Entries tagged with “Jimmy Coe”.

Mojo BufordDeep Sea Diver Chicago Blues Summit
Mojo BufordMean Old World Chicago Blues Summit
Jimmy CoeAfter Hours JointHonkers & Bar Walkers Vol 1
Memphis Slim & Willie DixonStewballSongs of Memphis Slim and Wee Willie Dixon
Gatemouth MooreWalking My Blues Away Cryin' and Singin' the Blues
Jimmy WitherspoonJust A Country BoyUrban Blues Singing Legend
Bo Carter Bo Carter's AdviceGreatest Hits
Otto Virgil Bad Notion Blues American Primitive Vol. II
Blind Willie McTell Little DeliaAtlanta Twelve String
Willie HeadonBlame It On The BluesBlame It On The Blues
Guitar SlimTrouble Don't LastSufferin' Mind
Big Mama ThorntonCotton Picking BluesThe Original Hound Dog
Roosevelt HoltsCoal Black WomanThe Franklinton Muscatel Society
Roosevelt HoltsBig Road Blues The Franklinton Muscatel Society
Jed DavenportSave Me SomeMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classics
Sleepy John EstesDon't You Want to KnowMemphis Shakedown: More Jug Band Classics
D.C. Bender Woke Up This MorningIn The Alley: Story Of Ivory Records
Big H WilliamsSomebody's DaughterIn The Alley: Story Of Ivory Records
Mississippi John HurtNobody's Dirty BusinessAvalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recording
Henry SpauldingCairo BluesA Richer Tradition
Kid Brown & His Blues BandBo-LitaAmerican Primitive Vol. II
Snooky PryorHold Me in Your ArmsGonna Pitch a Boogie Woogie
Slim HarpoThat Ain't Your BusinessThe Legendary Jay Miller Sessions Vol. 4
Sonny Boy WilliamsonBoppin' With SonnyCool Cool Blues
Elizabeth JohnsonSobbin' Woman Blues A Richer Tradition
Bessie Smith Black Mountain BluesThe Complete Recordings (Frog)
Blu Lu BarkerNew Orleans BluesBlu Lu Barker 1938-1939
Little SylviaDrive, Daddy, Drive
I'm A Bad, Bad Girl

Show Notes:

I want to start off by thanking all those who pledged their support during our Fall membership drive. Talking up the pledge drive always takes some time which is why we usually do mix shows during this period. Today's mix show is bookended on a somber note as we pay tribute to the recent passings of Mojo Buford and Sylvia Robinson. In between we spin a pair of tunes by the little remembered Roosevelt Holts, two cuts from the Houston based Ivory label plus our usual mix of pre-war blues including some fine blues ladies, jug band music and an assortment of well known and forgot bluesman from the 20's and 30's. In addition we spend some time in the 40'sand 50's with some more uptown blues and spin a trio of superb harp blowers.

George “Mojo” Buford was still performing up until a few months ago but unfortunately I never got an opportunity to see him. Buford passing marks the third passing of a member of Muddy Waters band this year including Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Buford passed away Oct. 11th at the age of 81. Buford moved from Mississippi to Chicago around 1953 and wound up joining Muddy Waters' band a few years later as a stand-in for James Cotton. Buford played with Waters off and on until Waters' death in 1983. Buford cut several albums as leader over the years including some very hard-to-find early records for his own label. To my ear his best album was Chicago Blues Summit cut in the late 70's. We open the program with two tracks from that record. The album features Muddy bandmates Pee Wee Madison, Sammy Lawhorn and Sonny Rogers plus Little Smokey Smothers. The album was issued on CD on the Japanese P-vine label. Buford blows some fine harp but the album is really ensemble recording letting these talented musicians really stretch out.

Sylvia Robinson passed away September 29, 2011. Born as Sylvia Vanderpool she began recording in 1950 for Columbia Records under the billing Little Sylvia. In 1954 she began teaming up with guitarist Mickey Baker, billed as Mickey & Sylvia. The duo had several R&B hits including “Love Is Strange,” a No. 1 R&B song in 1957. She married Joe Robinson 1959 and the two formed All Platinum Records. In the 1970s, the Robinson's founded Sugar Hill Records. She was the mastermind behind the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the first hip-hop single to become a commercial hit. Some called her “the mother of hip-hop.” For our tribute, however, we go back to the roots and play the jumping “Drive, Daddy, Drive” from 1952 backed by the Buddy Lucas Orchestra.

We spin two today from Roosevelt Holts, one of those great bluesman who seems destined for obscurity. In the liner notes to his first LP, David Evans wrote: "If he had been able to get to a record studio in the 1930's, his records would now be highly prized collector's items, reissued on albums and talked about by blues fans everywhere. He might have even been 'rediscovered' and brought north to the cities for concerts and coffee house engagements before an audience of young whites who were not even born when he recorded his famous numbers." Still, we should be fortunate that Holts was recorded at all and we have Evans to thank. Evans found him in the 1960's in Louisiana resulting in two LP's (both out of Little Sylvia: Drive, Daddy, Driveprint): Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon,1966) and Roosevelt Holts and Friends (Arhoolie, 1969-1970). Several other tracks appear on equally obscure anthologies. Today's selections come from the CD The Franklinton Muscatel Society and collect sides he cut between 1965-1969 and also feature his brother Herlin Holts and L. V. Conerly.

Holts started to get serious about music in the late 1930's when he encountered Tommy Johnson. Around 1937 both men moved to Jackson playing all around town and surrounding towns. During this period he also played with Ishmon Bracey, Johnnie Temple, Bubba Brown, and One Legged Sam Norwood.

We spotlight a pair of songs today from the collection In The Alley: The Best Of Ivory Records. The label was formed by musician Ivory Lee Semiens. Semiens moved from Louisiana to Houston in 1950 and formed Ivory by the end of the decade. The label issued singles by fine Houston bluesman like Lightnin' Hopkins, Earl Gilliam, Hop Wilson, D.C. Bender and Big H Williams. Today's tracks are by the latter two artists both cut in 1967. I don't know much about Williams, but Bender was an active session guitarists on the Houston scene, cutting just a few sides under his own name, but backing artists such as Mabel Franklin, Big Son Tillis, Calvin Johnson and others.

We play a bunch of superb blues ladies today including, perhaps, the greatest of them all, Bessie Smith. Throughout the 20's there a staggering number of blues woman recorded, some had long, prolific careers like Victoria Spivey, Alberta Hunter, Clara Smith, Ma Rainey and became stars that are still remembered today. Many other fine singers from the era remain utterly forgotten like Elizabeth Johnson who we feature today. She cut two terrific 78's for Okeh in 1928 and an unissued 78 for Vocalion in 1929. To me Bessie remains the greatest out of a crowded field and our selection, “Black Mountain Blues”, is a typically fine example:

Back in Black Mountain, a child will smack your face (2x)
Babies cryin' for liquor, and all the birds sing bass

Black Mountain people are bad as they can be (2x)
They uses gunpowder just to sweeten their tea

Back in Black Mountain, can't keep a man in jail (2x)
If the jury finds him guilty, the judge'll throw they bail

Had a man in Black Mountain, sweetest man in town (2x)
He met a city gal, and he throwed me down

I'm bound for Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun (2x)
I'm gonna shoot him if he stands still, and cut him if he runs

Down in Black Mountain, they all shoot quick and straight (2x)
The bullet'll get you, if you start dodgin' too late

Got the devil in my soul, and I'm full of bad booze (2x)
I'm out here for trouble, I've got the Black Mountain blues

Nothing is known about Elizabeth Johnson who cut four fine sides including a two part cover of Bessie's “Empty Bed Blues” backed by King Oliver. Billed as Elizabeth Johnson & Her Turpentine Tree-O she cut "Sobbin' Woman Blues b/w Be My Kid Blues” with the band providing an eccentric backing of cornet, guitar and percussive woodblocks.

During the heyday of race recording the record companies (except Paramount) headed down south and set up mobile recording units to find artists for an audience that was buying blues records in huge numbers. Among those that were recorded were those that went on to long illustrious careers and those that waxed just a side or two before receding back into obscurity. To get some indication of the talented bluesman who the commercial companies overlooked we can look the the field recording done during this period. Folks like John and Alan Lomax and Lawrence Gellert recorded some remarkable blues during this period. Then there were other artists, like the aforementioned Roosevelt Holts, who were active during this period but didn't get the opportunity to record until the blues revival of the 1960's. It's interesting to conjecture how many fine blues performers were never captured on record and my bet is that there were more than a few. Going back to the early days of blues record collecting there's always been the allure of those artists who we know nothing about, like the previously mentioned Elizabeth Johnson, but left behind one or two brilliant records. We spin a few of those records today including sides by Otto Virgil, Henry Spaulding and Kid Brown And His Blues Band.

Mississippian Otto Virgil recorded two superb 78's in Chicago for Bluebird on Halloween in 1925. Big Joe Williams once recalled that Otto Virgil (or Virgial) was from the area of Columbus, MS., and could usually be found playing with another native by the name of Tom Turner. Henry Spaulding cut the lone 78 "Cairo Blues b/w Biddle Street Blues" for Brunswick in 1929. In his memoir, A Blues Life, Henry Townsend recalled Spaulding: "Harry and I worked together periodically. He worked at the moving van company on Twenty-third and Carr. …And if Harry didn't go out, we'd get the guitars and go out and serenade all around everywhere, walk the streets. We had a district we'd like to go in, and we'd head down there because we knew we'd get together with a crowd and gets some quarters and dimes, have all the drinks we needed, and have a lot of fun." Nothing is known about Kid Brown And His Blues Band who cut one side for Black Patti, "Bo-lita", with the other side featuring Al Miller’s “Saturday Night Hymn.” This is an extremely rare record, perhaps two to three known copies, with a copy selling at auction last year for over $4,000.

Scrapper BlackwellBlues Before SunriseMr. Scrapper's Blues
Scrapper BlackwellLittle Boy BlueMr. Scrapper's Blues
Shirley GriffithSaturday BluesSaturday Blues
Shirley GriffithMaggie Campbell BluesSaturday Blues
J.T. Adams & Shirley GriffithBlind Lemon's BluesIndiana Ave. Blues
J.T. Adams & Shirley GriffithNaptown BoogieIndiana Ave. Blues
Brooks Berry & Scrapper BlackwellBama BoundMy Heart Struck Sorrow
Pete FranklinI Got To Find My BabyGuitar Pete's Blues
Neal PatmanKey To The HighwayArt of Field Recording: Vol I
Cecil BarfieldGeorgia Bottleneck BluesArt of Field Recording: Vol I
Art Rosenbaum Interview
Yank Rachel & Shirley GriffithPeach Orchard MamaArt of Field Recording: Vol. I
Scrapper BlackwellNobody Knows When Your Down...Mr. Scrapper's Blues
Shirley GriffithRiver Line BluesSaturday Blues
J.T. Adams & Shirley GriffithBig Road BluesIndianapolis Jump
Brooks Berry & Scrapper BlackwellBrook's BluesArt of Field Recording: Vol. I
Tony BryantBroke Down EngineArt of Field Recording: Vol. II
J. Easley, P. Franklin and Ray HollowayBig Leg WomanIndianapolis Jump

Show Notes:

Mission statement released after
United had been in existence for one year

The United Record Company was launched in July 1951, by Leonard Allen and Lew Simpkins, a veteran record man who had worked for the Miracle and Premium Records and brought many of their former artists to the new label. A news item in the trade press dated July 21, 1951, announces the formation of the United Recording Company. "The guiding force behind this new company is a Chicago area entertainment entrepreneur by the name of Lewis Simpkins. He had previous experience with the local Miracle and Premium labels in the Chicago areas. Simpkins is unique because he is one of the very few Black record company owners producing this music that is largely by and for the Black community. He joins the Rene Brothers in California (Excelsior and Exclusive) and soon to be executives Vivian Carter and James Bracken in nearby Gary Indiana with the Vee-Jay label."

United enjoyed early success, scoring hits by Tab Smith, Jimmy Forrest, and the Four Blazes; during its first year it was outdoing its local rival Chess on the charts. The United label took off impressively, scoring two number one R&B hits among its first ten releases: Tab Smith's "Because of You," and Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train." United formally opened for business with a long recording session on July 12, 1951. The company was able to expand and open a new imprint called States in May 1952. United and States recorded a substantial roster of jazz artists. The company also recorded a substantial amount of blues including artists like Roosevelt Sykes, Memphis Slim, J. T. Brown, "Big" Walter Horton, J. T. Brown, Robert Nighthawk, Junior Wells and others. The label also recorded a fair bit of gospel and vocal harmony groups.During its first 2 1/2 years of operation, the company recorded 463 masters. The death of Lew Simpkins, who died suddenly on April 27, 1953, was a serious blow; Leonard Allen was left to run the enterprise with limited help until the label's demise in 1957. While the company remained fairly healthy during 1954, activity dropped off sharply after that. Of the 281 sides that the company cut during this period, 130 were done in 1954. By the end of 1956 Leonard Allen was reduced to selling off half of the house music publishing company to pay his tax bill. Too many years without hits finally brought United and States down after the company's Christmas releases in 1957. Bob Koester of Delmark Records acquired most of the label's masters in 1975 and has reissued the bulk of this material on LP and CD. I want to thank the folks at Delmark for sending me several titles that made this show possible. Below is some background on some of today's featured artists, most of which comes from the The Red Saunders Research Foundation website.

Roosevelt Sykes, like Nighthawk, was recorded on United’s first day of sessions on July 12, 1951. He cut two additional sessions in August 1951 and March 1953. There is speculation that Nighthawk plays guitar on the first Sykes session. Robert Nighthawk was recorded by United on their very first day of sessions and two of United's first five releases were by Robert Nighthawk and his Nighthawks Band. Sales never took off and Nighthawk headed back south and wouldn't record again until 1964. Leonard Allen scoffed: "Robert Nighthawk? I didn't think nothin' of him. I didn't go into those joints where they were playing. Lew knew him- he had Robert Nighthawk in mind for the first session. So after he cut the session it did nothin'." Nighthawk recorded two sessions for United, one on July 12, 1951 and one on October 25, 1952 for its subsidiary States. His complete recordings for the label are collected on the CD Bricks in My Pillow.

Memphis Slim cut around 30 sides for United at sessions in 1952, 1953 and two in 1954. This was a particularly inspired period for Slim who added his first permanent guitarist, Matt Murphy to his band. These recordings have been reissued on the Delmark CD’s Memphis Slim U.S.A. and The Come Back. Memphis Slim had been recording since 1940. Based in Chicago during this phase of his career, he had been a mainstay at three postwar independents: first Hy-Tone, then Miracle, and finally Miracle's successor entity Premium. After Premium collapsed in the summer of 1951, Slim cut three sessions for Mercury in Chicago. Lew Simpkins, who knew Slim from the days when he was moving 78's for Miracle and Premium, brought him to United as soon as he could.

J.T. Brown also recorded during United's first day – and his "Windy City Boogie" was credited by United proprietor Leonard Allen with "saving our first money." J.T. is best remembered for the accompaniments he provided for Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Roosevelt Sykes, Johnny Shines, and J.B. Lenoir. In his liner notes for the United reissues on Delmark, Jim O'Neal remarked that he "was a bluesman. By jazz standards, he was not a great instrumentalist. His lack of sophistication, subtlety, and tonal variations prevented him from moving into more 'progressive' circles." Brown first performed as a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the South before moving to Chicago in the early 1940's.

One of the top R&B records of 1952, "Mary Jo" provided a moment in the national spotlight for one of Chicago's hottest vocal combos, The Four Blazes. The single moved rapidly to the top, displacing Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" as the #1 R&B song in the nation at the end of August. Bassist Tommy Braden was the main lead singer while all members provided backup harmony vocals. "Jelly" Holt was the founder and drummer in the group, while Floyd McDaniel and "Shorty" Hill played guitars. The Four Blazes formed in 1940 and made their recording debut with a few sides for Aristocrat in 1947 before landing at United in 1952.

In what was likely a response to Chess' success with Little Walter, United signed harp ace Junior Wells. After a youthful apprenticeship in the Aces and then the Muddy Waters band (when Little Walter went out on his own he took over the Aces, while Junior moved into his chair in Muddy's band, and appeared on one of Muddy's sessions for Chess), he was ready to make his first sides as a leader for the States subsidiary.  Down Beat's Pete Welding wrote "In their power, directness, unerring taste and utter consistency of mood, these may well be the most perfectly distilled examples of Wells' music ever recorded, taking their place alongside of those of Waters, Walter, Wolf and other masters of the period." These historic sessions also feature Louis and Dave Myers, Willie Dixon, Johnnie Jones, Fred Below and Odie Payne Jr. Recorded by United Records in 1953 and 1954 at Universal Studio in Chicago, eight sides were issued on the subsidiary States label.

Walter Horton moved to Chicago in the late 1940's, but during 1951-54 made frequent trips to Memphis to record for Modern, behind other artists and under the name Mumbles. He also made sideman appearances for Chicago-based labels, with Muddy Waters for Chess (January 1953) and Johnny Shines for JOB (the same month). He recorded under the name Big Walter Horton for the first time when he signed with United in 1954. Horton also backed singer Tommy Brown the same year. Brown's United session on August 26 featured an all-star lineup of Walter Horton (harmonica), Harold Ashby (tenor sax), Memphis Slim (piano), Lee Cooper (guitar), and Willie Dixon (bass); the drums are unknown. Brown remains an active performer.

Leonard Allen  recorded blues artists Morris Pejoe and Big Boy Spires in Al Smith's basement (5313 South Drexel). Although the Pejoe session was interesting enough to justify putting matrix numbers on it, Allen eventually backpedaled, most likely because of the less-than-professional sound quality. Neither saw release until Delmarkr put them out on an album in 1989. Pejoe was born Morris Pejas in Louisiana, and began his music career on the violin. After moving to Beaumont, Texas, in 1949, he switched to guitar. In 1951 he was in Chicago, performing with pianist Henry Gray. During 1952-53 he recorded three sessions for Checker, accompanied by Gray among others. The United session was held in December 1954.

Arthur "Big Boy" Spires was born in Natchez, Mississippi; he started playing guitar only in the late 1930s. Spires came to Chicago in 1943, and played house-rent parties during the decade. It was not until 1950 or 1951 that he graduated to nightclubs. He first recorded for Checker in 1952 (which produced his best known record, "Murmur Low"), and did a strong session for Chance in January 1953. In December 1953, Big Boy Spires and His Rhythm Rocking Three was advertised as the feature act in the grand opening celebration of the Palace Inn (the ad failed to list an address). The date of the Spires session for Leonard Allen seems to be December 1954 or shortly thereafter.

The most down-home blues session ever recorded by Leonard Allen featured harmonica player Alfred "Blues King" Harris and drummer James Bannister. Bannister got the vocals on "Blues and Trouble" and "Gold Digger," which were the only titles to be released from the session at the time; States 141 is a very rare record. Harris sang on the rest, which did not see issue until they appeared on a Delmark LP many years later. Bannister had made unissued recordings for Sun in Memphis and for Chess before cutting this session for States. Harris, who could sing in the B. B. King manner and often billed himself as Blues King, made one track for Modern in Memphis. He was booked into the Be-Bop Club for 6 months in 1954 when Allen recorded him. He waxed five sides for United that same year. In the late 1950's, Harris put out a single on J. Mayo Williams' low-circulation Ebony label. He dropped off the Chicago scene after 1959 and his later movements are untraced.

Other performers featured today include Jimmy Coe, Eddie Chamblee, Arbee Stidham, L.C. McKinley and Ernie K-Doe among others. United recorded several fine sax players who's music straddled the line between R&B and jazz. Many are featured on Delmark's three volume Honkers & Bar Walkers series including Jimmy Coe and Eddie Chamblee. From 1941 to 1946 Chamblee worked as a musician in Army bands; after his discharge he put together his own combo. His first notable work was on the Miracle label, particularly on the huge hit "Long Gone" by Sonny Thompson, which recorded for 1947. After Chamblee went out on his own in 1948, his records for Miracle and Premium sold well, and Lew Simpkins no doubt remembered him. In addition to putting out sides under his own name he also played on many sides backing the Four Blazes. On our selection, "La! La! La! Lady", Chamblee also takes the vocal. Arbee Stidham was the last blues artist to record for Leonard Allen, and was responsible for the very last release on States. He came to Chicago in the 1940s and his first recording for RCA Victor in 1947 produced a number one R&B hit on the Billboard race chart, "My Heart Belongs To You." Subsequently he cut sides for Victor, Checker, Sittin' With and Abco before signing with States in 1957. Only rone record was issued featuring the guitar of Earl Hooker. L. C. McKinley was T-Bone Walker disciple who made from Mississippi to Chicago in 1951. In the early 1950's he was a regular headliner at the famed 708 Club. In 1951 and 1952, he recorded as a sideman with pianist Eddie Boyd for JOB, appearing on Boyd's biggest hit, "Five Long Years." He first recorded as a leader in 1953 for the Parrot label, but Al Benson chose not to release his session. McKinley signed with States around the beginning of 1954 and cut four sides for the label. In 1955 United became the first to record Ernie K-Doe, who was living and performing in Chicago at the time under his real name, Ernest Kador. K-Doe spent nearly his entire life in New Orleans, but in 1953, after winning several singing and dancing competitions back home, he came to Chicago for a brief time to live with his mother. He met the Four Blazes at the Crown Propeller Lounge; the Blazes introduced him to A&R man Dave Clark, who was doing some work for United at the time and supervised the session. In early November he was singing at the Apex Country Club in Robbins, Illinois (13624 Claire Blvd) as "Ernest Kado." The Chicago Defender ad (12 November) was already billing him as "United Recording Artist."