Entries tagged with “Red Nelson”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Kokomo Arnold Coffin Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936-1937
Big Bill BroonzyFalling RainAll The Classic Sides
Tampa RedStormy Sea BluesThe Essential
Josephine ParkerI Got A Man In New OrleansField Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Alice Moore Grass Cutter Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936-1937
Black Boy ShineBrown House BluesThe Piano Blues Vol. 11: Texas Santa Fe 1934-1937
Mack Rhinehart & Brownie StubbliefieldBroke And HungryDeep South Blues Piano 1935-1937
Little Brother Montgomery Santa Fe BluesLittle Brother Montgomery 1930-1936
Bo CarterBo Carter's AdviceGreatest Hits
Chatman Brothers If You Don't Want Me, Please, Don't Dog Me AroundBo Carter & The Mississippi Sheiks
Willie Williams'Twas On a Monday Field Recordings Vol. 1: Virginia 1936-1941
J. WilsonBarrel House BluesRed River Blues 1934-1943
James Henry DiggsFreight Train BluesVirginia Traditions: Southwest Virginia Blues
Charlie McCoy Let My Peaches BeCharlie & Joe McCoy Vol. 1 1934-1936
Harlem HamfatsMy Daddy Was a Lovin' ManHarlem Hamfats Vol. 1 1936
Lil JohnsonMy Stove's In Good Condition Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops
Victoria Spivey Black Snake Swing Victoria Spivey Vol 3 1929-1936
Jimmie Strothers & Joe Lee Lord Remember Me Field Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Blind Roosevelt GravesWoke Up This MorningAmerican Primitive Vol. I: Raw Pre-War Gospel
Blind Boy Fuller (I Got a Woman, Crazy for Me) She's Funny That Way Blind boy Fuller: Remastered 1935-1938
The Two CharliesDon’t Put Your Dirty Hands On Me Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935-1937
Walter ColemanMama Let Me Lay It On YouCincinnati Blues
Red NelsonCrying Mother BluesBroadcasting the Blues
Bill Gaither Pins And NeedlesBill Gaither Vol. 1 1935-1936
Ozella JonesI Been a Bad, Bad Girl (Prisoner Blues)Alan Lomax: Blues Songbook
Memphis MinnieI'm A Bad Luck WomanMemphis Minnie Vol. 2 1935-1936
Peetie WheatstrawWorking Man (Doing’ The Best I Can)Peetie Wheatstraw Vol. 3
Bumble Bee SlimThis Old Life I'm LivingBumble Bee Slim Vol. 5 1935-1936
Casey Biil Weldon Somebody Changed the Lock on That DoorCasey Bill Weldon Vol. 1 1935-1936
Oscar WoodsLone Wolf BluesTexas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace 1930-1938
Robert JohnsonLast Fair Deal Gone DownThe Centennial Collection
Sonny Boy NelsonPony BluesCatfish Blues: Mississippi Blues Vol. 3 1936-1942
Washboard SamMixed Up BluesWashboard Sam Vol. 1 1935-1936
The Hokum BoysNancy JaneThe Hokum Boys Vol. 2 & Bob Robinson 1935-1937
Lemuel JonesPo' FarmerField Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947
Elinor Boyer You're Gonna Need My Help SomedayField Recordings, Vol. 8: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi 1934-1947

Show Notes:

Walter Coleman: Mama Let Me Lay It On YouToday’s show is the tenth 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. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. Sales of blues records plummeted in the years 1931 through 1933. Things picked up again in 1934 with the companies recording full-scale again. It was the urban style of blues that now dominated the market – artists such as Tampa Red, Kokomo Arnold, Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Casey Bill Weldon, Bill Gaither  and Bumble Bee Slim recorded prolifically. Blind Boy Fuller was one of the few down-home artists whose sales could compete with urban artists (he cut ten titles in 1936).

Leroy Carr, who epitomized the urban blues, passed away in 1935 with the recording companies trying to cede the mantle to artists such as Bumble Bee Slim and Bill Gaither. Blues guitarist Bill Gaither cut well over a hundred sides for Decca and OKeh between 1931 and 1941. Gaither was close to the blues pianist Leroy Carr, and following Carr's death recorded under the moniker Leroy's Buddy for a time.

Casey Bill Weldon and Kokomo Arnold were two of the popular Chicago guitarists, alongside the well established Tampa Red.  Between 1927 and 1935 Weldon 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. 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. Arnold also did session work Casey Bill Weldon: Somebody Changed the Lock on That Doorbacking Peetie Wheatstraw, Roosvelt Sykes, Alice Moore (heard backing her on today's "Grass Cutter Blues"), Mary Johnson and others.

Of the recorded blues groups, the swinging, jazzy sound of  the Harlem Hamfats fit right in with the times. The Hamfats were a crack studio band formed in 1936 by black talent scout Mayo Williams. Its main function was backing jazz and blues singers such as Johnny Temple, Rosetta Howard, and Frankie "Half Pint" Jackson for Decca Records; The Hamfats' side career began when its first record "Oh Red" became a hit. The band included brothers Joe and Charlie McCoy ,leader Herb Morand, Odell Rand, and John Lindsay, Horace Malcolm and drummers Pearlis Williams and Freddie Flynn .

Among the popular woman of the day were Memphis Minnie, Georgia White, Lil Johnson while Victoria Spivey was one of the last hold outs from the era of the 1920's blues queens. Lil Johnson first recorded in Chicago in 1929 on five songs. She did not return to the recording studio until 1935. In 1936 and 1937, she recorded over 40 songs, mostly on the Vocalion label, some featuring Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Lee Collins on trumpet. Spivey updated her sound and waxed twelve sides in 1936 with a swinging band that featured the aforementioned Lee Collins. Spivey's "Black Snake Swing", backed by her Hallelujah Boys, was a jazzy remake of a song she recorded at her very first session in 1926.

From 1934 until 1945 there were three main race labels, all selling at 35 cents: Decca, the Brunswick Record Corporation's Vocalion, and RCA-Victor's Bluebird. There were two other labels that featured a fair number of blues during this period; the store group Montgomery Ward, with a label of the same name, drew at various times on Gennett, Decca and Bluebird and Sears Roebuck used ARC material on its Conqueror label. According to John Godrich and Robert M.W. Dixon in their classic book Recording The Blues, the record companies "had three way of unearthing new talent: by placing advertisements in local newspapers, especially just before a field unit was due in a nearby town; by just relying on Sonny Boy Nelson: Pony Blueschance comments from singers, concerning other who might be good recording propositions; and by employing their own talent scouts, who carry out steady, systematic searches. The last method was intensively employed in the the thirties – Rootlet Sykes, for instance, would find likely artists for Decca (or, sometimes, for Lester Melrose). But despite this, race catalogs in the thirties relied more heavily on a small nucleus of popular singers than they had in the twenties. …There was far less recording in the field in the 'thirties; in view of the popularity of the Chicago singers there was less need." Decca, for example, seems to have only gone South once, to New Orleans in 1936, where they recorded Walter Vincson and Oscar Woods.

Then there was Bluebird who over two days on October 15-16, 1936 conducted sessions at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Little Brother Montgomery cut eighteen sides plus backed singer Annie Turner on her four numbers (two were unissued), Sonny Boy Nelson (Eugene Powell) cut six sides under his own name as well as backing Robert Hill, who cut ten , and his wife Mississippi Matilda on her three sides. In addition Bo Carter cut ten sides, the Chatman brothers (Lonnie and Sam) cut twelve sides, Tommy Griffin cut a dozen sides and Walter Vincson  (as Walter Jacobs) cut two sides. As John Godrich and Howard Rye wrote in Recording The Blues: "The New Orleans session in 1936 was Victor's last substantial race field recording; in subsequent years they recorded a fair number of gospel quartets in he field, but only one or two unimportant blues singers."

ARC made field recordings in 1936 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Fort Worth Texas and San Antonio where they recorded Black Boy Shine and Robert Johnson. Harold Holiday, known as Black Boy Shine, was one of the acknowledged leaders among the Santa Fe group of pianists. He recorded more prolifically then the rest; cutting 18 issued sides in 1936 and 1937. Johnson recorded sixteen sides in November and a final thirteen sides in June the next year.

Record Sales Chart
Graph showing number of blues and gospel records issued by year from
the book Recording The Blues (click to enlarge)

The year 1936 saw some notable field recordings captured by John Lomax who traveled through Virginia, South Carolina and Florida collecting primarily from convicts. Recordings featured today include Ozella Jones' "I Been a Bad, Bad Girl (Prisoner Blues)", Josephine Parker's "I Got A Man In New Orleans" recorded in Parchman Farm, James Henry Diggs, who's "Freight Train Blues" features two guitars and a bugle and Jimmie Strothers, a blind banjo and guitar player from Virginia who recorded 15 tracks for Alan Lomax and Harold Spivacke.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Bumble Bee SlimBricks In My Pillow Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 3 1934-1935
Casey Bill WeldonSomebody Changed the Lock on That DoorCasey Bill Weldon Vol. 1 1935-1936
Kokomo ArnoldPolicy Wheel BluesKokomo Arnold Vol. 2 1935-1936
Walter RolandSchool-Boy BluesThe Essential
Lucille BoganShave em' DryThe Essential
Mississippi Moaner It's Cold In China BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II
Lane Hardin Hard Time BluesBlues Images Vol. 8
Memphis MinnieHustlin' Woman Blues Four Women Blues
Blind Boy FullerBaby, I Don't Have to Worry ('Cause That Stuff Is Here) Blind Boy Fuller Remastered
Blind Gary Davis I Belong To The Band - Hallelujah! Goodbye Babylon
Sleepy John EstesDrop Down MamaI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Bo CarterWhen Your Left Eye Go to JumpingBo Carter & The Mississippi Sheiks (JSP)
Walter DavisSloppy Drunk AgainFavorite Country Blues/Piano-Guitar Duets
Willie Lofton Dirty Mistreater Big Joe Williams & the Stars of Mississippi Blues
Johnnie TempleLead Pencil Blues (It Just Won't Write)The Essential
Joe McCoyLook Who's Coming Down The RoadWhen the Levee Breaks
Leroy Carr When The Sun Goes DownWhen The Sun Goes Down
Scrapper BlackwellAlley Sally Blues Scrapper Blackwell Vol. 2 1934-1958
Alice Moore Riverside BluesSt. Louis Bessie & Alice Moore Vol. 2 1934-1941
Barrel House Buck McFarlandWeeping Willow Blues Piano Blues Vol. 2 1927-1956
The Sparks BrothersTell Her About MeDown On The Levee: The Piano Blues of St. Louis
Joe PullumHard-Working Man BluesJoe Pullum Vol. 1 1934-1935
Robert Cooper West Dallas Drag No. 2Joe Pullum Vol. 1 1934-1935
Buddy MossGoing To Your Funeral In A Vee Eight Ford Buddy Moss Vol. 3 1935-1941
Blind Willie McTell Lay Some Flowers On My GraveThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Curley Weaver Tricks Ain't Walking No MoreAtlanta Blues
Big Bill BroonzyMountain BluesAll The Classic Sides 1928-1937
State Street BoysThe DozenHow Low Can You Go
Cripple Clarence LoftonBrown Skin GirlsThe Piano Blues Vol. 9
Otto Virgial Bad Notion BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II
Big Joe Williams Little Leg WomanBig Joe Williams Vol. 2 1945-49
Dr. ClaytonPeter's Blues Doctor Clayton & His Buddy 1933-47
Red NelsonDetroit SpecialRed Nelson 1935-1947
Freddie ShayneOriginal Mr. Freddie BluesMontana Taylor & 'Freddy' Shayne 1929-1946

Show Notes:

Casey Bill Weldon: Somebody Changed The Lock On The DoorToday’s show is the ninth 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. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. Sales of blues records plummeted in the years 1931 through 1933. Things picked up again in 1934 with the companies recording full-scale again. It was the urban style of blues that now dominated the market – artists such as Tampa Red, Kokomo Arnold, Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim and Leroy Carr recorded prolifically. During this period there was far less recording in the field during this period and in view of the popularity of Chicago singers there was less need.

According to John Godrich and Robert M.W. Dixon in their classic book Recording The Blues, the record companies "had three way of unearthing new talent: by placing advertisements in local newspapers, especially just before a field unit was due in a nearby town; by just relying on chance comments from singers, concerning other who might be good recording propositions; and by employing their own talent scouts, who carry out steady, systematic searches. The last method was intensively employed in the the thirties – Rootlet Sykes, for instance, would find likely artists for Decca (or, sometimes, for Lester Melrose). but despite this, race catalogs in the thirties relied more heavily on a small nucleus of popular singers than they had in the twenties."

Two down home singers who could hold their own in terms of popularity against the urban artists were Sleepy John Estes and Blind Boy Fuller.  Estes made his debut for Victor Mississippi Moaner: It's So Cold In Chinain 1929 while Fuller made his debut for Vocalion in 1935. 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 made his debut in 1935 and over the next five years he made over 120 sides.

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 at his third 1935 session.

With the popularity of the urban blues it's not surprising that Leroy Carr and his imitator, Bumble Bee Slim, recorded prolifically. In 1934 Slim waxed around fifty sides and roughly the same number in 1935.  Our selection, “Bricks In My Pillow”, was recorded in July in 1935 and covered by Big Bill Broonzy in December of the same year and in later years recorded by Robert Nighthawk. Leroy Carr died in 1935 at the age of 30. In February he cut his final eight song session. Scrapper Blackwell cut just over two-dozen sides under his own name between 1928 and 1935. He backed several other artists on record including Georgia Tom, Bumble Bee Slim, Black Bottom McPhail and Josh White among several others. He retired from the music industry not long after Carr’s death, making a brief comeback in the late 50's.

Big Bill Broonzy recorded around tw0-dozen sides in 1935 all featuring the prominent piano of Black Bob. Very little is known about Black Bob Hudson, except that he was a ragtime-influenced blues pianist who was active from the 1920's and 1930's, and worked with a who's who of Chicago talent including  Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Jazz Gillum, Lil Johnson, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill Weldon and  Tampa Red. Broonzy was also an active session guitarist and today we hear him backing the State Street Boys and pianist Cripple Clarence Lofton.

Lane Hardin: Hard Time BluesAlso featured today are a trio of musicians hailing from Jackson, Mississippi who recorded in Chicago. Johnnie Temple was part of a vibrant the 1920’s Jackson, MS scene, a city teeming with artists such as Tommy Johnson, Walter Vincson, Ishmon Bracey, the Chatmon Brothers, Skip James and Rube Lacey. Often, he performed with Charlie and Joe McCoy and also worked with Skip James. Temple moved to Chicago in the early 30’s, where he quickly became part of the town’s blues scene. From Temple's first session we spin his classic "Lead Pencil Blues" cut for Vocalion backed on second guitar by Charlie McCoy. Willie Lofton was also from Jackson which was the town he left when he traveled north to Chicago in the mid 1930's. He had two recording sessions in Chicago in August of 1934 and November of 1935 that produced eight sides. We also feature Joe McCoy's "Look Who's Coming Down The Road", recorded as Georgia Pine Boy, a variation on Tommy Johnson's "Maggie Campbell Blues."

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

Show Notes:

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

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

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

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

Banjo Ikey Robinson
Banjo Ikey Robinson

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

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

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

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

Teddy Bunn
Teddy Bunn

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

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

Related Articles:

-Charlie West  (Blues World 44, Autumn 1972)

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Big Bill Broonzy & Black BobI Can't Make You Satisfied All The Classic Sides
Cripple Clarence Lofton & Big Bill BroonzyBrown Skin GirlsCripple Clarence Vol.1 1935-1939
Charlie Spand & Blind BlakeHastings St. All The Published Sides
Will Ezell & Roosevelt GravesJust Can't StayWill Ezell 1927-1931
Roosevelt Sykes & Clifford GibsonTired Of Being Mistreated Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 1 1929-1930
St Louis Jimmy Poor Boy BluesJimmy Oden 1 Vol. 1932-1944
Roosevelt Sykes & Kokomo ArnoldThe Honey Dripper The Essential
Oscar "Buddy' Woods & the Wampus Cats Don't Sell It, Don't Give It AwayFavorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937
Rufus & Ben QuillianGood Feeling BluesUptown Blues: A Decade Of Guitar Piano Duets 1927-1937
Walter Davis & Henry Townsend Sloppy Drunk AgainFavorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937
Bill Gaither & Honey HillPins And Needles Bill Gaither Vol. 1 1935-1936
Coletha SimpsonLonesome Lonesome Blues
Blue Girls Vol. 1 1924-1930
Georgia WhiteNew Hot NutsGeorgia White Vol. 1 1930-1936
Mack Rhinehart & Brownie StubblefieldIf I Leave Here RunningDeep South Blues Piano 1935-1937
Joe EvansShook It This Morning BluesDown In Black Bottom
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellI Believe I'll Make a ChangeWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave
Leroy Carr & Scrapper BlackwellPapa's On The House TopSloppy Drunk
Georgia Tom & Scrapper BlackwellGee, But It's Hard Georgia Tom Vol. 2 1930-1934
Lovin' Sam Theard I Ain't No Ice ManLovin' Sam Theard 1929-1936
Big Maceo & Tampa RedCounty Jail BluesBig Maceo Vol. 1
Frank "Springback" James & Willie Bee JamesPoor Coal LoaderThe Piano Blues Vol. 12
Curtis Jones & Willie B. JamesDrinking And Thinking BluesCurtis Jones Vol. 1 1937-1938
Charlie West & Black BobHobo BluesRare 1930's & 40's Blues Vol. 3
Lil JohnsonHouse Rent Scuffle Shake Your Wicked Knees
Willie Harris & Charles AveryWest Side BluesDown In Black Bottom
Red NelsonDetroit SpecialRed Nelson 1935-1947
Leroy HenderonGood Scuffler Blues Charley Jordan Vol. 3 1935-1937
Bumble Bee Slim This Old Life I'm Living Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 5 1935-1936
Peanut The Kidnapper (James Sherrill) & Robert McCoyEighth Avenue Blues Alabama & The East Coast 1933-1937
Leola ManningThe Blues Is All WrongFavorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937
Walter Roland & Sonny ScottRailroad Stomp Walter Roland Vol. 1 1933
Bo Carter & Harry ChatmanWhen Your Left Eye Go To JumpingBo Carter Vol. 3 1934 - 1936

Show Notes:

Read Liner Notes

Today's show is a companion to the guitar duets show we aired a couple of weeks back. This time we spotlight some great piano/guitar duets from the 20's through the 40's. The style was popularized by the huge success of pianist Leroy Carr and his guitarist Scrapper Blackwell who's recordings were immensely popular and influential. The duo recorded hundreds of sides between 1928 and 1935. Many artists patterned themselves after the duo including recording artists Bill Gaither, Bumble Bee Slim, Frank "Springback” James all of whom we feature today. There were a number of excellent guitar/piano teams, most relatively short-lived such as Big Bill Broonzy with mysterious pianist Black Bob, Tampa Red with pianist Georgia Tom in the late 20's and 30's and with pianist Big Maceo in the 40's, and the lengthy partnership of Walter Davis and guitarist Henry Townsend. For the majority of today's selections I've chosen sides where both the pianist and guitarist play on equal terms.

Between 1928 and 1935 Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell cut a remarkably consistent body of work of hundreds of sides, notable for the impeccable guitar/piano interplay. Teamed with the exemplary guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis, Leroy Carr became one of the biggest blues stars of his day, composing and recording almost 200 sides during his short lifetime. Carr met guitarist Scrapper Blackwell in Indianapolis in 1928 and the duo began performing together. Shortly afterward they were recording for Vocalion, releasing “How Long How Long Blues” before the year was finished. The song was an instant, surprise hit. For the next seven years, Carr and Blackwell would record a number of classic songs for Vocalion, including “Midnight Hour Blues,” “Blues Before Sunrise,” “Hurry Down Sunshine,” “When The Sun Goes Down,” and many others. Blackwell did some moonlighting away from Carr, cutting his own sides and backing other artists. We also feature him cutting loose on "Gee, But It's Hard" as he backs pianist Georgia Tom.

One disciple of Carr was guitarist Bill Gaither who cut well over a hundred sides for Decca and OKeh between 1931 and 1941. Gaither was close to the blues pianist Leroy Carr, and following Carr’s death in 1935, he recorded under the moniker Leroy’s Buddy for a time. A fine guitarist who possessed a warm, expressive voice, Gaither was also at times a gifted and inventive lyricist. He was often partnered with pianist George “Honey” Hill, and the duo patterned themselves after Carr and his guitarist, Scrapper Blackwell. Our selection, the bouncy "Pins And Needles", is fine showcase for their well honed interplay.

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Amos Easton, known professionally as Bumble Bee Slim, was another artist who molded himself after Leroy Carr. While he played guitar on his first session in 1931, afterwards he stuck to vocals, often employing a shifting piano/guitar backing that included pianists such as Myrtle Jones, Jimmie Gordon, Horance Malcolm and Black Bob and guitarists such as Willie Bee James, Big Bill Broonzy, Carl Martin, Casey Bill Weldon and Bill Gaither. "This Old Life I'm Living" is one of my favorite numbers by Easton sporting immaculate lap steel from Casey Bill Weldon and piano from Myrtle Jenkins.

Chicago blues pianist Frank "Springback" James made records with four different companies during the 1930's, playing and singing in a style that revealed a strong Leroy Carr influence. He cut 18 sides between 1934 and 1938. He often worked with guitarist Willie B. James. Despite being a prolific session guitarist, nothing is known of James who backed artists such as Bumble Bee Slim, Merline Johnson, Curtis Jones, Tampa Red, John Henry Barbee and others. We hear James today backing Curtis Jones on "Drinking And Thinking Blues" (he appears on several of Jones' 30's sessions), backing Red Nelson on "Long Ago Blues" with pianist Charles Avery and playing behind Charlie West on "Hobo Blues" along with pianist Black Bob.

There were a number of notable guitar/piano teams, some relatively long lasting, others more fleeting; among them we spotlight recordings by Walter Davis and Henry Townsend, Big Bill Broonzy and Black Bob, Big Maceo and Tampa Red, Walter Roland and Sonny Scott, Mack Rhinehart and Brownie Stubblefield and Charlie Spand and Blind Blake. Walter Davis and Henry Townsend played on numerous sessions together from the 1930's through the 1950's. Today we we feature the uncharacteristically uptempo "Sloppy Drunk Again."

Very little is known about Black Bob Hudson, except that he was a blues pianist who was active from the 1920's and 1930's. While he didn't cut any sides under his own name he backed a staggering number of renowned artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Jazz Gillum, Lil Johnson, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill Weldon, Tampa Red and many others. Broonzy and Bob cut dozens of sides together between 1934 and 1937.

Blues writer Chris Smith wrote the following about Big Maceo: “On both slow blues and boogies, Big Maceo played powerful, sometimes challengingly chromatic bass figures and anvil-sparkling right-hand flourishes and solos. He could be a jovial singer, but more typical were husky, plaintive, fatalistic accounts of trouble with women and the law.  …His playing and Tampa Red’s amplified guitar foreshadow the sound of postwar Chicago.” His short career spanned the years 1941 through 1950, where he recorded just over three dozen sides as well as backing partner Tampa Red on eighteen sides and providing session work behind Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jazz Gillum and John & Grace Brim.

Walter Roland recorded over ninety issued sides for ARC as a soloist and accompanist. Roland partnered Lucille Bogan when they recorded for the ARC labels between 1933 and 1935, in the course of which, he recorded in his own right. He recorded several sides with guitarist Sonny Scott including our selection, the rollicking instrumental "Railroad Stomp."

Mack Rhinehart and Brownie Stubblefield were a piano/guitar team that cut a dozen sides in 1936 and 1937. Rhinehart also recorded solo as Blind Mack in 1935 but only two of his ten sides were ever released.  According to Blues & Gospel Records some twenty-two sides by the duo remain unissued. Nothing is known about the duo although noted researcher David Evans called Rhinehart "a major artist" with "an outstanding recorded legacy."

*The superb "West Side Blues" by Willie Harris and Charles Avery provides today's show title with the spoken aside probably by Coletha Simpson. Harris along with pianist James Williams backs Simpson on "Lonesome Lonesome Blues" which is also featured today.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Eddie Kirkland Have Mercy On Me It's The Blues Man!
Eddie Kirkland I'm Gonna Forget You BabyIt's The Blues Man!
Bobby Leecan & Robert CookseyWhiskey And Gin Blues Mama Let Me Lay It On You
Casey Bill WeldonTalkin' to MyselfCasey Bill Weldon Vol. 2 1936-1937
James "Yank" RachelHobo BluesYank Rachell Vol. 2 1934-1941
Tampa RedPlease Mr DoctorDown Home Blues Classics - Chicago (1946-1954)
Little Willie Foster Falling Rain Blues Down Home Blues Classics - Chicago (1946-1954)
Pee Wee CraytonI Love Her StillBlues After Dark
Blues Slim Tell The TruthWest Coast Guitar Killers Vol. 2
Red Nelson Working Man Blues Red Nelson 1935-1947
Red Nelson You Done Me Wrong Red Nelson 1935-1947
Red Nelson Home Last Night Red Nelson 1935-1947
Eddie MorganRock House Blues The Piano Blues Vol. 13: Central Highway
Clarence JohnsonJelly's BluesThe Piano Blues Vol. 10: Territory Blues
Alfoncy HarrisSouth Land BluesThe Piano Blues Vol. 10: Territory Blues
Clarence JohnsonYou're Always Messin' 'Round With My ManLow Down Papa
Sonny TerryI'm Afraid Of Fire Wizard of the Harmonica
Sonny TerryThe Harmonica BluesWizard of the Harmonica
Ruth WillisMan Of My OwnCountry Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Lillian Miller You Just Can't Keep A Good Woman DownTexas Girls 1926-1929
Edna Winston Rent Man BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Clifton Chenier Where Can My Baby BeBayou Drive
Boogie JakeEarly Morning Blues Bayou Drive
Mercy Dee WaltonRoamin' BluesGI Fever
Mercy Dee WaltonWalked Down So Many TurnrowsTroublesome Mind
Doug Quattlebaum Whiskey Headed WomanSoftee Man Blues
Johnny Shines Red Sun Too Wet Too Plow
Smoky BabeBoogyBlues Roots: Give Me The Blues
Sonny Boy WilliamsonKeep It To Yourself Live In Europe
Snooky PryorGoing Back on the RoadGonna Pitch a Boogie Woogie
Eddie KirklandI Tried To Be A FriendThe Complete Trix Recordings
Eddie KirklandHard To Raise A Family TodayThe Complete Trix Recordings

Show Notes:

We open and close today's mix show on a somber note with sides by the recently departed Eddie Kirkland. Along the way we play a set of fine sides by the little remembered Red Nelson, excellent late period sides by Sonny Terry, twin spins of piano blues by Mercy Dee Walton and Clarence Johnson, superb Chicago blues and a set of forgotten woman blues singers.

Eddie Kirkland died on Feb. 27, at 87, in a Tampa, Fla., hospital, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident as he drove between gigs that morning. He was brought up around Dothan, AL, before heading north to Detroit in 1943. There he hooked up with John Lee Hooker five years later, recording with him for Chess and Modern in 1951 and under his own name for RPM in 1952, King in 1953, and Fortune in 1959. Tru-Sound Records, a Prestige subsidiary, invited Kirkland to Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in 1961-62 to wax his first album, It's the Blues Man! backed by a tough little band featuring featuring King Curtis on sax. This may be Kirkland's finest statement on record and we open with two powerhouse tracks from that album. Just over a decade later he cut perhaps his second best sessions,  a pair of records for Pete Lowry's Trix label in the early 70's. Front and Center finds Kirkland mining country-blues while The Devil and Other Blues Demons finds him backed by a full band. Both albums were collected on the 2-CD set The Complete Trix Recordings. Kirkland went on to record steadily through the decades, cutting solid records for Telarc, JSP and Blue Suit but never quite matched those earlier recordings.

I was reading a post on one of the blues forums where someone was inquiring about blues singer Red Nelson. There's not much information on him outside of what I gleaned from the Encyclopedia of the Blues: "Nelson Wilborn, better known as Red Nelson, or Dirty Red, was born in Sumner, Mississippi, in 1907. A fine, capable vocalist, he moved to Chicago in the early 1930's and was a prominent recording artist from 1935 to 1947. His recordings with pianist Clarence Lofton, especially "Streamline Train" and "Crying Mother Blues," are probably his best work. In the 1960's he performed locally with the Muddy Waters Band." The bulk of his sides are collected on the Old Tramp CD Red Nelson – 1935-1947. I've played the tunes he did with Lofton on prior shows ("Sweetest Thing Born b/w When The Soldiers Get Their Bonus" were also recorded with Lofton and like the above cuts are not on the Old Tramp CD) so I decided to dig out the Nelson CD. Nelson is a fine singer with a nasal tinge who sings with plenty of feeling on 1937's "Working Man Blues" backed by Big Bill Broonzy and John Davis and pair of sides from 1947 backed by a guitarist who sides quite a bit like Lonnie Johnson.

Sonny Terry is also featured on today's show with a pair of late period sides from the outstanding 1971 Storyville album Wizard of the Harmonica. Terry is indelibly linked to his long time partner Brownie McGhee who appears several tracks on this album, with the two having remarkably long careers; both began recording in the 30's with Terry making has last recordings in the early 80's while McGhee made his final sides in the early 90's. Despite the longevity, and a stack of great recordings, they often get snubbed by blues fans. When reviewing Chris Smith's That's the Stuff The Recordings of Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Stick McGhee and J C Burris, Ray Templeton wrote: "Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, while probably among the most famous names of all blues singers, particularly to people over the age of 40, are among the least respected among the majority of those who would describe themselves as blues fans." I'm not going to discuss the merits of the duo (I've played them often on my program) but certainly Wizard of the Harmonica is a terrific outing. Recorded over two days in Copenhagen, this is a mostly familiar set list but finds Terry in inspired form. Terry shouts and wails the blues on the rousing "The Harmonica Blues" and takes it down home on the beautifully sung "I'm Afraid Of Fire."

We spotlight several fine piano players today including Mercy Dee Walton and Clarence Johnson. Walton was from Texas and had played piano around Waco from the age of 13 before hitting the coast in 1938. He made his debut on record in 1949 with "Lonesome Cabin Blues" for the tiny Spire logo, which became a national R&B hit. Those sides were cut in Fresno, but Los Angeles is where he cut some of his best sessions for Imperial in 1950 and Specialty in 1952-53. After a lengthy layoff, Walton returned to the studio in 1961, recording prolifically for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie label with K.C. Douglas on guitar,  harpist Sidney Maiden and drummer Otis Cherry (some of this material ended up on Prestige's Bluesville subsidiary). It's very fortunate that Strachwitz took an interest in documenting Walton, for in December of 1962, the pianist died. Walton was an expressive singer, a witty and original lyricist and played some sparse, down home piano. His unique turn with a phrase is heard to good effect on 1950's "Roamin' Blues" cut for Imperial:

Don't ever become a rambler, if you ever expect things to come your way (2x)
Or riding rails and handouts will become your hobby and the garbage can will be your plate

The Clarence Johnson collection, Low Down Papa, just issued on the Delmark label contains some of the rarest piano solos ever made. These performances were originally recorded in Chicago during the mid to late 1920's by the Capitol Music Roll Company and issued as nickelodeon piano rolls. In 2007 Delmark issued Jimmy Blythe's Messin' Around Blues from the same set of rolls. These solos were recorded using modern recording techniques from a "live" player piano and unlike 78's from the era the sound is crystal clear. This collection is particularly valuable because Johnson never cut any 78's under his own name. He did, however, back several singers including Edna Hicks, Sara Martin, Lizzie Miles, Monette Moore and others. Today we spin the rocking title track and the stately "You're Always Messin' 'Round With My Man."

Piano rolls were first produced in the early 1880's and their popularity led to hundreds of companies worldwide producing rolls during the peak period of their popularity (1900–1927). Of interest to piano blues fans are rolls made by Jelly Roll Morton, Charles 'Cow Cow' Davenport, James P Johnson, Hersal Thomas and Fats Waller among others. In addition to the Delmark collections I would recommend checking out the Biograph label who has issued several fine collections of piano rolls including Boogie Woogie Blues, an excellent compilation and good starting point. I'll be featuring more piano rolls on future shows.

On today's program we play some terrific sides of Chicago blues from the1950's and 60's. From 1953, the tail end of his lengthy career, we hear "Please Mr. Doctor" by Tampa Red. The song was part of a four-song session recorded for the Sabre label under the pseudonym Jimmy Eager with Lefty Bates laying down some tough electric guitar. From 1951 we play Little Willie Foster's plaintive "Falling Rain Blues" as he blows some mean amplified harp. Foster moved from Clarksdale to Chicago in the early 40's and fell in playing harmonica with Floyd Jones, Lazy Bill Lucas and cousin "Baby Face" Leroy Foster. He waxed two sides for Blue Lake in 1951 and two for Cobra in 1956. Shortly after this last session he was seriously wounded by a gunshot which ended his career. Foster passed in 1987. Foster was described by Snooky Pryor as "a good harmonica player, but kind of a terrible rough little guy." Speaking of Pryor we spotlight his 1952 J.O.B. gem, the stomping " Going Back on the Road." We jump up to 1963, and across the ocean, to hear Sonny Boy Williamson delivering a charming, knockout rendition of his "Keep It To Yourself."

We spend some time with a trio of little remembered blues ladies: Ruth Willis, Lillian Miller and Edna Winston. Willis' first session was for Columbia in Atlanta in October 1931, when she was accompanied by Blind Willie McTell on four tracks: "Rough Alley Blues", "Talkin' To You Wimmen About The Blues", "Experience Blues" and "Painful Blues." The first two were issued as a single on the OKeh label, billed as by Mary Willis, accompanied by Blind Willie McTell; the other two tracks were issued as a Columbia single as by Ruth Day accompanied by Blind Sammie. A week later, she made another OKeh single, "'Low Down Blues b/w Merciful Blues", accompanied this time not only by McTell but by his friend Curley Weaver, and issued as by Mary Willis. She had one more day in the studio – in New York City, in January 1933, this time without McTell. She passed in 1962. Miller cut five songs at sessions in 1926 and 1928 while Winston cut only five songs at sessions in 1926 and 1927. Winston's singing has a dramatic feel and while nothing is known of her it hints at a possible stage or vaudeville background.  Although all Miller's sides are on Document's Texas Girls 1926-1929, there's speculation she may not have been from Texas. Regardless of geography she turns in a marvelous performance on "You Just Can't Keep A Good Woman Down" where she delivers the memorable line:

Sweet sixteen and I never been refused (2x)
I've got a brand new car daddy, never been used

I should also mention a pair of sides by Clifton Chenier and Boogie Jake from the Chess LP Bayou Drive. Phil and Leonard Chess came relatively late to New Orleans, following the lead of DeLuxe, Coleman, Regal, Star Talent, Atlantic, Mercury, Imperial, Federal, Aladdin, Specialty, Savoy and other small labels. Under pianist Paul Gayten's brilliant direction Chess Records developed a small but extremely potent roster of Crescent City artists that included Bobby Charles, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Eddie Bo, T.V. Slim and Charles "Hungry" Williams. In addition Chess picked up several masters cut in Los Angeles by the great Louisiana bluesman Clifton Chenier in the fall of 1956. They also released sides by Baton Rogue artist Boogie Jake which were originally issued on the Minit label. The Chenier cut., "Where Can My Baby Be", was unreleased at the time and de-emphasizes his zydeco sound in favor of some decidedly low-down blues.


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