Entries tagged with “Fred McDowell”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Sonny Boy Williamson II The Sky Is Crying (Keep It To Ourselves)Sony Boy Williamson in Europe
Sonny Boy Williamson IIDissatisfiedSony Boy Williamson in Europe
Little Brother MontgomeryKeep Drinking Dealing With The Devil
James CottonDealing With The DevilDealing With The Devil
Otis SpannI Came From Clarksdale The Blues of Otis Spann
Roosevelt SykesSail OnAmerican Folk Blues Festival 1962-1965
Johnny 'Big Moose' WalkerGoing Home TomorrowGoing Home Tomorrow
Juke Boy BonnerB.U. BluesThings Ain't Right:The 1969 London Sessions
Fred McDowell Diving Duck BluesIn London Vol. 1
Cousin Joe American Blues Legends '74American Blues Legends '74
Doctor Ross Seems Like A DreamAmerican Blues Legends '74
Walter HortonThat Ain't ItAmerican Folk Blues Festival '70
Big John WrencherTouble Makin' WomanBig John's Boogie
Chicago Blues All StarsLittle Boy BlueLoaded With The Blues
Muddy WatersFeel Like Goin' HomeOne More Mile
Muddy WatersMy Pencil Won't Write No More One More Mile
Robert Pete WilliamsTake It Along Everywhere You GoBlues Masters Vol. 1
Big Joe WilliamsHand Me Down My Old Walking StickHand Me Down My Old Walking Stick
Bukka WhiteAberdeen BluesSparkasse In Concert
Howlin' Wolf Smokestack Lightning The American Folk-Blues Festival 1962-1966 DVD Vol.4
Sister Rosetta TharpeTrouble In MindAmerican Folk Blues Festival DVD Vol. 4
Brownie McGheeMy Last Suit The Best Of Brownie McGhee
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeHooray, Hooray, This Woman Is Killing Me Chris Barber Presents Lost & Found Vol. 1
Champion Jack DupreeStoryville SpecialBarrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie
Sunnyland Slim Get Further Little BrotherBarrelhouse Blues & Boogie Woogie
James Booker Papa Was A RascalLive At Montreux

Show Notes:

Sonny Boy Williamson:Portrait In BluesToday's program is the third and final program of  our look at blues artists who  recorded in Europe spanning the late 40's through the 70's. Outside of Lonnie Johnson and Alberta Hunter, the blues hadn't reached European shores prior to the 1940's The late 40's saw a few artists such as Leadbelly and Sammy Price hit Europe, with Price being the first to record. Josh White recorded the first guitar blues outside the U.S. But the biggest impact was Big Bill Broonzy's arrival in 1951 and subsequent tours through 1957. By 1958 Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters had come to England. 1960 saw Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery and Speckled Red appear in England. Dupree and Slim would both settle in Europe. Europe would become a haven for blues pianists with Curtis Jones, Eddie Boyd and Little Willie Littlefield all settling there. 1962 saw the inaugural American Folk Blues Festival which featured the absolute cream of the blues scene and toured almost annually until 1972. During the 70's blues artists continued to tour Europe and there were package tours such as The American Blues Legends Tour which ran in 1973, 74, 75 and 79 and major concerts like the Montreux Jazz Festival which always had a blues component. Other artists also recorded in Europe like Blind John Davis, Professor Longhair, Lightnin' Slim and Louisiana Red who settled in Germany.

We open the show with a pair of tracks by Sonny Boy Williamson II who we've spotlighted in out first two installments. Sonny Boy Williamson first traveled to Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival in 1963 and joined the festival again in 1964. Williamson stayed on after the tour trying to establish residency but it wasn't to be. Giorgio Gomelsky, who ran the Crawdaddy Club,  claims that he convinced promoter Horst Lippmann to let Sonny Boy remain in Britain so that “we could organize a tour of the budding R&B club circuit and strengthen the blues scene.” It appears that Williamson returned to the United States with the rest of the cast but he was back in London by early December for a series of concerts at the Marquee Club, including a Christmas Eve gig with the Cyril Davies All-Stars and Long John Baldry that made him an “honorary member of the British pop elite.” Williamson ushered in 1964 at the Marquee with the Chris Barber Band and Ottilie Patterson and in January he played the club at least once a week, alternately backed by the Hoochie Coochie Men and the Yardbirds. His reception,and the club’s attendance, was so overwhelming that Williamson applied for an extension to his work permit so that he could play a short tour of the provinces with the Yardbirds and additional dates in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

American Blues Legends '74It must have been humbling to go from such great renown in Europe only to return to the states  and once again hawk his namesake cornmeal and promote gigs over KFFA's  "King Biscuit Time" in Helena Arkansas. Despite the bowler hat and suit, his stories of adoring  white crowds were met with skepticism among the locals. Willie Dixon, who organized the American Folk Blues Festival, put Sonny Boy on the second and third tours and held him in high regard. As Dixon wrote in his autobiography "Sonny Boy Williamson was a beautiful guy. He wasn't a liar like a lot of guys. Most guys talking about themselves exaggerate a little bit. But if Sonny Boy told you it was, it was." Sonny Boy was truly appreciative of all the attention, and contemplated moving to Europe permanently but went back to the States where he made some final recordings for Chess.

We spin two today by Muddy Waters who first appeared oversea in Britain in 1958, returning again in 1962 and 1964.  This time out we play two wonderful acoustic performances from a 1972 Swiss radio broadcast. These sides were first released on the 2-CD set One More Mile.

In our second installment we featured Muddy Waters performing in 1964 as part of the American Folk Blues and Gospel Caravan. In May of 1964, the touring Folk, Blues, and Gospel Caravan featuring Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters and Cousin Joe performed a quirky, rain-drenched concert outside Manchester, England at a deserted Railway Station which had been decorated or 'dressed up' as a deep south railroad station. The railroad boarding platform served as a make-shift stage and the rail yard was filled with an audience. This time out we spotlight Sister Rosetta's knockout performance of "Trouble In Mind." Rosetta was introduced by Cousin Joe: "Ladies and Gentleman at this time I get great pleasure in bringing to you one of the greatest, one of the worlds greatest, gospel singers and guitar virtuosos, the inimitable Sister Rosetta Tharpe." As the rain poured down she launched into  "Didn't It Rain" and then "Trouble In Mind." This wasn't Tharpe's first time in Britain as she had toured first back in 1957 backed by Chris Barber's band. She was also the sole woman on the 1970 American Folk Blues Festival.

Once again we play several tracks from the American Folk Blues Festival (AFBF) which was an annual event that featured the cream of American blues musicians barnstorming their way across Europe throughout the 60's. The impact of these annual tours had a profound impact on those that were in attendance. Future stars such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page any many others were in the audience and were directly influenced by what they saw. The rise of blues based bands like the The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds and Animals can be directly attributed to the AFBF. The festival, founded by Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau in 1962, featured performances by luminaries like John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, and Willie Dixon and drew sellout crowds and rave reviews. Many of the artists found they were far more popular in Britain than in the United States, where audiences for the blues were diminishing. Several emigrated, and others seized the new commercial opportunities presented by the British blues boom by recording extensively for the European market and touring the blues club circuit with bands comprised of their young devotees.

American Folk Blues Festival 1964
1964 AFBF ensemble (The British Tour): Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Sunnyland Slim, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Hubert Sumlin

Horst Lippman hired Willie Dixon as a consultant on the tour. "Willie was my guide to all the clubs and most of the people", Lipmann recalled. "I'd go to all the main clubs where Muddy played and Wolf's place Silvio's and then little clubs on the corner you'd get in and suddenly there was Magic Sam playing …and another West Side club where Otis Rush was playing. These were not famous clubs but Willie knew them. At that time, Chicago was full of blues music, especially on the South Side."

Howlin' Wolf's appearance as part of the AFBF was much anticipated. In How Britain Got The Blues Roberta Freund Shwartz writes: "The 6’6” Wolf was the most energetic showman in Chicago and was known to lunge about the stage, climb curtains, do back flips and anything else he could think of to get an audience on its feet. Both R&B Monthly and R ‘n’ B Scene thought it prudent to forewarn their readers. “From reports, his act is essentially visual, and it will be another hallmark in British blues appreciation to see this massive bluesman roar his blues.”72 Willie Dixon was so concerned about possible reactions that he ordered Howlin’ Wolf to “act right” on stage. From published reviews and remembrances it seems that he toned down his usual antics, but his size and menacing stage presence were enough to make an indelible impression. Alan Stevens of Melody Maker reported, 'He pads around the stage like a caged animal, fixes his baleful stare, makes a violent movement of his hands, then belts out the blues with such power and effect that the whole of his massive frame shakes ….' According to Simon Napier, Wolf’s Festival performances 'varied from day to day somewhat as to content quality and power … some days he got over very well, at others he was less effective.' At Croydon and Manchester he 'brought down the house' with 'Shake for Me' and was 'absolutely great.' Long John Baldry recalled, 'It was just magic watching him.' …Not only had his powerful Festival performances earned him new fans, he also had a record on the charts. 'Smokestack Lightnin,' [Pye 7N52244] a song that had been in Wolf’s repertoire since the early 1930s, broke the British Top 50 shortly after its release in June; it peaked at #42 on the national charts but in Manchester and Newcastle it was in the Top Twenty. This granted him almost mainstream stardom and during his stay he appeared on nearly every pop television and radio program in the country, including the iconic Juke Box Jury."

The American Blues Legends tour was run by promoter Jim Simpson who operated the Big Bear label. Simpson released albums of the tour for the years 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1979. In the previous programs we've featured selections from the 1973 and 1979 tours and today we spotlight a pair from the 1974 tour. That toured featured Eddie Taylor, Doctor Ross, Big John Wrencher, G.P. Jackson and Cousin Joe. Joe's "Blues Legends '74" is an autobiographical song about the tour and is also where today's show title comes from.

Several tracks across these three programs come from the Storyville label. Named after the notorious New Orleans district where jazz was born, the Storyville label was launched in Copenhagen in 1952 by jazz fanatic Karl Emil Knudsen. Storyville originally sold imported American records but when the burgeoning post war jazz scene attracted the American jazz and blues artists to tour in Europe and Scandinavia Knudsen seized every opportunity to record his jazz and blues heroes for the label. From the beginning the label was issuing 45's by people like Champion Jack Dupree, Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Memphis Slim, Snooks Eaglin, Speckled Red and Leadbelly and then later releasing albums by these same artists. Notable where the label's "Portraits In Blues" series which featured full-length albums by Snooks Eaglin, John Henry Barbee, Big Joe Williams, Sunnyland Slim and others.

Big Walter Horton is featured twice today, once with the group Chicago Blues Allstars and and a performance under his own name at the 1965 AFBF. The Chicago Blues All Stars were a group that included Horton, Johnny Shines, Willie Dixon, Clifton James and  Sunnyland Slim.  The group issued one album,  Loaded With The Blues,  for the German MPS label in 1969.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Mance LipscombFreddieTexas Songster
Big Joe WilliamsMean Step Father Tough Times
Robert Curtis SmithDon't Drive Me AwayArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Sam ChatmonI Have To Paint My Face I Have To Paint My Face
Lil Son JacksonI Walked From DallasBlues Come To Texas
Black Ace Golden Slipper I'm The Boss Card In Your Hand
Mercy Dee Lady LuckArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Alex MooreBoogieing In StrasbourgArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Lightnin' Sam Hopkins I Got a Brother in WaxahachieThe Hopkins Brothers
Lightnin' Sam Hopkins Meet You At The Chicken ShackTexas Blues
John JacksonBear Cat BluesDon't Let Your Deal Go Down
Bukka WhiteAlabama Blues Sky Songs
Fred McDowellWrite Me a Few LinesArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Clifton ChenierI'm A Hog For You60 Minutes With The King Of Zydeco
Blind James CampbellBaby Please Don't GoAnd His Nashville Street Band
Juke Boy BonnerGoin' Back To The Country Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Johnny LittlejohnDreamSlidin' Home
Johnny Young Wild, Wild Woman Johnny Young And His Chicago Blues Band
Earl Hooker Earl's Blues The Moon Is Rising
L.C. RobinsonUps And DownsUps And Downs
Big Mama ThorntonLittle Red Rooster In Europe
Bee HoustonThings Gonna Get BetterThe Hustler
Henry GrayThe Blues Won't Let Me Take My RestLouisiana Blues
Johnnie LewisHobo BluesAlabama Slide Guitar
Piano Red You Ain't Got A ChanceArhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
David AlexanderSuffering With The Lowdown BluesThe Dirt On The Ground
Big Joe DuskinCincinnati StompCincinnati Stomp
K.C. DouglasYou're Crying Won't Make Me StayMercury Blues
J.C. Burris One Of These Mornings (I'm Checkin' Out)Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Furry LewisJudge Boushay BluesMemphis Swamp Jam

Show Notes:

Mr. Strachwitz in Arhoolie's record vault.
Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Arhoolie Records is celebrating its 50th year and I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a spotlight on the label who's records have been heard often on my show. Today's feature will obviously focus on the label's blues recordings. While the label reissued many vintage recordings and issued recordings made by others, most notably folklorist Harry Oster, today's focus will be on the recordings made specifically for the Arhoolie label itself. There's of course no way to do justice to the label in a two-hour show and I'll likely do a second installment down the road. The bulk of the Arhoolie catalog has been reissued on CD, almost always with bonus or unreleased tracks with the CD's often having a different title than the original LP's, sometimes combing multiple LP's onto one CD. On a related note I recently picked up a copy of the new Arhoolie 4-CD box set, Hear Me Howling!, which contains dozens of unreleased recordings and I'll be featuring cuts from this collection on an upcoming show.

Arhoolie Records was founded in 1960 and has issued some 400 albums and recorded more than 6,500 songs,the vast majority of which were captured by founder Chris Strachwitz himself. His field recordings have helped popularize numerous branches of Americana roots music, from Tex-Mex and Cajun to blues and folk. Strachwitz did many of his most important recordings with down home artists such as Texas bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins and zydeco king Clifton Chenier on field trips through the South beginning 50 years ago. It was during his summer vacation of 1959 that Strachwitz used this trip as a pretense for his pilgrimage to see personal hero, Lightnin' Hopkins, in Houston. Seeing the legendary Texas bluesman on his home turf at watering holes such as Pop's Place and the Sputnik Club inspired him to begin his own label in earnest, although, ironically, he would not be able to record Lightnin' himself for a couple of years because he was "unaffordable." Arriving in Houston in the summer of 1960 for his second visit, he was disappointed that Hopkins, was back in California at a folk festival. Fortunately during the trip, with the aid of Mack McCormick,  he stumbled upon songster Mance Lipscomb. Lipscomb was recorded virtually on the spot, in his house. Texas Songster and Sharecropper became Arhoolie's first release as #1001 (the first of five volumes devoted to Lipscomb). Over the years the label has recorded a wide range of bluesmen such as Big Joe Williams, Black Ace, Fred McDowell, Bukka White, Johnny Young, L.C. Robinson, Earl Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and many others. Strachwitz's interest in recording blues waned by the late 60's and early 70's as he reflected: "I just found it didn't kick me in the ass like the old stuff did. I just found it formulaic." There were some later blues records including late 70's records by Charlie Musselwhite and The Charles Ford Band, a 1985 record by Katie Webster and a 1991 recording by pianist Dave Alexander.

Mance Lipscomb
Mance Lipscomb
Credit: Chris Strachwitz
 

Lipscomb was born April 9, 1895 to an ex-slave father from Alabama and a half Native American mother. Lipscomb spent most of his life working as a tenant farmer in Texas and was "discovered" and recorded by Mack McCormick and Chris Strachwitz in 1960. Lipscomb's name quickly became well known among blues and folk music fans. He appeared at the Texas Heritage Festival in Houston in 1960 and 1961, then capitalized on his California connection and made appearances for three years running (1961-63) at the large Berkeley Folk Festival held at the University of California. In between festival appearances he appeared at folk coffeehouses in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, and he made several more recordings for Arhoolie. In the late 1960s, as interest in the blues mounted, Lipscomb experienced still greater success. He appeared at the Festival of American Folklife, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1968 and 1970, and he performed at other large festivals, including the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970 and the Monterey Jazz Festival in California in 1973. Among the many musicians who became Lipscomb fans was vocalist Frank Sinatra, who issued a Lipscomb recording, Trouble in Mind, on his Reprise label in 1970. Lipscomb passed in 1976.

Strachwitz finally managed to record Hopkins for his Arhoolie label in 1961 and recorded him sporadically through 1969. By the 60's Hopkins music was increasingly geared towards the new white audience that was embracing blues and this is reflected in the nearly dozen LP's he cut for the Bluesville label. His Arhoolie recordings from this period, however, hark back to the raw sound of his early records that first captured Strachwitz's attention. Hopkins cut several fine albums for Arhoolie including the self-titled Lightnin' Sam Hopkins, an album featuring one with Hopkins' brothers and the other with Barbara Dane, The Texas Bluesman, Lightning Hopkins in Berkeley and Po' Lightning.

In addition to Lipscomb and Hopkins, another major down home blues artist Strachwitz recorded was Fred McDowell.  In September, 1959, Alan Lomax encountered Fred McDowell, the greatest discovery of his famous "Southern journey." McDowell, for his part, was happy to have some sounds on records, but continued on with his farming and playing for tips outside of Stuckey’s candy store in Como for spare change. It wasn’t until Strachwitz came searching for McDowell to record him that the bluesman’s fortunes began to change dramatically. He recorded McDowell between 1964 and 1969 resulting in the albums Mississippi Delta Blues, Fred McDowell Vol. 2, Fred McDowell And His Blues Boys and  Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning.

It was through Lightnin' Hopkins that Strachwitz met Clifton Chenier, who would become the label's most recorded artist. "Ay Yi Yi"/"Why Did You Go Last Night?" was the initial single and in 1965 Arhoolie issued Chenier's full-length debut, Louisiana Blues and Zydeco. Although they continued to work together until the early '70s, Chenier and Strachwitz differed artistically. While Chenier wanted to record commercial-minded R&B, Strachwitz encouraged him to focus on traditional zydeco. The label issued over a dozen albums by Chenier including 1976's Bogalusa Boogie, with his new group, the Red Hot Louisiana Band which eventually garnered the album an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Chenier reached the peak of his popularity in the '80s. In 1983, he received a Grammy award for his album, I'm Here!, recorded in eight hours in Bogalusa, LA. The following year, he performed at the White House. Chenier passed in 1987.

Many of today's initial sides come from a fruitful meeting with blues historian Paul Oliver. As Strachwitz writes: "In the summer of 1960 I met up with British blues aficionado, author, and vernacular architecture scholar, Paul Oliver and his wife Valerie at the legendary Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN. Paul was making this trip, his first to the USA, to produce a series of radio programs to be broadcast by the BBC and interviewing historic blues musicians at the source was a major goal of his trip. Paul had sent me in advance a list of names of blues singers who had recorded in Dallas and Fort Worth in the 1920s and ’30s, hoping I would perhaps do a little research on my way to Texas from the West Coast. Driving with Bob Pinson (now of the Country Music Foundation Library) into Texas, we both made many inquiries which led to meeting Lil’ Son Jackson and Black Ace, a singer who accompanied himself on a National steel guitar. With Mack McCormick I was fortunate to meet and record the remarkable Mance Lipscomb and later on the return trip to the West Coast with Paul, we also met Alex Moore in Dallas, an extraordinary character and pianist from the early era in blues history, as well as many other artists in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In addition to the above mentioned Alex Moore, Strachwitz recorded several fine pianists over the years like Mercy Dee Walton, Piano Red, Dave Alexander (who later changed his name to Omar Sharriff) and Big Joe Duskin. Walton was from Texas who had played piano around Waco from the age of 13 before hitting the coast in 1938. Once there, the pianist gigged up and down the length of the Golden State before debuting on record in 1949 with "Lonesome Cabin Blues" for the tiny Spire logo, which became a national R&B hit. He cut sessions for Imperial in 1950 and Specialty in 1952-53. After a lengthy layoff, Walton returned to the studio in 1961, recording prolifically for Arhoolie (some of this material ended up on the Bluesville album A Pity And A Shame). Walton passed in 1962.

Piano Red was Willie Perryman, the much younger, brother of Rufus Perryman aka Speckled Red. His career started with a bang when he sold an alleged million copies of "Red's Boogie/'Rockin' With Red" in 1951. He hit a second time with "Dr. Feelgood" and he took the name for his own. Strachwitz pried Red loose from his band and recorded him alone at the piano in 1972 resulting in the album Piano Red: "Dr. Feelgood" All Alone With His Piano.

Omar Shariff is a Texas-born pianist who moved to the San Francisco area in the '60s. He made two excellent albums in the 70's for Arhoolie in 1972 as Dave Alexander (The Rattler and The Dirt On The Ground), then  disappeared from the recording world for twenty years. Alexander (now as Omar Shariff) made a final recording for the label in 1991 titled The Raven which contains seven tracks form his earlier Arhoolie albums.

In his younger days Joe Duskin performed in clubs in Cincinnati and across the river in Newport, Kentucky. While serving in the US Army in World War II, he continued to play and, in entertaining the US forces, met his idols Johnson, Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. In the early 1970's Duskin began playing the piano at festivals in the US and across Europe. By the late 70's,  with the reputation for his concert playing now growing, his first recording, Cincinnati Stomp, was released on Arhoolie Records featuring recording sessions done in 1977 and 1978. He recorded several more albums before passing in 2007.

Strachwitz made some superb urban blues records in the late 60's and early 70's. As he  wrote: "As Back in 1968, I told Buddy Guy, who was playing in a Berkeley club, that I was interested in recording his favorite neglected giants of Chicago Blues. I had met Buddy in Europe while touring with the American Folk Blues Festival and found him to be a tasteful and exciting player (and one of the nicest people I ever met). Buddy's prompt response was: Earl Hooker and John Littlejohn! " Hooker was recorded in 1968 and 1069 resulting the excellent Two Bugs And A Roach featuring Freddie Roulette, Louis Myers, Pinetop Perkins, Carey Bell and Andrew Odom. The posthumous Hooker and Steve (recorded in 1969)  came out in 1975 featuring keyboardist Steve Miller. In 1998 Arhoolie issued the CD The Moon Is Rising which contained the entirety of Hooker and Steve plus some unreleased live recordings. Johnny Littlejohn's discography is frustratingly inconsistent but hands down his Arhoolie album, 1968's John Littlejohn's Chicago Blues Stars (issued on CD as Slidin' Home), is his best outing.

Strachwitz also recorded Chicago bluesman Johnny Young. He was recorded at two sessions in '65. Producer Pete Welding surrounded him with the best that Chicago had to offer, including two thirds of the then Muddy Waters Band of 1965: Otis Spann, SP Leary, Jimmy Cotton with Jimmy Lee Morris on bass, and for a '67 session, Walter Horton, Jimmy Dawkins, Lafayette Leake, Ernie Gatewood on bass and Lester Dorsie on drums. The sessions resulted in the albums Johnny Young And His Chicago Blues Band and Johnny Young And Big Walter: Chicago Blues. The CD Johnny Young – Chicago Blues contains the entirety of the former and most of the latter album.

Also recorded were a some tough West Coast artists: L.C. Robinson,  Bee Houston and Big Mama Thornton. Robinson was born and raised in east Texas, and later relocated to California. Robinson played guitar and fiddle, but he was really known for his incredible steel guitar style. On one of his Arhoolie sessions he is backed by the Muddy Waters band, on another by his own trio issued on the alum Ups And Downs (issued on CD as Mojo In My Hand which includes an unissued radio performance). His only other full length session was House Cleanin' Blues for the Bluesway label in the early 70's.

Texas born, Los Angeles blues guitarist Bee Houston became known as Big Mama Thornton's guitarist during the waning years of her career. He cut his lone album, The Hustler,  for Arhoolie in the 70's. The CD version contains not only the entire LP but also most of a second, earlier but unissued session.

Big Mama Thornton was recorded on October 20, 1965, at Wessex Studio in London, England resulting in the album In Europe (the CD version contains six extra sides) featuring Eddie Boyd, Buddy Guy, Big Walter Horton, Fred Below and Jimmy Lee Robinson. Big Mama Thornton Vol. 2: The Queen At Monterey (reissued on CD as Big Mama Thornton – With the Muddy Waters Blues Band, 1966 with seven extra cuts)was recorded in 1966 backed by the Muddy Waters band: James Cotton,  Otis Spann,  Muddy Waters, Sammy Lawhorn, Luther Johnson and Francis Clay.

Some of the other Arhoolie artists featured today include John Jackson, James Campbell, K.C. Douglas and J.C. Burris. For much of his life, John Jackson played for country house parties in Virginia, or around the house for his own amusement. Then in the ’60s he encountered the folk revival, becoming the Washington, D.C. area’s best-loved blues artist. He made his debut in 1965 for Arhoolie with Blues and Country Dance Tunes From Virginia followed by Country Blues & Ditties and John Jackson In Europe.

A bluesy group of street musicians from Nashville, Tennessee, James Campbell and his group played a hybrid of hillbilly, jazz, blues, old time popular, skiffle, and jug band elements. This assemblage of street musicians was originally recorded in 1963 and issued on the album as Blind James Campbell And His Nashville Street Band. The band worked road houses, on the streets of Nashville, at parties, a well as other social functions.

Born and raised on a family farm near Sharon, MS, K.C. Douglas was deeply influenced by the 1920's recordings of Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson. Relocating to Vallejo, CA, in 1945, Douglas found employment in the naval shipyards. Within a couple of years, he gravitated to the San Francisco/Oakland blues scene. His first recordings were issued on the Oakland-based Downtown label in 1948.He cut some of his best sides for Bluesville in the 60's as well as scattered sides for Arhoolie. In 1974 he the album The Country Boy for the label and issued on CD in 1998 as Mercury Blues with many unreleased tracks.

The nephew of Sonny Terry, Johnny "J.C." Burris was also a blues harmonica player, though he didn't record too much. Burris did some performing in New York in the 1950's and worked on recording sessions with Terry, Sticks McGhee, and other artists on Folkways Records. At the end of the decade, he relocated to California, finding some work in folk clubs in San Francisco before a stroke in 1966 robbed him of his use of his right side. Several years later, he regained his mobility on his right side, and in 1973, he began performing again, recording some solo unaccompanied material in 1975-1976 that appears on Arhoolie's Blues Professor album. He continued playing at schools, clubs, and festivals until his death in 1988.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Jim & Bob (The Genial Hawaiians)St. Louis BluesCountry Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Little Hat JonesRollin' From Side To SideBuddy Boy Hawkins & His Buddies
Ed BellSquabblin BluesThe Best There Ever Was
Saunders King Stormy Night BluesSaunders King 1948-54
Pee Wee CraytonI Love Her Still Blues After Dark
Lowell Fulson I'm A Night Owl, Part 1Lowell Fulson 1949-51
Ivory Joe HunterLandlord BluesIvory Joe Hunter 1947
Rev. Gary DavisNobody Don't Care For MeAt Home and Church: 1962-1967
Rev. Gary DavisLord, I Looked Down The RoadSay No To The Devil
Rev. Gary DavisMister Jim aka Walkin' Dog BluesGuitar And Banjo Of Reverend Gary Davis
Junior Kimbrough Lonesome In My HomeFirst Recordings
K.C. DouglasI'm Gonna Build Me A WebMercury Blues
Lil' Son JacksonBlues Come to TexasBlues Come to Texas
Edith WilsonHe Used To Be Your Man But He's My Man NowJohnny Dunn Vol. 2 1922-1928
Edith WilsonMistreatin' BluesHe May Be Your Man (But He Comes To See Me Sometimes
Baby TateYou Can Always Tell Another Man Done Gone
Furry Lewis Paer LeeLive At The Gaslight
Henry Townsend Hard Luck Story Hard Luck Stories
'Little' Laura Dukes Stack O' Lee BluesTennessee Blues Vol.1
'Little' Laura Dukes Bricks In My PillowTennessee Blues Vol.1
Tarter & GaryBrownie BluesVirginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues
Jaydee ShortBarefoot BluesThe Best There Ever Was
St. Louis Jimmy Stay Up All Night After Hours
Mickey CooperI Had A Dream Last NightSwing Time Shouters Vol. 1
Washboard Sam & Big Bill Broonzy By MyselfWashboard Sam & Big Bill Broonzy
Jo Jo Williams You Can't Live In This Big World By Yourself Chicago Ain't Nothin' But A Blues Band
Booker T. SappsThe Weeping Worry Blues Red River Blues 1934-1943
James Henry DiggsPoor Boy Long Way From HomeVirginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues
Fred McDowellGoin' Down to the RacesRoots Of The Blues
Clara Smith Jelly Bean BluesClara smith Vol. 4 1926-1927
Alberta Hunter If You Can't Hold The Man You Love (Don't Cry When He's Gone) Female Blues: The Remaining Titles Vol. 1
Juke Boy Bonner B.U. Blues Things Ain't Right

Show Notes:

I enjoy taking a break from the theme shows and put together these mix shows, which usually reflect records I've been listening to that don't fit into the other programs. We span a sizable chunk of blues history today, playing tracks spanning from 1922 to 1981. Along the way we hear multiple tracks by Rev. Gary Davis, Edith Wilson, Laura Dukes plus some vintage West Coast blues, plenty of pre-war blues and some terrific latter day down-home blues records.

We spin a trio of sides by the magnificent guitarist Rev. Gary Davis. Thankfully Davis recorded prolifically in the post-war years starting with a few scattered sides in the 1940's, more in the 1950's and really picking up steam in the 1960's. A pleasant surprise in recent years are the number of unreleased Davis sides that have surfaced. Just in the last few years the following have been released: At Home and Church: 1962-1967 (3-CD), Live at Gerde's Folk City (3-CD), If I Had My Way: Early Home RecordingsDemons and Angels: The Ultimate Collection (3-CD), Sun of Our Life – Solos, Songs, A Sermon, 1955-1957 and Document’s Reverend Gary Davis: Manchester Free Trade Hall 1964.

Gary Davis was a major influence on Blind Boy Fuller. In the late 1920's he was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar. He backed Fuller on second guitar at a 1935 session. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-’20s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the 1930?s with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again. Today we spin the gorgeous "Nobody Don't Care For Me" from At Home and Church: 1962-1967 the second 3-CD collection of recordings made by Stefan Grossman who was a student of Davis. The other tracks come from his studio albums; "Lord, I Looked Down The Road" comes from Say No To The Devil while "Mister Jim aka Walkin' Dog Blues"comes from Guitar And Banjo Of Reverend Gary Davis.

After working in vaudeville with her pianist brother Danny Wilson, Edith Wilson rose to prominence in 1921 when she replaced Mamie Smith in Perry Bradford's musical revue "Put And Take." Bradford arranged for her to begin recording with Columbia in 1921. She cut just under three-dozen sides between 1921 and 1930. Wilson recorded far less than other female blues stars of the 1920's like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. She could sing the blues but she was more of a  nightclub and theater singer and worked for years on the New York entertainment scene. She retired from active performance in 1963, but made a comeback in 1973 to play with Eubie Blake, Little Brother Montgomery and others. In 1977 she recorded one of her finest efforts, He May Be Your Man (But He Comes to See Me Sometimes) with Little Brother Montgomery for the Delmark label. Her last live show was given at the 1980 Newport Jazz Festival. She passed the following year. From 1922 we hear Wilson delivering a spirited version of "He Used To Be Your Man But He's My Man Now" featuring the outstanding trumpeter Johnny Dunn. Fifty years down the line Wilson remains in vigorous and sassy form as we hear on "Mistreatin' Blues."

Little Laura Dukes with Robert Burse, Dick Rowles, Louis Allen, Wilfred Bell and Will Batts 1930's

A lifelong Memphis muscian, Laura Dukes was known as "Little Laura" or "Little Bit" for her diminutive stature. Her father, who played drums for W.C. Handy's band, put Dukes on the stage by the time she was five years old, where she proved to be a fine singer and performer. During the 1920's and 1930's, she performed for medicine shows, carnivals, and circuses. She also regularly performed on Beale Street during those years. Also during this time, she met the bluesman, Robert Nighthawk and the two spent several years traveling together and performing. She became a regular performer around Beale Street with the Memphis Jug Band, along with Will Shade and Will Batts. In 1954 she made some recordings with Will Batts and for the Albatross label in in 1972 and appeared in the BBC-TV documentary The Devil's Music – A History of the Blues. Dukes passed in 1992. From the album Tennessee Blues Vol.1 we hear Dukes in great form playing solo, flailing away on her ukulele and singing magnificently on "Stack O' Lee Blues" and "Bricks In My Pillow", the latter number likely learned from Robert Nighthawk who cut the song in 1952.

I've long been a fan of the West Coast blues sound of the 40's and 50's, devoting several shows to the region, and today we spin four in a row by men who found fame in the land of opportunity. I've been listening quite a bit to pioneering R&B guitarist Saunders King. King had his first hit in 1942 with "S.K. Blues." In 1938 he began playing guitar and wound up singing with the Southern Harmony Four for an NBC radio station in San Francisco. He soon developed his passion for blues and "S.K. Blues" was an enormous hit. It also features one of the earliest examples of electric blues guitar. King recorded for the Aladdin, Modern, and Rhythm labels. He may have made a greater impact in the burgeoning West Coast blues scene of the '40s but was saddled with numerous personal problems including the suicide of his wife in 1942, a serious wound from a .45-caliber pistol fired by his landlord in 1946, and his serving time at San Quentin prison for heroin possession. King retired from music in 1961 and dedicated time to the church. He passed away on August 31, 2000 at his Oakland home. He was 91. Outside of two 1961 tracks, all of King's recordings can be found on two volumes on the Classics label.

We feature two other West Coast guitar slingers, Lowell Fulson and Pee Wee Crayton. We turn to 1950 to hear Fulson's elegant, moody "I'm a Night Owl, Part 1" part of a session that also produced the masterpieces "Lonesome Christmas, Pt. 1 & 2" and " Sinner's Prayer." Not a bad day's work! We jump ahead to 1957 to hear Pee Wee Crayton's "I Love Her Still", a lesser known gem he cut for Vee-Jay.

We feature several fine pre-war blues performances including a pair of 1926 tracks by Alberta Hunter and Clara Smith. Hunter would become one of Paramount’s top sellers and her releases were given full-page ads in the Chicago Defender. According to Paramount historian Alex van der Tuuk, Hunter “had been working for a couple of years at the Dreamland Theater in Chicago and had started her recording career with Black Swan in New York, but had become disenchanted with them because they did so little to ptomote her records in contrast with the big buildup they were affording Ethel Waters.” She switched to Paramount in 1922 where her recordings launched Paramount’s 1200 race series." Hunter's records are decidedly mixed, lacking in the feeling and earthiness of her contemporaries. There are times, usually when she has suitable accompanists, that she sings with conviction as on our selection, the rousing  "If You Can't Hold The Man You Love (Don't Cry When He's Gone)." Clara Smith got on record two years after Hunter, although she was a headliner on the TOBA circuit by 1918. She was a terrific all around blues singer who recorded prolifically between 1923 and 1932. The mournful "Jelly Bean Blues" is sung with great feeling as Smith sings a tale no doubt her female listeners could relate to:

Days coming, days go, but my work is never done (2x)
I have to get up every morning, with the rising sun
That road is narrow and it's crooked, lead to you don't no where (2x)
It's hard for a honest girl, to make her way up there
All these so called sweet and pretty men, please take them away
(2x)
All they want to do, to lead some poor gal astray
Some are like jelly beans, so cute and so sweet (2x)
I carry carbolic acid, for everyone of them I meet

In addition to the ladies we play some superb bluesmen. We open up with an unusual number, a stunning instrumental version of "St. Louis Blues" by Jim & Bob (The Genial Hawaiians). Unfortunately very little is known about Jim and Bob. They performed on the radio in Chicago and made a handful of impressive recordings that were released in the 1930's. "St. Louis Blues" appears to be the only blues the duo ever recorded (the flip side, "Hula Blues", is not a blues). From the same opening set we hear the fleet fingered "Rollin' From Side To Side" form Little Hat Jones. Also worth mentioning is Jaydee Short's tough "Barefoot Blues" that has one of the great opening monologues in the blues: "Now mama let's get stomp barefooted and get drunk and run. Because I'm a hard working man you think I'm gonna be your slave for you all my life. And you know (?) don't have to treat a good man right." The Jaydee Short track comes from The Best There Ever Was, an unbeatable collection of country blues on Yazoo with unsurpassed mastering. Also from that collection we spin Ed Bell's "Squabblin Blues."

There's some great down-home blues on today's program including a track from Junior Kimbrough's first session and a live recording of Furry Lewis. In 1966 Junior Kimbrough traveled to Memphis from his home in North Mississippi and recorded for noted R&B/Gospel producer and owner of the Goldwax record label, Quinton Claunch. Kimbrough recorded one session but Claunch declined to release the recordings, deeming them too country. Forty some years later, Bruce Watson of Big Legal Mess Records approached Claunch to buy the original master tapes and the rights to release the recordings which have been released as First Recordings. Kimbrough made a name for himself with some fine down-home blues recordings for Fat Possum in the 90's before passing in 1998.

I was digging through my records recently and stumbled across the Furry Lewis album Live At The Gaslight At The Au Go Go. This is warm, well recorded album cut in August 1971 and captures Furry in fine form. Our track, "Paer Lee", a misspelling of "Pearlee", is gorgeous slide number. Furry cut the number at his 1959 self titled comeback album for Folkways.

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John Lomax Photo
John Lomax

In June 1932, they arrived at the offices of the Macmillan publishing company in New York. Here Lomax proposed his idea for an anthology of American ballads and folksongs, with a special emphasis on the contributions of African Americans. It was accepted. In preparation he traveled to Washington to review the holdings in the Archive of American Folk Song of the Library of Congress. Lomax found the recorded holdings of the Archive woefully inadequate for his purposes. He therefore made an arrangement with the Library whereby it would provide recording equipment, obtained for it by Lomax through private grants, in exchange for which he would travel the country making field recordings to be deposited in the Archive. John Lomax was paid a salary of one dollar per year for this work (which included fund raising for the Library) and was expected to support himself entirely through writing books and giving lectures.Thus began a ten-year relationship with the Library of Congress that would involve not only John but the entire Lomax family, including his second wife, Ruby Terrill Lomax, whom he married in 1934.

In July they acquired a state-of-the-art, 315-pound acetate phonograph disk recorder. Installing it in the trunk of his Ford sedan, Lomax soon used it to record, at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a twelve-string guitar player by the name of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as "Lead Belly," whom they considered one of their most significant finds. During the next year and a half, father and son continued to make disc recordings of musicians throughout the South.

Prison Compound No. 1
Prison Compound No. 1, Angola, LA.
Leadbelly in foreground.jpg

Through a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, Lomax was able to set out in June 1933 on the first recording expedition under the Library's auspices, with Alan Lomax (then eighteen years old) in tow. In their successful grant application they wrote, that prisoners, "Thrown on their own resources for entertainment . . . still sing, especially the long-term prisoners who have been confined for years and who have not yet been influenced by jazz and the radio, the distinctive old-time Negro melodies." They toured Texas prison farms recording work songs, reels, ballads, and blues from prisoners. They also recorded music from many others not in prison.

From 1936 to 1942 Alan Lomax was Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress to which he and his father and numerous collaborators contributed more than ten thousand field recordings. During his lifetime, he collected folk music from the United States, Haiti, the Caribbean, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy, assembling a treasure trove of American and international culture. Lomax was the first to record such legendary musicians as Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, McKinley "Muddy Waters" Morganfield, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, as well as an enormous number of other significant traditional musicians. He also recorded eight hours of music and spoken recollection with Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton in 1938, and four hours of the same format with Woody Guthrie in 1940.

Although John Lomax would partially retire in 1940, he continued to collect folk music for the remainder of his life and published his autobiography, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter, in 1947. By the time of his death in 1948, Lomax had aided in the collection of over 10,000 folk songs for the Library of Congress.

Blind Willie McTell Photo
Blind Willie McTell, Georgia Hotel Room, 1940

From the time he left his position as head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress in 1942 through the end of his long and productive career as an internationally known folklorist, author, radio broadcaster, filmmaker, concert and record producer, and television host, Alan Lomax amassed one of the most important collections of ethnographic material in the world. After he left the Library of Congress, Alan Lomax continued his work to document, analyze, and present traditional music, dance, and narrative through projects of various kinds throughout the world. With his father and on his own he published many books, including American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934) and Our Singing Country (1941). He received many honors and awards, including the National Medal of the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle award for his book The Land Where the Blues Began, and a "Living Legend" award from the Library of Congress. According to folklorist Roger Abrahams, he is "the person most responsible for the great explosion of interest in American folksong throughout the mid-twentieth century."

Lomax traveled through Stovall's Plantation in August of 1941 when he came acrass McKinley Morganfield, Latter to be know as Muddy Waters. Lomax recorded some two-dozen sides by Morganfield including a rendition of "I Be's Troubled," which became his first big seller when he recut it a few years later for the Chess brothers' Aristocrat logo as "I Can't Be Satisfied." Lomax returned the next summer to record him again. Lomax knocked on Son House's door in 1941 to record him for the Library of Congress on a tip from Muddy Waters. House rounded up Willie Brown, Fiddlin' Joe Martin and Leroy Williams for the session. They cut six numbers that day and next summer in July, House recorded, unaccompanied, ten more songs for Lomax.

Alan Lomax Photo
Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax returned to Parchman Farm in 1947-48 and made some remarkable recordings, armed with state-of-the-art technology, a cassette machine. These sides were originally issued as the LP Negro Prison Songs and reissued on CD as Prison Songs Vol. 1: Murderous Home by Rounder. Lomax gathered the prisons best lead signers for these recordings, all simply known by their nicknames: men like Bama, 22, Alex, Bull, Dobie Red, and Tangle Eye.

In 1959 and 1960, Alan Lomax revisited the American South to record traditional music in newly developed stereo sound. He recorded Delta blues, fife-and-drum ensembles, Sacred Harp singers, Ozark and Appalachian ballad singers, and prison work gangs. English folksinger Shirley Collins assisted Alan Lomax on the 1959 trip, and his daughter, Anna, accompanied him on the 1960 trip. The endeavor resulted in a seven-album series issued on Altantic Records in 1960, reissued on CD as Sounds of the South, and in a twelve-volume series on Prestige International, reissued in 1997 on Rounder Records as the Southern Journey series of the Alan Lomax Collection.

The advent of new technologies opened up new worlds for Lomax, and in the 1970s and 1980s he made a series of journeys back to the South to videotape traditional musical performances for the PBS series American Patchwork, completed and broadcast in 1990. Throughout the 90s and into the twenty-first century, Rounder records steadily worked toward reissuing a 100-CD series showcasing Lomax' most legendary field recordings. Alan Lomax continued his work lecturing, writing, and working with the Association for Cultural Equity until his death at the age of 87 on the morning of July 19, 2002.

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