Entries tagged with “Big Joe Turner”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Ivy SmithGin House Blues Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930
Clara SmithWoman to Woman The Essential
Issie RinggoldBe On Your Merry WayBlue Girls Vol. 2 1925-1930
Frank BusbyPrisoner BoundBill Gaither Vol. 2 1936-1938
Keghouse Canned Heat Blues Piano Blues Vol. 4 1923-1928
Eugene Powell Pony Blues (Santa Fe) Blues At Home Vol. 3
John JacksonPoor BoyThe Blues Revival Vol. 1 1963-1969
Nugrape TwinsThe Road Is Rough & RockySinners & Saints 1926-1931
Mississippi John Hurt Praying On The Old Camp Ground Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
Eddie Head & His FamilyDown On MeAmerican Primitive Vol. I
Louisiana Red I'm a Roaming StrangerThe Lowdown Back Porch Blues
Howlin' Wolf Poor BoySmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
Big Moose Walker Footrace to a Resting Place/Wrong Doing WomanTo Know A Man
Samuel Brooks Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here LongField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
George BoldwinCountry Girl Blues Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942
Willie Ford & Lucious CurtisHigh Lonesome HillMississippi Blues 1940-42
Joe Linthecome Humming BluesHokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930's
The Three Stripped Gears1931 Depression BluesThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Jesse AndersonYou'd Better Think TwiceWelcome To The Club
Johnny Twist WilliamsTeach Me HowDown On Broadway And Main
Jimmy NolenStrollin' with Nolen Strollin' with Nolen
Unknown Female SingerAngel ChildField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
Mattie DorseyStingaree BluesBarrelhouse Women Vol. 2 1924-1928
Frank StokesNehi Mama Best OfSara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928
Blind Joe ReynoldsNehi Mama Blues Blues Images Vol. 5
Joe Turner with Albert Ammons Rock Of Gibraltar Blues Albert Ammons: Alt. Takes, Radio Perfs & Uniss. Home Recordings
Duke HendersonBeggin And PleadinDust My Rhythm & Blues: Flair Records R&B Story
Gene ParrishScreamin' In My SleepRhythm 'n' Blues Shouters
Sippie Wallace Parlor Social De LuxeI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
Sara MartinDown At The Razor BallSara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925
Blind Willie McTellRazor Ball The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2: Columbia
Washboard SamDown At The Bad Man's HallWashboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941
Bill Gaither Wintertime BluesBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
Lightnin' SlimWintertime BluesWe Gotta Rock Tonight

Show Notes: 

Our first mix show of the new year finds us digging deep into the pre-war blues catalog featuring several fine artists who left us with only a few 78's, several well known artists like Clara Smith and Blind Willie McTell and some interesting field recordings. From he post-war era some excellent Chicago blues, a few blues shouters, some down-home blues and a few gospel items. We also explore the origins of a well known blues theme.

Frank Busby" 'Leven Light CityWe hear from several superb blues ladies including Ivy Smith and Clara Smith. Ivy Smith hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and primarily worked with pianist Cow Cow Davenport. She was a good singer who cut close to two-dozen sides between 1927-1930. Clara Smith was a much bigger name although perennially eclipsed by Bessie Smith. In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there and that same year made her first records for Columbia Records, for whom she would continue recording through to 1932. She cut over a hundred sides often with the backing of top musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Green, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and James P. Johnson. Today we feature the lovely "Woman to Woman" from 1930 that features Smith's voice at her best with sympathetic cornet work from Ed Allen.

Then there's the lesser knowns such as Issie Ringgold who waxed one 78 in 1930 for Columbia and was the sister of Muriel, a star on Broadway, Mattie Dorsey who cut four sides for Paramount in 1927 and the unknown field recording of a woman singing "Angel Child" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.

Several of the of the male singers featured today are also one hit wonders: Joe Linthecome was an expressive, light voiced singer who cut one marvelous 78  ("Humming Blues b/w Pretty Mama Blues") for Gennett in 1929, Frank Busby was a sensitive singer who cut one 78 ("'Leven Light City b/w Prisoner Bound") in 1937 for Decca backed by Bill Gaither (we also spin Gaither's "Wintertime Blues" today) on guitar and Honey Hill on piano, the Three Stripped Gears were a string band possibly from Georgia, and possibly white, who cut four superb instrumentals and pianist Keghouse who waxed ten sides in 1928 for Okeh and Vocalion, only four of which were issued. Keghouse also recorded a couple of numbers backed by Lonnie Johnson and Thomas "Jaybird" Jones. Jones also made field recordings for Lewis Jones in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1941-1942 and performs "The Keghouse Blues." In the spoken introduction he talks about his friend Keghouse and how they went to Memphis to make records for Okeh and how he died shortly afterwards.

As anyone who's listened to this program knows I have a huge interest in field recordings, devoting several shows to the topic and interviewing several of the men who made the recordings. The Albatros  label was active from Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings  in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. These albums are long been out-of-print. Recently Marcucci has issued some CD's on he Mbirafon imprint including one by singer Van Hunt, Sam Chatmon and now has issued collections by Eugene Powell (Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3and Memphis Piano Red (Memphis Piano Red: Blues At Home Vol.4). The latter two are available only digitally via  iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. We spin a superb track off the Eugene Powell collection which contains unissued numbers plus tracks from the Albatros LP Police In Mississippi.  I finally tracked down some missing records from Albatros and will be doing an entire show devoted to the label shortly.

Other field recordings come from the pre-war era and were recorded by John Lomax:  Samuel Brooks' "Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long" (1942) recorded in Edwards, Mississippi and Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis on "High Lonesome Hill." Ad David Evans writes "Lucious Curtis was making a precarious living as a musician while his partner, Willie Ford, worked at a sawmill when John A. Lomax encountered them in 1940 for their only recording session."

In our first show of he new year we traced the origins of several classic blues songs. Today we spin a quartet of related blues songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's that draw from a much earlier source. Around the term of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball.  Oliver has written about this both in Songsters & Saints and in a chapter titled Lookin' For That Bully in the book Nobody Knows where the Blues Come from: Lyrics and History (the entire chapter is available on Google Books).  In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941).  Oliver mentions all the songs but one he seems to have overlooked is Sippie Wallace's "Parlor Social De Luxe" (1925) which seems to me at least marginally related. The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. As Dixon recalled "the one Wolf hated most of all was 'Wang Dang Doodle.' He hated that 'Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-Totin' Jim.' He'd say, 'man, that's too old-timey, sound like some old levee camp number.'" In 1966 Koko Taylor had a big hit with the song.

In addition to the down-home blues we also spin some Chicago and jump blues. We play the Howlin' Wolf gem "Poor Boy" (1957) a terrific updating of this old number and Big Moose Walker on "Footrace To A Resting Place" and "Wrong Doing Woman." The Walker tracks were recorded at Elmore James' last sessions for Fire in 1961 and come from the 2-LP set To Know A Man on Blue Horizon. At the time these songs were just attributed to "Bushy Head."

Nugrape Twins: The Road Is Rough And RockyWe spin some great blues shouters including Big Joe Turner on the magnificent "Rock Of Gibraltar" (1936) with Albert Ammons on piano,  Gene Parrish's jumping, raunchy "Screamin' In My Sleep" ("she'd slip and slide and I keep moaning low") featuring Maxwell Davis and superb guitar from West Coast ace Chuck Norris. Parrish cut a dozen sides in 1950-1951 for RPM and Victor.

We also hear from Big Duke Henderson & His Orchestra on "Beggin And Pleadin"from a new 2-CD set on Ace called Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story. In 1945 Henderson made his debut for the Apollo label on a recommendation by Jack McVea. He was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians including McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo. In 1947 Al "Cake" Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years including Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty,] Modern, Imperial and Flair. Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting as Brother Henderson as a gospel DJ. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher.Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1972.

We also slip in a few gospel numbers: Mississippi John Hurt's "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", Eddie Head and His Family's "Down On Me" which Paul Oliver notes "was notable for the fluent guitar which imparted an easy swing to the recording, and from Eddie Head's skillful harmonizing to his family's singing" and the Nugrape Twins' "The Road Is Rough & Rocky" credited in the Columbia files to "Mark and Matthew (The Nugrape Twins)." The duo recorded eight sides at sessions in 1926 and 1927 for Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Bukka White Strange Place Blues The Complete Bukka White
Casey Bill Weldon You're Laughing, NowCasey Bill Weldon Vol. 3 1935-1938
Freezone Indian Squaw BluesCountry Blues: The Essential
James Son Thomas After The WarGateway to the Delta
Big Joe Williams A Change Gotta Be MadeBig Joe Williams (Storyville)
Wright Holmes Alley BluesAlley Special
Mother McCollum Jesus Is My Air-O-PlaneBlues Images Vol. 11
Blind Gussie Nesbitt God Is Worried At Your Wicked WaysBlues Images Vol. 11
Big Joe Turner Nobody In MindBig Joe Rides Again
Big Joe Turner Married WomanRhythm & Blues Years
Robert Cooksey & Alfred Martin Hock My ShoesBobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey Vol. 1 1924-1927
Sleepy John Estes Whatcha Doin'I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Will Ezell Pitchin' BoogieShake Your Wicked Knees
Frank Tannehill Four O'Clock Morning BluesRare Country Blues Vol. 4 1929-c.1953
Lonnie Clark Broke Down Engine Down In Black Bottom
Jimmy Yancey Jimmy's RocksShake Your Wicked Knees
Littl Brother MontgomeryOut West BluesFaro Street Jive
Otis Rush So Many RoadsDoor To Door
Tiny PowellDone Made It OverBay Area Blues Blasters Vol 1
Blind Blake Miss Emma LizaBlues Images Vol. 11
Mississippi Sheiks Cracking Them ThingsBlues Images Vol. 11
Mance Lipscomb You Be Kind To MeThe Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men
Mance Lipscomb Stavin' ChainThe Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men
Babe Reid One Dime BluesMusic from the Hills of Caldwell County
Willie DossCoal Black MareBlues at Newport 1964
Furry LewisGood Morning JudgeGood Morning Judge
Lightnin' Slim Lightning Slim BoogieThe Ace Records Blues Story
Slim HarpoWhat's Goin' OnThe Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Vol. 4
Silas HoganOut And Down BluesTrouble: The Excello Recordings
Charley Patton Magnolia BluesBlues Images Vol. 11
Jim ThompkinsBedside BluesBlues Images Vol. 11

Show Notes:

2014 Blues Calendar

Another mx show today, this one leaning heavily on some great pre-war blues cuts and some excellent down-home blues sides from the post-war era. In addition we twin spin rare sides by Mance Lipscomb, a pair by Big Joe Turner a fine set of piano blues plus plenty of other interesting sides.

Today's show spotlights a half-dozen tracks from the vaults of collector John Tefteller who's record collection contains some of the rarest blues 78's in existence. According to his website he has the world's largest inventory of blues, rhythm & blues and rock & roll 78's with over 75,000 in stock. Every year around this time Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. This year marks the eleventh year of the calendar and CD's and once again Tefteller has turned up some long lost 78's which I'll be featuring today. Among those are "Miss Emma Liza b/w Dissatisfied Blues” which is he last known missing record by Blind Blake. The record was found last year at a flea market in North Carolina. Cut in the heart of the depression, the record obviously sold poorly explaining its extreme rarity.

Then there's Blind Gussie Nesbit who was a guitar evangelist from Georgia. His first recording session was in 1930 in Atlanta for Columbia. Four titles were recorded but only two were issued. Five years later he had his second and final session in New York City for Decca. Ten songs were recorded in one day, but only four made it onto shellac. Between his two sessions, Nesbit also recorded two duets with Jack Gowdlock for Victor in 1931. Those were also held back. His 78 "The Joy of My Salvation b/w God Is Worried At Your Wicked Ways” is reissued for the first time on this collection. I asked John about this record and he told me that he "had the Mint copy that was used. Had it for some time and didn't realize it hadn't been re-issued until someone requested I put them out on one of my CD's."

The Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men
Read Liner Notes

Although the Mississippi Sheiks were very popular, the record included on this CD, “Cracking Them Things b/w Back To Mississippi” is very rare. Tefteller reached out to the community of blues record collectors for a copy but none was to be found. Obviously someone has a copy because it was issued on Document's complete reissue of the Sheiks output although Tefteller's reissue sounds light years better. This transfer comes from the original metal master that still resides in the Sony/Columbia vaults.

We also feature pristine, newly discovered 78's by Jim Thompkins, "Bedside Blues", and Charlie Patton's "Magnolia Blues" that are  superior to previous issued copies. Thompkins (credited in the Brunswick ledger as Peg Leg Jim Thompkins) cut two songs, “Bedside Blues” and “Down Fall Blues”, the latter never issued. When issued on 78 the flipside of “Bedside Blues” was "We Got To Get That Thing Fixed" by Speckled Red. This copy is a much superior copy to the one previously issued and comes from an old store stock copy in Dallas.

In addition, several years ago Tefteller uncovered a huge cache of Paramount promotional material. Paramount marketed their "race records", as they were called, to African-Americans, most notably in the pages of the Chicago Defender, the weekly African-American newspaper, and sent promotional material to record stores and distributors. Tefteller bought a huge cache of this artwork from a pair of journalists who rescued them from the rubbish heap some twenty years previously and has been reprinting the artwork in his annual calendars. Other newly discovered record promotional material are reprinted in the calendars and this year is notable for great photos of Henry Thomas, Mother McCollum (her "Jesus Is My Air-O-Plane" is featured today), Furry Lewis and Bessie Smith.

Every year Tefteller manages to top himself with these calendars and the 2015 edition is already one to get excited about. If you haven't heard the news, Tefteller just won an ebay auction for Tommy Johnson's  extremely rare "Alcohol And Jake Blues b/w Ridin' Horse" (Paramount 12950) for a whopping $37, 000 which as far a I know is the most ever paid for a blues 78. I asked John about the record and he wrote me that he "picked up the Tommy Johnson on Thursday, LOOKS Beautiful! Will play it at Nevins house next week in NJ." That's Richard Nevins head of Yazoo records who also does all the remastering for the CD's.

The two Mance Lipscomb numbers featured today come form the rare anthology The Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men collected by Mack McCormick. I had pulled this record out recently when I was writing notes for a reissue of the great Buster Pickens album on Heritage which will be put out by Document. There happens to be two Pickens numbers on the album which hopefully will be reissued as well. The contents were described in the notes as "…An informal song-swapping session with a group of Texans, New Yorkers, and Englishmen exchanging bawdy songs and lore, presented without expurgation…" The album was originally issued in a generic white cover without any printing. Song titles are listed on the disc labels, but none of the many performers are credited anywhere on the release. Included inside the cover sleeve was a large, 14-page booklet explaining the history of the songs, as well as a large disclaimer presenting the recorded material as a scholarly document which, along with the generic white sleeve and anonymous performers, were evidently measures taken against possible charges of obscenity. Some of the performers have been ostensibly identified by researchers. The album was later reissued with a cover as Raglan R 51.

Farro Street Jive
Read Liner Notes

We hear several fine pianists today including Will Ezell, Frank Tannehill, Lonnie Clark, Little Brother Montgomery and Jimmy Yancey. Born in Texas, pianist Ezell played in the jukes around Shreveport before moving to Detroit and Chicago. He was a frequent accompanist for Paramount Records and even took Paramount’s star, Blind Lemon Jefferson's body back to Texas for burial. Ezell cut sixteen sides for the label between 1927 and 1929 and backed artists such as Lucille Bogan, Elzadie Robinson, Bertha Henderson, Blind Roosevelt Graves and others.

A pianist from Dallas, Frank Tannehill backed Pere Dickson on his two 1932 recordings made in his hometown. Tannehill began his own recording career with two songs recorded in Chicago in 1937. 1938 found him in a San Antonio studio waxing four more songs. His third and final session was in 1941 in Dallas for a four song session. He was never heard from again.

"Out West Blues" was first recorded by Little Brother at his legendary 1936 session in New Orleans. Our version comes from a marvelous record he cut for Folkways called Farro Street Jive. Brother cut three fine record for Folkways in the 60's including Blues and Church Songs.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Little Willie LittlefieldTrouble Around MeKat On The Keys
Little Willie Littlefield Mello Cats The Modern Recordings Vol 2
Little Willie LittlefieldJim Wilson's BoogieGoing Back To Kay Cee
Mooch Richardson Big Kate Adams BluesCountry Blues Collector's Items 1924-1928
Blanche Johnson2.16 Blues Elzadie Robinson Vol.1 1926-1928
Jazz GillumBig Katy AdamsBill ''Jazz'' Gillum Vol. 2 1938-41
Joel Hopkins I Ain't Gonna Roll For The Big Hat Man No MoreRural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962
Leroy ErvinRock Island LineDown Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
John HoggGot A Mean Evil WomanTake A Greyhound Bus And Ride
Willie CarrOutside Friend The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Shy Guy DouglasHip Shakin' Mama (Shy Guy's Back In Town)The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Joseph Dobbin & The Four Cruisers On Account Of YouThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Walter VincsonThe Wrong ManWalter Vincson 1928-1941
Joe McCoyWell, WellCharlie & Joe McCoy Vol. 1
Two Poor BoysDown In Black Bottom The Two Poor Boys 1927-1931
Arthur GriswoldWhat The Judge Did To Me Vintage Toledo Blues
Calvin Frazier & Barbara BrownI Need Love Vintage Toledo Blues
Edmonia HendersonBrownskin ManMeaning In The Blues
Alberta Jones Wild Geese BluesGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Lizzie WashingtonFall Or Summer BluesGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Buddy Guy Buddy's BluesBuddy And The Juniors
Arlean BrownI Love My Man Sings The Blues In The Loop
John BrimGo AwayChicago Downhome Harmonica Vol. 1
Furry Lewis Why Don't You Come Home BluesGood Morning Judge
Cat IronGonna Walk Your LogCat-Iron Sings Blues and Hymn
Lost John HunterY-M And V Blues The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Unknown ArtistGot Me A Horse And WagonThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Billy “Red” Love It Ain't No More The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Irene Scruggs You've Got Just What I wantGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Barbecue Bob With Nellie FlorenceJacksonville BluesChocolate To The Bone
Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker & Otis SpannBlues JamSuper Black Blues

Show Notes:

Little Willie LittlefieldAnother mix show chock full of great and rare records. We kick off with a trio of sides from the recently passed Little Willie Littlefield, a great pianist and vocalist who emerged when the West Coast was jumping in the late 1940's. Also featured today are two sets from Bear Family's epic 10-CD box set, The Sun Blues Box 1950-1958, a set devoted to songs about the Kate Adams steamboat, some fine pre-war blues, excellent down-home tracks from the post-war era, several fine blues ladies and close with a long jam between some blues greats.

There were several strains of blues that rose to prominence on the West Coast in the 40's including a moody, after hours brand of piano blues popularized by the inimitable Charles Brown who himself was influenced by Nat King Cole. Brown’s influence was profound, setting the stage for fellow pianists like Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Ivory Joe Hunter, Cecil Gant, Roy Hawkins and Little Willie Littlefield.  Littlefield possessed a distinctive smokey voice and was equally at home on moody numbers like "Trouble All Around Me" to romping piano pieces like "Jim Wilson's Boogie." While Littlefield remained  active in Europe he never got the high profile comeback treatment his contemplates Charles Brown received or to a lesser extent Floyd Dixon. Littlefield has been well served on reissues by the Ace label which has released three collections of his vintage sides: Kat On The Keys, Going Back To Kay Cee, Boogie and Blues And Bounce: The Modern Recordings Vol. 2.

Little Willie Littlfield died on June 23 in the Netherlands at the age of 81. He was already a veteran when he waxed "K.C. Loving" in 1951, the original version of "Kansas City" although it only charted when Wilbert Harrison picked it up seven years later resulting in a huge smash. After a few sides for Eddie's and Freedom, Littlefield moved over to the Modern label in 1949, scoring with two major R&B hits, "It's Midnight" and "Farewell." Littlefield proved a sensation upon moving to L.A. during his Modern tenure, playing at area clubs and touring with a band that included saxist Maxwell Davis. After a few 1957-58 singles for Oakland’s Rhythm logo, little was heard from Little Willie Littlefield until the late 1970’s, when he began to mount a comeback at various festivals and on the European circuit. He eventually settled in the Netherlands, where he remained active musically.

The Kate Adams, actually the third riverboat with that name, was built in Pittsburgh in 1898. The big sidewheeler was 240 feet long, with a pair of tall smokestacks, three grand decks, and a main cabin stretching more than 175 feet, that was lighted with newfangled electric chandeliers. Workers along the river swore they could recognize that distinctive clang 14 miles away. Some 2,000 people greeted the Lovin' Kate, as the boat came to be known, when she first arrived to join the Memphis and Arkansas River Packet Company. The Kate ferried cotton, cargo, and passengers up and down the Mississippi river. The Kate Adams burnt to the ground on January 8, 1927. Several songs reference the steamboat including the three we feature today: Mooch Richardson "Big Kate Adams Blues",  Blanche Johnson  (Elzadie Robinson) "2.16 Blues" and Jazz Gillum's "Big Katy Adams." The Gillum song imagines a race between the Kate Adams and the Jim Lee which was another Mississippi steamboat. The Jim Lee was immortalized in Charlie Patton's "Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1 & 2."


Nearly 30 years after the original Sun Blues Box was released on LP, it's back as a 10-CD set on Bear Family with much more than was on the original set. The Charley label originally issued this as a 3-LP set in 1983, then as a 9-LP set in 1985 then in 1996 as an 8-CD set. From the Bear Family press release: "Recently discovered music from well-known artists … and incredible artifacts like Sam Phillips narrating a radio commercial for a West African herbalist who would soon be jailed for selling bogus patent medicine. Recordings produced by Phillips but issued on Chess, RPM, Trumpet and other labels were unavailable in 1983, but are now included. Researcher Steve LaVere finally allowed the world to hear the Sun audio and see the Sun-related photos he collected back in the late 1960s. In fact, the entire blues research community came together to make this a once-in-a-lifetime blues experience!" The set come with an exhaustive, illustrated booklet that I have only had a chance to glance at so far. After thirty years of reissues this should be the last word on the Sun blues story. Included today are tracks that have not appeared on the previous box sets.

We have some excellent Chicago blues featured today including a great album I picked up recently by Arlean Brown called Sings The Blues In The Loop and one by Buddy Guy. Brown's album was issued sometime in the early 70's and feature an all-star Chicago band including Little Mack Simmons, Detroit Junior and Lonnie Brooks. Brown was a Chicago singer who, in addition to the album, also released some 45's. Brown was 51 when she recorded the 45 "I'm a Streaker.” It launched her career in music after selling a purported 78,000 copies, and the former cab driver and corner-grocery owner became part of a revue run by harmonica player Mack Simmons at Pepper's Hideout — and eventually broke out with her own Arlean Brown X-Rated Revue. It appears her album was self-pressed and reissued in 1977 on the Black Magic label. I have been unable to find out much else about her or what happened to her after the 70's.

Arlean Brown: Sings The Blues In The LoopBuddy Guy had reportedly come to the end of the road with Vanguard Records, which had released his previous three albums, including 1968's acclaimed A Man and the Blues. Guy had asked Michael Cuscuna, a 20-year-old college student he'd befriended, to help produce his final Vanguard album, but when that project ran into problems, Cuscuna went to Blue Thumb. That label provided a meager budget for the album that bought a day of studio time, but didn't allow for a band beyond the three stars and drummer Fred Below. Guy played acoustic guitar, Junior Mance added jazzy keyboard flourishes, and Wells laid down some fine harp. The all-acoustic Buddy & the Juniors was recorded on December 18 of 1969, and on December 19 they mixed this album.

Another collection I picked up recently was a 4-CD set on JSP called Gennett Jazz 1922-1930All the 78's come from collector Joe Bussard's collection – if you haven't seen the documentary on him, Desperate Man Blues, it's well worth checking out. There's blues interest here with several fine, lesser known, blues ladies included. Today we feature selections by Lizzie Washington, who cut fourteen sides at session in 1927 and 1929, Edmonia Henderson, who cut just over a dozen sides between 1923 and 1926 and Alberta  Jones who cut sixteen sides, other sides were unissued, between 1923 and 1930 all for the Gennett label.

We conclude the show with a lengthy blues between jam between Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann. In 1969, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann got together and did a jam session that was released as Super Black Blues in 1969 on the Bluestime label. Also on the record in a supporting role is the great George “Harmonica” Smith. A second volume was recorded live at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1970 featured Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson instead of Otis Spann. As blues jams go, this is a very good one. Big Joe did a number of these type of things in the 70's for Pablo with mixed results – the one with Pee Wee Crayton (Everyday I Have The Blues), though, is worth checking out.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Tampa Red When Things Go Wrong With You Tampa Red Vol. 14 1949- 1951

Tampa Red It's A Brand New Boogey Tampa Red Vol. 14 1949- 1951
Tampa Red 1950 Blues Tampa Red Vol. 14 1949- 1951
Little Johnny Jones Big Town Play Boy The Aristocrat Of The Blues
Little Johnny Jones Shelby County Blues The Aristocrat Of The Blues
Muddy Waters Screamin' And Cryin' The Aristocrat Of The Blues
Muddy Waters Last Time I Fool Around With You The Aristocrat Of The Blues
Elmore James Late Hours At MidnightThe Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Elmore James Blues Before Sunrise The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Little Johnny Jones I May Be WrongThe Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Little Johnny Jones Sweet Little Woman The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Howlin' Wolf Tail DraggerComplete Chess Recordings
Albert KingBe On Your Merry WayDoor To Door
Tampa Red Early In The Morning Tampa Red Vol. 14 1949- 1951
Tampa Red She's Dynamite Tampa Red Vol. 15 1951 -1953
Tampa Red Rambler's Blues Tampa Red Vol. 15 1951 -1953
Little Johnny Jones Doin' The Best I Can Messing With The Blues: Atlantic Blues
Little Johnny Jones Hoy Hoy Messing With The Blues: Atlantic Blues
Billy Boy Arnold & Little Johnny Jones My Little Machine Live at the Fickle Pickle
Billy Boy Arnold & Little Johnny Jones Goin' To The River Live at the Fickle Pickle
Big Joe Turner TV MamaMessing With The Blues: Atlantic Blues
Jimmy RogersChicago BoundComplete Chess Recordings
Eddie TaylorI'm Sitting Here Big Town Playboy
Little Johnny Jones Worried Life BluesLittle Johnny Jones with Billy Boy Arnold
Little Johnny Jones She Wants to Sell My Monkey Little Johnny Jones with Billy Boy Arnold
Little Johnny Jones Chicago BluesMessing With The Blues: Atlantic Blues
Little Johnny Jones Wait BabyMessing With The Blues: Atlantic Blues
Elmore James Happy HomeThe Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Elmore James Make A Little LoveThe Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Little Johnny Jones Love Me With A Feeling Little Johnny Jones with Billy Boy Arnold
Little Johnny Jones Ouch!Little Johnny Jones with Billy Boy Arnold
Little Johnny Jones Prison Bound Blues 45
Little Johnny Jones Don’t You Lie To Me 45

Show Notes:

Little Johnny Jones
Little Johnny Jones and his wife Letha

Johnny Jones may never have made it past his 40th birthday but in that time he established himself as one of the finest piano players in Chicago. As perhaps the greatest of the post-war Chicago pianists, Otis Spann said of Jones: "My favorite piano player – I hate to say it, he was my first cousin, dead now and gone, we were two sisters' children – is Johnnie Jones.  I wind up teaching him, but he beat me at my own game." And as Bruce Igluaer wrote: "His fellow bluesmen remember him well, though, mostly as the pianist at Sylvio's, the huge tavern at Lake & Oakley that was the blues capital of Chicago's West Side during the 50's„ Johnnie played there with Elmore, with the Wolf, with second Sonny Boy Williamson, with Billy Boy Arnold, and with Magic Sam. Most nights Sylvio's had three bands, and Johnny would play with all of them! Dressed immaculately and with his hair and mustache perfectly groomed, he would open the shows singing his favorite risque classics, "The Dirty Dozens" and "Love Her With A Feeling." Billy Boy remembers, "He didn't sit there like a lot of piano players and just play– he rocked with the rhythm, he bounced. He used to sing "Dirty Mother F'or Ya" and that would just crack the house up! Johnnie and Elmore had Sylvio's sewed up five nights a week!"

Best known for his rock steady accompaniment in Elmore James’ band he also backed just about everyone else worth mentioning on the Chicago scene. The handful of times he stepped in front as leader produced a number of excellent sides and more than a few classics. We spin all of the sides Johnny cut as a leader, some superb live recordings by him and hear him backing artists such as Tampa Red, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, J.B. Hutto, Jimmy Rogers and Big Joe Turner.

Little Johnny Jones: Big Town Playboy 78 Jones came to the city in 1946, at the age of 22, already an accomplished pianist. Friends recall his talking about his mother, Mary, who played piano in church in Jackson, Mississippi, and his father, George, an amateur guitarist and harp player. But Johnnie"s greatest influence was obviously the immensely popular Big Maceo Merriwether. When Johnnie first came to Chicago, he sought out Big Maceo and the other bluesmen 'who had put hit records for the RCA Bluebird label during the 30's and 40's – Tampa Red, Jazz Cillum, and the original Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson.  Big Maceo took Jones under his wing, honing Johnnie's piano technique and calling him his "son." In fact, it was Maceo who introduced Johnnie to his future wife, Letha Bethley. And it was Tampa Red who encouraged Johnnie to get a union card, and then hired him on his first gig, at the C&T Lounge at 22nd & Prairie, in 1947. After Big Maceo suffered a stroke, Johnnie took over the piano stool on Tampa's records, too.

Between 1949 and 1953 Jones and Tampa cut a number of sides together, including the popular "Early In The Morning", with Jones taking the lead vocal, and "Sweet Little Angel." By the time Johnnie Jones had taken over the piano chair in Tampa Red's band in March 1949 Tampa had been a recording star for twenty years. Outside of a national hit in 1949 Tampa's career was on the wane and his recording career essentially ended in 1953 outside of two disappointing albums for Bluesville in 1960. Certainly Tampa's partnership with Big Maceo from 1945 to 1947 has been justly praised pairing Maceo's rolling, thundering piano with Tampa's ringing slide ranking them in the upper ranks of great piano/guitar duos. Less celebrated is the teaming of  Jones and Tampa. Clearly the infusion of new blood, chiefly Jones' rolling two fisted-piano playing and insinuating, warm vocal refrains he supplied plus the addition of drummer Odie Payne added an exciting new charge to Tampa's music. Jones also played the clubs with Tampa often working at the Peacock and C&T.

During this period Jones also played piano behind Muddy Waters on a 1949 Aristocrat (soon to become Chess) session resulting in the tracks: "Screamin' and Cryin", "Where's My Woman Been" and "Last Time I Fool Around With You." At the tail end of this session Jones cut his lone 78 for the label "Shelby County Blues b/w Big Town Playboy” with Muddy Waters, Baby Face Leroy and Jimmy Rogers backing him up on both sides. Throughout the 50's and 60's Jones backed a who's who of Chicago artists including Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, Albert King, Lee Jackson, Jimmy Rogers, Magic Sam and  Eddie Taylor among others.

Jones' most famous association began in 1952 when he became the pianist for Elmore James and His Broomdusters. He remained with James through 1956 playing on classic recordings for the Bihari brothers’ Meteor, Flair and Modern labels as well as dates for Checker, Chief and Fire. The Broomdusters (with saxist J.T. Brown and drummer Odie Payne) held court on the West Side playing at Sylvio’s for five years. It was this association with James that resulted in his second stint as leader recording in 1953 for Flair. "I May Be Wrong" and "Sweet Little Woman" were issued as Johnny Jones and the Chicago Hound Dogs with backing from Elmore James and J.T. Brown.

Jones last official stint as leader came in 1953 when Atlantic Records came through Chicago and teamed Elmore and the Broomdusters behind Big Joe Turner resulting in the classic "TV Mama." Once again he recorded a couple of sides at the tail end of a session resulting in four songs: "Chicago Blues", 'Hoy Hoy', "Wait Baby" and "Doin' the Best I Can (Up the line)." Jones was backed by the full Broomdusters plus Ransom Knowling on bass.

Jones wasn’t caught on tape again until 1963 where he was working with Billy Boy Arnold in a Chicago folk club called the Fickle Pickle run by Michael Bloomfield. Norman Dayron recorded Johnny on portable equipment which has been released on the Alligator record titled Johnny Jones with Billy Boy Arnold. A few additional sides appear on the Flyright LP Live At The Fickle Pickle. Jones last session was recorded in 1964 and is something of a mystery. Possibly backed by Boyd Atkins on sax and Lee Jackson guitar he cut three songs: "Prison Bound Blues", "Don't You Lie to Me" and "I Get Evil" the last being unissued. "Prison Bound Blues b/w Don't You Lie to Me" was subsequently issued on Rooster Records as a 45 in 1980. Letha Jones, Johnnie's widow, had an acetate of this and Jim O'Neal of Rooster Records licensed the rights from her to issue the 45.

Little Johnny Jones
Little Johnny Jones, Otis Spann & George 'Mojo' Buford, Chicago, late 1950's. Source: Living Blues 42 (1979), p. 24 ("Courtesy Letha Jones")

In 1964 Jones did some recording with Eddie Taylor and rejoined Howlin'Wolf's band who he was set to tour Europe with later in the year. Jones died from lung cancer November, 19, 1964 leaving a huge space on the Chicago scene. Mike Leadbitter wrote at the time of Jones death, "In a Chicago full of guitarists and with comparatively few top-rate pianists, the death of Little Johnny Jones is a great loss, as it is to us, who were never really given a chance to appreciate him."

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
George 'Harmonica' SmithTelephone Blues Harmonica Ace
George 'Harmonica' SmithSometimes You Win When You LoseBlowing The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithLove LifeHarmonica Ace
Champion Jack DupreeOverhead BluesMe And My Mule
Little Johnny TaylorSomewhere Down The LineThe Galaxy Years
George 'Harmonica' SmithThe Blues Is My Roots West Coast Down Home Harmonica
George 'Harmonica' Smith I Don't KnowBlowing The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithAstatic StompNow You Can Talk About Me
Sunnyland Slim Got To Get To My BabySlim's got His Thing Goin' On
Dave AlexanderHighway 59Oakland Blues
Long Gone Miles Gotta Find My Baby Juke Joint Blues
Long Gone Miles Hello JosephineJuke Joint Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithBlues For Reverend King Of The Blues...
George 'Harmonica' SmithTimes Won't Be Hard AlwaysBlowing The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithBlues In The DarkHarmonica Ace
Muddy Waters You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never HadAuthorized Bootleg
Muddy Waters Just To Be With YouThe Lost Tapes
George 'Harmonica' Smith West Helena WomanTribute to Little Walter
George 'Harmonica' Smith Going Down SlowTribute to Little Walter
George 'Harmonica' Smith Too Late Tribute to Little Walter
Otis Spann Down On Sarah Street Down To Earth
Big Mama ThorntonOne Black RatThe Way It Is
Big Joe TurnerNight Time is the Right Time Turns On The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithEarly One Monday MorningHarmonica Ace
George 'Harmonica' SmithBlowing The BluesBlowing The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithMiss O'Malley's RallyBlowing The Blues
George 'Harmonica' SmithMississippi River BluesThe Complete Blue Horizon Sessions

Show Notes:

George 'Harmonica' Smith was one of the most gifted contemporaries of Little Walter and Big Walter yet has received a fraction of their recognition. He was a powerful, inventive and swinging harmonica player and a superb singer. Likely his recognition would be higher if he wasn't based in L.A. He cut his first records for modern in the mid-50's which achieved some success. For the rest of the 50's and 60's he cut a slew of fine singles for small West Coast labels that didn't do much to raise his profile. By the late 60's he had a cut a couple of LP's and was quite active on record in the early and late 70's, keeping relatively quiet in the middle part of that decade. Smith was fairly active as a session player and today we hear him backing his occasional employer Muddy Waters as well as Champion Jack Dupree, Little Johnny Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Sunnyland Slim, Luke Miles, Otis Spann and others. Smith had a profound influence on the style of younger west coast harmonica players like Johnny Dyer, Kim Wilson, James Harmon and in particular, Rod Piazza and William Clarke.

Allen George Smith was born on April 22nd , 1924 in Helena, Arkansas to Jessie and George Senior. His guitar and harmonica playing mother was something of a role model in his musical upbringing, helping him master the finer points of the harmonica. Around the age of twelve he was hoboing throughout he delta. During this period he was a semi-professional musician playing picnics and fish fries. With the help of a local musician, Smith continued to work in and out of the music business whilst holding down a Job as a projectionist in the town of Itta Bena. He found a way to utilize the amplifier and speaker taken from, presumably, a disused projector and, to amplify the sound of his harmonica. This makes him one of the pioneers in the amplified harmonica.

At the age of twenty-five Smith moved to Chicago. He got a job working with David and Louis Myers and then hooked up with Otis Rush. Smith and Little Walter became really close during this period. Both played chromatic as their chosen and preferred instrument. Unlike Walter, it was proving difficult for Smith to make a break through. Following the departure of Little Walter from Muddy Waters' band, Smith was to fill the vacated harmonica chair when fill-in Henry Strong was stabbed to death by a jealous girlfriend. For whatever reason, his stint with Waters was short-lived and he never recorded with him. Before leaving Chicago, Smith was involved in a Otis Spann session recorded at the end of 1954 which resulted in "It Must Have Been The Devil b/w Five Spot." Smith plays on the former holding his own among heavyweights B.B. King, Jody Williams, Willie Dixon and Earl Phillips.

In 1954, he was offered a permanent job at the Orchid Room in Kansas City where, early in 1955, Joe Bihari of Modern Records (on a scouting trip) heard Smith, and signed him to Modern. These recording sessions were released under the name Little George Smith, and included classics like "Telephone Blues" and "Blues in the Dark." The relative success of these first recordings, resulted in Smith touring with many of the leading Rhythm & Blues acts of the time. While on the tour, he recorded with Champion Jack Dupree in November of 1955 in Cincinnati, producing "Sharp Harp" and "Overhead Blues", the latter we spin on today's program. Smith's excellent Modern sides are collected on Harmonica Ace: The Modern Masters on the Ace label. This disc is aptly described by note-writer Ray Topping as "a lasting memorial to one of the last great harp players of the postwar blues scene."

After touring in support of his first records the tour closed out on the West Coast and the Bihari brothers took Smith into the studio again, this time to work with saxophonist and arranger Maxwell Davis. Smith settled in Los Angeles for the rest of his life. In the late '50s he recorded for J&M, Lapel, Melker, and Caddy under the names Harmonica King or Little Walter Junior. Smith also worked with Big Mama Thornton on many shows. In 1960, Smith met producer Nat McCoy who owned the Sotoplay and Carolyn labels, and with whom he recorded ten singles under the name of George Allen. The bulk of these sides have been collected on Blowin' The Blues which has been issued on P-Vine, Official and the El Segundo labels. There are some real gems on this collection unfortunately sound quality is not always the best and some of the personnel is unknown. When James Cotton left Muddy Water’s band in 1966 he asked Smith to join him and they worked together for a while, recording for Spivey Records under the title The Bluesmen of the Muddy Waters Chicago Blues Band. Several years back Geffen/Chess issued Authorized Bootleg featuring Smith with Muddy recorded November 4-6, 1966 at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Smith was captured with the band again in 1971 live at Washington and Oregon University and posthumously issued as The Lost Tapes on Blind Pig. Smith moved to Chicago to play with Waters. As before, it didn’t last, and Smith went back to Los Angeles. But he stayed friends with Muddy, and when Little Walter died two years later, Muddy’s band backed Smith on his highly regarded Tribute to Little Walter album on World Pacific.

Smith also appeared on the World Pacific album by Sunnyland Slim, Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On and the compilation Oakland Blues backing David Alexander and L.C. Robinson. In 1969, Bob Thiele produced an album of Smith on Bluesway, ..Of the Blues, and later made use of Smith as a sideman for his Blues Times label, including sets with T-Bone Walker and Harmonica Slim. Smith also recorded on the two albums Otis Spann recorded for Bluesway. Smith met the young Rod Piazza in the late 60's, and they launched the Southside Blues Band, which toured with Big Mama Thorton . In 1970 British producer Mike Vernon met the band, signed them to a European tour, and changed their name to Bacon Fat. They recorded a couple of albums for Vernon. All this material has been reissued on the 2-CD set George Smith & Bacon Fat: The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions. In 1969 Luke “Long Gone” Miles and Smith recorded a batch of great songs for Kent, the bulk of which went unissued. The same year he backed Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner and was involved in the Super Black Blues jam album with T-Bone Walker, Otis Spann and Big Joe Turner. In 1970 he cut the album No Time For Jive and the same year he backed Big Joe Turner on the Kent album Turns On The Blues. In 1971 Smith cut the album Arkansas Trap. In 1972 he appeared on Eddie Taylor's I Feel So Bad and backed Big Mama Thornton again in 1975 on the album Jail. Through the 70's and early 80's he remained active working on record with Jimmy Witherspoon, Phillip Walker and others.

Around 1977, Smith became friends with William Clarke and they began working together. Their working relationship and friendship continued until Smith died on October 2, 1983. Of Smith, Clarke said: "He had a technique on the chromatic harp where he would play two notes at once, but one octave apart. He would get an organ-type sound by doing this. George really knew how to make his notes count by not playing too much and taking his time by letting the music unfold easily. He could also swing like crazy and was a first-class entertainer. …I have never heard George play a song the same way twice. He was very creative and played directly from his heart. He admired all great musicians but had his own sound and style. He was a true original. Mr. Smith would always give 100-percent on-stage whether or not there were 1 or 1,000 people listening. This was his performing style, always." His last studio album was Boogie'n With George produced by protege Rod Piazza.

Read Liner Notes

Tom Townsley describes Smith's technique in the following manner: "He often approached his soIos by using his tongue-blocked octave technique to imitate hom section riffs (as opposed to copying the single notes of a soloist). This gave his playing incredible power. He also knew how to coax a variety of tonal shadings and subtle pitch variations out of a single note by combining bends and microphone manipulation. He built suspense by phrasing his attack just behind the beat. As a result, his tunes swung relentlessly."

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