structure from Carr's classic "When the Sun Goes Down". In the 1991 documentary film The Search for Robert Johnson, John Hammond plays Robert's recording of "Love in Vain" for the elderly Willie Mae Powell, the woman for whom it was supposedly written. Johnson moans "Oh, Willie Mae" in his last verse.

"I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" was the second song that Johnson recorded, immediately after "Kind Hearted Woman Blues". Unlike the many versions by other musicians, Johnson's original accompaniment was finger picked, and not played as a bottleneck or slide guitar. Leroy Carr’s original hit was "I Believe I’ll Make A Change" recorded in August 1934. Kokomo Arnold used the tune for two records: "Sagefield Woman Blues" recorded in September 1934 and "Sissy Man Blues" recorded in January 1935. It seems likely that Johnson owned and studied both of Arnold’s records. Another possibility is that Johnson heard Arnold in person performing a number of verses to this melody. However, Edward Komara suggests that Johnson may have begun developing his version of the song as early as 1933, since it had already been recorded by the Sparks Brothers as "I Believe I'll Make A Change" in 1932 and by Jack Kelly as "Believe I'll Go Back Home" in 1933. Arnold's version a borrows a verse from "Mr Carl’s Blues" recorded by Carl Rafferty in December 1933.The melody is somewhat different, but Paul Oliver considers it to be the same song. "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" was not covered until Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's 1949 recording entitled "Dust My Broom". In 1951, Robert Lockwood recorded "Dust My Broom" for J.O.B. on March 22 and for Mercury on November 15. Also in 1951, Elmore James made his first recording of "Dust My Broom" for the Trumpet Records label.

When celebrated bluesman Robert Johnson turned up at his mother’s door, the young Lockwood found a mentor. "He followed my momma home," Lockwood explained. "That’s how I first met him, followed my momma home. And she couldn’t get rid of him. He wouldn’t leave. He hung around there and hung around there. And he and my momma stayed together off and on for ten years." In fact, Johnson is considered by many to have been Lockwood’s stepfather. "He taught me how to play," Lockwood told the Plain Dealer. "I really appreciate that. … He didn’t like people to fool with his instrument. [But] he didn’t seem to mind me fooling with it."

Johnny Shines moved from Tennessee to Hughes, Arkansas in 1932 and worked on farms for three years putting his musical career on hold. It was this chance meeting with Robert Johnson, his greatest influence, that gave him the inspiration to return to music. In 1935, Shines began traveling with Johnson, touring the south and heading as far north as Ontario where they appeared on a local radio program. The two went their separate ways in 1937, one year before Johnson's death.

Like Shines, Calvin Frazier was another running partner of Johnson's. Frazier was born in Osceola, Arkansas, and originally performed with his own brothers. Befriending Johnny Shines, in 1930 they jointly travelled to Helena, Arkansas where they met Robert Johnson. The threesome moved on to Detroit, Michigan, performing hymns on local radio stations. Frazier and Johnson returned south where they played along with the drummer, James 'Peck' Curtis. In 1938, he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. His recordings included "Lily Mae", a revised version of Johnson's "Honeymoon Blues","Highway 51", a version of "Dust My Broom" and "I'm In The Highway, Man" a version of Terraplane Blues."

"Ramblin' On My Mind" uses the melody made popular by the hit record "M & O Blues" by Walter Davis. Johnson composed two songs to this melody "Ramblin' On My Mind" and "When You Got A Good Friend." We play this back to with Shines' powerful 1951 update, "Ramblin'. cut for the JOB label.

Scrapper Blackwell recorded "Kokomo Blues" in 1928 which was transformed into "Old Kokomo Blues" by Kokomo Arnold before being redone as "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson. The song also has roots in the 1927 Madlyn Davis song "Kokola Blues" and Jabo Williams 1932 song "Ko Ko Mo Blues." Tommy McClennan's "Baby Don't You Want To Go" (1939) and Walter Davis' "Don't You Want To Go" (1941) were early numbers both based on Johnson's chorus. Honeyboy was a friend of Robert Johnson and was supposedly present on the fateful night Johnson drank the poisoned whiskey that took his life. We spin his version of "Sweet Home Chicago" " cut in 1952 for Sun but not issued at the time.

The "Come On In My Kitchen" melody is based on the song cycle by the string band the Mississippi Sheiks, "Sitting on Top of the World" (1930). Johnson's arrangement on slide guitar is based on Tampa Red's recording of "Things 'Bout Coming My Way." Tampa Red had also recorded an instrumental version in 1936.

Johnson picked up "Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)" and "Walking Blues" from Son House. As House's biographer, Dan Beaumont, writes: "Due to his live performances, the song was heard and learned by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Johnson lifted the riff from "My Black Mama" and set the lyrics of "Walking Blues" to that accompaniment. Waters seems to have worked from both artists. In any case, through those intermediaries, the song became the most covered piece among House’s recordings. …Since House's Grafton recording of "Walking Blues" was never released by Paramount (was only found in 1989 on a test disc) Johnson must have learned the lyrics from House’s live performances of it in the Robinsonville area. Johnson basically straightened out House’s musical accompaniment, in the process creating a song that would, by and by, become a blues standard. Johnson also recorded "Preachin’ Blues," in this instance remaining closer to the House original. Since that record sold very poorly (only one copy has ever been found), it is likely again that Johnson learned the piece from House in person. It is apparent that Johnson also tried to emulate House’s vocal style."

Johnson followed Johnny Temple and Joe McCoy in adapting Skip James's song "Devil Got My Woman." Johnson's "Hell Hound On My Trail" is inspired by the James number, either through James' record or indirectly through Johnnie Temple. According to a biography of Skip James, from recorded taped interviews, Joe McCoy was responsible for the first recording of this song but it was not released until 1940. According to guitarist John Miller, Temple's first recorded number, "Lead Pencil Blues", was very forward-looking number–a shuffle with duet guitar accompaniment in which the guitar laying down the time was employing the classic riff associated with Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago" and countless blues since then." Temple cut the song six months before Johnson's  "Sweet Home Chicago" but the actual origins of the riff are impossible to discern.  of Johnson's "32-20" is also based on a Skip James song, "22-20 Blues" which James recorded on piano.

The original version of "Cross Road Blues" remained out of print after its initial release until the appearance of The Complete Recordings in 1990. In 1961, producer Frank Driggs substituted the previously unreleased alternate take on the first reissue of Johnson's work, the long-playing album King of the Delta Blues Singers.

As Elijah Wald notes in an interview "After the book came out, somebody suddenly pulled up this recording of a song called "Four O'Clock Blues," recorded by a Memphis trumpet player named Johnny Dunn in 1922, so fourteen years before Robert Johnson recorded "From Four Till Late," fifteen years. And it's clearly the same song. It has no lyric, but clearly around Memphis they were doing this song that Robert Johnson recorded as "From Four Till Late," and we just didn't happen to hear it. We aren't in Memphis. But if you listen to Johnny Dunn's version from 1922, it's clearly the same song."

-Larry Cohn Interview (edited, 12 min, MP3)

-Elijah Wald Interview (edited, 22 min, MP3)

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Dan Beaumont Interview
Son HouseI Want To Live So God Can Use MePrivate Recordings Vol. 1
Son HouseNew Pony BluesPrivate Recordings Vol. 1
Son HouseSon's Blues Pt. 1 Private Recordings Vol. 1
Son HouseMy Black Mama Pt. 1 & 2Blues Images Vol. 2
Rube LacyHam Hound Crave Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues
Son HouseMississippi County Farm BluesBlues Images Vol. 4
Charlie Patton34 BluesPrimeval Blues, Rags and Gospel Songs
Son HousePreachin' The Blues Pt. 1 & 2Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues
Willie BrownFuture BluesMasters of the Blues: Friends of Charlie Patton
Robert JohnsonPreachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil) The Centennial Collection
Muddy WatersCountry Blues (Number One)/Interview #1The Complete Plantation Recordings
Son HouseDepot BluesLegends of Country Blues
Son HouseBetween Midnight and DayDelta Blues & Spirituals

Show Notes:

Over the years I've done several shows devoted to Son House but this one is a bit special. Within a week or so after this show airs the first biography devoted to Son House will hit the shelves, Preachin' the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House, by Dan Beaumont. Dan is an Associate Professor in History and Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester. Dan is also a good friend of mine so I feel a personal connection to the book.  I offered encouragement and helped by feeding Dan a steady stream of old documents and recordings and putting him in touch with folks who were instrumental in shaping the book. Since Dan began writing the book in 2006 and I've read numerous drafts so it was fascinating to see the book take shape and get better and better with each new reworking. While I'm certainly biased I feel Dan has done a terrific job on a complicated man. Son was born and came to notoriety in the deep south during the first decades of the 20th century when segregation permeated every layer of black life yet he attained regional fame, was revered by artists like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and after a long stretch of anonymity resurfaced to acclaim across the United States and Europe. It's a compelling story that Dan tells well as we read about Son's struggle between the church and the blues, his stint in Parchman, playing the juke joints in the small Mississippi towns with Charlie Patton and his life long friend Willie Brown, recording for Alan Lomax and his triumphant return after twenty years of obscurity. We touch on all that and more as Dan sits in with for the entire show as we chat and spin tunes by Son House and those in his orbit. I've written extensively about Son in the past (see the below links) so today I'll talk a bit about the music featured today with some quotes from Dan's book.

The book opens with a chapter called The Second Coming of the Son so we open the show with a trio of sides from Son's rediscovery period. These sides come from Son House Vol. 1 (1965 – 1970) issued on Private Records in 1987. This one, and the second volume, may be tough to track down but contain several very good performances including our opener, the a cappella "I Want To Live So Go Can Use Me" from a 1969 Seattle date, a superb rendition of "New Pony Blues" cut at Newport in 1966 or 67 and "Son's Blues Pt. 1" from 1968.  "Pony Blues" was a number Son picked up from Patton. Regarding the song, Dan writes: "…Patton’s staple after 1910 was certainly blues.   Evidence for this is seen in his two most famous songs, "Pony Blues" and "Maggie" both of which he was performing by the middle of that decade, by which time both he and those songs were already well-known throughout the Delta.  Both songs were subsequently picked up and performed by numerous other Mississippi musicians, and their influence is only one aspect of Patton’s primacy in the Delta Blues."

Speaking of Patton we play his "34 Blues" which describes Patton getting kicked off Dockery's plantation and subsequently moving to Lula were he would meet Son, an encounter that changed Son's life dramatically. As Dan writes: "Plantation owners tolerated the presence of musicians like Patton since their popularity helped to appease the plantation work force—unless and until their presence became a nuisance.  Witness Patton’s "34 Blues" which concerns his eviction from Dockery’s plantation when his womanizing began to cause too many disputes.  Dockery’s plantation was 'way down in Sunflower,' as one of Patton’s songs had it, 'Sunflower' being  Sunflower County, some forty miles south-southeast of Clarksdale.  And it was in that vicinity that many of the places referred to in his songs are found, Belzoni, Carrolton, for example.  However, some time probably in late 1929 he moved north to Lula, then a hamlet of perhaps four or five hundred people."

In interviews Son mentioned three musicians who influenced him, Willie Wilson and James McCoy who never recorded and Rube Lacey who cut one 78 in 1928, "Mississippi Jail House Groan" b/w "Ham Hound Crave", the latter number featured today. "According to House, McCoy taught him what would become his two most important pieces, "My Black Mama" and "Preachin' the Blues," the former apparently an a cappella song. …For the two songs House learned from McCoy became his two finest pieces. His versions of "Preachin' the Blues" and "My Black Mama"—later to be retitled "Death Letter Blues"—are both peak performances not only in Delta Blues, but in the realm of the blues period. So completely did House stamp his personality on the two songs that not even Robert Johnson's restyled recordings of them, as fine as they are, have ever replaced House's versions as definitive."

We of course play Johnson's "Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)" back to back with  Muddy Waters' "Country Blues (Number One)" which he picked up from Johnson's record (we play a snippet of interview with Alan Lomax where he talks about the song in relation to Son and Johnson) )"Walkin' Blues" and Johnson in turned got the song from Son House. "Due to his live performances, the song was heard and learned by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Johnson lifted the riff from "My Black Mama" and set the lyrics of "Walking Blues" to that accompaniment. Waters seems to have worked from both artists. In any case, through those intermediaries, the song became the most covered piece among House’s recordings. …Since House's Grafton recording of "Walking Blues" was never released by Paramount (was only found in 1989 on a test disc) Johnson must have learned the lyrics from House's live performances of it in the Robinsonville area. Johnson basically straightened out House's musical accompaniment, in the process creating a song that would, by and by, become a blues standard. Johnson also recorded "Preachin' Blues," in this instance remaining closer to the House original. Since that record sold very poorly (only one copy has ever been found), it is likely again that Johnson learned the piece from House in person. It is apparent that Johnson also tried to emulate House’s vocal style."

Son House & wife Evie
Son House & wife Evie, Newport Folk Festival, 1966
Photo courtesy of Dick Waterman

From the legendary 1930 Paramount session we play Son's  "My Black Mama Pt. 1 & 2", "Preachin' The Blues Pt. 1 & 2", "Mississippi County Farm Blues" and Willie Brown's "Future Blues." From this session Son's "Clarksdale Moan" and "Mississippi County Farm Blues," were released as Paramount 13096, but only found a few years ago while Brown's "Kickin' In My Sleep Blues" b/w "Window Blues" (Paramount 13001) and "Grandma Blues" b/w "Sorry Blues" (Paramount 13099) have yet to surface.

In 1941 and 1942 House was recorded by Alan Lomax who was led to him on a tip from Muddy Waters several days prior. From the 1942 we spin "Depot Blues." "The recording was done in Clarksdale, and this time House performed alone for Lomax, recording nine more tracks: "Low Down Dirty Dog Blues," "Depot Blues," "American Defense," "Am I Right Or Wrong," "Walking Blues," County Farm Blues," "The Pony Blues," and two versions of "The Jinx Blues." As he had the previous year, Lomax also interspersed the music with interview questions. Many of them concerned Robert Johnson—in the intervening year Lomax’s interest in Johnson had, if anything, only increased—and House’s responses hit on the same major points he would make when interviewed in the 1960s; he emphasized Johnson’s rapid progress on the guitar, his good looks and his womanizing. He told Lomax that he suspected Johnson had been poisoned by a jealous woman."

We conclude our show with two tracks from his rediscovery period: "Empire State Blues" from the Father of the Folk Blues issued on Columbia in 1965 and "Between Midnight and Day" recorded in London in 1970 at the 100 Club and first issued on the album John The Revelator and on CD by Capitol as Delta Blues & Spirituals. "Dick Waterman wrote that House had offers from smaller record labels, but the release of the first Robert Johnson album on Columbia gave him hope that House might sign a contract with that label. House and Waterman met with John Hammond, Columbia’s best jazz and blues producer. Hammond was involved with, among other artists during his long career, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, Bill Broonzy, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. The meeting produced an agreement, and House signed a contract with Columbia Records was for one record. It was a measure of the seriousness of the project that Hammond took it on. …The Columbia session was to be House's last studio recordings. The rest of House’s recordings in the period between 1965 and 1970 fall into three categories. Recordings that were usually part of compilations on other labels and consisted of live recordings made at folk festivals and coffeehouse appearances. Bootlegs and private recordings later issued with either the agreement of House or his estate."

Related Links:

-Dan Beaumont Feature (mp3, 2 hours)

-Big Road Blues Show 5/31/09: Son House – The Blues Ain't No Monkey Junk

-Big Road Blues Show 6/1/08: Son House & Pals – Preachin' The Blues

-Son House Discography

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