Entries tagged with “Blind Arvella Gray”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Magic Slim She Is Mine 45
Magic Slim Scufflin Grand Slam
Alberta Brown How LongI Can't Be Satisfied Vol 2
Monette Moore Black Sheep BluesMonette Moore Vol. 2 1924-1932
Jenny Pope Bullfrog BluesMemphis Blues Vol. 4 1929-1953
Louis Armstrong Blues for Yesterday C'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties
Louis Armstrong Back o' Town BluesC'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties
Frank Tannehill Rolling Stone BluesRare Country Blues Vol. 4 1929-c.1953
Tommy McLennan Baby, Please Don't Tell On Me Bluebird Recordings 1939-1942
Washboard SamEvil BluesRockin' My Blues Away
Fluffy Hunter Hi Jinks BluesTough Mamas
Madonna Martin Rattlesnakin' Daddy Tough Mamas
James Russell I Had Five Long YearsPrison Worksongs
Big Joe Williams These Are My Blues (Gonna Sing ´Em For Myself)These Are My Blues
Blind Arvella GrayWalking BluesBlues From Maxwell Street
Precious Bryant Precious Bryant's Staggering BluesNational Downhome Blues Festival Vol. 1
Precious Bryant That's The Way The Good Thing Go George Mitchell Collection Box Set
'Talking' Billy Anderson Lonely Bill Blues The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Blind Willie McTell Stole Rider BluesBest Of
Charley JordanHunkie Tunkie Blues Charley Jordan Vol.1 1930-1931
Teddy Darby She Thinks She's Slick Blind Teddy Darby 1929-1937
Zuzu Bollin Headlight BluesR&B Guitars 1950-1954
Jimmy Babyface Lewis Last NightComplete Recordings 1947-1955
Big Joe Turner Wine-O-Baby BoogieTell Me Pretty Baby
Al "Cake" Wichard Sextette & Jimmy Witherspoon Geneva BluesCake Walkin’: The Modern Recordings 1947-1948
Lee Roy LittleI''m a Good Man But a Poor Man Blues From The Apple
Charlie SaylesVietnamThe Raw Harmonica Blues Of
Johnny MomentKeep Our Business To YourselfI Blueskvarter Vol. 3
Robert Pete Williams Freight-Train Blues Louisiana Blues
Hammie NixonViola Lee Blues 2Way Back Yonder Vol. 1
Eugene Powell Poor Boy Blues Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues
Magic Slim Stranded On The HighwayLiving Chicago Blues Vol. II
Magic Slim Ain't Doing Too BAdRaw Magic

Show Notes:

Magic Slim
Magic Slim

It seems these mix show end up as tributes to an increasing number of blues artists who've passed recently. This time out we pay our respects to Magic Slim and Precious Bryant. Along the way we spin a pair of bluesy numbers by Louis Armstrong, play a few sets of pre-war blues, spotlight some interesting field recordings as well as some jump blues from the post-war era.

I was lucky enough to catch Magic Slim on several occasions and he always delivered the goods, which is to say a good dose of gutbucket blues. After battling health problems Slim passed at the age of 75 on Feb. 21st. His mentor was Magic Sam, whom he knew as a child in Mississippi and who offered early encouragement. “Magic Sam told me don’t try to play like him, don’t try to play like nobody,” he once recalled. “Get a sound of your own.” It was also Magic Sam who gave a teenager named Morris Holt the stage name Magic Slim when the two performed together in Chicago in the 1950's. He recorded his first single, “Scufflin’,” in 1966 and formed the Teardrops with his younger brothers a year later. Magic Slim and the Teardrops eventually became the house band at a local nightclub, Florence’s. They went on to tour and record regularly, headlining blues festivals all over the world, and to win numerous awards, including the 2003 Blues Music Award as band of the year. Magic Slim recorded prolifically, cutting his first album for the French MCM label in 1977 with follow-ups on labels like Blind Pig, Alligator and Wolf. Among my personal favorites of Slim voluminous discography would be Grand Slam (Rooster), Raw Magic (Alligator) and the series on Wolf titled Live At The Zoo Bar (five vols. I think?) which really capture Slim and the Teardrops in prime form.

Unfortunately I never got to see Precious Bryant who passed away on January 12th. She was born in Talbot County, GA and went on to play numerous festivals including the Chattahoochee Folk Festival, the National Down Home Blues Festival in Atlanta (recordings by her appear on the companion albums), the King Biscuit Blues, Newport Folk Festival, Utrecht Blues Festival in Utrecht, Holland and others. She never went on tour and didn't release an album until Fool Me Good in 2002 although a few scattered sides were recorded in the field by George Mitchell. It was Mitchell, who discovered her in 1969 while documenting the lower Chattahoochee scene. She cut a follow-up album, The Truth, in 2005 and the same year cut an album on the Music Maker label.

Precious Bryant
Precious Bryant

When not listening to blues I do listen to quite a bit of jazz, particularly the older stuff, and have listened to Louis Armstrong's hot Fives and Hot Sevens countless times. I suspect, like many, I haven't really listened to many of his recordings after this period. Some time back I picked up the 4-CD box set C'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties on the Proper label which is where today's tracks come from. Satchmo set the bar so high on those early recordings they're pretty much unsurpassable but this set very worthwhile.  Lots of good stuf from big band sides, duets with Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and great live recordings from the Town Hall and Symphony Hall with the All Stars. One of the songs, "Back o' Town Blues", was first recorded as an instrumental by the Original Memphis Five in 1923 on the Edison label.

From the pre-war era we spin some fine blues ladies including Monette Moore and Jenny Pope plus obscure male artists such as Frank Tannehill and 'Talking' Billy Anderson. Moore began her career accompanying silent films in Kansas City and then toured the vaudeville circuit as a pianist and singer. In the early 1920's she made her way to New York and became active in musical theater. Her recording career began in 1923. In 1927 and 1928 she was singing with Walter Page's Blue Devils in the mid-West. She returned to New York in 1929 and was very active in musical theater and cabaret work until the late 1930's. In the early 1940s, she moved to Los Angeles and performed in clubs, recorded with Teddy Bunn and the Harmony Girls and had small parts in a couple of films. From 1951 to 1953 she appeared on the Amos 'n Andy television program and recorded with George Lewis. Moore passed in 1962. From 1925 we spin her "Black Sheep Blues" (Virginia Liston cut the same song a few months later) which is not the same song as Pigmeat Terry cut in 1935 but offers a similar sentiment:

When you're thinking of black sheep
Just take a look at me
I'm the blackest of black sheep
That ever left old Tennessee

Lord from the straight and narrow path I've strayed
From the straight and narrow path I've strayed
With regrets and sorrows I have paid

Just a black sheep roamin' round the town (2x)
Like a tramp I'm always out and down

While Moore cut some fifty sides during her prime Jenny Pope was much less documented. Pope was married to Will Shade leader of the famous Memphis Jug Band. Pope cut six sides at three sessions in 1929 and 1930. She may have recorded with the Memphis Jug Band under the name Jennie Clayton. Pope delivers a great performance on "Bull Frog Blues", not to be confused with the William Harris song of the same name, with great piano playing from Judson Brown.

Little is known about Frank Tannehill and Billy Anderson. A pianist from Dallas, Texas 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. Nothing is known about Billy Anderson, other than the fact that two records were recorded under his name in 1927 and that he may have been from Georgia.

Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues
Read Back Cover

Moving up the 1940's we spin some fine jump blues from ladies like Fluffy Hunter and Madonna Martin as well as Big Joe Turner and Al Wichard among others. Krazy Kat was a great British label that put out some really interesting anthologies. From the aptly title Tough Mamas we spin rocking tracks from Fluffy Hunter and Madonna Martin. Big Joe Turner's jumping  "Wine-O-Baby Boogie" features the mighty Pete Johnson on piano and comes from the album Tell Me Pretty Baby a fine collection of late 40's sides issued on Arhoolie.  Al Wichard's "Geneva Blues" features Jimmy Witherspoon on vocals. Wichard was born in Welbourne, Arkansas, on August 15th, 1919 but the steps by which he arrived in Los Angeles as a drummer in 1944 remain shadowy. He managed to record with Jimmy Witherspoon and Jay McShann within weeks of his arrival, and in April 1945 was the drummer on Modern’s first session, accompanying Hadda Brooks. Wichard's is collected on the reissue on Ace, Cake Walkin’: The Modern Recordings 1947-1948.

Last week I did a whole show devoted to great out-of-print records and today we feature a couple from the Albatros label: Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues and Way Back Yonder Vol. 1. Albatros is an interesting label that has not been all that well served on CD. The label was active from the 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  between 1976 and 1978 in Tennessee and Mississippi. Several of these collections have long been out-of-print including all three volumes of the Way Back Yonder series, the collections Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee and I Got The Blues This Morning and single artists albums by Eugene Powell (Police In Mississippi), Carey Tate (Blues From The Heart) and Jack Owens (Bentonia Country Blues). A while back Marcucci formed the Mbirafon imprint which so far has issued collections of field recordings of Sam Chatmon and Van Hunt. I've heard through the grapevine there was a Eugene Powell 2-CD planned. The label hasn't issued anything in awhile and I wouldn't be surprised if Marcucci got discouraged due to general lack of interest in these kinds of project. I, for one, hope he forges ahead. I should also mention that are three Albatros collections available on CD: Tennessee Blues Vol. 1, 2, and 3 which have very good performances from Laura Dukes, Dewey Corley, Bukka White and others.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
George Higgs Katie Mae BluesUnreleased
George Higgs Skinny Woman BluesUnreleased
Eddie Burns Papa' Boogie Detroit Ghetto Blues 1948-1954
Eddie Burns SuperstitionTreat Me Like I Treat You

Eddie Burns Biscuit Bakin' Mama Treat Me Like I Treat You

Sam Collins Dark And Cloudy BluesJailhouse Blues
William HarrisI'm Leavin' Town(But I Sho Don't Wanna Go)The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Johnnie HeadFare Thee Blues Part 2Country Blues Collector's Items 1924 - 1928
The Two Charlies Don't Put Your Dirty Hands On Me Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935 - 1937

The Two Charlies Bad Feeling Blues Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935 - 1937
Effie Smith Wee Baby Brother BluesEffie Smith 1945- 53
Cecil GantMy House Fell DownCecil Gant Vol. 5 1947-1949
Ray Charles I Got A Break BabyComplete Atlantic recordings
Lonnie Clark Broke Down EngineDown In Black Bottom
Pinetop BurksJack of All Trades BluesSan Antonio Blues 1937
Barrelhouse Buck Got To Go BluesDevil At The Confluence
Jackie Brenston The Blues Got Me AgainThe Mistreater
Jackie Brenston Much LaterThe Mistreater
Jelly Roll MortonMake Me a Pallet on the Floor Pt. 2 The Complete Library of Congress Recordings
Willie Brown Make Me a Pallet on the Floor Mississippi Blues: Library of Congress Recordings 1940-1942
Bill WilliamsMake Me a Pallet on the Floor Low and Lonesome & Blues, Rags and Ballads
Willy Flowers Levee Camp Holler Red River Blues
Sonny Chestain Po' Boy Long Way From Home Red River Blues
Otis Spann Country BoyComplete Candid recordings
Sonny Boy Williamson II Open RoadBummer Road
Big Mama Thornton I'm Feeling AlrightBall N' Chain
Alice Moore w/ Kokomo Arnold Grass Cutter Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936 - 1937
Merline Johnson Pallet On The FloorThe Yas Yas Girl Vol. 1 1937-1938
Lillian Glinn Atlanta BluesLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Eddie Burns Orange DriverTreat Me Like I Treat You
Eddie Burns Hard Hearted Woman Treat Me Like I Treat You

Show Notes:

***Just a quick update regarding George Higgs. I erroneously reported that he had passed which I'm glad today is not the case. Tim Duffy, who recorded George, passed along the news.***

Eddie Burns

We open the first show of the year on a somber note with several blues deaths. On today's program we pay tribute to the recently departed George Higgs and Eddie Burns. We also lost the legendary Jimmy McCracklin who I'll be spotlighting in-depth next week. Also on deck today are twin spins by the mysterious Two Charlies and a pair by fine singer Jackie Brenston backed by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. There's plenty of excellent piano blues from the pre-war and post-war eras including Pinetop Burks, Lonnie Clark, Cecil Gant, Ray Charles, Otis Spann, some fine blues ladies such as Alice Moore, Lillian Glinn, Merline Johnson and Effie Smith and a batch of songs revolving around the blues standard "Make Me A Pallet On The Floor."

George Higgs was born in 1930 in a farming community in Edgecombe County near Speed, North Carolina (“a slow town with a fast name” as he is fond of saying.) and was a fine guitar and harp player in the Piedmont tradition. Throughout the 40’s and 50’s he was a popular performer at fish fries and house parties and later on performed gospel with a local quartet. Pete Lowry recorded him and partner Elester Anderson extensivley in 1979 but these sides remain unreleased. In the early 2000's he cut a pair of albums for the Music Maker label. Today's two cut were graciously sent to me by Pete Lowry and have not be released in any form before.

Eddie Burns passed on December 12th at the age of 84. Born in Belzoni, Mississippi, he grew up in the small town of Dublin, close to Clarksdale, where he became acquainted with the popular blues artists of the 30s and 40s by hearing their records in his grandfather's club. Burns left home at 16 and, after a spell in Clarksdale, moved to Waterloo, Iowa then to Detroit in 1948. At a house party he met John Lee Hooker. Burns went along to a recording session with Hooker and played harmonica on "Miss Eloise" and "Burnin' Hell." Hooker, in turn, accompanied Burns at a 1951 session but these recordings would not be issued until many years later. Burns was also developing as a guitarist, and in 1966, when he and Hooker were reunited on Hooker's Chess album The Real Folk Blues, he played guitar throughout. Burns made his debut in 1948 and through the 50's cut sides for JVB, Deluxe and Chess. He continued to cut scattered singles through the 60's. Thanks to the new international blues audience of the 1970s, Burns had the opportunity to visit Europe several times. Burns cut his last album for Delmark in 2001. Among today's featured tracks are "Papa's Boogie," his 1948 debut, a harmonica/guitar duet recorded by Bernie Bessman and leased to the Holiday label which issued it under the pseudonym Slim Pickens. We also spin both sides of his superb Checker single from 1954, "Superstition b/w Biscuit Baking Mama" (released as Big Ed and his Combo) and both sides of his 1961 Harvey single, "Orange Driver b/w Hard Hearted Woman."

The Two Charlies were Charlie Manson & Charlie Jordan who cut eight sides for the ARC label in 1936. Today we spin "Don't Put Your Dirty Hands On Me" and "Bad Feeling Blues." Nothing is known about the duo. It's generally accepted that Charlie Jordan of the Two Charlies has no connection with Charley Jordan of St. Louis.

Sam Phillips produced "Rocket 88," Jackie Brenston's debut in Memphis. The singer/saxist was backed by Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm, an group that Brenston had joined the previous year. Billed as by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, "Rocket 88" hit the top slot on brenston-much-ltrthe R&B charts and remained there for more than a month. But none of his Chess follow-ups had the same impact, though "Real Gone Rocket" was certainly a good one. After a few more Chess singles went nowhere, Brenston reunited with Turner in 1955, holding down the baritone sax chair until 1962. He cut a series of terrific sides fronting Turner's Kings of Rhythm along the way: "Gonna Wait for My Chance" and "Much Later" for Federal in 1956, "You've Got to Lose" for Chicago's Cobra label in 1958 (also doing session work there with Otis Rush and Buddy Guy), and "You Ain't the One" for Sue in 1961. After a final single for Mel London's Mel-Lon imprint, Brenston's career ran out of steam.

"Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" is a song, according to the Encyclopedia of the Blues, that most likely dates from the end of the nineteenth century. Its earliest known appearance is in the 1908 piano ragtime composition "Southern Rag Medley No. 1" by black concert pianist Blind Boone. The lyrics first appear in a 1911 article by folklorist Howard Odum who had transcribed them from a performance he had heard in Mississippi a few years before. The first recording to quote the melody was a 1917 Columbia disk by W. C. Handy’s band of "Sweet Child." It was Handy who first published a song version of "Make Me a Pallet" in 1923 and retitled ‘‘Atlanta Blues.’’ This version was recorded by several blues singers including Lillian Glinn who's version we feature today. In the later 1920's,"Make Me a Pallet" appeared in blues recordings by Ethel Waters, Virginia Liston, Mississippi John Hurt (as "Ain't No Tellin'"), Willie Harris (as "Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door") among others. There were many versions in the post-war era as well. Today we spin versions by Jelly Roll Morton, who cut a four-part version for the Library of Congress in 1938, each successive version dirtier than the previous, a  magnificent 1941 version by Willie Brown also cut for the  Library of Congress and a post-war version by Bill Williams a one-time running buddy of Blind Blake.

The West Coast had a thriving blues and jazz scene in the 1940’s and 50’s with most of the activity centering around the Los Angeles, Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco Bay areas. There were several strains of blues that rose to prominence including a moody, after hours brand of piano blues popularized by the inimitable Charles Brown. Brown’s influence was profound, setting the stage for fellow pianists like Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Little Willie Littlefield, Ivory Joe Hunter, Roy Hawkins and Cecil Gant among others . There's was also something of a trend circa the mid to late 40's of boogie- woogie blues ladies, most based around the Los Angles area. Among those active during this period were Camille Howard, Betty Hall Jones,  Hadda Brooks, Vivianne Green, Effie Smith among others. Today we hear from Cecil Gant and Effie Smith.

Gant was a first rate ballad singer in the vein of Nat King Cole and Charles Brown but he was also a superb bluesman who could lay down some storming boogie-woogie. Gant recorded prolifically for the L.A. labels Gilt-Edge and 4 Star and in Nashville, which was probably his hometown, for Bullet, Dot and Decca, meanwhile playing in nightclubs throughout the country. Between 1944 and 1951 he waxed over 150 sides before his untimely death in 1951 at the age of 38. Today we spin "My House Fell Down" from 1950, a terrific bluesy number sporting fine guitar from an unknown guitarist.

Willie Brown: Make Me A Pallet On The FloorDuring WWII Effie Smith had been featured on several AFRS "Jubilee" radio transcriptions and, after touring with Benny Carter's Orchestra in early 1945, her own solo recording career began with sides for the G&G and Gem labels, with small bands organised by Johnny Otis. Smith went on to record for Aladdin, Miltone, an unissued session for Modern, and then Decca. Smith didn't get any Billboard R&B chart action until the 1960's, when two of her own, self-produced comedy records made the charts: the two-part "Dial That Telephone." During the late 1960's and early 1970's she was employed by Stax Records to handle promotion work, behind the scenes, until her premature death in 1977 in Los Angeles, from cancer. Her early sides can be found on Effie Smith 1945- 53 on the Classics label.

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