Entries tagged with “Hammie Nixon”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Magic Slim She Is Mine 45
Magic Slim Scufflin Grand Slam
Alberta Brown How LongI Can't Be Satisfied Vol 2
Monette Moore Black Sheep BluesMonette Moore Vol. 2 1924-1932
Jenny Pope Bullfrog BluesMemphis Blues Vol. 4 1929-1953
Louis Armstrong Blues for Yesterday C'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties
Louis Armstrong Back o' Town BluesC'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties
Frank Tannehill Rolling Stone BluesRare Country Blues Vol. 4 1929-c.1953
Tommy McLennan Baby, Please Don't Tell On Me Bluebird Recordings 1939-1942
Washboard SamEvil BluesRockin' My Blues Away
Fluffy Hunter Hi Jinks BluesTough Mamas
Madonna Martin Rattlesnakin' Daddy Tough Mamas
James Russell I Had Five Long YearsPrison Worksongs
Big Joe Williams These Are My Blues (Gonna Sing ´Em For Myself)These Are My Blues
Blind Arvella GrayWalking BluesBlues From Maxwell Street
Precious Bryant Precious Bryant's Staggering BluesNational Downhome Blues Festival Vol. 1
Precious Bryant That's The Way The Good Thing Go George Mitchell Collection Box Set
'Talking' Billy Anderson Lonely Bill Blues The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Blind Willie McTell Stole Rider BluesBest Of
Charley JordanHunkie Tunkie Blues Charley Jordan Vol.1 1930-1931
Teddy Darby She Thinks She's Slick Blind Teddy Darby 1929-1937
Zuzu Bollin Headlight BluesR&B Guitars 1950-1954
Jimmy Babyface Lewis Last NightComplete Recordings 1947-1955
Big Joe Turner Wine-O-Baby BoogieTell Me Pretty Baby
Al "Cake" Wichard Sextette & Jimmy Witherspoon Geneva BluesCake Walkin’: The Modern Recordings 1947-1948
Lee Roy LittleI''m a Good Man But a Poor Man Blues From The Apple
Charlie SaylesVietnamThe Raw Harmonica Blues Of
Johnny MomentKeep Our Business To YourselfI Blueskvarter Vol. 3
Robert Pete Williams Freight-Train Blues Louisiana Blues
Hammie NixonViola Lee Blues 2Way Back Yonder Vol. 1
Eugene Powell Poor Boy Blues Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues
Magic Slim Stranded On The HighwayLiving Chicago Blues Vol. II
Magic Slim Ain't Doing Too BAdRaw Magic

Show Notes:

Magic Slim
Magic Slim

It seems these mix show end up as tributes to an increasing number of blues artists who've passed recently. This time out we pay our respects to Magic Slim and Precious Bryant. Along the way we spin a pair of bluesy numbers by Louis Armstrong, play a few sets of pre-war blues, spotlight some interesting field recordings as well as some jump blues from the post-war era.

I was lucky enough to catch Magic Slim on several occasions and he always delivered the goods, which is to say a good dose of gutbucket blues. After battling health problems Slim passed at the age of 75 on Feb. 21st. His mentor was Magic Sam, whom he knew as a child in Mississippi and who offered early encouragement. “Magic Sam told me don’t try to play like him, don’t try to play like nobody,” he once recalled. “Get a sound of your own.” It was also Magic Sam who gave a teenager named Morris Holt the stage name Magic Slim when the two performed together in Chicago in the 1950's. He recorded his first single, “Scufflin’,” in 1966 and formed the Teardrops with his younger brothers a year later. Magic Slim and the Teardrops eventually became the house band at a local nightclub, Florence’s. They went on to tour and record regularly, headlining blues festivals all over the world, and to win numerous awards, including the 2003 Blues Music Award as band of the year. Magic Slim recorded prolifically, cutting his first album for the French MCM label in 1977 with follow-ups on labels like Blind Pig, Alligator and Wolf. Among my personal favorites of Slim voluminous discography would be Grand Slam (Rooster), Raw Magic (Alligator) and the series on Wolf titled Live At The Zoo Bar (five vols. I think?) which really capture Slim and the Teardrops in prime form.

Unfortunately I never got to see Precious Bryant who passed away on January 12th. She was born in Talbot County, GA and went on to play numerous festivals including the Chattahoochee Folk Festival, the National Down Home Blues Festival in Atlanta (recordings by her appear on the companion albums), the King Biscuit Blues, Newport Folk Festival, Utrecht Blues Festival in Utrecht, Holland and others. She never went on tour and didn't release an album until Fool Me Good in 2002 although a few scattered sides were recorded in the field by George Mitchell. It was Mitchell, who discovered her in 1969 while documenting the lower Chattahoochee scene. She cut a follow-up album, The Truth, in 2005 and the same year cut an album on the Music Maker label.

Precious Bryant
Precious Bryant

When not listening to blues I do listen to quite a bit of jazz, particularly the older stuff, and have listened to Louis Armstrong's hot Fives and Hot Sevens countless times. I suspect, like many, I haven't really listened to many of his recordings after this period. Some time back I picked up the 4-CD box set C'est Si Bon: Satchmo in the Forties on the Proper label which is where today's tracks come from. Satchmo set the bar so high on those early recordings they're pretty much unsurpassable but this set very worthwhile.  Lots of good stuf from big band sides, duets with Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and great live recordings from the Town Hall and Symphony Hall with the All Stars. One of the songs, "Back o' Town Blues", was first recorded as an instrumental by the Original Memphis Five in 1923 on the Edison label.

From the pre-war era we spin some fine blues ladies including Monette Moore and Jenny Pope plus obscure male artists such as Frank Tannehill and 'Talking' Billy Anderson. Moore began her career accompanying silent films in Kansas City and then toured the vaudeville circuit as a pianist and singer. In the early 1920's she made her way to New York and became active in musical theater. Her recording career began in 1923. In 1927 and 1928 she was singing with Walter Page's Blue Devils in the mid-West. She returned to New York in 1929 and was very active in musical theater and cabaret work until the late 1930's. In the early 1940s, she moved to Los Angeles and performed in clubs, recorded with Teddy Bunn and the Harmony Girls and had small parts in a couple of films. From 1951 to 1953 she appeared on the Amos 'n Andy television program and recorded with George Lewis. Moore passed in 1962. From 1925 we spin her "Black Sheep Blues" (Virginia Liston cut the same song a few months later) which is not the same song as Pigmeat Terry cut in 1935 but offers a similar sentiment:

When you're thinking of black sheep
Just take a look at me
I'm the blackest of black sheep
That ever left old Tennessee

Lord from the straight and narrow path I've strayed
From the straight and narrow path I've strayed
With regrets and sorrows I have paid

Just a black sheep roamin' round the town (2x)
Like a tramp I'm always out and down

While Moore cut some fifty sides during her prime Jenny Pope was much less documented. Pope was married to Will Shade leader of the famous Memphis Jug Band. Pope cut six sides at three sessions in 1929 and 1930. She may have recorded with the Memphis Jug Band under the name Jennie Clayton. Pope delivers a great performance on "Bull Frog Blues", not to be confused with the William Harris song of the same name, with great piano playing from Judson Brown.

Little is known about Frank Tannehill and Billy Anderson. A pianist from Dallas, Texas Frank Tannehill backed Pere Dickson on his two 1932 recordings made in his hometown. Tannehill began his own recording career with two songs recorded in Chicago in 1937. 1938 found him in a San Antonio studio waxing four more songs. His third and final session was in 1941 in Dallas for a four song session. He was never heard from again. Nothing is known about Billy Anderson, other than the fact that two records were recorded under his name in 1927 and that he may have been from Georgia.

Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues
Read Back Cover

Moving up the 1940's we spin some fine jump blues from ladies like Fluffy Hunter and Madonna Martin as well as Big Joe Turner and Al Wichard among others. Krazy Kat was a great British label that put out some really interesting anthologies. From the aptly title Tough Mamas we spin rocking tracks from Fluffy Hunter and Madonna Martin. Big Joe Turner's jumping  "Wine-O-Baby Boogie" features the mighty Pete Johnson on piano and comes from the album Tell Me Pretty Baby a fine collection of late 40's sides issued on Arhoolie.  Al Wichard's "Geneva Blues" features Jimmy Witherspoon on vocals. Wichard was born in Welbourne, Arkansas, on August 15th, 1919 but the steps by which he arrived in Los Angeles as a drummer in 1944 remain shadowy. He managed to record with Jimmy Witherspoon and Jay McShann within weeks of his arrival, and in April 1945 was the drummer on Modern’s first session, accompanying Hadda Brooks. Wichard's is collected on the reissue on Ace, Cake Walkin’: The Modern Recordings 1947-1948.

Last week I did a whole show devoted to great out-of-print records and today we feature a couple from the Albatros label: Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee Blues and Way Back Yonder Vol. 1. Albatros is an interesting label that has not been all that well served on CD. The label was active from the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings  between 1976 and 1978 in Tennessee and Mississippi. Several of these collections have long been out-of-print including all three volumes of the Way Back Yonder series, the collections Mississippi Delta & South Tennessee and I Got The Blues This Morning and single artists albums by Eugene Powell (Police In Mississippi), Carey Tate (Blues From The Heart) and Jack Owens (Bentonia Country Blues). A while back Marcucci formed the Mbirafon imprint which so far has issued collections of field recordings of Sam Chatmon and Van Hunt. I've heard through the grapevine there was a Eugene Powell 2-CD planned. The label hasn't issued anything in awhile and I wouldn't be surprised if Marcucci got discouraged due to general lack of interest in these kinds of project. I, for one, hope he forges ahead. I should also mention that are three Albatros collections available on CD: Tennessee Blues Vol. 1, 2, and 3 which have very good performances from Laura Dukes, Dewey Corley, Bukka White and others.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Madelyn James Long Time BluesMemphis Blues 192 -1938
Madelyn James Stinging Snake BluesMemphis Blues 192 -1938
Holy Ghost Sanctified SingersJesus Throwed Up A Highway For MeMemphis Sanctified Jug Bands 1928-1930
Eli Green Brooks Run Into The OceanYou Got To Move
Eli Green Bulldog Blues You Got To Move
Blind Willie JohnsonYou're Gonna Need Somebody on Your BondThe Complete Blind Willie Johnson
Willie Lee HarrisNever Drive a Stranger from Your Door Rare Country Blues 1928-1937
Hammie NixonThe Judge, He Pleaded (Viola Lee Blues)Tappin' That Thing
Nat RiddlesCross My Heart New York Really Has the Blues Vol. 3
Roy Dunn Rollin' MillBlues Come To Chapel Hill
Frank Edwards Love My BabyBlues Come To Chapel Hill
Elester AndersonFurther Down The Road
Carolina Country Blues
Henry JohnsonSittin' Down ThinkinCarolina Country Blues
Rosie Mae Moore Stranger BluesFour Women Blues
Memphis MinnieWhen The Sun Goes Down (Part 2)Four Women Blues
Clara SmithWoman to WomanThe Essential
Sunset Blues Band & Pee Wee CraytonPiney Brown Blues Funky Blues
Kansas City RedOpen Your Heart Original Chicago Blues
Lovie Lee West Side WomanGood Candy
Cousin Joe Juice On The Loose Cousin Joe Of New Orleans
Cousin Joe Evolution BluesCousin Joe Of New Orleans
Buddy Lewis Lonesome Bedroom BluesJuke Joint Blues 2
Left Handed CharlieMiss My LagnionJuke Joint Blues 2
Big ChenierPlease Try to RealiseJuke Joint Blues 2
Larry Johnson & Nat RiddlesI Believe Basin' Free
Larry Johnson & Nat RiddlesJohnson! Where Did You Get That Sound?Johnson! Where Did You Get That Sound?
Larry JohnsonFour Women Blues Fast & Funky
Charlie PattonJersey Bull BluesThe Best Of
Johnnie TempleJinks Lee BluesJohnnie Temple Vol. 3 1940-1949

Show Notes:

Cross my fingers, this is the first mix show in some time that I'm not featuring somebody who just passed away. Lots of interesting records on tap today including a set revolving around the Memphis Jug Band, twin spins of Eli Green, Cousin Joe, several tracks featuring New York artists Larry Johnson and Nat Riddles, some  fine latter day Chicago blues and some exceptional pre-war blues.  We spotlight several out-of-print records including a pair on the Flyright label and an obscure one featuring the great Pee Wee Crayton.

Features the only tracks by McDowell's mentor, Eli Green.
Reissued on CD as You Got To Move

A month ago we did an in-depth feature on the Memphis Jug Band. Today we open up with an addendum of sorts with two tracks by singer Madeyln James and one by the Holy Ghost Sanctified Singers. There's speculation that the Memphis Jug Band was the group who recorded in Memphis on a February 21, 1930 date resulting in four gospel and two secular sides. As the the Holy Ghost Sanctified Singers on "Thou Carest Lord, For Me", "Jesus Throwed Up A Highway For Me", "Sinner I'd Make A Change", "When I Get Inside The Gate" and backing singer Madelyn James on "Stinging Snake Blues" and "Long Time Blues."

Eli Green was a mentor to Mississippi Fred McDowell and also Junior Kimbrough. With McDowell's help, Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie records, located Green in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1965. He recorded him on the two songs, "Brooks Run Into The Ocean" and "Bulldog Blues", with backing by McDowell. These are the only recordings Green ever cut and are available on the Arhoolie CD, You Got To Move.

Born December 20, 1907 in Wallace, Louisiana, Cousin Joe made a name for himself on the Crescent City nightclub circuit of the mid-1930s before relocating to New York City in 1942; there he recorded prolifically through the 40's. He returned to New Orleans in 1947, recording material for the Deluxe and Imperial labels before signing a five-year pact with Decca; however, he entered the studio only rarely in the years to follow. After a long hiatus, he recorded and released an impromptu 1971 session under the title Bad Luck Blues, followed in 1973 by Cousin Joe from New Orleans where today's tracks come from. His activities were again curtailed in the years to follow, although he cut a final album in 1983 and in 1987 he published an autobiography, Cousin Joe: Blues from New Orleans. He died October 2, 1989.

Read Liner Notes

Nat Riddles played an important role in the New York blues scene during the late 1970's to mid 1980's. He became known in New York blues circles for his street performances with guitarist Charlie Hilbert and as well as performing with Larry Johnson. He also performed regularly at Dan Lynch's in NYC  a blues hotbed that that saw the emergence of recording artists like The Holmes Brother and Bobby Radcliff. Almost Riddles' recordings are out of print: he has scattered sides on various albums for the Spivey label (appears on several volumes of New York Really Has The "Blues Stars") plus a whole album on the label (The Art Of Nat Riddles). Riddles also appears on a fine recording with Larry Johnson for the L + R label, Johnson! Where Did You Get That Sound?, and a posthumous album of live recordings with Charlie Hilbert that came out in 2007. Riddles died of leukemia in August 1991 at the age of 39.

After a stint in the Navy from 1955 to 1959, Larry Johnson moved to New York and befriended Brownie and Sticks McGhee and began playing on records by Big Joe Williams, Harry Atkins, and Alec Seward. It was Seward who introduced Johnson to his future mentor, Rev. Gary Davis. He released his first single, "Catfish Blues"/"So Sweet," in 1962 and appeared on numerous live dates with Davis. By 1970, Johnson began releasing albums on small labels. Although never prolific, he cut consistently fine albums including Fast and Funky from 1971 and where our featured track, "Four Women Blues" comes from, the out-of-print Basin Free with Nat Riddles on the Spivey label and the marvelous Blues For Harlem issued in 1999.

We spin some terrific latter day Chicago blues from the under recorded Kansas City drummer/singer Kansas City Red and pianist Lovie Lee. By the early 1940's Red was hanging round with Robert Nighthawk. One night the band’s drummer took ill right before a gig and he offered to fill in despite never having played drums before. He ended up playing drums for Nighthawk until around 1946. After his split with Nighthawk he briefly hooked up with Honeyboy Edwards. He had an uncanny knack for hustling gigs and began singing by this period. In the 1950s he formed a band with Earl Hooker and pianist Ernest Lane. He moved to Chicago in the 1950's, occasionally sitting in with Muddy Waters. He formed a group with Walter Horton that included Johnny Young and Johnny Shines. During this period he played with Robert Lockwood Jr., Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Reed, Floyd Jones, Blind John Davis, Elmore James, and others. Starting with the Club Reno, he managed a number of Chicago bars and owned a couple as well. Through the 1970's and 1980's he held down stints at a number of Chicago clubs. His recorded legacy is slim with a handful of sessions for Barrelhouse, JSP, and Earwig. His last major engagement was at the 1991 Chicago Blues Festival. He died of cancer on his sixty-fifth birthday on May 7, 1991. Today's cut comes from a hard-hitting record issued on the JSP label and the Japanese P-Vine label, Original Chicago Blues, that also features Big John Wrencher and Eddie Taylor.

Lovie Lee grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, and was self taught piano player. He found part time employment playing with the Swinging Cats in the early 1950's. The outfit included Carey Bell, who Lee took under his fatherly protection, and they jointly relocated to Chicago in September 1956. Lee worked during the day in a woodworking factory, and for many years played in the evening in numerous Chicago blues nightclubs. After he retired from full-time day work, Lee joined Muddy Waters band in 1979, replacing Pinetop Perkins. Lee made some private recordings in both 1984 and 1989, and this work plus later contemporary tracks, were released as the album Good Candy in 1992.

As always we spotlight a few long out-of-print records including two companion albums issued on the Flyright label in 1973: Blues Come To Chapel Hill and Carolina Country Blues. These were recorded in March 1973 live at the Chapel Hill Festival at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by Pete Lowry. Most of the artists were recorded by Lowry for his Trix label including Frank Edwards, Roy Dunn, Tarheel Slim, Henry Johnson, Peg Leg Sam, Willie Trice and Guitar Shorty. Elester Anderson and Tommy Lee Russell were recorded extensively by Lowry but nothing was issued commercially.

The generically titled and plain looking album, Sunset Blues Band: Funky Blues, was released on the Sunset budget label and recorded for the United Artists/Liberty group in 1969 featuring Pee Wee Crayton with a session group. Pee Wee's name is not credited on the LP and Pee Wee admitted he did not know what happened to this material after he recorded it. This has been re-released years ago on Charly records.

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

Show Notes:

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

Read Liner Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Johnny Otis with his son Shuggie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Robert WilkinsGet Away BluesTrouble Hearted Blues
Robert WilkinsI Wish I Was In HeavenWhen I Lay My Burden Down
Champion Jack DupreeTee-Na-Nee-NaBarrelhouse Blues And Boogie Woogie Vol. 4
Champion Jack DupreeGravier Street RagBarrelhouse Blues And Boogie Woogie Vol. 1
Smokey HoggIn This World AloneTexas Guitar Killers
T-Bone WalkerBaby Broke My HeartTexas Guitar Killers
Lowell FulsonBlues Don't Leave MeTexas Guitar Killers
Tommy JohnsonLonesome Home Blues (Test)Blues Images Vol. 8
John D. FoxWorried Man BluesMississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35
Big Chief Ellis Dices, DicesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Square WaltonPepper Head Woman Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Bobbie HarrisFriendly AdviceRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Duke Bayou (Alec Seward)Rub a Little BoogieRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
James P. JohnsonSnowy Morning Blues Snowy Morning Blues
James P. Johnson w/ Anna RobinsonHungry BluesJames P. Johnson 1938-1942
Country JimOld River BluesDown Home Blues Classics Vol.5: Memphis & The South
Johnny ShinesRed SunToo Wet Too Plow
Hammie NixonYeller YamsTennessee Blues Vol. 2
Memphis SlimChicago New Home Of The BluesBarrelhouse Blues And Boogie Woogie Vol. 5
Sunnyland SlimGet Further Little BrotherBarrelhouse Blues And Boogie Woogie Vol. 1
Blind Joe ReynoldsThird Street Woman BluesMississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35
Mississippi MoanerIt's Cold In China BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II
The Beale Street Sheiks Half Cup of TeaBlues Images vol. 2
Sonny Boy Williamson IIAll My Love In VainThe Chess Years Box Set
Sonny Boy Williamson IICross My HeartThe Chess Years Box Set
Walter Bradford Reward For My babySun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958
Houston BoinesCarry My Business OnSun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958
Eddie SnowMean Mean WomanSun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958
Henry GrayThat Ain't RightEarly Raw Electric Blues Masters
Hop WilsonA Good Woman is Hard to FindSteel Guitar Flash
Roosevelt CharlesCane Choppin' Blues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs
Roosevelt CharlesMean Trouble Blues Blues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs
Pinetop SmithJump Steady BluesShake Your Wicked Knees
Pinetop PerkinsPinetop's Boogie Woogie Memphis Blues (Important Postwar Recordings)

Show Notes:

A varied batch of blues today including artist spotlights of Robert Wilkins, James P. Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Roosevelt Charles and album features with tracks from the 4-CD set New York Blues 1945-1956 Rub a Little Boogie, Texas Guitar Killers and selections from Storyville's Barrelhouse Blues And Boogie Woogie series.

Robert Wilkins

Like several of the former bluesmen turned gospel artists, Reverend Robert T. Wilkins recorded only sparingly in later years; he cut one full length album Memphis Gospel Singer in 1964 plus several sides on various anthologies. His early sessions for Victor in 1928, Brunswick in 1929 and Vocalion in 1935 are classics. Wilkins employs plenty of variety on these early recordings and on our selection, "Get Away Blues", lays down a steady droning riff reminiscent of Garfield Akers. "I Wish I Was In Heaven", recorded decades later, finds Wilkins' playing and singing to have lost nothing in the intervening years. As Peter Aschoff writes in the notes to When I Lay My Burden Down: "By the time in the 1960's when Hernando, Mississippi's, Robert Wilkins entered the studio to record the four tracks that close this CD, his religious conversion had put many years between him and the songs that had originally shown him to be one of the most innovative and startlingly original songwriters and performers in pre-war blues. …While his lyrics may have changed, his fluid guitar playing remained firmly rooted in the rhythmically complex picking style of his early secular recordings, and his singing still made use of the unexpected twists phrasing and timing that have always marked Wilkins'  music."

I found myself listening quite a bit lately to the recordings of James P. Johnson. Johnson was a pioneer of the stride style of jazz piano and a model for Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and Fats Waller. Johnson composed many hit tunes including "Charleston" and "Carolina Shout" and remained the acknowledged king of New York jazz pianists until he was dethroned by Art Tatum. Before 1920 Johnson made dozens of superb player piano roll recordings. He developed into a fine accompanist, the favorite of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith. Ethel Waters wrote in her autobiography that working with musicians such as Johnson " …made you want to sing until your tonsils fell out". His 1921 phonograph recordings of "Harlem Strut", "Carolina Shout" and "Keep off the Grass" were among the first jazz piano solos to be put onto record. The majority of his phonograph recordings of the 1920's and early 1930's were done for Black Swan and Columbia. He continued to record through the 40's. Johnson permanently retired from performing after suffering a severe, paralyzing stroke in 1951 and passed in 1955. Today we spin his "Snowy Morning Blues" from 1930, a song he recorded several times over the years. We also spin "Hungry Blues" as he accompanies singer Anna Robinson.

"Hungry Blues," a selection from a politically charged stage show with words by Langston Hughes, is a beautiful statement against segregation and inequity, invoking "…a brand new world, so clean and fine, nobody's hungry and there ain't no color line…." The show was called De Organizer. It dealt with the plight of Afro-American workers as they attempted to unionize. Anna Robinson was remembered by Milt Hinton as a merry libertine who partied hard. Strung out on narcotics, she was brutally murdered in an alley. This and the flip side, "Harlem Woogie", are the only recordings Robinson ever made.

Read Liner Notes

Well over a year back I did show revolving around the recordings made by folklorist Harry Oster and I was searching through my collection in vain trying to find the album he cut of the remarkable singer Roosevelt Charles. Well better late than never, we spin two tracks from this wonderful record. Charles was recorded by folklorist Harry Oster in 1959 and 1960 with tracks appearing on anthologies and one full-length album, the long out of print Blues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs. Oster wrote the following: “Classified as a habitual criminal, a four-time loser, Roosevelt Charles has spent most of his adult life (he is now 45) in prisons, principally, Angola, alternating short periods of freedom with long sentences. …Despite his lengthy police record, Charles is sensitive, personable, intelligent and imaginative – a highly gifted creator, performer and interpreter of Negro music. His rebellion against society appears at least in part the explosion which results when a driving, intensely creative man can find no outlets for his energies and talents – a particularity difficult problem for a bright but almost illiterate Negro born in the Louisiana farm country.”

Today we feature four sides from the excellent 4-CD JSP set Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-1956. This is a collection of down-home blues from artists who migrated from the Eastern states like the Carolinas to New York but still retained their country roots to a degree. The most famous artists are Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Champion Jack Dupree who in addition to sides under their own name, appear on the records of many of the other artists on this collection. Other artists on this set include fine sides Big Chief Ellis, Alec Seward, Carolina Slim, Boby Gaddy, Bobbie Harris and others. From Ellis we hear "Dices, Dices," which he and McGhee recorded for Lenox in 1945. Our version was later recorded live on February 19 1949, at a WYNC Jazz Festival (they were the only bluesmen  present),  prefaced by a conversation between McGhee and Rudi Blesh. Little is known of Bobbie Harris who may have been from South Carolina and cut sides for several New York labels. He's a fine singer as expressed on the steamy R&B of our selection, "Friendly Advice", Backed by Dupree and McGhee and an unknown, but wailing tenor man. We also play the title track, the wild, romping "Rub A Little Boogie" sung by Alec Seward and again featuring Dupree and McGhee. Square Walton is another mystery man who cut a lone four-song session in 1953. "Pepper Head Woman" may be my favorite, a rough and tough number backed by Big Chief Ellis and Mickey Baker.

From the Storyville label we hear great piano numbers from Champion Jack Dupree, Sunnyland Slim and Memphis Slim. Karl Knudsen, a dedicated jazz fan, founded his Storyville Records label in Copenhagen in 1952 just as the groundswell for a blues and jazz revival began to sweep through Europe. Initially, the label simply reissued archival material from the States, but as more and more veteran blues and jazz players began touring Europe (and in many cases, relocating there permanently), he began setting up recording sessions with them, and Storyville ended up with an impressive catalog of original jazz and blues sessions from master performers. He recorded extensively some fine piano players including Champion Jack Dupree, Little Brother Montgomery, Speckled Red, Memphis Slim and others. A few years back Storyville issued five volumes of piano material under the title Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie which is where all our tracks come from.

While rooting around my collection I stumbled upon the 2-CD set Texas Guitar Killers. This was part of Capitol's ongoing development of its vaults, produced by the late Pete Welding. The 39 cuts feature T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown, Lowell Fulson, Lightnin' Hopkins, Smokey Hogg and Pee-Wee Crayton, with sides drawn from their stints with Imperial and Aladdin spanning the years 1945-1953. Hogg is in fine form on the plaintive "In This World Alone", T-Bone at his best on "Baby Broke My Heart" while Fulson hollers the blues on on the stomping "Blues Don't Leave Me."

We conclude the show with a couple of Pinetops; Smith and Perkins. Clarence "Pine Top" Smith was one of the earliest pianists to recorded a boogie-woogie piano solo. His 1928 tune "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie" was the first recording to be labeled as such and and had a great deal of influence on all future pieces in that style. Pine Top toured the minstrel and TOBA vaudeville circuits throughout the 1920's performing with Mamie Smith and Butter Beans and Susie and other vaudeville acts. He was also a frequent solo performer at rent parties, taverns and whorehouses. Smith was accidentally shot to death at a dance in Chicago in 1929. He was twenty-five years old and left behind just eleven sides.

Pinetop Perkins died on march 21, he was 97. In 1943 Mr. Perkins moved to Helena, Ark., to work Robert Nighthawk. He later joined Sonny Boy Williamson’s King Biscuit Boys, before moving on to the band of the slide guitarist Earl Hooker. He also appeared on the recordings that Nighthawk made for the Chess label and that Hooker made for Sun in the 1950s. It was for Sun, in 1953, that he cut his first version of “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,” the song that furnished him with his nickname and the number we feature today. When the pianist Otis Spann left Muddy Waters’s band in 1969 it was Perkins who took his place.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Sleepy John EstesThe Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly HairI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesMilk Cow BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesWatcha Doin'?I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Noah LewisTicket Agent BluesMemphis Shakedown
Noah LewisBad Luck's My BuddyMemphis Shakedown
Sleepy John EstesDown South BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesDrop Down MamaI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Son BondsTrouble Trouble BluesSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Son BondsBack And Side BluesSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Yank RachelLake Michigan BluesYank Rachell Vol. 1 1934-1941
Yank RachelTexas TommyYank Rachell Vol. 1 1934-1941
Yank RachelI'm Wild And Crazy As Can BeYank Rachell Vol. 1 1934-1941
Sleepy John EstesNeed More BluesSleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941
Sleepy John EstesSomeday Baby BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesFloating BridgeI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Charlie PickettDown The HighwaySon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Charlie PickettLet Me Squeeze Your LemonSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Charlie PickettTrembling BluesSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Sleepy John EstesHobo JungleSleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941
Sleepy John EstesI Wanta Tear It All The TimeSleepy John Estes Vol. 1 1929-1937
Sleepy John EstesI Ain't Gonna Be WorriedI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Son Bonds80 HighwaySon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Son BondsHard Pill To SwallowSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Son BondsBlack Gal SwingSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941
Sleepy John EstesSpecial AgentI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesLiquor Store BluesSleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941
Sleepy John EstesEverybody Oughta Make a ChangeI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Yank RachelYellow Yam BluesThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2
Yank RachelUp North BluesThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.2
Yank RachelIt Seems Like A DreamThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2
Sleepy John EstesLittle Laura BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Sleepy John EstesDon't You Want to KnowSleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941
Sleepy John EstesYou Shouldn't Do ThatSleepy John Estes Vol. 2 1937-1941

Show Notes:

In his memoir, Big Bill Blues, Broonzy called Sleepy John Estes' way of singing the blues "crying the blues." As Tony Russell noted: "The 25-year old man who sat down to record "The Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly Hair" for a traveling Victor unit in Memphis would prove to be one of the company's most striking finds in a city full of distinctive blues artists. High, blurred, plaintive, his voice sounded like that of a man on the verge of tears; sometimes it would even break, momentarily as if overwhelmed by emotion." While Estes would become for his finely wrought personal songs, these initial numbers were local standards or common themes like "Divin' Duck Blues" ("If the river was whiskey and I was a divin' duck"). His storytelling is evident on early numbers like "Street Car Blues" but it wasn't until signing with Decca in 1937 that he cut his most enduring compositions. Today's program spotlights  Estes recordings before his comeback, spotlighting the remarkable recordings he made between 1929 and 1941. In addition we feature some of the fine musicians from the Brownsville area who worked and recorded with Estes including Son Bonds, Yank Rachell, Hammie Nixon, Charlie Pickett, Noah Lewis and Lee Brown.

John Adam “Sleepy John” Estes, was born in Ripley, Tennessee, around 1900. Estes first learned to play guitar from his sharecropper father at age twelve. Soon thereafter, while working in the cotton fields with his family, he crafted his own cigar-box guitar and began to hone his skills at local house parties and fish fries. His nickname "Sleepy" stemmed from a chronic blood pressure disorder that gave him fits of narcolepsy. Around 1915, the Estes family moved to Brownsville, Tennessee, which served as Sleepy John’s base residence periodically for the rest of his life. Brownsville was also home to “Hambone” Willie Newbern, an important early influence, as well as Yank Rachell and Hammie Nixon–musicians with whom Estes partnered at local venues and on professional recordings. Other Brownsville musicians who Estes worked with were pianist Lee Brown and guitarists Son Bonds and Charlie Pickett, all who recorded in the 30’s and all who backed Estes on record. Estes teamed with Rachell to play house parties, picnics, and the streets in the Brownsville area from 1919 to 1927. He also partnered with local harmonica player Hammie Nixon, hoboing Arkansas and southern Missouri with him from 1924 to 1927. At this time jug band music was wildly popular, so Estes started the Three J's Jug Band with Rachell and jug player Jab Jones. The Three J's played Memphis, where they competed for exposure in a competitive scene dominated by the Memphis Jug Band.

When the Victor recording company sent a field recording unit to Memphis in September 1929, Estes recorded several sides backed by the Three J's, with Jones playing piano instead of the jug. Other acts to record for Victor on this trip included the Memphis Jug Band, Frank Stokes, and Cannon's Jug Stompers. He was invited to record again for Victor in May 1930. This session yielded the uptempo "Milk Cow Blues," a tune Robert Johnson would later record as "Milkcow Calf Blues." In all the group cut fifteen sides, three were unissued, over the course of eight session in 1929 and 1930. Estes gave the following account of his recording debut: "Well, it was the guy who recorded the 'Kansas City Blues', Jim Jackson. We were coming down the street , me and Yank Rachell. He said 'Boys, that was a mighty good peice you sang on the street the other day.. You can really sings. I can tell you how to make some money.' Yank said, 'John we can go 'round ourselves. We don't need him to carry us.' I went around to the Ellis Auditorium and we talked to Mr. R.S. Peer of New York City. he told us., 'Boy', he was recording two or three other boys there, they'd hit two pieces in an hour. 'We got some more boys here but I want to see you before you go. I want you to come back late in the afternoon so I can hear what you can do.' We went back then and we recorded."

Estes and Nixon moved to Chicago in 1931 where they played parties and the streets. The Depression hit the recording industry hard, and the Estes/Nixon team did not record until a July 1935 date with the Champion label where the duo cut six sides at two sessions. Among the sides recorded were "Drop Down Mama" and "Some Day Baby Blues," tunes that became staples for a later generation of bluesmen. As Tony Russell remarks: "Nixon is the nightingale of blues harmonica and his parallel melodies echoing Estes singing on "Someday Baby Blues" and "Drop Down Mama", to mention just the most famous of their duets, are beautiful in their understated melancholy." They left Chicago in the late 1930's to travel the country playing lumber camps, parties, and street corners for four years. The Decca label brought Estes to New York City to record in 1937 and again in 1938 where he cut eighteen songs, laying down some of his most enduring songs. He was backed by Charlie Pickett on guitar and Hammie Nixon on harmonica. Among the songs were vivid depictions of the Depression in songs like "Down South Blues", riding the blinds in "Special Agent Blues (Railroad Police Blues)"  and "Hobo Jungle Blues." On the latter he sings:

Now, when I left Chicago, I left on that G & M (2X)
Then if I reach my home, I have to change over on that L& N

Now, came in on in that Mae West, and I put it down at Chicago Heights

Now, when I came in on that Mae West, I put it down at Chicago Heights

Now, you know, over in hobo jungle, and that's where I stayed the night
Now, if you hobo through Brownsville, you better not be peepin' out
(2X)

Now, Mr. Whitten will git you, and Mr. Guy Hare will wear you out
Now, out East of Brownsville, about four miles from town
(2X)
Now, if you ain't got your fare, that's where they will let you down

He sang many celebrated songs about hometown life in Brownsville including "Lawyer Clark" ("He said if I just stay out of the grave, he'd see that I wouldn't go to the pen"), he sings about Martha Hardin's house burning down in "Fire Department Blues", he describes race relations in the south in "Clean Up At Home" ("I played for the colored, I played for the white/All you got to do, act kinda nice, you got to") and the personal narrative "Floating Bridge" where describes a near brush with death after falling off a car ferry crossing a river:

Now I never will forget that floating bridge (3X)
Tell me five minutes time under water I was hid
W
hen I was going down I throwed up my hands
Now, when I was going down, I throwed up my hands
(2X)
Please, take me on dry land
Now they carried me in the house and they laid me 'cross the blank't
(3X)

"Bout a gallon-and-half muddy water I had drankThey dried me off and they laid me in the bed
Now, they dried me off and they laid me in the bed
(2X)
Couldn't hear nothin' but muddy water runnnin' through my head

Estes was paired with younger guitarist Robert Nighthawk, perhaps to modernize his sound, for his last six song Decca session in 1940 which lack the spark of his collaborations with Nixon. A year later he recorded for the Bluebird label backed by kazoos and a tub bass in a swinging session with the Delta Boys (Son Bonds and Raymond Thomas), who echoed Estes's jug band sensibilities. All three men variously take the lead on exuberant numbers like "Don't You Want To Know" , "You Shouldn't Do That" both sporting a vigorous kazoo solo from Bonds who takes the lead on "Black Gal Swing." On September 24, 1941 the trio made their final sides together, a three song session for Bluebird including the aforementioned "Lawyer Clark" and "Little Laura." Little Laura, according to Don Kent's notes to the Yazoo Sleepy John Estes CD, was a neighbor of Sleepy John's and the Jimmy referred to in the lyrics is Sleepy John's name for Yank Rachell. This song is essentially the one Sonny Boy Williamson I  recorded for Bluebird a couple of months earlier as "She Was A Dreamer."

Estes returned to sharecropping in Brownsville in 1941. In 1948, he and Nixon recorded again for the Ora Nelle label ("Harlem Bound" and "Stone Blind Blues") but the records went unreleased. Estes went completely blind in 1950 and elected to try his hand at recording again. In 1952 he cut four sides for the Sun label. Estes was rediscovered in 1962 during the blues revival. He cut several albums for Delmark and returned to touring with Hammie Nixon before health problems confined him to Brownsville. Sleepy John Estes died June 5, 1977.

After recording with Sleepy John Estes in  1929 and 1930 Yank Rachell decided to try his hand at farming and also worked for the L&N Railroad. During a stopover in New York Rachell teamed up with guitarist Dan Smith and laid down 25 titles for ARC in just three days, though only six of them were issued. Shortly before the ARC date, Rachell had discovered a kid harmonica player that he believed had real talent, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson. They worked together at the Blue Flame Club in Jackson, Tennessee starting in 1933. In 1934 Williamson went north to Chicago. With the success of Williamson's first Bluebird dates of 1937, Rachell decided to join Sonny Boy in Chicago for sessions in March and June of 1938. Yank Rachell also contributed four sides of his own to each session, and then 16 more in 1941 with Sonny Boy backing him up. After Sonny Boy Williamson's murder in 1948, Rachell drifted away from music and relied solely on straight jobs to make his living, settling permanently in Indianapolis in 1958. His wife passed away in 1961, and afterward he began to resume performing. In 1962, Rachell was re-united with Nixon and Estes, and the three of them began playing college and coffeehouse circuit, recording for Delmark as Yank Rachell's Tennessee Jug Busters. Estes died in 1977, and from that time Rachell worked mainly as a solo act. He recorded only sporadically in his last years and passed in 1997 at the age of 87.

Sleepy John Estes, American Folk Blues Festival, 1964

Noah Lewis was born in Henning, Tennessee, and raised in the vicinity of Ripley. He played in local string bands and brass bands, and began playing in the Ripley and Memphis areas with Gus Cannon. When jug bands became popular in the mid-1920s, he joined Cannon's Jug Stompers. He cut seven sides under his own name at sessions in 1929 and 1930. Recording as Noah Lewis' Jug Band, he was backed on two numbers by Sleepy John and Yank Rachell with just Estes backing him on two other numbers cut a couple of days apart. Lewis died in poverty of gangrene brought on by frostbite in Ripley, Tennessee, in 1961.

Harmonica player Hammie Nixon was born on January 22, 1908, in Brownsville, TN. He began his career as a professional harmonica player in the 1920s, but also played the kazoo, guitar, and jug. "I used to hear a lot about him, John Adam", Nixon recalled, "and I was just a kid, living out on my parent's home near Ripley.  …And he heard me playing and he asks me would I like to go and play my harp for him?So I told him yes, but I had o ask my mama first because I was just young, see. So he comes back to my mama's house with me, but she didn't want me to go you know. Anyhow he says like he would look after me and provide for me and so forth so she let me go. And we been together ever since." He performed with Sleepy John Estes for more than 50 years. He also recorded with Lee Green, Charlie Pickett, and Son Bonds. He played with many jug bands. After Estes died, Nixon played with the Beale Street Jug Band (also called the Memphis Beale Street Jug Band) from 1979 onward. Shortly before his death he cut his lone album, the marvelous  Tappin' That Thing for the High Water label. He died August 17, 1984.

Another associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Son Bonds played very much in the same rural Brownsville style that the Estes-Nixon team popularized in the '20s and '30s. The music to one of Bonds's songs, "Back and Side Blues" cut in 1934, became a standard blues melody when John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson from nearby Jackson, TN, used it in his classic "Good Morning, (Little) School Girl" he cut in 1937.Bonds cut a total of fifteen sides over five sessions in 1934, 1938 and 1941. Hammie Nixon backs Bonds on the two 1934 sessions while Estes backs Bonds on his last two sessions in 1938 and 1941.On his Decca and Champion sides Bonds was called Brownsville Son Bonds and Brother Son Bonds at his second Decca session which was religious. Nixon gave the following account of Bonds' death: "He got killed around the same time that Sonny Boy got killed. Sonny Boy got killed in Chicago, Son got killed in Dyersburg. A fellow shot him, he though he was shooting somebody else. Son was sitting on his porch. This guy wore them great thick glasses and he got into it with the guy who lived next door to Son. It was way about 12:00 at night and he though it was the boy who lived next door." Estes had a different version involving a woman and a plot to get Bonds' insurance money.

Little is known about Charlie Pickett, who was from Brownsville, TN. Sheldon Harris reported that he was Estes cousin. Hammie Nixon had him performing in a group with Estes, Nixon, and others on the streets of Chicago in the 1930's and 1940's. Nixon told Kip Lornell in 1975, "He started preaching in St. Louis, been living in St. Louis for a couple of years. I think he's preaching in Los Angeles now." Of the song "Let Me Squeeze Your Lemon",Nixon said, "I will never forget the first time he started playing that song, how he sung a something like, 'When I got home, another nigger kicking in my stall.' The bossman told him 'don't say that no more!'" He cut four sides for Decca in 1937 backed by Hammie Nixon and Lee Brown.  Pickett also played guitar behind Estes on 19 numbers at sessions in 1937 and 1938. He or Estes may have played guitar behind pianist Lee Green at a 1937 session.

Pianist Lee Brown was another member of the Tennessee musicians who who worked in Estes orbit. As Tony Russell sums up: "…Brown was subsequently more prolific than his modest talent merited." His lone hit was "Little Girl, Little Girl" from his second 1937 session, sessions at which he backed Estes and Charlie Pickett. Estes backs Brown on two songs from his first session. In all Brown was involved in six sessions that yielded twenty-nine sides with one unissued. He was backed by some top flight backing musicians including Charlie Shavers, Sammy Price, Buster Bailey, Henry Allen, Robert Lee McCoy and Lil Armstrong among others. Brown cut some post-war material including two songs in 1945 for the Chicago label and a session for King in 1946

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