New York Blues


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Big MaybelleMy Big MistakeThe Complete OKeh Sessions
Mickey Baker Spininn’ Rock BoogieIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Louis JordanCaldonia 56'In The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Larry DaleMidnight HoursIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Rib JointRib Joint
Mickey & SylviaNo Good LoverIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Eddie MackLast Hour BluesEddie Mack 1947-1952
Tiny KennedyCountry BoyR&B From The Radio Corporation Volumes 1
H-Bomb FergusonWork For My BabyRock H-Bomb Rock
Mickey BakerMidnight Midnight The Wildest Guitar
Nappy BrownIs It Really You?Night Time Is The Right Time
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Juke JointSammy Price & His Bluescians
Buddy JohnsonSomedayBuddy and Ella Johnson: 1953-1964
Little EstherYou Can Bet Your LifeLadies Sing The Blues
Annisteen AllenWantedAnnisteen Allen 1945-53
Larry DalePlease Tell MeHarlem Heavies
Paul WilliamsWoman Are The Root of All EvilPaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Mickey Baker Bandstand StompRock With A Sock
Square WaltonPepper-Head WomanRub A Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Brownie McGhee Love's a DiseaseRub A Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Mckey BakerShake Walkin’ Rock With A Sock
Larry Dale You Better Heed My WarningIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Roy GainesWorried About You BabyGroove Jumping
Mr. BearThe Bear Hug In The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big Red McHouston & His orchestraI’m Tired R&B From The Radio Corporation Volumes 1
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Kansas City Boogie Woogie StompRib Joint
Eddie Riff Ain’t That Lovin’ YouMickey Baker: Essential Blues Masters
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Bar-B-Q SauceRib Joint
Mickey BakerRock With A Sock Rock With A Sock
Champion Jack DupreeStumbling BlockIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big Red McHouston & His OrchestraStranger BluesIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big MaybellePitifulThe Complete OKeh Sessions
Varetta DillardSo Many WaysLadies Sing the Blues
Sammy Price & His Bluescians LeveeRib Joint

Show Notes:

 
Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool (Mickey & Sylvia)

Mickey Baker, who has died aged 87, was one of the most versatile and prolific guitarists of his era. I was a fan of baker's guitar playing even before I knew his name. When I first seriously started buying blues records it didn't take me long to figure out that the great guitar playing on those 50's records I was buying of Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown and numerous others was the work of the prolific Mickey Baker. During the 1950s, any producer making R&B or rock'n'roll records in New York would have Baker's name in his contacts book, and he played on innumerable sessions for Atlantic, Savoy and other labels, accompanying vocal groups including the Drifters and the Coasters and blues singers such as Champion Jack Dupree, Nappy Brown, Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. Among the many hit records to which he made original and distinctive contributions were Ruth Brown's “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean”, the Coasters' “I'm a Hog for You” and Joe Turner's “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” Today we spotlight Baker's bluesier records, as we hear him on great records by Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown, Larry Dale, Sammy Price, Champion Jack Dupree, Louis Jordan and many others.

Baker was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent some of his youth in institutions, from which he ran away to New York, where for a time he got by as a pool-hall hustler. "Around the age of 19," he later recalled, "I decided to make a change in my life. I was still washing dishes, but I was determined that I wanted to be a jazz musician." His preferred instrument was the trumpet but he could not afford one, so he bought a cheap guitar from a pawnshop and learned some chords from a hillbilly songbook. In time he moved on to the standard repertoire and started playing progressive jazz. Then, while on the west coast, he went to a gig by the singer and guitarist Pee Wee Crayton and encountered the blues. "I asked Pee Wee, 'You mean you can make money playing that stuff?' So I started bending strings."

Inspired by the successful model of the guitarist Les Paul and the singer Mary Ford, he formed a duo with the singer Sylvia Vanderpool (later Sylvia Robinson). Mickey & Sylvia's recording of “Love Is Strange”, a million-selling hit in 1956-57. In the wake of "Love Is Strange", he and Vanderpool opened a nightclub, started a publishing company and generally tried to take more charge of their performing lives than was usually possible for black artists. But their personal relationship was stormy and Baker was tired of playing forgettable music for teenagers. Early in the 60s, he moved to France.

Many of today's tracks are longtime favorites including a batch of tough sides by the unsung Larry Dale who waxed some potent blues and R&B sides under his own name and some knockout session guitar backing a slew of New York artists. "It's kinda funny how I learned to play the guitar", Dale said in an interview. "Brownie McGhee would let me come up on his bandstand and sit in the back and playing all kind of bad notes until I learned where the changes were. And then I got so where I could play pretty good. And I could always sing good, If I could sing and leave the guitar alone I was good, but if I tried to play the guitar …Bobby Schiffman told me 'You just sing, leave the guitar alone. you'll make it'. But he didn't know I was determined to learn the guitar. So I bought B.B King records, people that played guitars; and I learned how to play. Then Mickey Baker he taught me a lot. …Well before then Mickey taught me a lot about guitar. And then it's a funny thing, after Mickey taught me then I had to teach him how to play the blues!" We hear Dale taking the vocals with Baker on guitar on tough numbers like "Midnight Hours", "Please Tell Me", "You Better Heed My Warning", all cut under Dale's name, and Dale taking the vocals on sides attributed to Big Red McHouston (alias Mickey Baker),  "I'm Tired" b/w "Where Is My Honey" cut for the Groove label.

Another favorite record of mine is the now out-of-print 2-LP set Rib Joint. Baker backed piano pounder Sam Price on a series of instrumental sides for the Savoy label in 1956 and 1959. The sides feature great session players including King Curtis, Leonard Gaskin, Panama Francis Al Casey and Kenny Burrell among others. We spin several selections from these sessions including "Rib Joint", "Kansas City Boogie Woogie Stomp", "Bar-B-Q Sauce" and "Juke Joint."

During the period covered in this show, Baker recorded only a handful of sides under his own names, fifteen sides between 1952 and 1956. In addition to the above mentioned Big Red McHouston sides, the rest of the sides  are instrumentals and today we spin several of those including "Shake Walkin'", "Bandstand Stomp" and "Rock With A Sock." In addition he cut his only full-length album from this period, 1959's The Wildest Guitar and all instrumental outing issued on Atlantic.

Among the earliest sides I heard Baker on those backing Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown and Champion Jack Dupree. Baker appears on several Big Maybelle sessions in 1954, 1955 and 1956 and backs Nappy Brown's on his 1952 debut plus sessions in 1955 and 1960. Baker backs Jack Dupree on sessions in 1953 and 1955 and the two reunited for a session in London in 1967 for the Decca label.

Baker backed a number of veteran artists who were trying to update their sound for the new rock and roll craze including Amos Milburn, Wynonie Harris, Big Joe Turner and Louis Jordan. Turner sailed into the rock and roll era rather seamlessly, scoring a big hit with “Shake, Rattle and Roll” with Baker on guitar. Although not commercially successful, Baker and Louis Jordan cut some rocking records during this period. In 1956, Mercury Records signed Jordan, releasing two LP's and a handful of singles. Jordan's first LP with Mercury, Somebody Up There Digs Me, showcased updated rock n' roll versions of previous hits such as "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens","Choo Choo Ch'Boogie", "Salt Pork, West Virginia", "Beware!" and a scorching "Caldonia" which we feature today; its follow-up, Man, We're Wailin' (1957), featured a more laid back "late night" sound. Although Mercury intended for this to be a comeback for Jordan, the comeback did not turn out to be a success, and the label let Jordan go in 1958.

A couple of lesser known New York artists worth mentioning are Eddie Mack and Mr. Bear. Mack was part of the Brooklyn blues scene in the late 40's and early 50's but his subsequent career is a mystery. He fronted various groups by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (he replaced Eddie Vinson), Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra and others. He cut some two-dozen sides between 1947-1952. Mickey Baker appears on Mack's final four sides for the Savoy label which are among his best.

Teddy McRae, also known as Mr. Bear, cut a few isolated titles as a leader, including two songs for King in 1945, six for Groove in 1955 and two numbers for Moonshine in 1958, and recorded with Champion Jack Dupree from 1955-56. Prior to this he was an important an arranger and tenor-saxophonist for several bands including Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton and Chick Webb's.

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Champion Jack DupreeStumbling Block Blues Early Cuts
Champion Jack DupreeShake Baby ShakeEarly Cuts
Eddie MackSeven Days Blues Eddie Mack 1947-1952
Eddie MackLast Hour Blues Eddie Mack 1947-1952
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleShame Shame Shame Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleThe Woman I Love Is DyingPaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleWomen Are The Root Of All Evil Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Allen BunnToo Much CompetitionBobby's Boogie: Red Robin Records
Big MaybelleI'm Getting 'Long Alright Blues Masters Vol. 13 New York City Blues
Larry Dale You Better Heed My Warning Still Groove Jumping
Mickey Baker w/ Larry Dale Stranger BluesRock With A Sock
Mr. BearI'm Gonna Keep My Good Eye on YouStill Groove Jumping
Larry DaleLet The Doorbell RingOld Town Blues Vol. 1
Alonzo Scales Left My Home BluesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Alonzo Scales Hard Luck ChildRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Champion Jack DupreeStory Of My LifeShake Baby Shake!
Bob Gaddy Operator Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Mr. Bear Hold Out BabyHarlem Heavies
Cousin Leroy Up the River Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Cousin Leroy Goin' Back Home Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Buddy & Ella Johnson Don't Be Messin' With My ManOld Town Blues Vol. 2
Buddy & Ella Johnson You'll Get Them BluesBuddy and Ella Johnson 1953-1964
Hal Paige & His Wailers After Hours BluesHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Dr. HorseJack, That Cat Was CleanFire/Fury Records Story
Jimmy SpruillHard GrindHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 1
Buster Brown Don't Dog Your WomanThe New King Of The Blues
Jimmy SpruillKansas City MarchHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Bob GaddyStormy Monday BluesHarlem blues Operator
Riff Ruffin All My LifeHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Noble "Thin Man" WattsJookin Fire/Fury Records Story
Tarheel Slim & Little Ann You Got My Nose Wide OpenOld Town Blues Vol. 2
June BatemanGo Away Mr. Blues Fire/Fury Records Story
Sammy PriceRib JointRib Joint

Show Notes:

We've done a couple of shows on the New York blues scene including last year's show on ace session man Larry Dale and more recently a show devoted to recordings revolving around Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry's New York recording activities. New York City has never had a big reputation as a blues town, compared to Chicago and L.A. It did however have a very lively postwar R&B scene. The R&B scene had its peak between 1945 and 1960 and has always been closely associated with the local jazz scene. There were nationally important clubs like the Apollo and Savoy and numerous other spots for live entertainment. The recording scene was dominated by a group of small but enterprising independent companies like Apollo, DeLuxe, Fire/Fury, Herald, Baton, Joe Davis, Old Town and in particular, Atlantic and Savoy. There was also out of town companies that recorded local talent like Federal and RCA’s Groove and Vik subsidiaries. Literally hundreds and hundreds of R&B recordings were made, aimed at the black market with occasional cross over success. Today's show spans the early 50's through the early 60's spotlighting a slew of great lesser known blues artists as well as bigger names like Big Maybelle, Paul Williams and Champion Jack Dupree. We also spotlight the contributions of trio of sizzling session guitarists: Larry Dale, Mickey Baker and Jimmy Spruill.

Larry DAle: Let The Doorbell RingBorn in Texas, Larry Dale had moved to New York City in 1949 and quickly fell into the local blues scene. Dale made his start with Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams’ band in the early 50’s. Dale was much in-demand on the New York blues scene during this period working with Bob Gaddy, Mickey Baker (as a vocalist), Champion Jack Dupree, Cootie Williams and others. He also cut scattered sides under his own name for several New York labels.

We first hear Dale in the company of Paul Williams on three sides from 1953 and 1954. Williams moved with his family from the south to Detroit where he began playing sax professionally after high school. His song "The Hucklebuck" stayed on the charts for 32 weeks in 1949. Nothing else matched this success the fame form that hit kept Williams busy recording and performing live for years. He led the house band at Harlem's Apollo Theater  in the mid-50's and later directed the bands of Lloyd Price and James Brown. He retired from music in 1964. Our selections find Williams laying down some tough R&B with New york Larry Dale taking the vocals and playing guitar on the blistering 'Shame Shame Shame" and "The Woman I Love Is Dying" and playing guitar on the jumping "Women Are The Root Of All Evil" featuring Jimmy Brown on vocals.

We also hear Dales' playing behind Champion Jack Dupree, Mr. Bear, Cousin Leroy, Bob Gaddy, Mickey Baker as well as sides cut under his own name.  Dale played on all four of Dupree's 1956-58 sessions for RCA's Groove and Vik subsidiaries, and on the best known Dupree LP, 1958's Blues from the Gutter, for Atlantic. Today we hear Dale backing Dupree on the rocking  "Shake Baby Shake" from 1952 and 1956's "The Story of my Life." Teddy McRae also known as Mr. Bear cut a few isolated titles as a leader, including two songs for King in 1945, six for Groove in 1955 and two numbers for Moonshine in 1958, and recorded with Champion Jack Dupree from 1955-56. Prior to this he was an important an arranger and tenor-saxophonist for several bands including Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton and Chick Webb's. In 1955 and 1957, Cousin Leroy recorded eight tough tracks that had a little something extra that drove blues fans crazy when they came out on unauthorized records in the 60s. Nothing is known about his background. Both as a session man and featured recording artist, pianist Bob Gaddy made his presence known on the New York blues scene during the 1950's. He arrived in New York in 1946. Gaddy gigged with Brownie McGhee and guitarist Larry Dale around town, McGhee often playing on Gaddy's waxings for Jackson, Jax, Dot, Harlem, and from 1955 on, Hy Weiss' Old Town label. There Gaddy stayed the longest into 1960. Both Gaddy and Dale remained active on the New York scene for decades after. Larry Dale is featured on guitar. We hear Dale backed by Mickey Baker on "Stranger Blues" and the menacing "You Better Heed My Warning." In 1960, Dale did another vocal session, for the Old Town subsidiary Glover in New York City, resulting in two fine singles, "Big Muddy" and the song that gives today's show its title, the scorching party number "Let the Door Bell Ring" which hit the R&B charts.

In the early and mid-'50s, Mickey Baker did countless sessions for Atlantic, King, RCA, Decca, and OKeh, playing on such classics as the Drifters' "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle & Roll," Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and Big Maybelle's "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On." He also released a few singles under his own name. Baker was also recorded as half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia. We hear Baker on several numbers today, including those already mentioned backing Larry Dale, such as Champion Jack Dupree's "Stumbling Block Blues", Big Maybelle's "I'm Getting 'Long Alright" and a pair of sides by blues shouter Eddie Mack. Mack was part of the Brooklyn blues scene in the late 40's and early 50's but his subsequent career is a mystery. He fronted various groups by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (he replaced Eddie Vinson), Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra and others. He cut some two-dozen sides between 1947-1952. Baker also  appeared on a series of instrumental sides by piano pounder Sam Price cut for the Savoy label in the late 50's such as "Bar-B-Q Sauce", "Chicken Out" and our selection, "Rib Joint." All these sessions were collected on the now out-of-print 2-LP set Rib Joint. He also cut several instrumentals under his own name during this period.

Jimmy Spruill landed in new York in 1955 where he worked steadily as a session sideman, appearing on records by King Curtis, Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Shirelles, Tarheel Slim and Elmore James, in addition to putting out singles under his own name. He most frequently worked for the record producers Danny and Bobby Robinson, who ran record labels called Fire, Fury, Everlast, Enjoy and VIM out of Bobby's Happy House of Hits record store in Harlem. In May 1959, "The Happy Organ" by Dave "Baby" Cortez reached #1 on the Billboard chart, before giving way only one week later to Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City", both of which featured guitar solos by Spruill. He almost duplicated this feat in 1961 when Bobby Lewis's "Tossin' and Turnin'", featuring Spruill's guitar solo, hit #1 was followed up the charts by the Shirelles' "Dedicated To The One I Love", which peaked at #3. Another well-known recording on which Spruill plays is "Fannie Mae" by Buster Brown. His rhythm work in the background of some of Elmore James' last records is also notable. In 1957 Bobby Robisnon began issuing  Jimmy Spruill's solo 45's, on Fire and its subsidiary labels Enjoy, Vest, and VIM where cut tough instrumentals like "Hard Grind", "Scratchin'", "Slow Draggin'", "Scratch 'n Twist" and "Cut and Dried."  Those tracks and more are available on the Night Train CD Wild Jimmy Spruill: Scratch & Twist (Released and  Unreleased Recordings 1956-1962). We hear Sprull today ripping it up on a couple of his own killer instrumentals, "Hard Grind" and "Kansas City March", as well as backing Bob Gaddy, Buster Brown, Noble "Thin Man" Watts' and Hal Paige.

A few other artists worth mentioning are Buddy & Ella Johnson, Buster Brown, Noble "Thin Man" Watts and Tarheel Slim. In 1939, Buddy Johnson waxed his first 78 for Decca and shortly thereafter, Ella joined her older brother. Buddy had assembled a nine-piece orchestra by 1941 and visited the R&B charts often for Decca during the mid-40's. The Johnson band barnstormed the country to sellout crowds throughout the '40s. Buddy moved over to Mercury Records in 1953 and scored several R&B hits. Buddy kept recording for Mercury through 1958, switched to Roulette the next year, and bowed out with a last session for Hy Weiss' Old Town label in 1964.

Buster Brown played harmonica at local clubs and made a few recordings, including ‘I’m Gonna Make You Happy’ in 1943. Brown moved to New York in 1956 where he was discovered by Fire Records owner Bobby Robinson while working in a chicken and barbecue joint. In 1959, he recorded the "Fannie Mae", whose tough harmonica riffs took it into the US Top 40. In later years he recorded for Checker Records and for numerous small labels including Serock, Gwenn and Astroscope.

The Griffin Brothers, one of Dot Records' most popular touring R&B acts, hired Noble Watts right after he finished college, and he toured with them for a time. In 1952, he joined famed baritone saxophonist Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams as a member of the house band for the groundbreaking TV show “Showtime At The Apollo.” Later on, he had a stint playing with Lionel Hampton's big band. He also played on late '50s tour packages behind the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. Watts first recording came in 1954 on DeLuxe Records. A 1956 single for VeeJay Records preceded his two-year association with New York's Baton label. The song “Hard Times (The Slop)” brought Watts to the pop charts in 1957. Countless tours and performances – as well as a string of singles for various labels – kept Watts busy through the 1960s and into the 1970s. We hear Watts today on the fine instrumental "Jookin."

As Tarheel Slim, Allen Bunn,  encored on Bobby Robinson's Red Robin logo in 1953. He also sang with  R&B vocal groups, the Wheels and the Lovers. As Tarheel Slim he made his debut in 1958 with his wife, Little Ann, in a duet format for Robinson's Fire imprint. He cut a pair of rockabilly raveups of his own, "Wilcat Tamer" and "No. 9 Train" (both featuring Jimmy Spruill). After a few years off the scene, Tarheel Slim made a bit of a comeback during the early 1970's, with an album for Trix, his last recording. He died in 1977.

In January of this year the hard working Bobby Robinson passed away and pay a sort of mini tribute to him, playing several records he produced and issued. He was the owner of Harlem's most successful record store, Bobby's Happy House of Hits, he worked as an amateur talent scout and, as well as advising major blues record companies, he ran his own now legendary labels Red Robin, Whirlin' Disc, Fire and Fury. n 1951, he launched Robin Records (which later became Red Robin Records), and began recording doo wop. He claimed that being stuck in traffic at the New Jersey turnpike cost him the chance to sign Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. In 1956, he formed Whirlin' Disc Records, but after falling out with his business partner formed Fury Records in 1957.Passing blues musicians would often offer to record for Robinson. The most spectacular result in his career was when he gave Harrison studio time in 1959. The resulting single, "Kansas City", went on to sell more than 3m copies, topping both the R&B and pop charts. Other blues artists he recorded included Bobby Marchan, Lee Dorsey, Lightnin' Hopkins, Elmore James, Arthur Crudup, Champion Jack Dupree, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee among numerous others.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeCrow Jane Blues Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48
Stick McGhee Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee Stick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Brownie MGheeI'm Talking About It Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48
Brownie McGhee & Sonny TerryFour O'Clock In The MorningStick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Big Chief Ellis She Is Gone Cryin' and Singin' the BluesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Leroy DallasI'm Going AwayRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Big Chief EllisDices, DicesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Ralph WillisBlack And TanShake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Stick McGhee She's Gone Rock Away BluesStick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry CC BabyStick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-195
Duke Bayou (Alec Seward)Doomed Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Duke Bayou (Alec Seward)Rub A Little BoogieRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Champion Jack Dupree Heart Breaking WomanChampion Jack Dupree: Early Cuts
Allen Bunn The Guy With The "45" New York Country Blues
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Buster Pawn Shop Blues Stick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Buster I Feel So GoodStick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Bottom BluesStick McGhee: New York Blues and R&B 1947-1955
Brownie MGheeMy Fault Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block BusterBrownie's Blues (Lordy Lord) Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeNews for You, Baby Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Bobby Harris Friendly AdviceRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Bob GaddyBicycle BoogieRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Bob Gaddy Blues Has Walked in My RoomRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeDangerous Woman (with a 45 in Her Hand)Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Sonny Terry Hooray, HoorayRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Big Maybelle Send MeThe Complete OKeh Recordings
Square WaltonFish Tail BluesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Brownie McGhee & His Jook House Rockers Christina
Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Brownie McGhee & Sonny TerryLove's A DiseaseRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Sonny Terry Sonny Is Drinking Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Alonzo ScalesHard Luck ChildRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Alonzo ScalesShe's GoneRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56

Show Notes:

Today's program spotlights the music recorded by Sonny Terry & Brownies McGhee shortly after they arrived in New York. They first moved to New York City in 1942 moving in with Huddie and Martha Ledbetter. Initial recordings were for the Library of Congress and for Terry regular sessions for Moe Asch, who later set up the Folkways label. They first recorded as a duo for Savoy in 1944. They recorded more duets together in 1946 but after that that mainly pursued their own recording careers although they did record quite a bit together through the mid-50's. Today's show spans the years 1946 through 1955 and chart the duo's progress waxing downhome blues to the more popular R&B of the day. Starting around 1946 Brownie became an in-demand session guitarist, backing New York based artists like Big Chief Ellis, his brother Stick McGhee, Champion Jack Dupree, Leroy Dallas, and Bob Gaddy among others. Terry also did some session work during this period but to a lesser extent than Brownie. We spotlight all of these artists and more all aided either by Brownie or Sonny in the band and occasionally both. We also spin some of the best material they recorded as a team during this period. By the late 50's the duo had become full-time partners, developing the folk-blues style they would become so well known for and leaving the commercial R&B world behind for the white blues revival audience.

In 1946, Brownie cut a series of sessions for Alert, many of which were duets with Sonny Terry. Thereafter, each man mainly pursued his own recording career, though their paths crossed fairly often. McGhee stayed with Savoy; Terry recorded for Capitol. In late 1948, Bob Shad engaged McGhee for his Sittin' In With label, where he cut his own sessions and backed Sister Ethel Davenport, Leroy Dallas and Big Chief Ellis. In 1950 he returned to Savoy where he intermittently continued to record until 1955. Sometime around 1951/2, both he and Sonny Terry signed with the Jax and Jackson labels, owned by Bob Shad's brother Morty. It's not known whether recordings by the band they put together were recorded at the same time or over some months. As well as records by Terry and McGhee, there were singles by bassist/vocalist Bobby Harris and pianist Bob Gaddy. The same musicians were "Night Owls" for Terry, "Jook Block Busters" for McGhee and '"Alley Cats" for Gaddy. It was only a matter of time before Terry and McGhee encountered Bobby Robinson, whose Record Shop was just down 125th Street from the Apollo. "I lived at 108 126th Street," Robinson told John Broven. "Now two doors down from me, at I think 112, Brownie McGhee and his brother Stick lived and Sonny Terry. All night long in the summertime they got the windows open, you got the blues thing going all down the street. So finally l got Sonny and Brownie, we did a few things. That was my first blues things."

In 1954 Brownie cut a single for another Morty Shad label, Harlem. "Christina" used the melody of Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". Brownie was cutting music firmly in R&B territory on his final four tracks for Savoy which attempted to meld Sonny Terry's harmonica with a set of mainstream R&B songs embellished by Mickey Baker's tough guitar licks. "When Its Love", "I'd Love To Love You", "Loves A Disease" and "My Fault" were basically Brownie's last efforts in this area of music. "My Fault" was also one of his most successful recordings. Around the time Brownie cut "Christina", Sonny made "Dangerous Woman (With A 45 1n Her Hand)"and "Love You Baby" probably with the same band, including McGhee and Bob Gaddy. "Dangerous Woman" hewed closer to a conventional R&B. In August 1953, he recorded for Victor, with a band that included Mickey Baker and Bobby Donaldson on bongos. "Hooray Hooray" was a reworking of The Woman Is killing Me." " Sonny Is Drinking" slowed the tempo, giving Mickey Baker ample room for his over-amped guitar.

Big Chief Ellis was from Alabama and after the war wound up in New York. At one point he was running a bar that was a hangout for local bluesmen. No one knew Chief could play until he sat down at the bar's piano and played. One of the musicians, Brownie McGhee, was impressed enough to call 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 a large number of the city's R&B artists including Tarheel Slim, Leroy Dallas, Mickey Baker, and Ralph Willis.

After WW II Champion Jack Dupree settled in New York. In 1945-46 he recorded for Joe Davis. At this time he was living at Brownie McGhee's house on 126th Street. McGee backs Dupree on sessions between 1945 (Sonny Terry appears on some 1946 and 1952 sessions) and the mid-50's. Stick McGhee appears on a number of 1950's sessions as well.

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.

Ralph Willis was born in Alabama in 1910 and based in North Carolina during the 1930s where he apparently played with Blind Boy Fuller and Buddy Moss. Willis recorded his debut in 1944, and continued until 1953, issuing fifty tracks via several record labels. McGhee backed him on sessions in 1949, 1950 and 1951. On his final two sessions he's backed by McGhee as well as Sonny Terry on some numbers.

Young Granville McGhee earned his nickname by pushing his polio-stricken older brother Brownie through the streets of Kingsport, TN, on a cart that he propelled with a stick. McGhee was inspired to pen "Drinkin' Wine" while in Army boot camp during World War II. McGhee's first recorded version of the tune for the Harlem label made little impression in 1947, but a rollicking 1949 remake for Atlantic (as Stick McGhee & His Buddies) proved a massive R&B hit ( Brownie played guitar and sang harmony vocal). After one more smash for Atlantic, 1951's "Tennessee Waltz Blues," McGhee moved along to Essex, King, Savoy, and Herald, where he made his last 45 in 1960 before passing the following year.

The Apollo session from which a single by Duke Bayou & His Mystic 6 derived has always been logged as another Jack Dupree pseudonym; however, although he's present, the session was logged in the Apollo files as by Alec Seward & His Washboard Band. The vocals are shared by Seward ("Rub A Little Boogie", "That's All Right With Me") and Bobby Harris ("She Can Shake", "Doomed"), with Dupree's piano, Brownie McGhee's guitar, an unknown washboard player and a drummer in attendance. Seward was born in Charles City County, Virginia and relocated to New York in 1924 where he befriended Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He met Louis Hayes 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.

While still in North Carolina during the early 1940's, Allen Bunn (Tarheel Slim) worked with several gospel groups. He broke away with Thurman Ruth and in 1949 formed their own group, the Jubilators. During a single day in New York in 1950, they recorded for four labels under four different names, One of those labels was Apollo, who convinced them to go secular. That's basically how the Larks, one of the seminal early R&B vocal groups, came to be. He cut two sessions of his own for the firm in 1952 under the name of Allen Bunn. As Alden Bunn, he encored on Bobby Robinson's Red Robin logo the next year. He also sang with  R&B vocal groups, the Wheels and the Lovers. As Tarheel Slim he made his debut in 1958 with his wife, Little Ann, in a duet format for Robinson's Fire imprint. He cut a pair of rockabilly raveups of his own, "Wilcat Tamer" and "No. 9 Train." After a few years off the scene, Tarheel Slim made a bit of a comeback during the early 1970's, with an album for Trix, his last recording. He died in 1977.

Both as a session man and featured recording artist, pianist Bob Gaddy made his presence known on the New York blues scene during the 1950's. Gaddy was drafted in 1943, and that's when he began to take the piano seriously. He picked up a little performing experience in California clubs while stationed on the West Coast before arriving in New York in 1946. Gaddy gigged with Brownie McGhee and guitarist Larry Dale around town, McGhee often playing on Gaddy's waxings for Jackson (his 1952 debut, "Bicycle Boogie"), Jax, Dot, Harlem, and from 1955 on, Hy Weiss' Old Town label. There Gaddy stayed the longest, waxing the fine "I Love My Baby," "Paper Lady," "Rip and Run," and quite a few more into 1960.

Several artists featured today have shadowy backgrounds. Little is known of Bobbie Harris who may have been from South Carolina and cut sides for several New York labels. Harris played bass and sang. He cut just over a dozen sides between 1951-52 with Brownie McGee backing him on at least two sessions. Nothing is known of vocalist Square Walton who cut a four song session in 1953 for Victor backed by Sonny Terry. A 1954 session wasn't released. Alonzo Scales was born in NC in 1888 and cut a 1949 session backed by Champion Jack and McGhee for Abbey and a four song session in 1955 for Wing backed by McGhee, Terry and Bob Gaddy.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Leroy DallasI'm Down Now But I Won't Be Down Always Ralph Willis & Leroy Dallas Vol. 2
Leroy DallasI’m Going Away Ralph Willis & Leroy Dallas Vol. 2
Lil' Son Jackson Gambling Blues Down Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
Smokey Hogg You Won't Stay HomeGood Morning Little School Girl
Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry My Bulldog Blues Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee 1938-48
Curley Weaver Some Rainy Day Blind Willie McTell & Curley Weaver: The Post War Years
Curley Weaver TrixieBlind Willie McTell & Curley Weaver: The Post War Years
Johnny Beck Locked In Jail Blues Rural Blues Vol. 1 1934-1956
Johnny Beck You've Gotta Lay Down Mama Rural Blues Vol. 1 1934-1956
Peppermint Harris Rainin' In My Heart Sittin' In With
Peppermint Harris My Blues Have Rolled Away Sittin' In With
Lightnin' Hopkins You Caused My Heart To Weep All The Classic Sides 1946-1951
Lightnin' HopkinsNew York Boogie All The Classic Sides 1946-1951
Ray Charles I Found My Baby Ray Charles Collection Vol. 2
Clarence Jolly Baby Take A Look At MeHot Fish! - Downhome Rhythm and Blues 1951-1955
Arbee Stidham Bad Dream BluesArbee Stidham Vol. 2 1951-1957
Jesse James Forgive Me Blues Down Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
The Sugarman Which Woman Do I LoveTexas Down Home Blues 1948-1952
Sam "Suitcase" Johnson Sam's BoogieRural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962
L.C. Williams The Lazy J Lightnin' Special
L.C. Williams Fannie MaeLightnin' Special
James Wayne Junco PartnerTravelin' From Texas To New Orleans
James Wayne Travelin' From Texas To New OrleansTravelin' From Texas To New Orleans
Bob Gaddy Blues Has Walked In My Room Bicycle Boogie
Elmore NixonI Went To See A Gypsy Texas Blues Vol. 2 - Rock Awhile
James "Widemouth"” Brown Boogie Woogie Nighthawk Boogie Uproar - Texas Blues & R&B 1947-54
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters A Letter To Lightnin' Key To The Highway
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Pawnshop Blues Key To The Highway
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters Meet You In The Morning Key To The Highway
Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters Worryin’ Over You Key To The Highway
James "Widemouth" Brown Boogie Woogie Nighthawk Boogie Uproar - Texas Blues & R&B 1947-54
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Ease My Worried Mind Key To The Highway
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Key To The Highway Key To The Highway
Sonny Terry Dangerous Woman (with a .45 in her hand) Sittin' In With Harlem Jade & Jax Vol. 2

Show Notes:

Today's program spotlights the New York based Sittin' In With label which, despite its short life, issued some terrific blues recordings. The label was founded by Morty and Bob Shad in New York City in 1948. The label specialized in Southern blues and R&B, which was a departure from most Eastern labels up to that time. In fact a quite a number of the label's artists were based out of Houston. Competition among independent record labels in Houston was intense with local labels like  Macy’s, Freedom, and Peacock all vying for talent. As for Shad's connection to Houston, author Roger Wood related the following to me: "As for Bob Shad, all I know (mainly from the late Teddy Reynolds) is that he came to Houston and recorded a bunch of folks over the course of about a year or so, then disappeared.  Teddy said that he rented an old house in one of the wards and used it to audition (and sometimes recorded there) the talent he discovered."

More information on Shad's activities can be gleaned in an interview he did with author Arnold Shaw in his seminal Honkers And Shouters: "Started my own label after I left National; it was called Sittin' In With. And I did all the early Charlie Venturas, Stan Getz, Wardell Gray. It was strictly jazz at the beginning-Gerry Mulligan, Buddy Stewart, Benny Green. But ther was no money in jazz. Used to sell seven to eight thousand. That's when the blues thing hit me and I bought a Magnecord, which was probably the first portable tape recorder. Went down South and did a lot of recording with Peppermint Harris, Lightnin' Hopkins, Smokey Hogg. Recorded in Texas, mostly Houston. But I did some up in Tyler; also Shreveport, Louisiana. The big problem with on-location recording was finding a piano that was in tune. I would go to the black quarter of town and ask the disk jockeys. I would tie up one musician and find a blue singer. One bluesman would tell you about another-it's a whole family-everybody sings blues. I did Curley Weaver, Big bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Band, Little Esther."

Bob Shad was an outstanding jazz producer, but also supervised several major blues, pop, rock and R&B dates. Shad started his production career with Savoy in the '40s, producing jazz sessions for Charlie Parker and blues and R&B albums for National. The labels earliest recordings were primarily jazz, featuring artists such as Chu Berry, Charlie Ventura and Stan Getz before cutting a blues recording by Brownie McGhee. After that release the label's catalog mixed blues, vocal group  and jazz before blues became the label's dominant sound. Soon Shad was issuing records by Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Smokey Hogg, Peppermint Harris, Bob Gaddy,  Curley Weaver, Elmore Nixon, Teddy Reynolds, James Wayne and Arbee Stidham among others. In 1951 Shad sold the label to Mercury although it appears releases on Sittin’ In With were released through 1953. Jade and Jax were subsidiary labels operated by Shad during the course of  Sittin’ In With. After Sittin' In folded, Morty Shad continued the Jax label and later formed the Harlem label in 1953. Bob Shad went to Mercury Records in 1951 and in the spring of 1953 joined Decca. When Shad left Mercury in the 1960’s he founded Mainstream Records which, in addition to new material, recycled some of the Sittin' In With recordings. Today's program runs roughly chronologically and below you'll find some background on today's featured artists.

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. Dallas gives a moving performance on "I'm Down Now But I Won't Be Down Always" an picks up the pace on the rocking boogie "I'm Going Away."

The two songs by Lil' Son Jackson, "Gambling Blues b/w Homeless Blues",  were issued on Sittin' In With but originally came out on Houston’s Gold Star label. In 1948 Jackson became one of many blues singers to record for Gold Star. In 1946, Jackson shipped off a demo to Bill Quinn, who owned Houston based Gold Star Records. Jackson scored a national R&B hit, “Freedom Train Blues,” in 1948. It would prove Jackson’s only national hit, although his 1950-1954 output for Imperial Records must have sold consistently, judging from how many sides the L.A. firm issued.

Smokey Hogg was a down-home bluesman who scored a pair of major R&B hits in 1948 and 1950 (“Long Tall Mama” and “Little School Girl”) and cut prolifically for a slew of labels including Exclusive, Modern, Bullet, Macy’s, Sittin’ in With, Imperial, Mercury, Specialty, Fidelity, Combo, Federal, and Showtime). Smokey’s cousin John Hogg also played the blues, waxing six sides in 1951.

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.

After first moving to Houston in 1943, Peppermint Harris started to play blues professionally in 1947, at such venues as the Eldorado Ballroom. It was his friend Lightnin' Hopkins who go him the opportunity to record for Gold Star circa 1947/48. A subsequent session in 1949 or 1950 for the Sittin' In With label produced his, and the label's, first hit record, the song "Rainin' in My Heart" which is one of two numbers featured today. He cut some two-dozen sides for the label. He went on to record for over a dozen labels through the 60's including Aladdin, Money, Dart, Duke, and Jewel.

Teddy Reynolds, blues pianist, songwriter, and singer, was born in Houston on July 12, 1931. Reynolds recorded numerous tracks but is most famous among blues aficionados for his studio work and touring with some of the top Texas-based artists of his generation, including Bobby Bland, Texas Johnny Brown, Johnny Copeland, Grady Gaines, Clarence Green, Peppermint Harris, Joe "Guitar" Hughes, B. B. King, and Phillip Walker. In 1950 he cut ten tracks for the Sittin' In With label including our selection, the moody "Right Will Always Win."

Among T-Bone’s legion of disciples was Houston’s Goree Carter, whose big break came when he signed to Houston’s Freedom Records circa 1949. For his first couple of side he was billed as “Little T-Bone.” Freedom issued plenty of Carter records over the next few years, and he later recorded for Imperial/Bayou, Sittin’ in With, Coral, Jade, and Modern without denting the national charts. From his handful of cuts for Sittin’ in With we spin the atmospheric instrumental  "Bull Corn Blues."

Sittin' recorded several Houston based artists but in one way or the other they all revolved around Lightnin' Hopkins who cut a staggering number of sides for numerous labels as well as encouraging many artists, including several featured today. Hopkins cut some tw0-dozen sides for Sittin’ In With, and related labels Harlem and Jax, in 1951 with about half the sessions cut in New York and the others in Houston. Today's featured Hopkins tracks include the poignant "You Caused My Heart To Weep" and one of Hopkins' patented boogies, "New York Boogie" which gives our show its title. Shad had this say about Hopkins: "When we picked him up and talked a recording date, he wouldn't sign a contract. He wouldn't accept a royalty deal. He had to be paid in cash. Not only that, he had to be paid after each cut. …He didn't know the lyrics from one song to another, but made them up as he went along …Whatever hit his mind, he sang and recorded."

L.C. Williams was a singer/tap dancer who also occasionally drummed behind Hopkins. He arrived in Houston in 1945 and was one of the many characters who hung around in Lightning’s orbit, sitting on stoops drinking beer and wine, shooting the breeze with passers-by. He made his first record in 1947 with Hopkins on piano and guitar. Hopkins plays guitar on a four-song session for Gold Star in 1948 with Williams making some sides for Eddie’s and Freedom between 1948-1950 and four songs for Sittin' In in 1951 featuring Hopkins on guitar. He died in Houston of TB in 1960. Williams and Hopkins deliver gripping, intense performances on "The Lazy J" and "Fannie Mae."

James Waynes was credited with that name on his earliest recordings. Later it became James Wayne and from 1955 onwards, Wee Willie Wayne. He was discovered in Texas by Sittin' In With boss Bob Shad. It was for this label that Wayne made his first recording (in Houston) and his only hit: "Tend To Your Business", which reached # 2 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1951. Shad next recorded Waynes at the WGST studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Among the five songs recorded there was the all-time classic "Junco Partner", which became a local hit and one of the two numbers we spotlight today. He was then signed by Imperial, who recorded him in New Orleans and the cut sides for Aladdin and Old Town and returned to Imperial in 1955 and recorded "Travelin' Mood" and others in 1955. Both "Junco Partner" and "Travelin' Mood" became standards in the repertoire of many New Orleans musicians, like Dr. John, Professor Longhair, James Booker and Snooks Eaglin. Further records appeared on the Peacock and Angletone labels, before he was signed by Imperial for a third time in 1961.

Elmore Nixon was a Houston pianist who was a sideman on labels such as Gold Star, Peacock, Mercury, Savoy and Imperial between 1949 and 1955. In the 1960’s he backed Lightnin’ Hopkins and Clifton Chenier on sessions. He also cut over two-dozen sides under his own name between 1949 and 1952 for labels like Sittin’ In With, Peacock, Mercury Savoy and Imperial.

Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters featured Sonny Terry and Bob Gaddy, with the group cutting a dozen sides for the Jax label in 1952. As the Jook House Rockers (sans Sonny Terry) the group cut for Morty Shad's Harlem label in 1954. Sonny Terry and His Buckshot 5, featuring Bob Gaddy and Brownie McGee, cut one 78 for the Harlem label in 1954. Brownie McGhee's combo cut some potent R&B and we spin two sets worth of tunes including the good natured "A Letter To Lightnin' Hopkins", tough blues like "Pawnshop Blues", a majestic "Key To The Highway" and the romping "Meet You In The Morning." Sonny Terry's "Dangerous Woman (with a .45 in her hand)" is every bit as tough as the title suggests.

There were quite a number of artists who cut just one or a handful of sides for the label. The most famous is Ray Charles who cut a couple of sides for Sittin’ In With in 1951 and would go on to much greater success a few years later with Atlantic. Then there was James “Widemouth” Brown, Gatemouth Brown’s brother, who cut one 78 for the Jax label 1952. Our cut, "Boogie Woogie Nighthawk", is a swinging big band blues showing  Gate's brother to be a fine singer and impressive guitarist. He died in 1971. Clarence Jolly was a fine blues shouter in the vain of Roy Brown who cut four sides for Sittin’ In With in 1951 and two for Cobra in 1957. Several artists cut just a lone 78 for the label including several superb down home bluesmen like Johnny Beck who cut one 78 in 1949 in Houston, Jesse James who cut one 78 for the label in1950 and one for Down Town in 1948, The Sugarman who cut one 78 for the label in 1951 and Sam "Suitcase" Johnson cut a lone 78 for the label, the bouncy "Sam's Boogie" , in 1951.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Larry DalePlease Tell MeRock With A Sock
Cootie WilliamsThree O'Clock in the MorningJazz At Midnight
Bob GaddyOperatorHarlem Blues Operator
Bob GaddyBicycle BoogieBob Gaddy & Friends
Bob GaddyNo HelpBob Gaddy & Friends
Paul WilliamsShame, Shame, ShamePaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul WilliamsThe Woman I Love Is DyingPaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Larry DaleNo Tellin' What I'll DoHerald/Ember Blues & Gospel Masters Vol. 1
Cootie WilliamsRinky DinkCootie Williams in Hi Fi
Bob GaddyBlues Has Walked In My RoomBob Gaddy & Friends
Big Red McHoustonStranger BluesRock With A Sock
Larry DaleMidnight HoursRock With A Sock
Larry DaleI'm TiredRock With A Sock
Larry DaleWhere Is My HoneyRock With A Sock
Champion Jack DupreeThe UpsShake Baby Shake
Champion Jack DupreeDown The LaneShake Baby Shake
Champion Jack DupreeStory Of My LifeShake Baby Shake
Champion Jack DupreeYou're Always Cryin' The BluesShake Baby Shake
Larry DaleYou Better Heed My WarningRock With A Sock
Larry DaleBig MuddyHy Weiss Presents Old Town Records
Larry DaleDown To The BottomRock With A Sock
Bob GaddyPaper LadyHarlem Blues Operator
Bob GaddyOut Of My NameHarlem Blues Operator
Bob GaddyRip And RunHarlem Blues Operator
Larry DaleLet Your Love Run To MeOld Town Blues Vol. 2
Larry DaleLet The Doorbell RingHy Weiss Presents Old Town Records
Larry DaleDrinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-DeeMidnight Ramble Tonight Vol. 2
Champion Jack DupreeJunker's BluesBlues From The Gutter
Champion Jack DupreeGoin' Down SlowBlues From The Gutter
Champion Jack DupreeT. B. BluesBlues From The Gutter
Champion Jack DupreeEvil WomanBlues From The Gutter
Cootie WilliamsBoomerangCootie Williams in Hi Fi
Larry DaleFeelin' Allright45

Show Notes:

Blues & Rhythm Magazine Cover Number 34

I received the sad news of the passing of Larry Dale who died on May 19th. Outside of die hard collectors, who hold Dale's recordings in high esteem, he never broke out to a large audience despite cutting some potent blues and R&B sides under his own name and some knockout session guitar backing artists like Mickey Baker, Champion Jack Dupree, Bob Gaddy, Paul Williams and Cootie Williams. I became an immediate fan of Dale's after grabbing a copy Still Groove Jumping! from my favorite record store, Finyl Vinyl on New York's Second Ave., an anthology of sides cut for the Groove label including a trio of gritty blues by Dale. It was also about this time that I was a regular reader of  the British Juke Blues magazine when they published an article entitled Larry Dale: The New York Houserocker (Juke Blues # 9, 1987 – read below). To my surprise I found out that Dale and I both lived in the Bronx but unfortunately I never got a chance to see him perform. Over the years I've picked up just about all of Dale's recordings and today we pay tribute to Dale and his New York friends who's records he played on.

New York City has never had a big reputation as a blues town, compared to Chicago and L.A. It did however have a very lively postwar R&B scene. The R&B scene had its peak between 1945 and 1960 and has always been closely associated with the local jazz scene. There were nationally important clubs like the Apollo and Savoy and numerous other spots for live entertainment.  The recording scene was dominated by a group of small but enterprising independent companies like: Apollo, DeLuxe, Fire/Fury, Herald, Baton, Joe Davis, Old Town and in particular, Atlantic and Savoy. There was also out of town companies that recorded local talent like Federal and RCA’s Groove and Vik subsidiaries. Literally hundreds and hundreds of R&B recordings were made, aimed at the black market with occasional cross over success

Born in Texas, Dale had moved to New York City in 1949 and quickly fell into the local blues scene as he explained: "It's kinda funny how I learned to play the guitar. Brownie McGhee would let me come up on his bandstand and sit in the back and playing all kind of bad notes until I learned where the changes were. And then I got so where I could play pretty good. And I could always sing good, If I could sing and leave the guitar alone I was good, but if I tried to play the guitar …Bobby Schiffman told me 'You just sing, leave the guitar alone. you'11 make it'. But he didn't know I was determined to learn the guitar. So I bought B.B King records, people that played guitars; and I learned how to play. Then Mickey Baker he taught me a lot. …Well before then Mickey taught me a lot about guitar. And then it's a funny thing, after Mickey taught me then I had to teach him how to play the blues!"

Larry Dale's House Rockers: Matt Gray, sax; Larry Dale, guitar;
Bob Gaddy, piano; poss Gene Brooks, drums.

Dale made his start with Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams’ band in the early 50’s and plays on one four song session cut in 1952 for Jax, taking the vocals on  "Shame, Shame, Shame" and "The Woman I Love Is Dying." These records can be found on Blue Moon's Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956.  Saxophonist and bandleader Paul Williams scored one of the first big hits of the R&B era in 1949 with "The Hucklebuck which topped the R&B charts for 14 weeks and was one of three Top 10 and five other Top 20 R&B instrumental hits that Williams scored for Savoy in 1948 and 1949. He was later part of Atlantic Records' house band in the '60s and directed the Lloyd Price and James Brown orchestras until 1964.

Both as a session man and featured recording artist, pianist Bob Gaddy made his presence known on the New York blues scene during the 1950's. Dale had high praise for Gaddy: "Bob Gaddy as a musician? Well, he kept me in the business I would say, he was that good …Bob was one of the best nightclub entertainers I ever worked with." Gaddy was drafted in 1943, and that's when he began to take the piano seriously. He picked up a little performing experience in California clubs while stationed on the West Coast before arriving in New York in 1946. Gaddy gigged with Brownie McGhee and guitarist Larry Dale around town, McGhee often playing on Gaddy's waxings for Jackson (his 1952 debut, "Bicycle Boogie"), Jax, Dot, Harlem, and from 1955 on, Hy Weiss' Old Town label. There Gaddy stayed the longest, waxing the fine "I Love My Baby," "Paper Lady," "Rip and Run," and quite a few more into 1960. Both Gaddy and Dale remained active on the New York scene for decades after. Dale is featured on many Gaddy recordings including four sides for Jax and Harlem in 1952, for Dot in 1954, for Harlem in 1955 and for Old Town between 1956 and 1958. Dale's Old Town sides can be found on several Ace collections including Bob Gaddy: Harlem Blues Operator, Old Town Blues Vol. 2 – The Uptown Sides and Harlem Hit Parade: Old Town Blues Vol. 2.

Dale is also the vocalist on the rousing "I'm Tired" b/w "Where Is My Honey" by Big Red McHouston (alias Mickey Baker) on Groove. In 1954 he had the first release under his own name. A session for RCA's Groove subsidiary on June 21, 1954, produced four tracks, including the menacing  "You Better Heed My Warning", which came out on Groove b/w "Please Tell Me". The two other songs from this fruitful session, "Down To the Bottom" and "Midnight Hours", were originally unissued. Also from this session is "I'm Tired" and "Stranger Blues" also featuring Baker. These tracks can be found on the Bear Family CD Mickey Baker: Rock With A Sock. In the early and mid-'50s, Baker did countless sessions for Atlantic, King, RCA, Decca, and OKeh, playing on such classics as the Drifters' "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle & Roll," Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and Big Maybelle's "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On." He also released a few singles under his own name. Baker was also recorded as half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia.

His next vocal session was for Herald in 1955, yielding one single release, again backed by Baker. The next year rock 'n' roll exploded on the music scene and inevitably, Dale tried his hand at the genre, with "Rock 'n' Roll Baby" b/w "Hoppin' and Skippin'for Ember. For the next four years, Dale worked the New York club circuit with his lifelong friend, pianist Bob Gaddy and was much in demand as a session player. Particularly impressive is his playing on Champion Jack Dupree's recordings from this period, especially the Atlantic LP Blues From the Gutter. Blues From The Gutter, cut for Atlantic in 1958 (in stereo), is Dupree's finest album of his  prolific career and Dale's playing is brilliant. His playing on that album supposedly inspired Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. Dale also backed Dupree on over a dozen excellent sides in 1956 and 1957 for the Vik and Groove labels. These sides have been collected on the excellent album Shake Baby Shake.

Also in 1957 Dale also did several sessions with Cootie Williams for RCA, where he was given an occasional chance to sing. As Dale recalled: "One night we were playing at the Sportsman's Lounge and Cootie Williams came in and he was in the audience, I didn't know he was there. So Cootie dug what we was doing. The next day he called me, 'I was up to listen to you last night'. I said, 'Oh yeah, who is this'. He said, 'Cootie Williams. I wonder if you want to  come with my band?'. l said, 'No I don't think so, l got my own band, my name's up top' (laughs) but started to think about it,  Cootie's big. Maybe we can get some recordings. Maybe I can get a name out there. …So. I stayed with Cootie about three years. 1956, '57 and early '58." As a member of the Cootie Williams Orchestra he traveled all over the U.S. and Europe. Cootie Williams was one of the finest trumpeters of the 1930's. He played for a short time with the orchestras of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson before joining Duke Ellington in February 1929, staying until 1940. He would rejoin Ellington from 1962 through 1974, but led his own bands prior to that.

In 1960, Dale did another vocal session, for the Old Town subsidiary Glover in New York City, resulting in two fine singles, "Big Muddy" and "Let the Door Bell Ring" which hit the R&B charts. The next year he was signed by Atlantic, but of the five tracks recorded in November 1961, only "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" b/w "Keep Getting Up" was issued. Singles on Ram (1968) and Fire (1969) rounded out Dale's recording career as a vocalist. None of his recordings charted nationally, but Dale continued to perform for several decades and garnered a strong fan base in Europe, performing at Blues Estafette in 1987 .Dale's final recordings included a 45 issued by the Juke Blues magazine in 1987 and a few live sides backed by the European blues combo,the Mojo Blues Band, recorded in 1993.

"Larry Dale: The New York Houserocker" (Juke Blues # 9, 1987 by John Broven) (zip)

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