Entries tagged with “Frank Hovington”.

Charlie SangsterTwo White HorsesBlues At Home Vol. 9
Charlie SangsterOne Cold NightBlues At Home Vol. 9
James “Son” Thomas & Eddie CusicStanding At The CrossroadsBlues At Home Vol. 10
James “Son” Thomas & Joe CooperThree Days I CriedBlues At Home Vol. 10
James “Son” ThomasFour Women BluesBlues At Home Vol. 10
Sleepy John EstesYellow Yam Blues (Take 4)Blues At Home Vol. 11
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie NixonSugar MamaBlues At Home Vol. 11
Sleepy John EstesShe Keeps Me Worried And Bothered Blues At Home Vol. 11
Mott Willis Baby Please Don't GoBlues At Home Vol. 13
Lum GuffinTrain I Ride 18 Coaches Long Blues At Home Vol. 13
William 'Do Boy' DiamondMississippi FlatBlues At Home Vol. 13
Walter Cooper & Hammie NixonBaby Please Don't Go, No. 3Blues At Home Vol. 13
Roosevelt HoltsBig Road Blues Blues At Home Vol. 13
Asie PaytonBlind ManBlues At Home Vol. 13
Jacob StuckeyIt Must Have Been The Devil (Take 2)Blues At Home Vol. 13
Memphis Willie Borum 61 Highway Blues Blues At Home Vol. 13
Mattie May ThomasDangerous BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II
John DudleyCool Drink of Water BluesParchman Farm: Photographs & Field Recordings 1947–1959
Son Thomas Catfish Blues Living Country Blues: An Anthology
Frank Hovington Lonesome Road BluesGone With The Wind
Joe Savage Joe’s Prison Camp HollerLiving Country Blues Vol. 7
Chester Davis, Compton Jones & Furry LewisGlory Glory HallelujahSorrow Come Pass Me Around
John Lee ZieglerIf I Lose, Let Me LoseThe George Mitchell Collection
Jimmy Lee WilliamsHave You Ever Seen PeachesHoot Your Belly
Roosevelt CharlesWasn't I LuckyBlues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs
Jim Brewer Big Road BluesBlues Scene USA Vol. 4
J.B. SmithSure Make a Man Feel BadNo More Good Time in the World for Me

Show Notes:

Charlie SangsterIn the early 70's through the early 80's Gianni Marcucci made five trips to the United States from Italy to document blues with several albums worth of material issued in the the 1970's. I've corresponded with Gianni regarding those albums and he wrote that these releases were "an abuse and an offense to my effort (10 years of field research, and 13 years of re-mastering and text editing), as well as an insult to the memory of the featured artists" and that his overall experience was a "nightmare." Furthermore, he wrote, "my research has been misunderstood with the result that I received some insults and defamation, both in Europe and USA, on magazines and books." The Blues At Home series is his "peaceful reply" to those critics. The recordings heard on this series were kept in Gianni's private archive. "In order to preserve these materials I transferred to digital those I thought were best, and by 2013 [2015]  the 16-volume Blues At Home CD collection was ready for release." The material is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music and CD Baby for digital download and streaming. There are plans to make these available as physical CD's as well.

"In 1972, Gianni wrote, "I worked with Lucio Maniscalchi. In 1976 Vincenzo Castella, assisted me and took the photographs. Lucio Maniscalchi  worked with me for 11 days (20-31 December 1972); Vincenzo Castella in July-August 1976. Both Maniscalchi and Castella were not interested in my research and documentary project. They left the project after the 2 field trips were done. They just randomly worked with me on those occasions. Their name was erroneously featured and emphasized on the" original LP's, "especially the name of Vincenzo Castella. I was the only responsible of the recordings, archiving, and LP edition (including, of course, all the typos, mistakes, etc.). In 1972 and 1976 Hammie Nixon helped finding some of the performers in Tennessee. In 1976 Mary Helen Looper and Jane Abraham helped in the Delta. …On December 1972, with the help of the legendary harmonica player Hammie Nixon, using a professional portable equipment, I had the chance to start recording blues in Memphis. The documentary research continued in July 1976, ending in July 1982. A series of informal sessions was held during the course of my five trips through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, featuring well known, but also little known, and unknown musicians."

Today's program is our second installment  (see part 1) featuring the following artists: Charlie Sangster, James “Son” Thomas, Walter Cooper, Eddie Cusic, Sleepy John Estes, Hammie Nixon, William 'Do Boy' Diamond, Mott Willis, Lum Guffin, Roosevelt Holts, Asie Payton, Memphis Willie Borum and  Jacob Stuckey. We have some extra tome time at the end of our two-part feature so we round it out with a selection of filed recording favorites featured on previous shows.Hammie Nixon

The ninth volume of the Blues At Home collection introduces Charlie Sangster, a little known artist of Brownsville, Tennessee. Belonging to a musical family, he learned how to play mandolin and guitar at the age of 12. His father, Samuel Ellis Sangster, was a blues guitarist who used to play with Sleepy John Estes and Hambone Willie Newbern; his mother, Victoria, was a gospel singer. Charlie played at the fish market and in other social situations with a circle of local musicians, including Charlie Pickett, Brownsville Son Bonds, Hammie Nixon, Yank Rachel, Sleepy John Estes, and Walter Cooper. He also knew and performed with Hambone Willie Newbern during the last part of Newbern’s life. Sangster was recorded at eight sessions between 1976 and 1980.

The tenth volume of the Blues At Home collection features Leland, Mississippi, bluesman James “Son” Thomas along with his uncle Joe Cooper, both hailing from Yazoo County, Mississippi, and Leland blues artist Eddie Cusic who passed away a few weeks back. Thomas, Cooper, and Cusic were discovered in the late ‘60s by researcher Bill Ferris, and Thomas and his uncle’s music are featured in Ferris’s book Blues from The Delta. “Son” Thomas also appeared in several blues LP anthologiesduring the late ‘60s and in some documentary films. From the ‘80s until his death in 1995, Thomas was in the folk music circuit, recording numerous albums and performing all over the world. The material was recorded during several informal sessions held in 1976, 1978, and 1982 at the artists’ homes in Leland and Greenville, Mississippi.

The eleventh volume of the Blues At Home collection features Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon. Estes was born in 1899 in Ripley, Tennessee, but spent most of his life in Brownsville, Tennessee, which he considered his home. Between 1929 and 1939, he recorded over 30 sides for Vocalion, Decca, and Bluebird. Living in poverty for the whole of his life and being completely blind by the late '40s, Estes was rediscovered in the early '60s through the referral of Big Joe Williams. He hit the blues revival circuit, making numerous recordings and performing all over the world until his death in 1977. These sessions were recorded informally at Estes' home in Brownsville in December 1972, both alone and with the accompaniment of his old-time partner Hammie Nixon.

The twelfth volume of the Blues At Home collection harmonica player Hammie Nixon, performing with Sleepy John Estes, and alone on guitar and harmonica. Nixon was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. At age 11, he was able to play harmonica with Sleepy John Estes at a picnic held in Brownsville. Hammie also played with local musicians, Hambone Willie Newbern, Samuel and Charlie Sangster, Yank Rachell, and Charlie Pickett, learning harmonica from Noah Lewis and Tommy Garry. He first recordwd with Estes in 1929 for Victor. In 1934 he recorded in Chicago for Decca and Champion with Brownsville Son Bonds. He recorded with John Estes again in 1935 and 1937.  After Estes’ rediscovery in the early ‘60s, Hammie kept performing with him until John’s death in 1977. These recordings were recorded between 1972 and 1976 during informal sessions held at Hammie Nixon and Sleepy John Estes' homes in Brownsville.

113The thirteenth volume of the Blues At Home collection, features various blues artists recorded from 1976 to 1982 in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Mott Willis was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, has been associated with Tommy and Mager Johnson. Willis was recorded in  Crystal Springs, where he was discovered in the summer of 1967 making recordings for Advent and Mimosa Records which have yet to be released. Lum Guffin was a multi-instrumentalist; he played guitar as well as fife and drum music at picnics in the east Shelby County area. Discovered by Swedish researcher Bengt Olsson in the late '60s, Guffin had a Flyright Records LP devoted to him. William “Do-Boy” Diamond was born near Canton, Mississippi, in 1913. He was discovered in the '60s by George Mitchell who recorded him. Roosevelt Holts was born in 1905 near Tylertown, Mississippi, and developed his musical skill with Tommy Johnson. Discovered in the '60s, he made several recordings released on LPs and on a 45. Asie Payton never moved out of the Holly Ridge, Mississippi, area where he worked as a farmer and tractor driver for most of his life. He record for Fat Possum late in life. Memphis Willie Borum was born in 1911 in Memphis and had a central role in the jug band scene, actually playing with all the major groups and blues artists active in the City. He was rediscovered by Sam Charters in 1961, recording two LP albums for Bluesville. Jacob Stuckey was born in Bentonia, Mississippi, in 1916 and learned directly from Skip James.

The final volumes of the Blues At Home series (13-16) feature interviews by several of the artists. These are not featured on today's program.

Big Joe WilliamsDown In The BottomBack To The Roots
Big Joe WilliamsJump Baby JumpBack To The Roots
Bill Logan & Big Joe WilliamsWhat You Gon' Do Sinner?Back To The Roots
Axel KüstnerInterview
George Henry BusseyBlues Around My BadThe George Mitchell Collection Volumes 1-45
Honeyboy EdwardsHighway 61Ramblin' On My Mind
Memphis Piano RedThe Train Is ComingLiving Country Blues USA: Introduction
Flora MoltonWhat's The Matter NowLiving Country Blues USA Vol. 3
Archie EdwardsI Called My Baby Long DistanceLiving Country Blues USA Vol. 6
Frank HovingtonLonesome Road BluesLiving Country Blues USA: Introduction
Son ThomasCatfish BluesLiving Country Blues USA Vol. 5
Walter BrownMississippi MoanLiving Country Blues USA Vol. 9
Eugene PowellPony BluesUnissued
Albert Macon & Robert ThomasSomeday BabyUnissued
Boyd RiversChurch House RockUnissued
Irene Scruggs Itching Heel BluesBlind Blake: All The Published Sides

Show Notes:

On today's program we spend time with Axel Küstner who's been documenting the blues in the south since the early 70's through his field recordings and remarkable photography. From the 70's through the 2000's Axel documented the vanishing rural southern blues scene. Among the artists he documented and spent time with were bluesmen such as Big Joe Williams, Eugene Powell, Son Thomas, Jack Owens, J.W. Warren, Other Turner, Lattie Murell, Memphis Piano Red, Boogie Bill Webb among many others. We'll be playing many of these artists and more, a number of  unissued sides as well as chatting with Axel throughout the show who has some terrific stories to tell. I'll be doing a sequel with Axel down the road – due to time constraints we didn't get to some planned sides by Lattie Murrell, Dan Pickett, J.W. Warren,  some unissued material among a few others.

Axel discovered the blues in 1970 at the age of fourteen. Two years later he started meeting blues greats like Big Joe Williams and Robert Pete Williams while they were touring Germany. Axel first came to the States in 1972, came over again in 1978, 1980 and made 24 trips to the States between 1990 and 2005. The first artists he recorded was K.C. Douglas who he recorded in 1972. During these trips he hung out, recorded and photographed many great traditional bluesmen. A self-taught photographer, he has also produced a number of blues albums. He recorded Big Joe Williams in 1973 and 1978, resulting the album Back to the Roots (also issued as Watergate Blues). Additional recordings appeared on No More Whiskey on the Evidence label. In 1980, along with his friend Ziggy Chrismann, he was back in the States with the idea to document the remaining country blues tradition. With their station wagon and portable recording equipment they hit the road spending a couple of months documenting blues, gospel, field hollers and work songs throughout the South. In this he was following in the footsteps of men he admired like Harry Oster, George Mitchell and Pete Lowry. The result of the trip was Living Country Blues USA, a fourteen volume series issued on the L&R label. The trip was one of the last great large-scale recording trips to survey southern blues and gospel, and the sad fact is that most of these performers have since passed on. A prodigious  photographer, Axel has amassed 30,000 black and white photos, some of which have appeared in print, on album covers and exhibitions.

We spin some sides by Big Joe Williams , someone who Axel had a close  connection with. On the track "Jump, Baby, Jump!" you can Axel blowing harp. He met Big Joe during the 1972 American Blues Festival  in Berlin. During that meeting he made some recordings of Joe and and fellow tour member Robert Pete Williams.  He recorded Joe again in Crawford, Mississippi  in 1978 and 1980.

Axel wanted to find time to play a few things that inspired him when he began documenting blues. The field recording recordings of George Mitchell, David Evans, Harry Oster and his friend, the late Bengt Olsson were major inspirations. From the early 1960’s to the early 1980’s George Mitchell roamed all over the south recording blues in small rural communities where the music still thrived. Many of these recordings have appeared on specialist labels like Southland, Revival, Flyright, Arhoolie and Rounder but are long out of print now. Bengt Olsson first came to the United States in 1964, first to Chicago and then to Memphis were he made some recordings. Olsson was back in 1971, where he made recordings in Memphis and Alabama. Olsson recorded several talented artists including Lum Guffin (his album Walking Victrola was issued on Flyright), Lattie Murrell and Perry Tillis among others (Axel spent time with the later two artists as well). Some of Olsson's recordings appear on the CD On The Road – Country Blues 1969-1974.

Axel's crowning achievement is the remarkable recordings he made with his friend  Siegfried Christmann in 1980. Issued as the Living Country Blues USA series, these remarkable recordings were first issued across 12 LP's plus one double set on the German L+R label between 1980 and 1981.The seed for these recordings came during 1978 when Axel spent six months in the States. He pitched idea to Horst Lippman, who founded L+R label in 1979, and modestly funded the project. With their station wagon and portable recording equipment the duo hit the dusty road spending a couple of months documenting blues, gospel, field hollers and work songs throughout the South. As the notes proclaim: "Traveling 10,000 miles by car in 2 1/2 months, they used 180,000 feet of tape and took hundreds of photographs to document various aspects of Country Blues, as well as work songs, fife and drum band music, field hollers and rural Gospel music, performed by 35 artists, some of whom appear on record for the first time." From October 1st through November 30th the duo rolled through Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia, New Orleans and of course Mississippi. The series was finally issued on CD a few years back (two additional albums of material were compiled but never issued).

After the 1980 trip Axel didn't get back to the States again until 1990. He made up for lost time making 24 trips to the States between 1990 and 2005, doing some recording but mostly focusing on photography. Axel was kind enough to send me a number of unissued field recordings he made in 1990 and 1991 which we feature on today's program. Among the artists he recorded during this period were Cecil Barfield, Eugene Powell, Jack Owens, Boyd Rivers and others. Axel informed me that the Boyd Rivers material will be seeing the light of day on a collection on Mississippi records. We were planning to spin a track by the great Alabama bluesman J.W. Warren who Axel recorded in 2001. Warren was one of the few who had memories of the mysterious Dan Pickett. Axel recorded a batch of fine songs by this under recorded bluesman just two years before he passed.

Speaking about Dan Pickett, Axel plays a key part in the unraveling of Pickett's life story. Pickett did one recording session for the Philadelphia-based Gotham label in 1949. His real name was James Founty who was born in Pike County, Alabama on August 31, 1907. Five singles were issued by the label while the rest of the titles weren't unearthed until four decades later. Details of his background, however, remained hazy for decades.

In a 1987 Blues & Rhythm Magazine article, Chris Smith wrote:  "If  Founty had started early in life he might still be alive, and even still be playing. Let's hope he can be found." Axel paid particular attention and actually went to Alabama in 1993 to see what he could dig up. He fended up finding Founty's surviving family. He obtained the only known photograph that shows Founty and some information on his life. Künster published a two page teaser about the trip in Juke Blues where he wrote: "Until the whole story is published in Juke Blues, I'll just tell you this much: [Founty was] a classic rambler in the best blues tradition…" Künster wrote that over fifteen years ago and still no full article has been written. In 2010 John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote an article on Pickett for The Oxford American that published the Pickett photo, transcribed an interview with Künster and provided a bit more information on Pickett's life. Unfortunately we didn't have time to talk and play sides by Picket but next time Axel's on the show we will definitely go into depth about this fascinating tale.

We close the show today with Irene Scruggs and Blind Blake performing "Itching Heel." Axel recently got an opportunity to meet Scuggs' daughter, 91 year old Baby Scruggs. Scruggs was a former dancer who has memories of being in the studio with her mother and Blind Blake. By the '40s, Irene Scruggs had joined the population of expatriate black performers living abroad, residing first in Paris with her daughter. Later she moved to Germany, where she died.

Axel Küstner Interview/Feature (edited, 121 min, MP3)

View some of Axel's photos (bottom of page)

Baby Tate See What You Done Done See What You Done Done
Pink AndersonYou Don't Know My MindCarolina Medicine Show Hokum And Blues
Doug Quattlebaum You Is One Black RatSoftee Man Blues
James Henry DiggsPoor Boy Long Way From HomeSouthwest Virginia Blues
Eddie Lee Jones & FamilyWhich Way Does The Blood Red River FlowYonder Go That Old Black Dog
Buddy MossCome On Around To My HouseAtlanta Blues Legend
Elizabeth Cotten I'm Going Away Shake Sugaree
John JacksonBear Cat Blues Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
Cliff Scott Long Wavy Hair Georgia Blues
Nyles Jones (Guitar Gabriel) Southland Welfare Blues
Guitar ShortyGoin' Down in Georgia Carolina Slide Guitar
Willie Trice Shine OnBlue & Rag'd
Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong In The BottomMartin, Bogan & Armstrong
Henry JohnsonWho's Going Home With YouUnion County Flash
Frank HovingtonLonesome Road Blues Lonesome Road Blues
Cecil Barfield I Told You Not To Do That South Georgia Blues
Peg Leg SamWalking Cane Classic Appalachian Blues Smithsonian Folkways
Jimmy Lee Williams Have You Ever Seen PeachesHoot Your Belly
John Lee Ziegler If I Lose, Let Me Lose George Mitchell Collection Vol. 6
Willie Guy RaineySo SweetWillie Guy Rainey
Archie Edwards The Road Is Rough And RockyClassic Appalachian Blues Smithsonian Folkways
Guitar Slim Worried BluesGreensboro Rounder
James Davis Instrumental #4The George Mitchell Collection Vols. 1 - 45
George Higgs & Elester Anderson Skinny Woman Blues Unreleased
Pernell CharityWar Blues Virginia Traditions; Tidewater Blues
Carl HodgesLeaving You, MamaVirginia Traditions; Tidewater Blues
Turner Foddrell Slow Drag Western Piedmont Blues
Lewis "Rabbit" MuseJailhouse BluesWestern Piedmont Blues
John Tinsley Red River BluesWestern Piedmont Blues
Cephas & Wiggins Richmond BluesLiving Country Blues Vol. 1
Clayton Horsley Don't The Moon Look PrettyWestern Piedmont Blues

Show Notes:

Today's show is the third in series of spotlights on East Coast Blues. In previous shows we spanned the year 1927 through 1953 and today we take the story up to the end of the 1970's. The music to be found on today's program is generally classified as Piedmont Blues, a term that refers to a style and geographic region. Piedmont Blues refers to a regional of centered on musicians of the southeastern United States; from the foothills of the Appalachians west of the tidewater region and Atlantic coastal plain stretching roughly from Richmond, VA, to Atlanta, GA. Musically, Piedmont blues describes the shared style of musicians from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, as well as others from as far afield as Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The Piedmont guitar style employs a complex fingerpicking method in which a regular, alternating-thumb bass pattern supports a melody on treble strings. The guitar style is highly syncopated and connects closely with an earlier string-band tradition, integrating ragtime, blues, and country dance songs. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles. Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. By the 1960's and 70's the Piedmont style was no longer commercially viable, aided by the decline in popularity of the blues among black audiences and pushed aside by soul and electrified blues. Much of the recording done during this period were field recordings. There was much significant recording done by men like Sam Charters, Glenn Hinson, Kip Lornell, George Mitchell, Peter B. Lowry, Bruce Bastin and others. These recordings appeared mainly on small specialist blues labels geared to a predominately white audience. Many of the albums have not made it to the CD era.

Pink Anderson

The title of today's program comes from a song by Eddie Lee Jones from Georgia. Just about very southeastern bluesman sang a "Red River Blues": Josh White in 1932, Buddy Moss 1933, Virgil Childers 1938 among many others. The title a also nod to Bruce Bastion's book of the seam name, the definitive history of southeastern blues.

Samuel Charters played a central role in the folk revival of the 1950's and 1960's. His fieldwork, extensive liner notes, production efforts, and books served as a blues introduction to many. A 1961 trip for Prestige Records yielded records by Furry Lewis, Memphis Willie B., Baby Tate and Pink Anderson. Todat we spin tracks by the latter two artists.

Born in Georgia, Baby Tate grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. By the age of 14, he had taught himself to play guitar; shortly thereafter he began appearing alongside Blind Boy Fuller, from whom he picked up the basics of the blues. A few years later, Tate began performing with Roosevelt Brooks and Joe Walker in clubs and bars around Greenville. In 1932 he djoined the Carolina Blackbirds. They played numerous shows for the radio station, WFBC. During the 1930s, Tate played at local parties, medicine shows, and celebrations, and he continued performing as a mere hobby. Serving in the U.S. Army in the late 1930s and early '40s, Tate entertained in local pubs and dances while stationed in Europe. In 1942, he returned to Greenville, held a series of odd jobs, and took up music again in 1946. In the early 1950's, Tate moved to Spartanburg SC, performing by himself as well as with Pink Anderson. The two remained a duo until the 1970s. Tate recorded his first and only album, See What You Done Done, in 1961. He was featured in Samuel Charters' documentary film, The Blues the very next year. Peter B. Lowry recorded him extensivley in 1970 but these were never released. He passed in 1972.

After being raised in Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina, Pink Anderson joined Dr. Frank "Smiley" Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company in 1914 to entertain the crowds. In 1916 in Spartanburg, Anderson met "Blind Simmie" Dooley, from whom he learned to be a blues singer. When Anderson was not traveling with Dr. Kerr, he and Dooley would play to small gatherings in Greenville, Spartanburg, and other neighboring communities, as well as recording four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta in April, 1928. After Dr. Kerr retired in 1945, Anderson stayed more close to home in Spartanburg. He still "went out" annually when he could with Leo "Chief Thundercloud" Kahdot and his medicine show, often with harmonica-player Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson. In May 1950, Anderson was recorded by folklorist Paul Clayton at the Virginia State Fair. Heart problems eventually forced Anderson to retire from the road in 1957. He was once recorded extensively in the early 60's by Samuel Charters with the material issued on several albums on the Bluesville label. A stroke in the late 1960s curtailed his musical activity. Attempts by folklorist Peter B. Lowry in 1970 to get Anderson on tape were not successful. He died in October 1974.

Read Liner Notes

Between 1969 and 1980 Peter B. Lowry amassed hundreds of photographs, thousands of selections of recordings, music and interviews in his travels through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. He formed the Trix label as an outlet to release his recordings. Lowry set up the Trix Records label in 1972 starting with a series of 45’s with LP’s being released by 1973. It lasted about a decade as an active label dealing mainly with Piedmont blues artists from the Southeastern states. In addition to the seventeen issued Trix albums there is sufficient material for another 40 to 50 CD’s. We play several of Lowry's recordings including tracks by Willie Trice, Henry Johnson and George Higgs & Elester Anderson.

Willie Trice and his brother Richard became close friends with Blind Boy Fuller and Fuller took them up to New York where they cut six sides together for Decca in 1937. Unlike many of his fellow musician friends, Trice always had a day job and it wasn't until the 1970's that he recorded again. Blue And Rag'd , his sole album, was released on Trix in 1973.

Henry Johnson was born in Union County, S.C.in 1908. He was inspired to play guitar by local musicians and the records of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake & Blind Boy Fuller. Around 1933 he also took up playing the piano. All of these influences made him a multi-instrumentalist playing finger-picking as well as slide guitar styles, piano and he also picked up harmonica along the way. A buried treasure, he wasn't heard until early white blues enthusiasts chanced upon him in the early 1970's. Johnson recorded a full-length album for Trix in 1973, and a few live recordings by him were later released on a Flyright Records LP compilation. Johnson passed away in Union in February of 1974.

George Mitchell who made some remarkable field recordings throughout the South over a twenty year period beginning in the early 1960's. Many of these recordings have appeared on specialist labels like Southland, Revival, Flyright, Arhoolie and Rounder but are long out of print now. Several years ago the Fat Possum label acquired the Mitchell archive and has been reissuing the recordings through a variety of formats including CD, 7-inch record and digital download. We feature several of Mitchell's recordings by artists such as Cliff Scott, Cecil Barfield, Jimmy Lee Williams, John Lee Ziegler and James Davis.

Cliff Scott lived in Dranesville, Georgia, and learned a good deal about music from his neighbor Dixon Hunt. Approximately 40 years old in when he was recorded by George Mitchell in 1969.

Read Liner Notes

Cecil Barfield was discovered in 1976 by George Mitchell, who was touring the state for field research. He was living outside a tiny farm town on a meager disability check (in fact, the original LP was released under the name William Robertson, because Barfield was scared that he would lose his disability benefits if he released the record under his own name. the album was called South Georgia Blues and originally issued on the Southland label (since reissued in 2009 by Big Legal Mess Records). Mitchell recorded Barfield extensively and many of these recordings were unissued until recently mad available by Fat Possum as digital downloads. Barfield was also recorded by Art Rosenbaum and Pete Lowry.

Born in 1925 in Polan in Worth County, GA, guitarist Jimmy Lee Williams lived his whole life in the area, working as a farmer. He learned to play guitar in 1941, and was soon spending his weekends playing for all-night frolics in the area's juke joints. Musicologist George Mitchell recorded Williams at two sessions in 1977 and 1982.

John Lee Ziegler legacy rests on just a handful of recordings made by George Mitchell in the late 1970's and some sides made in the 1990's for the Music Maker organization.

Kip Lornell has worked on music projects for the Smithsonian Institute, has a doctorate in ethnomusicology and is the author of several articles and books. He also did some field recordings in the in the Southeast in the 70's. Among those we feature tracks by James “Guitar Slim” Stephens, Pernell charity and Carl Hodges. Some of Lornell's field recordings appear on the Virginia Traditions series issued by the Blue Ridge Institute for Appalachian Studies at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia. They released a series of eight LPs in the late '70s and early '80s. From those albums we play fine sides by Turner Foddrell and Lewis "Rabbit" Muse among others.

I want to thank Kip Lornell for send me a copy of the extremely hard to find Guitar Slim album. James “Guitar Slim” Stephens was born on March 10, 1915, near Spartanburg, South Carolina. He began playing pump organ when he was only five years old, singing spirituals he learned from his parents and reels he heard from his older brother pick on the banjo. Within a few years, Slim was playing piano. When he was thirteen, he began picking guitar, playing songs he heard at local house parties and churches. A few years later he joined the John Henry Davis Medicine Show, playing music to draw crowds. For in the next twenty or so years, he moved throughout the eastern United States living in such cities as Richmond, Durham, Louisville, Nashville, and Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1953 he arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he lived for the remainder of his life playing both guitar and piano–singing the blues at house parties and spirituals at church. His lone LP, Greensboro Rounder, was issued in 1979 by the Flyright label. In 1980 he was recorded by Axel Kunster and Ziggy Christmann which was issued as part of the Living Country Blues series on the L&R label. He passed in 1989.

Read Liner Notes: Pt. 1Pt. 2Pt. 3 Pt. 4

Virginia guitarist Carl Hodges recorded for Pete Welding in 1961, he was also recorded by folklorist Kip Lornell in 1979. Hodges had quit his music in more recent years, but began playing again after Music Maker Foundationprovided him with a guitar and booked him some gigs. Hodges passed away earlier this year

Born in 1908 in Franklin County, VA, Lewis "Rabbit" Muse performed for white and black audiences from the 1920's until the '80s. A consummate entertainer, he played, sang and danced at medicine shows and folk festivals. He recorded a pair of hard to find albums, Muse Blues and Sixty Minute Man, for Rocky Mount's Outlet Records label in the 1970's. He passed in 1982.

We spotlight several cuts today from the recently release Classic Appalachian Blues From Smithsonian Folkways, a terrific collection spanning the late 50's through the early 80's. Particularly interesting  are the tracks recorded between 1971-1982 which have been recently digitized thanks to a preservation grant from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and were made at Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife. From that festival we spotlight songs by Virginian blues artist Archie Edwards and North Carolina's Peg Leg Sam Jackson.

Archie Edwards was born on a farm near Union Hall in rural Virginia in 1918. He would play along to some of his favorite records by Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, and Blind Lemon Jefferson.  When he was twelve, his older brother would go to house parties and brag to the musicians and other people at the party about how good Archie was.  He would then go home and wake up Archie, who would then go play at the party and be just as good if not better than the older musicians playing there. In the 1930s, he and his brother got a job at a near by sawmill. Archie played guitar in his spare time and went home on weekends to play for parties. After serving in the the war, he went to Richmond, Virginia, to become a barber. He set up a barbershop in Washington D.C. His barbershop became a musical hangout spot for many local musicians. Through the barbershop, Edwards met Mississippi John Hurt. The two started playing together and joined up with Skip James and played around the city for the new white audience. He died in 1998. His first recordings appeared on Living Country Blues Vol. 6 and he cut albums for Northern Blues and Mapleshade.

Peg Leg Sam Jackson made his living busking on the street and performing in medicine shows. Hem gave his last medicine-show performance in 1972 in North Carolina, but continued to appear at music festivals in his final years. Born For Hard Luck was a documentary about his life in 1976. He cut a coupe of albums in the 70's before passing in 1977.

Among other notable recordings today include tracks by Buddy Moss, Elizabeth Cotton, John Jackson, Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) , Frank Hovington, Turner Foddrell  and Eddie Lee Jones.

Buddy Moss playing guitar in the
Green County Convict Camp, 1941.

A talented harmonica player in his teens, Buddy Moss took up 6-string guitar after he moved to Atlanta in 1928 and began associating with Barbecue Bob, Charley Lincoln, and Curley Weaver. He advanced quickly on the instrument and within a few years was one of the Southeast’s foremost blues performers. By the mid 1930s, his output of 78s rivaled that of Blind Willie McTell, with whom he occasionally performed. ust as he was poised to become one of the Southeast’s most important bluesman, Moss was convicted of a major crime. Pete Lowry explained, “Roger Brown has seen official documentation of Moss having killed his girlfriend because he thought she was fooling around with another.” With the death of Blind Boy Fuller in 1941, J.B. Long, a record company talent scout who’d worked with Fuller, helped secure Moss’ release. Five weeks after this session, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. With it came a ban on most recordings, and Moss’ session work came to a halt. He was never able to regain the momentum he’d had in the 1930s.

John Jackson was born in Woodville, Virginia into a musical family, he learned to play as a boy before moving in his twenties to Fairfax, where he had a day job as a gravedigger, one of many jobs he performed. In the early 1960's he cut several albums for Arhoolie. He visited Europe several times, played at folk festivals, and also recorded for Rounder and Alligator Records. Jackson died in 2002.

Frank Hovington was from Pennsylvania but lived in Delaware. He was recorded by Dick Spottswood & Bruce Bastin in the summer of 1975 at Frank’s home, using a tape recorder on loan from the Library of Congress. It was released by the British Label Flyright Records in 1976 as Lonesome Road Blues. He was recorded again in 1980 for the Living Country Blues series. He disliked travel and did not play away from his Delaware home, afraid that he would lose his welfare support payments, and so did not get the publicity from music festival appearances that his talent deserved.

Pete Lowry called Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) "One of the most spontaneous musicians around; right up there with Lightnin' Hopkins, maybe more so." He cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the album long out-of-print Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) which is where our selection comes from and a final album for Lowry's Trix label, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975.

Robert Lewis Jones, known as both Guitar Gabriel and Nyles Jones, was influenced by artists such as Blind Boy Fuller and Reverend Gary Davis. After hearing of Guitar Gabriel from the late Greensboro, North Carolina blues guitarist and pianist, James "Guitar Slim" Stephens, musician and folklorist Tim Duffy located and befriended Gabriel, who was the inspiration for the creation of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. His father, Sonny Jones recorded for Vocalion Records in 1939 in Memphis, accompanied by Sonny Terry and Oh Red. In 1935, Gabriel's family moved to Durham, North Carolina, where he began playing guitar on the streets. Between the ages of 15 and 25, Gabriel traveled the country playing the guitar in medicine shows. In 1970, Gabriel went to Pittsburgh and recorded a single, "Welfare Blues," as well as an album My South, My Blues with the Gemini label under the name Nyles Jones. Tim Duffy found him in 1990 and teamed up with and several albums were released in the 90's. He passed in 1996.

Elizabeth Nevills (Cotton) was born in Carrboro, North Carolina, at the border of Chapel Hill, to a musical family. By her early teens she was writing her own songs. After getting married she gave up guitar for 25 years, except for occasional church performances. It wasn't until she reached her 60's that she began recording and performing publicly. She was discovered by the folk-singing Seeger family while she was working for them as a housekeeper.

Marvin and Turner  Foddrell were born into a musical family near Stuart in the Virginia Piedmont and for the major parts of their lives played regularly only at community gatherings, never professionally. Discovered in the 1970s', the Foddrells became a regular fixture at the annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival at nearby Ferrum College and were also featured at many other festivals including some in Europe. The Foddrell Brothers recorded albums on Swingmaster and Outlet, and also appeared alongside more famous traditional musicians on a number of recorded anthologies. Both brothers have since passed away. Lowry recorded them extensively in 1979 but none of these recordings were ever issued.

In 1965 folklorist Bill Koon was out for a walk near Lexington, GA, when he happened across Eddie Lee "Mustright" Jones playing guitar on a porch. Intrigued, Koon walked up and introduced himself, quickly realizing that Jones' archaic song repertoire, which bounced between old black spirituals, early blues, and interpretations of fiddle dance tunes, was something special. He returned with a reel-to-reel recorder and taped several hours of Jones singing and playing, often with interjections and unsolicited vocals from Jones' family and friends. The results were released on Pete Welding's Testament label. Little else is known about Jones.



Show Notes:

For today's show we continue with our ongoing series I call Forgotten Blues Heroes. For this installment we spotlight four great bluesmen who didn't get the opportunity to record until the 1960's and 1970's: Scott Dunbar, Bill Williams, Babe Stovall and Frank Hovington. As the blues historian Paul Oliver wrote: "Throughout the Sixties, it seemed there was one 'discovery' or 'rediscovery' of a blues singer after another; a succession of methodical searches, happy accidents and dramatic events which brought not only a number of legendary figures to life, but also revealed that the wealth of talent in the black traditions had been even greater than might have been supposed."

All of today's featured artists were old enough to have been recorded earlier but opportunity passed them by until the blues revival of the 1960's. In addition to the resurrection of the legendary artists of the past like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White and Skip James there were a slew of older artists uncovered who got a chance to make some recordings such as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Pete Williams and Mance Lipscomb to name a few. Unlike those who recorded back in the 1920's and 30's for the commercial record companies and black consumers, those who recorded in the 1960's and 70's were being recorded primarily for a new found white audience, with the records issued usually on tiny specialist labels. The benefit wasn't in sales of records so much as it was the fact that these recordings would be an entry way into the festival and coffeehouse circuit. Unfortunately many of these small labels never lasted into the CD era and hence many great albums remain long out of print. The bulk of today's recordings fall into that category.

Scott Dunbar

In the notes to his sole album, From Lake Mary issued on the Ahura Mazda label in 1970, Karl Micheal Wolfe wrote that "Today Scott Dunbar is a fisherman and guide on Lake Mary, father of six, and resident blues singer of Woodville and rural Wilkinson County, Mississippi. There everyone knows old Scott. We hope this record will make him known to a wider audience." Prior to the recordings in 1970 Dunbar was recorded by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. in 1954 as part of field recordings done under a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Ramsey's recordings appeared on the ten volume series Music from the South on Folkways with four of Dunbar's recordings on Music From The South Vol. 5: Song, Play And Dance and one side on Music From The South Vol. 10: Been Here And Gone. Three more issued sides were recorded in 1968, which appeared on the album Blues From The Delta, the companion album to William Ferris' influential book of the same name.

Dunbar gave up the juke joints because they were too dangerous and in later years played primarily for whites. William Ferris wrote in Blues From The Delta that "I recorded thirty-seven songs during my visits with Dunbar and of these, two thirds were sung white style in the key of C. " The thirteen songs on From Lake Mary are mostly blues, likely selected to appeal to the blues revival market while the vast majority of recordings from this session have not been issued, forty-eight unissued sides in total.  At lengthy recording sessions n February, April and August of 1970 Dunbar proves to be a true songster, laying down songs like "Wabash Cannonball", "Sally Good'n", "Blue Heaven", "Tennessee Waltz" and  "You Are My Sunshine." In 1994 Fat Possum reissued From Lake Mary on CD with no additional tracks.Dunbar passed away at the age of 90 in 1994 with his death largely unnoticed outside of a couple of obituaries in blues magazines and a recorded legacy of  nineteen issued sides.

Bill Williams, was a 72-year old bluesman from Greenup, Kentucky, when he made his debut for Blue Goose in the early 1970's. Stephen Calt wrote that "The previously unrecorded Williams ranks among the most polished and proficient living traditional bluesmen, and has a large repertoire embracing ragtime, hillbilly, and even pop material. He is also the only known living associate of Blind Blake, his own favorite guitarist. …Disbelief is the inevitable reaction to incredible Bill Williams, a former partner of Blind Blake who is without doubt the most technically accomplished living country blues guitarist. …While living in Bristol, Tennessee in the early 1920's Bill met the peerless Blind Blake who was then living with an elderly woman (perhaps a relative) in a desolate nearby country area. For four months Bill worked as Blake's regular second guitarist…" Williams cut just two LP's, both for Blue Goose: Low And Lonesome and The Late Bill Williams 'Blues, Rags and Ballads plus had one song on the anthology These Blues Is Meant To Be Barrelhoused.

From the notes to The Late Bill Williams 'Blues, Rags and Ballads, Stephen Calt wrote: "For a guitarist of such uncommon ability Bill Williams enjoyed an all-too brief period of public recognition. Within fifteen minutes of the time he first picked up an instrument in 1908 he was accomplished enough to play a song, but he was still completely unknown beyond his home town of Greenup, Kentucky before Blue Goose recorded him in the fall of 1970 and issued an album (Low and Lonesome) that brought him unqualified acclaim as a 73-year old folk find. A brief series of concert engagements (notably at the Smithsonian Institution and the Mariposa Folk Festival) followed, along with an extended recording session in New York, before a heart ailment brought about his musical retirement. In October of 1973, nearly three years to the day of his recording debut, he was fatally stricken in his sleep. This memorial album and its soon to be released sequel will constitute the remainder of Bill's musical legacy."

Jewell "Babe" Stovall was a Mississippi-born songster who was born in 1907 in Tylertown, MS, Babe was the youngest of 11 children, most of them musicians. Stovall learned guitar when he was around eight years old, and was soon playing breakdowns, frolics, and parties in the area, even meeting and learning "Big Road Blues" from Tommy Johnson. He moved to Franklinton, LA, in the 1930s, and split his time between there and Tylertown for several years, picking up whatever work he could as a farmhand. In 1964 he moved to New Orleans, where he was "discovered" working as a street singer in the French Quarter, his act featuring crowd-pleasing antics like playing his National Steel guitar behind his head and shouting out his song lyrics in a voice so loud that it carried well down the street. He recorded an LP for Verve in 1964, simply titled Babe Stovall (re-released on CD by Flyright in 1990), and did further sessions in 1966 released on Southern Sound as The Babe Stovall Story and with Bob West in 1968 (which form the basis of The Old Ace: Mississippi Blues & Religious Songs, released on Arcola in 2003), and became active on the folk and blues college circuit, as well as holding down a house gig at the Dream Castle Bar in New Orleans. Stovall died in 1974 in New Orleans.

Bruce Bastin called Frank Hovington or Guitar Frank as he was also known, "one of the finest singers to have been recorded during the 1970's…steeped in a tradition which is as much part of him as is the countryside about him." Bastin and Dick Spotswood recorded Frank in 1975, issuing the album Lonesome Road Blues on the Flyright label (reissued in 2000 as Gone With The Wind with several additional tracks). Frank was still in fine form when he reluctantly agreed to perform for Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann in 1980. The results were issued as part of their remarkable Living Country Blues series. Hovington started on ukulele and banjo as a child and teamed with Willliam Walker in the late '30s and '40s playing at house parties and dances in Frederica, Pennsylvania. Hovington moved to Washington D.C. in the late '40s, and backed such groups as Stewart Dixon's Golden Stars and Ernest Ewin's Jubilee Four. Hovington moved to Delaware in 1967 where he passed in 1982.