ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Mojo BufordDeep Sea Diver Chicago Blues Summit
Mojo BufordMean Old World Chicago Blues Summit
Jimmy CoeAfter Hours JointHonkers & Bar Walkers Vol 1
Memphis Slim & Willie DixonStewballSongs of Memphis Slim and Wee Willie Dixon
Gatemouth MooreWalking My Blues Away Cryin' and Singin' the Blues
Jimmy WitherspoonJust A Country BoyUrban Blues Singing Legend
Bo Carter Bo Carter's AdviceGreatest Hits
Otto Virgil Bad Notion Blues American Primitive Vol. II
Blind Willie McTell Little DeliaAtlanta Twelve String
Willie HeadonBlame It On The BluesBlame It On The Blues
Guitar SlimTrouble Don't LastSufferin' Mind
Big Mama ThorntonCotton Picking BluesThe Original Hound Dog
Roosevelt HoltsCoal Black WomanThe Franklinton Muscatel Society
Roosevelt HoltsBig Road Blues The Franklinton Muscatel Society
Jed DavenportSave Me SomeMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classics
Sleepy John EstesDon't You Want to KnowMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classics
D.C. Bender Woke Up This MorningIn The Alley: Story Of Ivory Records
Big H WilliamsSomebody's DaughterIn The Alley: Story Of Ivory Records
Mississippi John HurtNobody's Dirty BusinessAvalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recording
Henry SpauldingCairo BluesA Richer Tradition
Kid Brown & His Blues BandBo-LitaAmerican Primitive Vol. II
Snooky PryorHold Me in Your ArmsGonna Pitch a Boogie Woogie
Slim HarpoThat Ain't Your BusinessThe Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Vol. 4
Sonny Boy WilliamsonBoppin' With SonnyCool Cool Blues
Elizabeth JohnsonSobbin' Woman Blues A Richer Tradition
Bessie Smith Black Mountain BluesThe Complete Recordings (Frog)
Blu Lu BarkerNew Orleans BluesBlu Lu Barker 1938-1939
Little SylviaDrive, Daddy, Drive
I'm A Bad, Bad Girl

Show Notes:

I want to start off by thanking all those who pledged their support during our Fall membership drive. Talking up the pledge drive always takes some time which is why we usually do mix shows during this period. Today's mix show is bookended on a somber note as we pay tribute to the recent passings of Mojo Buford and Sylvia Robinson. In between we spin a pair of tunes by the little remembered Roosevelt Holts, two cuts from the Houston based Ivory label plus our usual mix of pre-war blues including some fine blues ladies, jug band music and an assortment of well known and forgot bluesman from the 20's and 30's. In addition we spend some time in the 40'sand 50's with some more uptown blues and spin a trio of superb harp blowers.

George “Mojo” Buford was still performing up until a few months ago but unfortunately I never got an opportunity to see him. Buford passing marks the third passing of a member of Muddy Waters band this year including Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Buford passed away Oct. 11th at the age of 81. Buford moved from Mississippi to Chicago around 1953 and wound up joining Muddy Waters' band a few years later as a stand-in for James Cotton. Buford played with Waters off and on until Waters' death in 1983. Buford cut several albums as leader over the years including some very hard-to-find early records for his own label. To my ear his best album was Chicago Blues Summit cut in the late 70's. We open the program with two tracks from that record. The album features Muddy bandmates Pee Wee Madison, Sammy Lawhorn and Sonny Rogers plus Little Smokey Smothers. The album was issued on CD on the Japanese P-vine label. Buford blows some fine harp but the album is really ensemble recording letting these talented musicians really stretch out.

Sylvia Robinson passed away September 29, 2011. Born as Sylvia Vanderpool she began recording in 1950 for Columbia Records under the billing Little Sylvia. In 1954 she began teaming up with guitarist Mickey Baker, billed as Mickey & Sylvia. The duo had several R&B hits including “Love Is Strange,” a No. 1 R&B song in 1957. She married Joe Robinson 1959 and the two formed All Platinum Records. In the 1970s, the Robinson's founded Sugar Hill Records. She was the mastermind behind the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the first hip-hop single to become a commercial hit. Some called her “the mother of hip-hop.” For our tribute, however, we go back to the roots and play the jumping “Drive, Daddy, Drive” from 1952 backed by the Buddy Lucas Orchestra.

We spin two today from Roosevelt Holts, one of those great bluesman who seems destined for obscurity. In the liner notes to his first LP, David Evans wrote: "If he had been able to get to a record studio in the 1930's, his records would now be highly prized collector's items, reissued on albums and talked about by blues fans everywhere. He might have even been 'rediscovered' and brought north to the cities for concerts and coffee house engagements before an audience of young whites who were not even born when he recorded his famous numbers." Still, we should be fortunate that Holts was recorded at all and we have Evans to thank. Evans found him in the 1960's in Louisiana resulting in two LP's (both out of Little Sylvia: Drive, Daddy, Driveprint): Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon,1966) and Roosevelt Holts and Friends (Arhoolie, 1969-1970). Several other tracks appear on equally obscure anthologies. Today's selections come from the CD The Franklinton Muscatel Society and collect sides he cut between 1965-1969 and also feature his brother Herlin Holts and L. V. Conerly.

Holts started to get serious about music in the late 1930's when he encountered Tommy Johnson. Around 1937 both men moved to Jackson playing all around town and surrounding towns. During this period he also played with Ishmon Bracey, Johnnie Temple, Bubba Brown, and One Legged Sam Norwood.

We spotlight a pair of songs today from the collection In The Alley: The Best Of Ivory Records. The label was formed by musician Ivory Lee Semiens. Semiens moved from Louisiana to Houston in 1950 and formed Ivory by the end of the decade. The label issued singles by fine Houston bluesman like Lightnin' Hopkins, Earl Gilliam, Hop Wilson, D.C. Bender and Big H Williams. Today's tracks are by the latter two artists both cut in 1967. I don't know much about Williams, but Bender was an active session guitarists on the Houston scene, cutting just a few sides under his own name, but backing artists such as Mabel Franklin, Big Son Tillis, Calvin Johnson and others.

We play a bunch of superb blues ladies today including, perhaps, the greatest of them all, Bessie Smith. Throughout the 20's there a staggering number of blues woman recorded, some had long, prolific careers like Victoria Spivey, Alberta Hunter, Clara Smith, Ma Rainey and became stars that are still remembered today. Many other fine singers from the era remain utterly forgotten like Elizabeth Johnson who we feature today. She cut two terrific 78's for Okeh in 1928 and an unissued 78 for Vocalion in 1929. To me Bessie remains the greatest out of a crowded field and our selection, “Black Mountain Blues”, is a typically fine example:

Back in Black Mountain, a child will smack your face (2x)
Babies cryin' for liquor, and all the birds sing bass

Black Mountain people are bad as they can be (2x)
They uses gunpowder just to sweeten their tea

Back in Black Mountain, can't keep a man in jail (2x)
If the jury finds him guilty, the judge'll throw they bail

Had a man in Black Mountain, sweetest man in town (2x)
He met a city gal, and he throwed me down

I'm bound for Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun (2x)
I'm gonna shoot him if he stands still, and cut him if he runs

Down in Black Mountain, they all shoot quick and straight (2x)
The bullet'll get you, if you start dodgin' too late

Got the devil in my soul, and I'm full of bad booze (2x)
I'm out here for trouble, I've got the Black Mountain blues

Nothing is known about Elizabeth Johnson who cut four fine sides including a two part cover of Bessie's “Empty Bed Blues” backed by King Oliver. Billed as Elizabeth Johnson & Her Turpentine Tree-O she cut "Sobbin' Woman Blues b/w Be My Kid Blues” with the band providing an eccentric backing of cornet, guitar and percussive woodblocks.

During the heyday of race recording the record companies (except Paramount) headed down south and set up mobile recording units to find artists for an audience that was buying blues records in huge numbers. Among those that were recorded were those that went on to long illustrious careers and those that waxed just a side or two before receding back into obscurity. To get some indication of the talented bluesman who the commercial companies overlooked we can look the the field recording done during this period. Folks like John and Alan Lomax and Lawrence Gellert recorded some remarkable blues during this period. Then there were other artists, like the aforementioned Roosevelt Holts, who were active during this period but didn't get the opportunity to record until the blues revival of the 1960's. It's interesting to conjecture how many fine blues performers were never captured on record and my bet is that there were more than a few. Going back to the early days of blues record collecting there's always been the allure of those artists who we know nothing about, like the previously mentioned Elizabeth Johnson, but left behind one or two brilliant records. We spin a few of those records today including sides by Otto Virgil, Henry Spaulding and Kid Brown And His Blues Band.

Mississippian Otto Virgil recorded two superb 78's in Chicago for Bluebird on Halloween in 1925. Big Joe Williams once recalled that Otto Virgil (or Virgial) was from the area of Columbus, MS., and could usually be found playing with another native by the name of Tom Turner. Henry Spaulding cut the lone 78 "Cairo Blues b/w Biddle Street Blues" for Brunswick in 1929. In his memoir, A Blues Life, Henry Townsend recalled Spaulding: "Harry and I worked together periodically. He worked at the moving van company on Twenty-third and Carr. …And if Harry didn't go out, we'd get the guitars and go out and serenade all around everywhere, walk the streets. We had a district we'd like to go in, and we'd head down there because we knew we'd get together with a crowd and gets some quarters and dimes, have all the drinks we needed, and have a lot of fun." Nothing is known about Kid Brown And His Blues Band who cut one side for Black Patti, "Bo-lita", with the other side featuring Al Miller’s “Saturday Night Hymn.” This is an extremely rare record, perhaps two to three known copies, with a copy selling at auction last year for over $4,000.

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