Entries tagged with “Hattie Hudson”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Lillian GlinnBrown Skin BluesLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Lillian GlinnDoggin' Me Blues Lillian Glinn 1927-1929
Lillian GlinnCome Home DaddyLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams Sun Beam BluesDallas Alley Drag
Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams Interurban BluesDallas Alley Drag
Blind Willie JohnsonI Know His Blood Can Make Me WholeBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Blind Willie JohnsonDark Was the Night -- Cold Was the GroundBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Coley JonesTraveling ManThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Washington PhillipsDenomination Blues (Part 1)I Am Born To Preach The Gospel
William McCoy Mama BluesMeaning In The Blues
Dallas String BandDallas RagVintage Mandolin Music
Hattie HudsonDoggone My Good Luck SoulDallas Alley Drag
Hattie HudsonBlack Hand BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Gertrude PerkinsNo Easy Rider BluesTexas Girls 1926-1929
Gertrude PerkinsGold Daddy BluesTexas Girls 1926-1929
Washington PhillipsI Am Born To Preach The GospelI Am Born To Preach The Gospel
Blind Willie JohnsonI'm Gonna Run to the City of RefugeSpreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings
Laura HentonHe's Coming SoonSpreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings
Laura HentonHeavenly SunshineTexas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935
Frenchy's String BandSunshine SpecialThe Original Howling Wolf 1930-1931
Frenchy's String BandTexas And Pacific BluesJazz The World Forgot Vol. 1
Emma Wright State of Tennessee Blues The Best Of Memphis Jug Band
Bobbie CadillacThe SpasmGood for What Ails You
Billiken Johnson & Neal RobertsFrisco BluesDallas Alley Drag
Dallas String BandSo TiredHow Low Can You Go: Anthology Of The String Bass
William McCoyCentral Tracks BluesTexas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935
Willie Reed Dreaming BluesTrouble Hearted Blues 1927-1944
Willie Reed Texas BluesThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Otis HarrisWalking BluesRamblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers
Otis HarrisYou'll Like My LovingRamblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers
Jewell NelsonJet Black Snake BluesTerritory Singers Vol. 2
Jewell NelsonBeating Me BlueTerritory Singers Vol. 2

Show Notes:

William McCoy- Mama BluesToday's show is the third installment spotlighting great recording sessions. The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label roughly a year-and-a-half apart, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930. Today we spotlight some great blues and gospel captured by Columbia in December 1927 and December 1928. In 1927 sessions were conducted December 2nd through the 6th with artists Lillian Glinn, Billiken Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Coley Jones Washington Phillips, William McCoy, the Dallas String Band, Hattie Hudson and Gertrude Perkins. Several of theses artists were recorded again the following December with sessions conducted between December 4th through the 8th. Among the new artists recorded in 1928 were Laura Henton, Texas Jubilee Singers, Frenchy's String Band, Emma Wright, Bobbie Cadillac, Willie Reed, Otis Harris and Jewell Nelson. Several other artists recorded but had no sides issued: Willie Tyson, Willie Mae McFarland, Rev. J.W. Heads and Charlie King. Columbia recorded again Dallas in 1929, recording some of the same artists.

1927 was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on.

One of the hidden stars of these sessions was pianist Willie Tyson. Tyson was active in Dallas and was part of a group of blues pianists that included K. D. Johnson and Whistlin’ Alex Moore, who accompanied various female blues singers in the 1920's and 1930's. Tyson contributed a number of fine accompaniments to several women blues singers, such as Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Ida Mae Mack, and Bessie Tucker and also backed Billiken Johnson. In addition to his piano accompaniment, Tyson recorded two piano solos that were never issued, “Roberta Blues” and “Missouri Blues.” These proved to be the only sessions for Tyson, who was most likely a theater pit pianist.

We hear several fine, obscure blues and gospel ladies today including Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Lillian Glinn, Jewell Nelson, Bobbie Cadillac, Emma Wright and Laura Henton. Blind Willie Johnson: I Know His Blood Can Make Me WholeSinger and vaudeville performer Lillian Glinn was born in Hillsboro, Texas, about 1902 and moved to Dallas when she was in her twenties. Texas blues singer Hattie Burleson discovered her singing in a Dallas church and encouraged her to pursue a musical career. Dallas entrepreneur R. T. Ashford helped Glinn secure a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1927. She cut her first record for Columbia in December 1927, and over the next two years she recorded more than twenty-two sides.

Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins and Jewell Nelson all left behind just one 78 while Emma Wright had one song issued. Singers Bobbie Cadillac and gospel singer Laura Henton left behind six sides. Emma Wright had only one issued side in 1928 backed by trumpeter Leroy Williams who accompanied Jewell Nelson the following day. According to blues historian Paul Oliver Jewel Nelson was "one of the best-known and best loved of the Dallas singers … known to the denizens of the Park (Theatre) as "Daybreak" Nelson because of her famous "Daybreak Blues." She recorded one 78 in 1928 possibly backed on guitar by Coley Jones. Singer Bobbie Cadillac cut six sides (one unissued ) at two sessions in 1928 and the following year cut four more duets with Coley Jones and featuring Whistlin' Alex Moore on piano.

Billiken Johnson didn't sing or play an instrument, and yet he recorded six sides in the late '20s. Johnson's unique talent was his ability to imitate train whistles and provide other vocal effects, all of which made him a popular figure on-stage at the juke joints and taverns of the famed "Deep Ellum" district of Dallas. Under his own name he recorded two tracks for Columbia Records ("Sun Beam Blues" and "Interurban Blues") in Dallas on December 3, 1927, followed by two more ("Frisco Blues" and "Wild Jack Blues") a year later on December 8, 1928. He is also listed as part of a duet of sorts Coley Jones: Travelling Manwith Texas Bill Day on "Billiken's Weary Blues" and "Elm Street Blues," recorded December 5, 1929, in Dallas and also issued by Columbia.

As Blind Willie Johnson got older he began earning money by playing his guitar, one of the few avenues left to a blind man to earn a living. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music to the streets of the surrounding cities. While performing in Dallas, he met a woman named Angeline and the two married in 1927. The two performed around the Dallas and Waco areas. On December 3, 1927, Columbia Records brought Blind Willie Johnson into the studio where he recorded six songs. after this session, Johnson didn't return to the studio for an entire year. The second visit (which took place on December 5, 1928) found him accompanied by his wife, Angeline. Although Blind Willie Johnson was one of Columbia's best-selling race recording artists, he only recorded for them one more time — in April 1930 — after which he never heard from them again. As Stephen Calt points out in his liner notes for Praise God I'm Satisfied, the fact that Columbia waited a full year between Johnson's recording sessions probably indicates that they were disappointed with his sales. In fact, in early 1929 Johnson sold about 5000 records. By contrast, Barbecue Bob and Bessie Smith Columbia's most popular artists, sold about 6000 and from 9000-10,000 respectively. As the depression deepened, however, and interest in religion surged, Blind Willie Johnson's popularity jumped, too. He continued to sell around 5000 records annually, but Barbecue Bob's sales dropped to 2000, and Smith's to 3000. Johnson continued to perform on the Texas streets during the '30s and '40s, passing away in 1947.

Coley Jones was born probably in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is presumed that much of his life was spent in Dallas.  He recorded seven sides for Columbia beginning in December 1927 as a solo act accompanying himself on guitar. Jones was also in demand as a sideman and recorded several sides in December 1929, accompanying Bobbie Cadillac and Texas Bill Day on guitar. Jones became associated with the Dallas String Band, which recorded  ten sides for Columbia between 1927 to 1929.

Dallas String Band: Dallas RagVirtually nothing is known about William McCoy other than he was probably from Texas. He recorded six sides for Columbia at three sessions; on December 6, 1927, December 7, 1928 and a final session on December 8, 1928. His records were advertised in the Defender on May 12, 1928, February 23, 1929 and September 21, 1929.

Little is known about Willie Reed, who recorded two songs on the same day as fellow Texas bluesman Otis Harris who exhibits a similar guitar style. Reed went on to accompany blues singer Texas Alexander on ten songs in 1934.

Otis Harris and Frenchy's String Band each cut one 78. Possibly from Dallas, TX., Otis Harris only had one 78 released under his name, "Walking Blues b/w You'll Like My Loving." Frenchy's String Band cut "Sunshine Special b/w Texas And Pacific Blues" in 1928. Polite "Frenchy" Christian was one of the New Orleans jazzmen who ventured westward in the 1920s, settling in Dallas. With a line-up here consisting of cornet, banjo, guitar and bowed bass, "Texas and Pacific Blues" gives an inkling of music played around New Orleans when a string band line up was used.

 

 

 

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Blind Lemon JeffersonOne Dime Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon JeffersonMatchbox Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon JeffersonRambler BluesThe Best Of
Down Home Boys (Papa Harvey Hull & Long "Cleve" Reed)Mama You Don't Know HowNever Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Big Joe WilliamsPeach Orchard Mama Big Joe Williams and the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Blind Willie McTellLast Dime BluesThe Best Of
Blind Lemon JeffersonSee That My Grave Is Kept CleanThe Best Of
Blind Lemon JeffersonBed Spring BluesThe Best Of
Blind Lemon JeffersonPrison Cell Blues Mean & Evil Blues
Lightnin' Hopkins Reminiscences Of Blind LemonLightnin' Hopkins [Smithsonian Folkways]
Lightnin' Hopkins One Kind FavorAll The Classics 1946-1951
Son HouseCounty Farm BluesBlues Images Vol. 4
Blind Lemon Jefferson Shuckin' Sugar BluesThe Complete Classic Sides
Blind Lemon Jefferson Corinna Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon Jefferson Rabbit Foot Blues If It Ain't One Thing, It'Rabbit Foot Blues
Ramblin' ThomasNo Baby BluesTexas Blues: Early Masters From the Lone Star State
Blind Boy Fuller Untrue BluesBlind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-1938
Blind Lemon Jefferson Got The Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon Jefferson Long Lonesome Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon Jefferson Hot Dogs The Best Of
Leadbelly Blind Lemon (Song)Leadbelly Vol. 6 1947
Leadbelly Silver City Bound Leadbelly's Last Sessions
Blind Lemon JeffersonBad Luck Blues The Complete Classic Sides
Blind Lemon JeffersonBlack Horse Blues The Best Of
Blind Lemon Jefferson That Crawlin' Baby Blues The Best Of
Hattie Hudson Doggone My Good Luck Soul Dallas Alley Drag
Thomas Shaw Jack Of Diamonds San Diego Blues Jam
Mance LipscombEasy Rider BluesCaptain, Captain: The Texas Songster
Blind Lemon JeffersonBlind Lemon's Penitentiary Blues The Complete Classic Sides
Blind Lemon JeffersonBlack Snake Moan Great Blues Guitarists: String Dazzlers
Pete HarrisBlind Lemon's SongTexas Blues: Early Masters From the Lone Star State
Rev. Emmett Dickenson The Death Of Blind LemonBlues Images Vol. 6
King Solomon Hill My Buddy, Blind Papa Lemon Blues Images Vol. 2

Show Notes:

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Today we spotlight Blind Lemon Jefferson and the enormous influence he had on his contemporaries and countless blues artist over the ensuing decades. Although he was not the first male country blues singer/guitarist to record, Blind Lemon Jefferson was the first to succeed commercially and his success influenced previously reluctant record companies to actively seek out and record male country blues players in the hope of finding a similar talent. Throughout the ’20s Lemon spearheaded a boom in ‘race’ record sales that featured male down-home blues singers and such was the appeal of his recordings that in turn they were responsible for inspiring a whole new generation of blues singers. Researcher Bruce Bastin, known for his extensive research in the Piedmont region, said of Jefferson… “…there can have been few nascent bluesmen outside Texas, let alone within the state, who had never heard his music. Among interviewed East Coast bluesmen active during Blind Lemon’s recording career, almost all recall him as one of the first bluesmen they heard on record.” Today we spotlight some of Lemon's best numbers as well as a those artists he inspired. Lemon's influence cast a long shadow among both black and white artists and today's show is in no way comprehensive but does give a snapshot of just how big Lemon's impact was.

Jefferson was born in September 1893. By 1912, he was working over a wide area of Texas, including East Dallas, Silver City, Galveston, and Waco. Jefferson was still a teenager when he moved into Dallas. The black community in Dallas were settled in an area covering approximately six blocks around Central Avenue up to Elm Street, the center of which was Deep Ellum, a bustling thoroughfare full of bars, clubs and brothels. Mance Lipscomb saw Jefferson playing there as early as 1917. Although Jefferson’s reputation was originally made as a singer of sacred songs, the percentage of blues in his repertoire greatly increased as the years progressed. In 1925 Jefferson was discovered by a Paramount recording scout and taken to Chicago to make his first records either in December 1925 or January 1926. Jefferson's first session produced "I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart" b/w "All I Want Is That Pure Religion" using the name Deacon L.J. Bates. It was the second session, however, that made Jefferson a star. He recorded four songs at that session: “Booster Blues” b/w “Dry Southern Blues’, came out in or around March 1926. "Got The Blues" b/w "Long Lonesome Blues" hadn't been on sale long in the spring of 1926 when Paramount asked him to record it again because of the huge demand for the record. This was unheard of for a male blues artist. Prior to Jefferson the blues had been recorded primarily by women backed by piano or bands

Blind Lemon Jefferson: Rambler Blues
Click to Enlarge

Tony Russell describes Jefferson's impact: "Jefferson offered instead blues sung by a man playing guitar – playing it, moreover, with a busyness and variety that showed up many of those pianists and bands as turgid and ordinary. The discovery that there was an audience for Jefferson's type of blues revolutionized the music business: within a few years female singers were out of favor and virtually all the trading in the 'race' market (jazz aside) was in men with guitars." Throughout 1926 there was a constant supply of new releases from Jefferson, "Black Horse Blues", "Jack O’ Diamond Blues" and "That Black Snake Moan" were among these classic numbers.

In 1927, when producer Mayo Williams moved to OKeh Records, he took Jefferson with him, and OKeh quickly recorded and released Jefferson's "Matchbox Blues" backed with "Black Snake Moan," which was to be his only OKeh recording, probably because of contractual obligations with Paramount. Jefferson's two songs released on Okeh have considerably better sound quality than on his Paramount records at the time. When he had returned to Paramount a few months later, "Matchbox Blues" had already become such a hit that Paramount re-recorded and released two new versions. In 1927, Jefferson recorded another of his now classic songs, the haunting "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (once again using the pseudonym Deacon L. J. Bates) along with two other uncharacteristically spiritual songs, "He Arose from the Dead" and "Where Shall I Be." Of the three, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" became such a big hit that it was re-recorded and re-released in 1928. Despite his success, which allowed him to maintain a chauffeur-driven Ford and a healthy bank balance, Jefferson’s lifestyle was little affected. While he spent time in Chicago, where most of his recordings were made, he continued to work as an itinerant performer in the South.

In addition to his frequent recording sessions in Chicago throughout the late '20s, Blind Lemon Jefferson still performed in Texas and traveled around the South. He played Chicago rent parties, performed at St. Louis' Booker T. Washington Theater, and even worked some with Son House collaborator Rev. Rubin Lacy while in Mississippi. In late September of 1929, Jefferson went to Paramount's studios in Richmond, IN, for a fruitful session that included two songs,"Bed Springs Blues" and "Yo Yo Blues", that were also issued on the Broadway label. Jefferson was back in Chicago in December of 1929 when, sadly, he was found dead following a particularly cold snowstorm.

Blind Lemon Jefferson: 'Lectric Chair Blues
Click to Enlarge

Jefferson died in Chicago at 10 am on December 19, 1929, of what his death certificate called "probably acute myocarditis" (Lemon's death certificate was found in 2010 and published in the Frog Blues and Jazz Annual #1). Paramount Records paid for the return of his body to Texas by train, accompanied by pianist William Ezell. Jefferson was buried at Wortham Negro Cemetery (later Wortham Black Cemetery). By 1996, the cemetery and marker were in poor condition, but a new granite headstone was erected in 1997. In 2007, the cemetery's name was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery and his gravesite is kept clean by a cemetery committee in Wortham, Texas.

Several blues singer/guitarists like Thomas Shaw and Mance Lipscomb thought Jefferson’s style almost impossible to imitate with any degree of success. But there were a few recordings made in the pre-war period that managed to do so, notably Issiah Nettles (The Mississippi Moaner), who covered Lemon’s "Long Lonesome Blues" as "It’s Cold In China Blues". Willard ‘Ramblin’ Thomas (probably a one time associate of Jefferson) had a number of songs in the the vein of Lemon. Jesse Thomas' 1948 number, "Double Due Love You" opens with lyrics also taken from the Blind Lemon' "Long Lonesome Blues." Thomas also recorded Lemon's "Jack of Diamonds" in 1951.

We feature several artists today who either covered Lemon's songs or who's records clearly bear the mark of Lemon's influence.  The Down Home Boys recording of "Mama, You Don't Know How", from 1927, has Long Cleve Reed, Papa Harvey Hull and Sunny Wilson re-working Lemon's "Black Snake Moan". Blind Boy Fuller was influenced by Lemon. The opening lick to his intro to "Untrue Blues" comes right out of "Rabbit's Foot Blues” while "Meat Shakin' Woman", derives its melody from "Bad Luck Blues". According to Son House’s recollection of his 1930 Paramount session, producer Art Laibley had asked the musicians if anyone could do a version of the song. Charlie Patton and Willie Brown passed but House went back to his room with Louise Johnson, worked half the night adding his own words to Lemon's melody, and the next day recorded "Mississippi County Farm." The song became a mainstay of House's repertoire, and he recorded it again for Alan Lomax in 1942. Hattie Hudson's 1927 song, "Doggone My Bad Luck Soul" was an "answer song" to Lemon's "Bad Luck Blues" issued in 1926, and has the repeated tag-line "doggone my bad luck soul."

Today we spotlight several artists who knew Lemon first hand such as Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, Thomas Shaw and King Solomon Hill. Lightnin' Hopkins offered different account of when he met Blind Lemon but it seems to have been sometime in the early to mid-20's. From 1959 we hear "Reminiscences Of Blind Lemon" and "One Kind Favor, his cover of Lemon's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean."

It was on the streets of Deep Ellum that Lemon met up with Leadbelly. Leadbelly, in later years, was understandably proud of his relationship with Lemon. They probably met up sometime after 1910, when Leadbelly and his wife Aletta moved into Dallas. Leadbelly would play guitar, mandolin or accordion behind Lemon and he remembered topically performing the number "Fare Thee Well, Titanic" (the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912) on the streets of Dallas with Jefferson and on other occasions, dancing while Lemon would play a guitar solo version of "Dallas Rag". As a team they traveled together on the railroads from town to town earning a reasonable living. In later years Leadbelly would recall how he and Lemon “was buddies” and how.. “we’d tear those guitars all to pieces”. Their partnership certainly ended by January 1918, when Leadbelly (using the alias Walter Boyd) was indicted on a charge of murder, found guilty and thereafter became a guest of the Texas penal system.

Blind Lemon Jefferson: Cannon Ball Moan
Click to Enlarge

Thomas Shaw had already been enthralled by Jefferson's early recordings of “Long Lonesome Blues” and “Matchbox Blues” when he met Jefferson on the town square of Waco in 1926 or 1927. At Blind Jefferson's urging he bought himself a guitar and learned Jefferson's “Long Lonesome Blues”. He learned many of Jefferson's songs from a combination of listening to the records and hearing him in person. Today we play his version of Lemon's classic "Jack Of Diamonds."

King Solomon Hill was closely connected to Crying Sam Collins and Blind Lemon Jefferson and their influence is evident, to some degree, in Hill's style. "My Buddy, Blind Papa Lemon"is a heartfelt tribute to someone Hill clearly admired: "Hmmm then the mailman brought a misery to my head/When I received a letter that my friend Lemon was dead." Those lines echo the opening of Lemon's “Gone Dead On You Blues”: Mmmmmm, mailman's letter brought misery to my head. Mmmmm, brought misery to my head. I got a letter this morning, my pigmeat mama was dead.” Hill ran with Lemon for about two months after he passed through Minden. Hill's widow recalled that "he sung that song a whole lot 'bout Blind Lemon. Said he loved his buddy 'some way better than anyone I know.'" On one record, “Whoope Blues” b/w Down On My Bended Knees” the subtitle on the record says “Blind Lemon's Buddy.”

In 1930 , shortly after Lemon's death, Paramount issued a double sided tribute to Lemon: “Wasn't It Sad About Lemon” by the duo Walter and Byrd was on one side while the second side was the sermon “The Death Of Blind Lemon” by Rev. Emmett Dickenson. Leadbelly recorded a number of songs about Lemon after his passing. Today we spin his "Blind Lemon (Song)" from 1947 and the marvelous "Silver City Bound" from his last session in 1948.

-A Twist of Lemon by Paul Swinton  (Blues & Rhythm, No. 121)

-Blind Lemon And I Had A Ball by Victoria Spivey  (Record Research 76, May 1966 p.9)

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Hattie HudsonDoggone My Good Luck SoulBefore The Blues Vol. 2
Irene ScruggsThe Voice Of The BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Bertha ''Chippie'' HillDo Dirty BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
Christine KittrellSittin' Here DrinkingNashville Jumps
Alberta AdamsMessin' Around With The BluesMen Are Like Street Cars...
Lil GreenwoodMonday Morning BluesWalking & Singing the Blues
Liza BrownPeddlin' ManBessie Brown & Liza Brown 1925-1929
Trixie ButlerYou Got The Right KeyFemale Chicago Blues 1936-1947
Trixie SmithMy Daddy Rocks MeTrixie Smith Vol. 2 1925-1939
Little Miss CornshucksPapa Tree Top BluesLittle Miss Cornshucks 1947-1951
Vivian GreeneBowlegged BoogieI'm A Bad, Bad Girl
Little SylviaDrive, Daddy, DriveI'm A Bad, Bad Girl
Laura SmithDon't You Leave Me HereLaura Smith Vol. 1 1924-1927
Lizzie WashingtonWhiskey Head BluesSt. Louis Girls 1927-1934
Lil JohnsonYou Can't Throw Me DownLil Johnson & Barrel House Annie Vol. 3
Betty Hall JonesYou Got To Have What It TakesBetty Hall Jones 1947-1954
Paula WatsonPretty Papa BluesI'm A Bad, Bad Girl
Fluffy HunterThe Walkin' BluesThe R&B Hits of 1952
Edith WilsonEvil BluesJohnny Dunn Vol. 1 1921-1922
Margaret JohnsonNobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin'Margaret Johnson 1923-1927
Elizabeth WashingtonWhiskey Head BluesSt. Louis Girls 1927-1934
Cleo GibsonI've Got Ford Movements In My HipsTerritory Singers Vol. 2
Albinia JonesAlbinia's BluesRoots of Rock 'n' Roll Vol. 5
Terry TimmonsThe Best In The BusinessTerry Timmons 1950-1953
Violet HallYou'd Better Come Home BabyBlues for Dootsie
Annie TurnerBlack Pony BluesLittle Brother Montgomery - Vocal Accompaniments & Early Post-War Recordings
Coletha SimpsonLonesome Lonesome BluesBlue Girls Vol. 1 1924-1930
Kitty Gray & Her Wampus CatsMy Baby's WaysSan Antonio 1937
Blu Lu BarkerDon’t You Make Me HighMen Are Like Street Cars...
Myra TaylorTell Your Best Friend NothingMercury Blues & Rhythm Story 1945-1955
Marylin ScottI Got What My Daddy LikesNew York City Blues 1940-1950
Priscilla StewartMecca Flat BluesPriscilla Stewart 1924-1928
Gertrude PerkinsGold Daddy BluesTexas Girls 1926-1929
Pearl TraylorJive I LikeMore Mellow Cats and Kittens
Dolly CooperEvery Day And Every NightHands Off! 1950-1956
Buddy & Ella JohnsonHittin' On MeMercury Blues & Rhythm Story 1945-1955

Show Notes:

A while back we did our first installment of Forgotten Blues Ladies, which focused primarily on the 1920’s and 30’s. Today’s sequel covers some of the same territory but stretches up through the 1940’s and early 50’s. The Classic Female Blues era as it's generally called spanned from 1920 to 1929 with its peak from 1923 to 1925. Although officially introduced by Mamie Smith with her hit Okeh recording of "Crazy Blues" in 1920, vaudeville entertainers such as "coon shouter" Sophie Tucker and comedienne Marie Cahill anticipated some aspects of the style on record prior to World War I. Mamie Smith, an educated city girl from the West End of Cincinnati, was something of an anomaly among the early singers; most of the women were from the South and toured on the TOBA booking circuit. A few of these artists, including Ethel Waters, the unrecorded Florence Mills, and the incomparable Bessie Smith, made the transition to ‘legitimate’ venues. Some singers led their own bands, and several key figures in jazz, such as Coleman Hawkins, made their way into the business playing in these groups. After 1930, with the advent of popular singers in a non-"Classic Blues" vein, the genre went into a slow decline. The most popular of these singers were Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ida Cox, Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace, Alberta Hunter and Clara Smith. Hundreds of others recorded during this period and we will be focusing on many of these lesser knowns. In some cases they recorded dozens of sides or just a handful, some were quite popular in their day while, others were popular just regionally while others achieved little or no success yet they cut some exceptional blues records that, outside of collectors, remain all but forgotten today.

Bertha "Chippie" Hill

After the era of the classic blues woman, women were mostly confined to singing in cabarets, clubs and barrelhouses for the remainder of the pre-war period. Percentage wise there were far more women blues singers in the pre-war era, with men dominating the market in the post-war era. In the 40’s many woman fronted big bands, which gave way to smaller combos, eventually making the transition to the more hard edged R&B woman singers of the 50’s and 60's.

From the early era of woman blues singers, Irene Scruggs,  Bertha "Chippie" Hill , Trixie Smith,  Lil Johnson and Edith Wilson achieved a modicum of success but remain largely forgotten today. The great jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams recalled that Irene Scruggs was already an established force on the St. Louis blues scene the first time Williams went there as a young member of a vaudeville revue. "In St. Louis, our show picked up a young blues singer named Irene Scruggs," Williams said in an interview. "Irene had not long settled in St. Louis, and was starting out to become one of St. Louis' finest singers." Between 1924 and 1930 she cut twenty sides backed by big names such as Kid Ory, King Oliver, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Blake and Little Brother Montgomery. By the 40's, Scruggs had joined the population of expatriate black performers living abroad, residing first in Paris wand later to Germany. In the 50's, she did several radio broadcasts for the British BBC.

Bertha "Chippie" Hill recorded close to two-dozen sides between 1925 and 1928 and recorded the first version of “Trouble In Mind.” She gave up performing and recording in the 30’s but made a comeback in the 40’s cutting sides for the Circle label between 1946-48, sang in clubs in New York and Chicago and at the 1948 Paris Jazz Festival. She died in 1950 in a traffic accident.

Both Trixie Smith and Lil Johnson were well served on record. Smith moved to New York  and won a blues-singing contest in 1922. She cut close to 50 sides between 1922 and 1939 including the popular hit “Freight Train Blues.” After a 1926 she didn’t record again until 1938. After making a few records in 1929, Lil Johnson didn’t surface again on record until 1935, cutting some 60 sides through 1937.

Edith Wilson's first professional experience came in 1919 in Louisville's Park Theater. Lena Wilson and her brother, Danny, performed in Louisville; Edith married Danny and joined their act as a trio. Together they performed on the East Coast in 1920-21, and when they were in New York City Wilson was picked up by Okeh Records, who recorded her in 1921 with Johnny Dunn's Jazz Hounds. She recorded 17 tunes with Dunn and Okeh in 1921-22. In 1924 she worked with Fletcher Henderson in New York. She remained a nightclub and theater singer, working for years on the New York entertainment scene. She retired from active performance in 1963 but made a comeback in 1973. Her last live show was given at the 1980 Newport Jazz Festival.

Little is known about most of today's early blues ladies like Liza Brown who cut six sides in 1929, the tough St. Louis singer Lizzie Washington who cut the very first version of "Everyday I Have The Blues", the sultry sounding fifteen year-old Annie Turner who's accompanied by Little Brother Montgomery plus fine shadowy singers like Laura Smith, Priscilla Stewart, Cleo Gibson, Hattie Hudson and Gertrude Perkins, the latter three only cutting a solitary 78. Gibson's  "I've Got Ford Engine Movements In My Hips" uses one of the more unique automobile metaphors:

I got Ford engine movements in my hips,
Ten thousand miles guarantee
A Ford is a car everybody wants to ride
Jump in, you will see
You can all have a Rolls Royce
A Packard and such
Take a Ford engine boys
To do your stuff
I've got Ford engine movements in my hips,
Ten thousand miles guarantee
I say ten thousand miles guarantee

Moving up to the late 1930's and 1940's we spin tracks by Blue Lu Barker, Betty Hall Jones, Paula Watson, Vivian Greene, Albinia Jones, Myra Taylor and  Pearl Traylor. Vivian Greene, Paula Watson and  Betty Hall Jones were part of a wave of piano pounding blues ladies, most based around the Los Angles area in the mid to late 40’s and early 50's. Blues vocalist, stand-up pianist and occasional organist, Betty Hall Jones worked with Bus Moten's band and Addie Williams in Kansas City. Returning to California, she performed as a single artist before joining drummer/vocalist Roy Milton's band in L.A. in 1937. She worked with West Coast artists in the 40's such as Alton Redd and Luke Jones and recorded under her own name in the late 40's for Atomic, Capitol and under Luke Jones' name for Modern. In the 1950's she recorded for Dootone and Combo.

Little Miss Cornshucks

Singer Blue Lu Barker, Alberta Adams and Myra Taylor had the longest careers of the bunch, with Taylor and Adams still musically active. Barker was born, raised, and buried in New Orleans.  In both the '30s and '40s she was one of the more popular blues performers, often appearing alongside artists such as Cab Calloway and Jelly Roll Morton. Sometimes it was her husband, musician Danny Barker, who opened the. Barker's most famous recordings were done in 1938 including "Don't You Feel My Leg.” The early Barker material features her husband on banjo and guitar and the couple would continue performing together until his death.  The couple was contracted to Decca in the '30s and the Apollo label the following decade. Her career continued after that, all the way up to a last recording taped live in 1998 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Myra Taylor cut ten sides for Mercury in 1946 and 1947. In 2002 she was voted Comeback Artist of the Year and also Female Blues Artist of the Year by Living Blues Magazine.

Wrapping up in the early 1950's we play cuts by Christine Kittrell, Alberta Adams, Little Miss Cornshucks, Little Sylvia, Lil Greenwood, Fluffy Hunter, Marylin Scott, Dolly cooper, Ella Johnson, Violet Hall and Terry Timmons. Remarkably Adams remains musically active. Alberta Adams first made her mark on Detroit's bustling Hastings Street club scene as a dancer, and a short time later she began singing. She got to know and got an education from her contemporaries on Hastings Street's club scene, and they included John Lee Hooker, Big Maceo, Eddie Burns, and Eddie Kirkland. Adams also recorded for Savoy Records. As her reputation spread beyond Detroit, she had the chance to perform with other touring bands, including those of Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, James Moody, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and T-Bone Walker. In the 90's through the 2000's Adams recorded several albums and is still active in her 90th year.

"In 1943, when I was 19 or so years old, I went to a nightclub in the northeast black ghetto section of Washington and heard a singer whose name was Little Miss Cornshucks and I thought, "My God!!!" She was better than anything I'd ever heard. She would come out like a country girl with a bandanna around her head, a basket in her hand, and so forth, which she'd set aside fairly early on into the show. She could sing the blues better than anybody I've ever heard to this day. I asked her that night if she would mind if I made a record of her for myself. We cut "Kansas City" along with some other blues and she also sang a song called "So Long". She had such a wonderful sound and I remember just thinking, "My God! My God!" And I didn't have a record company, I just made those records for myself." So wrote Ahmet Ertegun in What'd I Say: The Atlantic Story. Little Miss Cornshucks became a major attraction at Chicago's Club De Lisa by the time she was 18, and began appearing at the Rhumboogie Club from its opening in 1942. Between 1946 and 1951 she cut some two-dozen sides for labels like Sunbeam, Aladdin, Miltone and Coral. In 1960 she recorded an LP for Chess.

Christine Kittrell first recorded tracks in 1951 with Louis Brooks and his Band. In 1954 she recorded tracks for the Republic Label, two of which featured Little Richard on piano and a third with Richard as backing vocalist. During the 1940's and early 50's, Kittrell toured extensively, and recorded for Tennessee, Republic, Federal, King and Vee-Jay Records over her career. We spin her biggest hit, "Sittin' Here Drinking."

Ella & Buddy Johnson

Lil Greenwood is best known for her time as one the main singers for the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the late 50's and early 60's, Between 1950 and 1953 she cut some two dozen numbers under her own name for Modern, Specialty and Federal. Today's selection, "Monday Morning Blues" is a duet with labelmate Little Willie Littlefield.

Terry Timmons began singing professionally while still in her mid-teens. She moved to Chicago in the late '40's and crossed paths with Memphis Slim, through whom she was signed to Premium Records, the label for which Slim was recording at the time. She was a featured performer at Slim's shows at the end of the 1940s and the start of the 1950s, around the time of her first recording sessions. She cut more sides for Premium in 1951 plus sides for Victor and the United Records label.

Born in Darlington, South Carolina, Ella Johnson she joined her brother Buddy Johnson in New York as a teenager, where he was leading a popular band at the Savoy Ballroom. Johnson scored her first hit with "Please, Mr. Johnson" in 1940. Subsequent hits included "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” "When My Man Comes Home" and today's featured track, "Hittin' On Me". Her popular 1945 recording of "Since I Fell For You", became a jazz standard. She continued to perform with Buddy into the 1960s. She died in New York in 2004.

We wrap up with a trio of salacious blues ladies including Marylin Scott who's selection gives today's show its title. Mary DeLoatch, also known as Mary DeLoach, was a Norfolk, VA-based gospel singer who used the name Marylin Scott or Marylyn Scott the Carolina Blues Girl when performing blues. When performing gospel she sounded quite a bit  like Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She switched to exclusively religious material after 1950 and her final recording appears to have been made in 1967 when she was photographed playing an electric guitar while wearing evangelical robes.The raunchy "I Got What My Daddy Likes" is worth quoting:

I got what my daddy likes
Yes I got what my baby likes
An he's just crazy about me, he  always let me have my fun

Now I'm five feet standing, I'm five feet laying down
I'm a big meat mama from my head on down
I got what my daddy like
Yes I got what my baby Likes
An he's just crazy about me, he  always let me have my fun

Now he flips my flapjacks, clear across the table
He seats all the horses in my little stable
I got what my daddy like
Yes I got what my baby Likes
An he's just crazy about me, he  always let me have my fun

Pearl Traylor was another fine, under recorded singer who cut nine sides in 1945 including the magnificent "Jive I Like" who's tough minded frankness harks back to the earlier era of hard edged blues singers:

If there's any addictive women in this house, get your hat and coat and walk (2x)
'Cause I'm going to start my notorious song
You see my little brother smokes reefer, yes and my cousin too
(2x)
Yes junk runs in my family, what the heck do you expect me to do

I'm going to drink bad whiskey, smoke Mister Charlie's tea (2x)
And I don't care about nobody if they can't get high with me


Then there's Fluffy Hunter's rocking bawdy 'The Walkin' Blues" and sixteen year old Little Sylvia's equally ribald "Drive, Daddy, Drive" ("'Cause when I wanna ride you gotta, ride me daddy/I'd rather ride than eat") which makes you wonder just how they got away with songs like this! Little Sylvia would go on to become one half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia and scored a Top 20 hit with "Love Is Strange" in 1957.

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