|Julius Daniels||Ninety-Nine Year Blues||Atlanta Blues|
|Blind Willie McTell||King Edward Blues||The Classic Years 1927-1940|
|Cousin Leroy||Crossroads||Livin' That Wild Life: Herald/Ember Blues & Gospel Masters|
|Cousin Leroy||Waitin' At The Station||Livin' That Wild Life: Herald/Ember Blues & Gospel Masters|
|T-Bone Walker||Here In The Dark||Complete Recordings of T-Bone Walker 1940-1954|
|Hot Lips Page Trio||Thirsty Mama Blues||The Very Best Of Teddy Bunn|
|Champion Jack Dupree||She's Gone||Early Cuts|
|Ma Rainey||Chain Gang Bound||Mother Of The Blues|
|Mattie Delaney||Tallahatchie River Blues||Blues Images Vol. 3|
|Georgia Boyd||Never Mind Blues||St. Louis 1927-1933|
|Lonnie Johnson||Blue And All Alone||Blues, Ballads And Jumpin' Jazz Vol. 2|
|Percy Mayfield||Highway Is Like A Woman||Blues Laureate: RCA Years|
|Eddie Vinson||I'm Gonna Wind Your Clock||Ham Hocks And Cornbread|
|Sonny Boy Nelson||Pony Blues||Catfish Blues - Mississippi Blues Vol. 3|
|Robert Petway||Ride 'Em On Down||Catfish Blues - Mississippi Blues Vol. 3|
|Tommy McLennan||Cotton Patch Blues||Complete Bluebird Recordings|
|Jack Owens||B & O Blues||Goin' Up The Country|
|Bill "Boogie Bill" Webb||Love Me Mama||Rural Blues Vol. 1|
|Sonny Boy Williamson||Miss Stella Brown Blues||The Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2|
|Sonny Boy Williamson||Better Cut That Out||The Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2|
|Baby Face Leroy||Red Headed Woman||The Blues World Of Little Walter|
|Magic Sam||Call Me If You Need Me||With a Feeling 57-67: The Cobra, Chief & Crash Recordings|
|Whispering Smith||Crying Blues||More Louisiana Swamp Blues|
|Walter 'Cowboy' Washington||West Dallas Woman||The Piano Blues Vol. 8: Texas Seaport 1934-1937|
|St. Louis Jimmy||Good Luck Blues||Livin' That Wild Life: Herald/Ember Blues & Gospel Masters|
|Eddie Boyd||Lonesome For My Baby||Livin' That Wild Life: Herald/Ember Blues & Gospel Masters|
|Blind Joe Reynolds||Cold Woman Blues||Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues|
|Kansas Joe McCoy||Joilet Blues||Tommy Johnson And Associates|
|Hop Wilson||My Woman Has A Black Cat Bone||Steel Guitar Flash|
As we take a pause between theme shows we turn to a wide ranging mix show, spanning the years 1925 through 1970. We spin several thematic sets including a twin spin of sides by Sonny Boy Williamson I, a batch of sides from the recent 2-CD collection collection Livin' That Wild Life – The Herald-Ember Blues & Gospel Masters Vol. 1 and a the usual mix of excellent pre-war blues.
We spotlight a pair of superb post-war sides by Sonny Boy that come from the 4-CD JSP set The Original Sonny Boy Williamson: The Later Years 1939-1947 which collects all the sides he waxed between 1944 through 1947. Talking about the 1946 session that produced one of our selections, Neil Slaven writes: "Sonny Boy's next three sessions represented his golden age- when song after song underlined his new-found maturity. Sonny Boy's Cold Chills, Hoodoo Hoodoo, Shake The Boogie, Mellow Chick Swing, Polly Put Your Kettle On, Apple Tree Swing, all benefited from the work of Blind John Davis, Eddie Boyd, Willie Lacey, Big Bill Broonzy, Ransom Knowling, Willie Dixon and Charles Sanders. These were the songs that influenced a generation of singers and laid the groundwork for the ascendancy of Chicago blues over the next decade." From his very last session, in November 1947 we spin the romping "Better Cut That Out." There's little doubt Sonny Boy would have been a major force on the vibrant Chicago blues scene of the 50's and would have thrived during the blues revival of the 60's, undoubtedly playing Europe to adoring fans. Sadly it was not to be, Sonny Boy's blazing career came to a untimely end with his murder in June 1948.
We spotlight four tracks from the fine recent 2-CD collection on Acrobat, Livin' That Wild Life – The Herald-Ember Blues & Gospel Masters Vol. 1. Herald was founded in 1951 by music veteran Fred Mendelsohn but was inactive until he took on partners Al Silverman and Jack Braverman. Herald issued some terrific blues including tracks by Little Walter, St. Louis Jimmy, Cousin Leroy and some of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ best sides. Among those tracks are cuts by St. Louis Jimmy which was originally recorded for De Luxe in 1949 and Eddie Boyd's "Lonesome For My Baby" which was first issued on Regal in 1950 before being picked up by Herald. We also feature two tracks by the mysterious Cousin Leroy. Nothing is known about him except that he cut two sides for Groove in 1955 and several for Herald and Ember in 1957. He was backed by great musicians including Larry dale, Sonny Terry and Champion Jack Dupree. Leroy's songs are mainly reworking of traditional material including the ominous "Crossroads" which incorporated Muddy Waters' "Rolling Stone" with references to the the crossroads myth:
Well I walked down, by the crossroad
Just to learn how, to play my guitar
Well a man walked up, 'son let me tune it'
That was the devil (2x)
Today's program features a set of fine blues ladies including Ma Rainey, Mattie Delaney and Georgia Boyd. Rainey first appeared onstage in 1900, singing and dancing in minstrel and vaudeville stage revues. In 1902 she married the song and dance man William "Pa" Rainey and from then on became known as Ma Rainey. The couple formed a song and dance act that included Blues and popular songs and toured the country, but primarily the South. It was not until 1923 that Ma Rainey signed a recording contract with Paramount. She was billed as the "Mother of the Blues", which wasn't far off the mark. She ended up recording 100 songs between 1923 and 1928 on Paramount Records. Nothing is known of Delaney and Boyd who each cut a lone 78. In 1930 Delaney cut two magnificent numbers for Vocalion, "Down The Big Road Blues b/w Tallahatchie River Blues" featuring herself on guitar. In 1933 Boyd cut "Never Mind Blues b/w I'm Sorry Blues" with J.D. Short laying down some tough guitar on the former.
In 1936, Eugene Powell, along with Mississippi Matilda, Willie Harris and some of the Chatmon family traveled to New Orleans to record for the Bluebird label. Setting up at the St. Charles Hotel, Powell cut six sides during these sessions under the moniker Sonny Boy Nelson. Among these numbers were classics such as "Street Walkin' Woman" and our selection "Pony Blues". He also accompanied Matilda on four tracks and harmonica player Robert Hill on 10 more. It would be another 34 years before Eugene Powell would have the opportunity to record again.
Also from the pre-war era, we spin numbers by Robert Petway and his pal Tommy McClennan. Little biographical information is available on Robert Petway. He was the first to record “Catfish Blues” which became a blues standard and may have composed the song. Big Bill Broonzy reported to researcher Paul Oliver that Petway played with Tommy McClennan and that the two grew up together as kids. McClennan was born and raised on the J. F. Sligh farm about ten miles north of Yazoo City in 1908 and it seems likely from Broonzy's recollection that Petway was about the same age and raised on the same farm.
McClennan was an influence on David “Honeyboy” Edwards, who learned songs like “Catfish Blues” and "Bullfrog" from him. In another account Edwards states that he learnt “Catfish Blues” in person from Petway. McClennan was stylistically similar to Petway because the two played together often. McClennan and Petway would play at house parties, and in the juke joint at Three Forks crossroads, famous now as the place where Robert Johnson was poisoned. In 1939 McClennan moved to Chicago and had three successful recording sessions by the time Petway had his first. It seems likely that McClennan sent for Petway to come to Chicago and record. Petway recorded eight sides for Bluebird Records in 1941 and followed those up with eight more in 1942.
McClennan's brand of rough-around-the-edges blues is not far removed from singer Walter "Cowboy" Washington who Paul Oliver called a "bar-fly on the waterfront who worked as a cowpuncher." Backed by the superb piano of Andy Boy the rough voiced singer tells a gritty tale in his "West Dallas Woman" about a woman (a reference to Houston's Fourth Ward) who's "trying to make twenty-five cents just to get a half-a-pint of corn." Washington cut just four sides in San Antonio in 1937 including another gritty number, "Ice Pick Mama."
Also worth mentioning are tracks by Percy Mayfield, Hot Lips Page and Baby Face Leroy Foster. Mayfield’s main hit making period was from 1950-1952 when he scored seven top ten hits for the Specialty label including “Please Send Me Someone To Love”, the biggest hit ever for the label. Much less well known are the trio of superb records he cut for RCA in the 1970's, all unfortunately out of print: Percy Mayfield Sings Percy Mayfield (1970), Weakness Is A Thing Called Man (1970) and Blues…And Then Some (1971). 25 tracks from these albums are available on the CD Blues Laureate: RCA Years.
Between 1948 and 1952 Baby Face Leroy Foster waxed a handful absolutely terrific sides under his own name for a number fledgling Chicago labels aided by some of the windy city’s best blues musicians. In addition his vocals, drumming, and guitar playing can be found backing some of the greatest Chicago blues records of the era. His death in 1958, at the age of 38, robbed the blues world of a singular, memorable talent.
Known as a scorching soloist and powerful vocalist, Oran “Hot Lips” Page was one of the Midwest's top trumpet players. He began his professional touring career when he joined “Ma” Rainey's band in the 1920s. Page traveled the Southwest with Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and other touring acts. From 1928 to 1931 Page was a member of the Blue Devils; in 1932 he joined Bennie Moten’s orchestra, remaining until 1935. After Moten's death, he continued to work with Count Basie. He recorded as the Hot Lips Page Trio for Bluebird in 1940 before joining Artie Shaw where he worked from 1941-1942. Starting in 1944 he recorded for Commodore and Savoy, fronting his own. In May 1949, Page traveled for the first time to Europe, where he played at the Jazz Festival in Paris. He visited Europe again in 1951 and 1952, to make a tour of Scandinavia and France. From 1952 until his health began to deteriorate in 1953, he worked various jazz shows around the United States. "Thirsty Mama Blues" from 1940 sports some melancholy blowing, a fine world weary vocal from page reminiscent of Jimmy Rushing and some knockout guitar from Teddy Bunn. It's not surprising the song is featured on the CD The Very Best Of Teddy Bunn 1937-1940.