Entries tagged with “Lizzie Miles”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery You'll Never Miss Your Jelly Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936
Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery Rock That Thing Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936
Lil Johnson w/ Charles Avery House Rent Scuffle Lil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936
Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery Whiskey Sellin' Woman Lucille Bogan Vol. 11923-1930
Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery They Ain't Walking No More Lucille Bogan Vol. 2 1930-1933
Lucille Bogan w/ Charles Avery Alley Boogie Lucille Bogan Vol. 2 1930-1933
Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery Tee Rolller's Rub Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932
Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery I Ain't Sleepy Boogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932
Freddie ''Redd'' Nicholson w/ Charles Avery Freddie's Got The BluesBoogie Woogie & Barrelhouse Piano Vol. 1 1928-1932
Red Nelson w/ Charles Avery Detroit Blues Red Nelson 1936-1947
Red Nelson w/ Charles Avery Grand Trunk Blues Red Nelson 1936-1947
Big Bill Broonzy w/ Black Bob Good Liqueur Gonna Carry me DownThe Young Big Bill Broonzy 1928-1935
Big Bill Broonzy w/ Black Bob Keep Your Hands Off Of HerWhen The Sun Goes Down
Charlie West w/ Black Bob Hobo Blues Rare 1930s & '40s Blues Vol. 3 1937-1948
Charlie West w/ Black Bob Rolling Stone Blues Rare 1930s & '40s Blues Vol. 3 1937-1948
Tampa Red w/ Black BobMean Old Tom Cat BluesTampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935
Tampa Red w/ Black BobSomebody's Been Using That ThingTampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935
Tampa Red w/ Black Bob Shake It About LittleTampa Red Vol. 6 1934-1935
Charlie McCoy w/ Black Bob Let My Peaches BeThe McCoy brothers
Vol. 1 1934-1936
Lil Johnson w/ Black Bob I'm Betting On YouLil Johnson Vol. 1 1929-1936
Fats Hayden w/ Teddy Bunn Brownskin Gal Is The Best Gal After AllTeddy Bunn 1929-1940
Ben Franklin w/ Teddy Bunn Crooked World BluesTeddy Bunn 1929-1940
Jimmie Gordon w/ Teddy Bunn Sail With MeJimmie Gordon Vol. 1938-1938
Hot Lips Page w/ Teddy Bunn Thirsty Mama BluesThe Very Best of Teddy Bunn
Cow Cow Davenport w/ Teddy Bunn That'll Get ItThe Very Best of Teddy Bunn
Lizzie Miles w/ Teddy Bunn Yellow Dog Gal BluesLizzie Miles Vol. 3 1928-39
Lizzie Miles w/ Teddy Bunn Too SlowLizzie Miles Vol. 3 1928-39
Trixie Smith w/ Ikey Robinson Trixie's Blues Trixie Smith Vol. 2 1925-1939
Victoria Spivey w/ Ikey Robinson Baulin' Water Blues, Pt. 1Victoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936
Georgia White w/ Ikey Robinson The Blues Ain't Nothin' But...???The Piano Blues Vol. 13: Central Highway
Johnnie Temple w/ Ikey Robinson Jelly Roll Bert Johnnie Temple Vol. 2 1938-1940
Frankie Jaxson w/ Ikey RobinsonRock Me Mama Frankie 'Half-Pint'Jaxon Vol. 1 1926-1929

Show Notes:

Lil Johnson: Rock That ThingOn today’s program we shine the light on some superb session musicians who backed blues artists in the pre-war era. We spotlight two fine pianists in Charles Avery and Black Bob. We know little about both men, with Avery making his debut on record in 1929 and Black Bob in 1934 and both dropped off the radar by the late 30’s. Both backed many o the popular blues singers of the era, with Avey cutting just one side under his name and Black Bob cutting nothing under his own name. We also spotlight two very fine guitarists who straddled both the blues and jazz worlds, Teddy Bunn and Banjo Ikey Robinson. Both men backed both jazz musicians and blues singers in the 20’s and 30’s and both cut just a handful of sides under their own names. I'll be doing a sequel, of sorts, where we focus on famous names who were active sessions artists such as Tampa Red, Lonnie Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Bill Broonzy, Kokomo Arnold and others.

Active in Chicago in the 20's and 30's, Charles Avery worked as a session musician backing artists such as Lil Johnson, Freddie 'Red” Nicholson, Red Nelson and others. He cut one record under his own name, 1929's “Dearborn Street Breakdown.” We here him on several tracks todays including backing blues ladies Lil Johnson and Lucille Bogan as well as singers  Freddie "Redd" Nicholson and Red Nelson.

LIl Johnson first recorded in Chicago in 1929, accompanied by pianists Montana Taylor and Charles Avery on five songs. She did not return to the recording studio until 1935. From her second session onwards, she hit up had partnership with the ragtime influenced pianist "Black Bob" Hudson, who provided ebullient support to Johnson's increasingly suggestive lyrics. In 1936 and 1937, she recorded over 40 songs, mostly on the Vocalion label, some featuring Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Lee Collins on trumpet.

Lucille Bogan recorded for OKeh in 1923, for Paramount in 1927, and for Brunswick in 1928, 1929, and 1930. Although she had an uncommonly large Depression era output, she made no recordings at all in 1931 and 1932. When she switched to ARC for the 1933, 1934, and 1935 sessions, she had to use the pseudonym Bessie Jackson for contractual reasons. After the Second World War Bogan made some trial discs for a New York company. She was mad when the records were rejected and died shortly afterward in 1948. Her records find her back with fine pianists like Charles Avery, Will Ezell and later, Walter Roland.

Banjo Ikey Robinson
Banjo Ikey Robinson

The obscure singer Freddie "Redd" Nicholson recorded eight sides in 1930 (three were not issued) all backed by pianist Charles Avery. Nothing seems tobe known about him.

There's not much information on Red Nelson outside of what I gleaned from the Encyclopedia of the Blues: "Nelson Wilborn, better known as Red Nelson, or Dirty Red, was born in Sumner, Mississippi, in 1907. A fine, capable vocalist, he moved to Chicago in the early 1930's and was a prominent recording artist from 1935 to 1947. His recordings with pianist Clarence Lofton, especially "Streamline Train" and "Crying Mother Blues," are probably his best work. In the 1960's he performed locally with the Muddy Waters Band."

Very little is known about Black Bob Hudson, except that he was a ragtime-influenced blues pianist who was active from the 1920's and 1930's, and worked with a who's who of Chicago talent including  Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Jazz Gillum, Lil Johnson, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill Weldon and  Tampa Red. He was the brother of banjoist Ed Hudson, and the two frequented the same circles and recording sessions, and sometimes ended up accompanying the same singers. Both brothers were part of the Memphis Nighthawks, and Bob Hudson was also a member (with Tampa Red and other luminaries) of the Chicago Rhythm Kings. Broonzy and Black Bob cut dozens of sides together between 1934 and 1937 and Black Bob is featured on quite a number of Tampa Red sides between 1934 and 1937 .

Teddy Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals. Teddy Bunn rubbed shoulders with many top jazz musicians aas well as blues singers in the pre-war era. As he noted: "I have a very good ear and can usually sense what the cats are going to play a split second before they do it." Among the notable blues singers he accompanied were artists such as  Cow Cow Davenport, Lizzie Miles, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and Victoria Spivey among others. In addition to an active session career, Bunn was a member of the jazz groups the Spirits of Rhythm and June 1939, and was among the very first musicians ever to record for the Blue Note record label, first as a soloist, then as a member of the Port of Harlem Jazzmen. Today we hear Bunn backing several blues singers including a pair of excellent numbers by Lizzie Miles.

Teddy Bunn
Teddy Bunn

Lizzie Miles was a fine classic blues singer from the 1920s who survived to have a full comeback in the 1950s. She started out singing in New Orleans during 1909-1911 with such musicians as King Oliver, Kid Ory, and Bunk Johnson. She recorded extensively between1922-1930. She recorded in 1939 but spent 1943-1949 outside of music and in 1950 began a comeback recording for labels such as Circle, Cook, Capitol, Verve and others before retiring in 1959.

Ikey Robinson was an excellent banjoist and singer who recorded both jazz and blues from the late '20s into the late '30s. After working locally, Robinson moved to Chicago in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928-1929. He led his own recording sessions in 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935. His groups included Ikey Robinson and his Band (w/ Jabbo Smith), The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike. Robinson also accompanied blues singers such as Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, Georgia White, Eva Taylor and Bertha "Chippie" Hill among others.

Related Articles:

-Charlie West  (Blues World 44, Autumn 1972)

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
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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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
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.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Rev. Gary DavisEvening Sun Goes DownPure Religion & Bad Company
Bate TateIf I Could Holler Like a Mountain...Blues - Music from the Documentary Film By Sam Charters
Skip JamesHard Time Killin' Floor BluesComplete Early Recordings
Lane HardinHard Time BluesBackwoods Blues
Do Boy DiamondHard Time Blues #2George Mitchell Collection Vol. 3
Alec SewardCreepin' BluesCreepin' Blues
Sonny's StorySonny's StorySonny's Story
Sonny Boy WilliamsonNo Nights By MyselfCool Cool Blues -The Classic Sides
Jimmy ReedHigh And LonesomeThe Vee-Jay Years
Luke JonesFeelin' Low DownLuke Jones & Red Mack - West Coast R&B 1947-1952
Red MackJust Like Two Drops Of WaterLuke Jones & Red Mack - West Coast R&B 1947-1952
Fenton RobinsonSay You're Leavin'Chicago Blues of the 1960's
Morris PejoeScreaming & CryingChicago Blues Guitar Killers
Lonnie PitchfordLast Fair Deal Going DownNational Downhome Blues Festival Vol. 1
Robert LockwoodThis Is The BluesComplete Trix Recordings
Bessie SmithI'd Rather Be Dead And Buried In...The Complete Recordings (Frog)
Trixie ButlerJust a Good Woman Through With the BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Lizzie MilesYellow Dog Gal BluesLizzie Miles Vol.3 1928-1929
Mississippi Fred Mcdowell61 HighwayFirst Recordings
Mississippi Fred McdowellGoing Down the RiverFirst Recordings
Lee GreenThe Way I Feel BluesThe Way I Feel Blues
Leroy CarrHow Long Has That Evening Train...How Long Has That Evening Train...
Memphis SlimIn The Evenin'Bad Luck & Trouble
Memphis SlimI Left That Town - Harlem BoundMemphis Slim and the Honky-Tonk Sound
Papa Harvey Hull & Long 'Cleve' ReedOriginal Stack O'Lee BluesThe Songster Tradition 1927-1935
Henry ThomasCottonfield BluesTexas Worried Blues
State Street BoysMidnight SpecialBig Bill Broonzy Vol. 3 1934-1935
Willie LaneBlack Cat RagRural Blues Vol. 1 1934-1956
Black AceI Am The Black AceI'm The Boss Card In Your Hand
Lightnin' HopkinsDevil Jumped The Black ManWalkin' This Road by Myself
Crying Sam CollinsLonesome Road BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 1
Crying Sam Collins AugustSlow, Mama, SlowThe Slide Guitar 2 - Bottles, Knives & Steel
St. Louis JimmyPoor Boy BluesI Blueskvarter Vol. 2
Yank RachellEvery Night And DayI Blueskvarter Vol. 1
Rosetta HowardToo Many DriversRosetta Howard 1939-1947
Baby Doo CastonThe Truth About The BluesThe Truth About The Blues

Show Notes:

A typical mix show lined up for today, which means another wide ranging set of blues spanning the 1920's on up. Today we spin some Piedmont styled blues by several fine bluesmen, spotlight some out-of-print LP's plus play some twin spins of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Memphis Slim, Crying Sam Collins and a trio of tracks revolving around Baby Doo Caston.

Unlike blues artists like Big Bill or Memphis Minnie who recorded extensively over three or four decades, Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time.  In 1935 a new manager, J. B. Long, was brought in to run the United Dollar Store on Durham's West Club Boulevard.  One day, hoping to attract farmers from the tobacco warehouses to his store, he heard a blind bluesman Fulton Allen (Blind Boy fuller), playing the guitar. During Long's summer vacation an improbable sextet headed for New York to record: Long, his wife and daughter, Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, and George Washington (Bull City Red). Davis recorded three sessions over three days for ARC; only the first session was blues and the other gospel. Today we spin tracks by several in Fuller's orbit including Gary Davis, Sonny Terry and Baby Tate. Our opening number, "Evening Sun Goes Down", comes from the excellent album Pure Religion & Bad Company cut for the Folkways label. Baby Tate met and played with Blind Boy Fuller’s in the 30’s. Tate's track, " f I Could Holler Like a Mountain Jack," comes from the soundtrack album Blues – Music from the Documentary Film By Sam Charters shot by Charters in 1962 and featuring Baby Tate, J.D. Short, Pink Anderson, Sleepy John Estes, Gus Cannon and Memphis Willie B. From Sonny Terry we hear "Sonny's Story" the title track from his wonderful 1960 Bluesville album. Terry is largely playing solo acoustic, with J.C. Burris joining in for harmonica duets every so often; Sticks McGhee and drummer Belton Evans also play on a few cuts.

We play a cut by an associate of Terry's, Alec Seward who was born in  Charles City, VA. When he turned 18, he packed up and moved to New York with the intention of professionally playing music. Along the way, Seward struck up a friendship with Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He also came in contact with Louis Hayes. The two began performing as the Blues Servant Boys, Guitar Slim & Jelly Belly, and the Backporch Boys. Over the next two decades, Seward played and recorded with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. He also released an album on Blueville, Creepin' Blues in 1965 and today we spin the title track. The remainder of the '60s found Seward playing live whenever possible and working the folk/blues festivals that had become popular in that decade. He passed in 1972.

Among the twin spins are a pair of Mississippi Fred McDowell's debut recordings. McDowell was brought to wider public attention when he was discovered and recorded in 1959 by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins. Many fine albums ensued by in many ways these initial recordings are his best. We also spin a couple by Memphis Slim including his majestic 1961 reading of Leroy Carr's "In The Evenin'" as he opens by saying "The one an only Leroy Carr, one of the greatest tunes he ever made." This comes from the superb album Bad Luck & Trouble waxed for Candid in 1961. From the previous year we hear the rollicking "I left That Town – Harlem Bound" from the out-of-print LP Memphis Slim and the Honky-Tonk Sound, one of several fine records Slim cut for the Folkways label.

Traveling back to the pre-war era we spotlight a pair of cuts by Crying Sam Collins. One of the earliest generation of blues performers, Collins developed his style in South Mississippi. His recording debut single ("The Jail House Blues," 1927) predated those of legendary Mississippians such as Charley Patton and Tommy Johnson and was advertised by Black Patti as "Crying Sam Collins and his Git-Fiddle." Collins did not become a major name in blues — in fact his later records appeared under several different pseudonyms — but his bottleneck guitar pieces were among the first to be compiled on LP when the country-blues reissue era was just beginning. Sam Charters wrote in The Bluesmen: "Although Collins was not one of the stylistic innovators within the Mississippi blues idiom, he was enough part of it that, in blues like 'Signifying Blues' and 'Slow Mama Slow,' he had some of the intensity of the Mississippi music at its most creative level." In addition to playing the above mentioned "Slow Mama Slow" we also play "Lonesome Road Blues" (a version of "In The Pines"), a haunting number that ranks as one of Collins' masterpieces. The only other track that even approaches this is Collins' "My Road Is Rough And Rocky (How Long, How Long?)" (his version of "Long Gone") which I've played on previous programs. I first heard these numbers on Yazoo's Lonesome Road Blues and they remain among my favorite pre-war blues sides.

I've been listening lately to the music of Baby Doo Caston, who will probably always remain in the shadow of his more famous friend and collaborator, Willie Dixon. A few back a played a great tune by the Big Three Trio, which featured both men, and recently I dug out of my collection of couple of nice LP's Caston cut just prior to his passing. Caston was born in Sumrall, Mississippi and raised in Meadville, Mississippi from age eight. He lived in Chicago from 1934 to 1936 but then moved back to Mississippi after his family relocated to Natchez. In 1938 he returned to Chicago, where he met with Mayo Williams, a producer for Decca Records. Williams recorded him in a trio with Gene Gilmore and Arthur Dixon; Dixon introduced him to his brother, Willie Dixon. Willie and Caston then formed the Five Breezes who cut eight sides for Bluebird in 1940.Among the better tracks the by group was "My Buddy Blues" a fine lowdown war themed number which we spin today:

I have signed my name
It won't be long before I go
I woke up this morning
The mailman had my numbers at my door

If you're twenty-one, buddy
I advise you not to hide
Because when that wagon roll 'round
I declare you've got to ride

Uncle Sam he's callin' fer you
And you know you got to go
He's callin' for all you jitterbugs
Like he never called before

The charity s been taken care of you
For a very long, long time
Now, Uncle Sam is calling you
And you know what's on his mind

Also in 1940 Caston recorded his first solo record for Decca, the tough delta styled "I'm Gonna Walk Your Log" backed by the topical "The Death Of Walter Barnes", both featuring Robert Nighthawk on harmonica. The latter number memorialized one of the deadliest fires in American history which took the lives of over 200 people, including bandleader Walter Barnes and nine members of his dance orchestra, at the Rhythm Club in Natchez, MS on April 23, 1940. News of the tragedy reverberated throughout the country, especially among the African American community, and blues performers have recorded memorial songs such as "The Natchez Fire", "The Natchez Burning" and "The Mighty Fire" ever since. The Five Breezes disbanded in 1941, and Caston began playing in the Rhythm Rascals. After the war, he recorded under his own name as well as for Roosevelt Sykes and Walter Davis, and did myriad studio sessions. He also recorded again with Dixon as the Four Jumps of Jive and the Big Three Trio, playing in both groups. The Big Three Trio recorded for Columbia Records and Okeh Records. The group also backed singer Rosetta Howard at two 1947 sessions.  From the second session we play "Too Many Drivers." The Big Three Trio's last sides were recorded in 1952, but the group didn't officially break up until 1956. Caston continued performing for decades afterwords, returning to perform with Dixon in 1984. He also released the albums, Baby Doo's House Party and The Truth About The Blues, shortly before his death in 1987.  From the latter record we feature the title track.

We feature a set of songs about hard times, which seems as topical as ever; from the depression we hear Lane Hardin's "Hard Time Blues" (1935) and Skip James, who sang for many on his  "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" (1931) :

Hard times is here
An everywhere you go
Times are harder
Than ever been before

You know that people
They are driftin' from door to door
But they can't find no heaven
I don't care where they go

Lonnie Pitchford, Photo by Axel Kunster

As for Lane Hardin he cut one pre-war record,  “Hard Time Blues b/w California Desert Blues” in 1935. In around 1950 a group of artists sent in a batch of unlabeled acetates that were discovered at Modern in 1970. These recordings have remained a focal point for intense discussion ever since. When these sides were first issued on the Blues From The Deep South LP (reissued on the Ace CD Modern Downhome Blues Sessions Vol. 5), the name Arkansas Johnny Todd and Leroy Simpson were invented for two sides released, as the artists identities were unknown. After some detective work it turns out that Arkansas Johnny Todd is actually Lane Hardin. We move up to 1967 for our final hard times number as Do Boy Diamond sings "Hard Time Blues #2." Diamond was living on his "boss man's" farm, outside of Canton, Mississippi, north of Jackson, when George Mitchell recorded him in 1967.

We also play a set featuring Lonnie Pitchford and Robert Lockwood. Pitchford was an obscure Delta blues player until he was "discovered" by ethnomusicologist Worth Long. He began to attract crowds playing the music of Robert Johnson, on his one-stringed didley bow. Pitchford began playing Johnson's tunes after meeting guitarist Robert Jr. Lockwood at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Lockwood showed Pitchford some basic Johnson chord changes and arrangements, and for several years after that, Pitchford was accompanied by the late Alabama bluesman Johnny Shines, as well as Lockwood. Pitchford was also an accomplished six-string guitarist and piano player. He cut one full-length album All Around Man, for Rooster Blues, as well as several compilations including some excellent tracks on the Living Country Blues series.. Pitchford was voted as one of Living Blues magazine's "top 40 under 40" new blues players to watch. Unfortunately, his life was cut short in 1998 at the age of 43.

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Show Notes:

Today’s mix show shines the light on several fine woman blues singers of the 20’s and 30’s as well as a batch of exceptional piano players. We open and close the program by spotlighting some famous singers and some utterly forgotten. Among the most famous are Victoria Spivey and the incomparable Bessie Smith. Smith made her debut in 1923 scoring a huge hit that year with “Down Hearted Blues.” Her sales were so impressive that record companies immediately sent talent scouts down south for similar blues ladies, opening the door for singers like Clara Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox and Sippie Wallace. These woman singers dominated the market for the first half of the 20’s. Our selection, I'm Down In The Dumps”, comes from Bessie's final four-song session in 1933. Victoria Spivey made her debut relatively late, in 1926 and recorded prolifically through 1937.

Among the other female singers we spotlight are Margaret Johnson, Lizzie Miles, Elizabeth Johnson, Lil Johnson, Lillie Mae Kirkman and Merline Johnson. Margaret Johnson cut 26 sides between 1923-1927 and worked with some top players including Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong. Little in known of her life outside of the fact she worked the vaudeville circuit throughout the 1920’s. Johnson was a powerful, expressive singer as she proves on 1924’s “Nobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin'” easily cutting through the limitations of the acoustic recording process to deliver a rousing performance. Lizzie Miles was another distinctive singer who worked in early jazz band, circuses and minstrel shows between 1909 and 1921 before launching her recording career. She recorded extensively between 1922 and 1929 and again in 1939. She came out of retirement in 1950. She’s in superb form on “The Man I Got Ain't The Man I Want “ featuring some tasteful playing from guitarist Teddy Bunn. After making a few records in 1929, Lil Johnson didn’t surface again on record until 1935, cutting some 60 sides through 1937. Merline Johnson was one of the most prolific female artists of the 30’s, cutting almost 100 songs, yet little is known about her background.  Known as The Yas Yas Girl, she recorded with some of Chicago’s top musicians including Big Bill Broonzy, Black Bob, Casey Bill Weldon, Ransom Knowling, Blind John Davis and others. “Bad Whiskey Blues” comes form a final unissued 1947 session with Big Bill Broonzy and Blind John Davis.

We showcase several fine piano players including a couple apiece by the popular Walter Davis and Curtis Jones. Walter Davis was one of the most recorded artists of the era, cutting some 160 sides between 1930 and 1941. He came to St. Louis in 1925 and became a protégé of Roosevelt Sykes who played on his first six sessions. Davis continued to record steadily through the 1940’s until his final sessions in 1952. ‘Things Ain't What They Used To Be” is a rare topical blues from Davis illustrating the problems of black soldiers returning from the war only to confront the same old prejudices:

I spent two years in the European country, way out across the deep blues sea (2x)
And since I been round here, don’t seem like home to me

Curtis Jones scored a huge hit in 1937 with “Lonesome Bedroom Blues.” The song remained in Columbia’s catalog until the demise of the 78 rpm record in the late fifties and eventually to become a blues standard. In 1929, Curtis Jones left Dallas working his way through the Mid and Southwest via Kansas City, then traveling to New Orleans where he finally made his way to Chicago. Arriving there in 1936, he formed his own group and began playing at rent parties and in Southside joints or bars and was soon spotted by Vocalion talent scout Lester Melrose. Over the next five years Curtis Jones was in the studio on no fewer than twenty occasions, recording some hundred titles, proving himself a very imaginative songwriter. His career picked up during the 60's blues revival where he cut several records and eventually moved to Europe where he remained until his death in 1971. It’s easy to underestimate Jones with the seemingly sameness of his songs, yet he was an imaginative, often startling lyricist as he proves on our selections: “Down In The Slums” and particularly “Alley Bound”:

I have been singing sentimental, songs all over town (2x)
And I haven’t made no headway so you know I’m alley bound
I done made every beer tavern, I done stopped at every liquor store
(2x)
So I try the alley, and stop by the bootleggers door
The bootlegger tells me, that the g-men have been around
(2x)
And broke up all the moonshine, and poured the ice on the ground

In addition to two songs we play under Jones’ name, we also find him backing Lillie Mae Kirkman’s on her provocative “Hop Head Blues”:

I said daddy, daddy, daddy, you the meanest man I’ve ever seen (2x)
You use hop and reefer, and you even use morphine
Believe I smoke my reefer, but they don’t take no effect on me
(2x)
I can smoke them every morning, be as happy as any woman can be
Reefer’s all right to smoke, but they treat you so low down
(2x)
Doctor said if I didn’t quit I’d be six feet down in the ground

We spin a trio of great piano records from 1929 including Eddie Miller’s seductive “Good Jelly Blues.” The other side contains the marvelous “Freight Train Blues”, his two finest recordings. Nolan Welsh cut six sides between 1926 and 1929 including two featuring Louis Armstrong. Montana Taylor’s “Indiana Avenue Stomp b/w Detroit Rocks” has to rank as some of the finest barrelhouse numbers of the era. He was rediscovered in 1946, cutting some material for the Circle label.

We move up to the 50’s and 60’s to hear fine performances from Lightnin’ Hopkins  and Big Mama Thornton. As I was putting the program together I was watching the news about the wildfires outside of L.A. and immediately though of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ great “Burnin’ In L.A “ from 1961. From 1963 we play “Mercy” by Big Mama Thornton, and with all respects to “Hound Dog” and “Ball And Chain”, this is one of her finest, if unheralded numbers featuring a terrific uncredited guitarist.

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