Entries tagged with “George and Ethel McCoy”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
George And Ethel McCoyMary Early In The Morning
George And Ethel McCoy'Way Down SouthEarly In The Morning
George And Ethel McCoyMiss Baker's BluesEarly In The Morning
Johnny Shines; Sunnyland Slim; Backwards Sam FirkTwo Long Freight TrainsReally Chicago Blues
Walter Horton; Honeyboy Edwards; Johnny Shines Way Cross TownReally Chicago Blues
John Lee Granderson; Big Joe Williams; Backwards Sam FirkStop Breaking DownReally Chicago Blues
Sunnyland Slim; Johnny Shines; Backwards Sam FirkCuttin' OutReally Chicago Blues
Sunnyland Slim; Big Joe Williams; Johnny Shines; Backwards Sam FirkBye Bye BabyReally Chicago Blues
Furry Lewis Why Don't You Come Home BluesOn The Road Again
Furry Lewis On The Road AgainOn The Road Again
Bukka WhiteGibson HillOn The Road Again
Rev. Gary DavisOut On The Ocean SailingO, Glory - The Apostolic Studio Sessions
Rev. Gary DavisRight NowO, Glory - The Apostolic Studio Sessions
Mose VinsonBullfrog Blues The Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 1
Sam ClarkSunnyland Train BluesThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 1
Dewey CorleyDewey's Walkin' BluesThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 1
Willie Morris My Good Woman Has Quit MeThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 2
Hacksaw HarneyHacksaw's Down South BluesThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 2
Van Hunt & Mose VinsonJelly Selling WomanThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 2
Sleepy John Estes Drop Down MamaThe Memphis Blues Again, Vol. 2
Arthur Weston & George RobersonHighway 49Things Have Changed - Anthology of Today's Blues from St. Louis
Clarence JohnsonBaby Let Me Come Back HomeThings Have Changed - Anthology of Today's Blues from St. Louis
Henry BrownHenry's JiveThings Have Changed - Anthology of Today's Blues from St. Louis
Henry TownsendBiddle Street BluesHenry T. Music Man
Henry TownsendCairo BluesHenry T. Music Man

Show Notes:

Liner Notes: Pt. 1Pt. 2Pt. 3
Pt. 4 - Pt. 5Pt. 6
Liner Notes: Pt.1Pt. 2 - Pt. 3
Pt. 4
Pt. 5Pt. 6

I've been meaning to get around to the Adelphi label, a fine label that issued a small batch of excellent blues albums in the late 60's and early 70's. I was looking through Stefan Wirz's discography of the label and realized I had in fact all the albums so I figured now was the time. Not to mention that several have been long out-of-print which gives me an opportunity to make these heard by a wider audience. Our show will stick to the albums  by the black blues artists, omitting the records by white artists, which is has always been the focus here on Big Road Blues. In the late 1990's and early 2000's Adelphi issued a number of unreleased recordings from the 60's on CD marketed as the Blues Vault Series and due to time constraints I'll been spotlighting those on a future show.

Adelphi was founded by siblings Gene and Carol Rosenthal, who were country blues enthusiasts. The Adelphi crew made extensive field recordings in 1969, from Chicago to St. Louis, Memphis, and the Mississippi Delta, in search of prewar blues artists. A few of these were released as compilations representing talent recorded at each major stop: Really Chicago’s Blues, The Memphis Blues Again, and Things Have Changed, which featured the artists from St. Louis. Individual albums by Little Brother’ Montgomery, George and Ethel McCoy, and Furry Lewis with Bukka White and Gus Cannon were released in the early 1970's, as were recordings by folk artists, including Roy Book Binder, Paul Geremia, and Chris Smither.

George & Ethel McCoy
George & Ethel McCoy photo by Joel Slotnikoff

 

Some of the label's most interesting recordings are on the three regional anthologies.  The Memphis Blues Again Vol. 1 & 2 were  recorded in Memphis in October, 1969 and at the Peabody Hotel in June, 1970. By the 1960's urban renewal decimated Beale Street yet many old time musicians remained; veterans like Furry Lewis, Bukka White, Will Shade, Dewey Corley, Memphis Piano Red, Laura Dukes and Gus Cannon were still hanging on. During the blues revival of the 60's many went down to Memphis to record these old musicians with the results mostly issued on small specialty labels like Adelphi. Things Have Changed was recorded in East St. Louis, Illinois and St. Louis in 1969 and is an anthology of St. Louis artists including Henry Townsend, George & Ethel McCoy, Henry Brown, Arthur Weston and others. The 2-LP set Really Chicago Blues is a collection of informal acoustic blues featuring Johnny Shines, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Joe Williams, John Lee Granderson and Sunnyland Slim performing in different configurations. Both The Memphis Blues Again and Really Chicago Blues albums have been reissued on the Echo Music label but not on CD.

Really Chicago Blues
Read Liner Notes

All of the individual artists record have been reissued on CD except for the exceptional Early In The Morning by the under-recorded George and Ethel McCoy. George and Ethel McCoy were a brother and sister duo who lived in St. Louis and who's aunt was Memphis Minnie. From the Adelphi website: "The Adelphi crew were enchanted with the pair's music style, the result of a lifetime of playing together, but it was not until Ethel performed "Meningitis Blues" that the dots were connected. Mike Stewart asked if Ethel had learned the song from one of Memphis Minnie's 78 records and was stunned by Ethel's reply: 'No. She taught us the song. She was our Auntie.'" Early In The Morning is their first album and the duo was recorded again in 1981 with the results issued on Swingmaster.

Thirty years would pass after his last recording session before Sam Charters came knocking on Furry Lewis' door in 1959 subsequently recordings him for Folkways that same year with two more albums following for Prestige in 1961. There was nothing rusty about his playing as he had never stopped performing for neighbors and friends. Lewis was recorded often through the 1960's, with a slew of informal recordings issued posthumously. Bob Groom wrote in his book The Blues Revival that his "return has been one of the most satisfying of the [blues] revival."Furry appears on the album On The Road Again alongside Bukka White who returned to performing in the early 60's. The letter was addressed to: "Booker T. Washington White, (Old Blues Singer), C/O General Delivery Aberdeen , Miss." and forwarded to him by a relative. That was how John Fahey and Ed Denson found Bukka White in 1963 who was now living in Memphis and made his last recordings in 1940. Also on the record is Gus Cannon and Dewey Corley. Corley was the leader of the Beale Street Jug Band from the '30s onward, and played jug, washtub bass and kazoo. In his later years, he also acted as an A&R man, helping record companies such as Adelphi scout out missing Memphis blues legends such as Hacksaw Harney and guitarist Willie Morris.

The Reverend Gary Davis was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar; 35 years later, despite two decades spent playing on the streets of Harlem in New York, he was still one of the giants in his field and an inspiration to dozens of modern guitarist/singers including Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, and Jorma Kaukonen, Larry Johnson, David Bromberg, and Ry Cooder, who studied with Davis. 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. O, Glory – The Apostolic Studio Sessions was recorded in 1969 and features Davis wife Annie and his Harlem neighbor and pupil Larry Johnson on harmonica.

Things Have Changed
Read Liner Notes

Henry Townsend, who has died aged 96 in 2006, had been the last blues musician who could trace his recording career back to the 1920s, having sat down before a recording microphone in November 1929 to sing his "Henry's Worried Blues" for Paramount. He recorded steadily, if not prolifically, through the decades cutting fine sides with Walter Davis through the 50's, a superb record for Bluesville in the 60's and in 1980 one of his finest records, Mule for the Nighthawk label. The Adelphi record, originally titled Henry T. Music Man and reissued on CD as Cairo Blues, was his second full-length album. The album also features Backwards Sam Firk (Mike Stewart), Henry Brown and Vernell Townsend.

Out of all the Adelphi albums the weakest is Little Brother Montgomery's No Special Rider recorded in 1969. Montgomery was an exceptional pianist and vocalist who first recorded in 1930 cutting"No Special Rider Blues b/w Vicksburg Blues" for Paramount. Montgomery's not at his best on this session and vocalist Jeanne Carroll is not a compelling blues singer.

 

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Louisiana Red Story Of Louisiana Red Lowdown Back Porch Blues
Louisiana Red Where Is My Friend?Best of
Louisiana Red Red's DreamBest of
Bo Carter Last Go RoundBo Carter Vol. 2 193 -1934
Charlie CampbellGoin' Away BluesAlabama & The East Coast 1933-1937
Blind BlakePoker Woman BluesAll The Published Sides
Lafayette ThomasOld MemoriesWest Coast Guitar Killers
Jody WilliamsWhat Kind of Gal Is ThatChess Blues Guitar: Two Decades of Killer Fretwork 1949-1969
Rosa HendersonChicago Policeman BluesRosa Henderson Vol. 4 1926-1931
Sippie WallaceYou Gonna Need My HelpSippie Wallace Vol. 2 1925-1945
Bessie SmithCareless LoveComplete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Frog)
Blind John DavisBooze Drinking Benny
Blind John Davis Vol. 1 1938-1952
Blind John DavisAnna Lou BreakdownBlind John Davis Vol. 1 1938-1952
Jimmie HudsonRum River Blues78
T-Bone WalkerHere In The DarkThe Complete Imperial Recordings: 1950-1954
Teddy BunnJackson's NookVery Best Of 1937-1940
George & Ethel McCoy Mary (Penitentiary)Early In the Morning
Daddy HotcakesCorrine CorrinaThe Blues In St. Louis - Daddy Hotcakes
Bessie JonesBeggin' the BluesAlan Lomax Blues Songbook
Mabel HilleryHow Long Has That Train Been Gone45
Freddie ShayneLonesome Man BluesMontana Taylor And Freddie Shayne 1929-1946
Freddie ShayneOriginal Mr. Freddie BluesMontana Taylor And Freddie Shayne 1929-1946
Willie (W.C.) Baker Goin' Back Home Today The Devil Is A Busy Man
Bee HoustonTen Years To Life45
Peg Leg HowellMoanin' And Groanin' BluesAtlanta Blues
Walter "Buddy Boy" HawkinsHow Come Mama BluesWilliam Harris & Buddy Boy Hawkins 1927 - 192
Dixieland Jug BlowersIf You Can't Make It Easy, Sweet MamaClifford Hayes And The Dixieland Jug Blowers
Louisiana Red Too Poor To Die Midnight Rambler
Louisiana Red Sweet Blood Call Midnight Rambler
Louisiana Red Bring It On HomeLive At Montreux

Show Notes:

As I was putting the finishing touches on this week's show I received the news that Louisiana Red had passed. He died  in Germany at the age of 79. By his own account he had a hard life as he announced in his haunting "The Story of Louisiana Red" which opens today's show: "Now this here's a sad one. It's about my life." He lost his parents early in life through multiple tragedies; his mother died of pneumonia a week after his birth, and his father was lynched by the Klu Klux Klan when he was five. Red began recording for Chess in 1949 (as Rocky Fuller). His early sides were heavily indebted to Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. He joined the Army and after his discharge, he played with John Lee Hooker in Detroit for almost two years in the late '50s, and continued through the '60s and '70s with recording sessions for Chess, Checker, Atlas, Glover, Roulette, L&R, and Tomato, among others. Louisiana Red moved to Hanover, Germany in 1981, and maintained a busy recording and performing schedule through the subsequent decades.

Red recorded prolifically through the years. Among his better efforts was the album The Lowdown Backporch Blues (1963) featuring striking topical numbers like the humorous "Red's Dream" and "Ride On Red, Ride On." The single "I'm Too Poor to Die"  had minor chart success in 1964. We also feature two tracks from the out-of-print Midnight Rambler, a compilation of sessions cut for the Blue Labor label in 1975-1976. We play his update of  "I'm Too Poor to Die"  and the chilling "Sweet Blood Call:"

"I have a hard time missin’ you baby, with my pistol in your mouth (2x)
You may be thinkin’ ‘bout goin’ north, but your brains are stayin’ south"
 

Also on tap today are a trio of 1920's blues queens, a pair of songs apiece by piano men Blind John Davis and Freddie Shayne plus we spin a batch of great long out-of-print blues records. Rosa Henderson is the least known of today's featured blues queens. In 1963 Len Kunstadt tracked down Henderson and wrote a feature on her in Record Research: "She began her career about 1913 in her uncle's carnival show. She played tent and plantation shows all over the South with one long streak of 5 years in Texas. She sang nothing but the blues. During this period she married Slim Henderson, a great comedian and showman, and she became professionally, ROSA HENDERSON. Slim joined up with John Mason and from this association a troupe was born which included Rosa. They played the country from one end to the other. In the mid 20s the Mason Henderson troupe really began to hit big time with headline attraction bill¬ing in many of the larger theatres. Rosa also received star billing in some independent ventures. …From May 1927 through September 1927 Rosa Henderson was a top race blues recurring artist. She was on Victor, Vocalion, Ajax, Perfect, Pathe, Brunswick, Paramount, Emerson, Edison, Columbia, Banner, Domino, Regal, Oriole, English Oriole, Silvertone and others. Besides her own name she was Flora Dale on Domino; Mamie Harris and Josephine Thomas on Pathe and Perfect; Sally Ritz (her sister's name) on Banner; and probably Sarah Johnson and Gladys White on other labels….In 1927 Rosa was hitting her real stride as a single but just a year later Rosa quit in her prime due to the unexpected death of husband, Slim." She made her final recordings in 1931. From 1926 we spin her remarkably outspoken "Chicago Policeman Blues:"

Policemen in Chicago they can't police at all (2x)
They only wear their uniform, or blue just for a song (?)
Most every cop in town, black and white all have a grudge (2x)
If you don't know you better, then to say good morning judge

I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues (2x)
They wouldn't give a pick (?) of you for Peter or Paul
They send you away for absolutely nothing at all
I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues (3x)

I'm expressin' my opinion, just the way I feel
Pigs about the only things supposed to squeal
I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues

We hear some fine piano blues from Blind John Davis and Freddie Shayne. From 1938 we spin Davis' jazzy brand of blues as heard on "Booze Drinking Benny" and "Anna Lou Breakdown" both featuring the electric guitar of George Barnes (one of the first Chicago musicians to record with an electric guitar). In 1973 Davis was interviewed by Melody Maker: "I started recording in 1937—Big Bill Broonzy was a friend of my Dad's and he fixed for me to play on one of his sessions 'Sweet William Blues' I think it was. That was for Vocalion or Columbia. …They all seemed to like my playing so I got  to play on most of the sessions around at the time….I was top piano player for Lester Melrose's Wabash Music Company. …"I could play for anybody  excepting Big Boy Crudup. I think no piano player in the world could play for him 'cos he plays so damn irregular. …In 1949 I made my first recordings under my own name— for MGM, that was. Before I had no desire to sing and the record producers told me I didn't sound Southern enough. They got me recording again in '51 — this time with George Barnes on guitar and Ransom Knowling playing bass. I cut a lot of records over in Europe with Big Bill Broonzy — but we wasn't paid for none of them. I kept copies of all my recordings, but my house burned out in 1955 and I lost everything!"

Freddie Shayne is a shadowy figure who spent his life working in Chicago. He first time on record was backing singer Priscilla Stewart on “Mr. Freddie Blues.” Shayne also made a very rare piano roll of this song. In 1935 Shayne recorded a solo record, “Original Mr. Freddie Blues b/w Lonesome Man Blues.” “Mr. Freddie Blues” became something of a boogie standard covered by many artists including Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Jimmy Blythe, Art Tatum and others. In the 40's he made some recordings for the Circle label where he also backed singer Bertha “Chippie” Hill.

From the out-of-print file we spin records by George and Ethel McCoy, Daddy Hotcakes, Bee Houston and Mabel Hillary. George and Ethel McCoy were a brother and sister guitar duo who lived in St. Louis. Their aunt was Memphis Minnie who taught Ethel first hand. They recorded the album Early In the Morning for the Adelphi label in 1969 and later saw some recordings out on the Swingmaster label.

George “Daddy Hotcakes” Montgomery was born in Georgia and came moved to St. Louis in 1918. He began singing the blues as a youngster and worked as an entertainer during the 1920’s. Sometime in the late 30’s he had an opportunity to record through blues artist and talent scout Charlie Jordan but the recording session fell through. He was still occasionally playing parties when Sam Charters recorded him in 1961. The Blues in St. Louis, Vol. 1: Daddy Hotcakes is his only recording.

Read Liner Notes

Bee Houston played in the backing bands of Little Willie John, Junior Parker, Bobby "Blue" Bland and others in the late '50s and early '60s. After a two-year army stint, Houston moved to the West Coast. He toured and recorded frequently with Big Mama Thornton in the '60s, and also accompanied several visiting blues players during West Coast visits. Houston recorded for Arhoolie in the '60s and '70s, and also made several festival appearances and club dates. Our selection, "Ten Years To Life", was issued as a 1970 single on the Joliet label (Joliet 203).

A member of The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mable Hillery was less known than leaders, Big John Davis or Bessie Jones. Between 1961 and 1965 she toured the college circuit of campuses, coffee houses, church basements, and festivals, from Berkeley to Philadelphia, from the Ash Grove in Los Angeles to the Café à Go-Go in New York City. She toured Europe in the 60's and cut a session in London in 1968 for Transatlantic which was issued as It's So Hard To Be A Nigger on their budget Xtra label. Other scattered sides appeared on anthologies.

We also spin a track by fellow Georgia Sea Island singer Bessie Jones. Our cut, "Beggin' the Blues", was recorded by Alan Lomax. In the 1960s, with the assistance of Lomax, Bessie Jones, together with John Davis, Peter Davis, Mable Hillery, Emma Ramsey, and Henry Morrison, formed the Georgia Sea Island Singers and traveled to colleges and folk music venues throughout the country.

Related Articles:

Rosa Henderson – Yesterday and Today by Len Kunstadt (Record Research 75, April 1966)

-Farewell Rosa Henderson by By Derrick Stewart-Baxter (Jazz Journal, July 1968)

-Blind John – Man of Respect by Jim Simpson (Melody Maker, 24 November 1973)

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