|Johnny Woods & Fred McDowell||My Jack Don't Need No Water||Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1|
|Johnny Woods & Fred McDowell||Standing At The Back Door||Eight Years Ramblin|
|Johnny Woods & Fred McDowell||Shake Em'' On Down||Mississippi Delta Blues Jam In Memphis, Vol. 1|
|Mable Hillery||It's so Hard to be a Nigger||It's so Hard to be a Nigger|
|Mable Hillery||Bow Legged Rooster||It's so Hard to be a Nigger|
|Lattie Murrell||Spoonful||Live At The Bootleggers|
|Lattie Murrell||I Got A Gal Cross The Bottom||Living Country Blues: Vol. 4 Tennessee Blues|
|Eugene Powell||Worried Blues||The Roots of It All: Acoustic Blues Vol. 4|
|Eugene Powell||Pony Blues (Santa Fe)||Blues At Home Vol. 3|
|Mable Hillery||Up the Road So Nasty||It's so Hard to be a Nigger|
|Mable Hillery||Lonesome Road||It's so Hard to be a Nigger|
|Mable Hillery||Mr. President||It's so Hard to be a Nigger|
|Johnny Woods & Fred McDowell||I Be's Troubled||The George Mitchell Collection Vols 1 - 45|
|Johnny Woods & Fred McDowell||Long Haired Doney||Mama Says I'm Crazy|
|Johnny Woods||Three O'clock In The Morning||45|
|Mable Hillery & John Hunter||That's All Right||John's Island, South Carolina: Its People & Songs|
|Mable Hillery & Skip James||Mary, Don't You Weep|
|Mable Hillery & Bill Farrow||Trouble in Mind|
|Lattie Murrell||Blues For Mattie Mae||On The Road Again|
|Lattie Murrell||Wolf's At Your Door||Wolf's At The Door|
|Eugene Powell||Poor Boy Blues (Take 3)||Blues At Home Vol. 3|
|Eugene Powell||Meet Me In The Bottom||Blues At Home Vol. 3|
|Eugene Powell & Sam Chatmon||How Long||Delta Blues Festival '79|
|Johnny Woods||Going Up the Country||So Many Cold Mornings|
|Johnny Woods||So Many Cold Mornings||So Many Cold Mornings|
|Johnny Woods||She's Loving Another Man||Going Down South|
|Lattie Murrell||Catfish Blues||Live At The Bootleggers|
|Lattie Murrell||Trouble Late Last Night||Living Country Blues: Vol. 10 Country Boogie|
|Mable Hillery||How Long This Train Been Gone|
|Mable Hillery & Mississippi John Hurt||Salty Dog|
|Mable Hillery & All Star Group||Bye Bye Baby||Blues Masters DVD|
|Johnny Wood, Olive Branch, Mississippi, 1972
(Photo by Tom Pomposello)
Today's show is part of a semi-regular feature I call Forgotten Blues Heroes that spotlights great, but little remembered blues artists that don't really fit into my weekly themed shows. Today's recordings are mainly from the 60's and 70's and showcase artists who recorded sparingly, and in many cases the recordings are long-out-of-print, originally issued on small specialty labels. We hear from several fine down-home bluesmen including harmonica blower Johnny Woods who recorded mostly as an accompanist to better known players, Lattie Murrell who left behind just a handful of field recordings and Eugene Powell, the only artist to record in the pre-war era and was under recorded in later years. Mable Hillery is the outlier here, a terrific singer who worked as part of the Georgia Sea Island Singers before striking out on her own, in a brief but impressive career.
Johnny Woods was born in a small Mississippi town called Looxahoma, just west of Mississippi Highway 35. His harmonica playing first gained notoriety in the 1960s as a duet partner with fellow blues revival discovery guitarist/singer Mississippi Fred McDowell. They recorded together first for George Mitchell in 1967, for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie Records, Swingmaster and in 1972 for Oblivion Records. Stylistically, Woods' music sprang from the same North Mississippi Fife and drum blues band tradition as McDowell's. However, personal problems kept him rooted in the Delta, primarily working as a farm hand and sharecropper. After McDowell's death in July 1973, Woods faded away until George Mitchell paired him again with another late Mitchell Mississippi Delta discovery, R. L. Burnside, himself a McDowell disciple. Together they recorded the Swingmaster album and video, Going Down South. Woods died in Olive Branch, Mississippi in 1990.
|Lottie Murrell, Somerville, Tennessee, September 1978
(Photo by Axel Küstner)
Regarding Lottie Murrell, Axel Küstner wrote: "Down in Somerville, about 25 miles South of Brownsville, there is Lottie Murrell. Looking every inch THE Country Blues man ('Cat Diesel Power" cap, overalls, cowboy boots, with a battered guitar, complete to the half pint whiskey bottle in his backpocket) he rides around with his buddies on weekends, playing his guitar and drinking beer and whiskey. He never plays a song the same way twice and constantly makes up new verses about people he knows and what is happening around him. In Somerville he is called 'Wolf' because he is best known for his versions of Howlin' Wolf tunes." Murell was first recorded by Begnt Olsson in 1971 in Sommerville, TN. These recordings were first issued on compilations on the Flyright label. Siegfried A. Christmann and Axel Küstner recorded him in 1980, tracks appeared on the Living Country Blues series.
Raised on a Delta plantation in Lombardy, Mississippi, Eugene Powell began playing guitar at age seven. His family relocated to Murphy, Mississippi, near Hollandale, and Powell associated with area musicians Sam and Lonnie Chatmon and Bo Carter. Powell ran his own juke joint and played with many musicians traveling through the area in the early 1930s, including Robert Nighthawk, Houston Stackhouse, and Richard ‘‘Hacksaw’’ Harney. Through arrangements made by Carter, Powell made six recordings for the Bluebird label in 1936 under the pseudonym Sonny Boy Nelson, and accompanied wife Mississippi Matilda and harmonica player Robert Hill on numerous others. Powell moved to Greenville in the 1940s and played with several bands until the early 1950s, when he separated from his wife. He remained largely musically inactive until 1972 when he performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Powell made few recordings during the following twenty years, with only the Italian LP Police in Mississippi Blues on Albatros. This has been reissued recently with additional songs as Blues At Home Vol. 3. A few other recordings appeared on anthologies. He rarely performed in public during the remaining years of his life, but often welcomed blues fans and musicians from around the world into his home. Eugene Powell died of a brain hemorrhage caused by a fall at age eighty-nine.
|Read Liner Notes|
Mable Hillery, born July 22, 1929 in La Grange, Troupe County, just southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. She married Will Adams in 1950 and moved to Brunswick, Georgia, near St Simons in the Georgia Sea Islands, about 1960. In 1961 she, joined the Georgia Sea Islanders. Between 1961 and 1965 she toured the college circuit of campuses, coffee houses, church basements, and festivals, from Berkeley to Philadelphia, from the Ash Grove in Los Angeles to the Café à Go-Go in New York City. In 1966, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto produced a film, Blues Special, for its TV series, Festival. Highlights from those sessions have been released on Blues Masters, a DVD whose performers include Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Willie Dixon, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, and Mable Hillery. In the late 60s, Mable often performed on Johns Island with the Sea Island Singers, and from 1966 through 1975, she sang throughout the South, not only on college campuses but in prisons as well. In 1968, after touring in England, where Mable did TV and concert dates and made an album for the record label Xtra.Other tracks by Hillery appear alongside the Georgia Sea Island Singers and on various anthologies. Hillery, 46 years of age, died of a heart attack, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan, on April 27.