Joe Green, Joe Battle...Rock Island LineLibrary of Congress Website
Gene Raymond, Jimmie Lee Hart, Hattie Ellis...Cap'n Don't 'low No Truckin' Rround in HereLibrary of Congress Website
Curtis Jones Private Talk BluesCurtis Jones Vol. 3 1939-1940
Bill Gaither Bloody Eyed WomanBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
Cripple Clarence Lofton House Rent StruggleCripple Clarence Lofton Vol. 2 1935-1939
Tommy McClennan Cotton Patch BluesBluebird Recordings 1939-42
Alfred Fields '29 BluesChicago Blues 1937-1941
LeadbellyNoted Rider BluesLeadbelly: The Remaining LOCR Vol. 5 1938-1942
Smith Casey Shorty GeorgeTwo White Horses Standin' In Line
Roger "Burn Down Garnett Lighthouse BluesThe Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No. 1
Bukka White Po' BoyThe Complete Bukka White
Rosetta Howard Men Are Like StreetcarsMen Are Like Streetcars
Alberta Hunter Chirpin' The BluesAlberta Hunter Vol. 4 1927-1946
Ida CoxOne Hour MamaThe Essential
Jimmy Yancey State Street Special Hey! Piano Man
Roosevelt Sykes Papa LowThe Essential
Albert Ammons Shout For JoyHey! Piano Man
Mattie May Thomas No Mo' freedom Women from Parchman Penitentiary: Jailhouse Blues
Ace Johnson & L. W. Gooden Mama Don't 'low No Swingin' Out In HereJailhouse Blues
Beatrice Perry I Got A Man On The WheelerField Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Big Bill Broonzy Just A DreamBig Bill Broonzy Vol. 9 1939
Tampa Red Bessemer BluesThe Guitar Wizard: 1935-1953
Big Joe Turner Lovin' Mama BluesBig Joe Turner 1938-1940
Pete JohnsonClimbin' and Screamin'Pete Johnson 1938-1939
Mary James with Four Girls Go 'Way Devil Leave Me Alone Field Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Richard L. Lewis and Wilbert Gilliam Long Freight Train BluesTwo White Horses Standin' In Line
Unidentified performersWe Don't Have No Payday HereLibrary of Congress Website
Blu Lu Barker Lu's BluesBlu Lu Barker 1938-1939
Rosetta CrawfordI'm Tired Of Fattenin' Frogs For SnakesThe 30's Girls
Lonnie Johnson Why Woman Go WrongHe's a Jelly Roll Baker
Johnnie TempleJelly Roll BertThe Very Best Of Teddy Bunn
Merline Johnson Reckless Life BluesMerline Johnson Vol. 2 1938-1939
Memphis Minnie Bad Outside FriendsMemphis Minnie Vol. 4 1938-1939

Show Notes:

Library of Congress Note Cards

Today’s show is the thirteenth installment of an ongoing series of programs built around a particular year. The first year we spotlighted was 1927 which was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. Sales of blues records plummeted in the years 1931 through 1933. Things picked up again in 1934 with the companies recording full-scale again. During this period there was far less recording in the field during this period and in view of the popularity of Chicago singers there was less need. From 1934 until 1945 there were three main race labels, all selling at 35 cents: Decca, the Brunswick Record Corporation's Vocalion, and RCA-Victor's Bluebird. There were two other labels that featured a fair number of blues during this period; the store group Montgomery Ward, with a label of the same name, drew at various times on Gennett, Decca and Bluebird and Sears Roebuck used ARC material on its Conqueror label. Race record sales were up around 15 per cent in 1937. Sales were a bit down by 1938 and by 1939 a quarter of of race releases were gospel, against an eighth the prior year. In the post-'37 years most releases were by established artists: Blind Boy Fuller, Big Bill, Washboard Sam, Tampa Red, Bill Gaither, Walter Davis, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Boy Williamson (Kokomo Arnold and Bumble Slim had stopped recording in 1938).

Outside of the commercial recordings, 1939 was notable for some excellent field recordings captured by John Lomax and Herbert Halpert. Lomax made a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the southern United States beginning in Port Arkansas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, and ending at the Library of Congress on June 14, 1939. Some 700 recordings were made. In 1938 and 1939, folklorist Herbert Halpert traveled through the mid-Atlantic states recording  songs funded in part by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and Columbia University. Most notable were some remarkable recording in the notorious Parchman Farm in 1939.

1939 Decca Advertisement

The Lomax's first visited Parchman in 1933 and returned numerous times to record blues, work songs, spirituals, and personal interviews with inmates. One of the most famous bluesman the Lomax's recorded was Bukka White. In 1937 White recorded a minor hit, “Shake ‘Em On Down,” in Chicago, but that year he was also sentenced for a shooting incident to Parchman, where John Lomax recorded him performing two numbers in 1939. After his release White recorded twelve songs at a Chicago session in 1940. Among the songs he recorded were two songs about his time in prison: "Parchman Farm Blues" and "When Can I Change My Clothes?." Parchman isn't the only prison the Lomax's recorded at; other recordings were made at Cummins State Farm in Gould, Arkansas, Goree State Farm, Women's Camp, near Huntsville, Texas, State Penitentiary ("The Walls"), Huntsville, Texas and the Florida State Prison (Raiford Penitentiary).

One of the best performers the Lomax's recorded was Smith Casey. He was born in 1895, probably in Riverside near Huntsville, and learned music in San Jacinto and Jackson Counties.  While serving time in prison, he performed on a remote weekly radio program from the Huntsville Penitentiary called 'Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls'.  He was paroled in 1945 and moved to Huntsville, dying of tuberculosis in 1950." He was recorded by the Lomax's at Clemens State Farm, Brazoria in Texas on April 16, 1939.

I've always been fascinated by the females who recorded at Parchman and whom I first heard on the album Jailhouse Blues on the Rosetta label. These recordings were made in May and June 1939 by Herbert Halpert in the sewing of the Woman's Camp in Parchman. Camp 13 was the woman's camp where white and black women occupied separate wards. The women's primary work was making clothes for the prisoners, mattresses and bedding. The woman also did canning and helped out in the fields. The Parchamn women were asked to sing a song, any song they chose. There were no restrictions about length or subject, but most of the songs were short and some merely fragments. The best of those singers is the remarkable Mattie May Thomas. Thomas was a senior member at Parchman for she had served twice before. She recorded four sides.

Read Liner Notes

The most prolific artists of 1939 were those performing in the urban blues style such as Curtis Jones (18 sides), Bill Gaither (33 sides), Tampa Red (18 sides), Sonny Boy Williamson I (24 sides), Washboard Sam (16 sides) and Big Bill Broonzy (33 sides). A couple of down home blues artists were popular including Blind Boy Fuller, who had been recording since 1937, and newcomer Tommy McClennan who cut forty sides (at five eight-song sessions), every one issued at the time, between 1939 and 1942.

Some the classic women blues singers reappeared briefly including Trixie Smith (1938-1939), Alberta Hunter (1939) and Ida Cox (1939). Cox was invited to participate in the Carnegie Hall concert series From Spirituals to Swing, (the first concert was in 1938) produced by John Hammond in 1939. It gave her career a much-needed boost and she resumed recording, with a series of sessions for Vocalion Records in 1939 and Okeh Records in 1940. Several other woman singers made notable records including Blu Lou Barker, Memphis Minnie, Merline Johnson and Rosetta Howard among others.


J.T. 'Funny Paper' SmithHoney BluesThe Original Howling Wolf
Bo CarterTellin' You 'Bout ItThe Essential
Chuck NorrisRockin' After HoursThe Fabulous Swing, Jump Blues Guitar Of
Rollie McGill w/Chuck Norris People Are Talkin' The Fabulous Swing, Jump Blues Guitar Of
Brother Son Bonds & Hammie NixonI Want To Live So God Can Use MeBlues Images Vol. 12
The Delta Boys Don't You Want to Know Sleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941
CeDell Davis Lonley NightsKeep It To Yourself - Arkansas Blues Vol. 1
W.C. ClayStanding At My WindowKeep It To Yourself - Arkansas Blues Vol. 1
Luke 'Long Gone' MilesBad Luck ChildCountry Boy
Johnny Fuller Strange LandFuller's Blues
Lafayette ThomasParty With MeOakland Blues
Speckled Red Down On The Levee Speckled Red 1929-1938
Meade "Lux" Lewis Tell Your StoryTell Your Story
Big Bill BroonzyGood Liquor Gonna Carry Me DownThe Young Big Bill Broonzy
Turner Parrish The FivesMama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here
Robert McCoyYou Got To Reap What You SowBye Bye Baby
Robert McCoyDirty DozensBlues And Boogie Woogie Classics
Robert McCoyMcCoy BoogieBlues And Boogie Woogie Classics
Sam Collins New Salty DogJailhouse Blues
Willie BakerCrooked Woman BluesCharley Lincoln & Willie Baker
(John Lee) Sonny Boy Williamson You've Been Foolin' Around Town Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2 1938-1939
Jed DavenportSave Me SomeMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classic
Frank EdwardsGotta Get TogetherJook Joint Blues
Tampa RedYou Got To Reap What You SowThe Essential
Leroy CarrYou Got To Reap What You SowSloppy Drunk
Jazz GillumGot to Reap What You Sow Bill ''Jazz'' Gillum Vol. 2 1938-41
Arthur CrudupYou Gotta Reap Arthur Crudup Vol. 1 1941-1946
Robert Pete WilliamsBetter Have Your WaySugar Farm
Blue Charlie MorrisDon't Bring No FriendBluesin' By The Bayou: I'm Not Jiving
Charlie Singleton Never Trust A WomanCharlie Singleton 1949-1953
Big Jim WynnPut Me Down BluesBig Jim Wynn 1947-1959

Show Notes:

We're back with a live show after a three week break. Lots of interesting records today including a two sets of excellent piano blues, a pair of tracks featuring Son Bonds, two spotlighting guitarist Chuck Norris, two off Keep It To Yourself – Arkansas Blues Vol. 1, a set of songs tracing the history of "You Got To Reap What You Sow", some tough horn blowers and much more.

Read Liner Notes
Read Liner Notes

We devote one of our piano sets to the great but obscure Robert McCoy. McCoy was born in 1912 in Aliceville, AL but raised on Birmingham's North Side and by 1927 was a well-known local artist. Two of McCoy's six brothers, Johnny an Willie, played piano and used to run around with the great Jabo Williams. Cow Cow Davenport and Pinetop Smith played at McCoy's house whenever they were in town and had a profound influence on McCoy. Between March 3rd and April 7th 1937, ARC (The American Record Company) sent a mobile recording unit on a field trip firstly to Birmingham, Alabama in search of new talent. Over a two week period set about recording a number of gospel and blues musicians. Among those were Charlie Campbell, Guitar Slim (George Bedford) and James Sherrill (Peanut The Kidnapper) all of whom were backed by the lively piano of McCoy who did not record under his own name. In 1963 McCoy was recorded by Pat Cather, a teenaged Birmingham blues fan. Cather issued two albums on his Vulcan label: Barrelhouse Blues And Jook Piano and Blues And Boogie Classics. Both albums were cut in extremely small quantities and are very rare. Delmark has reissued some of this material on the CD Bye Bye Baby including some unreleased material and the Oldie label reissued some sides as Blues And Boogie Woogie Classics. In 1964 Vulcan issued a couple of singles and the same year a couple of singles were issued on the Soul-O label (Robert McCoy and His Five Sins) with McCoy backed by an R&B band in an attempt to update his sound. In later years McCoy became a church Deacon. He passed in 1978.

Our other piano set features fabulous sides by Speckled Red, Meade Lux Lewis, Black Bob and Turner Parrish. Little is known about pianists Turner Parrish but census records link him to Indianapolis. Parrish recorded eight songs for Gennett/Champion in Richmond, Indiana at three different sessions, from 1929 to 1933. He covered Leroy Carr’s "My Own Lonesome Blues" and "Fore Day Rider" at his 1932 session although the record has never been found. He also backed up Teddy Moss in 1929. Census records show him living in Indianapolis in 1920 and passing there in 1966.

Very little is known about Black Bob Hudson, except that he was a blues pianist who was active from the 1920's and 1930's. While he didn't cut any sides under his own name he backed a staggering number of renowned artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Jazz Gillum, Lil Johnson, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill Weldon, Tampa Red and many others.Son Bonds 78 Broonzy and Bob cut dozens of sides together between 1934 and 1937 including our featured number, "Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down."

Charles "Chuck" Norris was born in Kansas City, MO. on August 11, 1921. Norris worked in Chicago until the mid-'40s, when he moved out to the West Coast following a failed marriage. Between 1947 and 1951 he recorded several records in Los Angeles for Coast, Imperial, Selective, Mercury and Aladdin. His final two recordings were made in New York City for Atlantic in 1953. He backed artists such as Floyd Dixon, Little Willie Littlefield, Ray Agee and others. He cut a full-length live album titled The Los Angeles Flash in 1980. He passed in 1989.Norris is in fine form on his own " Rockin' After Hours" and backing Rollie McGill on " People Are Talkin'."

Son Bonds was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. He was also billed on record as "Brownsville" Son Bonds and Brother Son Bonds. Sleepy John Estes, in his earlier recordings, was backed by Yank Rachell (mandolin) or Hammie Nixon (harmonica), but by the late 1930s he was accompanied in the recording studio by either Bonds or Charlie Pickett (guitar). Bonds also backed Estes on a couple of recording sessions in 1941. In return, either Estes or Nixon played on every one of Bonds's own recordings. The music to one of Bonds's songs, "Back and Side Blues" (1934), became a standard blues melody when John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson from nearby Jackson, TN, used it in his classic "Good Morning, (Little) School Girl" (1937). According to Nixon, Bonds suffered an accidental death in August 1947. While sitting on his front porch late one evening in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bonds was shot to death by his short-sighted neighbor, who mistook Bonds for another man. we spin "I Want To LIve So God Can Use Me" featuring his pal Hammie Nixon.

A couple of weeks back we traced the history of the song "Some Cold Rainy Day" which was originally recorded by singer Bertha “Chippie” Hill in 1928 with Tampa Red on guitar. The following year Tampa cut "You Got to Reap What You Sow", an instrumental with exactly the same melody. We spin a few version of this song today. That same year Leroy Carr waxed a version of "You Got to Reap What Sow" with lyrics. Other versions of the song were recorded by Mance Lipscomb, Walter Davis, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and others. A gospel song with a similar title has been recorded by several groups but is a different song. The song is based on Galatians 6:7: "…Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" which in various forms has long been a proverbial saying: You gotta reap just what you sow because the Good Book says it." The line shows up in many other blues songs as part of the lyrics but not in the title, notably Charlie Patton's "Pea Vine Blues" from 1929.

Keep It To YourselfA few weeks back we spotlighted sax man Maxwell Davis. We spin a couple of his contemporaries today, Charlie Singleton and Big Jim Wynn. Born in Kansas City around 1930, alto and tenor saxophonist Charlie Singleton went to the same school as Charlie Parker had a few years earlier and even studied with Bird's music teacher Leo Davis. In 1949, Singleton started making records under his own name in New York City.

By the mid 1930s, Wynn had formed his own band and was playing tenor sax at a Watts club called Little Harlem where he first met a dancer by the name of T-Bone Walker. As vocalist and guitarist, Walker began sitting in with the Wynn band; the beginning of an association that was to last for over 17 years. Wynn made his debut in 1945 for the 4Star and Gilt Edge Records, leaving to join the Modern label the following year. The Wynn band recorded sporadically thereafter for Specialty (1947), Supreme, Modern, Peacock (1949), Mercury and Recorded In Hollywood (1951) and Million (1954), recording a final single in 1959 for short-lived Hollywood indie, Great Records. Wynn disbanded his regular combo in the mid 1950s, becoming an indispensable session saxophonist on many of the blues, R&B, pop and soul recordings commissioned by the myriad California independent labels through the late 1950s and 1960s. During the same period, Wynn was also an integral part of Johnny Otis' big R&B revue band, a post he would maintain until the mid 1970s.

Keep It To Yourself – Arkansas Blues Vol. 1 (1983) is a collection of solo blues guitar, harmonica and piano performances recorded in Arkansas in 1976 by Louis Guida under a Bicentennial grant. Guida traversed the state to record in nightclubs, at artists' homes and inside a prison unit. We play tracks by Cedell Davis and W.C. Clay. Clay, was the guitarist on the King Biscuit Time radio show in the early 1950's. Meet Me In The Bottom- Arkansas Blues Vol. 2 has recently been released.


Just a head's up that I'll be out of town the next couple of weeks so there will be no new shows. We will be running some older shows those weeks so tune in live or to the stream. Also make sure to listen to the new  “Jazz90.1 Swing & Blues” stream (see the previous post).


Jazz90.1 WGMC-FM is pleased to announce they will launch a brand new internet radio station beginning this summer. The new stream, “Jazz90.1 Swing & Blues”, will feature 108 hours of classic and new blues music each week from 6 a.m. Monday – 6 p.m. Friday, and big band music all weekend long from 6 p.m. Friday – 6 a.m. Monday. The new internet station is expected to launch by Aug. 1, streaming live on and via its free mobile app for iPhone and Android. The station will include rebroadcast programs already enjoyed on Jazz90.1 FM, such as Sinatra and Co., Dick Robinson’s American Standards by the Sea, Big Band Friday, Blues Spectrum, Big Road Blues and more. Click here for the program schedule.

If you have the Jazz90.1 app for your iPhone or Android device you can be one of the first to check out the new Jazz90.1 Swing and Blues internet radio station! On Monday July 25 at 9 a.m., those with the app can tune in and enjoy our brand new station before anyone else! You can download it for free in the iTunes app store or Google Play Store.


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