Miscellaneous


Classic Blues Artwork Calendar

In the fall of 2005 one of the most mysterious, elusive and sought after 78's seemingly appeared out of nowhere. The record, Son House's "Clarksdale Moan" b/w "Mississippi County Farm Blues", was recorded by Paramount in 1930 in what has been called the greatest early blues session ever recorded. In addition to Son House, Charley Patton, Willie Brown and Louise Johnson all laid down landmark recordings on that fateful date. It's hard to fathom how records like this surface after so long but in recent years there has been some amazing discoveries of long lost records by King Solomon Hill, Tommy Johnson and Blind Joe Reynolds. Collector John Tefteller has been personally responsible for some of these discoveries while similar discoveries by others, have found there way into Tefteller's collection (including the aforementioned Son House). In addition Tefteller also uncovered a huge cache of Paramount promotional material a few years back. Paramount marketed their "race records", as they were called, to African-Americans, most notably in the pages of the Chicago Defender, the 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. The depression essentially killed off Paramount's advertising budget so many of these images were never sent out and hence have not been seen by anyone since they were first produced. Tefteller has been making these gorgeous ads available in his "Classic Blues Artwork Calendar" since 2004 and like previous calendars, the 2008 version is another stunner.

Many of us have seen reproductions of those early Chicago Defender ads, tantalizing as they are, the reproductions left much to be desired. Where the earlier reproductions were taken from adverts in The Chicago Defender newspaper, these are copied from distribution posters. They are large reproductions and they have been beautifully reproduced with stunning clarity. Each month features a large sized ad with this year's calendar featuring provocative, lurid and wonderfully politically incorrect artwork promoting the following records: Texas Alexander ("Range In My Kitchen Blues") [a snapshot of this is shown on the back – the full length page is not included which seems to be a printing error?], Blind lemon Jefferson ("One Dime Blues"), Rube Lacy ("Mississippi Jail House Groan"), Blind Joe Reynolds ("Nehi Mama"), Ma Rainey ("Deep Moaning Blues"), Crying Sam Collins ("Jail House Blues"), Banjo Joe ("Madison Street Rag"), Blind Blake ("Seaboard Stomp"), Mississippi Sheiks ("Shake That Thing"), Blind Blake ("Low Down Jail House"), Ida Cox ("Cold And Blues") and Elzadie Robinson ("The Santa Claus Crave"). What's interesting is that many of the illustrations include an actual photo of the artist. In addition we get some smaller ads included on each calendar page that, despite the small size, are just as crisp and readable as the larger images. The usual anniversary dates for Christmas, Easter are listed plus anniversaries for blues singers like Son House and other luminaries such as Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass. Brief artist biographies are included and there is an informative introduction from Tefteller.

The calendar also includes a sixteen track CD, the first twelve songs matching the artwork on each page of the calendar. True to form there is a major discovery on the CD; included is apparently the only known copy of Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis’ “Talkin To You Wimmen’ About The Blues” b/w “Merciful Blues” (see last post). Which begs the question, "Why are pre-war blues records so rare?" Well, as Tefteller write in his introduction: "With initial pressings of 500 or less, how many could possibly survive all the different ways a fragile 78 rpm record could be destroyed? It can be cracked; broken; ground to a powder with a steel needle and a five pound tone arm; damaged in a flood, fire, hurricane or tornado; or just thrown away because the original owner died or moved or left it behind! And, don't think for a minute that the record companies that put them out had any foresight to save them. There are no masters for most old Blues records. Those were destroyed or thrown out years ago. It is a miracle that ANY of them survive today!"

All in all a beautiful, unique and thoughtfully produced collectable that will bring pleasure to blues collectors year round. Tefteller noted a couple of years back that he was "knee-deep in production of what will be the ultimate book of original Blues advertising material" which hopefully is still in the works. Until then, Tefteller has amassed a huge storehouse of these images (over 4,000) which will ensure years and years of wonderful calendars.

Order The Calendar

John Tefteller Website

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I got a nice little write up in this week's Rochester City Newspaper. I'm always a little worried about these things but it appears he took out all my offensive and politically incorrect comments. I'll save those for the show. Also the photo's not bad – I think they airbrushed out the gray hair and made me thinner.

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Welcome to the home of the new blues radio show Big Road Blues. First a bit of background: My name is Jeff Harris former co-host of Bad Dog Blues for over ten years. With my partner Gary I think we made Bad Dog Blues one of the best blues shows anywhere. In addition I ran the website which garnered us fans all over the world. I also do some blues writing and currently some blues promoting here in Rochester, NY.

Big Road Blues airs on Sundays 5 to 7 PM (EST) on WGMC Jazz90.1 and streams live on the web. Big Road Blues will be an exploration of traditional blues spanning the 1920's through the 1970's. Most shows will be built around a theme such as a particular artist, record label, lyrical theme, spotlights on notable reissues, features on out-of-print records, etc. About once a month we will do a non-themed show devoted to a wide range of traditional blues and spotlighting a few artists who will be featured in upcoming shows.

This blog will be updated regularly with the week's playlist and notes on each week's show. In addition I'll be posting occasional reviews on new reissues, classic albums, books and various articles on blues history.

You may be wondering why this blog is at www.sundayblues.org. This is because right after Big Road Blues WGMC airs Muskie's Juke Joint from 7 to 10 PM (EST) with host Dave Moskal who's been airing the show for the past 15 years. At some point we will probably be posting playlists and info for that that show here as well.

Some of you have already inquired if, like Bad Dog Blues, we will be providing podcasts or realaudio archives of the show. The answer is no as Jazz90.1 does not permit this due to licensing issues.

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Well the short answer is that baddogblues.com can still be found here but the website will no longer be updated. The show is still going strong and still airs Sundays 10 AM to 3 PM (EST) hosted by Gary. After leaving the show and starting a new one it no longer makes sense to keep the website updated. It's a bit sad but I'm very proud of the site which I've single handedly run since 1999. Since that point the website became hugely popular and brought our little show to a world wide audience. There's still plenty of great blues content including loads of reviews, artist profiles and other features so please check out the archives. You can still listen live by going to the WITR website. You can also read my final comments regarding Bad Dog Blues here.

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