Entries tagged with “Teddy Bunn”.


ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Luther Stoneham January 11, 1949 Blues The Mercury Blues Story
Lightnin' HopkinsMoanin' BluesLightnin' Special Vol. 2
Blind Connie Williams St. Louis Blues Philadelphia Street Singer
Blind Connie Williams Mother Left Me Standing on the Highway Philadelphia Street Singer
Bessie Smith The Gin House Blues The Complete Recordings (Frog)
Clara SmithJelly Look What You Done Done Clara Smith Vol. 5 1927-1929
Esther PhillipsI Paid My Dues The Early Hits 1949-54
Gabriel Brown I Get Evil When My Love Comes DownShake That Thing: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
John Henry BarbeeI Know She Didn't Love Me Down Home Slide
Ranie Burnette Two And Two BluesRanie Burnette's Hill Country Blues
Cecil Barfield I Woke Up CryingCecil Barfield: The George Mitchell Collection
Ed Lewis Lucky HollerBroadcasting the Blues
Jaybird Coleman Coffee Grinder Blues Jaybird Coleman & The Birmingham Jug Band 1927-1930
Ollis Martin & Jaybird Coleman Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' DownThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Baby Boy Warren Somebody Put Bad Luck On MeDetroit Blues: Blues from the Motor City
Snooky Pryor You Tried To Ruin MeA Taste Of The Blues Vol. 2
Bobby Long The Pleasure Is All MineNew York On Fire: Bobby's Harlem Rock Vol.2
Magic Sam That's All I NeedLive At The Avant Garde
Magic Sam Don't Want No WomanLive At The Avant Garde
Teddy Bunn I've Come A Long Ways BabyThe Very Best Of Teddy Bunn 1937-1940
T-Bone WalkerBlues For MariliT-Bone Blues
Calvin FrazierSweet Lucy 78
Pee Wee Crayton Blues Before DawnComplete Aladdin & Imperial Recordings
Charlie McFadden Harvest Moon BluesCharlie McFadden 1929-1937
Willie "Long Time" Smith Homeless BluesNews & the Blues: Telling It Like It Is
Roosevelt Sykes Low Land BluesRoosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 1951-1957
Meade Lux Lewis & Big Joe Turner Low Down DogThe Piano Blues Vol. 21: Unfinished Boogie 1938-1945
Furry Lewis Cannon Ball Blues Blues Images Vol. 8
Furry Lewis Fury's Blues Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go
Laura Dukes Little Laura's Blues Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
Dewey Corley Fishing In The Dark Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
Bukka White I'm Getting Ready, My Time Done ComeBukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
J.T. Brown When I Was a LadJ.T. Brown 1950-1954
Jimmy WitherspoonI'm Going Round In CirclesI'll Be Right On Down: The Modern Recordings 1947-1953

Show Notes: 

Blind Connie WilliamsWhen putting together these shows I usually draw from a long list of show ideas I've jotted down over the years. Things are a bit jumbled right now as I have several shows lined up that revolve around other people's schedules. Without giving too much away, the next few months will see several very interesting interviews and features so you may notice that the list of upcoming shows on this website may get shuffled around until everything is lined up.  As for today's show we have wide range of blues including lots of down-home blues including twin spins of street singer Blind Connie Williams, two songs decades apart by Furry Lewis, several artists recorded in the field in the 70's by Gianni Marcucci including by Bukka White, Laura Dukes and Dewey Corley. In addition we hear a set of fine piano men, several top notch blues ladies and ace guitar players like T-Bone Walker and Calvin Frazier. We also spin two from a geat new Magic Sam live set.

According to Pete Welding's booklet notes, Connie Williams was born blind in southern Florida circa 1915 to parents who were migrant farm workers. During his youth, he attended the St. Petersburg School for the Blind (also Ray Charles' alma mater) and became sufficiently proficient on guitar to begin a career as a street musician in the 1930's. He eventually settled in Philadelphia in 1935 and often traveled to New York City, where he plied his trade in Harlem during his visits. It was there that he met Rev. Gary Davis, whose influence can be heard in Williams' guitar and singing style." Welding discovered Williams performing sanctified numbers to accordion accompaniment in a historically black neighborhood of Philadelphia sometime in 1961.  After striking up a friendship, Williams revealed to the music writer that he had originally been a guitarist but used an accordion because it could be more easily heard and required less physical effort to play. Not long afterward, Welding purchased a guitar for him. After reacquainting himself with the instrument. The recordings were not released on his Testament label until 1974 on the album Philadelphia Street Singer.

Furry Lewis: Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go
Read Liner Notes

While hundreds of blues artists got on record in the 1920's and 30's, the commercial heyday of the blues, numerous other talented artists never got the opportunity while some others had to wait decades for their chance like celebrated bluesmen such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Mance Lipscomb.  While not nearly as well known Cecil Barfield and Ranie Burnett made their debuts in the 1970's and left behind a small but strong body of work. Barfield was recorded by George Mitchell who called him "probably the greatest previously unrecorded bluesman I have had the pleasure of recording during my 15 years of field research." Using the name William Robertson, in fear of endangering his welfare checks, he cut the LP South Georgia Blues for Southland in the mid-70's with several other tracks appearing on Flyright’s Georgia Blues Today (reissued by Fat Possum). I imagine Barfield is an acquired taste but to me he is simply mesmerizing; his music, with his droning, lightly distorted electric guitar coupled with his powerful mushed mouth, nasal singing, is hypnotic. Barfield has some originals but his genius is in the way he transforms well known songs into something startlingly original.

Burnette was born in 1913 in Pleasant Grove, MS and in the 40's and 50's played local dances and juke joints in North Mississippi. He wasn't record extensively until the 80's with recordings appearing on High Water and Swingmaster. He did record some sides for David Evans in the 70's.

As the notes to Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7 relate: "The three Memphis blues musicians featured in this album were all recorded on the memorable day of 27 December 1972: Bukka White at his home; Laura Dukes at Furry Lewis’ home; and Dewey Corley at Memphis Piano Red’s home." The recordings were made by Gianni Marcucci who came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. The original albums that collected these recordings are long been out-of-print. All these recordings will be issued as 15 volume series both digitally and on CD on his Mbirafon imprint. I've been corresponding with Marcucci and with his help will be doing an in-depth series of shows on these recordings. At Marcucci's prompting I've pushed this show back until he completes his issuing of the Blues At Home series. These recordings originally came out on Albatros but as Marcucci made clear to me his "experience with Albatros in the 1970's was a nightmare." He further related that the original "…albums presented are full of spelling mistakes and there are also several typos in the digital edition, and errors in the original mastering."  He wrote that the releases were an abuse and an offense to my effort (10 years of field research, and 13 years of re-mastering and text editing), as well as an insult to the memory of the Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7featured artists."

Speaking of Furry Lewis we spin two of his numbers: "Cannon Ball Blues" cut for Victor in 1928 and "Fury's Blues" from the out-of-print 1971 LP Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go. The later album is a nice record that finds Furry in good form in front of an appreciative New York City audience.

During today's show we spotlight excellent four songs sets of piano blues and guitar blues. From the pre-war era we hear the under-appreciated singer Charlie McFadden on the lovely "Harvest Moon Blues" from 1929 featuring superb piano work from Eddie Miller. McFadden was a singer based out of St. Louis. Henry Townsend knew him and said that he could play piano a little bit, but preferred that someone else played it on his recordings. Roosevelt Sykes was the usual pianist, even though Eddie Miller and Aaron "Pinetop" Sparks made a couple of appearances, each.

From 1944 we hear Big Joe Turner at the peak of his powers backed by the thundering piano of Meade Lux Lewis.

Of Willie "Long Time" Smith I know nothing outside of the fact that he waxed ten sides at sessions in 1947 and  1954. Several of these sides do not seem to have been reissued, a shame as he was an exceptional vocalist  (a disciple of of the popular Dr. Clatyon fro whom he recorded the tribute "My Buddy Doctor Clayton") and good piano player. Homelessness was a reality as detailed in songs like Josh White's "Homeless And Hungry",  Bessie Smith's "Homeless Blues" and Sleepy John Estes' "Hobo Jungle Blues." Even after the depression the reality was all too real as  Smith sang about eloquently in his 1947 composition "Homeless Blues" featured today:

On one cold frosty morning, the ground was covered with snow (2x)
Well,  I met a million people had no place to go
Well some have children, some just have their suitcase and clothes
(2x)
You know those people was steady walkin', but they couldn't find no place to go

Perhaps for contractual reasons pianist Roosevelt Skyes recorded a 1948 session for Bullet under the moniker Joe "Boogie" Evans. Whatever the case, Sykes is in superb form on this session backed by uncredited horns, the jazzy guitar of Henry Townsend and Jump Jackson on the drums. From the session we feature the fine "Low Land Blues."

a106a4In a set of guitar aces we feature killer instrumentals from T-Bone Walker ("Blues For Marili" from the classic T-Bone Blues album on Atlantic) and the rocking "Blues Before Dawn cut by Pee Wee Crayton for Aladdin. Less well known are Teddy Bunn and Calvin Frazier. Teddy Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals.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.

Frazier befriended Johnny Shines, in 1930 they jointly traveled to Helena, Arkansas where they met Robert Johnson. The threesome moved on to Detroit, Michigan. Here they performed hymns on local radio stations. Frazier and Johnson returned south. In 1935, Frazier returned to Detroit. In 1938 he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress.  Frazier seems to have played with almost every blues or R&B act in Detroit in the post-war era. He updated his sound to a more modern style, influenced in a fair bit by T-Bone Walker. Early in 1954 he bought himself a Stratocaster, likely one of the very first bluesman to play this type of guitar. it's interesting to hear how his style evolved and and one wonders if his pal Robert Johnson would have developed a similar style. Frazier released three singles under his own name in 1949 and 1951. Between 1951 and 1953, Frazier was a recording member of T.J. Fowler's jump blues combo, then recorded with Baby Boy Warren in 1954, whilst his final sessions in the studio appear to be in 1956 backing Washboard Willie. He passed in 1972. In an upcoming feature on Detroit bluesmen I'll be spotlighting Frazier more in-depth.

Finally I should make mention of Live at the Avant Garde, 1968 just issued on Delmark. This is killer a live performance recorded at a Milwaukee coffee house with expectational sound, There are several live Magic Sam performances available which are very good but the sound on this one tops them all.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Show Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freddie Shayne is a shadowy figure who spent his life working in Chicago. He first time on record was backing singer Priscilla Stewart on “Mr. Freddie Blues.” Shayne also made a very rare piano roll of this song. In 1935 Shayne recorded a solo record, “Original Mr. Freddie Blues b/w Lonesome Man Blues.” “Mr. Freddie Blues” became something of a boogie standard covered by many artists including Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson, Jimmy Blythe, Art Tatum and others. In the 40's he made some recordings for the Circle label where he also backed singer Bertha “Chippie” Hill.

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

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

Read Liner Notes

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

A member of The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mable Hillery was less known than leaders, Big John Davis or Bessie Jones. Between 1961 and 1965 she toured the college circuit of campuses, coffee houses, church basements, and festivals, from Berkeley to Philadelphia, from the Ash Grove in Los Angeles to the Café à Go-Go in New York City. She toured Europe in the 60's and cut a session in London in 1968 for Transatlantic which was issued as It's So Hard To Be A Nigger on their budget Xtra label. Other scattered sides appeared on anthologies.

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

Related Articles:

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

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

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

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Joe CallicottUp The CountryPresenting The Country Blues
Sam ChatmonStoop Down BabyField Recordings From Hollandale 1976-1982
Teddy BunnI've Come A Long Ways BabyBlind Roosevelt Graves 1929-1936
Amos MilburnAfter MidnightComplete Aladdin Recordings
Roosevelt SykesFine And BrownRainin' In My Heart
Tony HollisI'll Get A BreakChicago Blues Vol. 1 1939-1951
Lonnie JohnsonLines On My FaceLosing Game
Smokey HoggIt’s Rainin' HereMidnight Blues
Tarheel SlimSomebody Changed The LockLonesome Slide Guitar Blues
Virginia ListonNight Latch Key BluesVirginia Liston Vol. 2 1924-1926
Clara SmithLow Land MoanClara Smith Vol. 6 1930-1932
Hattie HartPapa's Got Your Bath Water OnI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Arthur 'Guitar' KellyHow Can I Stay When All I Have Is GoneSwamp Blues
Whispering SmithLooking The World OverSwamp Blues
Henry GrayLucky Lucky ManMore Louisiana Swamp Blues
Johnny "Guitar" WatsonSomeone Cares For MeHot Just Like TNT
Little Miss JaniceScarred KneesWest Coast Guitar Killers 1951-1965 Vol. 1
Mississippi SheiksHe Calls That ReligionBlues Images Vol. 3
Kokomo ArnoldPolicy Wheel BluesKokomo Arnold Vol. 2 1935-1936
Louis LaskyHow You Want Your Rollin' DoneTimes Ain't Like The Used To Be Vol. 1
Ray AgeeDeep TroubleRay Agee - West Coast Blues Vol. 1
Ray AgeeTough CompetitionRay Agee - West Coast Blues Vol. 3
Schoolboy CleveBeautiful, Beautiful LoveGoing Down To Louisiana
Jimmy AndersonDraft Board BluesMore Louisiana Swamp Blues
Edith North Johnson & Henry BrownNickel's Worth of LiverClassic Blues From Smithsonian Folkways
Henry BrownHenry Brown BluesConversation With The Blues
Bukka WhiteFixin' To Die BluesThe Complete Bukka White
Tommy McClennanDeep Sea BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 2
Robert PetwayCatfish BluesCatfish Blues - Mississippi Blues Vol. 3 1936-1942
Furry LewisJudge Boushay BluesMemphis Swamp Jam
Fred McDowellKeep your Lamp Trimmed And BurningMemphis Swamp Jam
Bukka WhiteSad DayMemphis Swamp Jam

Show Notes:

Sam Chatmon: Field Recordings Vrom HollandaleWe span a good chunk of blues history today, spinning tracks from 1924 through 1976.  On tap on today's program are a number of fine country blues recordings from the 1960's and 70's, a couple of album spotlights and twin spins by pianist Henry Brown and singer Ray Agee. From the blues revival era we open with tracks by Joe Callicott and Sam Chatmon who's careers bridged the pre-war and post-war blues eras. A product of the Chatmon family that included not only Lonnie of the famous Mississippi Sheiks but also the prolific Bo Carter and several other blues-playing brothers, Sam Chatmon survived to began performing and recording again in the ’60s. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, he recorded for a variety of labels, as well as playing clubs and blues and folk festivals across America. Chatmon was an active performer and recording artist until his death in 1983. Today’s track, "Stoop Down Baby",  comes from  the collection, Field Recordings From Hollandale 1976-1982 which has recently been issued on the Mbirafon label. Some of these recordings were issued on the Albatros label in the 80’s. It's interesting to hear Chatmon cover Chick Willis' "Stoop Down Baby", a relatively recent hit, it shows that he was still keeping his ears open to new material and the the song itself perfectly fits his repertoire which is built on many such ribald songs.

Joe Callicott waxed a lone 78 in Memphis in 1929, Fare Thee Well Blues b/w Traveling Mama Blues, and a year later played second guitar on Garfield Akers’ “Cottonfield Blues Parts 1 & 2.” It was the indefatigable field recorder George Mitchell who found him in Nesbit, Mississippi off Highway 51 not far from Hernando and short distance from Brights were Akers was supposedly born. Callicott’s “comeback” was about as short as his first recording career, lasting from the summer of 1967 through the summer of 1968; he recorded nineteen sides for Mitchell either late August or early September, four sides at the 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival and seventeen sides for Blue Horizon in 1968. As Paul Oliver wrote: “A wider recognition came almost too late but Joe appeared at the 1968 Memphis Blues Festival and was looking forward to a European trip. Back at his home, with the birds whistling and witnessed by his wife and their bellcow, he recorded his last testament; he died early in 1969 and with him went the last echoes of Mississippi country music of the earliest phase of the blues.”

From 1969 we spin a trio of cuts from the album Memphis Swap Jam. Released to commemorate the 1969 Memphis Blues Festival, the album features 20 songs by the event's most notable performers. Although the tracks date from the same period as the festival, they were recorded at Ardent Recording Studio and Royal Recording Studio in Memphis. Chris Strachwitz produced this two-LP set, and it marks one of the few occasions (if not only) when he worked in this capacity for a company other than his own Arhoolie Records. Artists like Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Fred McDowell and Sleepy John Estes had been recorded extensively during the blues revival but still sound quite inspired on these performances. Memphis Swamp Jam A nice companion CD to this is The 1968 Memphis Country Blues Festival With Bukka White a terrific double CD of live and studio recording by Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Joe Callicott and Robert Wilkins.

We also spotlight another great 2-LP set, Swamp Blues, which has since been reissued on CD by Ace Records. Swamp Blues is a collection of Baton Rogue artists, most of whom had recorded for the legendary Excello label. At this point the label was owned by Nashboro who had a licensing agreement with the British Blue Horizon label owned by Mike Vernon. Blue Horizon already had albums out by Lightnin’ Slim and Lonesome Sundown and was eager to get involved with this project which was issued under the Excello imprint. It was Baton Rogue blues fan Terry Pattison who got the project off the ground. Pattison was in touch with the folks at the great, now defunct, Blues Unlimited magazine and they in turn got in touch with Vernon. An attempt was made to get Lazy Lester and Lightnin' Slim on board but to no avail. Still it was an impressive roster featuring ex-Howlin' Wolf pianist Henry Gray, Whispering Smith, Silas Hogan, Clarence Edwards and Arthur "Guitar" Kelly.

As for our twin spins today we play two cuts by pianist Henry Brown, one in a supporting role and one solo number. Henry Brown learned to play the piano from the “professors” of the notorious Deep Morgan section of St. Louis. Brown worked clubs such as the Blue Flame Club, the 9-0-5 Club, Jim’s Place and Katy Red’s, from the twenties into the 30’s. He recorded for Brunswick with Ike Rogers and Mary Johnson in 1929, for Paramount in ‘29 and ‘30. He served in the army in the early 40’s, then formed his own quartet to work occasional local gigs in St. Louis area from the 50’s, and worked the Becky Thatcher riverboat in 1965. In addition to his pre-war recordings, he was recorded by Paul Oliver in 1960, by Sam Charters with Edith Johnson in 1961 and by Adelphi in 1969. Our cuts feature the rollicking (mostly) instrumental "Henry Brown Blues" which was recorded by Paul Oliver and comes from the companion CD to Oliver's book Conversation With The Blues. "Nickel's Worth of Liver" features the vocal of Edith North Johnson, a song she first cut in 1929, that time backed by Roosevelt Sykes. Johnson cut 18  sides in 1928 and 1929, including a session with Charley Patton in Grafton, WI, for Paramount Records, although it is doubtful Patton actually appeared on any of her songs. She Ray Agee: West Coast Blues Legend Vol. 1made her home in St. Louis, where she ran a fleet of taxis during World War II and owned a popular diner. Sam Charters recorded her with Henry Brown in 1961 for his anthology called The Blues in St. Louis Vol. 2 for Folkways Records. Born January 2, 1903, in St. Louis, she died there on February 28, 1988.

We also feature two cuts by the neglected singer Ray Agee. Agee is known primarily for his tough 1963 remake of the blues standard "Tin Pan Alley" for the tiny Sahara logo. Agee recorded for a slew of labels both large and small during the 1950's and 60's without much in the way of national recognition outside his Los Angeles home base. After moving to L.A. with his family, he apprenticed with his brothers in a gospel quartet before striking out in the R&B field with a 1952 single for Aladdin Records. Agee slowly slipped away from the music business in the early '70s. Reportedly, he died around 1990. Thankfully the Famous Groove label has issued all of Agee's 50's and 60's recordings across three CD's.

Also worth mentioning are tracks by Lonnie Johnson, Little Janice, and Tony Hollis. I never get tired of Lonnie Johnson who's guitar skills are rightly praised, yet he was also a moving singer and a superb composer. A case in point is his gorgeous "Lines On My Face", a bit of blues poetry from his 1960 album Losing Game:

Heartaches have caused, these deep lines in my face (2x)
When you’ve been disappointed in love, your heart has no restin’ place

Each line in my face tells a story, the tears tells you the reason why
Deep lines in my face tells a story, teardrops tell you the reason why
When you been hurt in love, it shows on you face until the day you die

If I could take my poor heart and wash it, wash all these aches and pains away (2x)
But I guess I’m so in love, I hope she’ll come back to me some day

My poor heart could talk, there’s so much it could tell (2x)
When the one you love disappoints you in life, life is a livin' hell

Tony Hollis' small output belies his influence. Hollis  played around Clarksdale, MS in the 20’s and 30’s which is where he met John Lee Hooker, providing him with his first guitar and was a major influence on Hooker’s style. In 1941 Hollis waxed seven sides for Okeh including the influential “Crawlin’ King Snake” and the first recorded version of “Cross Cut Saw Blues.”Another song from that session, "Traveling Man Blues", waslater made famous by Hooker as "When My First Wife Quit Me." He cut one more session in 1951 with Sunnyland Slim. Our selection, "I'll Get A Break", which was based on Tampa Red's 1934 version and comes from that latter session. The song was cut by Hollis at his first session using the title "Big Time Woman."

Little Miss Janice is a mystery. What little is known about her is that she came from Texas, she played guitar and she had a knack for songwriting as she proves on her tough "Scarred Knees." After this recording for Proverb, she went on to cut for Paul Gayten’s Pzazz label. Johnny Adams covered “Scarred Knees” on his first LP for Rounder and Esther Phillips cut a stunning version on her 1972 album From A Whsiper To A Scream.

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Show Notes:

Banjo Ikey Robinson, 1929

Today's mix show is drawn heavily from the Document catalog with an emphasis on their Jazz Perspective Series. Document has done an invaluable service by issuing on CD the vast majority of African-American blues, jazz, spirituals and gospel recordings made during the pre-war era and into the early post-war era. Their Jazz Perspective series encompasses obviously jazz, but also much music that meets in that middle ground where blues and jazz intersect. Among those recording we spin terrific records by Teddy Bunn, Banjo Ikey Robinson, Edith Wilson with Johnny Dunn and Clifford Hayes and The Louisville Jug Bands.

Teddy Bunn and Ikey Robinson were contemporaries of Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson and like those men they played both blues and jazz. Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals. He also backed several notable blues singers like Cow Cow Davenport, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and Victoria  Spivey among others. Our selections find him backing the obscure Buck Franklin and Fat Hayden. 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. Robinson also accompanied blues singers such as Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, Georgia White, Eva Taylor and Bertha "Chippie" Hill among others. Recordings of Bunn and Robinson can be found respectively on the Document collections Banjo Ikey Robinson 1929-1937 and Teddy Bunn 1929-1940.

We spin a couple of fine blues tracks by the obscure singers John Harris and Ben Ferguson recorded one day apart in June 1931 both featuring Clifford Hayes on violin.  These stem from the fourth volume of recordings by Clifford Hayes & Louisville Jug Bands on Document's Jazz Perspective series spanning the years 1924 through 1931. Hayes was among the most active and energetic of the early Louisville musicians and these four volumes are built around him but also include several other Louisville bands. The music is a fascinating mix of blues, ragtime, pop music, minstrel, coon songs and jazz.

It probably comes as no surprise that I've amassed a huge percentage of the Document catalog and I never fail to stumble across great forgotten artists that deserve to be better remembered. Among those we spin tracks by Charlie West, The Florida Kid, Al Miller, Bill Gaither, Frank Busby, Willie Lane and Sam "Suitcase" Johnson among others. Charlie West recorded just two brief sessions for Bluebird and Vocalion in 1937 and 1941. Carey Bell eventually married West's daughter and West would occasionally sing in Carey's band. Ernest Blunt AKA The Florida Kid was a fine vocalist and lyricist who waxed eight sides for Blue Bird in 1940. Little is known of Al Miller who sang and played banjo, guitar and mandolin. He cut over two-dozen sides between 1927 and 1936. Writing in The Penguin Guide To Blues Tony Russell observed: "When the history of African-American mandolin playing is written, a page will have to be reserved for Al Miller."

Blues guitarist Bill Gaither was easily the most popular of the bunch, cutting 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 as Leroy's Buddy for a time. A fine guitarist who possessed a warm, expressive voice, Gaither was also 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. Frank Busby recorded just one 78 in 1937 backed by Bill Gaither and  Honey Hill. We spin Busby's "'Leven Light City", his version of "Sweet Old Kokomo", which shows him to have been a very expressive singer.

Big Joe Williams

The tracks by Willie Lane and Sam "Suitcase" Johnson come from two superb Document collections: Rural Blues Vol. 1 1934-1956 and Rural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962. These collections draw together great recordings by fine obscure performers like John Lee, Monroe Moe Jackson, Julius King, Black Diamond, John Beck plus the post-war recordings of Clifford Gibson.

Also on tap today are three sides from the 1950's and 60's featuring the timeless Big Joe Williams. "Nobody Knows Chicago" comes from a 1958 date featuring the great J.D. Short with the duo making a potent team. J.D. and Big Joe teamed up on the 1958 Delmark albums Piney Woods Blues where he's heard on four tracks and is on all of Stavin' Chain. "Mean Stepfather" comes from the excellent 1960 album Tough Times which was reissued as part of Shake Your Boogie which also includes some sides from 1969. "Penitentiary Blues" comes from a jam session between Big Joe, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. These sides have been issued many times under a myriad of titles. I've taken this one form the 2-CD set Rediscovered Blues which not only includes the jam session but also a very good 1959 date between Brownie and Sonny plus sixteen strong Big Joe sides from 1968.

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