Entries tagged with “Louisiana Red”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Alice mooreBlack and EvilSt. Louis Women Vol. 2 1934-1941
Ethel Waters(What Did I Do To Be So) Black & BlueEthel Waters 1929-1939
Hattie BurelsonSadie's Servant Room BluesTerritory Singers Vol. 2 1928-30
Big Bill BroonzyBlack, Brown, and WhiteBroadcasting The Blues
Otis SpannMoon Blues Sweet Giant Of The Blues
Howlin' WolfCoon On The MoonThe Back Door Wolf
Lillian GlinnBrown Skin BluesLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Barbecue BobChocolate To The BoneChocolate To The Bone
Andy BoyEvil BluesSan Antonio 1937
Robert WilkinsFalling Down BluesThe Original Rolling Stone
Tommy MclennanBottle It Up And GoThe Complete Bluebird Recodings
Bill & Mary MackBlack But Sweet, Oh God!Punch Miller & Albert Wynn 1925-1930
Furry LewisB-L-A-C-KThe Fabulous Furry Lewis
Ishman BraceySaturday BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Rosa HendersonI Have To Paint my FaceI Have To Paint my Face
Maggie jonesNorthbound BluesMaggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
Cow Cow DavenportJim Crow BluesThe Essential
LeadbellyJim Crow BluesBourgeois Blues
Rev. J.M. GatesKinky Hair Is No DisgraceAre You Bound For Heaven Or Hell?
Albert HunterYou Can't Tell The Difference After DarkAlberta Hunter Vol. 4 1927-46
Louis JordanOfay & oxford Grey Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five - Chapter 4
J.B. LenoirBorn DeadAlabama Blues
John Lee HookerBirmingham BluesKennedy's Blues
Louisiana RedRide On Red, Ride OnThe Best of Louisiana Red
Dora Carr & Cow Cow DavenportBlack Girl Gets There Just The Same Cow Cow Davenport - Cow Cow Davenport: The Accompanist 1924-1929
Butterbeans & SusieBrown Skin GalButterbeans & Susie Vol. 1 1924-1925
Fats HaydenBrown Skin Gal Is The Best Gal After AllTeddy Bunn 1929-1940
Ruby SmithBlack GalSammy Price
And the Blues Singers
Juke Boy BonnerBeing Black and I'm ProudLife Gave Me A Dirty Deal
Champion Jack DupreeOh Lord What Have I DoneOh Lord What Have I Done

Show Notes:

Alice Moore: Black And Evil BluesToday's show is devoted to blues songs dealing with the topic of race. Blues of the segregation era are intrinsically tied to race but rarely do they deal with the topic of race itself. As the great blues scholar Paul Oliver wrote back in 1968: "Blacks in the United States are members of an underprivileged class, and it makes no difference if their standard of living is far higher than that of most people in Africa, India, or much of South America. For them, being below the poverty line in the world's richest nation means suffering. Ernest attempts to play the blues by white imitators notwithstanding, the blues is, inescapably, the music of the African American, and it seems undeniable that it is a cultural expression that relates back to circumstances of segregation. It's true that racial discrimination is seldom blatantly the theme of the blues-but it's never far away. …For the Black, whether he was purpled-hued or pink skinned, his color was his problem, both within the black community and in the community as a whole. It was this which determined that his whole social life should be different from his fellow Americans, for his color and his cast of feature were the outward indications of his ancestory." Today we play songs, both subtle and explicit, both humorous and serious, that deal with a variety of racial issues. Within black society there was a class system based on skin color – yellow, brown and black – and many songs deal with this topic. Other songs are more overt, dealing frankly about issues like Jim Crow and, particularly in the 60's, with the topic of civil rights. Other songs are more subtle, throwing in a interesting line or two, often hard to decipher without careful listening.

Alice Moore, Little Alice, as she was known, achieved a measure of success with her first record, "Black And Evil Blues" cut at her first session 1929 with three subsequent versions cut during the 1930's.

I'm black and I'm evil, and I did not make myself (2x)
If my man don't have me, he won't have nobody else
I've got to buy me a bulldog, he'll watch me while I sleep (2x)
Because I'm so black and evil, that I might make a midnight creep
I believe to my soul, the Lord has got a curse on me (2x)
Because every man I get, a no good woman steals him from me

Paul Oliver had this to say about the number: "At times the characteristics of African racial features and color have an ominous significance in the blues, which may hint that they are indirectly related to social problems. So the state of being 'blue' is associated with alienation, and is linked with an 'evil mind' or an inclination to violence. Both are coupled with the inescapable condition of being black." There's also, I think, a way of diffusing the negative "black" by owning it as Moore does, a way of empowering oneself by taking the negative associations of black and turning it around and even reveling in it. Moore's song was covered by Lil Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins and Leroy Ervin. Another song from the same period with a similar sentiment is "(What Did I Do To Be So) Black & Blues", originally written by Fats Waller in 1929, it was a hit for Ethel Waters in 1930. Like Moore's song this one too equates blackness with being "blue"but some of the lyrics give one an uneasy feeling:

I'm white inside, it don't help my case
'Cause I can't hide, what is on my face, oh!

I'm so forlorn, life's just a thorn
My heart is torn, why was I born?
What did I do to be so black and blue?

'Cause you're black, folks think you lack
They laugh at you, and scorn you too
What did I do to be so black and blue?

The title of today's show, Sam Chatmon's "I Have To Paint My Face", is another song tied into this theme. Chatmon's song paints being black in a negative light in contrast to being white. Chatmon's song is a bit more complicated with some of the language, it seems, drawing from the period before the blues when their was a wide variety of black music including ragtime, black vaudeville, minstrels, coon songs, work songs, dance tunes and more. Older musicians (Chatmon was born in the late 1890's), born in the 1860's through the 1880's, learned early forms of black music that they brought to their records when they had the opportunity to record in the 20's and 30's.

Say God made us all
He made some at night
That's why he didn't take time
To make us all white

I'm bound to change my name
I have to paint my face
So I won't be kin
To that Ethiopian race

Say now let me tell you one thing
That a Stumptown nigger will do
He'll pull up on young cotton
And he'll kill baby chickens too

Say when God made me
Say the moon was givin' light
I'm so doggone sorry
He didn't finish me up white

Say now when God made people
He done pretty well
But when he made a jet black nigger
He made them some hell

Say God took a ball of mud
When he got ready to make man
When he went to make you partner
I believe it slipped out his hand

Fats Hayden: Brown Skin Gal Is The Best Gal After All As mentioned above, within black society there was a class system based on skin color – yellow, brown and black – each hue having their own stereotypes. In Blues Fell This Morning, Paul Oliver had the following to say: "Blacks frequently aspired to the conditions of being white, as they saw the better jobs, the higher standard of living Whites enjoyed. Men spent large sums of money on hair-straightening  greases and combs that were supposed to remove the kinks in African hair. Woman dyed their hair to a brick-red, powdered their faces and applied artificial color in order to make their skins lighter and their complexions more 'white.' …This primitive distinction by color was passed on to Blacks themselves and their population was many times divided by grades of skin pigmentation. In the caste system that evolved from this arbitrary means of discrimination, the lighter skinned tended to be on a higher plane, whilst the extremely black-skinned mas was looked down on… To differentiate between their many shades of color they evolved many words which are applicable to certain shades: 'ashy black', 'chocolate-brown', 'coffee', 'sealskin-brown', 'brightskin', 'high yaller', 'lemon', and others… Blacks of one particular skin hue kept together and may certainly  have a had a preference for that color…" In her popular 1927 number, "Brown Skin Blues", Lillian Glinn stated her preference:

Now all high yellers you ought to listen to me
A yellow man's sweet, a black man's neat
A brownskin man will take you clear off your feet

Barbecue Bob's “Chocolate To The Bone” was an answer song cut in 1928:

So glad I'm brownskin, so glad I'm brownskin, chocolate to the bone (2x)
And I've got what it takes to make a monkey man leave his home

Black man is evil, yellow man's so low-down (2x)
I walk into these houses just to see these black men frown

I'm just like Miss Lillian, like Miss Lillian, I mean Miss Glinn, you see
I'm just like Miss Lillian, I mean Miss Glinn, you see
She said, 'A brownskin man is just all right with me'

In a similar vein was Fats Hayden's 1939 number "Brown Skin Gal Is The Best Gal After All" where he elaborates in detail to prove the song's title throwing quite a few disparaging comments on the other hues ("When a yellow gal gets old/She draw up like tripe"). Hayden's song is very similar to a number of earlier songs including Butterbeans & Susie's "Brown Skin Gal" from 1925 and Barbecue Bob's "Brown Skin Gal" from 1927. Bill & Mary Mack's "Black But Sweet, Oh God!" from 1925 has Bill asking for Mary's company and with the following reply: "Now listen hear man you too black and ugly, the type of man is out of my life." Then shes goes on about her "brown" who is "little an cute, chocolate to the bone." Jim Jackson recorded a song titled "Black But Sweet" which is likely the same song  although it was never issued. In the 1970's Furry Lewis recorded "a little jive" he claims to have made up called "B-L-A-C-K" which bears a striking resemblance to Bill & Mary Mack's number but Furry turns it around a bit:

Some people don't like their color, but I sure do like mine
I know I'm black and ugly, but gets along just fine
I was going down the street the other day, two high browns I did meet
Said ain't old Furry black but he sure looks good to me
I'm black but I'm sweet oh God

Earlier I quoted Paul Oliver mentioning that blacks tried to change their appearance to a more white aesthetic, that too is represented in songs featured today. In Ishman Bracey's "Saturday Blues" he sings:

Now, if you want yo' woman, to look like the rest
You buy her high-brown powder, Palmer's Skin Success

Cow Cow Davenport: Jim Crow BluesPalmer's Skin Success was the trade name of a popular skin bleach which claimed o be able to make you "one shade lighter." The product was advertised in black newspapers like the Chicago Defender probably not coincidentally on the same pages that advertised blues records. Then there's  Rev. J.M. Gates' "Kinky Hair is No Disgrace" which, despite the title, is more in a slapstick vaudeville vein than a black pride one. The 1960's saw a new found era in black pride with James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" from 1968 becoming an unofficial anthem of the Black Power movement. The same year Juke Boy Bonner cut "Being Black and I'm Proud" and Bee Houston recorded "Be Proud To Be A Black Man" in 1970. There were black pride sentiments in earlier songs like Ruby Smith on "Black Gal" from 1941. Chris Smith wrote that "it's a fascinating, uneasy mixture of self-abasement with early 'black is beautiful' ideology: "

If I had the choice of being white as a lamb
I would turn it down and stay, black as I am

'I'm just a black gal, insignificant me
But I'm just as happy as can be

I ain't seeking pity on account of being black
And if I've apologized I wanna take it back

…Furthermore, I don't believe in being what you ain't
That's why I don't lighten up with lots of chalk and paint.

Blues songs that speak directly to racial issues are relatively rare in early blues, while the 1960's saw more explicit songs dealing with the turbulent civil rights era. During the Jim Crow era, racial segregation laws were enacted between 1876 and 1965 at the state and local level that mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states. There were several songs that explicitly dealt with the topic. An early one from singer Maggie Jones, "Northbound Blues" from 1925, talks about heading away from Jim Crow:

Got my trunk and grip all packed
Goodbye, I ain't coming back
Going to leave this Jim Crow town
Lord, sweet pape, New York bound

Got my ticket in my hand
And I'm leaving dixieland

Going north child, where I can be free (2x)
Where there's no hardships, like in Tennessee

Going where they don't have Jim Crow laws (2x)
Don't have to work there, like in Arkansas

Cow Cow Davenport was another singer to make an overt statement about going North to escape Jim Crow. Accompanied by B.T. Wingfield on cornet, he recorded "Jim Crow Blues" for Paramount in 1927:

I'm tired of being Jim Crowed, gonna Leave this Jim Crow town
Doggone my black soul, I'm sweet Chicago bound

Rosa Henderson is sings about Jim Crow in "Back Woods Blues" from 1924 (Clara Smith recorded a version the same year):

Gonna see my folks, but its way too far
To ride in a dusty old Jim Crow car

Got the backwoods blues, but I don't wanna go back home
Got the backwoods blues, for a place way down in Bam
Got the blues, but I'm gonna stay right where I am

Gonna lay 'round here, where I'm at
Where there ain't no grinnin' and no snatchin' off my hat

Other songs on the subject include Josh White's "Jim Crow Train"and "Uncle Sam Says" and "Jim Crow Blues" and "Scottsboro Boys" by  Leadbelly. Jim Crow also existed in the military during both world wars and through part of the Korean war. Both Leadbelly and Josh White tackle the topic in "Uncle Sam Says", the topic also crops up in gospel songs by Blind Willie Johnson ("When the War Was On") and William And Versey Smith ("Everybody Help the Boys Come Home"). In Big Bill Broonzy's famous "Black, Brown, and White" and "I Wonder When I'll Get To Be Called A Man" he address the issue:

When Uncle Sam called me, I know'ed I'd be called a real McCoy
But I got none of this, they just called me soldier boy
I wonder when,
I wonder when,
I wonder when will I get to be called a man
Do I have to wait till I get ninety-three?
When I got back from overseas, that night we had a ball
Next day I met the old boss, he said 'Boy get you some overalls'

Howlin' Wolf - Coon On The MoonOvert political commentary became increasingly more common by the 1960's. Several blues and gospel numbers were recorded about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. In "Birmingham Blues" John Lee Hooker forcefully sings about the Birmingham campaign which was a strategic effort by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to promote civil rights for black Americans. 1962's Louisiana Red's "Ride On Red, Ride On" is a civil rights themed blues mainly about leaving the racist south and its subject not far removed from Rosa Henderson's “Back Woods Blues” mentioned above.  Few bluesman were as outspoken and eloquent as J.B. Lenoir who cut some hard hitting topical numbers shortly before his untimely death in 1967. Here's his "Born Dead" from 1966:

Lord why was I born in Mississippi, when it's so hard to get ahead (2x)
Every black child born in Mississippi
You know the poor child is born dead

During the beginning of the space race in the early 1960's many songs appeared to cash in with space themed topics. With the landing on the moon in 1969 there were many more, but many, particularly by African Americans, took on a more political tone often contrasting the money and conditions of black people with the amount of money that went into the putting a man on the moon while ignoring the dire conditions at home. This is the topic of Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey On The Moon" and Otis Spann's "Moon Blues." Howlin' Wolf was fascinated by space flight and asked his saxophonist Eddie Shaw to write a song on the subject. "Coon On The Moon" is more about how things have changed during Wolf's lifetime than an overt political statement. 35 years before it happened the song predicted the first black president:

You know, they called us ‘coons’—said we didn’t have no sense
You gonna wake up one morning, and a coon’s gonna be the President

Several songs featured today don't fall into any particular category but lyrically fit into the topic of today's show: There's Andy Boy who sings "I got the evil blues, prejudicy on my mind" on "Evil Blues" from 1937 and Robert Wilkins who on "Fallin' Down Blues" from 1929 sings:

If you don't believe, girl, I'll treat you right
Come and walk with me down to my loving shack tonight
I'll certainly treat you just like you was white
That don't satisfy you, girl, I'll take your life

Finally there's  Tommy McClennan who's "Bottle It Up And Go" is one of the songs most associated with him. According to Honeyboy Edwards, McClennan learned the song from Memphis Jug Band member Dewey Corley.  McClennan insisted on playing the song as he learned it in the South, ignoring Northern sensibilities when he sang the controversial lines: "Now the nigger and the white man playin' seven-up/Nigger beat the white man was scared to pick it up." Broonzy tells a story of McClennan singing these lines at a house party and being forcibly ejected, forced to leave via the window with parts of his guitar around his neck.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Ivy SmithGin House Blues Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930
Clara SmithWoman to Woman The Essential
Issie RinggoldBe On Your Merry WayBlue Girls Vol. 2 1925-1930
Frank BusbyPrisoner BoundBill Gaither Vol. 2 1936-1938
Keghouse Canned Heat Blues Piano Blues Vol. 4 1923-1928
Eugene Powell Pony Blues (Santa Fe) Blues At Home Vol. 3
John JacksonPoor BoyThe Blues Revival Vol. 1 1963-1969
Nugrape TwinsThe Road Is Rough & RockySinners & Saints 1926-1931
Mississippi John Hurt Praying On The Old Camp Ground Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
Eddie Head & His FamilyDown On MeAmerican Primitive Vol. I
Louisiana Red I'm a Roaming StrangerThe Lowdown Back Porch Blues
Howlin' Wolf Poor BoySmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
Big Moose Walker Footrace to a Resting Place/Wrong Doing WomanTo Know A Man
Samuel Brooks Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here LongField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
George BoldwinCountry Girl Blues Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942
Willie Ford & Lucious CurtisHigh Lonesome HillMississippi Blues 1940-42
Joe Linthecome Humming BluesHokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930's
The Three Stripped Gears1931 Depression BluesThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Jesse AndersonYou'd Better Think TwiceWelcome To The Club
Johnny Twist WilliamsTeach Me HowDown On Broadway And Main
Jimmy NolenStrollin' with Nolen Strollin' with Nolen
Unknown Female SingerAngel ChildField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
Mattie DorseyStingaree BluesBarrelhouse Women Vol. 2 1924-1928
Frank StokesNehi Mama Best OfSara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928
Blind Joe ReynoldsNehi Mama Blues Blues Images Vol. 5
Joe Turner with Albert Ammons Rock Of Gibraltar Blues Albert Ammons: Alt. Takes, Radio Perfs & Uniss. Home Recordings
Duke HendersonBeggin And PleadinDust My Rhythm & Blues: Flair Records R&B Story
Gene ParrishScreamin' In My SleepRhythm 'n' Blues Shouters
Sippie Wallace Parlor Social De LuxeI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
Sara MartinDown At The Razor BallSara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925
Blind Willie McTellRazor Ball The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2: Columbia
Washboard SamDown At The Bad Man's HallWashboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941
Bill Gaither Wintertime BluesBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
Lightnin' SlimWintertime BluesWe Gotta Rock Tonight

Show Notes: 

Our first mix show of the new year finds us digging deep into the pre-war blues catalog featuring several fine artists who left us with only a few 78's, several well known artists like Clara Smith and Blind Willie McTell and some interesting field recordings. From he post-war era some excellent Chicago blues, a few blues shouters, some down-home blues and a few gospel items. We also explore the origins of a well known blues theme.

Frank Busby" 'Leven Light CityWe hear from several superb blues ladies including Ivy Smith and Clara Smith. Ivy Smith hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and primarily worked with pianist Cow Cow Davenport. She was a good singer who cut close to two-dozen sides between 1927-1930. Clara Smith was a much bigger name although perennially eclipsed by Bessie Smith. In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there and that same year made her first records for Columbia Records, for whom she would continue recording through to 1932. She cut over a hundred sides often with the backing of top musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Green, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and James P. Johnson. Today we feature the lovely "Woman to Woman" from 1930 that features Smith's voice at her best with sympathetic cornet work from Ed Allen.

Then there's the lesser knowns such as Issie Ringgold who waxed one 78 in 1930 for Columbia and was the sister of Muriel, a star on Broadway, Mattie Dorsey who cut four sides for Paramount in 1927 and the unknown field recording of a woman singing "Angel Child" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.

Several of the of the male singers featured today are also one hit wonders: Joe Linthecome was an expressive, light voiced singer who cut one marvelous 78  ("Humming Blues b/w Pretty Mama Blues") for Gennett in 1929, Frank Busby was a sensitive singer who cut one 78 ("'Leven Light City b/w Prisoner Bound") in 1937 for Decca backed by Bill Gaither (we also spin Gaither's "Wintertime Blues" today) on guitar and Honey Hill on piano, the Three Stripped Gears were a string band possibly from Georgia, and possibly white, who cut four superb instrumentals and pianist Keghouse who waxed ten sides in 1928 for Okeh and Vocalion, only four of which were issued. Keghouse also recorded a couple of numbers backed by Lonnie Johnson and Thomas "Jaybird" Jones. Jones also made field recordings for Lewis Jones in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1941-1942 and performs "The Keghouse Blues." In the spoken introduction he talks about his friend Keghouse and how they went to Memphis to make records for Okeh and how he died shortly afterwards.

As anyone who's listened to this program knows I have a huge interest in field recordings, devoting several shows to the topic and interviewing several of the men who made the recordings. The Albatros  label was active from Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings  in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. These albums are long been out-of-print. Recently Marcucci has issued some CD's on he Mbirafon imprint including one by singer Van Hunt, Sam Chatmon and now has issued collections by Eugene Powell (Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3and Memphis Piano Red (Memphis Piano Red: Blues At Home Vol.4). The latter two are available only digitally via  iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. We spin a superb track off the Eugene Powell collection which contains unissued numbers plus tracks from the Albatros LP Police In Mississippi.  I finally tracked down some missing records from Albatros and will be doing an entire show devoted to the label shortly.

Other field recordings come from the pre-war era and were recorded by John Lomax:  Samuel Brooks' "Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long" (1942) recorded in Edwards, Mississippi and Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis on "High Lonesome Hill." Ad David Evans writes "Lucious Curtis was making a precarious living as a musician while his partner, Willie Ford, worked at a sawmill when John A. Lomax encountered them in 1940 for their only recording session."

In our first show of he new year we traced the origins of several classic blues songs. Today we spin a quartet of related blues songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's that draw from a much earlier source. Around the term of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball.  Oliver has written about this both in Songsters & Saints and in a chapter titled Lookin' For That Bully in the book Nobody Knows where the Blues Come from: Lyrics and History (the entire chapter is available on Google Books).  In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941).  Oliver mentions all the songs but one he seems to have overlooked is Sippie Wallace's "Parlor Social De Luxe" (1925) which seems to me at least marginally related. The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. As Dixon recalled "the one Wolf hated most of all was 'Wang Dang Doodle.' He hated that 'Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-Totin' Jim.' He'd say, 'man, that's too old-timey, sound like some old levee camp number.'" In 1966 Koko Taylor had a big hit with the song.

In addition to the down-home blues we also spin some Chicago and jump blues. We play the Howlin' Wolf gem "Poor Boy" (1957) a terrific updating of this old number and Big Moose Walker on "Footrace To A Resting Place" and "Wrong Doing Woman." The Walker tracks were recorded at Elmore James' last sessions for Fire in 1961 and come from the 2-LP set To Know A Man on Blue Horizon. At the time these songs were just attributed to "Bushy Head."

Nugrape Twins: The Road Is Rough And RockyWe spin some great blues shouters including Big Joe Turner on the magnificent "Rock Of Gibraltar" (1936) with Albert Ammons on piano,  Gene Parrish's jumping, raunchy "Screamin' In My Sleep" ("she'd slip and slide and I keep moaning low") featuring Maxwell Davis and superb guitar from West Coast ace Chuck Norris. Parrish cut a dozen sides in 1950-1951 for RPM and Victor.

We also hear from Big Duke Henderson & His Orchestra on "Beggin And Pleadin"from a new 2-CD set on Ace called Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story. In 1945 Henderson made his debut for the Apollo label on a recommendation by Jack McVea. He was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians including McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo. In 1947 Al "Cake" Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years including Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty,] Modern, Imperial and Flair. Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting as Brother Henderson as a gospel DJ. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher.Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1972.

We also slip in a few gospel numbers: Mississippi John Hurt's "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", Eddie Head and His Family's "Down On Me" which Paul Oliver notes "was notable for the fluent guitar which imparted an easy swing to the recording, and from Eddie Head's skillful harmonizing to his family's singing" and the Nugrape Twins' "The Road Is Rough & Rocky" credited in the Columbia files to "Mark and Matthew (The Nugrape Twins)." The duo recorded eight sides at sessions in 1926 and 1927 for Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Robert Pete WilliamsLevee Camp BluesBlues at Newport 1964
Mississippi Fred McDowell Lord I'm Going Down SouthBlues at Newport 1964
Mississippi John Hurt Sliding Delta Blues at Newport 1964
George Carter Ghost Woman BluesBlues Images Vol. 11
Walter DavisCan't See Your Face Walter Davis Vol. 5 1939-1940
Lonnie JohnsonBlue Ghost Blues Lonnie Johnson Vol. 1 1937-1940
Buddy Guy This Is The EndCobra Records Story
Sonny Boy WilliamsonUnseen EyeThe Chess Years Box
Barrelhouse Buck McFarlandLamp Post BluesPiano Blues Vol. 2 1927-1956
Charlie SpandGood Gal Favorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937
Eddy Kelly's Washboard BandCome On 'Round To My House, BabyCarolina Blues 1937-1945
Hokum Boys & Jane Lucas Hip Shakin' Strut Georgia Tom Dorsey: The Essential
Trixie Smith Praying BluesTrixie Smith Vol. 1 1922-1924
Sister Rosetta Tharpe On My WaySister Rosetta Tharpe Vol. 7
Sister O.M. Terrell I'm Going to That CityGet Right With God: Hot Gospel 1947-1953
Louisiana Red Had A Date With Barbara Last NightMidnight Rambler
Hop WilsonDrop Down MamaDrop Down Mama
Dave BartholomewAnother MuleDave Bartholomew 1952-1955
Elmore JamesQuarter Past NineEarly Recordings 1951-1956
Earl HookerThe Leading BrandBlue Guitar
Jim Brewer Liberty BillJim Brewer
Guitar ShortyMy Mind Never ChangedCarolina Slide Guitar
Jimmy T-99 NelsonSecond Hand FoolCry Hard Luck
Charles BrownEverybody's Got TroublesThe Complete Aladdin Recordings
Jimmy WitherspoonI Done Found OutUrban Blues Singing Legend
Gatemouth MooreSomebody Got To GoGreat Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7
Blind PercyFourteenth Street Blues Blues Images Vol. 11
Blind Joel Taggart Precious Lord Blues Images Vol. 9

Show Notes:

It's pledge drive time at the station so I usually run mix pogram so the drive doesn't cut short our usual theme shows. Lots of interesting records on deck today including a bunch of songs from the Newport Folk Festival, a batch of fine pre-war sides, some gospel that falls on the bluesy side, some strong down-home blues, a number of fine blues belters and some hard hitting post-war electric blues.

Blind Joe Taggart AcetateWe open the show with a trio of sides from the 1964 Newport Folk Festival from the 2-CD The Blues At Newport 1964 Complete Edition which collects two albums that originally came out on Vanguard in 1965. The Newport Folk Festival began in 1959 as a counterpart to the previously established Newport Jazz Festival. Prior to 1964 blues were not well represented at the festival. That changed by 1964 when several important blues artists who recorded in the 20's and 30's were rediscovered. Featured were the first major festival appearances by Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Pete Williams and Robert Wilkins plus Mississippi John Hurt, who performed the previous year, as well as performances Rev. Gary Davis, John Lee Hooker, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry (they performed in 1959 at the first festival ) and others.

A few weeks ago I spotlighted several numbers from he vaults of collector John Tefteller who's record collection contains some of the rarest blues 78's in existence. Every year around this time 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. Today we spotlight the gorgeous "Ghost Woman Blues" a twelve string blues by George Carter. Nothing is known of him other then he cut four sides for Paramount in 1929. Bruce Bastin related that when Edward "Snap" Hill, a boyhood friend of Curley Weaver and the Hicks brothers was played a tape of one of Georg Carter's songs it prompted him to say: "He's from Atlanta" although he knew nothing about him.  It turns out that there's been a recent cover of "Ghost Woman Blues" by a group called The Low Anthem. I've actually been checking them out a bit – I think I've become a fan. (shhh …don't tell the blues police!)

Int the same set as the George Carter number we spin two moody masterpiece about haunted love. First up is Lonnie's Johnson's magnificent "Blue Ghost Blues" (Johnson cut this first in 1927 but today we spin his 1938 version) beautifully sung and played by a man who still doesn't get his proper due:

I've been in this haunted house, for three long years today (2x)
Blue ghost has got my shack surrounded, oh lord and I can't get away
I feel cold arms around me, ice lips upon my cheek (2x)
My lover is dead, how plainly plain I can hear her speak
(whispered: Lonnie, sweet Lonnie)

My windows beginning rattling, my door knob is turning round and round (2x)
My lover's ghost has got me and I know my time won't be long

Walter Davis is probably more neglected than Lonnie although he was very popular among black audiences, cutting hundreds of sides between his 1930 debut and his final 1952 session. "Can't See Your Face" is a poignant number from 1939:

Your old picture has faded, mama that hangs up on the wall (2x)
It's been hanging there so long, I can't see your face at all
Even my old house seems haunted, mama and there ain't nobody around (2x)
Sometime it seems like at  night, that the old house is falling down
I can hear my back door slamming, I can hear a little baby crying (2x)
All I wonder baby, have you got me on your mind

We spin two tracks today from Blind Joe Taggart. Taggart made his first records for Vocalion in June 1927 then went to Paramount in 1928. He continued recording in the 30's but vanished after a final session for Decca in 1934. A few years back an acetate Taggart made in 1948 turned up and was issued by John Tefteller on the CD hat accompanies the 2009 calendar. Taggart did cut one blues 78, "Coal River Blues b/w Fourteenth Street Blues under th psedonymn Blind Percy and His Blind Band in 1927 with the latter cut featured today and comes from the latest Tefteller CD.

Walter Davis
Walter Davis circa 1942

In an interview in Fretboard Journal Tefteller talked about the post-war record: "It means that Blind Joe Taggart went into a recording studio in Chicago — probably on Maxwell Street, because they had several studios there back then. For a few dollars you could pay to have a record made. You would walk into the booth where they had the microphone set up, you would sit down, you would play your song, and it would be cut directly from the microphone directly onto that acetate record.  There would be not necessarily any other copies made, and if there were other copies made, they would have been made from that. But it was never commercially released; it was never put out on a record with an actual label. The songs are 'Precious Lord,' spelled 'Preshious Lord' on the label, and 'Little Black Train.' My theory is that he was going to take that dub and go around to the different record companies on Record Row in Chicago, and try to get himself a contract to record again. He could walk into Chess — I think it was called Aristocrat in the late 1940s — he could walk into Chess or Aristocrat, or one of those independent labels with this acetate, and say, 'You know, I used to make records back in the '30s for Paramount, they sold fairly well. Here’s my latest recording. You might want to consider issuing this.' And I think that’s what this is. It was discovered in a stack of lousy 1970s rock LPs. It’s miraculous it survived. It came so close to being lost forever."

We play a few other sides today with a religious bent including music from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sister O.M. Terrell and a number by Trixie Smith. We spin Sister Rosetta's "On My Way" from 1961. Tharpe cut some fantastic records and I never tire of listening to her. There was a time when she wasn't well served on reissues but now just about everything she released is available on CD. Our selection comes from the seventh and final collection on the French Fremmeaux & Associes label that collects all of Tharpe's recordings through 1961.

Sister O.M. Terrell is far less known but her guitar style is very reminiscent of Tharpe's.  Terrell taught herself to play the guitar and began writing gospel songs and singing them on Atlanta's Decatur Street. From the Depression years of the 1930's to the Eisenhower '50's, she lived the life of an itinerant evangelist and supported herself with her music. In 1953 she recorded six sides for Columbia who for some reason released them in its country music series. She was eventually tracked down to the door of a nursing home in Conyers, Georgia by musicologist Bruce Nemerov. She passed in 2006 at the age of 95.

"Praying Blues" from 1924 is one of Trixie Smith's finest numbers backed by a great band that included trombonist Charlie Green, Don Redman on clarinet and Fletcher Henderson on piano.  A few weeks back I did a program called I Want Plenty Grease In My Frying Pan – Forgotten Blues Ladies Pt. 3 and someone asked me about Trixie Smith. I've never really given her much of a listen but I've been listening to her collected recordings on Document and it's a bit of a mixed bag but she has more then a few outstanding songs. I'll be spotlighting more of her on upcoming shows.

Smith was born in Atlanta and around 1915 moved north to New York to work in show business. At first she worked in minstrel shows and on the TOBA vaudeville circuit. In 1922 Smith made her first recordings for the Black Swan label and later that year she won a blues singing contest in New York beating out Lucille Hegamin and others with her song "Trixie's Blues." In 1924 Smith made her debut for Paramount, cutting twenty sides for the label through 1926. She recorded a final batch of sides in 1938 and 1939.

Jimmy Nelson: Watch ThatAction=We feature seveal tough post-war guiarists today including Buddy Guy's smoldering "This Is The End" for Cobra. Guy released two singles in 1958 on Cobra's Artistic Records subsidiary. Other heavy hitters include Elmore James' "Quarter Past Nine", Dave Bartholomew's "Another Mule" sporting great guitar work from Pee Wee Crayton and Earl Hooker's knockout instrumental "The Leading Brand."

We have a set of superb blues singers on deck today including Gatemouth Moore, Jimmy T-99 Nelson, Jimmy Witherspoon and Charles Brown.  I fist heard Moore on a great 2-LP set, The Shouters – Roots Of Rock 'N' Roll Vol. 9, and have been a fan ever since.  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. I'll let Gatemouth speak for himself: "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."

Moore'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. Inexplicably in 1977 he stepped back briefly into the world of blues cutting Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7, an exceptional album despite it's generic title. The album was produced by Johnny Otis and issued on the Blues Spectrum label. Today's selection, "Somebody got To Go", comes from that album.

Jimmy 'T-99' Nelson is another favorite singer of mine. I became a fan of Jimmy Nelson many years ago after hearing an LP collection of his early sides on the Ace label. I always hoped he would start recording again and in 1999 he issued the terrific Rockin' And Shoutin' The Blues. I interviewed Jimmy when that record came out and it was one of the best interviews I ever did and subsequently spoke with him again in 2005.

Blessed with a booming voice and a hip delivery, Nelson cut a swath of fine sides for Modern's RPM and Kent imprints in the early 50's and 60's but only scored big with his signature "T-99 Blues." After getting dropped from Modern Nelson bounced through a number of small labels before giving up music in the 60's. From his RPM days we feature his "Second Hand Fool."

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Big Bill BroonzyOn Folk Songs/Going Down the Road Feeling BadAmsterdam Live Concerts
Sammy Price Frenchy's Blues Blues & Boogie Woogie from Texas
Little Brother MontgomeryRailroad BluesThe Piano Blues: Unissued Recordings Vol. 1
Champion Jack DupreeLondon Special New Orleans Barrelhouse
Louisiana RedBring It On HomeLive At Montreux
Dr. Isaiah Ross Hobo BluesLive At Montreux
Big Mama ThorntonGood Girl In LondonIn Europe
Juke Boy BonnerRunnin' ShoesAmerican Folk Blues Festival '69
Memphis Slim & Roosevelt Sykes Introducing The Grinder Man And The HoneydripperDouble-Barreled Boogie
Memphis Slim Mr. Sykes BluesDouble-Barreled Boogie
Blind John DavisWhen I Lost My Baby Alive 'Live' And Well
Sonny Boy Williamson III'm Trying To Make London My Home Sony Boy Williamson in Europe
Lonnie Johnson & Otis SpannJelly Jelly Blues Masters
Sonny Terry with Brownie McGheeI'm Afraid of FireWizard of the Harmonica
Lightnin' Slim & Whispering SmithTexas FloodAmerican Blues Legends 73'
Eddie BurnsBury Me Back In The USA American Blues Legends 75'
Professor LonghairHey NowLive In London
Katie WebsterKate's Worried BluesTexas Boogie Queen
Willie MabonWhy Did It Happen To Me Cold Chilly Woman
Muddy WatersHoochie Coochie ManChris Barber Presents: Lost & Found Vol.2
Howlin' Wolf Going Down SlowRockin' The Blues: Live in Germany 1964
John Jackson Early Morning BluesLive In Europe
Mississippi Fred McDowellWhat's The Matter With Papa's Little Angel ChildIn London Vol. II

Show Notes:

Today's program is the first of a three part feature on blues artists recorded in Europe spanning the late 40's through the 70's. Outside of Lonnie Johnson and Alberta Hunter, the blues hadn't reached European shores prior to the 1940's The late 40's saw a few artists such as Leadbelly and Sammy Price hit Europe, with Price being the first to record. Josh White recorded the first guitar blues outside the U.S. The biggest impact, however, was Big Bill Broonzy's arrival in 1951 and subsequent tours through 1957. By 1958 Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters had come to England. 1960 saw Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery and Speckled Red appear in England. Dupree and Slim would both settle in Europe. Europe would become a haven for blues pianists with Curtis Jones, Eddie Boyd and Little Willie Littlefield all settling there. 1962 saw the inaugural American Folk Blues Festival which featured the absolute cream of the blues scene and toured almost annually until 1972. During the 70's blues artists continued to tour Europe and there were package tours such as The American Blues Legends Tour which ran in 1973, 74, 75 and 79 and major concerts like the Montreux Jazz Festival which always had a blues component. Other artists also recorded in Europe like Blind John Davis, Professor Longhair, Lightnin' Slim and Louisiana Red who settled in Germany. Our mufti-part look at European blues is by no means comprehensive or chronological but does, I think, provide an entertaining and wide survey of excellent recordings made across the pond by people who truly appreciated a music that was too often neglected in its own country.

 Big Bill Broonzy
A still from the Big Bill Broonzy film Low Light & Blue Smoke, Brussels, 1956.

We open our series of European blues shows fittingly with monologue and song by Big Bill Broonzy. As Paul Vernon Wrote: "Regarded at the time as the first 'genuine' blues singer to visit Europe, between 1951 and his final 1957 tour, Big Bill returned every year except 1954, played concerts in London, Nottingham, Brighton and Edinburgh; in Paris and elsewhere in France; in Brussels, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Milan and Madrid, appeared on French radio, British and Italian television, was filmed in Brussels had many European-made records issued aimed at his new European audience. Press coverage was significant and he was viewed as “the last great blues singer” by the fans who took him completely at his word. That he cannily tailored his style to what he accurately believed to be European expectations is now thoroughly understood and accepted, but for all his “folksiness” he was, of course, a genuine bluesman and a wonderful guitarist. His career, in danger of imploding in the U.S., changed course in Europe and in doing so changed the course of Blues history. ” Big Bill’s European success lit the long fuse that would lead to the explosion in the early 1960’s."

Broonzy (described in adverts as “last of the country bluesmen”) spent time in Europe, especially France, in the early 1950s, and, as Guido van Rijn reveals, established especially strong connections in the Netherlands where he had a long-term relationship that produced a son. He first toured the United Kingdom in 1951 following a stint organized by the Hot Club de France in Paris. The two concerts that Broonzy played at Kingsway Hall, Holborn, in September of 1951 were aggressively promoted by the blues evangelists; during the months of August and September the jazz press featured articles about the blues in general, and Broonzy in particular. His appearances were emceed by Alan Lomax, who not only introduced the singer but also drew him into discussions about the songs and their social import, making the audience feel “as if they had wandered more or less by accident into one of those fabulous jazz parties of which the books are full.”34 The critical response was unanimously positive.

As Paul Oliver noted: "A profound influence on many of his contemporary singers and musicians, Big Bill was exceptional in every respect. I was honored to draw a number of illustrations for his autobiography, Big Bill Blues, edited by Yannick Bruynogue and published in 1955. He showed little sign of decline during his frequent visits in the 1950s, but he died of throat cancer in 1958. I learned a lot from Big Bill; if our collecting and research had enabled us to take the measure of the blues in its diversity and distribution, it was Broonzy who gave an insight of its depth."

Lonnie Donegan, the Glasgow-born banjo player with Chris Barber’s jazz band began to play guitar and sing versions of American folk and blues songs during the band’s intermission. One of these songs, “Rock Island Line,” originally recorded by Leadbelly, was so popular it was released as a record in 1956, sold three million copies, and became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The skiffle craze was launched. The popularity of this music encouraged Chris Barber to bring over blues artists to the United Kingdom. In 1958 Barber brought Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry to England, including an appearance on British television. That year also witnessed Muddy Water’s first controversial British appearance in Leeds, again engineered by Barber. Within an emerging fan-base that valued the acoustic guitar as the premier blues instrument, Muddy’s amplification startled and dismayed many, but it also riveted others. As Waters said, “They thought I was Big Bill Broonzy…” Waters would return in 1962 and as Paul Oliver wrote: “Muddy made a typical error when he sang at the Leeds festival, in playing his electric guitar to an audience that couldn’t take one from a blues singer. He made another one this time—in playing a bright new Spanish box when he ought to have played electric guitar.”  “Back at his London hotel after the concert,” Val Wilmer reported, “he sat shaking his head in disbelief … Just what did they want, these [British] white folks?”

American Folk Blues Festival Poster 1964

Blues pianists were particularly taken with Europe and warmly welcomed, with many becoming exiles. In February 1948 blues pianist Sam Price sat down in a Paris studio and cut six boogie solos, thus becoming the first blues musician to record outside the U.S. Pianist Blind John Davis toured Europe with Broonzy in 1952. In later years Davis toured and recorded frequently in Europe, where he enjoyed a higher profile than in his homeland. He recorded several albums in Europe including Alive And Well, Stomping On A Saturday Night and Live In Hamburg all recorded in Germany and The Incomparable recorded in the Netherlands. The precedent set by Price and Davis blossomed in 1960, a great year for piano fans, Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery and Speckled Red all appeared in England. Researcher Francis Wilford-Smith had, since 1960, invited many of them to his Sussex home and with their consent, recorded them in performance in his living room. Though much remains currently unissued, there are excellent full-length albums from this period of Champion Jack Dupree and Little Brother Montgomery.

Memphis Slim first appeared outside the United States in 1960, touring with Willie Dixon, with whom he returned to Europe in 1962 as a featured artist in the first American Folk Festival. In 1962 he moved permanently to Paris and he became the most prominent blues artist in Europe for nearly three decades. He appeared on television in numerous European countries, acted in several French films and wrote the score for another, and performed regularly in Paris, throughout Europe, and on return visits to the United States. His status was recognized by France, which awarded him the title of Commander of Arts and Letters, and by the U.S. Senate, which in1978 named him Ambassador-at-Large of Good Will. By the time of his death in Paris in 1988, he had recorded for nearly forty different blues record labels. Our selection by Slim comes from the album Double-Barreled Boogie recorded in 1970 as Slim and Roosevelt Sykes gathered in a recording studio in Paris and reminisce about the old days, talk about the origin of some of their songs, and joke a bit.

Willie Mabon settled in Paris in 1972. He toured and recorded in Europe as part of promoter Jim Simpson's American Blues Legends tour, recording The Comeback for Simpson's Big Bear Records label, and a 1977 album on Ornament Records. He also performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In April 1985, after a long illness, Mabon died in Paris. Our selection, "Why Did it Happen To Me", comes from the album Cold Chilly Woman recorded in Bordeaux, France in 1972.

Sonny Boy Williamson II
Sonny Boy Williamson in Britain during the American Folk Blues Festival

The American Folk Blues Festival (AFBF) was an annual event that featured the cream of American blues musicians barnstorming their way across Europe throughout the 60's. The impact of these annual tours had a profound impact on those that were in attendance. Future stars such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page any many others were in the audience and were directly influenced by what they saw. The rise of blues based bands like the The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds and Animals can be directly attributed to the AFBF. The festival, founded by Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau in 1962, featured performances by luminaries like John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, and Willie Dixon and drew sellout crowds and rave reviews. Many of the artists found they were far more popular in Britain than in the United States, where audiences for the blues were diminishing. Several emigrated, and others seized the new commercial opportunities presented by the British blues boom by recording extensively for the European market and touring the blues club circuit with bands comprised of their young devotees.

In 1963 Sonny Boy Williamson was headed to Europe for the first time, as part of the American Folk Blues Festival. He loved Europe and stayed behind in Britain when the tour headed home. He started working the teenage beat club circuit, touring and recording with the Yardbirds and Eric Burdon's band, whom he always referred to as "de Mammimals." Sonny Boy was truly appreciative of all the attention, and contemplated moving to Europe permanently but went back to the States and made some final recordings for Chess. He returned to England in 1964 and one of his final recordings, with Jimmy Page on guitar, was entitled "I'm Trying to Make London My Home."

In 1964, Howlin' Wolf toured eastern and western Europe with the American Blues Festival. In 1970 he recorded The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions in England with Eric Clapton, members of the Rolling Stones, and other British rock stars. It was his best-selling album, reaching #79 on the pop charts.

American Blues Legends '73In 1965 Fred McDowell toured Europe with The American Folk Blues Festival, together with Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Roosevelt Sykes and others. In 1969 came a second tour of Europe. In Britain he recorded his first solo album using electric guitar – Mississippi Fred McDowell in London (Volumes I and II on Sire and Transatlantic).

It was Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie records who was instrumental in getting Big Mama Thornton booked on the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival. In London she recorded an album with members of the tour; Buddy Guy (guitar), Fred Below (drums), Eddie Boyd (keyboards), Jimmy Lee Robinson (bass), and Walter Horton (harmonica), except for three songs which Fred McDowell provided acoustic slide guitar. The album was subsequently issued on the Arhoolie label.

Dr. Ross first hit Europe in 1965 for the American Folk Blues Festival. While in London he recorded what would be the first LP on Blue Horizon Records. In 1972 he recorded for Ornament Records during a German tour and performed at the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival with a subsequent album released of the performance. The Harmonica Boss was recorded in London in 1972 and in 1974 he recorded Jivin' The Blues also in London. Europe loved Ross and gave him work and recording opportunities; he was never as popular at home.

Juke Bonner cut three sessions for Goldband Records in Lake Charles in 1960, billed as Juke Boy Bonner — The One Man Trio. Some of these sides found their way to a European release on a Storyville album and attracted attention from European blues enthusiasts. But the breaks didn't come Juke Boy's way until 1967, when sterling work primarily by editors of Blues Unlimited magazine led to recording opportunities for the small Flyright label and for an eventual European tour. Passport difficulties prevented him from joining the 1968 American Folk Blues Festival Tour but was on the tour in 1969 where he cut the album Things Ain't Right for Liberty. Throughout the early and mid-seventies his popularity grew and he continued to tour Europe as well as playing dates in Houston, however he couldn't match his European popularity at home. The frustration and bitterness are reflected in the comments made by a longtime friend to the Houston Chronicle: "He used to say he could go to Europe and earn $1000 dollars but he couldn't make $50 in his hometown." He died in 1978. The week of his death the Houston Chronicle ran the headline: “Weldon ‘Juke Boy’ Bonner, well known in Europe, dies alone in his hometown.”

In the wake of the success of the AFBF, there were other package tours and festivals. There was the American Folk Blues and  Gospel  Caravan formed in 1964 (Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Blind Gary Davis, Cousin Joe, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann) and  The American Blues Legends tour which was run by promoter Jim Simpson who operated the Big Bear label. Simpson released albums of the tour for the years 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1979.There was also festivals like the Montreux Jazz Festival which launched in 1967 in Switzerland and always had strong blues representation.

Share
ARTISTSONGALBUM
Louisiana Red Story Of Louisiana Red Lowdown Back Porch Blues
Louisiana Red Where Is My Friend?Best of
Louisiana Red Red's DreamBest of
Bo Carter Last Go RoundBo Carter Vol. 2 193 -1934
Charlie CampbellGoin' Away BluesAlabama & The East Coast 1933-1937
Blind BlakePoker Woman BluesAll The Published Sides
Lafayette ThomasOld MemoriesWest Coast Guitar Killers
Jody WilliamsWhat Kind of Gal Is ThatChess Blues Guitar: Two Decades of Killer Fretwork 1949-1969
Rosa HendersonChicago Policeman BluesRosa Henderson Vol. 4 1926-1931
Sippie WallaceYou Gonna Need My HelpSippie Wallace Vol. 2 1925-1945
Bessie SmithCareless LoveComplete Recordings, Vol. 4 (Frog)
Blind John DavisBooze Drinking Benny
Blind John Davis Vol. 1 1938-1952
Blind John DavisAnna Lou BreakdownBlind John Davis Vol. 1 1938-1952
Jimmie HudsonRum River Blues78
T-Bone WalkerHere In The DarkThe Complete Imperial Recordings: 1950-1954
Teddy BunnJackson's NookVery Best Of 1937-1940
George & Ethel McCoy Mary (Penitentiary)Early In the Morning
Daddy HotcakesCorrine CorrinaThe Blues In St. Louis - Daddy Hotcakes
Bessie JonesBeggin' the BluesAlan Lomax Blues Songbook
Mabel HilleryHow Long Has That Train Been Gone45
Freddie ShayneLonesome Man BluesMontana Taylor And Freddie Shayne 1929-1946
Freddie ShayneOriginal Mr. Freddie BluesMontana Taylor And Freddie Shayne 1929-1946
Willie (W.C.) Baker Goin' Back Home Today The Devil Is A Busy Man
Bee HoustonTen Years To Life45
Peg Leg HowellMoanin' And Groanin' BluesAtlanta Blues
Walter "Buddy Boy" HawkinsHow Come Mama BluesWilliam Harris & Buddy Boy Hawkins 1927 - 192
Dixieland Jug BlowersIf You Can't Make It Easy, Sweet MamaClifford Hayes And The Dixieland Jug Blowers
Louisiana Red Too Poor To Die Midnight Rambler
Louisiana Red Sweet Blood Call Midnight Rambler
Louisiana Red Bring It On HomeLive At Montreux

Show Notes:

As I was putting the finishing touches on this week's show I received the news that Louisiana Red had passed. He died  in Germany at the age of 79. By his own account he had a hard life as he announced in his haunting "The Story of Louisiana Red" which opens today's show: "Now this here's a sad one. It's about my life." He lost his parents early in life through multiple tragedies; his mother died of pneumonia a week after his birth, and his father was lynched by the Klu Klux Klan when he was five. Red began recording for Chess in 1949 (as Rocky Fuller). His early sides were heavily indebted to Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. He joined the Army and after his discharge, he played with John Lee Hooker in Detroit for almost two years in the late '50s, and continued through the '60s and '70s with recording sessions for Chess, Checker, Atlas, Glover, Roulette, L&R, and Tomato, among others. Louisiana Red moved to Hanover, Germany in 1981, and maintained a busy recording and performing schedule through the subsequent decades.

Red recorded prolifically through the years. Among his better efforts was the album The Lowdown Backporch Blues (1963) featuring striking topical numbers like the humorous "Red's Dream" and "Ride On Red, Ride On." The single "I'm Too Poor to Die"  had minor chart success in 1964. We also feature two tracks from the out-of-print Midnight Rambler, a compilation of sessions cut for the Blue Labor label in 1975-1976. We play his update of  "I'm Too Poor to Die"  and the chilling "Sweet Blood Call:"

"I have a hard time missin’ you baby, with my pistol in your mouth (2x)
You may be thinkin’ ‘bout goin’ north, but your brains are stayin’ south"
 

Also on tap today are a trio of 1920's blues queens, a pair of songs apiece by piano men Blind John Davis and Freddie Shayne plus we spin a batch of great long out-of-print blues records. Rosa Henderson is the least known of today's featured blues queens. In 1963 Len Kunstadt tracked down Henderson and wrote a feature on her in Record Research: "She began her career about 1913 in her uncle's carnival show. She played tent and plantation shows all over the South with one long streak of 5 years in Texas. She sang nothing but the blues. During this period she married Slim Henderson, a great comedian and showman, and she became professionally, ROSA HENDERSON. Slim joined up with John Mason and from this association a troupe was born which included Rosa. They played the country from one end to the other. In the mid 20s the Mason Henderson troupe really began to hit big time with headline attraction bill¬ing in many of the larger theatres. Rosa also received star billing in some independent ventures. …From May 1927 through September 1927 Rosa Henderson was a top race blues recurring artist. She was on Victor, Vocalion, Ajax, Perfect, Pathe, Brunswick, Paramount, Emerson, Edison, Columbia, Banner, Domino, Regal, Oriole, English Oriole, Silvertone and others. Besides her own name she was Flora Dale on Domino; Mamie Harris and Josephine Thomas on Pathe and Perfect; Sally Ritz (her sister's name) on Banner; and probably Sarah Johnson and Gladys White on other labels….In 1927 Rosa was hitting her real stride as a single but just a year later Rosa quit in her prime due to the unexpected death of husband, Slim." She made her final recordings in 1931. From 1926 we spin her remarkably outspoken "Chicago Policeman Blues:"

Policemen in Chicago they can't police at all (2x)
They only wear their uniform, or blue just for a song (?)
Most every cop in town, black and white all have a grudge (2x)
If you don't know you better, then to say good morning judge

I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues (2x)
They wouldn't give a pick (?) of you for Peter or Paul
They send you away for absolutely nothing at all
I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues (3x)

I'm expressin' my opinion, just the way I feel
Pigs about the only things supposed to squeal
I've got the blues, Chicago policeman blues

We hear some fine piano blues from Blind John Davis and Freddie Shayne. From 1938 we spin Davis' jazzy brand of blues as heard on "Booze Drinking Benny" and "Anna Lou Breakdown" both featuring the electric guitar of George Barnes (one of the first Chicago musicians to record with an electric guitar). In 1973 Davis was interviewed by Melody Maker: "I started recording in 1937—Big Bill Broonzy was a friend of my Dad's and he fixed for me to play on one of his sessions 'Sweet William Blues' I think it was. That was for Vocalion or Columbia. …They all seemed to like my playing so I got  to play on most of the sessions around at the time….I was top piano player for Lester Melrose's Wabash Music Company. …"I could play for anybody  excepting Big Boy Crudup. I think no piano player in the world could play for him 'cos he plays so damn irregular. …In 1949 I made my first recordings under my own name— for MGM, that was. Before I had no desire to sing and the record producers told me I didn't sound Southern enough. They got me recording again in '51 — this time with George Barnes on guitar and Ransom Knowling playing bass. I cut a lot of records over in Europe with Big Bill Broonzy — but we wasn't paid for none of them. I kept copies of all my recordings, but my house burned out in 1955 and I lost everything!"

Freddie Shayne 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 including Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Jimmy Blythe, Art Tatum and others. In the 40's he made some recordings for the Circle label where he also backed singer Bertha “Chippie” Hill.

From the out-of-print file we spin records by George and Ethel McCoy, Daddy Hotcakes, Bee Houston and Mabel Hillary. George and Ethel McCoy were a brother and sister guitar duo who lived in St. Louis. Their aunt was Memphis Minnie who taught Ethel first hand. They recorded the album Early In the Morning for the Adelphi label in 1969 and later saw some recordings out on the Swingmaster label.

George “Daddy Hotcakes” Montgomery was born in Georgia and came moved to St. Louis in 1918. He began singing the blues as a youngster and worked as an entertainer during the 1920’s. Sometime in the late 30’s he had an opportunity to record through blues artist and talent scout Charlie Jordan but the recording session fell through. He was still occasionally playing parties when Sam Charters recorded him in 1961. The Blues in St. Louis, Vol. 1: Daddy Hotcakes is his only recording.

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Bee Houston played in the backing bands of Little Willie John, Junior Parker, Bobby "Blue" Bland and others in the late '50s and early '60s. After a two-year army stint, Houston moved to the West Coast. He toured and recorded frequently with Big Mama Thornton in the '60s, and also accompanied several visiting blues players during West Coast visits. Houston recorded for Arhoolie in the '60s and '70s, and also made several festival appearances and club dates. Our selection, "Ten Years To Life", was issued as a 1970 single on the Joliet label (Joliet 203).

A member of The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mable Hillery was less known than leaders, Big John Davis or Bessie Jones. 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. She toured Europe in the 60's and cut a session in London in 1968 for Transatlantic which was issued as It's So Hard To Be A Nigger on their budget Xtra label. Other scattered sides appeared on anthologies.

We also spin a track by fellow Georgia Sea Island singer Bessie Jones. Our cut, "Beggin' the Blues", was recorded by Alan Lomax. In the 1960s, with the assistance of Lomax, Bessie Jones, together with John Davis, Peter Davis, Mable Hillery, Emma Ramsey, and Henry Morrison, formed the Georgia Sea Island Singers and traveled to colleges and folk music venues throughout the country.

Related Articles:

Rosa Henderson – Yesterday and Today by Len Kunstadt (Record Research 75, April 1966)

-Farewell Rosa Henderson by By Derrick Stewart-Baxter (Jazz Journal, July 1968)

-Blind John – Man of Respect by Jim Simpson (Melody Maker, 24 November 1973)

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