Entries tagged with “Eddie Boyd”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Dusty Brown Will You Forgive Me BabyBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Dusty Brown Well You Know (I Love You)Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Jimmy Lee RobinsonAll My LifeBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Jimmy Lee RobinsonTimes Is HardBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Grover Pruitt Mean TrainBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Bobby DavisHype You Into Selling Your HeadBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
George & His House RockersYou Don't Love MeChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Sunnyland SlimRecession BluesChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Henry GrayHow Can You Do ItChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Eddy ClearwaterNeckbones EverydayChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Eddy ClearwaterA Minor Cha ChaChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Morris PejoeLet's Get HighChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jimmy RogersI'm A Lucky Lucky ManChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jo Jo WilliamsAll Pretty WomanChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jo Jo WilliamsYou Can't Live In This Big World By YourselfChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Lonnie BrooksFigure HeadThe USA Records Blues Story
Mighty Joe YoungTough TimesThe USA Records Blues Story
Fenton RobinsonDirectly From HeartThe USA Records Blues Story
Fenton RobinsonSay Your Leavin'The USA Records Blues Story
Willie MabonSometimes I Wonder The USA Records Blues Story
Willie MabonJust Got SomeThe USA Records Blues Story
J.B. LenoirI Feel So GoodThe USA Records Blues Story
J.B. LenoirI Sing Um The Way I Feel Mojo Boogie
Jesse FortuneGood ThingsThe USA Records Blues Story
Jesse FortuneToo Many CooksThe USA Records Blues Story
Homesick JamesCrossroadsThe USA Records Blues Story
Hound Dog TaylorYou Don't Love MeChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Earl Hooker Wild MomentsChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Eddie ShawBlues For The West SideChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Big Moose WalkerThe Things I Used To DoChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Little Mac Simmons Come BackChicago Blues from C.J. Records
William Carter Goin' Out WestChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Lee Jackson JaunitaChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Jimmy RogersBlues FallingC.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2
Jimmy RogersBroken HeartC.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2

Show Notes:

jimmy Lee Robinson: All My LifeToday's show is the first part of our look at small Chicago blues labels in the 1950's and 1960's. Over the course of today's program we spotlight four small Chicago labels that issued some great records: Bandera, Atomic-H, C.J. and USA. Atomic-H was run by Rev. Houston. H. Harrington who operated the label between the mid-50's up until 1961. The tiny Bandera label was formed in 1958 and run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. C.J. Records was run by singer/songwriter Carl Jones who waxed some fine sides in the early 60's. The USA label was operated by Paul Glass who cut some excellent records during the 60's. The four labels recorded singles by artists such as Detroit Junior, Hound Dog Taylor, Little Mack Simmons, Homesick James, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmie Lee Robinson and Earl Hooker – great Chicago artists who all recorded numerous singles for Chicago's small labels, few of which made any noise outside of Chicago. Many of these artists hopped from label to label, rarely staying long at one place while others were snapped up by larger labels like Chess and Vee-Jay.

All-State Record Distributing head Paul Glass began the USA label in Milwaukee in 1959 in partnership with deejay Lee Rothman. By 1961 Glass had taken complete control of USA and had moved it to Chicago. Initially, most of the artists were blues performers, notably Willie Mabon, Junior Wells, Ko Ko Taylor, Ricky Allen, and Fenton Robinson. Other USA bluesmen were Andrew Brown, Eddy Clearwater, A. C. Reed, Jesse Fortune, Jimmy Burns, and Homesick James. Producers on these records included Willie Dixon, Al Perkins, Al Smith, and Mel London. Most of the artists only stuck around fo a single or two before trying their luck elsewhere. Beginning in 1966, the label began concentrating on rock acts. However, occasional blues and hard soul acts continued to be released, such as Mighty Joe Young and Bobby Jones. USA closed down in 1969. During the early 1970's, the USA label was briefly revived under different ownership, releasing singles by Lonnie Brooks and Jackie Ross, Eddie Shaw: Blues From The West Sideamong others.

CJ. Records was owned by a black entrepreneur named Carl Jones and was essentially a boutique operation run from his home. Carl and Cadillac Baby carved out a niche  for themselves by working and helping to establish homegrown talent, many who went on to build nice careers  for themselves with a few like Hound Dog Taylor and Betty Everett who achieved national recognition. Jones was a musician himself (banjo and trumpet) in the 1930s, and in 1945 he recorded two sides for Mercury. In 1956 Jones founded the C.J. label, eventually followed by subsidiary imprints Colt and Firma. Although he recorded some country and some gospel, the bulk of his output was in the blues field, having recorded Earl Hooker, Mack Simmons, Hound Dog Taylor, Homesick James, Betty Everett, and Detroit Junior. Jones’s record company had no distribution during its last two decades of existence.

The tiny Bandera record label was launched in 1958 in Chicago, where it was over-shadowed by the Windy City's giant indie labels Chess and Vee-Jay. The label was run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. They never had an office but ran the label from their home at 2437 West 34th Place. Muszynski was an ardent talent spotter and hung out in many of the clubs on the south side of Chicago where she was a well-known figure. On Chicago's 'Record Row', Violet was known as "Vi the record lady". Bernie recalls that she was a great hustler, into PR and record promotion and very good at schmoozing. Her greatest discovery was the Impressions, at the time when Jerry Butler was lead vocalist. She signed the Impressions to a recording contract and got them leased to Vee-Jay. Bernie recalls, "That got us the money to set up Bandera and paid for recording sessions at RCA in Nashville for my newest discovery, Bob Perry". Bernie hit on a name for their new label, Bandera, taking it from one of Slim Whitman's early hits "Bandera Waltz.." Many of the recording sessions for Bandera were held at small Chicago recording studios such as Hall and Balkan, while studios in Memphis and Nashville were also utilized. Vi and Bernie also set up a couple of subsidiary labels: Laredo and the gospelFenton Robinson: Say You're Leavin'label, Jerico Road.

Atomic-H Records was a tiny label that recorded blues and gospel but only issued a few 45s. It was owned and operated by Rev. Houston H. Harrington who was also Eddy Clearwater's uncle and was responsible for Eddy making his way to Chicago from Alabama. Houston began recording his fellow musicians in the 40's on a portable disc-cutting machine while living in Mississippi although none of these were issued. After he settled on Chicago's West Side in the early 1940s, and started his short-lived record label in the 1950s and revived it briefly in the early 1970s. The first Atomic  single  (the  H  came  later). cut in  Iate  1953  in Harrington's basement studio  at  1651  S.  Trumbull  and  likely  Issued sometime  in 1955, was credited to "Jick & His Trio" (actually Homesick James). Around 1958 he grew more serious about recording, cutting singles over the next few years by Jo Jo Williams, Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy Rogers, Eddy Clearwater, Morris Pejoe and others. Most of Atomic-H's singles were limited to 500 pressings making them extremely rare. Delmark’s 1972 Atomic-H collection, Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band, may have been the first time any of these tracks were widely heard and has since been issued on CD with additional tracks.

Share
ARTISTSONGALBUM
Walter HortonCan't Help Myself Blues Southside Chicago
Johnny Young One More TimeBlues Southside Chicago
Homesick JamesCrutch And CaneBlues Southside Chicago
Billy Boy Arnold & Johnny JonesGoing To The RiverChicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
Billy Boy Arnold & Johnny JonesSloppy DrunkChicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
Howlin' WolfSugar MamaBlues From Big Bill's Copacabana
Muddy WatersSitting And ThninkingBlues From Big Bill's Copacabana
Muddy WatersWee, Wee Baby Blues From Big Bill's Copacabana
Johnny Young The Sun Is Shining And This Is Maxwell Street
Big John WrencherCan´t Hold Out Much LongerAnd This Is Maxwell Street
Carey BellI'm Ready And This Is Maxwell Street
L.C. McKinleyMind Your BusinessHave A Good Time
Homesick James Little And Low Have A Good Time
Walter HortonHave A Good TimeHave A Good Time
Earl Hooker Peppers Other ThingLive At Peppers Lounge Vol. 2
Lonnie Brooks Sweet Little AngelLive At Peppers 1968
Sunnyland SlimEverytime I Get To Drinking Blues Southside Chicago
Robert NighthawkLula MaeBlues Southside Chicago
Eddie BoydLosing HandBlues Southside Chicago
James BrewerBig Road Blues Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
John Henry BarbeeTell Me Baby Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
Maxwell Street JimmyLong-Haired DoneyChicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
Little Johnny JonesWorried Life BluesLive In Chicago With Billy Boy Arnold
Little Johnny JonesOuch! Live In Chicago With Billy Boy Arnold
Robert Nighthawk I Need Love So BadAnd This Is Maxwell Street
Robert Nighthawk Cheating And Lying BluesAnd This Is Maxwell Street
Muddy WatersClouds In My HeartBlues From Big Bill's Copacabana

Show Notes:

Blues Southside Chicago
Read Liner Notes

Today show is part two in a series of shows devoted to Chicago blues of the 1960's. Today we spotlight several collections of Chicago blues recorded in the 1960's some of which are somewhat rare or not particularly well known. Among the studio albums we spotlight today are Blues Southside Chicago and its companion album Have A Good Time – Chicago Blues. In addition we feature some great live blues from the albums Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle, Little Johnny Jones and Billy Boy ArnoldBlues From Big Bill's Copacabana, Live At Peppers Lounge, And This Is Maxwell Street among a few others.

Blues Southside Chicago Is a superb collection of Chicago blues artists recorded by Willie Dixon in 1964 and originally issued on UK Decca and reissued by Flyright in 1976. Additional sides from this session appeared on Have A Good Time – Chicago Blues issued in 1970 on the Sunnyland label which is also out of print. Mike Leadbitter discusses the aim of the record in his liner notes: "This album was recorded In Chicago's Southside by Willie Dixon with one aim in mind-to provide the English enthusiast with blues played as they are played in the clubs, without gimmicks and without interfering A & R men. This album is not intended to be commercial in any way and by using top artists and top session men an LP has been produced that doesn't sound as cold as studio recordings usually do." In a 1977 interview pianist Henry Gray recalled this session: "I remember, in 1964, Willie Dixon was asked by an English company to produce a couple of so-called Southside Chicago sessions. [Dixon was a very close friend of Howlin' Wolf and they talked together about that;] Wolf was not personally interested but he induced me to go and support some of the artists chosen by Dixon…Poor Bob Woodfork, Robert Nighthawk, Shakey Horton. That was issued on British Decca label. Yeah, I think it was representative of the kind of music we were playing in the Southside clubs at that time."

Walter Horton always sounded best on other people's records but comes across magnificently on "Can't Help Myself" which opens with a lengthy upper register harmonica solo before Horton's plaintive, impassioned vocals kick in. Horton's harmonica work is stunning and it's a shame he gets consistently overshadowed by Little Walter.

Certainly one of the highlights is the two marvelous songs by Robert Nighthawk. "Lula Mae" is a cover of the 1944 Tampa Red song and it was Tampa who was Nighthawk's main influence. This is an exceedingly tough Chicago blues with Nighthawk's heavy, gloomy vocals hanging over the song punctuated by the waling amplified harp of Walter Horton. "Merry Christmas" (Nighthawk cut another version for Testament the same year) is more of the same again with some extroverted playing by Horton.

Johnny Young, who plays second guitar on the above sides, was a pal of Nighthawk's and the two often played together on Maxwell Street. Young was a brilliant mandolin and guitar player who like Nighthawk was sadly under recorded. Backed by the same band as Nighthawk, Young is in fine form on the stripped down, heartfelt "Little Girl" laying down some intricate mandolin work while the shuffling "One MoreFolk Festival of the Blues Time" virtually pops out of the speakers again with some dazzling harp from Horton.

Like Nighthawk, Homesick James was a bottleneck guitarist but with a more rudimentary technique, owing quite a bit to his cousin Elmore James. By the time of these recordings he was relatively under recorded with some scattered singles and one full length album cut for Prestige a few months prior. The combination of Homesick's ringing bottleneck and emotionally charged vocals make a potent force on "Got To Move" and "Crutch And Cane" a thinly disguised version of "Look On Yonder Wall."

Leadbitter calls the piano blues a dying art form and these days the tradition is hanging on by a lifeline. Back then there was still numerous fine piano men including Henry Gray (still with us thankfully) and Willie Mabon who back some of the other artists on this collection and Sunnyland Slim and Eddie Boyd who get two sides apiece under their own names. Sunnyland is in commanding form, hollering out the blues with abandon on the shuffling "I Got To Get To My Baby" and the regal "Everytime I Get To Drinking" a number he first waxed back in 1949, both sporting marvelous solos by Buddy Guy. Boyd is in equally strong form on "Losing Hand" and the bouncy "Where You Belong" again with outstanding contributions from Buddy guy.

Little Johnny Jones recorded little under his own name, never making it past his 40th birthday. Luckily Jones was caught on tape in 1963 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. Additional tracks from this recording appear on Chicago Blues – Live At The Fickle Pickle, a long out of print LP on the Flyright label. The Fickle Pickle was a club on Rush Street in Chicago managed at one time by Michael Bloomfield. Regulars included Big Joe Willies, St. Louis Jimmy, James Brewer, Billy Boy Arnold, Little Johnny Jones, J.B. Lenoir and others.

Originally released as Folk Festival of the Blues on Chess's Argo subsidiary, then reissued as Blues from Big Bill's Copacabana, this is a live document of a steamy night in a Chicago blues club. Chicago blues disc jockey Big Bill Hill intros the band and the assembled stars (one of whom, Little Walter, is nowhere to be found on this disc), then Buddy Guy's band rips into "Wee Wee Baby," and sung in three-part harmony by Buddy, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. Some of the tracks here are ringers; Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bring It On Home" and a stray Buddy Guy track are actually studio takes with fake applause dubbed on. But the two from Howlin' Wolf and everything here from Muddy are live.

And This Is Maxwell Street is a three-disc set features the street recordings from the 1964 Mike Shea film documentary, And This Is Free, plus a slew of previously unreleased performances of equal importance. These recordings were recorded live on Chicago's Maxwell Street, a mecca for bluesman trying to hustle a few bucks from the passing crowd. The 30 tracks contain wonderful performances by Maxwell Street regulars such as Robert Nighthawk, Johnny Young, Carey Bell, Arvella Gray, Big John Wrencher and several others.

Chicago Blues: Live At The Fickle Pickle
Read Liner Notes

After a long absence Nighthawk returned to Chicago in 1964 and recorded several times including a blistering set taped live on Maxwell St. in conjunction with the filming of Mike Shea's 1964 documentary "And This is Free." Maxwell St. was at the heart of Chicago's black ghetto and was a bustling open air market. Above all it's the music of legendary slide man Robert Nighthawk who dominates these recordings playing on 22 of the 30 tracks. In an interview done by Mike Bloomfield, Nighthawk, reflected on what brought him back to Maxwell Street: "Lately I went back to Maxwell St.- I been playing off and on for 24 years now. Most all music more or less starts right off from Maxwell St. and so you wind up going back there. …See it's more hard to play out in the street than it is in a place of business, but you have more fun in the street, looks like. Well, so many things you can see, so many different things going on, I get a kick out of it, I guess."

In 1975 Rarities Records put out two boottleg albums: Live At Peppers Lounge Vols. 1 & 2. The recordings were made in 1969 at Pepper's Lounge in Chicago. While the records have some good music the credits are incorrect; Little Walter and Eddie Taylor do not appear on these records despite the credits. The club featured great blues musicians, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Shakey Jake, Otis Rush, Junior Wells, Magic Sam, and Buddy Guy.  Waters was a mainstay in the 1960's, and Chicago locals could catch his show for eight dollars. In 1971, the club moved to 1321 S. Michigan Avenue. Today we play a great Earl Hooker cut from the second volume. Unfortunately I couldn't locate my copy of the first volume so instead we play a killer  my cut by Lonnie Brooks recorded at Peppers in 1968.

Share
ARTISTSONGALBUM
Willie MabonMichelleI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Willie MabonInterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Willie MabonI'm HungryI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
James BrewerI Don't Want No Woman, She Got Hair Like Drops Of RainI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
James BrewerInterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
James BrewerBig Road BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Eddie Boyd Five Long YearsI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Eddie Boyd InterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Eddie Boyd Her Picture In A FrameI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Johnny YoungWhy Did You Break My HeartI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Johnny YoungBetter Cut It OutI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Sunnyland SlimIt's You BabyI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Sunnyland SlimSunnyland's JumpI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Walter HortonTrouble In MindI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Walter HortonLouise LouiseI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Walter HortonLet's Have A Good TimeI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Washboard SamBooker T BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Washboard SamAll By MyselfI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
John Lee GrandersonEasy StreetI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
John Lee GrandersonInterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Avery Brady Gangster's BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Avery Brady InterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Little Brother MontgomeryWest Texas BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Little Brother MontgomeryInterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Little Brother MontgomeryUp The Country BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Arvella GrayJohn HenryI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Arvella GrayInterviewI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
St. Louis Jimmy Can't Stand Your Evil WaysI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
St. Louis Jimmy Poor Boy BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Big Joe WilliamsSouthern BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 3
Big Joe WilliamsRootin' GroundhogI Blueskvarter Vol. 3

Show Notes:

Today's show is part one in a series of shows devoted to Chicago blues of the 1960's. Today we spotlight remarkable recordings made for a documentary titled I Blueskvarter, Swedish for In Blues Quarters. The bulk of today's notes come from Scott Baretta who wrote the notes for the series; Scott also edited the Swedish blues magazine Jefferson, is currently the host of the Highway 61 radio show for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is head writer and researcher (with Jim O’Neal) for the Mississippi Blues Trail, and former editor of Living Blues magazine. In fact it was through Scott that I got a copy of the first volume of I Blueskvarter  more than a decade ago.

Olle Helander
Olle Helander

These recordings were made by Olle Helander, a radio host for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation who traveled to Chicago in 1964 for the express purpose of recording the blues. In addition there were trips to New Orleans and Memphis all of which were the raw material for the 21 part documentary radio series I Bluekvarter which first aired on Swedish Radio in the Autumn of 1964. Outside of poor sounding bootlegs, these recordings sat on the shelf for over thirty years until release in the beginning in the late 1990's by the folks who run the Swedish blues magazine Jefferson. The recordings were released as three 2- CD sets and feature intimate recordings by Willie Mabon, James Brewer, Champion Eddie Boyd, Yank Rachell, Johnny Young, Sunnyland Slim, Walter Horton as well as Babe Stovall, Snooks Eaglin and others. The recording trip documented on this show wasn't Helander's first to "the blues quarters".  In 1961 Helander spent several months visiting the music scenes of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. Helander arrived in Chicago with the vague idea of investigating the blues, but initially had no luck tracing down blues artists until a chance meeting with the guitarist Big Joe Williams. Hiring Williams as a guide, Helander soon met up with Willie Dixon, Chicago’s premier blues talent scout and producer, as well as a number of the artists he would record in 1964: Sunnyland Slim, Arvella Gray, James Brewer, Little Brother Montgomery, and St. Louis Jimmy Oden.

Unlike his 1961 trip, Helander returned in 1964 with a clearer mission. In order to insure good sound quality, Helander hand-picked the sound-technician Hans Westman, whom he regarded as Swedish Radio's best, and armed with a portable Nagra tape recorder and four channel mixer, they set off to the States. The two landed in New York on May the 4th, and after making the rounds in the city’s jazz scene over the next days, arrived in Chicago on the 11th. Helander and Westman spent several days preparing their recording sessions, spending time with Willie Dixon, as well as Pete Welding of Testament Records and DownBeat magazine, and Bob Koester, owner of Delmark Records. The blues recordings commenced on May 14th. Not having the budget to book a conventional recording studio, the only suitable place they could find was the Sutherland Lounge, at 4569 South Drexel Avenue in Chicago’s South Side. Conducting sessions on five separate occasions, they would leave Chicago with ninety-nine full takes from fourteen different artists/units. Below you will find background on some of today's featured artists.

For me, and others whose opinion I value, the recordings made by Walter Horton are a high water mark. As Barretta writes: "It’s probably no accident that Helander chose as his introductory theme Walter Horton’s 'Trouble In Mind', the eerie sounds of his lonesome harmonica, accompanied sparsely by Robert Nighthawk on guitar, about as far as one could get from the schlager and pop music dominating the Swedish charts of 1964. As a rather shy, quiet I Blueskavrter Vol. 1individual, Horton never had much taste for leading his own bands or recording sessions. Horton was much more comfortable in a supporting role and as writer Neal Slavin wrote “was one of the few musicians capable of elevating the slightest material into something approaching a masterpiece.”

James Brewer was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi on 1920 and moved to Chicago in the 1940's where he spent the latter part of his life busking and performing both blues and religious songs at blues and folk festivals, on Chicago's Maxwell Street and other venues. In 1962, however, he was offered an opportunity to play blues at a concert at Northwestern University and also began a regular gig at the No Exit Cafe which lasted for two decades. He went on to play major festivals and clubs in the United States, Canada and Europe. His first recordings appear on Blues From Maxwell Street (Heritage, 1960), cut several sides for Pete Welding in 1964, the same he was recorded during the making of the documentary And The Is Free and cut the full-length albums Jim Brewer (Philo, 1974) and Tough Luck (Earwig, 1983).

John Lee Granderson, Avery Brady and Arvella Gray all performed on Maxwell Street, and all under-recorded. In addition to the full length Hard Luck John (issued posthumously in 1998), Tennessee bluesman John Lee Granderson cut sides on other Testament compilations with further sides appearing on various anthologies. Among those Granderson played with were Robert Nighthawk, Big Joe Williams and Daddy Stovepipe. Brady's first recordings were made for this documentary. A few more songs by Avery were recorded that year and few in 1965 that were issued on the Testament and Storyville labels. He never recorded again. Gray made his first recordings in 1960 (released on the Heritage label) and in early 1964 he made sides for his own Gray label, selling the 45's on the street. In 1964, like James Brewer, he was also recorded for the documentary And This Is Free. He was regular performer on Maxwell Street on Sundays. Gray's only album, 1972's The Singing Drifter was reissued on the Conjuroo label in 2005.

Captured were several artists active in the pre-war years incluing Washboard Sam, St. Louis Jimmy and Little Brother Montgomery. Washboard Sam was one of the most popular and prolific blues artists of the 30's and 40's. Between 1935 and 1949 he recorded hundreds of sides for RCA's Bluebird and Victor labels. His last commercial session was a date with Big Bill Broonzy for Chess in 1953. These recordings were his first recordings in a decade. St. Louis Jimmy Oden made his debut back in 1932 but when recorded for these sessions he was mainly working as a songwriter, although he did cut a full-length album for Bluesville as recently as 1960.

In addition to Little Brother Montgomery, several other pianists were captured during the trip including Willie Mabon, Eddie Boyd and Sunnyland Slim. Mabon made his debut in 1949 but it was his 1952 debut release on the Parrot label, "I Don't Know," topped the R&B charts for eight weeks after being sold to Chess. From then on, Mabon was a Chess artist, returning to the top R&B slot the next year with "I'm Mad" and the Top Ten "Poison Ivy" in 1954. Although he didn't score any he big hits after Chess he continued cutting solid sides for  Federal in 1957, Mad in 1960, Formal in 1962, and USA 1963-64. He moved to Paris in 1972.

I Blueskavrter Vol. 2In 1941, Boyd settled in Chicago. He backed Sonny Boy Williamson on his 1945 classic "Elevator Woman," also accompanying Bluebird stars Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red, and Jazz Gillum on wax. Boyd made his 1947 debut for RCA staying with the label through 1949. Boyd reportedly paid for the date that produced "Five Long Years" himself, selling the track to JOB Records where it topped the R&B charts during 1952. Al Benson signed Boyd to a contract with his Parrot label and promptly sold it to Chess. At Chess he waxed "24 Hours" and "Third Degree," both huge R&B hits in 1953 and several other fine sides. Boyd became enamored of Europe during his tour with the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival, so he moved to Belgium. He recorded prolifically during the late '60sand in the early '70s settled in Helsinki where he played often and lived until his death.

For more than 50 years Sunnyland Slim rumbled the ivories around the Windy City, playing with virtually every local luminary imaginable and backing the great majority in the studio at one time or another. Slim moved to Chicago in 1939 and set up shop as an in-demand piano man, playing for a spell with John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson before making his debut in 1947. Slim recorded prolifically until his death in 1995.

Share
ARTISTSONGALBUM
Dave AlexanderLove Is Just For Fools Oakland Blues
Dave AlexanderCold Feelin' The Dirt On The Ground
Dave AlexanderThe RattlerThe Rattler
Joe DeanMexico Bound Blues Down In Black Bottom
Charlie Spand Rock And RyeRoots N' Blues: Booze & The Blues
Walter ColemanCarry Your Good Stuff Home Rare Country Blues Vol. 3
Pete Johnson & Joe TurnerLovin' Mama BluesBoogie Woogie And Blues Piano
Ramp Davis Rampart Street Blues California Jump Blues
Lucky Enois QuartetKC Limited Pt. 2California Jump Blues
Etta James Something's Got A Hold On MeEtta Rocks The House
Etta James You Know What I MeanThe Complete Modern and Kent Recordings
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie NixonYour Best Friend's Gone Lost Blues Tapes: More American Folk Blues Festival 1963-65
Memphis SlimBlues EverywhereLost Blues Tapes: More American Folk Blues Festival 1963-65
Johnny OtisNew Orleans ShuffleMidnight At The Barrelhouse
Johnny OtisI Believe I'll Go Back HomeCold Shot /Snatch And The Poontangs
Eli FramerFramer's Blues Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Clifford GibsonIce And Snow BluesClifford Gibson 1929-1931
Louis LaskyTeasin' Brown BluesNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Eddie BoydLife Gets To Be A BurdenChess Piano Greats
Eddie BoydGot Lonesome HereChess Piano Greats
Eddie "Cleanhead" VinsonCleanhead's BluesThe Johnny Otis Show Live at Monterey
Pee Wee Crayton The Things I Used To DoThe Johnny Otis Show Live at Monterey
Rosa HendersonLow Down Daddy Blues Rosa Henderson Vol. 3 1924-1926
Josh WhiteHow Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone?Freedom: The Golden Gate Quartet & Josh White At The Library Of Congress
Blind Willie McTellSouthern Can Is MineThe Classic Early recordings 1927-1940
Johnny OtisJohnny Otis Radio Show Signature Tune Rock Me Baby: The Mercury And Peacock Sides
Johnny OtisAll Night LongMidnight At The Barrelhouse
Etta JamesSoul of a ManNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice

Show Notes:

It's already starting out to be a bad year for the blues with the recent deaths of Dave Alexander, Johnny Otis and Etta James. We pay tribute to all three on today's show as well as featuring twin spins of  Eddie Boyd, a pair of cuts from the American Folk Blues Festival and some fine pre-war blues numbers.

Read Liner Notes

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1938, Dave Alexander (he later changed his name to Omar Shariff) grew up in Marshall, Texas and moved to Oakland, California, in 1957. There played with Big Mama Thornton, Jimmy Witherspoon, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins. Later in 1968, he recorded his first songs for the World Pacific label release called Oakland Blues, a compilation album of artists from that city. This is a great collection that has never been issued on CD featuring fine cuts from Lafayette Thomas, L.C. Robinson as well as Alexander. We open the show from that album with "Love Is Just For Fools" featuring backing from Albert Collins and George "Harmonica" Smith.

Alexander performed at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in 1970, and played at the San Francisco Blues Festival, many times from 1973 onward. He recorded a pair of albums, The Rattler (1972) and The Dirt on the Ground (1973), for the Arhoolie label. In the 90's he recorded a trio of albums for the small blues label Have Mercy. In the 2000's Alexander lived and performed mostly in the Sacramento area. He died on January 8, 2012.

Etta James died Jan. 20th in Riverside, Calif. She was 73. Etta James began her professional recording career in 1954, auditioning at the age of 14 for bandleader Johnny Otis before recording her first singles for Modern Records in Los Angeles with her vocal group, The Peaches. Her first single, "The Wallflower" (aka "Roll With Me Henry"), an answer song to Hank Ballard's 1954 #1 R&B hit "Work With Me Annie," hit #1 on Billboard's R&B chart in 1955, and "Good Rockin' Daddy" reached #6 on the chart the same year. When some disc jockeys complained that the title was too suggestive, the name was changed to “The Wallflower.” In 1960 she was signed by Chess Records and quickly had a string of hits, including “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Trust in Me” and “At Last,” which established her as Chess’s first major female star. She remained with Chess well into the 1970s, reappearing on the charts after a long absence in 1967 with “Tell Mama.” In the late ’70s and early ’80s she was an opening act for the Rolling Stones.

We stick mainly to the early years spinning a fine early Modern number "You Know What I Mean" and her bruising "Something's Got A Hold On Me" from Etta Rocks The House which has to rank as one of the greatest live blues record. The set was cut at Nashville's New Era club in 1962 in front of a raucous crowd. We close the show with the impassioned "Soul Of A Man", a previously unissued cut that can be found on a 3-CD Chess box set.

The following comes from Midnight at the Barrelhouse a biography of Johnny Otis written by George George Lipsitz who I interviewed back in 2010: "From the moment Johnny Otis first arrived in Los Angeles in 1943, everyday seemed to offer a marvelous new experience. He led the house band at the club Alabam and later opened his own nightclub, the Barrelhouse, in Watts. As a recording artist, he succeeded in placing fifteen songs on the best-seller charts from 1950 to 1952. Otis had one of the biggest pop music hist of all time with "Willie and the Hand Jive" in 1958. He composed top-selling songs that became successes for other artists as well including "Every Beat of My Heart" for Gladys Knight and then Pips, "So Fine" for the Fiestas, "Roll With Me Henry", which became the "Wallflower" for Etta James, and "Dance With Me Henry" for Georgia Gibbs." As a promoter, producer, and talent scout for Savoy, King , Duke. and other independent record labels, Otis discovered and launched the careers of Etta James, Hank Ballard, Esther Phillips, Jackie Wilson, Big Mama Thornton, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Linda Hopkins, and Little Willie John, among others. He produced big hits for Little Esther, Etta James, and Johnny Ace, as well as less commercially successful but even more artistically triumphant recordings by Charles Williams, Barbara Morrrison, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris.

As a musician, Otis played the drums on Big Mama Thornton's recording of "Hound Dog", on Illinois Jacquet's "Flying Home", and Lester Young's "Jammin' With Lester." Otis provided the hauntingly beautiful vibraphone accompaniment to Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love", played vibes on his own recording of "Stardust", featuring Ben Webster on tenor saxophone, and he played piano and tambourine on Frank Zappa's Hot Rats album. When the occasion demanded it, Otis could also play harpsichord, celesta, and timpani. As an artist, promoter, disc jockey, and television host, he brought Black music to new audiences, in the process inspiring some of his listeners to become performers themselves.

 Johnny Otis with his son Shuggie

…For all his immersion in African American life and culture, Johnny Otis was not actually Black. He was a white man born as John Alexander Veliotes into an immigrant Greek family. He had grown up among Blacks and had lived much of his life as if he were Black. …At an early age Johnny felt captivated by Black culture, by the spiritual, moral, and intellectual richness he encountered in the sanctified churches that he attended with his Black playmates, by the music of gospel choirs, jazz bands, blues singers, by the way Black people dressed, danced, and talked."

We spin a couple of early numbers plus  sides  from the albums Cold Shot! and The Johnny Otis Show Live at Monterey. Though Johnny's 1969 album Cold Shot! wasn't much different from the straightforward R&B he'd been doing for years, it did have some updated rock, soul, and funk influences, due in large part to the presence of his teenage guitarist son, Shuggie Otis. Otis cut another album that year credited to Snatch and the Poontangs. Both albums were combined onto one CD on an Ace reissue in 2002, with the addition of two previously tracks. Live At Monterey was an R&B oldies show in 1970 that featured artists Johnny  had worked with back in the early days and they were still in fine form. The disc stars Otis, Esther Phillips, Eddie Vinson, Joe Turner, Ivory Joe Hunter, Roy Milton, Roy Brown, Pee Wee Crayton, and Johnny’s guitar wielding son, Shuggie.

Among the tributes we find some time to play some terrific pre-war blues from Charlie Spand, Joe Dean, Clifford Gibson and R0sa Henderson among others.

Charlie Spand was one of several heavy-hitting blues, boogie-woogie and barrelhouse pianists who performed on Brady and Hastings Streets in Detroit, MI during the '20s. In 1929 Spand moved to Chicago where he began hanging out and gigging with guitarist Blind Blake. Between June 1929 and September 1931 Spand recorded 24 sides for the Paramount label. The only other Charlie Spand recordings known to exist are eight sides cut for the Okeh label in June of 1940. Our cut, "Rock And Rye", come from the latter session and features some nice interplay between Spand and guitarist Big Bill Broonzy.

Joe Dean recorded one great 78 in 1930: “I'm So Glad I'm Twenty-One Years Old Today b/w Mexico Bound Blues.” Dean was  born in St. Louis on April 25, 1908.  He remained musically active on a part-time basis into the 1960's. He eventually became the Rev. Joe Dean and died on June 24 1981. He was interviewed by Mike Rowe for Blues Unlimited magazine in 1977.

Rosa Henderson started out in carnival and tent shows around 1913 and moved to New York in 1923 where she made her recording debut. She recorded a hundred odd sides throughout the 1920’s and made her final record in 1931. She was a fine singer who often suffered from some rather lackluster accompanists. 1925's "Low Down Daddy" was a good one with some tough words about her man:

I had a dream one night, my daddy laid down and died (2x)
The devil wouldn't own him, cause he couldn't burn his hide

Clifford Gibson left behind a small batch of superb, highly creative recordings that deserve wider attention. Gibson cut ten sides (four have either never been found or were never issued) in June 1929, four sides in November 1929, eight sides in December 1929 and two sides in 1931. In addition he did some session work and lasted long enough to wax a few scattered post-war sides in the 1950's and 60's.

Share
ARTISTSONGALBUM
Myra Taylor I'm In My Sins This MorningSwinging Small Combos - Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Myra Taylor Tell Your Best Friend Nothin' Swinging Small Combos - Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Myra Taylor The Spider And The FlySwinging Small Combos - Kansas City Style Vol. 3
Blind Lemon JeffersonLong Lonesome BluesThe Complete Classic Sides
The Mississippi Moaner It's Cold In China BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II
Jesse ThomasDouble Due Love You Jesse Thomas 1948-1958
Mr. Bo & His Blues BoysIf Trouble Was Money45
Fenton RobinsonDirectly From My Heart To YouSomebody Loan me A Dime
Geechie WileySkinny Leg BluesMississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35
Margaret ThorntonTexas Bound BluesBarrelhouse Mamas
Mary Johnson No Good Town Blues Twenty First St. Stomp: The Piano Blues Of St. Louis
Sippie Wallace I'm A Mighty Tight WomanWhen The Sun Goes Down
Howlin' Wolf I'll Be AroundSmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters
Howlin' Wolf Who Will Be Next Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters
Hubert Sumlin No Title Boogie American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1965
Big Joe Williams & Mary WilliamsOakland BluesHear Me Howling! Blues, Ballads & Beyond
Juke Boy BonnerGoin' Back To The CountryArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Charlie PattonMagnolia BluesTimes Ain't Like They Used to Be Vol. 4
Cannon's Jug StompersViola Lee BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Kokomo ArnoldBack To The WoodsBottleneck Trendsetters
Lee Shot Williams Drop Your LaundryChicago Blues & Deep Soul Legend
Lee Shot Williams I'm Tore UpChicago Blues & Deep Soul Legend
Lee Shot Williams Hello BabyChicago Blues & Deep Soul Legend
J.B. Lenoir I've Been Down For So LongJ.B. Lenoir 1951-1958
Eddie BoydBaby What's Wrong With YouComplete Recordings 1947-1950
Jimmy YanceyRollin' the StoneHey! Piano Man
Rudy Foster Black Gal Makes ThunderJuke Joint Saturday Night
James ''Boodle It'' WigginsGotta Shave 'Em Dry Juke Joint Saturday Night
Lafayette ThomasStanding In The Back Door CryingThe Modern Recordings Vol. 2
Jimmy McCracklinNight And Day Jimmy McCracklin 1951-54
Sonny Boy Williamson III Got to Cut OutAmerican Folk Blues Festival 1962-1965\Disc 4\American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1965
Wild Child Butler Gravy ChildWild Child
Little Mac SimmonsWoman Help MeChicago Blues Harmonica Wizard
Howard TateHow Blue Can You Get?Get It While You Can: The Legendary Sessions

Show Notes:

We close out the year on a somber note as we pay tribute to several recently passed blues artists: Kansas City legend Myra Taylor, blues and R&B singer Lee Shot Williams, legendary guitarist Hubert Sumlin and singer Howard Tate. Also on tap are great pre-war blues including Blind Lemon Jefferson and a couple of his admirers, a quartet of fine blues ladies and a batch of superb piano players. We also spin more contemporary blues including a trio of ace harmonica blowers and some hard hitting sides form the 60's and 70's.

Myra Taylor and Charlie Parker (left)

Myra Taylor, one of the final links to Kansas City’s heyday as a jazz mecca, died December 9th in Kansas City. She was 94.In the 1930's, she became a regular in the clubs in the 12th and Vine, 18th and Vine and 12th and Woodland districts, where she performed along with musicians as a dancer. There, she mingled with the likes of Big Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, Bennie Moten, Lester Young, Jimmy Rushing and Count Basie. Her career as a singer began in the early 1930s in Kansas City, which led to a stint through the Midwest with Clarence Love and his band. In 1937, she moved to Chicago, where she worked with jazz greats Warren “Baby” Dodds, Lonnie Johnson, Roy Eldridge and Lil’ Hardin Armstrong. She recorded ten sides at two sessions in 1946 and 1947. We open the show with a trio of her 40's sides: the silky "I'm In My Sins This Morning", "Tell Your Best Friend Nothin'" a reworking of "Don't Advertise Your Man" (a 20's anthem sung by Clara Smith, Sippie Wallace and Rosa Henderson) and the swinging "The Spider And The Fly."

The death of Hubert Sumlin made a bigger splash than Taylor's, garnering obituaries in many major papers. Sumlin died Dec. 4 at the age of 80. Sumlin began appearing on Howlin’ Wolf’s recordings in 1954, first appearing on "Baby How Long? b/w Evil Is Goin' on" alongside fellow guitarist Jody Williams. Sumlin’s partnership with Howlin’ Wolf lasted until the singer’s death in 1976. Speaking of their collaborations in a 1989 interview with Living Blues magazine, Sumlin said: “Hubert was Wolf, Wolf was Hubert. I got to where I knew what he wanted before he asked for it, because I could feel the man.”  He met Howlin’ Wolf while still a teenager, when Mr. Sumlin was performing in and around West Helena, Ark., with the blues harmonica player James Cotton, and first recorded with him, under the supervision of Sam Phillips, at Sun Studios in 1953. Sumlin also made more than a dozen albums under his own name; the first was recorded in Europe in 1964, and the last in 2007. Today we showcase a pair of early numbers with Wolf, "I'll Be Around" (1954) and "Who Will Be Next" (1955) plus Hubert's own "No Title Boogie" recorded at the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival when he was touring Europe with Wolf.

Hubert Sumlin and Howlin' Wolf

In recent years Lee Shot Williams was best known for such raunchy songs as “Meat Man” and “Starts With a P,” but he had a long career as a blues and R&B singer in Chicago where he first recorded in 1962 with a style similar to Bobby “Blue” Bland. His best known hits were “You’re Welcome to the Club” (1962) and “I Like Your Style” (1967). We spin a pair of blistering early sides, "I'm Tore Up" (1963)" featuring Bobby King on guitar and "Hello Baby" (1962) featuring Freddie Robinson on guitar and Mack Simmons on harmonica and the from the 70's his raunchy "Drop Your Laundry" (he updated the number on his stellar 1995 album, Cold Shot, released on the Black Magic label.

We close out the show with a soulful rendition of  "How Blue Can You Get?" (1966) by Howard Tate. Tate, who in collaboration with producer and songwriter Jerry Ragovoy, recorded such late 1960's soul classics as “Ain’t Nobody Home,” “Stop” and “Get It While You Can,” died Dec. 2 at 72. After struggling with cocaine addiction and homelessness, Tate became a preacher only to re-emerge in 2003 with the critically acclaimed album Rediscovered.

It's hard to overestimate the influence and popularity of Blind Lemon Jefferson who began recording in 1926. His records made him nationally known among the black audiences who bough race records as influencing many blues artists. In December 1925 or January 1926, he was taken to Chicago to record his first tracks. Jefferson's first two recordings from this session were gospel songs ("I Want to be like Jesus in my Heart b/w "All I Want is that Pure Religion"), released under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. This led to a second recording session in March 1926. His first releases under his own name, "Booster Blues" and "Dry Southern Blues," were hits; this led to the release of the other two songs from that session, "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues," which also became hits. The latter number reworked by two of our featured artists; The Mississippi Moaner and Jesse Thomas. The Mississippi Moaner was the name used by Isaiah Nettles when he recorded five sides for Vocalion Records in Jackson, MS, on October 20, 1935. Only one 78 from the session was ever released, "Mississippi Moan" b/w "It's Cold in China Blues" (the song title was a lyric used in Blind Lemon's song). Jesse Thomas remarkable 1948 number, "Double Due Love You" opens with a tongue twisting run of words (taken from the Blind Lemon song) that is sort of a vocal equivalent to his knotty guitar phrases.

We spin several rather obscure blues ladies today including Margaret Thornton, Mary Johnson, Geeshie Wiley plus the better known Sippie Wallace. Thornton cut one lone record for the short-lived Black Patti label in 1927, "Texas Bound Blues b/w Jockey Blues." Thornton was a wonderful singer backed by the fine barrelhouse playing of the equally obscure Blind James Beck. St. Louis singer Mary Johnson is in superb form on "No Good Town Blues" backed by pianist Judson Brown. Brown  who cut just one side under his own name for Brunswick in 1930 as well as backing singers such as Jenny Pope and  Mozelle Alderson. Don Kent wrote in the notes to Mississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35 that "If Geeshie Wiley did not exist, she could not be invented: her scope and creativity dwarfs most blues artists. She seems to represent the moment when black secular music was coalescing into blues." We feature her haunting "Skinny Leg Blues" which is worth quoting in full:

And I’m a little bitty mama, baby and I ain’t built for speed
Cryin’ I’m a little bitty mama, baby and I ain’t built for speed
Aaaaaaah and I ain’t built for speed
I’ve got everything that a little bitty mama needs

I’ve got little bitty legs, keep up these noble thighs (2x)
Aaaaaah, keep up these noble thighs
I’ve got somethin’ underneath them that works like a bo' hog's eye

But when you see me comin’, pull down your window blind (2x)
You see me comin’, pull down your window blind
So your next door neighbor sure can hear you whine

I’m gonna cut your throat baby, gonna look down in your face (2x)
Aaaaaaaaa, gonna look down in your face
I’m gonna let some lonesome graveyard be your restin’ place

Among the triumvirate of boogie-woogie pioneers, which include  Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, Jimmy Yancey is my favorite. Yancey had a more delicate and subtle style then his hard driving peers as heard to good effect on the marvelous "Rollin' The Stone" from 1939. Far more obscure are Rudy Foster who cut one 78 for paramount in 1930. "Black Gal Makes Thunder" is a driving barrelhouse romp with the enigmatic lyric "black gal makes it thunder, yellow gal makes it fall down rain." James "Boodle It" Wiggins was a wonderfully expressive, heavy voiced singer who cut eight issued sides for Paramount in 1928 and 1929. His "Gotta Shave 'Em Dry" is an infectious number with terrific backing from pianist charlie Spand. As Paul Oliver noted in his Screening The Blues: "Shave 'Em Dry" …seems to have been favored by women though a number of men also sang it on record. As a term 'shave 'em dry' appears to have layers of meaning; at one level it refers to mean and aggressive action but as a sexual theme it refers to intercourse without preliminary love-making. Big Bill Broonzy put it succinctly: 'Shave 'em dry is what you call makin' it with a woman; you ain't doin' nothin', just makin' it.'" Among those who cut versions were Lucille Bogan, Ma Rainey, Lil Johnson and Papa charlie Jackson.

Share