Entries tagged with “Babe Stovall”.

Richard "Rabbit" Brown James Alley BluesNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Richard "Rabbit" Brown Never Let The Same Bee Sting You TwiceNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Boogie Bill Webb Bad Dog Rural Blues Vol. 3
Boogie Bill Webb Drinkin' And Stinkin' Roosevelt Holts & Friends
Snooks Eaglin Country Boy Down In New OrleansCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Snooks Eaglin Mama Don't You Tear My ClothesCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Arzo Youngblood Four Women Blues Goin' Up The Country
Arzo Youngblood Bye And Bye Blues Goin' Up The Country
Babe Stovall Woman Blues Babe Stovall Story
Babe Stovall I'm Gwine To New Orleans Babe Stovall
Babe Stovall The Ship Is At The Landing The Old Ace
Newton Greer Born Dead Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingBaby Don't You Know Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Richard "Rabbit" Brown Sinking Of The Titanic Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Richard "Rabbit" Brown I'm Not Jealous Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Boogie Bill Webb BoogieRual Blues Vol. 3
Boogie Bill WebbBig Road Blues Living Country Blues USA – Introduction
Snooks Eaglin Mailman PassedCountry Boy Down In New Orleans
Snooks Eaglin Lonesome RoadI Bluskvarter Vol. 3
Arzo Youngblood I Can't Be Successful Living Country Blues USA – Introduction
Arzo Youngblood Goin Up The Country Living Country Blues:Vol. 7
Lemone Nash New Orleans Blues The Country Blues -Storyville Blues Anthology Vol.10
Edgar Blanchard & Papa LightfootCreole Gal Blues Down Home Blues Classics 1943-1953
Monroe Vincent AKA Polka Dot Slim Ain't Broke, Ain't Hungry Forest City Joe & Polka Dot Slim: Downhome Delta Harmonica
Pee Wee Hughes Sugar Mama Juke Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues 1943 -1956
Pee Wee HughesI'm A Country Boy Juke Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues 1943 -1956
Babe Stovall Going Away To Wear You Off My Mind The Old Ace
Babe Stovall Worried Blues The Old Ace
Babe Stovall See See Rider South Mississippi Blues
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingHighway 82 Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Little Freddy King The King Special Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Harmonica Williams & Little Freddie KingJuke Boy Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King

Show Notes:

Richard Rabbit Brown: James Alley BluesI had been toying around with the idea of this show for awhile and was finally inspired to put this  together after reading Scott Baretta's article, "Downhome New Orleans Blues", a couple of months back in Living Blues magazine. New Orleans has always been a music city, and some would say jazz was its most significant invention, formed around the dawn of the twentieth century and passed on to the rest of America and the world thereafter. That being said, anyone who's listened o the early New Orleans jazz records knows that blues was the bedrock for many of the bands such as Oscar 'Papa' Celestin, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Louis Dumaine, The Chicago Footwarmers, Freddie Keppard and Johnny Dodds among others.

Certainly before the war the blues not well documented on record outside of early performers like Richard "Rabbit" Brown, Lizzie Miles and Blu Lu Barker. Even in the 1940's the scene was dominated by jazz and dixieland bands like Kid Thomas, Billie and De De Pierce, George Lewis and John Handy. During the 1940's and into the 1950s a distinctly New Orleans approach to blues and R&B emerged. Usually piano-driven and backed by inventive rhythms that showed the marked influence of second-line marching and brass bands. While surrounding states like Mississippi, Texas had significant downhome blues scenes that's not the case with New Orleans. Today's show documents some of the few downhome New Orleans  bluesmen who made records including the pre-war blues of  Richard “Rabbit” Brown, and post-war sides by Snooks Eaglin, Boogie Bill Webb, Arzo Youngblood, Babe Stovall and others. Below is some background on today's featured performers.

Born circa 1880, Richard "Rabbit" Brown spent much of his life in New Orleans where he was reported to have worked as a street singer and singing boatman on Lake Ponchartrain. On March 11, 1927, Brown cut six sides for the recording pioneer Ralph Peer. Brown was a very much the songster and his recordings are an interesting mix of original blues, pop covers and event songs like his "Sinking Of The Titanic" and "Mystery of the Dunbar's Child." Brown passed away in 1937. It's been suggested that Brown also be he man behind Blind Willie Harris who cut "Does Jesus Care? b/w Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" for Victor in New Orleans in 1929. In  the notes to Dust-To-Digital's Goodbye Babyblon box set the following is noted: "Two swallows don't make a summer either, but the resemblance of Willie Harris' voice and guitar to those of Richard 'Rabbit' Brown suggest the existence of a local shared troubadour style.  The voice on this track and the accompanying side Does Jesus Care is strikingly similar to the 5 titles recorded by Brown in New Orleans in March 1927.  This is B.W.H's only recording."

Babe Stovall
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Lemon Nash played with Richard "Rabbit" "Brown in the 1920's. Nash was one of the few musicians who remembered Brown. In an interview in 1959 he recalled that Brown made his money playing on the streets of New Orleans' sporting district. He was a regular at Mama Lou's on Lake Pontchartrain. If "business was slow and [Brown] need a ride home, he would turn in a false fire alarm." The firemen answered the call and found out it was only their friend, who sang to them as they went back to the station. "He knew all the firemen," Nash recalled, and they did not seem to mind the inconvenience. For Nash, Brown seems to have been a comic figure with little musical talent. He "played so badly, I had to let him go," Nash remembered. "He just hit the guitar and yell." Brown was "what you call a clown man." Nash was a veteran of many string bands of and cut a handful of sides in 1959 and 1960 including today's featured track "New Orleans Blues".

Born in 1907 in Tylertown, MS, Babe Stovall was the youngest of 11 children, most of them musicians. Stovall learned guitar when he was around eight years old, and was soon playing breakdowns, frolics, and parties in the area, even meeting and learning "Big Road Blues" from Tommy Johnson. He moved to Franklinton, LA, in the 1930's, and split his time between there and Tylertown for several years, picking up whatever work he could as a farmhand. In 1964 he moved to New Orleans, where he was "discovered" working as a street singer in the French Quarter. He recorded an LP for Verve in 1964, simply titled Babe Stovall (re-released on CD by Flyright in 1990), and did further sessions in 1966 (released on CD by Southern Sound as The Babe Stovall Story) and with Bob West in 1968 (which form the basis of The Old Ace: Mississippi Blues & Religious Songs, released on Arcola in 2003), and became active on the folk and blues college circuit, as well as holding down a house gig at the Dream Castle Bar in New Orleans. He passed in 1974.

Boogie Bill Webb was born in Jackson, Mississippi, his greatest influence was Tommy Johnson. He settled in New Orleans in 1952. Webb obtained a recording contract with Imperial Records, after his friendship with Fats Domino led to his introduction to Dave Bartholomew. In 1953 Webb released his debut single, "Bad Dog" and three other songs at this session. Frustrated by lack of recognition, Webb relocated to Chicago, where he worked in various factories. Webb returned to New Orleans in 1959 to work as a stevedore, performing music infrequently. However, in the late 60's he recorded several songs for the folklorist David Evans, which appeared on several anthologies. In the 1970's Webb began performing in Europe. Finally in 1989, with financial assistance from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Webb released his only full-length record, Drinkin' and Stinkin'. Webb died in New Orleans in August 1990, at the age of 66.

Snooks Eaglin: New Orleans Street Singer
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Azo Youngblood was a pal of Boogie Bill Webb and learned guitar as a teenager from Tommy Johnson who married Youngblood's aunt. Youngblood was first recorded in 1966 by David Evans with songs appearing on the anthology Goin' Up The Country on Decca and other sides on the collection The Legacy Of Tommy Johnson. He was recorded a final time in 1980 by Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann with songs appearing on the Living Country Blues USA series of albums.

In 1947, at the age of 11, Snooks Eaglin won a talent contest organized by the radio station WNOE by playing "Twelfth Street Rag". Three years later, he dropped out of the school for the blind to become a professional musician. In 1952, Eaglin joined the Flamingos, a local seven-piece band started by Allen Toussaint.He stayed with The Flamingos for several until the mid-1950's. The first recordings under his own name came when Harry Oster, a folklorist from Louisiana State University, found him playing in the streets of New Orleans. Oster made recordings of Eaglin between 1958 and 1960 during seven sessions which later became records on various labels including Folkways, Folklyric, and Prestige/Bluesville. He started waxing R&B records for Imperial Records with the help of producer Dave Bartholomew in 1960 and stuck with the label through 1963. Eaglin's resurgence came with his signing to Black Top in the 80's where he cut a series of great records though the 90's.

We spotlight several cuts from the LP Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King cut for the Ahura Mazda label in 1971. This is supposedly the first electric blues album recorded in New Orleans and marks the debut of Little Freddie King. It would take until 1995 before King made his full-length debut with Swamp Boogie. In addition to Williams and King there is a powerful version of J.B. Lenoir's "Born Dead" sung by Newton Greer. Greer was a local club owner and a blues singer who often worked with local groups.

A guitarist and band leader, Edgar Blanchard was a permanent feature of the New Orleans music scene from the 40s to the 60s. In 1947 he was in charge of the resident band at the Down Beat Club on Rampart Street, with Roy Brown as one of the vocalists. Blanchard’s most well-known band was the Gondoliers. Although he frequently played on sessions, Blanchard seldom recorded under his own name. "Creole Gal" is the only downhome song he recorded, this one featuring Papa Lightfoot on harmonica.
Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King
Monroe Vincent AKA Polka Dot Slim was born in Woodville, MS., and was influenced by the harmonica playing of Sonny Boy Williamson I. Vincent made his debut in 1956 recording a single for Excello as Vince Monroe. In 1957 he recorded over two dozen sides for the Zynn label but only released two recordings. Vincent returned to recording in 1965 and the following year waxing two singles for Instant & Apollo. Even after his recording career stalled, he remained a fixture on the New Orleans performing scene up until about 1976.

Nothing is known about Pee Wee Hughes.  Hughes cut four sides for the Deluxe label in 1949 in New Orleans.

Arzo Youngblood Bye And Bye BluesGoin' Up The Country
Boogie Bill WebbDooleyville BluesGoin' Up The Country
Cornelius Bright My Baby's GoneGoin' Up The Country
Mager JohnsonBig Road BluesGoin' Up The Country
Isaiah ChattmanFound My Baby GoneGoin' Up The Country
Babe Stovall & Herb Quinn See See Rider South Mississippi Blues
Issac Youngblood & Herb QuinnHesitating BluesSouth Mississippi Blues
Eli OwensMuleskinner BluesSouth Mississippi Blues
Herb QuinnCaseySouth Mississippi Blues
Babe Stovall Candy ManSouth Mississippi Blues
Woodrow Adams & Fiddlin' Joe MartinPony BluesHigh Water Blues
Houston Stackhouse & Carey "Ditty" MasonTalkin' About YouHigh Water Blues
Charlie Taylor & Willie Taylor I Got The BluesHigh Water High
Isiah ChattmanCold In Hand BluesHigh Water High
L.V. Conelry High Water High High Water High
Willard Artis 'Blind Pete' BurrellDo Lord Remember MeSorrow Come Pass Me Around
Babe StovallThe Ship Is At The Landing Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Robert “Nighthawk” Johnson Ain't No Grave Hold My Body Down Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Dorothy Lee, Norma Jean & Shirley Marie JohnsonYou Give An Account Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Chester Davis, Compton Jones & Furry LewisGlory Glory Hallelujah Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Roosevelt HoltsThe Good Book Teach YouPresenting The Country Blues
Roosevelt HoltsMaggie Campbell BluesPresenting The Country Blues
Roosevelt HoltsDown The Big Road45
Roosevelt HoltsPackin´ Up Her Trunk Roosevelt Holts & Friends
Arzo YoungbloodMaggie Campbell BluesThe Legacy of Tommy Johnson
John Henry 'Bubba' Brown Canned Heat Blues The Legacy of Tommy Johnson
Boogie Bill WebbShow Me What You Got For SaleThe Legacy of Tommy Johnson
Houston Stackhouse & Carey Ditty Mason –Bye Bye BluesBig Road Blues
Houston Stackhouse & Carey Ditty Mason –Big Road BluesBig Road Blues
Jack Owens Jack Ain't Had No Water It Must Have Been the Devil
Jack Owens Cherry Ball It Must Have Been the Devil

Show Notes:

Goin' Up The County
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Today's show spotlights field recordings made by David Evans in the 1960's and 70's. The recordings from this period were a direct result of Evans' investigation into Tommy Johnson in the late 1960’s. His research led to the book Tommy Johnson (Studio Vista, 1971) and Big Road Blues (1982). Evans recorded many men who knew or learned directly from Johnson including Roosevelt Holts, Boogie Bill Webb, Arzo Youngblood, Isaac Youngblood, Bubba Brown, Babe Stovall, Houston Stackhouse and Tommy’s brother Mager Johnson. The bulk of these artists had not been recorded previously. The field recordings Evans collected have been issued on several albums, unfortunately almost all of them are out of print. Today we feature selections from the following various artist albums: Goin' Up The Country, South Mississippi Blues, High Water Blues, Sorrow Come Pass Me Around and The Legacy of Tommy Johnson. In addition we feature tracks from the Roosevelt Holt albums Presenting The Country Blues Of, Roosevelt Holt and Friends, The Franklinton Muscatel Society plus the Jack Owens album It Must Have Been The Devil and a collection of sides by Houston Stackhouse and Carey Mason titled Big Road Blues.

Goin' Up The Country was the first collection of Evans' field recordings. All the recordings were made in 1966. As Evans wrote: “When I first made these recordings in 1966, interest in the blues in America was still largely an underground phenomenon. Britain was the center of interest and research. Consequently, I sent a tape of my best recordings to Simon Napier, the editor of the pioneering British magazine Blues Unlimited. He was sufficiently impressed with the music that he kindly arranged with Mike Vernon and Neil Slaven to have an album brought out on British Decca, Goin' Up The Country. The album was subsequently reissued and remastered on Rounder in 1975. These sides have not appeared on CD. Of these recordings, Evans wrote: “…in 1965 I began recoding and interviewing blues artists on my own, and in the summer of 1966 spent about five weeks in Louisiana and Mississippi taping older country blues styles. These fifteen performances are among the best I recorded there.” Among the performers, only a few had recorded previously: Boogie Bill Webb cut some sides for Imperial in the early 50's, Babe Stovall had recorded a full-length album and Isiah Chattman played rhythm guitar on some sides by Silas Hogan.

South Mississippi Blues
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South Mississippi Blues collects songs recorded between 1965 and 1971 and was issued on Rounder in the mid-70's. Evans writes of this collection: “All nine performers heard here grew up and learned their music in the vicinity of Tylertown (Walthall Co.) Mississippi in the south-central part of the state near the Louisiana border. …All nine of these musicians know each other, and most have at one time or another, played together in various combinations.”

The recordings on High Water Blues were recorded between 1965 and 1970, mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi and issued on the Flyright label in 1974. Of this collection Evans writes: “ln the last ten years I've recorded hundreds of blues by dozens of performers in Mississippi and Louisiana and some of the other southern states. Some of these artists like Roosevelt Holts and Jack Owens, Iwas able to record extensively, and l have presented complete LP's of their work. But there were many others who only recorded a handful of good songs for me. …I've selected for this record the best blues from some of here artists that I met briefly some years ago.”

The Legacy of Tommy Johnson was issued on the Saysdic Mathbox label in 1972, a companion record to Evans' 1971 book titled Tommy Johnson. As Evans Writes: “The songs on this album, although they are created by twelve different musicians, were all at one time part of the repertoire of Tommy Johnson, perhaps the greatest and best remembered folk blues performer the state of Mississippi has ever produced. …Versions of Johnson’s songs derive exclusively from personal contact, though many of the artists undoubtedly heard Johnson’s records at one time or other.”

The Legacy of Tommy Johnson
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Sorrow Come Pass Me Around is a beautiful collection of spiritual and gospel songs performed in informal non-church settings between 1965-1973. Most are guitar-accompanied and performed by active or former blues artists. The songs were recorded between 1965 and 1973 . Evans writes: “Most records of black religious music contain some form of gospel singing or congregational singing recorded at a church service. This album, though, tries to present a broader range of performance styles and contexts with the hope of showing the important role that religious music plays in the Southern black communities and in the daily lives of individuals.” The album was originally issued on Advent in 1975 and has just been reissued on vinyl on the Dust-To-Digital label.

Roosevelt Holts was born in 1905 near Tylertown, Mississippi, and took up the guitar when he was in his mid-twenties. He started to get serious about music in the late 1930's when he encountered Tommy Johnson. Evans began recording Holts in 1965 resulting in two LP's (both out of print): Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon,1966) and Roosevelt Holts and Friends (Arhoolie, 1969-1970) plus the collection The Franklinton Muscatel Society featuring his earliest sides through 1969 which is available on CD. In addition selections recorded by Evans appeared on the following anthologies (all out of print): Goin' Up The Country (Decca, 1968), The Legacy of Tommy Johnson (Matchbox, 1972), South Mississippi Blues (Rounder, 1974 ?), Way Back Yonder …Original Country Blues Vol. 3 (Albatros, 1979 ?), Giants Of Country Blues Vol. 3 (Wolf, 199?) and a very scarce 45 ("Down The Big Road b/w Blues On Mind") cut for the Bluesman label in 1969 that we feature today.

Houston Stackhouse's family moved to Crystal Springs, Mississippi in the mid-1920's, where he learned songs from Tommy Johnson and his brothers and took up guitar. In the early 1930's, he moved to Hollandale, Mississippi where his cousin, Robert Lee McCullum (later known as Robert Nighthawk) lived. In 1946, Houston moved to Helena, Arkansas where he played with Sonny Boy Williamson on The King Biscuit Time show, on KFFA Radio. He played with Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Roosevelt Sykes and Earl Hooker. He continued to play, but less frequently after he married in the late 1950's. Periodically, he returned to the King Biscuit show. In 1967 he made his first recordings cutting field recordings for George Mitchell and shortly after for David Evans that same year.

High Water Blues
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Jack Owens belonged to the pioneering generation of Bentonia bluesmen, which included Skip James and the unrecorded Henry Stuckey. Just as James’s recording career was nearing its end, Owens was beginning his, in 1966; his first album (It Must Have Been The Devil), produced by Evans, was not released until 1971 for the Testament label. The music of Owens and James, as Evans wrote, was distinguished by “haunting, brooding lyrics dealing with such themes as loneliness, death and the supernatural . . . Altogether it is one of the eeriest, loneliest and deepest blues sounds ever recorded.”

J.B. Smith & Group Sure Makes A Man Feel BadI'm Troubled With A Diamond: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 1
Joseph 'Chinaman' Johnson & GroupDrop 'em DownOld Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2
Houston Paige & GroupDown The LineOld Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2
J.B. Smith Poor Boy Old Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2
Johnny Jackson & Group Yellow GalI'm Troubled With A Diamond: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 1
Johnny Johnson & GroupIn The BottomWake Up Dead Man
Benny Richardson & GroupGrizzly Bear Wake Up Dead Man
Eugene Rhodes If She's Your WomanTalkin' About My Time
Eugene Rhodes Whosoever Will, Let Him ComeTalkin' About My Time
Eugene Rhodes Talkin' About My TimeTalkin' About My Time
Eugene Rhodes Don't Talk Me to DeathTalkin' About My Time
J.B. SmithI Got Too Much Time For the Crime I DoneEver Since I Have Been a Man Full Grown
Babe Stovall The Ship Is At The Landing Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Robert “Nighthawk” JohnsonCan't No GraveSorrow Come Pass Me Around
Willard Artis “Blind Pete” Burrell Do Lord Remember Me Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Chester Davis/Compton Jones/Furry LewisGlory Glory HallelujahSorrow Come Pass Me Around
Willie Menifee & Mance Lipscomb If I Get Lucky MamaRuff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
T.J. Jackson Out And DownRuff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
Mance Lipscomb Papa Lightfoot Angel Child Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
Nathaniel “Bill” Barnes Jack Of Diamonds Is A Hard Card To PlayRuff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
Babe Stovall Worried Blues Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
Grey Ghost Lonesome Traveler Grey Ghost
Grey Ghost A Good Gal Is Hard To FindGrey Ghost
Grey Ghost Hold That Train, Conductor Grey Ghost

Show Notes:

J.B. Smith: Ever Since I Have Been a Man Full Grown
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On today's show we spotlight some remarkable field recordings from the 1960's and 70's. During the first hour we play recordings made in Texas prisons in the 60's by scholar Bruce Jackson. Jackson is a professor in the University of Buffalo's Department of English and has written or edited more than 30 books in the fields of folklore, ethnography, sociology and photography. Several collections of his field recordings have been issued although the bulk are long out-of-print. In the second hour we feature selections from the albums Sorrow Come Pass Me Around, Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar and a collection of recordings made by pianist the Grey Ghost. Sorrow Come Pass Me Around is a collection of spiritual and gospel songs recorded between 1965-1973 by David Evans performed by active or former blues artists. Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar is a collection of Texas field recordings capture by Tary Owens. Owens also recorded the Grey Ghost in 1965, eventually issuing these recordings in the 1980's.

Bruce 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….Black convicts in Texas mostly called them 'river songs,' not 'worksongs.' That’s because all of the plantation prisons in Texas used to be located on the Brazos River or the Trinity River. Since I was interested in worksongs and since that tradition was already on the wane, I concentrated on prisons for long-term convicts and multiple recidivists, prisons populated by men who had been in for a long time or who had been in several times previously. I started out on the Ramsey farm, southwest of Houston, and visited Retrieve and Sugarland which aren’t far from the Ramsey. I also worked on Eastham, the Walls (the only prison in Texas with a wall around it), Wynne (at that time, a prison for physically infirm and geriatric inmates) and Ellis, all of them in or near Huntsville, which is 70 miles north of Houston. …The large plantations in the U.S. South were based on West African agricultural models and, with one major difference, the black slaves used worksongs in the plantations exactly as they had used them before they had been taken prisoner and sold to the white men. The difference was this: in Africa the songs were used to time body movements and to give poetic voice to things of interest because people wanted to do their work that way; in the plantations there was added a component of survival. If a man were singled out as working too slowly, he would often be brutally punished. The songs kept everyone together, so no one could be singled out as working more slowly than everyone else.”

Wake Up Dead Man
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J.B. Smith was recorded by Jackson in 1965 at Texas’s Ramsey Prison Farm. From the liner notes: "Smitty – J.B. Smith – is eleven years into a forty-five year sentence that begun in 1954; he is 48 years old. This is his fourth time in prison in Texas and he does not expect to be paroled for some time.” Jackson wrote in his  book Wake Up Dead Man that, when he met him, Smith had already been in prison three times on burglary and robbery by assault charges. At the time of the recording, he was back in for the murder of his girlfriend, an act Smith recalled being born of “insane jealousy mixed up with love “So many of us do that,” he told Jackson, referring to his crime. “Lot of fellas in here today on those same terms.” The murder, according to Jackson, brought Smith back to Ramsey with “a forty-five-year sentence, which, because of his age, looked pretty much like life.” Jackson did continue, parenthetically: “He was paroled in 1967, lived in Amarillo for a while and did some preaching. I heard recently (1972) that he’d returned to prison for a parole violation.”

J.B. Smith noted that “the oldtimers still sing. That is, if whoever is carrying (in charge of) the squad will let them. In some cases the boss won’t let them sing. …The young men don’t get a chance to work with the older men and they haven’t experienced working with older men. A lot of them have never been in the system before. And the crews they work with don’t even know the songs, the worksongs that they work by. But once they get to working with the older men, they learn the songs and they try to carry them on when they can. But like I said, in most cases they can’t because they’re not permitted."

Jackson recorded an entire album devoted to smith titled Ever Since I Have Been a Man Full Grown issued on Takoma in 1965. As far as I know this is the only LP devoted to a single unaccompanied singer of prison worksong. As Jackson wrote: “He had been a member of groups doing work songs I had recorded at Ramsey during the summers of 1964 and 1965, when I returned in November 1965 he offered to tap some of the songs when he was working alone picking cotton or cutting sugarcane. He knows all the group songs and their melodies – he used to sing lead back in the days when he was younger and worked lead hoe…” Other songs by Smith appear on the anthologies I'm Troubled With A Diamond: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 1 and Old Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2. In addition to Smith, we spotlight several tracks from the latter collections; both of these were cassette only releases issued in 1990 with only 250 copies of each produced. We also spin two tracks from Wake Up Dead Man the companion to the book – "making it in Hell", says Bruce Jackson, is the spirit behind the sixty-five work songs gathered in this remarkable book.

Today we feature selections from all those albums that were issued of Bruce Jackson's recording except for one omission. I left off Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons (Elektra, 1965) which I did not locate until the show was already assembled. I will feature this on another field recording show at some point.

Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
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Jackson also recorded Eugene Rhodes who was doing a ten- to 25-year stretch at the Indiana State Prison, which was where the album Talkin' About My Time was recorded, 15 songs and a little talking that was eventually released on the Folk-Legacy label in 1963. In the '20s and '30s, Rhodes had traveled through the south as a one-man band, including a harmonica rack with a special mount on the side for a horn, a foot pedal powered drum, and of course, a guitar. He reportedly played in the Dallas area, where he claims to have met Blind Lemon Jefferson. He also crossed paths with Blind Boy Fuller in the Carolinas and Buddy Moss in Georgia.

At some point by the end of the year I plan to devote a show to the field recordings of David Evans. Today we spotlight Sorrow Come Pass Me Around a beautiful collection of spiritual and gospel songs performed in informal non-church settings between 1965-1973. Most are guitar-accompanied and performed by active or former blues artists. The songs were recorded between 1965 and 1973 . Evans writes: “Most records of black religious music contain some form of gospel singing or congregational singing recorded at a church service. This album, though, tries to present a broader range of performance styles and contexts with the hope of showing the important role that religious music plays in the Southern black communities and in the daily lives of individuals.” The album was originally issued on Advent in 1975 and has just been reissued on vinyl on the Dust-To-Digital label.

Our show concludes with recordings made by Tary Owens. Shortly after the death of folklorist Tary Owens on September 21, 2003, Brad Buchholz, wrote that, “Tary Owens devoted most of his life to music, though only rarely to his own. The greater mission, to Owens, was to champion the music of forgotten or unsung Texas bluesmen—to put their songs on records, to place them on a stage, to encourage a larger public to celebrate their artistry.” Funded by a Lomax Foundation grant in the 1960's, Owens traveled around Texas recording a variety of folk musicians, including guitarists Mance Lipscomb, Freddie King, and Bill Neely, as well as barrelhouse piano players Robert Shaw and Roosevelt T. Williams, also known as the “Grey Ghost.” Owens remained involved in the lives of these musicians for the next several decades and, in some cases, was largely responsible for helping rescue them from obscurity and resurrect their professional careers.

Owens wrote:  "In 1962 and 1963 while a graduate student at Indiana University, I did some folklore and sociology research in prisons in Missouri and Indiana. I decided it might be interesting a southern prison system to see what had happened to the various traditions documented by John A. and Alan Lomax and Herbert Halpert in the 1930's." In the sixties Jackson received a four-year fellowship to Harvard Society of Fellows that gave him “the resources to work anywhere I wanted; that’s when I started working in Texas, mostly recording music and then looking at the prison cultural scene.”

Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar
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From an article in National Geographic magazine: "He says he got the name Grey Ghost back when he was hired to play in various small towns. Someone would meet every arriving train or bus, but Williams was never aboard–yet mysteriously he would show up in time to perform. 'They said like a ghost I come up out of the ground, and then I was gone," he grinned. "I had come and gone by freight train. I would put overalls over my suit and tie, and that's the way I traveled.'" Williams was born in Bastrop, Texas and received only basic musical training when he was a teenager. He traveled to the area dances and roadhouses by riding empty boxcars. In 1940, author William A. Owens made a live recording of Williams singing "Hitler Blues," a song written by Williams. The song received mention in Time and was broadcast by BBC Radio on a program hosted by Alistair Cooke in 1940 about the American musical response to World War II. There's an entire chapter devoted to Grey Ghost in Owens's third volume of autobiography Tell Me A Story, Sing Me A Song; A Texas Chronicle. In 1965 Owens recorded several Grey Ghost songs. After decades of relative obscurity, Owens tracked down Grey Ghost again in the mid-1980s. Williams was long retired, but Owens not only issued the 1965 recordings on his Catfish Records label in 1987, but also convinced Williams, now 84, to start playing again and introduced him to a new generation of blues fans. Owens arranged for Williams to make a CD of new recordings at the age of 89. which was released in 1992 on Owens' Spindletop label. The City of Austin proclaimed December 7, 1987, as Grey Ghost Day, and he was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1988. Williams performed regularly until the time of his death in Austin at the age of 92 in 1996.

Related Material:

Tary Owens, Texas Folklorist and Musician A Life Remembered by Ruth K. Sullivan (Austin-American Statesman, March, 2000) [PDF]

Earl GilliamPetite Baby Sarg Records Anthology: South Texas 1954-1964
Earl GilliamWrong Doing WomanSarg Records Anthology: South Texas 1954-1964
Mississippi John HurtLet The Mermaids Flirt With MeDiscovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt
Mississippi John HurtRichland Woman BluesDiscovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt
Ramblin' Hi Harris I Haven't Got A HomeThe Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Vol. 55
Morris "Big" Chenier I Wanna Know I Know NowGoldband Blues Collection Pt. 3
Left Handed Charlie MorrisYou Thrill MeGoldband Blues Collection Pt. 2
Jed Davenport Jug BluesMemphis Shakedown
Memphis Jug Band Going Back To MemphisMemphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stompers
Minnie WallaceLet's All Do That Thing Memphis Shakedown
Howlin' Wolf I'm Leaving You (Alternate Take) Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
Howlin' Wolf My People's GoneSmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
Skip JamesNo Special Lover Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond
Lightnin' HopkinsUp On Telegraph (Avenue) Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond
Mance Lipscomb Mean Boss ManHear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond
Johnny Sayles Food Stamps Pt. 1The Johnny Sayles Story
Good Time Charlie (Charles Taylor)Welfare Blues President Ford's Blues 1974-1976
B.B. Odom & The EarbendersThe World's In TroublePresident Ford's Blues 1974-1976
Kid ColeSixth Street MoanRare Country Blues Vol. 3 1928-1936
George ToreyMarried Woman BluesBlues Images Vol. 3
Blind Willie McTellTravelin' BluesThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Memphis SlimCold Blooded WomanSavoy Blues 1944-1994
Sonny Boy Williamson II Can't Do Without YouThe Chess Years Box Set
Mighty Joe YoungWhy BabyN.Y. Wild Guitars
Big Joe Williams Hand Me Down My Old Walking StickHand Me Down My Old Walking Stick
John Dudley Clarksdale Mill Blues (previously unissued version)I'll Be So Glad When The Sun Goes Down
Babe Stovall Woman Blues Babe Stovall
Blind Willie JohnsonThe Rain Don't Fall On MeThe Rain Don't Fall On Me: Country Blues 1927-1952
Hattie Hart Coldest Stuff in TownMemphis Blues 1927-1938
Bessie JacksonThat's What My Baby LikesThe Essential
K.C. Douglas Hear Me Howling Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond
K.C. DouglasHad I Money Deadbeat Guitar And The Mississippi Blues

Show Notes:

We've had a run of interesting theme shows in the past few week and this time we take a pause with a mix show. We open today on a sad note with a pair of tracks from Houston stalwart Earl Gilliam. Also on deck  we spotlight the following recent collections: Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond, Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt, Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 and President Ford's Blues 1974-1976. In addition we spin a trio of fine artists from Louisiana, a batch of vintage Memphis blues and some outstanding country blues sides both pre-war and post-war.

Earl Gilliam

We open up with "Petite Baby" and "Wrong Doing Woman", two fine sides Earl Gilliam recorded back in 1955. Pianist Earl Gilliam passed away on Wednesday, October 20, 2011. He was part of the Houston blues scene for the past 60 years. Over the years, Gilliam would become known as Houston's premiere blues pianist, and he performed alongside such greats as Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert King, Albert Collins, and Joe "Guitar" Hughes, among many others. By 17 Gilliam landed a gig playing the Eldorado Ballroom with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. He cut a four song session for the Sarg label in 1955 backed by Lucian Davis & His Orchestra and cut one side for the Ivory label in 1962. Gilliam also led his own band, performing frequently in Houston clubs throughout the 1990's and 2000's. Gilliam only released one album under his own name, 2005's excellent Texas Doghouse Blues for the Dialtone label. I recall playing this one quite a bit when it first came out and even got an opportunity to interview Gilliam.

We feature four tracks today from the superb Hear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond, an anthology of recordings made by Chris Strachwitz in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1954 and 1971 in the early days of his Arhoolie record label. Arranged chronologically over four discs and 72 tracks, and packaged with a 136-page hardcover book, these sides (many of them previously unreleased) were recorded at coffeehouses, festivals, and living rooms, and sometimes in studios. When performers came through the area, Strachwitz would tape them at a show, at a party, or in somebody’s home – often his own. He wound up with more material than he could release at the time. Some of the leftovers, collected for the first time, are stunning. We hear tracks from Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb, clearly among Strachwitz' favorites, plus the gorgeous "No Special Lover" one of several Skip James tracks from 1965 and the title track by K.C. Douglas.

Speaking of K.C. Douglas we also play his "Had I Money" from the album Deadbeat Guitar And The Mississippi Blues (subtitled Street corner blues 'bout women and automobiles). I've always been intrigued by this album which was states that this material  was "collected" by Sam Eskin in Oakland in 1952.  The album was issued possibly in 1954 or maybe 1956 which would make it one of the earliest blues records issued that wasn't a reissue of older material.  As for Eskin, he was a folklorist who made field recordings between 1939 and 1969 and during this period made many cross-country trips from New York to California where he recorded American folk music. Beginning in 1950 he made recordings abroad in Mexico, Israel, Spain and the British Isles.  Eskin's recordings and notes are now housed at the Library of Congress. Other artists he recorded include Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Leadbelly.

This has been a good year for Mississippi John Hurt. Earlier this year so the publication of the biography Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues and now we get Discovery: The Rebirth Of Mississippi John Hurt, a collection of previously unissued recordings.  In  in 1963 guitarist and blues fanatic Thomas Hoskins rapped on the door of a small house in rural Mississippi. Inside the house Hoskins found found an amiable, humble man, who farmed to make a living. John Hurt was surrounded by family and friends. He hadn't owned a guitar in years, and was amazed that a young white man had sought him out 35 years after his last recording sessions. Hoskins gave Hurt his guitar and turned on his reel to reel recorder. On Discovery Hurt plays several of the songs from his 1928 sessions as well as some others that later became staples of his folk festival repertoire including "Let The Mermaids Flirt With" and "Richland Woman Blues" both featured today. Overall sound quality is surprisingly good considering the source and Hurt is much less polished then his studio recordings. All in all a fascinating document from the dawn of the blues revival. It's hard to believe that within a few year Hurt, Bukka White, Skip James and Son House would all be back in circulation. Amazing times.

Read Liner Notes

Two other collections featured today: Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 and President Ford's Blues 1974-1976. The Wolf collection is a 97-track, four-disc limited-edition box set containing everything the Wolf cut in his first decade of recording. President Ford's Blues is a companion CD to the book The Nixon and Ford Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on Vietnam, Watergate, Civil Rights and Inflation 1969-1976. Guido van Rijn has written four previous books on topical blues and gospel songs. Good Time Charlie's (Charles Taylor) "Welfare Blues" is a funky slab of 70's blues  while B.B. Odom & The Earbenders deliver the tough "The World's In Trouble." Although from a different collection we also hear Johnny Sayles "Food Stamps Pt. 1", another hard hitting topical number.

We head down to Louisiana to hear records from the Lake Charles based Goldband label and a recording by legendary producer J.D. Miller. Goldband was formed by Eddie Shuler in 1945. In the early 1950's Shuler established the Goldband complex – including recording studio, record store, and TV store  in Lake Charles, and began recording all genres of music, including R&B, blues, country, rock and roll, swamp pop and Cajun. Hit recordings included Boozoo Chavis' "Paper in My Shoe" (1954) and the company's biggest seller, Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love" (1959). The label recorded a fair bit of blues including sides by Clarence Garlow, Juke Boy Bonner, Hop Wilson and today's selections from Morris "Big" Chenier and Left Handed Charlie Morris. Of Miller, Bruce Bastion wrote: "Close to South Louisiana bayou country, Crowley is the home of J.D. Miller's studio, responsible as much as any other factor for the sound we now know as the moody, loping blues of the Louisiana swamps. Many completely unknown artists found fleeting fame through Miller's recordings  and through the Excello issues of his recordings, he helped support one of the most consistent blues labels of the 1950's." Today we spin "I haven't Got A Home" by the mysterious Ramblin' Hi Harris who waxed just three sides for Jay Miller that were unissued at the time.

We head to Memphis for a fine set of vintage blues by the Memphis jug Band, Jed Davenport and Minnie Wallace. Davenport came from a tent show and medicine show background. Davenport cut around a dozen sides as leader between 1929-30. Wallace Cut six sides at sessions, plus several unissued sides, in 1929 and 1935 backed by members of the Memphis Jug Band.

I remember picking up the album Praise God I'm Satisfied by Blind Willie Johnson on Yazoo over twenty years and it was one of those albums that made a huge impression on me. I suppose I was more interested in his slide numbers that I overlooked today's featured track, the beautiful, "The Rain Don't Fall On Me" with second vocal by Johnson's wife Willie B. Harris. The track comes from an album on the Mississippi label that a friend gave me called The Rain Don't Fall On Me: Country Blues 1927-1952. The Mississippi label reissues an an eclectic mix of music strictly on vinyl including some interesting blues collections.

I also want to mention a great post-war recording by John Dudley. In early October 1959 Alan Lomax recorded an inmate named John Dudley in the "Dairy Camp" portion of the Mississippi prison camp known as Parchman Farms. Our selection, an unissued version of "Clarksdale Mill Blues", is a cover of Charley Patton's "Moon Going Down." Only three songs were issued but several others remain unreleased. This version comes from the album I’ll Be So Glad When the Sun Goes Down issued on the Mississippi label. Lomax didn't give us much information on Dudley: "Lastly, in John Dudley's blues, we meet a country musician of the sophisticated, yet completely folk, tradition of the 1930's. Dudley and Robert Johnson both come from Tunica County, Mississippi and belong to the same school." In all Dudley recorded the following numbers:  "Clarksdale Mill (2 takes)", "You Got a Mean Disposition","Big Road Blues", "Cool Drink of Water Blues (2 takes)", "Poor Boy Blues",  "I'm Gonna Move To Kansas City" and an interview about "playing guitar at dances."