Entries tagged with “Oscar “Buddy” Woods”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Ruth Willis & Blind Willie McTellTalkin' To You Wimmen About The BluesBlues Images Vol. 5
Blind Willie McTellGeorgia RagThe Classic Early Years
Curley WeaverWild Cat KittenAtlanta Blues
Victoria Spivey Telephoning the BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Bessie SmithLong Old RoadThe Complete Recordings
Clara SmithGood Times (Come On Back Once More)Clara Smith Vol. 6 1930-1932
Leroy CarrNineteen Thirty One Blues How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone
Scrapper BlackwellBlue Day BluesThe Virtuoso Guitar Of Scrapper Blackwell
Gene CampbellWedding Day BluesGene Campbell 1929-1931
J.T. "Funny Papa" SmithHoppin' Toad FrogJ. T. ''Funny Paper'' Smith 1930-1931
Oscar ''Buddy'' Woods & Jimmie DavisShe's A Hum DingerTexas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace
Sam Collins Lonesome Road BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 1
Skip JamesHard Time Killin' Floor BluesComplete 1931 Recordings
Geeshie Wiley Pick Poor Robin CleanMississippi Masters
Little Brother Montgomery Louisiana BluesThe Piano Blues Vol. 12
James "Bat" RobinsonHumming BluesDown In Black Bottom
Peetie WheatstrawSix Weeks Old BluesPeetie Wheatstraw Vol. 1 1930-1932
Clifford GibsonShe Rolls It SlowClifford Gibson 1929-1931
Charley Jordan You Run And Tell Your DaddyCharley Jordan Vol. 1 1930-1931
Lonnie JohnsonUncle NedA Life in Music Selected Sides 1925-1953
Joe MccoyMy Wash Woman's GoneCountry Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Memphis MinnieCrazy Cryin' BluesMemphis Minnie & Kansas Joe Vol 3 1929-1930
Mississippi Blacksnakes Grind So FineMississippi Strings Bands & Associates 1928-1931
Mississippi SheiksLivin' In A StrainHoney Babe Let The Deal Go Down
Joe Evans & Arthur McClainJohn HenryBefore The Blues Vol. 3
Tommie BradleyPlease Don't Act That WayTommie Bradley/James Cole Groups 1928-1932
Black Billy SundayThis Old World's in a Hell of a FixBlues Images Vol. 7
Hezekiah JenkinsThe Panic Is OnBlues & Jazz Obscurities
Blind BlakeRope Stretching Blues Pt. 1The Best Of
Tampa RedToogaloo BluesTampa Red Vol. 4 1930-31
Bo Carter Twist It, BabyTwist It Babes
Daddy StovepipeBurleskin' BluesAlabama Black Country Dance Bands 1924-1949
Ben FergusonTry And Treat Her RightRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Vol. 1

Show Notes:

Today’s show is the fifth installment of an ongoing series of programs built around a particular year. The first year we spotlighted was 1927 which was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on. The record companies advertised their records in black newspapers, mainly in the Chicago Defender, which was the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. By 1931 race records were selling about a tenth as well as they had four years previously. For example, Paramount went from waxing over a hundred blues and gospel items in 1930 but only about three dozen in 1931, Columbia had no new artists and its releases were cut by over a third and Victor also cut their releases by a third. Despite the cutbacks there was some fine blues recorded in 1931 including classic Mississippi blues by Skip James, Cryin' Sam Collins, Geeshie Wiley plus big blues stars like Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Clara Ward, Leroy Carr, Lonnie Johnson, Bo Carter, Blind Blake and the Mississippi Sheiks.

Chicago Defender, Mississippi Sheiks Ad, March 28, 1931
 
 

Columbia-Okeh (Columbia had taken over Okeh in 1929) made one field trip to Atalanta in October/November of 1931. Prior to this date the labels were run separately but because of the economic times the principle of keeping the labels separate was forgotten. The first day they recorded two tunes by Blind Willie McTell which were marked in the ledger 'Blind Sammie' and allotted Columbia matrix numbers; then McTell was recorded doing two more numbers which were listed as by 'Georgia Bill' and given Okeh matrix numbers. This was the last field trip Columbia made.

One of those 1931 McTell tracks was reissued for the first time just two years ago. In 2007 record collector John Tefteller reissued what is apparently the only known copy of Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis' "Talkin To You Wimmen' About The Blues." The track and it’s flip side, "Merciful Blues", was issued on the CD that accompanies Tefteller’s 2007 blues artwork calendar. To quote Tefteller: "the record you see in the center of this page [Talkin' To You Wimmen About The Blues] apparently has not been heard by anyone since its release back in the late fall of 1931. I have had this record in my collection for almost ten years. I had no idea that it was potentially a one-of-a-kind record!"

Victor was straining under hard times as well. Victor, like the other major companies, always made at least two takes of each title. On June 16, 1931 Raymond R. Sooy, the chief recording engineer, sent around a memo that only one wax recording was to be made unless the wax was defective. The label dispensed with their annual recording to Memphis. They did go to Charlotte, NC cutting mainly hillbilly and went on to Louisville where they recorded Jimmie Rodgers as well as sides by pianists Walter Davis and Roosevelt Sykes.

Okeh Records fared better then most labels; they had the fast selling Mississippi Sheiks but were also issuing solo records by Sheiks member, Bo Carter. Thanks to Carter and the Sheiks the label managed to issue more blues and gospel record then the previous year. The Mississippi Sheiks cut fourteen sides in 1931. Our track, "Livin' In A Strain", was unissued at the time. Carter was even more prolific, cutting over two-dozen sides in 1931.

Chicago Defender, Mississippi Sheiks/Bo Carter
Ad, May 23, 1931

The ARC label went out in the field in 1931 recordings some gospel numbers and sermons as well as eighteen numbers by Joe Evans and Arthur McClain, guitarists-singers from Alabama and twenty sides by Sam Collins. In 1931 and into 1932 ARC issued a steady two records or so each month in the Perfect 100 series. All the records were simultaneously release on Oriole, Romeo and , from the end of 1931, on Banner. These were budget priced labels that sold from 25 cents, sold in dime stores and department stores and became known as 'dime store labels.'

Paramount recorded some of the era’s most celebrated male blues artists such as delta legends Charlie Patton, Skip James, Tommy Johnson, Son House, Willie Brown plus diverse artists such as Buddy Boy Hawkins, the Mississippi Sheiks, Charlie Spand, Papa Charlie Jackson among many others. The onset of the depression crippled the recording industry and Paramount was eventually discontinued in 1932. Perhaps the most famous recording session from 1931 was the eighteen songs Skip James recorded for Paramount at a single remarkable session. Cut in the depths of the depression and when Paramount was on its last legs, pressings of James' recordings may have been as low as five hundred copies making these some of the rarest and most prized 78's in blues collecting circles.

Hard times songs were always common in the blues but took on a new immediacy during the depression.  The depression originated with the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929 and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). Times were certainly hard in 1931 with 2,294 banks failing, stock market prices still falling and the doubling of unemployment to 16.3%. To an opening chorus of "God's gonna set this world on fire", Black Billy Sunday delivered "This Old World's In a Hell of a Fix", a rousing sermon on the depression:

God is calling, the world is upside down
This hard times that we're having in this world
With millions out of work, with worldwide Depression
Unrest is because this old world is in a hell of a fix
I'm saying to you today my brothers, and my sisters
Let me warn you, get right with God

Skip James also spoke for the dispossessed  in his "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" where he mixed some religious imagery with the blues:

Hard time's is here
An ev'rywhere you go
Times are harder
Than th'ever been befo'

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

Other songs featured today that speak to the times are the Mississippi Sheiks' "Livin' In A Strain", Clara Smith's "Good Times (Come On Back Once More)" and Hezikiah Jenkins' "The Panic Is On." Jenkins cut eight issued sides and four unissued sides between 1924 and 1931. He got his start performing in minstrel groups and was mentioned in press clippings as early as 1914. "The Panic Is On" is a vivid portrait of the times:

What this country is coming to
I sure would like to know
If they don’t do something bye and bye, the rich will live and the poor will die
Doggone, I mean the panic is on

Can’t get no work, can’t draw no pay
Unemployment getting worser every day
Nothing to eat no place to sleep
All night long folks walking the street
Doggone, I mean the panic is on

Chicago Defender, Bo Carter Ad, May 9, 1931

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe made their debut in 1929 and in 1931 appeared on fourteen records for Vocalion (the label was owned by Brunswick); six solo sides by McCoy, six duets and sixteen solos by Minnie. However popular Minnie's records were, it was the unknown Gene Campbell who did the most recording for Vocalion/Brunswick. Nothing is known of Gene Campbell, who cut two-dozen sides between 1929 and 1931 for Brunswick.

Women blues singers dominated the field ever since Mamie Smith's smash hit "Crazy Blues" proved there was a market for blues records. By the mid-20's as solo blues artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Papa Charlie Jackson and Blind Blake began eclipsing the ladies in popularity. A few of the classic women blues singers stuck it out and we spin fine tracks by Bessie Smith, Clara Smith and Victoria Spivey. Bessie hung in there until 1933, Clara made her last records in 1932 while Spivey hung in there until 1937, although she made no records between 1932 and 1935.

For whatever reason there wasn't a whole lot of notable piano blues recorded in 1931. Both Peetie Wheatstraw and Little Brother Montgomery made their debut in 1930. Montgomery cut one 78 in 1931 while Wheatstraw cut half-a-dozen sides and would go on to become one of the most prolific and popular bluesmen of the 30's. We also play a track by lesser known St. Louis pianist James "Bat" Robinson who waxed just three sides in 1931 and two sides in the post-war period.

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Snippet from 1941 film Blood of Jesus featuring music of the Black Ace

I am the Black Ace, I'm the boss card in your hand
But I'll play for you mama, if you please let me be your man

So were the words that drifted from the airwaves of station KFJZ out of Fort Worth, Texas in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Following in the long line of dramatic blues persona like Pettie Wheatstraw's High Sheriff From Hell or The Devil's Son-In-Law, Oscar Woods' Lone Wolf or Robert Nighthawk's Prowling Night-Hawk was the Black Ace who's real name was the equally prosaic Babe Kyro Lemon Turner. "I throwed the 'Lemon' away", he told Paul Oliver, "and just used the initials of Babe Kyro – B.K. Turner." During this period the Black Ace was well known, at least among black audiences, in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. He cut two sides for the ARC label in 1936 which were never issued but had better luck the following year cutting six sides for Decca in 1937 all of which were released. It was these sides that would later garner him notice among blues collectors and which led to a fleeting comeback. Comeback is probably not the right word as Turner had no interest in playing blues full time again although thankfully he was persuaded to record two sessions at his Fort Worth home in 1960 which were issued as The Black Ace on Arhoolie (reissued on CD as Black Ace: I'm The Boss Card In Your Hand which includes his 1937 sides plus a few other tracks that appeared on Arhoolie compilations). He was also captured on film for the 1962 documentary The Blues.

I've long been a fan of the Black Ace but what prompted this article was a 1941film called the The Blood Of Jesus. I've always been intrigued by this film because in every biography of the Black Ace it's noted that he plays a role in the film. I finally got a chance to view this fascinating film (I've uploaded a snippet to YouTube which can be viewed above) but as far as I can tell the Black Ace doesn't actually appear on camera, however we do get to hear a wonderful performance by him which he would later record on the Arhoolie album as "Golden Slipper", an evocative portrait of a good time joint:

Come on mama let's truck on down, to the Golden Slipper and break 'em down
913 on Taylor Street, they got good whiskey and plenty pigmeat
But watcha gonna do, when they break the Golden Slipper up
You won't have no where to go and get drunk and truck
The Golden Slipper bar is the best I know, you go here once you get a woman for sure
You don't want her don't you be no clown, drink your good whiskey and don't break down

They got green river whiskey and the price is right
We ain't gonna fuss and we ain't gonna fight
Get at a table and sit right down, drink good whiskey but we ain't gonna clown
But watcha gonna do, when they break the Golden Slipper up
You won't have no where to go and get drunk and truck

Blood of Jesus PosterRegarding the film I'll quote the Wikipedia entry: "The Blood of Jesus was the first film directed by Spencer Williams, who was one of the few African American directors of the 1940s. Williams began his career in the 1920s as an extra, and was later able to move up into writing scripts for all-black short comedies produced by the Al Christie studio. In 1939, he wrote two screenplays for the race film genre, the Western Harlem Rides the Range and the horror-comedy Son of Ingagi, and he also acted in these films. Williams was invited by Alfred N. Sack, president of the Dallas, Texas-based production/distribution company Sack Amusement Enterprises, to write and direct a series of all-black films that would be released to the U.S. cinemas catering to African American audiences. The Blood of Jesus was produced in Texas on a budget of $5,000. …The Blood of Jesus was screened in cinemas and in black churches.The film's commercial success enabled Williams to direct and write additional feature films for Sack Amusement Enterprises, including two films with religious themes: Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus (1942) and Go Down, Death (1944). For years, The Blood of Jesus was considered a lost film until prints were discovered in the mid-1980s in warehouse in Tyler, Texas."

The Black Ace from the 1962 film The Blues

While the Black Ace recorded little his small body of work is all one needs to fully appreciate a thoroughly unique performer; a man passionate and serious about his blues who played guitar in a masterful, complex and  improvisatory manner, accomplished in a style that few committed to posterity. As Oliver concluded in the notes to the Arhoolie album, he was one "of the few exponents of the flat Hawaiian guitar blues style who have been recorded, Oscar Woods is dead, and Kokomo Arnold – whom Black Ace resembles – has long since retired with no desire to play or sing again. These recordings of a great blues singer have the added importance that they may well be the last to be made of a style of blues which has all but vanished." Oliver elaborates on on Ace's style which he picked up from Oscar "Buddy" Woods but which he had honed to eventually eclipse his older mentor. Using a National steel-bodied Hawaiian guitar he at first "played this with a bottleneck in the traditional manner of the knife and bottleneck blues guitarists, but soon saw the possibilities of extending the range of the instrument by using a small medicine bottle to stop the strings at the frets. Holding this in the left hand and picking the strings finger-pick style but with the guitar placed horizontally, he could block whole cords in 'Sevastpol', tuning or stop individual notes by using both the sides and corners of the bottle. In this way he could play the open strings in a range of keys; and as he developed he devised a number of original tunings and unusual rhythmic patterns."

Black Ace LPHis resulting Arhoolie album is a real gem of the blues revival era all the more remarkable perhaps because he had long retired from blues and, as Oliver writes, his steel-bodied National "was gathering dust in the attic." Ace's remarkable technique is notable throughout although he never indulges in mere technique and even instrumental workouts like "Bad Times Stomp" and the gentle "Ace's Guitar Blues" have the unerring swing of his vocal numbers. Comparing these recordings with his earlier ones shows nary a trace of deterioration as his warm, vibrato heavy vocals deliver fine updates to his older numbers such as "New Triflin' Woman", "I Am The Black Ace" plus examples of his repertoire that were previously unrecorded including the stately "'Fore Day Creep", "Santa Fe Blues", the automotive double entendres of "Hitchhiking Woman" and the bouncy "Your Legs' Too Little." For some reason the moving "Farther Along" has been left off the CD which is a shame but doesn't detract from an album that should find its place in the library of all traditional blues fans. The Back Ace passed on November 7th, 1972 and as far as I can tell his last performance was that in the above mentioned 1962 documentary The Blues.

Bad Times Stomp [1960] (MP3)

'Fore Day Creep [1960] (MP3)

Golden Slipper [1960] (MP3)

Black Ace [1937](MP3)

Trifling Woman [1937] (MP3)

Whiskey and Women [1937] (MP3)

Black Ace Interview With Paul Oliver [1960] (MP3)

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Show Notes:

Bottleneck Guitar Trendsetters of the 1930's

Today's show is a continuing series on forgotten blues heroes; those artists who perhaps don't have enough sides for a full a feature and lesser-known figures that don't fit into our other themed shows. Today we spotlight six great slide/bottleneck guitar players: Casey Bill Weldon, Kokomo Arnold, Oscar "Buddy" Woods, Black Ace, Bo Weavil Jackson and Sylvester Weaver. The Hawaiian guitar influence can be heard to good effect in the playing of Casey Bill Weldon, Oscar Woods and the Black Ace. It was a style performed flat across the player's knees as he slides a steel bar along the strings, producing glissando or vibrato effects. Kip Lornell writes that "blues guitarists sometimes tune their instruments to an open chord (often a D Major), place their guitar in their lap and then use a bottleneck or slide to fret it. This style of playing was used as early as the late 19th and early 20th century, but became more popular during the craze for Hawaiian music that occurred  during the teens." The style was used extensively by hillbilly artists as well. Also notable in is a strong country/Western Swing influence in the playing of artists like Casey Bill, Oscar Woods and particularly Sylvester Weaver, showing that there was a good deal of cross pollination among white and black musicians.

W.P.A. Blues Ad

Despite several busy years in the recording studio and a couple of medium-sized hits ("Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door" and "We Gonna Move (To The Outskirts of Town)"), very little is known about Casey Bill Weldon. It was assumed he was the Will Weldon who played with the Memphis Jug Band but that remains in dispute. Between 1927 and 1935 he cut just over 60 sides for Victor, Bluebird and Vocalion. He was also an active session guitarist, appearing on records by Teddy Darby, Bumble Bee Slim, Memphis Minnie, Peetie Wheatsraw and others. His first recordings were with Peetie Wheatsraw which clearly inspired his vocal style. His guitar style owes a clear debt to the Hawaiian guitarists and was even billed as the Hawaiian Guitar Wizard but also got some inspiration from country and Western Swing. As Tony Russell wrote regarding the influential "Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door", "the flurry in notes on bars 3 and 4 was the first indication of a blues slide guitarist who had listened to Hawaiian players and a session the following day by the Washboard Rhythm Kings elicited further passages of playing that was as close to Sol Hoopii as to Tampa Red." As for the influence of country, Russell writes "'Walkin' In My Sleep'…is a country tune, and at this point the gap between the group and contemporary Western Swing bands narrows dramatically. Not for the last time: 'I Believe You're Cheatin' On Me' opens with a figure from 'Steel Guitar Rag' as recorded by Bob Willis."

Milk Cow Blues Ad

Kokomo Arnold was born in Georgia, and began his musical career in Buffalo, New York in the early 1920's. During prohibition, Kokomo Arnold worked primarily as a bootlegger, and performing music was a only sideline to him. Nonetheless he worked out a distinctive style of bottleneck slide guitar and blues singing that set him apart from his contemporaries. In the late 1920's, Arnold settled for a short time in Mississippi, making his first recordings in May 1930 for Victor in Memphis under the name of "Gitfiddle Jim." Arnold moved to Chicago in order to be near to where the action was as a bootlegger, but the repeal of the Volstead Act put him out of business, so he turned instead to music as a full-time vocation. From his first Decca session of September 10, 1934 until he finally called it quits after his session of May 12, 1938, Kokomo Arnold made 88 sides. Some of Kokomo Arnold's songs proved highly influential on other musicians. His first issued coupling on Decca 7026 paired "Old Original Kokomo Blues" with "Milk Cow Blues." Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson must've known this record, as he re-invented both sides of it into songs for his own use — "Old Original Kokomo Blues" became "Sweet Home Chicago," and "Milk Cow Blues" became "Milkcow's Calf Blues." Arnold also did session work backing Peetie Wheatstraw, Roosvelt Sykes, Alice Moore, Mary Johnson and others. Arnold quit the music business in disgust in 1938 but continued to play the clubs until the late 1940's. By the time he was rediscovered in 1959 Marcel Chauvard and Jacques Demetre he had given up music altogether and didn't even own a guitar. He showed no interest in returing to music whatsoever. Arnold died of a heart attack at the age of 67 on November 8, 1968.

Oscar "Buddy" Woods was a Louisiana street musician known as "The Lone Wolf" and a pioneer in the style of lap steel bottleneck blues slide guitar. It is said that Woods developed his bottleneck slide approach to playing blues guitar after seeing a touring Hawaiian troupe of musical entertainers in the early 1920s. Not long after arriving in Shreveport, Woods began a long association with guitarist Ed Schaffer, and together they performed as the Shreveport Home Wreckers. Woods and Schaffer made their first two recordings as the Shreveport Home Wreckers for Victor in Memphis on May 31, 1930. From this first session up until his last, a field recording for the Library of Congress made on October 8, 1940, Oscar "Buddy" Woods was involved in the making of no less than 35 sides. On May 27 and 28 1931, Ed Schaffer was in Charlotte, North Carolina recording six sides headed by white country artist (and future Governor of Louisiana) Jimmie Davis along with New Orleans-based jazz guitarist Ed "Snoozer" Quinn. Nearly a year later in Dallas, Texas (on February 8, 1932) Davis made four sides with the Shreveport Home Wreckers as accompanists, and then the Home Wreckers made another pair of sides on their own, issued this time on Victor as by "Eddie and Oscar". Woods did not record again until made a trip to New Orleans to make some solo records for Decca on March 21, 1936. One of these recordings was of Woods' signature tune, "Lone Wolf Blues", and another his first recording of "Don't Sell it- Don't Give it Away". These did so well in the race record market that Jimmie Davis took a renewed interest in the Shreveport Home Wreckers. By the time Woods returned to record making in a session set up by Davis in San Antonio on October 30-31, 1937, the Home Wreckers had expanded into a six or seven piece string band called The Wampus Cats. The Wampus Cats also included a female vocalist by the name of Kitty Gray, guitarist Joe Harris and mandolinist Kid West. The Wampus Cats made an additional session in Dallas on December 4, 1938, on which Kitty Gray does not appear, but unknown trumpet and saxophone players were added to the mix. Woods cut his last five selections for the Library of Congress in 1940 John Lomax wrote the following about the session: "Oscar (Buddy) Woods, Joe Harris and Kid West are all porfessional Negro guitarists and singers of Texas Avenue, Shreveport…The songs I have recorded are among those they use to cajole nickels and dimes from the pockets of listeners." Woods died in 1956.

Babe Karo Lemon Turner AKA Black Ace grew up in a farm in Hughes Springs, Texas. He took up the guitar seriously when he moved to Shreveport in the mid-1930's and met Oscar Woods from whom he learned the local slide guitar style, playing the guitar flat across the knees. Smokey Hogg's brother, John Hogg, recalled that "back in Greenville, Texas, before he got into the recordin' business, Smokey and a guy they called Black Ace…would play country dances. I'd carry Smokey on one side of town, he d play this dance over there and I'd take Black Ace on the other side of town to play. About the time the guys would be ready to wrap-up, I would run over and get Black Ace, double back and get Smokey. We would party together the rest of the night. I used to sing with Black Ace at them parties and dances. He played a guitar across his knees with a knife blade and he wanted me to sing." By 1936 he moved to Fort Worth where he secured a gig broadcasting on local station KFJZ between 1936-1941. In 1941 he appeared in the film "The Blood of Jesus." As his reputation grew he toured and cut six sides for Decca in 1937 (two sides recorded for ARC in 1936 were never released). War service disrupted his career and he worked a variety of jobs outside of music. Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records and Paul Oliver ventured to Fort Worth in 1960 and recorded an album by him that year. Those recordings were originally issued the following year on Black Ace's only LP, subsequently issued on CD as I Am The Boss Card In Your Hand which included some of his 1937 sides. Turner passed in 1972 showing no interest to get back in the music business after his Arhoolie session.

Bo Weavil Jackson was a shadowy figure whose name may have been Sam Butler or James Butler or was it James Jackson?. He was a street singer from Birmingham, AL who was discovered by local talent scout Harry Charles. Jackson cut six sides for Paramount circa August 1926 and six sides for Vocalion in September 1926 where he recorded as Sam Butler. His material was a mix of blues and gospel and he was one of the first slide players to record.

Sylvester Weaver & Sara Martin
Sylvester Weaver & Sara Martin

Sylvester Weaver was a versatile guitarist from Louisville who made the first solo recordings of blues guitar playing. Sylvester Weaver first recorded in New York in 1923, where on October 23 of that year he accompanied vaudeville blues singer Sara Martin on two numbers, "Longing for Daddy Blues" and "I've Got to Go and Leave My Daddy Behind," for Okeh. Two weeks later, Weaver cut his first pair of solo recordings, "Guitar Blues" and "Guitar Rag" for the same label. The Sara Martin selections represented the first time on records that a popular female singer had been backed up solely by guitar, and were an immediate success. Weaver would cut 25 more selections accompanying Martin in the years through 1927. He also backed singer Helen Humes on sides in 1927. Weaver's were well-received and would prove massively influential in the country market. "Guitar Rag" was later re-invented by Bob Wills into "Steel Guitar Rag" and became a country standard. Through the end of 1927, when Weaver decided to retire from music altogether, he recorded a total of 26 solo sides, and on some of the later ones Weaver was joined by another guitarist, Walter Beasley. Weaver's work lies stylistically between blues and country music, and he had considerable impact on both musical fronts. Weaver was almost totally forgotten by the time he died in 1960. An interesting footnote is the discovery of a scrapbook Weaver kept of his musical activities. Some of the contents were published in Living Blues Magazine in 1982.

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