Entries tagged with “Piedmont Blues”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldBroome Street Blues Rare Country Blues Vol. 2 1929-1943
Skoodle Dum Doo & SheffieldWest Kinney Street Blues New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Alex Seward & Louis HayesBig Trouble Blues Downs BluesCarolina Blues NYC 1944
Alex Seward & Louis HayesUps And Carolina Blues NYC 1944
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Knockabout Blues (Carolina Blues) New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Brownie's Blues (Lordy Lord)Rub A Little Boogie: New York blues 1945-1956
Sonny Terry Dangerous Woman (with a 45 in Her Hand)Rub A Little Boogie: New York blues 1945-1956
Gabriel Brown Good-Time Papa Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Gabriel Brown The Jinx Is On MeShake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Boy Green Play My Jukebox Play My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Big Chief EllisDices DicesNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Richard TriceBlood Red RiverCarolina Blues 1937-1945
Hank KilroyHarlem WomanPlay My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Leroy DallasI'm Going Away New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Ralph WillisNeighborhood Blues Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Ralph WillisMama, Mama Blues Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Dan PickettBaby How LongShake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Dan PickettRide to a Funeral in a V-8Shake That Thing!: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
Little DavidShackles Round My BodyDown Home Blue Classics 1943-1953
Tarheel Slim You're a Little Too SlowEast Coast Blues
Dennis McMillonPaper Wooden DaddyNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Curley WeaverSome Rainy Day The Post-War Years 1949
Curley Weaver Trixie The Post-War Years 1949
Blind Willie McTell Talkin' To You MamaThe Post-War Years 1949
Blind Willie McTell Talkin' To You MamaThe Post-War Years 1949
Carolina Slim Mama's Boogie Carolina Slim 1950-1952
Marilyn ScottI Got What My Daddy Likes New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Guitar Shorty I Love That Woman Play My Juke Box: East Coast Blues
Champion Jack Dupree Stumbling Block BluesNew York & The East Coast States 1943-195
Julius KingMississippi Boogie A Shot in the Dark:Nashville Jumps
Robert Lee WestmorelandHello Central Please Give Me 209New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Doug QuattlebaumDon't Be Funny BabyNew York & The East Coast States 1943-1953
Square Walton Bad Hangover New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953

Show Notes:

Today's is a sequel to a show we did a few weeks, Seaboard Stomp – East Coast Blues 1927-1941, devoted to East Coast blues from the 20's through the early 40's. Today's show takes the story through 1953. Today we emphasize the contribution to post-war blues made by singers from the Southeast and the Mid Atlantic states where many gravitated to New York. These performers tended to prefer a lighter and more melodic style than those from the Mississippi Delta who subsequently brought the blues to Chicago and Detroit. The bulk of these recordings, in fact, were recorded in New York. On today's program we spotlight well known artists like Blind Willie McTell, Brownie McGhee and Champion Jack Dupree as well as a slew of superb less remembered artists like Ralph Willis, Dan Pickett, Alec Seward and partner Louis Hayes among others. For an in-depth look at the Piedmont blues I recommend Bruce Bastin’s exhaustive study Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast which has been an invaluable resource for this show and its predecessor.

As on our first installment of East Coast Blues, the influence of the popular Blind Boy Fuller still looms large on many of these recordings. Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span (1935-1941). Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. His influence can be heard in the music of today's featured artists such as Boy Green, Carolina Slim, Richard Trice and Julius King.

Boy Green cut one 78, "A and B Blues b/w Play My Jukebox", in 1944 for Regis. Nothing is known of Green who possessed a fine voice and was an excellent guitar picker.

Carolina Slim was a Piedmont blues guitarist from North Carolina whose style was shaped as much by Lightnin' Hopkins as it was by Blind Boy Fuller evidenced on tracks like "Shake Boogie" and "Rag Mama." He was born Edward Harris in Leasburg, North Carolina, near the Virginia border. In 1950, Harris was dubbed Carolina Slim when he recorded for Herman Lubinsky's Savoy group of labels. He moved to Newark, the home of Savoy, after his first session. He recorded for King as Country Paul in 1951-52 before returning to Savoy in 1953.

Willie Trice and his brother Richard became close friends with Blind Boy Fuller and Fuller took them up to New York where they cut six sides together (two unissued) for Decca in 1937. Richard Trice recorded after the war for Savoy in 1946 as Little Boy Fuller as well as a couple of sides in 1948 and 1952/53. Richard Trice was later recorded by Pete Lowry but those recordings remain unreleased.

As Paul Garon writes in the notes to Down Home Blues Classics: New York & The East Coast States 1943-1953: "Julius King (1915-1970) was born and died in Tennessee, but his heaviest stylistic influence was North Carolina's Blind Boy Fuller, both in vocal inflection and in guitar style. "I Want A Slice of Yo~ Pudding" features a kazoo, as well as a fondness for raggy, Fuller-style pieces, and hokum material played a significant role in King's repertoire.  "One O'Clock Boogie" seems to draw inspiration from Pinetop Slim who recorded in Atlanta in 1949, and possibly  even from John Lee who recorded in Montgomery in 1951. While  "Mississippi Boogie" features King's kazoo playing, it also echoes Barbecue Bob tonally, especially the latter's flood blues." King cut a lone four-son session for Tennessee in 1952.

Several of today's artists get twin spins including the duos of Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield, Alec Seward & Louis Hayes and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, plus Gabriel Brown, Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver, Ralph Willis and Dan Pickett.

Gabriel Brown was discovered in Florida by folk music researchers Alan Lomax and Zora Neal Hurston in the '30's and launched his recording career with sides for the Library of Congress. He began making commercial recordings, starting in 1943, for A&R man, record label owner, and record producer Joe Davis and worked for him through 1952.

Seth Richards, possibly from Virgina, recorded a couple tracks under his real name in 1928 ("Lonely Seth Blues b/w Skoodeldum Doo"), which would be his last recordings until he recorded four songs as Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield in 1943 for the Regis label.

Alec Seward was born in Charles City County, Virginia and relocated to New York in 1924. Seward befriended Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, and retained his Piedmont blues styling despite changes in musical trends. He met Louis Hayes (who later became a minister in northern New Jersey) and the duo performed variously named as the Blues Servant Boys, Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly, or The Back Porch Boys. The duo recorded sides in 1944 and another batch in 1947. During the 1940's and 1950's Seward played and recorded with Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, McGhee and Terry. Seward issued the album Creepin' Blues (1965, Bluesville) with harmonica accompaniment by Larry Johnson. Later in the decade Seward worked in concert and at folk-blues festivals. He died at the age of 70, in New York in May 1972.

Brownie McGhee worked in a partnership with Sonny Terry for most of his career and also recorded with many of today's featured artists including Leroy Dallas, Champion Jack Dupree, and Big Boy Ellis. McGhee began recording as Blind Boy Fuller No. 2, immediately after Fuller's death in 1941. He sung on one side from Fuller's last session, whereas Terry had been backing Fuller on and off since 1937. McGhee's manager, J. B. Long, suggested that Brownie take Sonny Terry to Washington DC where they played together at a concert with Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson. Afterwards, they recorded for the Library of Congress. They also recorded for Moe Asch, of Folkways, backing singers as diverse as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, and in 1944 they began to record for Savoy. Wartime shellac restrictions had loosened and many small and independent labels were recording the new sounds of R & B, as well as the postwar blues. During the period of today's program, the 40's and 50's, the duo cut fine sides, both together and aprat, for Savoy, Gotham, Sittin' In With, Folkways, Capitol and others. McGhee can also be heard today backing Big Chief Ellis on "Dices Dices", Ellis and McGhee back Leroy Dallas on "I'm Going Away" and with Terry backing Champion Jack Dupree on "Stumbling Block Blues."

For years James Founty, known professionally as Dan Pickett, was a mystery man. Field trips in the early 90’s have solved most mysteries although most of the research remains unpublished. He recorded five singles for Gotham plus four unreleased tracks in 1949. Pickett's repertoire was derived almost exclusively from 30’s recordings synthesizing those styles into a unique sound of his own.

According to David Evans: "Around the end of 1949, or more likely early in 1950, Curley Weaver recorded four songs for the Sittin’ In With label. It’s not certain whether there were one or two sessions and whether the recordings were made in Atlanta or New York. Two tracks were not released until 1952 and may actually have been recorded that year." Weaver and McTell also cut a batch of records made in Atlanta for Regal Records in May 1950. Weaver's "Some Rainy Day" is a remake of "Some Cold Rainy Day" is a remake of a 1933 duet with Ruth Willis while "Trixie" is a rag version of the popular "Tricks Ain't Walking No More." Weaver can be heard again backing McTell on the bouncy, perfectly integrated "Talkin' To You Mama" while McTell takes it alone on

I want to say something about a few of the other artists featured on today's program including Big Chief Ellis, Leroy Dallas, Marylin Scott, Guitar Shorty and Doug Quattlebaum.

Big Chief Ellis was a barrelhouse pianist from Alabama who recorded behind many great Piedmont blues artists in the '40s and '50s in addition to making his own fine, if lesser-selling, records. Brownie McGhee got Ellis on record by phoning Bob Shad at Continental, who recorded Chief for the label and for the Sittin' In With label he later started. Ellis backed McGhee (and his brother Sticks) several times, including Sticks' one hit, "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee." Brownie backed Ellis on the latter's signature tune "Dices Oh Dices", a song about his lifelong profession as a gambler. Ellis became a fixture of New York's small blues scene, playing every weekend with Brownie and occasionally with Sonny Terry. He also recorded with/behind a large number of the city's R&B-flavored bluesmen, including Tarheel Slim, Leroy Dallas, Mickey Baker, and Ralph Willis. He cut his lone full-length album for the Trix label in the 70's.

Leroy Dallas was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1920 and moved to Memphis in 1924. Along his travels he played washboard behind Brownie McGhee and formed a band with James McMillan playing the streets and juke joints of Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee. McMillan taught Dallas guitar and the two went on to tour the southern states working with Frank Edwards who made recordings in1949 and Georgia Slim who made records in 1937. By 1943 Dallas settled in Brooklyn New York. He made his first records for Sittin’ In With in 1949 consisting of six songs. He was accompanied by Brownie McGhee who was instrumental in setting up the session. Dallas was rediscovered by blues researcher Pete Welding and made a few recordings in the 60’s.

Mary DeLoatch, also known as Mary DeLoach, was a Norfolk, VA-based gospel singer who used the name Marylin Scott or Marylyn Scott the Carolina Blues Girl when performing blues. When performing gospel she sounded quite a bit like Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She switched to exclusively religious material after 1950 and her final recording appears to have been made in 1967 when she was photographed playing an electric guitar while wearing evangelical robes. Bruce Bastin wrote that our track, "I Got What My Daddy Likes", "is one of the finest postwar blues from the Piedmont."

Guitar Shorty (John Henry Fortescue) cut a pair of unissued sides for Savoy in 1952, the album Carolina Slide Guitar (Flyright, 1971) and his final album for Trix, Alone In His Field, before passing in 1975.

Born in South Carolina in 1927, Doug Quattlebaum came to Philadelphia in the early 1940's. In 1953 he cut three sides for Gotham records; two of them appeared on a Gotham 78, but the third was only rediscovered years later. In 1961 Pete Welding recorded Quattlebaum again, after hearing that he was still around. He was driving a Mr. Softee ice cream truck and performing for his patrons. Scheduled for issue on a Testament album, the sides remained unissued until the 90's. A few months later Welding recording him, few months later Quattlebaum recorded for Bluesville, the results issued on the marvelous Softee Man Blues with a picture of the artist in his ice cream uniform on the front cover.

Related Articles:

-Carolina Slim: Blues Go Away From Me album notes by Pete Lowry

-Guitar Shorty An Appreciation and Memory by Valerie Wilmer (Blues Unlimited 120 (1976), p. 20-21) ][PDF]

-Doug Quattlebaum By Paul Sheatsley (Record Research No. 42, March/April 1962, p.12) [PDF]

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Blind Blake Georgia Bound The Best of Blind Blake
Blind Blake Blind Arthur's BreakdownThe Best of Blind Blake
Floyd 'Dipper Boy' CouncilI'm Grievin' & I'm Worryin' Blind Boy Fuller Vol. 2
Blind Boy FullerUntrue BluesRemastered 1935-1938
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGheeBorn for Bad Luck The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 3
Willie WalkerDupree BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 1
Willie WalkerSouth Carolina RagMama Let Me Lay It On You
Rev. Gary DavisCross And Evil Woman BluesThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Rev. Gary DavisLord I Wish I Could SeeThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Luke Jordan Church Bells Blues The Songster Tradition 1927-1935
Josh WhiteBlood Red RiverThe Essential
Pink Anderson & Simmie DooleyGonna Tip Out, Tonight Good for What Ails You
William MooreOne Way Gal The Rain Don't Fall On Me - Country Blues 1927-1952
William MooreRagtime Millionaire Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Blind BlakeToo Tight Blues, No. 2The Best of Blind Blake
Blind BlakeSeaboard StompThe Best of Blind Blake
Carl MartinOld Time BluesVirginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues
Carl MartinCrow Jane Carl Martin & Willie '61' Blackwell 1930-1941
Charlie Lincoln If It Looks Like Jelly, Shakes Like Jelly, It Must Be GelatineCharley Lincoln & Willie Baker
Barbecue BobEase It to Me BluesThe Essential
Tarter & GayUnknown BluesA Richer Tradition
Tarter & GayBrownie Blues Ragtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Curley Weaver & Blind Willie McTellYou Was Born to DieThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Buddy MossUnfinished BusinessNew York City Blues 1940-1950
Blind Willie McTellGeorgia RagThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Rev. Gary DavisI'm Throwin' Up My HandsThe Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Rev. Gary DavisI Belong To The Band Hallelujah!The Vintage Recordings 1935-1949
Bayless RoseOriginal BluesRagtime Blues Guitar 1927-30
Bayless RoseBlack Dog Blues American Primitive, Vol. II
Sam MontgomeryShe Stays Drunk All The TimeBlues & Gospel From The Eastern States
Bull City Red Black Woman and Poison BluesBlues & Gospel From The Eastern States
Peg Leg Howell Too Tight BluesAtlanta Blues
Julius DanielsNinety-Nine Year BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down

Show Notes:

We've explored East Coast Blues previously with shows devoted to Atlanta Blues and Blind Boy Fuller and his circle. Today's show is not as tightly focused as those shows, giving me a opportunity to focus on some fine lesser known artists plus several bigger names like Blind Blake and Rev. Gary Davis who I haven't spotlighted in depth. I have two sequels in the works; one on the immediate post-war period, roughly from 1943 through the early 50's and another on the still active scene of the 1960's and 70's (some of which we touched in our show devoted to Pete Lowry's Trix label). The music to be found on today's program is generally classified as Piedmont Blues, a term that refers to a style and geographic region.

Piedmont Blues refers to a regional of centered on musicians of the southeastern United States. Geographically, the Piedmont means the foothills of the Appalachians west of the tidewater region and Atlantic coastal plain stretching roughly from Richmond, VA, to Atlanta, GA. Musically, Piedmont blues describes the shared style of musicians from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, as well as others from as far afield as Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Influenced by ragtime, country string bands, traveling medicine shows, and popular song of the early 20th century, East Coast Blues blended both black and white, rural and urban song elements in the urban centers of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic region. The Piedmont guitar style employs a complex fingerpicking method in which a regular, alternating-thumb bass pattern supports a melody on treble strings. The guitar style is highly syncopated and connects closely with an earlier string-band tradition, integrating ragtime, blues, and country dance songs. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles. The term was coined by blues researcher Peter B. Lowry who in turn gives co-credit to fellow folklorist Bruce Bastin (Bastin's Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast is the definitive work on the subject). Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. Blind Boy Fuller's 1940 recording of "Step It Up & Go" sold over half a million copies to both blacks and whites. Below you'll find some background on today's featured artists.

Despite his popularity and much investigation, Blind Blake remains a shadowy figure. As for biographical details there is the following from his first Defenderadvertisement: "Early Morning Blues” is the first record of this new exclusive Paramount artist, Blind Blake. Blake, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida, is known up and down the coast as a wizard at picking his piano-sounding guitar. His ‘talking guitar’ they call it, and when you hear him sing and play you’ll know why Blind Blake is going to be one of the most talked about Blues artist in music." He was so popular, Paramount released at least one, and sometimes numerous, new records under his name every month. When his record sales began to fall in 1929, he contacted a good friend of his, George Williams, who managed the vaudeville show Happy-Go-Lucky. Blake played with the show until late 1930 or 1931. Blake disappeared from the Chicago music scene in 1932. He traveled to Grafton, WI, in 1932 to record his last songs with Paramount before they went bankrupt. Between the summers of 1926 and 1932, he recorded roughly 80 titles for the Paramount label. As Gary Davis noted: "I ain't never heard anybody on a record yet beat Blind Blake on guitar." And as Bruce Bastin summed up: "Arguably the finest ragtime artist who ever recorded, Blind Blake was also one of the few musicians to excel in both ragtime and blues."

In the late 1920's Gary Davis was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar. He was a considerable influence on Blind Boy Fuller who he backed on second guitar at a 1935 session. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-0s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the 1930's with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a stunning mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again.

Little is known of Willie Walker who was born in South Carolina in 1896 and was playing in a string band with Gary Davis as early as 1911. Among his contemporaries like Pink Anderson, Gary Davis and Josh White, he was considered to be the finest guitarist in the region. He recorded only two sides in 1930 for Columbia, "South Carolina Rag b/w Dupree Blues."

As he grew older, Josh White dropped out of school to work with various street singers throughout the southeastern United States. He sang with Blind Blake, Blind Lemon, Willie Walker, and Blind Joe Taggar,with whom he recorded with, and these musicians were his major influences in music. During the first half of his life he was an important blues artist in the Piedmont style and played primarily in the South. While guiding Taggert in 1927, White arrived in Chicago, Illinois. Mayo Williams, a producer for Paramount Records, recognized White's talents and began using him as a session guitarist. He backed up many artists for recordings before recording his first popular Paramount recording. Late in 1930, New York's ARC Records sent two A&R men to find Joshua White, the lead boy who had recorded for Paramount in 1928.After his signing, White moved to New York City, billed as "Joshua White – The Singing Christian". Within a few months, after recording all of his religious repertoire, ARC explained to White that he could make more money if he also recorded the blues repertoire he had learned, in addition to working as a session man for other artists. White, at 18 and still underage, signed a new contract under the name "Pinewood Tom" in 1932 .As a session guitarist, he recorded with Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Buddy Moss, Charlie Spand, The Carver Boys, Walter Roland, and Lucille Bogan.

Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. Fuller could play in multiple styles: slide, ragtime, pop, and blues were all enhanced by his National steel guitar. Fuller worked with some fine sidemen, including Gary Davis, Floyd Council, Sonny Jones, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and washboard player Bull City Red. Initially discovered and promoted by Carolina entrepreneur H. B. Long, Fuller recorded for ARC and Decca. He also served as a conduit to recording sessions, steering fellow blues musicians to the studio. Between 1935 and 1940 he cut over a 120 sides. He died in 1941 at the age of 33.

Floyd Council was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on September 2, 1911, to Harrie and Lizzie Council. Floyd later began working with Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930's, earning him the nickname Blind Boy Fuller's Buddy. ACR RecordsJohn Baxter Long invited Council to record alongside Fuller on a 1937 New York City session, after hearing him playing in Chapel Hill in January of that year. He recorded six sides at two sessions as a solo artist.

Sonny Terry was born Saunders Terrell on October 24, 1911, in Greensboro, NC. He began traveling to nearby Raleigh and Durham, performing on street corners for tips. In 1934, he befriended the popular guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller convinced Terry to move to Durham, where the two immediately gained a strong local following. By 1937, they were offered an opportunity to go to New York and record for the Vocalion label. Between 1937 and 1940 he backed Fuller on over two-dozen sides. A year later, Terry would be back in New York taking part in John Hammond? legendary Spirituals to Swing concert. Upon returning to Durham, Terry continued playing regularly with Fuller and also met his future partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, who would accompany Terry off and on for the next two decades.

Bull City Red, whose real name was George Washington, is best known as a sometimes sideman on washboard to the likes of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry, and Blind Gary Davis. Red cut more than a dozen sides showing off his skills as a singer and guitarist as well as on the washboard, between 1935 and 1939.

Post-war research by Bruce Bastin reveals that Luke Jordan was a key figure in the blues enclave centered around Lynchburg, VA. Victor Records discovered him in 1927 and he recorded for them in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August of that year. Jordan? records sold well enough to justify transporting him to New York for a further two sessions in November 1929.

When he was sixteen, Pink Anderson met blind Simeon "Simmie" Dooley. He would be Pink's teacher and mentor until Simmie's death in 1961.When he wasn't traveling with medicine shows, Anderson would get together with Dooley and they would play at picnics, dances, and parties. In 1928, Pink and Simmie traveled to Atlanta and recorded four tracks together for Columbia records. He did not record again until 1950 and was extensively recorded in the 60's.

Carl Martin was born near Stone Gap, VA, on April 1, 1906. His main instrument was mandolin but he also mastered the guitar. Beginning with an Oct. 27,1934 session for Bluebird, where he cut "You can Go your way" and "Kid Man Blues", Martin participated in six additional sessions from January of the following year through mid-April of 1936, for OKeh, Vocalion, Bluebird, Decca and Champion, recording a total of 13 selections.

Peg Leg Howell arrived in Atlanta in 1923 and was recorded by Columbia in November 1926. His first session featured Howell solo and are certainly appealing but it? the rough, exciting stringband music he recorded with His Gang that really grabs attention. The gang consisted of Henry Williams on guitar and the infectious alley fiddle of Eddie Anthony. Unfortunately the trio only made a handful of recordings as Williams apparently died in jail in January 1930 while serving time for vagrancy and Anthony passed in 1934, after which Howell gave up music.

Within a year or so of Peg Leg Howell's arrival in Atlanta, Robert Hicks aka Barbecue Bob came to the city. He learned guitar, as did his older brother Charlie, and their friend Curley Weaver from the latter's mother Savannah Weaver. Robert Hicks as Barbecue Bob he became the most heavily recorded Atlanta bluesman of the 1920's with his records selling steadily for Columbia until his untimely death in 1931. He recorded over fifty issued sides between 1927 and 1930

Other featured artists today include Stephen Tarter and Harry Gay, William Moore, Julius Daniels and Bayless Rose. Tarter and Gay are an obscure duo from the western tip of Virginia. They made one great record in 1928, "Brownie Blues b/w Unknown Blues.". Virtually nothing is know of Bayless Rose who cut four issued sides in June 1930 , with several sides left unissued. Perhaps the only source for information on Bayless Rose is an article by Christopher King in 78 Quarterly #12. He interviewed Dick Justice's daughter, and she remembered her daddy hanging out with a guitar player named 'Bailey Rose' back in the '30s. She described Bailey Rose as 'the man who sounded the most like daddy', and said he was a railroad worker who traveled thru WV, OH & IN. She said he was 'quite a bit older than daddy. He taught [daddy] how to play Old Black Dog and Brown Gal. When asked whether Bailey Rose was black, she denied that he was, tho she said "he was kind of foreign-looking, though". She elaborated, saying "he was sort of short with dark, curly hair but with darker skin, sort of like an Arab". She again denied he was black. After discussion of the parallels between Rose's and Justice's repertoires, King offers the theory that he was a melungeon. A resident of Tappahannock, Virginia, Bill Moore recorded sixteen sides for Paramount Record Company in 1928.

Related Articles:

-I'm Peg Leg Howell by Pete Welding (Blues Unlimited no. 10, March 1964) [PDF]

-Buddy Moss Talks to Valerie Wilmer (Melody Maker July 15, 1972) [PDF]

-Georgia Bound: The Search For Blind Arthur Blake in 1996 by Gayle Dean Wardlow and Joel Slotnikoff [Link]

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Show Notes:

Truckin' My Blues Away

Unlike blues artists like Big Bill or Memphis Minnie who recorded extensively over three or four decades, Blind Boy Fuller recorded his substantial body of work over a short, six-year span. Nevertheless, he was one of the most recorded artists of his time and by far the most popular and influential Piedmont blues player of all time. Fuller could play in multiple styles: slide, ragtime, pop, and blues were all enhanced by his National steel guitar. Fuller worked with some fine sidemen, including Gary Davis, Floyd Council, Sonny Jones, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and washboard player Bull City Red. Initially discovered and promoted by Carolina entrepreneur J. B. Long, Fuller recorded for ARC and Decca. He also served as a conduit to recording sessions, steering fellow blues musicians to the studio.

What follows is a sketch of Fuller and some background on today's featured artists. For an in-depth look at Fuller and the Piedmont blues I recommend Bruce Bastin's exhaustive study Red River Blues. Bastin was assisted greatly by the efforts of Pete Lowry who was featured on the program recently.

Fulton Allen was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina to Calvin Allen and Mary Jane Walker. As a boy he learned to play the guitar and also learned from older singers the field hollers, country rags, and traditional songs and blues popular in poor, rural areas. He married Cora Allen young and worked as a laborer, but began to lose his eyesight in his mid-teens. By 1928 he was completely blind, and turned to whatever employment he could find as a singer and entertainer, often playing in the streets. By studying the records of blues players like Blind Blake and the "live" playing of Gary Davis, he became a formidable guitarist, and Blind Boy Fullerplayed on street corners and at house parties in Winston-Salem, Danville, and then Durham, North Carolina. In Durham, playing around the tobacco warehouses, he developed a local following which included guitarists Floyd Council and Richard Trice, as well as harmonica player Sonny Terry and washboard player/guitarist George Washington.  In 1935, Burlington record store manager and talent scout James Baxter Long secured him a recording session with the American Recording Company (ARC). Allen, Davis and Washington recorded several tracks in New York City, including the traditional "Rag, Mama, Rag". To promote the material, Long decided to rename Allen as "Blind Boy Fuller", and also named Washington "Bull City Red." Over the next five years Fuller made over 120 sides. In April 1936, Fuller recorded ten solo performances, and also recorded with guitarist Floyd Council. The following year, having auditioning for J. Mayo Williams, he recorded for the Decca label, but then reverted to ARC. Later in 1937, he made his first recordings with Sonny Terry. In 1938 Fuller was imprisoned for shooting a pistol at his wife, wounding her in the leg, causing him to miss out on John Hammond's "Spirituals to Swing" concert in NYC that year. While Fuller was eventually released, it was Sonny Terry who went in his stead, the beginning of a long "folk music" career.Fuller was criticized by some as a derivative musician, but his ability to fuse together elements of other traditional and contemporary songs and reformulate them into his own performances, attracted a broad audience. He was an expressive vocalist and a masterful guitar player; best remembered for his up-tempo ragtime hits including "Step It Up and Go." At the same time he was capable of deeper material. Fuller died in 1941 at the age of 33, of blood poisoning that resulted in kidney failure, popularly ascribed to his heavy drinking.

Floyd Council was born on the 2nd of September 1911 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and began his career playing in the streets of Chapel Hill in the mid-‘20s with musical brothers Leo and Thomas Strowd. Floyd occasionally worked with Blind Boy Fuller in the ‘30s, which may have led to his first recording sessions. In late January 1937 ACR Records scout John Baxter Long heard him, playing alone on a street in Chapel Hill. It was Long who had first brought Fuller to NYC to record in July 1935. Long invited Floyd to join Fuller on his third trip to New York. Floyd agreed, and a week later the three traveled to the city. During his second visit to New York in December, Floyd was used as a second guitar only. His solo tracks were later issued under the name ‘Blind Boy Fuller’s buddy’. In all he cut six sides under his own name and seven backing Fuller. Floyd performed around Chapel Hill through the ‘40s and ‘50s, both with Thomas Strowd and on his own. In the late ‘60s, a stroke partially paralyzed his throat muscles and slowed his motor skills. Floyd moved to Sanford, North Carolina, where he died in June 1976. His final recordings, made in August 1970, did not, apparently, merit release.

Rev. Gary Davis
Rev. gary Davis

Willie Trice and his brother Richard became close friends with Blind Boy Fuller and Fuller took them up to New York where they cut six sides together (two unissued) for Decca in 1937. Richard Trice recorded after the war for Savoy in 1946 as Little Boy Fuller as well as a couple of sides in 1948 and 1952/53. Richard Trice was later recorded by Pete Lowry but those recordings remain unreleased. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Willie Trice recorded again. Blue And Rag’d , his sole album, was released on Lowry's Trix label in 1973.

Gary Davis was a major influence on Blind Boy Fuller. In the late 1920's he was one of the most renowned practitioners of the East Coast school of ragtime guitar. He backed Fuller on second guitar at a 1935 session. Davis moved to Durham in the mid-'20s, by which time he was a full-time street musician. Davis went into the recording studio for the first time in the 1930's with the backing of a local businessman. Davis cut a mixture of blues and spirituals for the American Record Company label, but there was never an agreement about payment for the recordings, and following these sessions, it was 19 years before he entered the studio again.

Sonny Terry was born Saunders Terrell on October 24, 1911, in Greensboro, NC. He began traveling to nearby Raleigh and Durham, performing on street corners for tips. In 1934, he befriended the popular guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller convinced Terry to move to Durham, where the two immediately gained a strong local following. By 1937, they were offered an opportunity to go to New York and record for the Vocalion label. Between 1937 and 1940 he backed Fuller on over two-dozen sides. A year later, Terry would be back in New York taking part in John Hammond's legendary Spirituals to Swing concert. Upon returning to Durham, Terry continued playing regularly with Fuller and also met his future partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, who would accompany Terry off and on for the next two decades. McGhee was initially sent to look after Terry by Blind Boy's manager, J.B. Long. Long figured McGhee might get a chance to play some of the same shows as Terry. A friendship developed between the two men and following Fuller's death in 1941, Terry and McGhee moved to New York.

Sonny Terry
Sonny Terry

In the late 1940 McGhee came into contact with washboard player Bull City Red who in turn introduced McGhee to talent scout J.B. Long. Long got him a recording contract with OKeh/Columbia in 1940; his debut session in Chicago produced a dozen tracks over two days. Long's principal blues artist, Blind Boy Fuller, died in 1941, precipitating Okeh to issue some of McGhee's early efforts under the alias of Blind Boy Fuller No. 2. McGhee cut a moving tribute song, "Death of Blind Boy Fuller," shortly after the passing. McGhee's third marathon session for OKeh in 1941 paired him for the first time with Sonny Terry. McGhee claimed to have never recorded with Fuller but in later years when someone played him "Precious Lord" he recalled that it was him singing with Fuller on guitar.

Bull City Red, whose real name was George Washington, is best known as a sometimes sideman on washboard to the likes of Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry, and Blind Gary Davis. Red led an otherwise blind group that included Fuller, Sonny Terry and, for a time, Blind Gary Davis as well, and with help from their manager, department store owner J.B. Long, landed a contract with Vocalion. At one point in their history, Red, Fuller, Terry, and guitarist Sonny Jones performed together as "Brother George and His Sanctified Singers," and made several recordings of gospel-themed material. Red was later responsible for hooking Terry up with Brownie McGhee, whom he met while on a trip to Burlington. McGhee was partnered with a blues harpist and one-man band named Jordan Webb at the time, and Red introduced the two to Fuller and Terry as well as their manager. Red cut more than a dozen sides showing off his skills as a singer and guitarist as well as on the washboard, between 1935 and 1939.

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