Entries tagged with “Jack Owens”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Teddy Moss Easy PapaBarrelhouse Piano Blues and Stomps 1929-1933
Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug BandRocking Chair BluesClifford Hayes & The Louisville Jug Bands Vol. 2
Tiny ParhamJim Jackson's Kansas City Blues Tiny Parham 1926-1929
Jimmy WitherspoonPast Forty BluesThe Blues Is Now
Arbee StidhamStandin' In My WindowA Time For Blues
Junior ParkerI Just Got To KnowBlues Man
Rev. Gary Davis If I Had My WayIf I Had My Way: Early Home Recordings
Rabbit MuseRocking Chair BluesMuse Blues
Lovey Williams Baby, Let Me Ride in Your AutomobileThe Blues Are Alive And Well
Jack Owens with Bud SpiresCan't See, BabyIt Must Have Been the Devil
Jack Owens with Bud SpiresHard TimesIt Must Have Been the Devil
Clara SmithWanna Go HomeThe Essential
Baby Benbow Don't Blame MeFemale Blues Singers Vol. 2 1920-1928
Edith Wilson & Johnny DunnHe Used To Be Your Man But He's My Man NowJohnny Dunn Vol. 2 1922-1928
Sloke & IkeChocolate Candy BluesBanjo Ikey Robinson 1929-1937
Walter G. PichonDoggin' That Thing Teddy Bunn 1929-1940
Lonnie JohnsonFour Shots Of GinThree Kings And The Queen
Roosevelt Sykes & Victoria SpiveyThirteen HoursThree Kings And The Queen
Blind Lemon JeffersonRising High Water BluesBlues Images Vol. 1
Kokomo ArnoldThe Mule Laid Down And Died Vaudeville Blues 1919-1941
Washboard SamYellow, Black And BrownWashboard Sam Vol. 2 1937-1938
Junior Parker Feelin' GoodMystery Train
Junior Parker Love My BabyMystery Train
Little Brother Montgomery Chinese Man Blues Little Brother Montgomery 1930-1936
Charlie McCoyLet My Peaches BeCharlie & Joe McCoy Vol. 1
Gatemouth MooreHey Mr GatemouthHey Mr. Gatemouth
Gatemouth MooreI Come To The Garden And I'm Going ThroughAfter Twenty One Years
Mary JamesGo 'way Devil Leave Me Alone, Pt. 1-2Field Recordings Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississipi
Florence WhiteCold Rocks Was My PillowFemale Blues Singers Vol. 14 1923-1932

Show Notes:

All kinds of interesting records on deck today including a couple of sets devoted to guitarist Floyd Murphy and harmonica blower Bud Spires who recently passed. We spin quite a number of tracks from some great out-of-print records, a twin spin of Gatemouth Moore, some fine early harmonica blues, a batch of great blues ladies and more.

Jack Owens & Bud Spires
Jack Owens & Bud Spires photo by David Evans circa 1969-1970

Bud Spires passed away March 20th. Bud Spires is the son of Arthur “Big Boy” Spires who recorded for Chess Records during the 1950's and 60's. Bud was born May 20th, 1931 just north of Bentonia in Anding, MS. He played with his good friend Jack Owens for over 30 years, from 1967 until Jack passed away in 1997. In the book The Land Where the Blues Began, Alan Lomax describes Spires: "Bud was a one-man, red-hot singing orchestra, accompanying himself o the harmonica, putting rough, bluesy chords after some lines and squealed comments to underscore the sexiest images. Sometimes his instrument almost disappeared in his mouth as he both blew and sucked notes out of its metal reeds." He and Owens were first recorded in 1970 by David Evans the results issued on Testament's It Must Have Been the Devil. In more recent years he recorded behind Jimmy "Duck" Holmes of Bentonia.

Floyd Murphy passed away on March 27. Floyd was the brother of Matt Murphy and worked with many Memphis greats like James Cotton, Junior Parker, Rufus Thomas, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, Johnny Ace, Willie Nix, Bobby Blue Bland and many others. Murphy recorded classic sides with singer/harmonica player Junior Parker and The Blue Flames for Sam Phillips' including "Feelin' Good" and "Mystery Train." He also recorded with Rufus Thomas and Eddie Snow. In the early 60's, Murphy recorded the VeeJay Records release of Birdlegs and Pauline's tune "Spring" which rose to number 18 on the R&B charts. For the next 30 years Murphy has continually performed throughout the Midwest. In 1990 Floyd collaborated with his brother Matt "Guitar" Murphy on the CD Way Down South for Antoine's Records.

Rabbit Muse: Muse Blues
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My shows are always littered with great blues records that are long out-of-print and today we spotlight some excellent ones by Rabbit Muse, Lovey Williams, Junior Parker, Arbee Stidham and some recordings from the Spivey label. Rabbit Muse, was in born 1908 and learned soprano ukulele from a childhood friend before transferring to baritone and setting out on a career that spanned seven decades. Despite this long career he recorded only two albums: Muse Blues in 1976 and Sixty Minute Man in 1977 both on the Outlet label.

The Lovey Williams track comes from The Blues Are Alive And Well, a collection of sides recorded by William Ferris in 1968 and includes sides by James "Son" Thomas and Lee Kizart. Ferris wrote the following about Williams: "Lovey Williams has led the most isolated life of the three singers on this record, having never been over fifty miles away from Morning Star, his birthplace and present home. Lovey lives in a sharecropper's home with his wife and ten children and performs his blues in the homes of friends. …Lovey learned to 'blow the blues' from his father who was also a sharecropper." A couple of spoken pieces and performances appear on the album Bothered All The Time which are from the same session. As far as I can tell these are the only recordings he made.

Junior Parker was an extraordinary blues singer and harmonica player who laid down some superb material over the course of a twenty year career (1952-1971) before his life was cut short just prior to his fortieth birthday. Before he passed he sailed into the 1970's in promising fashion cutting a pair of terrific albums; You Don't Have To Be Black To Love The Blues circa 1970/1971 for Groove Merchant and I Tell Stories Sad And True for United Artists which was released in 1972. One record I don't think I've played before is Blues Man cut for the Minit label in 1969. Parker is backed by a great uncredited band and delivers a superb performance on Jimmy McCracklin's "I Just Got To Know" featured today.

Arbee Stidham is held in rather low opinion among the blues collecting community. The truth is that Stidham's music isn't, for the most part, all that exciting but A Time For Blues is a terrific outing with Stidham backed by the swinging Ernie Wilkins Orchestra. Stidham cut sessions for Victor, Sittin' In, Checker, Abco, Prestige/Bluesville, Mainstream, and Folkways in the 50's and 60', and appeared in the film The Bluesman in 1973. Stidham also made many festival and club appearances nationwide and internationally. He did occasional blues lectures at Cleveland State University in the 70's. He passed away in 1988.

Three Kings And The Queen
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I've been threatening to do a feature on the Spivey label for years and this year I'm finally getting around to it – really! Spivey Records was a blues record label, founded by blues singer Victoria Spivey and her partner and jazz historian Len Kunstadt in 1961. Spivey Records released a series of blues and jazz albums between 1961 and 1985. The label recorded a wide variety of blues musicians who were friends of Spivey and Kunstadt, including Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Big Joe Williams, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Slim, Little Brother Montgomery and many others. Spivey died in 1976. The label became dormant after the death of Len Kunstadt in 1996. Today's track come from the 1962 album Three Kings And The Queen probably most famous for having a young Bob Dylan backing Big Joe Williams.

I've always had a soft spot for the larger-than-life Gatemouth Moore who summed his talents as a blues singer this way: "I am one of the ultra-men blues singers. I am not accustomed and don't know nothing about that gut-belly stuff in the joints…I put on tuxedos, dressed up, sang intelligent…Without a doubt, and I'm not being facetious, I'm the best blues singer in the business with that singing voice. Now I can't wiggle and I can't dance, but telling a story, I don't think them other boys are in my class." Often labeled a blues shouter,with his perfect diction and huge, mellow, enveloping voice he was more accurately a blues crooner of the highest order. His heyday as a blues career was short lived, cutting a couple of dozen sides between 1945 and 1947 that saw release on Gilmore's Chez Paree, Savoy, National with his final records cut for King at the very end of 1947. s blues career came to a close in 1949 when he had a religious conversion on stage at Chicago's Club DeLisa. After walking off stage he eventually became a preacher, gospel disc jockey and gospel recording artist. Gatemouth cut two LP's in the 70's: for Bluesway he cut the gospel record After Twenty One Years and for Johnny Otis' Blues Spectrum label he cut the blues album Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7 in 1977 both long out-of-print.

We hear from several fine blues ladies today including Edith Wilson, Clara Smith, Minnie Wallace, Florence White and Mary James. Edith Wilson and Johnny Dunn deliver a rousinng version of "He Used To Be Your Man But He's My Man Now." Wilson and trumpet player Johnny Dunn first worked together in the musical revue "Put And Take" in 1921 and then went on to perform in Lew Lesile's Plantation Revue in 1922. The group toured the TOBA vaudville circuit in 1921. Perry Bradford set up the recording sessions at Columbia for Wilson to compete with the Okeh's Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds records. Instrumental records were also released without Wilson under the name of Johnny Dunn and his Original Jazz Hounds. Dunn had also been a member of Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds.

Mary James LOC

I've written about Clara Smith before and she gives a mesmerizing performance on backed by just a reed organ giving the recording a haunting quality. Florence White was a powerful singer who cut one fine 78 in 1927 backed the  superb piano of Simeon Henry who would ably back singer Lil Green in the 1940's. Mary James was recorded in the Sewing Room at Parchman Farm Penitentiary in 1939. She's featured today on the spine chilling "Go 'way Devil Leave Me Alone" backed by "four girls." Minnie Wallace was a known associate of the Memphis Jug Band and on 1936's ebullient "Field Mouse Stomp" she's backed by a blues super group that includes Will Shade, Robert Wilkins and Harry Chatman.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Arzo Youngblood Bye And Bye BluesGoin' Up The Country
Boogie Bill WebbDooleyville BluesGoin' Up The Country
Cornelius Bright My Baby's GoneGoin' Up The Country
Mager JohnsonBig Road BluesGoin' Up The Country
Isaiah ChattmanFound My Baby GoneGoin' Up The Country
Babe Stovall & Herb Quinn See See Rider South Mississippi Blues
Issac Youngblood & Herb QuinnHesitating BluesSouth Mississippi Blues
Eli OwensMuleskinner BluesSouth Mississippi Blues
Herb QuinnCaseySouth Mississippi Blues
Babe Stovall Candy ManSouth Mississippi Blues
Woodrow Adams & Fiddlin' Joe MartinPony BluesHigh Water Blues
Houston Stackhouse & Carey "Ditty" MasonTalkin' About YouHigh Water Blues
Charlie Taylor & Willie Taylor I Got The BluesHigh Water High
Isiah ChattmanCold In Hand BluesHigh Water High
L.V. Conelry High Water High High Water High
Willard Artis 'Blind Pete' BurrellDo Lord Remember MeSorrow Come Pass Me Around
Babe StovallThe Ship Is At The Landing Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Robert “Nighthawk” Johnson Ain't No Grave Hold My Body Down Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Dorothy Lee, Norma Jean & Shirley Marie JohnsonYou Give An Account Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Chester Davis, Compton Jones & Furry LewisGlory Glory Hallelujah Sorrow Come Pass Me Around
Roosevelt HoltsThe Good Book Teach YouPresenting The Country Blues
Roosevelt HoltsMaggie Campbell BluesPresenting The Country Blues
Roosevelt HoltsDown The Big Road45
Roosevelt HoltsPackin´ Up Her Trunk Roosevelt Holts & Friends
Arzo YoungbloodMaggie Campbell BluesThe Legacy of Tommy Johnson
John Henry 'Bubba' Brown Canned Heat Blues The Legacy of Tommy Johnson
Boogie Bill WebbShow Me What You Got For SaleThe Legacy of Tommy Johnson
Houston Stackhouse & Carey Ditty Mason –Bye Bye BluesBig Road Blues
Houston Stackhouse & Carey Ditty Mason –Big Road BluesBig Road Blues
Jack Owens Jack Ain't Had No Water It Must Have Been the Devil
Jack Owens Cherry Ball It Must Have Been the Devil

Show Notes:

Goin' Up The County
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Today's show spotlights field recordings made by David Evans in the 1960's and 70's. The recordings from this period were a direct result of Evans' investigation into Tommy Johnson in the late 1960’s. His research led to the book Tommy Johnson (Studio Vista, 1971) and Big Road Blues (1982). Evans recorded many men who knew or learned directly from Johnson including Roosevelt Holts, Boogie Bill Webb, Arzo Youngblood, Isaac Youngblood, Bubba Brown, Babe Stovall, Houston Stackhouse and Tommy’s brother Mager Johnson. The bulk of these artists had not been recorded previously. The field recordings Evans collected have been issued on several albums, unfortunately almost all of them are out of print. Today we feature selections from the following various artist albums: Goin' Up The Country, South Mississippi Blues, High Water Blues, Sorrow Come Pass Me Around and The Legacy of Tommy Johnson. In addition we feature tracks from the Roosevelt Holt albums Presenting The Country Blues Of, Roosevelt Holt and Friends, The Franklinton Muscatel Society plus the Jack Owens album It Must Have Been The Devil and a collection of sides by Houston Stackhouse and Carey Mason titled Big Road Blues.

Goin' Up The Country was the first collection of Evans' field recordings. All the recordings were made in 1966. As Evans wrote: “When I first made these recordings in 1966, interest in the blues in America was still largely an underground phenomenon. Britain was the center of interest and research. Consequently, I sent a tape of my best recordings to Simon Napier, the editor of the pioneering British magazine Blues Unlimited. He was sufficiently impressed with the music that he kindly arranged with Mike Vernon and Neil Slaven to have an album brought out on British Decca, Goin' Up The Country. The album was subsequently reissued and remastered on Rounder in 1975. These sides have not appeared on CD. Of these recordings, Evans wrote: “…in 1965 I began recoding and interviewing blues artists on my own, and in the summer of 1966 spent about five weeks in Louisiana and Mississippi taping older country blues styles. These fifteen performances are among the best I recorded there.” Among the performers, only a few had recorded previously: Boogie Bill Webb cut some sides for Imperial in the early 50's, Babe Stovall had recorded a full-length album and Isiah Chattman played rhythm guitar on some sides by Silas Hogan.

South Mississippi Blues
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South Mississippi Blues collects songs recorded between 1965 and 1971 and was issued on Rounder in the mid-70's. Evans writes of this collection: “All nine performers heard here grew up and learned their music in the vicinity of Tylertown (Walthall Co.) Mississippi in the south-central part of the state near the Louisiana border. …All nine of these musicians know each other, and most have at one time or another, played together in various combinations.”

The recordings on High Water Blues were recorded between 1965 and 1970, mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi and issued on the Flyright label in 1974. Of this collection Evans writes: “ln the last ten years I've recorded hundreds of blues by dozens of performers in Mississippi and Louisiana and some of the other southern states. Some of these artists like Roosevelt Holts and Jack Owens, Iwas able to record extensively, and l have presented complete LP's of their work. But there were many others who only recorded a handful of good songs for me. …I've selected for this record the best blues from some of here artists that I met briefly some years ago.”

The Legacy of Tommy Johnson was issued on the Saysdic Mathbox label in 1972, a companion record to Evans' 1971 book titled Tommy Johnson. As Evans Writes: “The songs on this album, although they are created by twelve different musicians, were all at one time part of the repertoire of Tommy Johnson, perhaps the greatest and best remembered folk blues performer the state of Mississippi has ever produced. …Versions of Johnson’s songs derive exclusively from personal contact, though many of the artists undoubtedly heard Johnson’s records at one time or other.”

The Legacy of Tommy Johnson
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Sorrow Come Pass Me Around is a beautiful collection of spiritual and gospel songs performed in informal non-church settings between 1965-1973. Most are guitar-accompanied and performed by active or former blues artists. The songs were recorded between 1965 and 1973 . Evans writes: “Most records of black religious music contain some form of gospel singing or congregational singing recorded at a church service. This album, though, tries to present a broader range of performance styles and contexts with the hope of showing the important role that religious music plays in the Southern black communities and in the daily lives of individuals.” The album was originally issued on Advent in 1975 and has just been reissued on vinyl on the Dust-To-Digital label.

Roosevelt Holts was born in 1905 near Tylertown, Mississippi, and took up the guitar when he was in his mid-twenties. He started to get serious about music in the late 1930's when he encountered Tommy Johnson. Evans began recording Holts in 1965 resulting in two LP's (both out of print): Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon,1966) and Roosevelt Holts and Friends (Arhoolie, 1969-1970) plus the collection The Franklinton Muscatel Society featuring his earliest sides through 1969 which is available on CD. In addition selections recorded by Evans appeared on the following anthologies (all out of print): Goin' Up The Country (Decca, 1968), The Legacy of Tommy Johnson (Matchbox, 1972), South Mississippi Blues (Rounder, 1974 ?), Way Back Yonder …Original Country Blues Vol. 3 (Albatros, 1979 ?), Giants Of Country Blues Vol. 3 (Wolf, 199?) and a very scarce 45 ("Down The Big Road b/w Blues On Mind") cut for the Bluesman label in 1969 that we feature today.

Houston Stackhouse's family moved to Crystal Springs, Mississippi in the mid-1920's, where he learned songs from Tommy Johnson and his brothers and took up guitar. In the early 1930's, he moved to Hollandale, Mississippi where his cousin, Robert Lee McCullum (later known as Robert Nighthawk) lived. In 1946, Houston moved to Helena, Arkansas where he played with Sonny Boy Williamson on The King Biscuit Time show, on KFFA Radio. He played with Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Roosevelt Sykes and Earl Hooker. He continued to play, but less frequently after he married in the late 1950's. Periodically, he returned to the King Biscuit show. In 1967 he made his first recordings cutting field recordings for George Mitchell and shortly after for David Evans that same year.

High Water Blues
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Jack Owens belonged to the pioneering generation of Bentonia bluesmen, which included Skip James and the unrecorded Henry Stuckey. Just as James’s recording career was nearing its end, Owens was beginning his, in 1966; his first album (It Must Have Been The Devil), produced by Evans, was not released until 1971 for the Testament label. The music of Owens and James, as Evans wrote, was distinguished by “haunting, brooding lyrics dealing with such themes as loneliness, death and the supernatural . . . Altogether it is one of the eeriest, loneliest and deepest blues sounds ever recorded.”

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Andrew OdumIt's My Own Fault Farther Up The Road
Andrew OdumDon't Ever Leave Me All AloneFarther Up The Road
Andrew Odumake Me Back To East St LouisFarther Up The Road
Bill Williams Low and Lonesome Low And Lonesome
Bill Williams Blake's Rag LucillBlues, Rag & Ballads
Bill WilliamsyNobody's BusinessBlues, Rag & Ballads
Robert NighthawkLula MaeBlues Southside Chicago
Walter HortonCan't Help MyselfBlues Southside Chicago
Homesick JamesCrutch And CaneBlues Southside Chicago
Roosevelt CharlesCane Choppin'Blues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs,
Roosevelt CharlesMean Trouble BluesBlues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs,
Roosevelt CharlesI'm a Gamblin' ManBlues, Prayer, Work & Trouble Songs,
Johnny YoungTried Not To CryI Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping
Johnny YoungI Gotta Find My BabyI Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping
Johnny YoungI Know She's Kinda SlickI Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping
Rev. Robert WilkinsDo Lord Remember Me Memphis Gospel Singer
Rev. Robert WilkinsThe Prodigal SonMemphis Gospel Singer
Nyles Jones (Guitar Gabriel)Expressin' The Blues Welfare Blues
Nyles Jones (Guitar Gabriel)The Welfare BluesWelfare Blues
Nyles Jones (Guitar Gabriel)Southland Welfare Blues
Arbee StidhamWee Hours A Time For Blues
Arbee StidhamTake Your Hand Off My KneeA Time For Blues
Arbee Stidham Meet Me HalfwayA Time For Blues
Shirely Griffith Cool Kind Papa From New OrleansMississippi Blues
Shirely Griffith Maggie Campbell BluesMississippi Blues
Shirely Griffith Delta HazeMississippi Blues

Show Notes:

Blues Southside Chicago
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Over the years of doing this show I've played many long out-of-print records and I've finally decided to do a series of shows exclusively devoted to these records. While an impressive amount of blues has made it to the digital age, it may be surprising to some that there is a large cache of great blues albums, primarily from the 60's and 70's, that have never been reissued. I like to think of these records as sort of a hidden narrative of the blues running parallel but under the more mainstream blues or the blues records issued on some of the bigger labels, sort of the same as the field recordings I often play as compared to the commercial blues that was being issued. With the decline of CD's and the rise of digital music I have a feeling these great records will never get resurrected. The bulk of the albums featured in the series are from a slew of great small labels that issued records that probably sold in exceedingly small amounts. Over the course of these shows I'll be spotlighting albums from some of these great forgotten labels like Blue Goose, 77 Records, Albatros, Flyright, Spivey, Barrelhouse among others. For part two I'll be spotlighting a batch from Bluesville, which did have an extensive CD reissue program but left out some great titles. Below is some background on today's featuredrecords.

ABC-Paramount formed the BluesWay subsidiary in 1966 to record blues music. The label lasted into 1974, with the last new releases coming in February, 1974. The label issued over 70 albums, numerous 45's plus several titles that remain unreleased. The label has been spottily reissued on CD, usually by labels other than the parent company MCA, and in many cases these CD's themselves are out of print. The label had big names like B.B. King and John Lee Hooker but to me some of the more interesting records are by lesser knowns like Lee Jackson, Lucille Spann, L.C. Robinson and Andrew Odom. Farther Up The Road finds Odom is in fine form and the chemistry between him and Earl Hooker is faultless with Hooker getting plenty of room to cut loose.  Among the highlights are the moody "Stormy Monday", the bouncing "Don't Ever Leave Me All Alone" and a crackling version of "Farther Up The Road" (two songs appear on the Earl Hooker anthology CD Simply The Best). The record wasn't treated well by the critics as Mike Leadbitter clearly expressed in a 1973 edition of Blues Unlimited: "What a bitter disappointment! Muffled sound, endless boring songs and total lack of variation. What have BluesWay done to my heroes?" The album was finally released in 1973 and virtually sank without a trace. Despite Leadbitter's assessment this is a worthwhile release and well worth resurrecting on CD.

Also from the Bluesway vaults comes Johnny Young's I Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping, Young's final recording, passing not long after this superb date. Young is in top form playing mandolin on all cuts backed by a tough band featuring stellar guitar work from Louis Myers and the debut by harp man Jerry Portnoy who is uncredited.

Roosevelt Charles: Blues, Prayer, Work and Trouble Songs
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During the 1960's Nick Perls amassed a vast collection of blues records from the 1920's and 1930's. In 1968 he began transferring some of these onto LP, initially naming his label Belzoni but after five releases changed the name to Yazoo. Perls set up the Blue Goose Record label in the early 1970's. While on Blue Goose' sister label Yazoo Records Perls compiled rare 78 rpm recordings made in the 1920's by such singers and guitarists as Charlie Patton, Blind Willie McTell, the Memphis Jug Band, Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson, on Blue Goose Records he recorded only living artists. He cut albums by blues artists like Sam Chatmon, Son House, Yank Rachell, Shirley Griffith, Thomas Shaw and Bill Williams and Larry Johnson plus younger white blues performers like Jo Ann Kelly, Woody Mann, Graham Hine, John Lewis, Roger Hubbard, Roy Book Binder, R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders and Rory Block. The bulk of the label's output remains out of print.

Bill Williams, was a 72-year old bluesman from Greenup, Kentucky, when he made his debut for Blue Goose in the early 1970's. Stephen Calt wrote that "The previously unrecorded Williams ranks among the most polished and proficient living traditional bluesmen, and has a large repertoire embracing ragtime, hillbilly, and even pop material. He is also the only known living associate of Blind Blake, his own favorite guitarist." Williams cut just two LP's, both for Blue Goose: Low And Lonesome and The Late Bill Williams 'Blues, Rags and Ballads plus had one song on the anthology These Blues Is Meant To Be Barrelhoused. In October of 1973, nearly three years to the day of his recording debut, he passed away in his sleep.Blues Southside Chicago is one of my favorite anthologies, a superb collection of Chicago blues recorded by Willie Dixon in 1964 and originally issued on UK Decca and reissued by Flyright in 1976. Additional sides from this session appeared on Have A Good Time – Chicago Blues issued in 1970 on the Sunnyland label which is also out of print. Mike Leadbitter discusses the aim of the record in his liner notes: "This album was recorded In Chicago's Southside by Willie Dixon with one aim in mind-to provide the English enthusiast with blues played as they are played in the clubs, without gimmicks and without interfering A & R men. This album is not intended to be commercial in any way and by using top artists and top session men an LP has been produced that doesn't sound as cold as studio recordings usually do."

Robert Wilkins: Memphis Gospel Singer
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Roosevelt 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."

Robert Wilkins passed away in 1987 and it's a shame he made so few recordings in his later years. He did make one of the great albums of the blues revival, Memphis Gospel Singer cut in 1963 for the Piedmont label and sadly never issued on CD (it was reissued on vinyl in 1984 on the Origin Jazz Library label.) His early sessions for Victor in 1928, Brunswick in 1929 and Vocalion in 1935 are classics. Other post-war sides by Wilkins can be found on the out-of-print anthology This Old World's In A Hell Of A Fix, The 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival, …Remember Me (from the 1969Memphis Country Blues Festival)  plus a few other scattered sides.

Guitar Gabriel AKA Nyles Jones, recorded under the latter name the superb LP, My South, My Blues, for the Gemini label in 1970.Mike Leadbitter, writing in Blues Unlimited in 1970, called the single, "Welfare Blues", the most important 45 released that year. Gabriel dropped out of sight for about 20 years and his belated return to performing was due largely to folklorist and musician Timothy Duffy, who located Gabriel in 1991. With Duffy accompanying him as second guitarist on acoustic sets and as a member of his band, Brothers in the Kitchen, Gabriel performed frequently at clubs and festivals, and appeared overseas. He recorded several albums for Duffy's Music Maker label before passing in 1996.I'm under the impression that

Arbee Stidham is held in rather low opinion among the blues collecting community. The truth is that Stidham's music isn't, for the most part, all that exciting but A Time For Blues is a terrific outing with Stidham backed by the swinging Ernie Wilkins Orchestra. A jazz-influenced blues vocalist, Stidham also played alto sax, guitar and harmonica. His father Luddie Stidham worked in Jimme Lunceford's orchestra, while his uncle was a leader of the Memphis Jug Band. Stidham formed the Southern Syncopators and played various clubs in his native Arkansas in the '30s. He appeared on Little Rock radio station KARK and his band backed Bessie Smith on a Southern tour in 1930 and 1931. Stidham frequently performed in Little Rock and Memphis until he moved to Chicago in the 40's. Stidham recorded with Lucky Millinder's Orchestra for Victor in the 40's. He did his own sessions for Victor, Sittin' In, Checker, Abco, Prestige/Bluesville, Mainstream, and Folkways in the 50's and 60', and appeared in the film The Bluesman in 1973. Stidham also made many festival and club appearances nationwide and internationally. He did occasional blues lectures at Cleveland State University in the 70's.Shhirley Griffith: Mississppi Blues

Shirley Griffith was a deeply expressive singer and guitarist who learned first hand from Tommy Johnson as a teenager in Mississippi. Griffith missed his opportunity to record as a young man but recorded three superb albums: Indiana Ave. Blues (Bluesville, 1964, with partner J.T. Adams), Saturday Blues (Bluesville, 1965) and Mississippi Blues (Blue Goose, 1973). The fact that all three albums are out of print goes a ways in understanding why Griffith remains so little known. He also didn't benefit all that much from the renewed blues interest of the 1960's; he never achieving the acclaim of late discovered artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell, the critical appreciation of a Robert Pete Williams or the excitement surrounding rediscovered legends like Son House, Skip James or Mississippi John Hurt. He did achieve modest notice touring clubs with Yank Rachell in 1968, performed at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969 and appeared at the Notre Dame Blues Festival in South Bend, Indiana in 1971. Griffith passed away in 1974.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Barbecue BobMotherless Chile BluesChocolate To The Bone
Barbecue BobIt's Just Too BadChocolate To The Bone
Percy WilsonKaty Left MemphisDon'tcha Hear Poor Mother Call
Joe CallicotLonesome KatyAin't A Gonna Lie To You
Sam PriceBlow, Katy, BlowSam Price 1942-1945
Margaret CarterI Want Plenty Grease In My Frying Pan Female Blues Singers Vol. 4 1921-1930
Lizzie MilesDone Throwed The Key AwayVocal Blues & Jazz Vol. 2 1921-1938
Mae Glover & John ByrdGas Man BluesMississippi Moaners
Blues Boy Rawlins I Got A Woman Shining My ShoeA-K-A Sweet Lovin' Daddy
Blues Boy RawlinsBaby She Loves MeA-K-A Sweet Lovin' Daddy
Lil McClintock Furniture Man Atlanta Blues
Lil McClintock Sow Good SeedsBlues Images Vol. 10
Johnny Williams Silver Haired WomanJuke Joints 3
Boogie Bill WebbLove Me Mama Juke Joints 3
Houston BoinesOperator BluesJuke Joints 3
Will Shade I'll Get A Break Before LongWill Shade & Gus Cannon 1961
Laura DukesStellaWill Shade & Gus Cannon 1961
Washboard Sam & Freddie SpruellOcean BluesBlues Images Vol. 10
Washboard Sam & Freddie SpruellY.M.V. Blues Blues Images Vol. 10
Cornelius Bright My Baby's GoneGoin' Up The Country
Jack OwensB&O Blues Goin' Up The Country
Dusty BrownHe Don’t Love YouHand Me Down Blues
Dusty BrownYes She's Gone Hand Me Down Blues
Charlie PattonSome These Days I'll Be Gone - Take 1 [unreleased]Blues Images vol. 10
Robert JohnsonLast Fair Deal Gone DownThe Centennial Collection
Freddie Spruell 4A HighwayWhen the Levee Breaks
Freddie Spruell Mr. Freddie's Kokomo BluesWhen the Levee Breaks

Show Notes:

A fine mix showed lined up today with an emphasis on pre-war blues. Every year around this time record collector John Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. In addition the calendars have also been a showcase for never before seen photos. This year marks the tenth year of the calendar and CD's and once again Tefteller has turned up newly discovered sides which I'll be featuring today including the only known copy of Washboard Sam's first record which recently turned up and an unissued Charlie Patton test pressing. Washboard Sam is backed by guitarist Freddie Spruell so I thought I'd take the opportunity to spotlight a couple of solo sides from this fine artist.  Also on tap are a set of excllent early woman singers, twin spins by Barbecue Bob, the mysterious Blues Boy Rawlins, Chicago blues great Dusty Brown,  a pair by Detroit harp man Little Sonny and a few of album spotlights.

"Ocean Blues b/w Y.M.V. Blues" are both sides of Washboard Sam's debut 1935 recording for Bluebird. This record comes from the only known copy of this record which just turned up and have never before been reissued before. I have to admit that I had no idea this record was missing. While nothing earth shattering, it's a very solid record aided by the guitar work of Freddie Spruell and Carl Martin. Sam went on to record hundreds of records between 1935 and 1949 for the bluebird label, usually with backing by guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. Throughout the rest of the '30s and the '40s, Sam was one of the most popular Chicago bluesmen, selling plenty of records and playing to packed audiences in the Chicago clubs.  Y.M.V.refers to the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad who's predecessor was the Yazoo Delta Railway which appears in a number of blues songs as the Yellow Dog Railroad. According W. C. Handy, locals assigned the words "Yellow Dog" to the letters Y.D. on the freight trains that they saw. The Mississippi Blues Commission placed a historic marker at the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad depot site in Rosedale, Mississippi, designating it as a site on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The marker commemorates the original lyrics of Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues" which traced the route of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad which ran south from Friars Point to Rosedale among other stops, including Vicksburg and north to Memphis.

We also spin two sides by Freddie Spruell cut under his own name. Spruell has the distinction of being the first delta bluesman to make a record. Spruell recorded almost two years before Tommy Johnson and three years before either Charlie Patton or Garfield Akers. One of the first self-accompanied guitarists to record, Spruell lived in Chicago when he made his debut for OKeh Records in 1926. Spruell cut ten sides at sessions in 1926, 1928 and 1935 for Okeh, Paramount and Bluebird. He gave up blues for the church by the 40's and passed in 1956. All we know of Spruell comes from and interview done by intrepid blues researcher Gayle Dean Wardlow who interviewed Spruell's widow.

Also from the companion CD to Tefteller's calendar we spin tracks by Lil McClintock and Charlie Patton.  McClintock is one of those guys I never thought much of, but after listening to the slide driven "Sow Good Seeds" I've changed my tune. We also spin his "Furinture Man" which is not on the Tefteller CD, a fascinating throwback to the coon song era. Almost nothing is known of McClintock except that he was from Clinton, South Carolina and travled to Atlanta to record four songs for Columbia on December 4, 1930. The first record released was a blues, “Furniture Man b/w Don't Think I'm Santa Claus.” His second record was gospel, “Sow Good Seeds b/w Mother Called Her Child To Her Dying Bed.” In the calendar there appears the only known photo of him, a wonderful full-length shot, which has never been reproduced before. As for the Patton song, 'Some These Days I'll Be Gone", it's from an unissued test pressing. Both the released and unreleased are included and I can't discern much difference between the two.

We open the show with a pair of sides by Barbecue Bob, both from Yazoo's excllent Chocalate To The Bone collection. Robert Hicks was spotted by Columbia talent scout Dan Hornsby while working at the all-white Tidwell’s Barbecue in upscale Buckhead, serenading patrons for tips and entertaining after work at private parties. Hicks began cutting for Columbia in March 1927 and was identified as “Barbecue Bob” on all but two of his 78s. For the next three years, Barbecue Bob made records every time Columbia visited Atlanta. As Sam Charters pointed out, “Over the three and a half years he was a Columbia artist, he did sixty titles, and his releases sold almost 200,000 copies. He consistently outsold every artist on the Columbia race series except Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and Blind Willie Johnson for the years he was recording.”

We spotlight a few interesting records today including sides by Blues Boy Rawlins, late period tracks by members of the Memphis Jug Band and a trio of sides from a fine down blues collection on the JSP label. Blues Boy Rawlins A-K-A "Sweet Lovin' Daddy" is something of a mystery man. He cut one LP which was released in 1978 on Shakey Jakes' Good Time label with Shakey backing him on harmonica. It's a strong set of gut-bucket blues and it's a shame he didn't record more. Apparently Rawlins played in the streets in L.A. There is a photo of him floating around on the internet with harmonica man William Clarke.

I finally tracked down a copy of the very hard to find album Will Shade & Gus Cannon 1961. These recordings were made by members of the band in 1961 at a private party in Memphis and is a charming lo-fi document. There's a companion album with more sides from this party on the Wolf label. The Memphis Jug Band were one of the most popular musical groups of the late 1920's and early 1930's cutting some 80 sides between 1927 and 1934. Eventually the band’s live engagements became less frequent, and the group could no longer get recording dates after 1934. Still, the group occasionally performed in and around Memphis for years after that, and in 1956, Will Shade and Charlie Burse made a few recordings for the Folkways label (credited as the Memphis Jug Band). In 1963 Shade recorded one last time with 79-year-old Gus Cannon, former leader of Cannon’s Jug Stompers. They recorded the album Walk Right In, on Stax Records, a result of The Rooftop Singers having made Cannon's "Walk Right In" into a number one single.

We also spin three tracks from JSP's Juke Joints 3, a four-CD set of down-home blues sides. This is the third box set filled with raw rural blues cut for a slew of tiny labels and as the titles suggest, was probaly the sound of the blues in the late 40's and 50's to be heard in juke joints, taverns and beer joints all over the south. The lastest collection contaisn 104 tracks form well knowns like Slim Harpo and Jimmy Rogers to the uterly obscure like Johnny Beck, Hank Kilroy, Stick Horse Hammond and the like.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Big Walter Price If Blues Was MoneyThe Crazy Cajun Recordings
Big Walter Price To The Married MenThe Crazy Cajun Recordings
Big Walter Price Gamblin' WomanG.L. Crockett Meets Big Walter Price
Mississippi SheiksStop And ListenTommy Johnson & Associates
Willie LoftonDirty MistreaterTommy Johnson & Associates
Pete Johnson Mr. Freddy Blues1944-1946
Wee Bea BoozeMr. Freddie Blues Boogie Woogie Piano Vol. 2 1938-1954
Meade Lux Lewis Mr. Freddie BluesHey Mr. Piano Man
Lazy Lester All Because of YouJuicy Harmonica
Eddie BurnsBiscut Bakin' Mama
Juicy Harmonica
Little Daddy WaltonSpend My MoneyJuicy Harmonica
Alberta HunterMoanin' Low Chicago - The Living Legends
Victoria SpiveyI'll Never Fall in Love AgainVictoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936
Little Miss JaniceScarred KneesWest Coast Guitar Killers Vol. 1
Jack Owens B & O BluesGoin' Up The Country
Short Stuff MaconShort Stuff's CorrinaHell Bound And Heaven Sent
Robert McCoy Gone Mother BluesBye Bye Blues
Sunnyland Slim Get to Hip to Yourself Plays The Ragtime Blues
Otis SpannSpann´s Blues American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1965
Rosa HendersonDo Right BluesThe Essential
Rosa HendersonPoplar Bluff BluesThe Essential
Monte Easter & Jimmy Nolen Slow Freight Back HomeMonte Easter Vol. 2
Cecil GantIt Ain't Gonna Be Like ThatCecil Gant Vol. 7 1950-1951
Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals with Papa Charlie JacksonSalty DogBreaking Out of New Orleans
Walter Coleman Mama Let Me Lay It On YouMama Let Me Lay It On You 1926-1936
Willie HarrisBullfrog BluesThe Best There Ever Was
Sonny Boy NelsonLow DownMississippi Blues Vol. 3

Show Notes:

It's pledge drive time again and as always we would love to hear from our blues listeners.  Jazz90.1 receives no support from anybody but our listeners so if you enjoy the music, and have the means, please think about pledging your support. As usual during the pledge drive we have a mix show lined up for today. We open and close today by paying tribute to Big Walter Price the elder statesman of the Houston blues scene. Price, a legendary blues singer from Houston died March 8th at the age of 97. Price was already in his early forties when he made his first records, for Bob Tanner's TNT label in San Antonio. Three TNT singles were released in 1955. Later in 1955, Walter moved to Houston and joined his friend Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown at Don Robey's Peacock label. Five Peacock singles were issued in 1956-57. In 1958, Price recorded two singles for Eddie Shuler's Goldband label and the 60's saw releases on Myrl, Global, Tear Drop, Jet Stream and some fine sides for the Crazy Cajun label.

Also on today's show we spin a trio of covers of a boogie classic, spin twin spins of Rosa Henderson and Eugene Powell, play some fine blues ladies and batch of great piano blues. A couple of weeks back we played Freddie Shayne's 1935 of  “Mr. Freddie Blues” and today we hear some fine covers.  Shayne, the composer of "Mr. Freddie Blues" is a shadowy figure who spent his life working in Chicago. He first time on record was backing singer Priscilla Stewart on “Mr. Freddie Blues.” Shayne also made a very rare piano roll of this song. In 1935 Shayne recorded a solo record, “Original Mr. Freddie Blues b/w Lonesome Man Blues.” “Mr. Freddie Blues” became something of a boogie standard covered by many artists both as an instrumental and as a vocal. Today we hear great instrumental versions by Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis and a fine vocal performance by Wee Bea Booze from 1944 backed by pianist Sammy Price.

I've played the neglected blues queen Rosa Henderson several times on the program. I think it's hard for modern listeners to appreciate some of these early woman singers. The problem is twofold; the earliest records, before 1925, were recorded acoustically which doesn't make for a great listening experience and the other problem is that unless the singer was one of the big names, like Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey, the available recordings are usually presented in pretty rough shape, with little or no mastering done to spruce them up. Several years back the Document label issued a series of  very well mastered 2-CD sets under the title The Essential. I picked up the Rosa Henderson one just recently and it's great to hear her in much improved sound. Henderson, began recording in 1923, sometimes using such pseudonyms as Flora Dale, Mamie Harris, Rosa Green, Sarah Johnson, Sally Ritz, Bessie Williams, Josephine Thomas, and Gladys White on her records. In the late 1920's she started gradually dropping out of the music scene although she continued performing now and then into the mid-1930's. She cut close to one hundred sides between 1923 and 1932 with fine backing by musicians like Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Metcalf, Fats Waller, and James P. Johnson and had some very good songs. Henderson deserves a higher profile and if you're interested, The Essential is the place to start.

Speaking of the ladies we also spin sides by Alberta Hunter, Victoria Spivey and Little Miss Janice. The Hunter selection is from Chicago: The Living Legends cut for Riverside in 1961 and backed by Lovie Austin and her Blues Serenaders. Lovie Austin and band the Blues Serenaders accompanied many of the Classic Blues singers of the 1920s, including Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, and Ethel Waters. Austin's song "Down Hearted Blues" was a big hit for Bessie Smith. The Serenaders recordings used many of Chicago's best hot musicians including, Johnny Dodds, Tommy Ladnier, Kid Ory, Natty Dominique, and Jimmie Noone.

From 1936 we spin Spivey's jazzy "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" backed by Her Hallelujah Boys who were actually, Dot Scott's Rhythm Dukes, featuring the great growling trumpet of Randolph Scott.

Little Miss Janice is a mystery. What little is know about her is that she came from Texas, she played guitar and she had a knack for songwriting. After this recording for Proverb, she went on to cut for Paul Gayten’s Pzazz label. Johnny Adams covered “Scarred Knees” on his first LP for Rounder and Esther Phillips did a great cover on her album From A Whisper To A Scream.

Together with his half brother Ben on a mandolin, Eugene Powell began to play as a novelty act at picnics and suppers and for prisoners at Mississippi State Penitentiary. The Powell Family, again, moved to Hollandale in Washington county in the early 1920's. This is when Eugene Powell began his formative years with the Chatmon Family who formed the popular Mississippi Sheiks. His early recordings stem from one session cut on October 15, 1936 at the St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, LA where he cut sides as Sonny Boy Nelson and also backed artists Mississippi Matilda and Robert Hill. He recorded again from the 70's through the 90's, his recordings appearing on numerous anthologies. He passed in 1997.

As always we hear some excellent piano blues with tracks by Robert McCoy, Otis Spann and Sunnyland Slim. Alabama barrelhouse blues pianist Robert McCoy had two rare LP's in the early 60's on the Vulcan label. Delmark has reissued this material on CD as Bye Bye Baby. These were his first recordings as leader although he recorded at a 1937 session backing fellow Alabama artists Guitar Slim, Charlie Campbell and Peanut The Kidnapper. Our selection, "Gone Mother Blues", is superb reading of the Leroy Carr number.

We spin a tracks from two great Chicago pianists, Sunnyland Slim and Otis Spann. Slim's "Get to Hip to Yourself" comes from the oddly titled Plays The Ragtime Blues on Bluesway which was released in 1972. Despite the title this is an exceptionally strong, well recorded set of Chicago blues finding Sunnyland backed superbly by Carey Bell and The Aces (Louis Myers, Dave Myers and Fred Below). From the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival we hear Otis Spann on the romping "Spann's Blues."

I've been listening to some vintage jazz lately, in particular the 4-CD set Breaking Out of New Orleans 1922-1929 which features terrific sides by Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Sam Morgan's Jazz Band, Celestin's Original Tuxedo Orchestra and Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals who we feature today. After playing with the Olympia Orchestra Keppard joined Frankie Dusen's Eagle Band, taking the place recently vacated by Buddy Bolden. Soon after Bolden was off the music scene Keppard was proclaimed "King Keppard" as the city's top horn player. About 1914 Joe "King" Oliver won a musical "cutting contest" and claimed Keppard's crown. Keppard made recordings in Chicago between 1924 and 1927 including two versions of "Salty Dog" from 1926 featuring Papa charlie Jackson. The performance concluded with a rousing aside of “Papa Charlie done sung that song!” Jackson first cut the song in 1924 which made him a recording star. Old-time New Orleans musicians from Buddy Bolden’s era recalled hearing far filthier versions of “Salty Dog Blues” long before Papa Charlie’s recording.

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