Entries tagged with “Irene Scruggs”.

Little Willie LittlefieldTrouble Around MeKat On The Keys
Little Willie Littlefield Mello Cats The Modern Recordings Vol 2
Little Willie LittlefieldJim Wilson's BoogieGoing Back To Kay Cee
Mooch Richardson Big Kate Adams BluesCountry Blues Collector's Items 1924-1928
Blanche Johnson2.16 Blues Elzadie Robinson Vol.1 1926-1928
Jazz GillumBig Katy AdamsBill ''Jazz'' Gillum Vol. 2 1938-41
Joel Hopkins I Ain't Gonna Roll For The Big Hat Man No MoreRural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962
Leroy ErvinRock Island LineDown Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
John HoggGot A Mean Evil WomanTake A Greyhound Bus And Ride
Willie CarrOutside Friend The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Shy Guy DouglasHip Shakin' Mama (Shy Guy's Back In Town)The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Joseph Dobbin & The Four Cruisers On Account Of YouThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Walter VincsonThe Wrong ManWalter Vincson 1928-1941
Joe McCoyWell, WellCharlie & Joe McCoy Vol. 1
Two Poor BoysDown In Black Bottom The Two Poor Boys 1927-1931
Arthur GriswoldWhat The Judge Did To Me Vintage Toledo Blues
Calvin Frazier & Barbara BrownI Need Love Vintage Toledo Blues
Edmonia HendersonBrownskin ManMeaning In The Blues
Alberta Jones Wild Geese BluesGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Lizzie WashingtonFall Or Summer BluesGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Buddy Guy Buddy's BluesBuddy And The Juniors
Arlean BrownI Love My Man Sings The Blues In The Loop
John BrimGo AwayChicago Downhome Harmonica Vol. 1
Furry Lewis Why Don't You Come Home BluesGood Morning Judge
Cat IronGonna Walk Your LogCat-Iron Sings Blues and Hymn
Lost John HunterY-M And V Blues The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Unknown ArtistGot Me A Horse And WagonThe Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Billy “Red” Love It Ain't No More The Sun Blues Box (Bear Family)
Irene Scruggs You've Got Just What I wantGennett Jazz 1922-1930
Barbecue Bob With Nellie FlorenceJacksonville BluesChocolate To The Bone
Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker & Otis SpannBlues JamSuper Black Blues

Show Notes:

Little Willie LittlefieldAnother mix show chock full of great and rare records. We kick off with a trio of sides from the recently passed Little Willie Littlefield, a great pianist and vocalist who emerged when the West Coast was jumping in the late 1940's. Also featured today are two sets from Bear Family's epic 10-CD box set, The Sun Blues Box 1950-1958, a set devoted to songs about the Kate Adams steamboat, some fine pre-war blues, excellent down-home tracks from the post-war era, several fine blues ladies and close with a long jam between some blues greats.

There were several strains of blues that rose to prominence on the West Coast in the 40's including a moody, after hours brand of piano blues popularized by the inimitable Charles Brown who himself was influenced by Nat King Cole. Brown’s influence was profound, setting the stage for fellow pianists like Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Ivory Joe Hunter, Cecil Gant, Roy Hawkins and Little Willie Littlefield.  Littlefield possessed a distinctive smokey voice and was equally at home on moody numbers like "Trouble All Around Me" to romping piano pieces like "Jim Wilson's Boogie." While Littlefield remained  active in Europe he never got the high profile comeback treatment his contemplates Charles Brown received or to a lesser extent Floyd Dixon. Littlefield has been well served on reissues by the Ace label which has released three collections of his vintage sides: Kat On The Keys, Going Back To Kay Cee, Boogie and Blues And Bounce: The Modern Recordings Vol. 2.

Little Willie Littlfield died on June 23 in the Netherlands at the age of 81. He was already a veteran when he waxed "K.C. Loving" in 1951, the original version of "Kansas City" although it only charted when Wilbert Harrison picked it up seven years later resulting in a huge smash. After a few sides for Eddie's and Freedom, Littlefield moved over to the Modern label in 1949, scoring with two major R&B hits, "It's Midnight" and "Farewell." Littlefield proved a sensation upon moving to L.A. during his Modern tenure, playing at area clubs and touring with a band that included saxist Maxwell Davis. After a few 1957-58 singles for Oakland’s Rhythm logo, little was heard from Little Willie Littlefield until the late 1970’s, when he began to mount a comeback at various festivals and on the European circuit. He eventually settled in the Netherlands, where he remained active musically.

The Kate Adams, actually the third riverboat with that name, was built in Pittsburgh in 1898. The big sidewheeler was 240 feet long, with a pair of tall smokestacks, three grand decks, and a main cabin stretching more than 175 feet, that was lighted with newfangled electric chandeliers. Workers along the river swore they could recognize that distinctive clang 14 miles away. Some 2,000 people greeted the Lovin' Kate, as the boat came to be known, when she first arrived to join the Memphis and Arkansas River Packet Company. The Kate ferried cotton, cargo, and passengers up and down the Mississippi river. The Kate Adams burnt to the ground on January 8, 1927. Several songs reference the steamboat including the three we feature today: Mooch Richardson "Big Kate Adams Blues",  Blanche Johnson  (Elzadie Robinson) "2.16 Blues" and Jazz Gillum's "Big Katy Adams." The Gillum song imagines a race between the Kate Adams and the Jim Lee which was another Mississippi steamboat. The Jim Lee was immortalized in Charlie Patton's "Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1 & 2."

Nearly 30 years after the original Sun Blues Box was released on LP, it's back as a 10-CD set on Bear Family with much more than was on the original set. The Charley label originally issued this as a 3-LP set in 1983, then as a 9-LP set in 1985 then in 1996 as an 8-CD set. From the Bear Family press release: "Recently discovered music from well-known artists … and incredible artifacts like Sam Phillips narrating a radio commercial for a West African herbalist who would soon be jailed for selling bogus patent medicine. Recordings produced by Phillips but issued on Chess, RPM, Trumpet and other labels were unavailable in 1983, but are now included. Researcher Steve LaVere finally allowed the world to hear the Sun audio and see the Sun-related photos he collected back in the late 1960s. In fact, the entire blues research community came together to make this a once-in-a-lifetime blues experience!" The set come with an exhaustive, illustrated booklet that I have only had a chance to glance at so far. After thirty years of reissues this should be the last word on the Sun blues story. Included today are tracks that have not appeared on the previous box sets.

We have some excellent Chicago blues featured today including a great album I picked up recently by Arlean Brown called Sings The Blues In The Loop and one by Buddy Guy. Brown's album was issued sometime in the early 70's and feature an all-star Chicago band including Little Mack Simmons, Detroit Junior and Lonnie Brooks. Brown was a Chicago singer who, in addition to the album, also released some 45's. Brown was 51 when she recorded the 45 "I'm a Streaker.” It launched her career in music after selling a purported 78,000 copies, and the former cab driver and corner-grocery owner became part of a revue run by harmonica player Mack Simmons at Pepper's Hideout — and eventually broke out with her own Arlean Brown X-Rated Revue. It appears her album was self-pressed and reissued in 1977 on the Black Magic label. I have been unable to find out much else about her or what happened to her after the 70's.

Arlean Brown: Sings The Blues In The LoopBuddy Guy had reportedly come to the end of the road with Vanguard Records, which had released his previous three albums, including 1968's acclaimed A Man and the Blues. Guy had asked Michael Cuscuna, a 20-year-old college student he'd befriended, to help produce his final Vanguard album, but when that project ran into problems, Cuscuna went to Blue Thumb. That label provided a meager budget for the album that bought a day of studio time, but didn't allow for a band beyond the three stars and drummer Fred Below. Guy played acoustic guitar, Junior Mance added jazzy keyboard flourishes, and Wells laid down some fine harp. The all-acoustic Buddy & the Juniors was recorded on December 18 of 1969, and on December 19 they mixed this album.

Another collection I picked up recently was a 4-CD set on JSP called Gennett Jazz 1922-1930All the 78's come from collector Joe Bussard's collection – if you haven't seen the documentary on him, Desperate Man Blues, it's well worth checking out. There's blues interest here with several fine, lesser known, blues ladies included. Today we feature selections by Lizzie Washington, who cut fourteen sides at session in 1927 and 1929, Edmonia Henderson, who cut just over a dozen sides between 1923 and 1926 and Alberta  Jones who cut sixteen sides, other sides were unissued, between 1923 and 1930 all for the Gennett label.

We conclude the show with a lengthy blues between jam between Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann. In 1969, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann got together and did a jam session that was released as Super Black Blues in 1969 on the Bluestime label. Also on the record in a supporting role is the great George “Harmonica” Smith. A second volume was recorded live at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1970 featured Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson instead of Otis Spann. As blues jams go, this is a very good one. Big Joe did a number of these type of things in the 70's for Pablo with mixed results – the one with Pee Wee Crayton (Everyday I Have The Blues), though, is worth checking out.

Jerry McCain Things Ain't RightJook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues
Jerry McCain That's What They WantJook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues
Jerry McCain She's ToughTuff Enuff - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol. 3
Irene Scruggs Home Town BluesSugar Foot Stomp
Victoria SpiveyShowered With The BluesVictoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936
Mamie SmithCrazy With The BluesCrazy Blues: The Best Of Mamie Smith
Bill Crosby Sneaking Woman BluesChicago Jump Bands: Early R&B Vol. 1 1945-1953
Charles GrayI'm A Bum Again Chicago Jump Bands: Early R&B Vol. 1 1945-1953
The Big Three TrioAppetite BluesA Shot in the Dark: Nashville Jumps
Thomas Shaw Born In TexasBorn In Texas
Thomas Shaw Prowling Ground HogBlind Lemon's Buddy
Sammy LawhornAfter Hours
After Hours
Cleo PageLeaving Mississippi Leaving Mississippi
Fred McDowell Black MinnieYou Got To Move
Jessie Mae HemphillI'm So Glad You Don't Know What's On My Mind Mississippi Blues Festival
Bukka WhiteGood Gin BluesAberdeeen Mississippi Blues
Bukka WhiteAberdeen Mississippi BluesAberdeeen Mississippi Blues
B.B. KingBroken PromiseMore B.B. King
Frankie Lee SimsWell Goodbye Baby4th & Beale And Further South - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol.2
T.J. FowlerWine CoolerT.J. Fowler 1948-1953
Robert Johnson Phonograph BluesThe Centennial Collection
Buddy MossJoy RagThe Essential
Sylvester Cotton Cotton Field BluesBlues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949
Sylvester Cotton I TriedBlues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949
Texas Alexander CrossroadsTexas Alexander Vol. 2 1928-1930
Elmore JamesStanding At The Crossroads King Of The Slide Guitar
Johnny ShinesStanding At The CrossroadsStanding At The Crossroads
Jerry McCainSteadyTuff Enuff - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol. 3
Jerry McCainCourtin' In A CadillacJook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues

Show Notes:

Once again we open and close today show on a sad note with the passing of Jerry "Boogie" McCain. McCain died at the age of 81 on March 28, 2012. A lifelong resident of Gadsden, Alabama, McCain began playing music semi-professionally in his teens. During the 1950's cut singles such as "Wine-O-Wine", "Stay Out of Automobiles", "Courtin' in a Cadillac" and other numbers for the Trumpet and Excello labels. Record collectors discovering southern downhome blues in the 196'0s were especially excited by his coupling of the harmonica instrumental "Steady" and "She's Tough" (1960)."She's Tough" was covered, almost 20 years later by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and recalled in the title of the group's later album Tuff Enuff. In the 1960's McCain made further recordings for Okeh and Jewel but soon afterwards his recording career faded, not to be fully revived until the late 1980's, when he signed with the Ichiban label and made several albums. He had to wait longer than many of his contemporaries to be invited to Europe, but after his first trip in 1990 he was often booked for festivals and club engagements. His last album, and one of his best, This Stuff Just Kills Me (2000) was cut for Music Maker and produced by Mike Vernon with an all-star cast.

Also on tap today are a batch of fine blues queens from the 20's, twin spins by Bukka White, Thomas Shaw, Sylvester Cotton, some fine small band blues from the 40's, some fine latter day down-home blues and a trio of songs about the crossroads.

Jazz great Mary Lou Williams recalls coming across the young Irene Scruggs: "In St. Louis, our show picked up a young blues singer named Irene Scruggs… …Irene had not long settled in St. Louis, and was starting out to become one of St. Louis' finest singers." Scruggs got to sing with a number of Joe "King" Oliver's bands that played in St. Louis in the mid 1920's. She first recorded in 1924 and in 1926 she reignited her working association with Oliver. Two of the songs that Scruggs wrote, "Home Town Blues" and "Sorrow Valley Blues", were both recorded by Oliver. She recorded again for Okeh in 1927, this time with Lonnie Johnson. Scruggs formed her own band in the late 1920's, and appeared regularly performing around the St. Louis area. Using the pseudonym, Chocolate Brown, she recorded tracks with Blind Blake and by the early 1930's, Little Brother Montgomery took over as her accompanist on both recordings and touring work. Her recording career finished around 1935. In the 40's she left for Europe where she stayed for the remainder of her life.

Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds 1922. Left to right: unknown, Bubber Miley,unknown, unknown, Mamie Smith, Coleman Hawkins, unknown, unknown.

On August 10, 1920, in New York City, Mamie Smith recorded a set of songs all written by the African American songwriter, Perry Bradford, including "Crazy Blues" and "It's Right Here For You (If You Don't Get It, 'Tain't No Fault of Mine)", on Okeh Records. It was the first recording of vocal blues by an African American artist, and the record became a best seller, selling a million copies in less than a year. In his autobiography, Born With The Blues, Perry Bradford wrote: "When my jazz band played for Mamie Smith to record the "Crazy Blues, we had no arrangements. They were what I called 'hum and head arrangements.' I mean we would listen to the melody and harmony of the piano and each man picked out his harmony notes. It was crude, but the sound that Mamie and my Jazz Hounds planted that February morning in 1920 had such 'down home' original corn in it that it has sprouted, grown and thrived all down through the years." The success of Smith's record prompted record companies to seek to record other female blues singers and started the era of what is now known as classic female blues. Smith continued to make a series of popular recordings for Okeh throughout the 1920's. Today we spin her terrific, hard swinging, "Goin' Crazy With The Blues" from 1926.

After the war dozens of small labels sprouted to serve the demand for blues and R&B records, many failed or had limited success while others grew and became major players. While down-home artists like John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins found popularity there were also loads of small R&B combos hitting the market. Today we hear a trio of 40's combos including the popular Big Three Trio and the lesser known Bill Crosby and his Band,  Charles Gray & His Rhumboogie Five and T.J. Fowler's band. William J. "Bill" Crosby was a Chicago vocalist whose career remains obscure. Crosby made two sessions for Columbia in Chicago in 1945 and 1946. We spin his humorous "Sneaking Woman Blues." The short-lived Rhumboogie label was the very first R & B independent to come out of the Chicago area. It was named for the famous night club of the same name which was noted for being part owned by world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. In early 1946 Rhumboogie issued # 5001, two tunes by Charles Gray & His Rhumboogie Five ( a pseudonym for Buster Bennett who takes the vocals). The songs were "I'm A Bum Again" and "Crazy Woman Blues" of which we play the former:

I used to eat fried chicken, and steaks big enough for two
But now I'm lucky, if I could buy some groundhog stew

T.J. Fowler assembled his own band and in 1947 accompanied saxophonist Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams on that artist's first recordings for the Savoy label. Fowler began making records as a leader in 1948, beginning with small Detroit labels like Paradise and Sensation and landing his own contract with Savoy in 1952, sometimes featuring singer Alberta Adams. Fowler's ensemble also used outstanding guitarist Calvin Frazier who back in the 30's ran with Robert Johnson. In Detroit, Fowler and his men served as the backing band for T-Bone Walker and spent the next few years gigging around the Motor City and southeastern Michigan.

We spin some excellent post-war country blues today by Sylvester Cotton, Thomas Shaw, Cleo Page and Jessie Mae Hemphill among others. Sylvester Cotton was a contemporary of John Lee Hooker (one of the Cotton sides was actually credited to Hooker when issued), and, like Hooker, performed solo with their guitar. The sides were cut in Detroit in 1948 and 1949 by recorded by Bernie Besman who ran the Sensation label. All of his recordings, along with contemporary Andrew Dunham, can be found on the Ace label's Blues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949.

Thomas Shaw spent about five years on the Texas house party circuit in the 1920's and early 1930's before moving to San Diego in 1934. Shaw met many great Texas bluesmen including Smokey Hogg, T-Bone Walker, Mance Lipscomb, Blind Willie Johnson, Ramblin' Thoms, JT "Funny Papa" Smith and Blind Lemon Jefferson who he was clearly a disciple of. He met Jefferson in Waco, Texas in 1926 or 27. JT "Funny Papa" Smith offered to let Shaw play on one of his records in 1931 but Smith was sent to jail on a murder charge. In the 1960's and 70s he recorded excellent albums for the Advent, Blue Goose and Blues Beacon labels before passing in 1977.

Not much is known about Cleo Page who seems to have been based in L.A.. In the 50's he cut some singles under different names and backed some west coast artists on record and cut several tough singles in the early 70's. Some of these were issued on the LP Leaving Mississippi which came out on JSP in 1979, the same year Page passed away on L.A..

Jesse Mae Hemphill was born near Como and Senatobia, Mississippi,in northern Mississippi just east of the Mississippi Delta. She began playing the guitar at the age of seven and also played drums in various local Mississippi fife and drum bands. Her musical background began with playing snare drum and bass drum in the fife-and-drum band led by her grandfather, Sid Hemphill. Aside from sitting in at Memphis bars a few times in the 1950's, most of her playing was done in family and informal settings such as picnics with fife and drum music. The first field recordings of her work were made by blues researcher George Mitchell in 1967 and David Evans in 1973. Evans went on to produce her debut album, She-Wolf, in 1981. She recorded and toured prolifically in the 80's across the US and Europe.

‘‘Straight Alky Blues’’ was composed and first recorded by Leroy Carr in 1929. It provided the melodic basis and, to a lesser extent, a lyric basis for ‘‘Black River Blues’’ by Roosevelt Sykes (1929) and for ‘‘Cross Road Blues’’ by Robert Johnson. Johnson's was released by Vocalion in 1937. His second take was performed at a less hurried tempo and with greater care on the guitar, but it was not released until 1961 as the lead track of the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers. ‘‘Cross Road Blues’’ was introduced to white rock musicians by Cream, who included a live recording from a Fillmore East concert on their 1968 two-LP set Wheels of Fire. Today we play variations on the songs by Elmore James, Johnny Shines and Texas Alexander. Alexander's song has little to do with Johnson's version, except for the opening line:

Lord, I was standin' at the crossroad, I was tryin' my best to get a ride (2x)
Nobody seemed to know me, everybody was passin' by

One final record worth mentioning is by Sammy Lawhorn, who spent most of his career as a session guitarist. Lawhorn was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and worked down south with Driftin' Slim and with Sonny Boy Williamson II on the King Biscuit Time radio program. After being discharged from the army in 1958 he moved to Memphis, Tennessee and did recording sessions with The "5" Royales, Eddie Boyd, Roy Brown and Willie Cobbs. He relocated to Chicago the early 1960's,  and found regular work as a club sideman to Junior Wells, Otis Rush and Elmore James, which led to him sitting in with Muddy Waters band on a couple of occasions. By October 1964, Lawhorn was invited to join Waters band on a full time basis. Over the next decade, he subsequently played on a number of Waters' albums including Live At Mister Kelly's, The London Muddy Waters Sessions, The Woodstock Album, and Folk Singer. Lawhorn's career started to be hampered by his drinking and Waters fired him in 1973. Lawhorn died in April 1990, at the age of 54. The only album issued under his own names was a solid, low key affair titled After Hours issued on the Isabel label recorded in he early 80's. Today we play the title track.

Smith Casey Shorty GeorgeAlan Lomax: Blues Songbook
Lottie Murrell Wolf's At Your DoorWolf's At The Door: Lost Recordings From The Spirits Of The South
Laura SmithMy Best Friend Stole My Man And GoneLaura Smith Vol .1 1924-1927
Laura SmithDon't You Leave Me HereLaura Smith Vol .1 1924-1927
Johnny ShinesI Believe I Make A ChangeChicago Blues Festival 1972
Hound Dog TaylorHeld My Baby Last NightHound Dog Taylor &The HouseRockers
Priscilla Stewart Mecca FlatsThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 1
Lizzie MilesToo Slow BluesJazzin' the Blues Vol. 5 1930-1953
Irene ScruggsMy Back To The WallI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Buddy Moss Someday Baby (I'll Have Mine)Buddy Moss Vol .2 1933-1934
Charley PattonPea Vine BluesBlues Images Vol. 8
Tony HollinsWine-O-Woman Chicago Blues Vol. 1 1939-1951
Brownie McGheeMy Last SuitThe Best Of Brownie McGhee
Driftin' Slim & His Blues BandJackson BluesSomebody Hoo-Doo'd The Hoo-Doo Man
Eugene RhodesTalkin' About My TimeTalkin' About My Time
Eugene RhodesWorking on the LeveeTalkin' About My Time
Eugene RhodesWho Went Out The BackTalkin' About My Time
Black Boy ShineBed And Breakfast BluesBlack Boy Shine & Black Ivory King 1936-1937
Sylvester PalmerBroke Man BluesSt. Louis Barrelhouse Piano 1929-1934
Cow Cow DavenportStruttin' The BluesCow Cow Davenport Vol. 1 1925-29
John "Bubba" BrownCanned Heat BluesLegacy of Tommy Johnson
Mel Brown w/ John "Bubba" BrownRed Cross Store Big Foot Country Girl
Edna WinstonI Got A Mule To RideLeona Williams & Edna Winston
Eva Taylor & Clarence WilliamsTerrible BluesEva Taylor Vol. 2 1923-1927
Victoria SpiveyBaulin' Water Blues Pt. 1Victoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936
Sonny Boy & LonnieBig Moose Blues (Double Crossin' Blues)Carolina Blues & Gospel 1945-1951
Sonny Boy & LonnieTalking Boogie (Talkin' Blues - Release Me Baby)Carolina Blues & Gospel 1945-1951
Billy Bizor She Stays Drunk All The TimeBlowing My Blues Away
Sonny TerryTater Pie Sonny Is King
Henry TownsendPoor Man Blues Broadcasting The Blues
Charley Lincoln Country BreakdownThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Lewis BlackSpanish BluesThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Viola McCoy Papa, If You Can't Do Better (I'll Let A Better Papa Move In)Viola McCoy Vol. 2 1924-1926

Show Notes:

I do these mix shows once a month and never know how they're going to take shape until they're finished. Spanning from the 1920's through the 70's, today's program covers plenty of territory;  spotlighted are a number of fine early blues ladies, most long forgotten, like Laura Smith, Priscilla Stewart, Irene Scruggs, Edna Winston, Eva Taylor and Viola McCoy as well as several known and obscure bluesmen from the same period like Charley Patton, Buddy Moss and Leadbelly. Also on tap are multiple spins by little known artists such as Eugene Rhodes, John "Bubba" Brown and Sonny Boy & Lonnie. In addition we hear an excellent set of piano blues and some great field recordings past and present.

Let's turn to the blues ladies first as we feature two tracks by the obscure Laura Smith. As researcher Chris smith wrote: "Even today, writers on the female blues singers of the '20s usually find it necessary to mention in passing that Clara, Bessie, Mamie and Trixie Smith were unrelated. There was a widespread belief among their contemporary audience that they were sisters, and the record industry doesn't seem to have discouraged it. OKeh saw it as a way to market Laura Smith's records, advertising her as 'the first of that famous blues-singin' Smith family'…" Smith was appearing in a revue by 1920, toured widely and between 1924 and 1927 cut thirty sides for Okeh and Pathe. In 1929 she signed with Paramount Pictures and moved to Los Angeles. The Chicago Defender reported the completion of her first film the following year but no  copy has surfaced. Taken on her own terms, Smith was a forceful singer with a rich, full voice her to good effect on 1924's "My Best Friend Stole My Man And Gone" while she turns in a more subtle performance on a gorgeous version of "Don't You Leave Me Here" sung in a husky, engaging manner with fine backing by clarinetist Tom Morris and pianist Luke Johnson.

Priscilla Stewart was a contemporary of Smith, cutting two-dozen sides for Paramount between 1924 and 1928, most backed by the great pianist Jimmy Blythe. Stewart was frustratingly inconsistent, but at her best, she sang the blues in a nasal voice that could be tough yet tender as on our selection, "Mecca Flat Blues" from 1924.  Stewart recorded some other fine numbers, notably  "Mr. Freddie Blues" and "Delta Bottom Blues." All of Stewart's records are collected on the Document label, several in pretty bad shape which doesn't help Stewart's legacy. Our version of "Mecca Flat Blues" is taken from the album The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 1 which contains an excellent transfer.

Eva Taylor started out as child actor in a traveling revue that toured the world visiting Europe, Australia and New Zealand between 1900 and 1920. In 1920 she moved to New York City, where she became a popular singer in the night clubs of Harlem. The following year she married pianist, publisher and producer Clarence Williams. In 1922 Taylor made her first record for the Black Swan label, who billed her as "The Dixie Nightingale". She would continue to record dozens of Blues, Jazz and popular sides for Okeh and Columbia throughout the 1920's and 1930's. She was the lead singer on several of Williams' classic Blue Five recording dates, including the famous sessions that brought Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet together in 1924 and 1925. During the late 1920's Eva had her own radio show on NBC in New York. She retired from show business in the early 1940's, but continued to make occasional concert and night club appearances. Our track, 1924's "Terrible Blues", is bouncy vaudeville styled number in the vein of Butterbeans and Susie propelled by clarinetist Tom Morris and Buddy Christian on banjo.

Like so many of the early female Blues recording artists Viola McCoy's roots were in vaudeville and musical theater. She moved to New York sometime in the early 1920s and worked as a cabaret singer. She graduated to musical theater sometime around 1922 and seemed to constantly be appearing in different musical revues in the New York area until the mid-30s. McCoy's recorded prolifically, some sixty sides, between 1923 and 1927 for a variety of different labels. McCoy is in peak form on 1926's lively "Papa, If You Can't Do Better (I'll Let A Better Papa Move In)" sporting crackling clarinet from Louis Metcalf.

Jumping up just a few years we hear from the men, who were dominating the field by then, with tracks by Henry Townsend, Charley Lincoln and Charley Patton among others. "Poor Man Blues" comes from Townsend's first four-song session for Columbia in 1929. He also cut two sides for Paramount the same year. Lincoln, heard on "Country Breakdown", was the brother of Robert Hicks AKA Barbecue Bob, who he recorded with on a couple of sides. Lincoln cut ten sides for Columbia between 1927 and 1928. Patton has been heard often on the program and today's featured track, "Pea Vine Blues", is from a newly uncovered copy. According to collector John Tefteller: "It was taken from a nearly perfect copy that turned up and was graciously loaned to us this year by Philadelphia collector Dan Wheeler. Prior to Wheeler's find, the best copy was well-battered and thus quite noisy." This version can be found on the CD which accompanies Tefteller's 2011 blues calendar.

We have some interesting sets today including ones devoted to Eugene Rhodes, John "Bubba" Brown and Sonny Boy & Lonnie. I was reminded of the Rhodes record, Talkin' About My Time, after reading a thread about him on one of the blues forums and decided to dig it out. When blues scholar Bruce Jackson first discovered Rhodes in 1962 he was doing a ten to 25-year stretch at the Indiana State Prison, which was where this charming album was recorded of 15 songs and a little talking that was eventually released on a the tiny Folk-Legacy label. In the '20s and '30s, Rhodes had traveled through the south as a one-man band. He reportedly played in the Dallas area, where he claims to have met Blind Lemon Jefferson. He also crossed paths with Blind Boy Fuller in the Carolinas and Buddy Moss in Georgia. This album has never been issued on CD as far as I know.

We spin a pair of cuts featuring John "Bubba" Brown. Brown was the father of noted guitarist Mel Brown, who cited him as a major influence. Brown traveled with Tommy Johnson and the Chatmon Brothers in his early days. He was first recorded by David Evans who captured four sides by him in1967, two of which were Tommy Johnson numbers. In 1968 his son Mel Brown was signed to the major label ABC/Impulse/Bluesway, and churned out a series of fine albums including The Wizard, I’d Rather Suck My Thumb, Blues For We, Mel Brown’s Fifth, and Big Foot Country Gal. The latter two albums featured vocals by Mel's father. "Red Cross Store" comes from the latter album while "Canned Heat Blues" comes from the Legacy of Tommy Johnson, both of which have not been issued on CD.

The ten recordings made in 1945 under the moniker Sonny Boy & Lonnie were recorded in New York featuring the electrically amplified guitarists Teddy "Sonny Boy" Smith and Sam Bradley, or their pianist Lonnie Johnson, who should not be confused with the famous blues guitarist. Unfortunately very little information has come to light regarding these musicians. The music is fascinating, but hard to get a handle on with influences coalescing around Lonnie Johnson, Cecil Gant and Louis Jordan. Our track, "Big Moose Blues (Double Crossin' Blues)," and "South West Pacific Blues (Hot Cornbread And Blackeyed Peas)" are topical World War II numbers.

Also worth mentioning are a pair of field recordings made over thirty years apart. From the 70's we hear Lottie Murrell's "Wolf's At Your Door" the title track from a new vinyl collection of recordings made Begnt Olsson. Murrell's nickname stems from his great ability to mimic the vocal mannerisms of Howlin' Wolf, was based in Somerville, Tennessee. He was recorded there in the 70's by Swedish researcher Begnt Olsson and in 1980 by the Germans Axel Küstner and Siegfried Christmann who were recording blues throughout the South. Backtracking to 1939 we hear Smith Casey's mesmerizing "Shorty George." Casey cut the song and ten others for John Lomax in 1939. The recordings were made in Clemons State Prison Farm in Brazoria, Texas.  Traditionally the Shorty George was the train that took convicts (and visitors) to and from the prison. Leadbelly recorded a song by the same name about the train, a different song than the one Casey sang. Just to add some confusion, Sippie Wallace recorded a song by the same title which is unrelated to the other two.

I always like to throw in some piano blues in the mix and this time out we spread out geographically and hear Cow Cow Davenport who hailed from Alabama, Sylvester Palmer from St. Louis and Black Boy Shine form Texas. Cow Cow Davenport was one of several excellent piano players based around Birmingham who got on record including Jabbo Williams, Walter Roland and Robert McCoy. Palmer cut a lone four-song session on November 15, 1929 in Chicago for Columbia. He traveled to the Windy City with Henry Townsend who recalled Palmer well: "Sylvester and I went to Chicago to record for Columbia. Sylvester Palmer had his own particular style on piano, and it was a very strange style. The one number that I think sold better was 'Do It Sloppy' I haven't heard anyone come close to playing that particular style; it has a ring more towards Cow Cow Davenport than anyone I know." Almost nothing is known of Black Boy Shine, aka Harold Holiday, except that he was based in a section of Houston, TX (which may have been his home) called West Dallas. In 1936 and 1937 he recorded for Vocalion in San Antonio and Dallas, and left behind 18 sides.

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
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.