Entries tagged with “Tommy Johnson”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Blind Lemon Jefferson Match Box BluesBlues Images Vol. 12
Brother Son Bonds and Hammie Nixon I Want To Live So God Can Use MeBlues Images Vol. 12
Willie Lofton Trio Beer Garden BluesBlues Images Vol. 12
Grant 'Mr Blues' Jones They Call Me Mr Blues Jumpin' The Blues Vol. 2 Ace
Clay Braddy & Roy Mays New Kind Of Feelin' Jumpin' The Blues Vol. 1 Ace
Willie Brown People Don't Understand Me Jumpin' The Blues Vol. 3 Ace
Robert Pete Williams Hoodoo Blues Raise a Ruckus Tonight
Clarence Edwards Can't Stand to Be Your Dog Raise a Ruckus Tonight
Butch Cage and Willie ThomasMean Old Frisco Raise a Ruckus Tonight
Arizona Dranes He Is My StoryHe Is My Story
Chippie Hill w/ Freddie Shayne How Long Blues Montana Taylor 1929-1946
Cripple Clarence Lofton Salty Woman BluesCripple Clarence Lofton Vol. 2 1939-1943
Sonny Boy Williamson Don't Make A MistakeDon't Make A Mistake
Dixie Blues Boys My Baby Left TownModern Downhome Blues Vol. 3
Drifting Slim Take My Hand Somebody Done Voodoo The Hoodoo Man
Muddy Waters County JailComplete Chess Recordings
Tommy Johnson Alcohol and Jake Blues Blues Images Vol. 12
Bill Wilber My Babe My Babe Blues Images Vol. 12
Chocolate Brown with Blind Blake You Got What I Want Blues Images Vol. 12
Tampa Red & Georgia Tom Dead Cats On The Line Guitar Wizard
Blind Boy Fuller I'm a Good Stem Winder Remastered 1935-1938
Rev F W McGee Dead Cat On The Line Rev. FW McGee Vol. 2 1929-1930
Charles Henderson She Was a Woman Didn't Mean No GoodRaise a Ruckus Tonight
Smoky Babe and Sally Dotson Black Ghost The Country Blues
Butch Cage & Willie Thomas Bugle Call Blues The Country Blues
Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers Bye-Bye BluesClifford Hayes & The Louisville Jug Bands Vol. 3
Sippie Wallace w Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers You Gonna Need My HelpSippie Wallace Vol. 2 1925-1945
Faye Adams Crazy Mixed Up WorldFaye Adams 1952-1954
Christine Kittrell Sittin' Here Drinking Call Her Name: The Complete Recordings 1951-1965
Billie And Dede Pierce In The Racket Gulf Coast Blues
Georgia Tom Dorsey Don't Let Your Mouth Start Nothing Your Head Won't StandThe Essential

Show Notes

2015 Blues CalendarWe have a fine mix show lined up for the first week of October. We spotlight several albums including two sets from the new CD that accompanies record collector John Tefteller's new blues calendar, several fine sides featuring fiddler Butch Cage and friends from two long-out-of-print LP's and a set of jump blues from a series of albums from Ace records. Also featured are a few songs revolving around the phrase dead cat on the line, several fine blues ladies, excellent piano blues and a batch of strong harp blowers.

Every year around this time record collector John Tefteller, through his Blues Images imprint, publishes his Classic Blues Artwork Calendar with a companion CD that matches the artwork with the songs. The CD’s have also been one of the main places that newly discovered blues 78’s turn up. The 2015 calendar marks its twelfth year. This year's calendar includes songs from such artists as Memphis Minnie, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tommy Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes, Garfield Akers, Willie Lofton, Gus Cannon and more. The calendar also includes never-before-seen-photos of Roosevelt Sykes, Willie Lofton and Son Bonds.

Last year record collector Tefteller bought Tommy Johnson's "Alcohol and Jake Blues b/w Riding’ Horse" for $37,100 on eBay. Both sides of the 78 have been remastered and are featured on the CD. One night, as he does every night, Tefteller was trawling eBay when he came across the record from a seller in South Carolina. The anonymous seller found the record at an estate sale years ago, and posted it on eBay with no knowledge of the record's true value. The record was set to sell at $16,800 when, minutes before the auction ended, it shot up to $37,000. This is one of the highest prices paid for a blues 78 although I get the impression Tefteller has paid more in private transactions.

Just to look ahead a bit, Tefteller's 2016 calendar will be a notable one as the CD will include a long lost J.D. Short 78. Paramount 13091, "Tar Road Blues b/w Flagin' It To Georgia" has been found recently in Tennessee. It turned up shoved into the back of an old Victrola record player cabinet along with a stack of other Blues records from the same time period," said Tefteller who purchased the record from "a local picker."

We spotlight a pair of terrific out-of-print albums that collect field recordings made in Louisiana in 1960 and 1961 by Harry Oster. The bulk of the tracks feature Butch Cage with guitarist Willie Thomas. Some of these sides were recorded at informal sessions in the homes of Butch Cage & Mabel Lee Williams near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Fiddler James "Butch" Cage was one of the last artists in the black string band tradition. Born on March 16, 1894, in Hamburg, MS, Cage's first real instrument was a cane fife. He moved to southwest Louisiana following the devastating Mississippi floods of 1927, eventually settling in Zachary, where he worked a succession of menial jobs while playing string band music at house parties and church functions, often in conjunction with guitarist Willie B. Thomas. Musicologist Oster heard the pair playing in Zachary in 1959 and recorded them extensively. The duo was also a huge hit at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival. The duo can also be heard on several fine anthologies including: Country Negro Jam Sessions (Arhoolie), I Have To Paint My Face (Arhoolie), The Folk Music Of The Newport Folk Festival 1959-60 Vol. 1 (Folkways), Country Spirituals (Storyville), Country Blues (Storyville), Raise A Rukus Tonight (Flyright) and Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (Arhoolie). In two weeks I'll be spotlighting more from the duo in a show devoted to Post-War String Bands.

Country Blues
Read Liner Notes

Dead cat on the line is a term used as a way of telling people that something suspicious is happening. A sermon with the title was recorded by Rev. J.M. Gates in 1929 and proved popular enough for him to record "Dead Cat On The Line No. 2" in 1930 and "New Dead Cat On The Line" in 1934. Tampa Red and Georgia Tom recorded "Dead Cats On The Line" in 1932 and Rev F.W. McGee recorded "Dead Cat On The Line" the same year. Blind Boy Fuller recorded "I'm a Good Stem Winder" which uses the term in 1935. Other versions were recorded by Elder Charles Beck and Sister Lillie Mae Littlejohn.

We hear from several fine piano players including the amazing Arizona Dranes. As Michael Corcan wrote in the extensive booklet to our featured collection, He Is My Story: "A singer sits at the piano and loses all inhibitions while in complete control of the instrument: Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis. Although church singer Arizona Dranes does not come close to the stature of those icons, she set the mold for rockin' singer/ pianists in 1926 with six 'test records' that have stood the test of time." Until this collection, very "little has been correctly reported about Dranes other than the facts that she was blind, from Texas, had a piercing Pentecostal voice and was the first recording artist to play piano in the secular styles of the day, while singing words of deep praise." Corcoran spent years unearthing the details on the life of Dranes. The 50-page book includes a CD containing all 16 of Arizona Dranes' recorded tracks, expertly remastered from the original OKeh label 78 RPM records by Grammy-winning producer Christopher King.

From a three LP series by Ace called Jumpin' The Blues released in the early and mid-80's we hear a set of great jump blues. These albums collect jump blues from the Decca vaults of the late 40's early 50's. Ace has culled the material for the CD Jumpin' The Blues. None of our tracks are on the CD however.

We play a number of fine blues ladies spanning from the 1920's through the 1950's including Sippie Wallace, Faye Adams, Christine Kittrell and others. Sippie's "You Gonna Need My Help" finds her backed by Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers. Hayes was a violinist, but was more significant as a leader of recording sessions. He recorded with Sara Martin (1924), and often teamed up with banjoist Cal Smith in early jug bands including the Old Southern Jug Band, Clifford's Louisville Jug Band, the well-known Dixieland Jug Blowers (1926-1927), and Hayes' Louisville Stompers (1927-1929). Some of the other artists Hayes worked with included Sippie Wallace, Johnny Dodds and Earl Hines. Right before the Sippie track we hear Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers on the instrumental "Bye-Bye Blues."

Faye Adams, as Faye Scruggs (her married name), became a regular performer in New York nightclubs in the late 1940's and early 1950's. While performing in Atlanta, Georgia, she was discovered by singer Ruth Brown, who won her an audition with bandleader Joe Morris of Atlantic Records. Changing her name to Faye Adams, Morris recruited her as a singer in 1952, and signed her to Herald Records. Her first release was Morris's song "Shake aArizona Dranes: He Is My Story Hand", which topped the Billboard R&B chart for ten weeks in 1953, and made number 22 on the pop chart. In 1954, Faye had two more R&B chart toppers. In 1955 she appeared in the film Rhythm & Blues Revue, and in 1957 moved to Imperial Records, but her commercial success diminished. She continued to record for various smaller labels until the early 1960's and retired in 1963.

Christine Kittrell cut her first record, in 1951 and her first and biggest hit was 1954's "Sittin’ Here Drinking." Engaged as singer with Paul ‘Hucklebuck’ Williams’ band in December 1952, Billboard noted that the “five-foot-six chirp’ was the ‘blues find of the decade”. She made her west coast debut in 1954 with Earl Bostic and later Johnny Otis. Several releases on the Republic label at this time led to only regional success. In August 1954, Billboard announced her departure from the R&B field to sing with the Simmons Akers spiritual singers. In the early 60's she recorded for Vee-Jay and her song ‘I’m A Woman’ was covered by Peggy Lee. She re-recorded an old Republic song, ‘Call His Name’, in 1965, and spent the next few years touring army bases in south-east Asia entertaining US troops. Subsequently, she semi-retired to her Ohio home, playing the occasional local blues festivals and small clubs in the 90s.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Alfoncy & Bethenea HarrisThat Same CatGeorge Williams & Bessie Brown Vol. 2 1925-1930
Alfoncy & Bethenea HarrisI Don't Care What You SayGeorge Williams & Bessie Brown Vol. 2 1925-1930
Cannon's Jug StompersMinglewood BluesRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Volume 1: The Great Jug Bands
Cannon's Jug StompersBig Railroad BluesRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Volume 1: The Great Jug Bands
Cannon's Jug StompersMadison Street RagBlues Images Vol. 5
Lonnie McIntorshSleep On Mother Sleep OnHow Can I Keep From Singing Vol. 1
Lonnie McIntorshThe Lion and the Tribes of JudahBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Frank StokesRight Now BluesBest Of
Frank StokesDowntown BluesBest Of
Frank StokesBedtime Blues Best Of
Frank StokesWhat's The Matter BluesBest Of
Jim JacksonOld Dog BlueJim Jackson Vol. 1 1927-1928
Tommy JohnsonCool Drink Of WaterWhen The Sun Goes Down
Tommy JohnsonBig Road BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Rosie Mae MooreStaggering BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreHa Ha BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreSchool Girl BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreStranger BluesFour Women Blues
Ishman Bracey Saturday BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Ishman Bracey Left Alone BluesIshman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929
Tommy Johnson Bye-Bye BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Tommy JohnsonMaggie Campbell BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Ishman Bracey Trouble Hearted BluesTommy Johnson And Associates
Ishman Bracey The Four Day Blues Ishman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929
Memphis Jug BandPeaches In The SpringtimeMemphis Jug Band Vol. 4 1927-1928 & 1934
Arthur Petties Two Time BluesWhen the Levee Breaks
Arthur Petties Out on Santa Fe Blues When the Levee Breaks
Jim JacksonWhat A TimeJim Jackson Vol. 1 1927-1928
Elder Richard BryantHe Shut The Lion's MouthMemphis Sanctified Jug Bands Vol. 1 1928-1939

Show Notes:

Victor CatalogueToday's show is the fourth installment spotlighting great recording sessions; The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label roughly a year-and-a-half apart, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930 and the third  spotlighted sessions recorded in Dallas by Columbia in 1927 and 1928. 1927 was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units.  Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on.

Today we spotlight some great blues and gospel captured by Victor in Memphis in 1928. As Robert Dixon and John Godrich wrote in the seminal Recording The Blues:" Victor was the only company systematically to exploit the gold mine of black talent in and around Memphis. Their second there, in January and February 1928, yielded three times as much material as the initial visit in early '27 – and again black artists outnumbered white hillbilly performers. Besides more titles by the Memphis Jug Band, Victor recorded the Cannon Jug Stompers, Vocalion's popular artist Jim Jackson and a fine group of Mississippi blues singers – Tommy Johnson, Ishman Bracey and Frank Stokes. Stokes was an oldish man, his voice had a pronounced vibrato and his style of singing and guitar playing were distinctly archaic. His Downtown Blues and Bedtime Blues on Victor 21272 sold well and when Victor returned to Memphis in August 1928 they recorded ten further selections by Stokes. The August visit was Victor's most extensive to date. Between Monday August 27th and Monday 24 September they recorded 189 titles, three quarters of them by race artists. All of the singers they had tried out in February were recorded again. The autumn trio to Memphis now became an annual event for Victor – it was here that they recorded most of their race material." Other artists recorded during these sessions included Alfoncy & Bethenea Harris, Lonnie McIntorsh, Rosie Mae Moore, Bessie Tucker, Ida May Mack, Furry Lewis, Robert Wilkins, Charlie Kyle, Elder Richard Bryant, Bethel Quartet and Will Shade.

According to Recording The Blues: "The record industry as a whole had not been in too healthy a state during the early twenties. After the boom year of 1921, in which for the first time 100 million discs were sold, sales declined slowly but steadily. Eventually even Victor began to feel the squeeze – their sales fell from $51 million in 1921 to $44 million in 1923, and then dropped to $20 million in 1925. Something had to be done, and one obvious move was for Victor to begin large scale production of race records, and compete for a market that had been growing an an enormous rate during the period when overall sales had been falling." After a not too promising start, "…Victor hired Ralph Peer who had been largely responsible for building up Okeh's fine race and hillbilly catalogs. Peer realized that Victor was several years too late to be able to get a substantial share of the classic blues market and decided to concentrate his efforts on the country blues field." Victor begin going in the field in a big way in 1927 stopping in Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans.

Jug bands are synonymous with Memphis and Victor recorded two of the greatest groups: Memphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stompers. The Memphis Jug Band became very popular in Memphis, often playing in Church Park, where Gus Cannon saw them. The Memphis Jug Band first recorded for Victor in February 1927 and over the next four years recorded 57 sides. By 1930 there were seven different jug bands active in Memphis. In 1928 Ralph Peer, who had previously recorded the Memphis Jug Band, returned to Memphis looking for other jug bands to record. Charlie Williamson, the manager of the Palace Theater, recommended Gus. By this time Gus had had a harness made for his jug so that he could wear it around his neck and play banjo at the same time. Gus called up Noah Lewis and Ashley Thompson and on Jan 30 1928 they recorded 4 sides in an old auditorium as Cannon's Jug Stompers. They over two-dozen sides with the group through 1930 for Victor.

As Chris Smith wrote int he notes to Frank Stokes The Complete Victor Recordings 1928-1929: "With nearly forty songs issued on record, some of them in two parts, Frank Stokes was one of the most extensively recorded of the Memphis blues singers of the 1920s; only Jim Jackson's total of recordings is comparable, and many of Jackson's were remakes of 'Kansas City Blues.' Like Jackson, Stokes blends blues with songs from the medicine shows and from the ragtime days of his childhood. Not only was his repertoire one of the most interesting of its time, it was superbly sung, and backed, whether solo, in partnership with Dan Sane, or with Will Batts, by some of the most accomplished and appropriate blues and ragtime playing on record." By most accounts Stokes was already playing the streets of Memphis by the turn of the century, about the same time the blues began to flourish. As a street artist, he needed a broad repertoire of songs and patter palatable to blacks and whites. A medicine show and house party favorite, Stokes was remembered as a consummate entertainer who drew on songs from the 19th and 20th centuries with equal facility.

Born in the 1880’s, Jim Jackson was another experienced medicine show performer and occasional street singer. He had one of the biggest blues hits of the 20’s with his “Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues.” Barrelhouse pianist Speckled Red shared the stage with Jim Jackson in 1928 while touring through Mississippi and Alabama with the Red Rose Minstrels & Medicine Show. Red remembered Jackson as "a big fat feller, weighed about 235 pounds. Tall, stately feller too, and he danced, sang, played git-tar, cracked jokes." Jackson's long career with traveling shows began in 1905, and much of his repertoire was rooted in the 19th century. He recorded close to forty sides between 192 and 1930.

Frank Stokes Ad

For someone who recorded so little Tommy Johnson exerted an influence that was unusually  vast and long lasting; after all his recorded output only consists of six issued sides for Victor in 1928 and six issued sides for Paramount in 1929. t was Johnson’s Victor sides that were the most influential and oft covered: “Cool Drink of Water Blues”, “Big Road Blues”, “Bye-Bye Blues”, “Maggie Campbell Blues”, “Canned Heat Blues” and “Big Fat Mama.” Unlike the Paramount records these sold fairly well and were apparently the songs Johnson sang most often in person. As David Evans wrote: “For about thirty years Tommy Johnson was perhaps the most important and influential blues singer in the state of Mississippi.”

Ishman Bracey was born in Byram, about ten miles south of Jackson, in January 1899. He learned guitar from locals Louis Cooper and Lee Jones and moved to Jackson in the late 1920s after encountering Tommy Johnson. Bracey soon became one of the most popular musicians in the Jackson area’s vital blues scene. Bracey’s music came to broader attention after he auditioned for recording agent H. C. Speir, who operated a furniture store on North Farish Street. Speir arranged for Bracey and Tommy Johnson to make their debut recordings at a session for Victor in Memphis in February of 1928. At that session and another for Victor later that year, Bracey was accompanied on guitar and mandolin by Charlie McCoy. Bracey recorded again in 1929 and early 1930 for the Paramount label.

Little is known about Rosie Mae Moore except for the fact that she was Charlie McCoy's girlfriend during the time of her recordings that all took place in 1928. She recorded four sides for Victor in Memphis in the early part of the year. Later in December she recorded four more sides for Brunswick in New Orleans, backed by McCoy as well as Walter Vincson and Bo Chatman of The Mississippi Shieks. On her Brunswick releases she was billed as Mary Butler.

Memphis may be better known for blues but it was an important center for black gospel music. Memphis was the home of the holiness denomination, the Church of God in Christ. Lonnie McIntorsh recorded two sessions in 1928, one in Memphis and one in Chicago and a final unreleased session in 1930. Elder Richard Bryant led churches in Holendale and Moorehead Mississippi. He cut sides for Victor and Okeh at three sessions in 1928.

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Sugar Boy Crawford Troubled Mind Blues30 New Orleans Classics
Sugar Boy Crawford What's Wrong30 New Orleans Classics
Sugar Boy Crawford Jock-o-Mo30 New Orleans Classics
Beverly Scott Southern California BluesHollywood Blues
Manny Nichols No One To Love MeDown Home Blues Classics: Texas 1946-52
Juke Boy Bonner Can't Hardly Keep From CryingGoin' To Louisiana
Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes The Life Of Lightnin` Bug RhodesNow Hear This!
Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes Now Hear This!Now Hear This!
Johnny Shines Your Troubles Can't Be Like MineStanding at the Crossroads
Johnnie LewisCan Hardly Get AlongAlabama Slide Guitar
Doctor Clayton Angels In HarlemDoctor Clayton & His Buddies
Son Willis Nothing But The BluesDown Home Blues Classics: California & The West Coast 1948-1954
Richard Nevins Interview
Charley Patton High Water Everywhere – Part 1The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Charley Patton Some These Days I’ll Be GoneThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Tommy JohnsonLonesome Home BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Geeshie Wiley Last Kind Words BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Bukka WhiteThe Panama LimitedThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Lottie KimbroughRolling Log BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of
Ishman BraceyWoman Woman BluesThe Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of

Show Notes:

A mix show for the first hour of today's show as we pay tribute to the recently departed Sugar Boy Crawford, plus we feature artists like Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes, Manny Nichols, Johnny Shines, Son Willis and Doctor Clayton among others. In the second hour we chat with Richard Nevins who runs the Shanachie/Yaz00 label. Today we spotlight tracks from The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of  the sequel to the highly acclaimed 20o6 release.

James “Sugar Boy” Crawford died Sept. 15th. He was 77. He formed a R&B band in High School and the group performed in local clubs and released a single on Aladdin Records. Leonard Chess, co-founder of Chess Records, happened to hear the band at radio station WMRY while in New Orleans. He made what was purportedly an audition tape of the group. Weeks later, a disc jockey at the station presented Crawford with a 78 rpm record of “I Don't Know What I’ll Do.” It was manufactured from the audition tape and credited to Sugar Boy & His Cane Cutters. In November 1953, at age 19, Crawford recorded his composition “Jock-A-Mo” with a band that included Snooks Eaglin on guitar. Released on the Chess subsidiary Checker Records, "Jock-A-Mo" was a hit during the 1954 Carnival season. Over the next decade, he recorded for various labels, including Imperial Records, releasing such singles as "I Bowed on My Knees,” “You Gave Me Love,” "Morning Star" and "She's Gotta Wobble (When She Walks)." But in 1963, his career, and life, took a tragic turn. En route to a show in Monroe with his band, he was stopped by police and badly pistol-whipped. He briefly attempted a comeback, but was discouraged by what he perceived as his diminished talent. He subsequently retired from music. For decades, he confined his singing to the church. It was his grandson, the pianist and singer Davell Crawford, who coaxed Crawford out of retirement. He appeared on Davell’s 1995 CD Let Them Talk, and subsequently joined his grandson onstage, including at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

We spin a pair of tracks by Walter 'Lightnin' Bug' Rhodes, who I've been listening to lately. He was a fine singer and songwriter who melded down home blues with a touch of soul. Rhodes was born in North carolina but moved to New York in 1950. He began performing with gospel groups and made his first appearance on record with the Golden Arrows. He eventually made the move to R&B working with different group, cutting a few records through the 60’s and 70’s for label like Hull, Le Sarge and Mascot, recording under the monikers The Blonde Bomber and Little Red Walter. Rhodes cut a couple of strong records for the German Swingmaster label and even toured Europe before passing in 1990.

We spotlight a couple of fine Texas bluesman in Manny Nichols and Son Willis, both who cut a handful of terrific sides in the late 40's and early 50's. Nichols cut nine sides between 1949-1953 for several small labels, first in Texas and then in California. He also may have recorded as West Texas Slim. Malcolm Willis was a blues singer and pianist from Fort Worth, TX. At sometime in his youth he made the trek to California to join the West Coast blues scene. He cut his first disc for J.R. Fullbright's Elko label in Los Angeles, CA. in 1951. In 1952 and 1953 he recorded eight more numbers for the Swingtime label billed as Little Son Willis. Willis owns a strong debt to the popular Doctor Clayton. Clayton is all but forgotten today but was very popular in the 40's and who, despite a small recorded output, wielded a big a influence on numerous singers. We spin Clayton's oft covered "Angel In Harlem" which he cut in 1946. Willis recorded a cover called "Harlem Blues" in 1952 and the song has also been covered by Smokey Hogg and Larry Davis.

Back in 2006 Yazoo issued The Stuff That Dream Are Made Of subtitled "The Dead Sea Scrolls of Record Collecting." The two-disc collection was a loving testament to impossibly rare records and the obsessive collectors who tracked them down. among the treasures was the long lost Son House record, "Mississippi County Farm Blues" and "Clarksdale Moan" which had just be found. The Return of the Stuff That Dream Are Made Of  is still a goldmine of rare records, although nothing as earth shattering as the Son House, and beautifully packaged with 46 tracks housed in a over-sized DVD package which sports an eye popping illustration by Drew Friedman. It includes a fascinating 54-page booklet with rare photographs and notes that chronicle the history of collecting old 78 records from beginning in the 1920s through the 1960s. Yazoo has always been at the top of the heap when it comes to remastering old 78's and these records sound incredible. The sound Nevins has achieved on the two Patton cuts, for example, is the best I've ever heard and the mastering on Yazoo's Best Of Patton set was pretty damn  good! Today Nevins and I chat about the history of 78 collecting, those crazy early collectors, Yazoo Records, Charlie Patton and more.

-Richard Nevins Interview/Feature (edited, 36 min, MP3)

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Percy MayfieldTo Me Your Name Is LoveWalking On A Tightrope
Percy MayfieldWalking On A TightropeWalking On A Tightrope
Big Mama ThorntonLife Goes OnAll Night Long They Play The Blues
Phillip WalkerLaughin' And Clownin'All Night Long They Play The Blues
Ironing Board SamI've Been UsedBlues Is Here To Stay
L.C. McKinleyMind Your BusinessHave A Good Time: Chicago Blues
Tommy JohnsonLonesome Home BluesBlues Images vol. 8
George ToreyMarried Woman BluesBlues Images vol. 3
Charlie PattonIt Won't Be LongThe Best Of
Frank Patt Just A Minute BabyJericho Alley Blues Flash! Vol.2
Gus JenkinsDrift OnJericho Alley Blues Flash! Vol.2
Fenton RobinsonI Hear Some Blues DownstairsI Hear Some Blues Downstairs
Turner Foddrell Crow JaneUnreleased
Marvin & Turner FoddrellLonesome Country Boy Blues The Original Blues Brothers
Marvin & Turner FoddrellSweet Little WomanThe Original Blues Brothers
Louis MyersThat’s Allright 45
Louis MyersMoney Marbles and ChalkThe Aces Kings of Chicago Blues, Vol.1
Barbecue BobCalifornia BluesBarbecue Bob Vol. 2 1928-1929
Jim JacksonHesitation Blues Jim Jackson Vol. 2 1928-1930
Newton GreerBorn DeadHarmonica Williams With Little Freddie King
Little OscarSuicide BluesWhen Girls Do It
Willie WilliamsWine Headed WomanRaw Unpolluted Soul
Charles WalkerJuice Head WomanBlues From The Apple
Boyd RiversWhen I Cross OverYou Can't Make Me Doubt
Robert Curtis SmithSunflower River BluesClarksdale Blues
Fred McDowell Fred McDowell's BluesDownhome Blues 1959
Roosevelt SykesEagle Rock Double Barreled Boogie
Memphis Slim & Roosevelt SykesTalking About Miss Ida BDouble Barreled Boogie
Memphis SlimMiss Ida B Double Barreled Boogie
Bukka WhiteSpecial Stream LineTrouble Hearted Blues 1927-1944
Mississippi SheiksNew Shake That ThingBlues Images Vol. 5
Kokomo Arnold Salty DogKokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936-1937
Dusty BrownYes She's GoneHand Me Down Blues

Show Notes:

Read Liner Notes

Lots of interesting records on tap for our latest mix show.  We spotlight a few artists today including a period of later period Percy Mayfield cuts, two by Louis Myers, a trio of sides by the marvelous Foddrell brothers and a set revolving around Roosevelt Sykes and Memphis Slim. In addition we spotlight a number of fine unheralded artists who recorded between the 50's and 70's like  Little Oscar, Willie Williams, Newton Greer, Dusty Brown and Charles Walker among others. Also on board are some heavyweights from the pre-war era like Bukka White, Charlie Patton, Mississippi Sheiks, Kokomo Arnold and Barbecue Bob.

Percy 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. He stuck with the label through the decade, cutting a few singles for Chess, Cash and Imperial along the way, but never matched his early success. In the 1960's Mayfield's song "Hit The Road, Jack"came to the attention of Ray Charles who was also starting his own record label called Tangerine. Charles hired on Mayfield as a writer and also gave him a chance to record for the label. Mayfield was at the height of his abilities penning songs for Charles like "Hide Nor Hair", "At The Club", "Danger Zone" and "On The Other Hand, Baby." Mayfield's own sides for Tangerine were every bit as good and have been collected on Rhino's limited addition, His Tangerine And Atlantic Sides. After leaving Tangerine Mayfield moved to Brunswick, cutting the exceptional Walking On A Tightrope album in 1968 which we spotlight today. The album features an excellent band arranged by Willie Henderson and remembered by the singer only as "Chicago cats." Mayfield's fine run of albums extended into the 70's with a 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).

Read Liner Notes

Marvin and Turner Foddrell were born into a musical family near Stuart in the Virginia Piedmont and for the major parts of their lives played regularly only at community gatherings, never professionally. Discovered in the 1970s', the Foddrells became a regular fixture at the annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival at nearby Ferrum College (the college's he Blue Ridge Institute recorded the brothers extensivley) and were also featured at many other festivals including some in Europe. The Foddrell Brothers recorded only two commercial records: The Original Blues Brothers on Swingmaster and Patrick County Rag on Outlet (unfortunately I have yet to track down a copy of the latter). They also appeared alongside more famous traditional musicians on a number of recorded anthologies. Both brothers have since passed away. Pete Lowry recorded them extensively in 1979 but none of these recordings were ever issued. Pete was nice enough to let me play Turner Foddrell's "Crow Jane" which Pete notes  is "different from most."

Louis Myers will forever be recognized first and foremost as a top-drawer sideman and founding member of the Aces, the band that backed harmonica wizard Little Walter on his classic early Checker waxings. Myers played with Otis Rush, Earl Hooker, and many more. But his own recording career was practically non-existent; after a solitary 1956 single for Abco, it wasn't until 1968 that two Myers tracks turned up on Delmark. The Aces re-formed during the '70s and visited Europe often as a trusty rhythm section for touring acts. Myers cut a fine set for Advent in 1978 called I'm a Southern Man. He cut a final album in 1991 before passing in 1994. From 1968 we hear Myers with magic Sam on "That's All Right" and "Money Marbles and Chalk" from 1971 with the twins guitars of Sammy Lawhorn and Eddie Taylor.

We spotlight a trio of cuts from the album Double Barreled Boogie the results of a collaboration in a studio in Paris in 1970. Roosevelt Sykes was a major blues pianist-vocalist since the late 1920s, inspiring Memphis Slim who emerged a decade later. Sykes and Slim reminisce about the old days, talk about the origin of some of their songs, and joke a bit on this charming set. Utilizing two pianos, they play together (taking "M & S Boogie" as an instrumental) and alternate vocals.

We spotlight several lesser known, little recorded artists today including Little Oscar, Newton Greer, Dusty Brown and Charles Walker. Little Oscar Stricklin cut some terrific 45's in the 60's and 70's for a batch of tiny Chicago labels. The best known was his "Suicide Blues" cut in 1967 which has been reissued several times on various anthologies. After the cutting these sides he basically dropped out of sight. Newton Greer pops up on just one song, "Born Dead", a mesmerizing reading of the J.B. Lenoir song of the same name. The song comes for the 1971 album Harmonica Williams with Little Freddie King issued on the Ahura Mazda label and supposedly the first electric blues album recorded in New Orleans. Charles Walker was a fine New York musician who cut handful of sides in the 50's, 60's and early 70's. His "Juice Head Woman" comes from the fine out-of-print album Blues From The Apple issued in 1974 on the Oblivion imprint. Dusty Brown was born in Mississippi in 1929 and migrated to Chicago in 1946. In 1955 he cut four sides for the Parrot label and four more sides for Bandera in 1958. Dusty embarked on a tour of Europe in 1972. In 1975 he opened a lounge in Chicago Heights, Illinois called Dusty's Lounge and featured many of his Chicago blues friends. He moved back down South in the early '90's and in recent years returned to Chicago where he has been reviving his music career appearing at many clubs and festivals

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Willie Walker & Sam BrooksSouth Carolina RagRagtime Blues Guitar
Blind Boy Fuller & Gary DavisRag Mama RagBlind Boy Fuller: Remastered 1935-1938
Pink Anderson & Simmie DooleyEvery Day In The Week BluesTimes Ain't Like They Used to Be Vol. 4
Charley Patton & Willie BrownMoon Goin' Down Screamin' & Hollerin' The Blues
William Harris & Joe RobinsonI'm Leavin' TownThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Willie Ford & Lucious CurtisTimes Is Getting HardMississippi: Saints & Sinners
Buddy Moss & Fred McMullenJealous Hearted ManThe Slide Guitar Vol. 2
Blind Willie McTell & Curley WeaverBell Street Blues The Classic Years 1927-1940
Jim & Bob (The Genial Hawaiians)St. Louis BluesCountry Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Shreveport Home WreckersFence Breakin' Blues Country Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Tommy Johnson & Charlie McCoyBye, Bye BluesLegends of Country Blues
Ishman Bracey & Charlie McCoyLeft Alone BluesLegends of Country Blues
Johnny Temple & Charlie McCoyLead Pencil BluesLegends of Country Blues
Hattie Hart w/ Willie Borum & Allen ShawColdest Stuff In TownMemphis Blues 1927-1938
Geechie Wiley & Elvie ThomasPick Poor Robin CleanI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Sylvester Weaver & Walter BeasleyBottleneck BluesThe Slide Guitar Vol. 1
Kansas Joe & Memphis MinnieMy Wash Woman's GoneCountry Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Garfield Akers & Joe CallicottCottonfield Blues Pt. 1Mississippi Masters
Ruth Willis w/ Fred McMullen & Curley Weaver Man of My Own Country Blues Bottleneck Guitar Classics
Curley Weaver & Fred McMullenWild Cat KittenAtlanta Blues
Famous Hokum BoysPig Meat StrutThe Complete Chess Recordings
Casey Bill WeldonYou Shouldn't Do ThatBottleneck Guitar Trendsetters
The Beale Street SheiksBeale Town Bound Masters of Memphis Blues
The Beale Street SheiksYou ShallMasters of Memphis Blues
Hi Henry Brown & Charlie JordanPreacher BluesCharley Jordan Vol.2 1931-1934
Big Joe Williams & Henry TownsendSomebody's Been Borrowin' That Stuff Big Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935 - 194
Two Charlies Don't Put Your Dirty Hands On MeCharley Jordan Vol.3 1935-1937
Long ''Cleve'' Reed & Little Harvey HullOriginal Stack O' Lee Blues Never Let The Same Bee Sting You Twice
Tarter & GayBrownie BluesSouthwest Virginia Blues
Sleepy John Estes & Son BondsLittle Laura BluesI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More
Georgia Cotton PickersShe's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy DayGood Time Blues: Harmonicas, Kazoos, Washboards & Cow-Bells
Georgia BrownsDecatur Street 81The Slide Guitar Vol. 2
Lonnie Johnson & Eddie LangBlue Room Blues Lonnie Johnson Vol. 5 1929-1930

Show Notes:

On today's show we feature some of the greatest country blues guitar pairings of the pre-war era. The styles of playing fall roughly into a few distinct patterns. One is where one partner is doing intricate treble string runs and the other ornate bass notes and patterns. The arrangements weave back and forth with one guitar then the other taking the lead.

Then there's the "Boom-Chang" type, like the Beale Street Sheiks (Frank Stokes and Dan Sane), Frank Brasswell and Big Bill Broonzy (Famous Hokum Boys) and Memphis Minnie and Little Son Joe.  In these the lead guitar plays a normal sort of tune while the other adds supporting bass notes and runs and strummed chords. In this type the lead guitar part can be played as a arrangement by its self, which is not the case with the case mentioned above where neither part played alone would.

Another is the sort of arrangement found in Johnnie Temple and Charlie McCoy's "Lead Pencil Blues." Here the singer (Temple) plays a boogie pattern like Robert Johnson on the bass string with interspersed treble runs. The McCoy part consists of treble notes and runs. Here, unlike the Boom-Chang type, it's the bass part that can be played separately not the treble part.

Delta guitar duets like Charlie Patton and Willie Brown and Ishman Bracey and Tommy Johnson (both accompanied by Charlie McCoy) are sort of like two guitarists playing the same song together. Different parts, but either could probably make an adequate accompaniment by its self. Another is the "Together" style, like Joe Callicott and Garfield Akers. Often in their duets, like the great "Cottonfields Blues", it doesn't sound like two guitars, only one.

Geographically we move around a bit; Areas where the guitar duet style seemed prevalent was Memphis (by way of Mississippi) in the recordings of Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe, Frank Stokes & Dan Sane and Garfield Akers & Joe Callicott, in Atlanta in the recordings of Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver, Buddy Moss and Fred McMullen and South Carolina in the records of Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis and Simmie Dooley with Pink Anderson.

As a youth Frank Stokes learned to play guitar before moving to Hernando, Mississippi, home to guitarists Jim Jackson, Dan Sane and Robert Wilkins. In Hernando, Stokes worked as a blacksmith, traveling to Memphis on the weekends to play guitar. Stokes joined forces with fellow Mississippian Garfield Akers as a blackface songster, comedian, and buck dancer in the Doc Watts Medicine Show, a tent show that toured the South during World War I. During the 1920s he teamed with guitarist Dan Sane, joining Jack Kelly's Jug Busters to play white country clubs, parties and dances, and playing Beale Street together as the Beale Street Sheiks. All told, Stokes was to cut 38 sides for Paramount and Victor Records.

Memphis Minnie's duets with Kansas Joe drew inspiration from the guitar teamwork of Frank Stokes and Dan Sane as well as from her own early partnership with Willie Brown. Her marriage and recording debut came in 1929, to and with Kansas Joe McCoy, when a Columbia Records talent scout heard them playing in a Beale Street barbershop.Between 1929 and 1934 Minnie and Joe cut around one hundred sides together.

Garfield Akers was born in Brights, Mississippi in 1901 and was already performing locally when he moved to Hernando as a teenager. He stayed in that area most of his life and worked as a sharecropper, playing at weekends at house parties and dances, although he toured with Frank Stokes on the Doc Watts Medicine Show. Akers met up with Joe Callicott in the 1920's and they became lifelong friends and partners, the two of them taking turns to play lead and second guitar as they sang blues. Garfield made his first recording, "Cottonfield Blues Parts 1 & 2", in Memphis in 1929 with Callicott on second guitar. Akers and Callicott played together for more than 20 years finally going their own ways in the mid 1940's. Nothing is known about Akers after the pair split although it is believed that he died around the end of the 1950's or the beginning of the 1960's, possibly in Memphis. Callicott was rediscovered and made recordings in the late 60's.

Employing a second guitarist was particularly prevalent on the recordings of the Atlanta bluesmen who seemed to be a particularly tight knit group. Notable was among them was the underrated Curley Weaver. When he was nineteen years old Weaver partnered up with harmonica player Eddie Mapp and moved to Atlanta. There he teamed up with his old boyhood friends (Barbecue) Bob and Charley Hicks. The three guitarists, along with Mapp, played the streets around Atlanta. Barbecue Bob was the first to record and arranged for his brother and Curley Weaver to make their recording debuts. Weaver's successful debut led to more recordings, both solo and with Eddie Mapp and Barbecue Bob. It was also through the recording studio that Weaver met up with Buddy Moss, and the two went on to work together for the next ten years. It was during this period that Weaver met up with Blind Willie McTell. The two went on to play and record together for 20 years or more.

Bruce Bastin called Fred McMullen "a superb guitarist with a delicate touch." Virtually nothing is know of him. He made recordings under his own name in 1933 and backed artists Ruth Willis as heard on today's cut "Man Of My Own", Buddy Moss, heard on our track "Jealous Hearted Man", worked with Curley Weaver, heard on the rousing "Wild Cat Kitten", and was in a group called the Georgia Browns alongside Buddy Moss and Curley Weaver of which we spin "Decatur Street 81."Buddy Moss recalled him a little while Kate McTell who claimed McMullen introduced Blind Willie to Buddy Moss:"Buddy saw (McTell and Weaver) playing together …and he was playing with Fred McMullen, I believe. Buddy Moss was at the 81 Theater. The Willie asked him …would he like to record some records. …That's how he met him, through Fred McMullen."

"Blind" Willie Walker spent most of his life was spent in and around Greenville, South Carolina. on December 6, 1930 Walker had his only recording session. He cut four sides for Columbia in Atlanta with Sam Brooks on second guitar (two sides were never issued). He was described by blues musicians such as Reverend Gary Davis and Pink Anderson as an outstanding guitarist, Josh White called him the best guitarist he had ever heard, even better than Blind Blake.

Rev. Gary Davis only backed Blind Boy Fuller on two numbers for a 1935 session. Many of Fuller's records were played with his own guitar while others feature second guitar by Floyd “Dipper Boy” Council and Sonny Jones.

In 1916 in Spartanburg, SC Pink Anderson met Simeon "Blind Simmie" Dooley, from whom he learned to be a blues singer, this after experience in string bands. Anderson and Dooley would play to medicine shows in Greenville, Spartanburg, and other neighboring communities. They recorded four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta in April, 1928, both playing guitar and singing.

Moving to Chicago we spin tracks featuring Big Bill Broonzy and Casey Bill Weldon. The Famous Hokum Boys consisted of Georgia Tom, Frank Braswell, Big Bill Broonzy and singer Jane Lucas (Mozelle Alderson).The group specialized in raunchy blues numbers, recording some two-dozen sides in 1930 including some blistering twin guitar romps on numbers like our featured cut "Pig Meat Strut" as well as others like "Saturday Night", "Guitar Rag" and "Black Cat Rag."

Despite several busy years in the recording studio and a couple of medium-sized hits, very little is known about Casey Bill Weldon. Between 1927 and 1935 he cut just over 60 sides for Victor, Bluebird and Vocalion. He was also an active session guitarist, appearing on records by Teddy Darby, Bumble Bee Slim, Memphis Minnie, Peetie Wheatsraw and others. His first recordings were with Peetie Wheatsraw which clearly inspired his vocal style. His guitar style owes a clear debt to the Hawaiian guitarists and was even billed as the Hawaiian Guitar Wizard. 1937's "You Shouldn't Do That" with an unknown guitarist finds Weldon playing in a super fast, swinging, up-to-date style.

Also featured today are a trio of recordings featuring second guitar by Charlie McCoy. McCoy ranked among the great blues accompanists of his era and his accomplished mandolin and guitar work can be heard on numerous recordings in a wide variety of settings from the late 1920's through the early 40's. Jackson, Mississippi in the 1920's was a city with a vibrant blues scene including artists such as Tommy Johnson, Walter Vincson, Ishman Bracey, Johnnie Temple, The Chatmon Brothers (Bo, Lonnie and Sam were the most prominent) Skip James and Rube Lacey. Lacey recalled McCoy being among the best of this talented group: "But I really believe Charlie got to be a better musician than I was. He was young, but he got to be about the best musician there was in our band, Charlie McCoy. He was wonderful. He could play anything pretty well you sing. …He was good as I ever want to see." Today we spotlight McCoy behind Tommy Johnson, Ishman Bracey and on Johnnie Temple's classic "Lead Pencil Blues."

Worth mentioning are a few all time favorites by Sylvester Weaver, Jim & Bob and Oscar Woods. On October 23, 1923, Weaver recorded in New York City with the blues singer Sara Martin "Longing for Daddy Blues b/w I've Got to Go and Leave My Daddy Behind" and two weeks later as a soloist "Guitar Blues" b/w Guitar Rag". Both recordings were released on Okeh Records. Th later recordings are the first known recorded songs using the slide guitar style. Weaver recorded until 1927, sometimes accompanied by Sara Martin, about 50 additional songs. On some recordings from 1927 he was accompanied by Walter Beasley and the singer Helen Humes. Beasly and Weaver made a fine team, heard in sublime from on thier masterpice, "Bottleneck Blues."

Jim Holstein and Bob Pauole were a musical duo known as Jim and Bob, the Genial Hawaiians. They performed on the radio in Chicago and made a handful of impressive recordings that were released in the 1930's. Their instrumental take on "St. Louis Blues" is a knockout.

Oscar "Buddy" Woods was a Louisiana street musician known as "The Lone Wolf" and a pioneer in the style of lap steel, bottleneck slide guitar. With partner Ed Schaffer they recorded four songs in 1930 and 1932 as the Shreveport Homewreckers and under that name also backed country singer Jimmie Davis. In addition, Woods cut around a dozen sides between 1936 and 1940. The duo's "Fence Breakin' Blues" is one of my all time favorite numbers.

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