Big Road Blues http://sundayblues.org ...vintage blues radio & writing Sun, 21 Jun 2015 23:56:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Big Road Blues Show 6/21/15: Mix Show http://sundayblues.org/archives/9430 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9430#comments Sun, 21 Jun 2015 23:56:49 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9430 ARTISTSONGALBUM Jelly Roll Morton Mamie's BluesNew Orleans Blues 1923-1940 Sidney BechetSidney's Blues New Orleans Blues 1923-1940 John Lee HookerT.B.'s Killin' MeAlternative Boogie: Early Studio Recordings 1948-1952 Sonny Boy Williamson Lord Oh Lord Blues The Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.1 Brownie McGheeI'm Talking About ItCountry Blues Troubadours 1938-1948 Ida CoxBlues Ain't Nothin' Else But! Vaudeville Blues 1919-1941 Grant & Wilson Scoop ItVaudeville Blues 1919-1941 Big John Greer Confusion BluesRockin' with Big John. Slim HarpoStop Working BluesBuzzin' The Blues Clarence Samuels Somebody Gotta GoHowling on Dowling: R&B from Houston 1947-1951 Wynonie Harris Wynonie's Unissued BluesDon't You Want To Rock: The King & DeLuxe Acetate Series Charlie Spand Back To The Woods The Best of Charlie Spand Kokomo ArnoldBack To The Woods The Essential Walter DavisMove Back To The Woods Walter Davis Vol. 7 1946-52 Isiah Chattman Cold In Hand Blues High Water Blues Frankie Lee SimsMy Home Ain't Here Walking With Frankie:
Unissued cuts from 1960 William 'Do Boy' Diamond Mississippi Flat Blues At Home Vol. 13 Hammie NixonYellow Yam Blues Blues At Home Vol. 12 Pinetop Johnson Tommy Dorsey Boogie Blues At Home Vol. 6 Marylin Scott I Got What My Daddy Likes I Got What My Daddy Likes Marylin Scott Another Woman's Man I Got What My Daddy Likes Marylin Scott I Want To Die Easy I Got What My Daddy Likes Charles Brown Changeable Woman BluesThe Classic Earliest Recordings Amos Milburn Rocky Road BluesThe Complete Aladdin Recordings 1946-1957 Blind Blake Hard Road Blues All The Published Sides Willie Baker Crooked Woman Blues Charley Lincoln 1927-1930 Big Time Sarah Got To See My BabyLong Tall Daddy

Show Notes: 

Read Liner Notes

I originally had a theme show planned for today but found out that the station will be using some of my time for live remotes of the Rochester Jazz Festival. Despite the shortened airtime a good show today including some fine down home blues from the 60's and 70's, several excellent blues ladies from the pre-war and post-war eras and several superb blues singers.

Today's featured blues ladies include Ida Cox, Coot Grant, Marylin Scott and Big Time Sarah. Ida Cox ran away from home in 1910 when she was a teenager and performed in minstrel and tent shows as a comedienne and singer. She worked her why into vaudeville and eventually became a headliner. She toured the country throughout the teens and 1920's. In 1923 she began her recording contract with the Paramount label, who billed her as the Uncrowned Queen of the Blues. Between September 1923 and October 1929, Cox recorded a total of 78 titles for Paramount.

Coot Grant was the main stage name of Leola B. Pettigrew, whose legal name became Leola Wilson following her marriage to performing partner Wesley Wilson. The pair met and began performing together in 1905 and were wed in 1913. Coot had been involved in show business since she was a child, beginning as a dancer in vaudeville. Her husband, who played both piano and organ, was performing as early as 1905. He performed under a variety of stage names including Catjuice Charlie in a duo with Pigmeat Pete, as well as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox Wilson. The husband and wife, billed as Grant & Wilson, Kid & Coot, and Hunter & Jenkins, cut over sixty sides between 1925 and 1938, often backed with top jazz artists

Little is known about Marylin Scott or Mary Deloatch, she recorded under both names as well as Marylin Scott the Carolina Blues Girl. She may have been from Charlotte, North Carolina or Norfolk, Virginia, and did some local recording in the mid-40’s then in 1950 for the new independent label, Muse Records. The songs for Muse were "Straighten Him Out" and "Another Woman's Man." Scott then moved to Savoy Records where she recorded with the Johnny Otis band cutting "Uneasy Blues" and "Beer Bottle Boogie" released on Savoy's subsidiary label, Regent Records. In 1951 she cut several gospel numbers for Regent as well as a few final gospel numbers for Savoy. She was still active in gospel music as late as 1967, cutting a 45 that year for Arctic under the name Mary De Loach, "Move This Thing Part I b/w Move This Thing Part II", delivering a powerhouse gospel performance. It's a shame this has not been reissued. In the 1980’s the Whiskey, Women, and… label issued the album I Got What My Daddy Likes: The Uneasy Blues of Marylin Scott that collected all her early recordings. These sides have also been issued on the Document CD Carolina Blues & Gospel 1949-1951.

Sarah Streeter, known as Big Time Sarah, passed away June 13th at the age of 62. She was born in Coldwater, Mississippi, and raised in Chicago, where she sang in gospel choirs in South Chicago churches. Her experience playing with Sunnyland Slim led to her first solo release, a single released on his label, Airways Records. She went on to record several records for Dlemark. Our closing track, "Go To See My Baby", features Sunnyland Slim and comes from the album Long Tall Daddy on the Arcola label collecting tracks from a 1976 session.

Big Time Sarah & Sunnyland Slim
Big Time Sarah and Sunnyland Slim, photo by
Bob West from the CD Long Tall Daddy

We spin some excellent field recording from the 1960's and 70's with recordings captured by Giambattista Marcucci and David Evans. On December 1972, with the help of harmonica player Hammie Nixon, using a professional portable equipment, Giambattista Marcucci started recording blues in Memphis and continued in July 1976, ending in July 1982. A series of informal sessions was held during the course of my five trips through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, featuring well known, but also little known, and unknown musicians. This material has now been issued as the 16-volume Blues At Home series. The series is currently available digitally but will be soon issued on CD. I’ll be doing a two-part show on these recordings in the next month or so.

From the album High Water Blues, we hear Isiah Chattman's "Cold In Hand Blues." The recordings on this album were captured by David Evans between 1965 and 1970, mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi and issued on the Flyright label in 1974.

We hear from several fine blues singers today including tracks by Big John Greer and Wynonie Harris who share some recording history together. Greer was fine sax man and singer who played on a terrific number of records for RCA Victor and its Groove subsidiary from 1949 to 1955 and for King between 1956 and 1957. Greer blew some mighty sax as a session artist, most notably on sides by Wynonie Harris. He cut several fine R&B numbers under his own name. In the early 1990's Bear Family issued a 3-CD set titled Rockin' with Big John. Our featured Wynonie Harris song, "Wynonie's Unissued Blues", comes from an excellent reissue on Ace called Don't You Want To Rock: The King & DeLuxe Acetate Series. The 2-CD set includes a CD of some of his best known cuts plus an entire CD of alternates, all mastered from new transfers from the original acetates.

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Big Road Blues Show 6/7/15: I Heard the Angels Singing – The Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis http://sundayblues.org/archives/9384 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9384#comments Sun, 07 Jun 2015 21:24:20 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9384 ARTISTSONGALBUM Ian Zack InterviewInterviewSay No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis Rev. Gary Davis Lord I Wish I Could See Rev. Blind Gary Davis 1935-1949 Rev. Gary Davis CocaineBlues & Ragtime Rev. Gary Davis Samson and Delilah Harlem Street Singer Rev. Gary Davis O, Glory Apostolic Studio Sessions Rev. Gary Davis CrucifixionA Little More Faith Rev. Gary Davis The Boy Was Kissing The Girl The Guitar And Banjo Of Reverend Gary Davis Rev. Gary Davis Candy ManThe Blues & Salvation Rev. Gary Davis Death Don't Have No Mercy Harlem Street Singer Rev. Gary Davis Out On The Ocean Sailing Apostolic Studio Sessions Rev. Gary Davis You Got To Go Down Rev. Blind Gary Davis 1935-1949 Rev. Gary Davis Lord, I Looked Down The Road Say No To The Devil Rev. Gary Davis Goin' To Sit Down On The Banks of the River Harlem Street Singer Rev. Gary Davis Get Right Church American Street Songs Rev. Gary Davis Hesitation Blues Blues & Ragtime Rev. Gary Davis I Belong To The BandHarlem Street Singer Rev. Gary Davis I Heard The Angels Singing Demons & Angels Rev. Gary Davis Fast Fox Trot aka Buck Rag The Guitar And Banjo Of Reverend Gary Davis Rev. Gary Davis You Can Go HomeRev. Blind Gary Davis 1935-1949

Show Notes:

ISay No To The Devil Bookn Ian Zack's new book, Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis, Zack calls Davis "arguably the greatest of all the blues-based guitarists to record before World War II" and the "…remained, up until the last years of his life, one of the world’s greatest, if not the greatest, of all traditional blues and ragtime guitarists." Davis ran with legendary bluesmen such as Willie Walker and Blind Boy Fuller down South, making his debut with fifteen sides cut in 1935 for the ARC label. In the 1940's he moved to New York where he recorded prolifically in the post-war years starting with a few scattered sides in the 1940's, more in the 1950's before really picking up steam in the 1960's. While he was never a star on the folk scene or blues revival, he attracted a flock of devoted mostly white followers who learned directly from him and many in turn became well known musicians in their own right ensuring that Davis' legacy was carried on. "Davis", Zack writes, "would come to regard many of his top students as his children, and he wanted them to carry on both his name and his music." Recent years have seen numerous posthumous releases, musical tributes, books and a movie. Say No to the Devil is a thoroughly researched and well written account of Davis' life and one of the better musical biographies in recent years.

I haven't played Davis all that much over the years on the show despite having many of his records. Reading the biography inspired me to dip back into those albums and rediscover many songs I'd half forgotten. Today we interview the author, Ian Zack, as well as playing a diverse selection of Davis' music spanning the 1930's through the 70's.

Davis was an accomplished guitar player at an early age, supposedly playing in a string band at the age of fourteen in Greenville with legendary guitarist Willie Walker (Walker recorded one 78 for Columbia in 1930, "Dupree Blue b/w South Carolina Rag"). By the late 20's Davis had moved to Durham. "For Davis", Zack writes, "the tension between the sacred and the secular world would reach a peak during his time in Durham, just when he might have been on the cusp of major success as a musician." During this period Davis described himself as a "blues cat."

In 1935 storekeeper and talent scout J. B. Long, the manager of Blind Boy Fuller "discovered" Davis. "Oh, [Gary] could play the guitar up and down, any way in the world," he later recalled (from Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues). Davis exerted a considerable influence on Fuller. Davis and Fuller were among a group of Durham musicians Long escorted to New York City to record for ARC, the race music subsidiary of Columbia Records. Between July 23 and July 26 Davis recorded 15 sides (1 unissued): ten religious songs, and two blues numbers. Sometime in the early thirties Davis had a religious awakening and by the end of the decade was an ordained minister. Long tried to get him to record again in 1939 but he declined likely because he refused to play blues. It was ten years before Davis made another record.

Rev. Gary Davis with the daughter of Alice
Ochs and Phil Ochs. Photo by Alice Ochs

In 1937 Davis married Annie Bell Wright, a woman as deeply spiritual as himself, and she looked after him devotedly until his death. In 1943 she moved to New York with Davis following in 1944. They soon moved to 169th Street in Harlem, where they lived for the next 18 years and where Davis preached in various storefront churches. During this time Davis also busked and preached on the streets: "dressed in a suit and tie, with a tin cup pinned to his overcoat or fastened to his guitar, and wearing dark aviator sunglasses over his eyes, he performed both spirituals and instrumental dance tunes-but no blues, unless he was asked to teach a song."

It didn't take Davis long to get involved with the fledgling New York folk scene. "Although folk music wouldn't hit the mainstream for more than a decade, New York already had an established folk music underground that included performers, record producers, and club owners." Davis eventually toured Europe and played at numerous folk festivals including the Cambridge and Newport Folk Festivals (1959, 1965, and 1968).

It didn't take him long to resume his recording career either. He made his first post-war sides in 1945, cut sides for Continental in 1949, recorded in 1950 with tracks appearing on the Folkways album Music in the Streets, in 1954 for the Stinson label and 1956 for Riverside. During this period the following albums were issued: The Singing Reverend w/ Sonny Terry and American Street Songs with songs split between Davis and Pink Anderson. Davis recorded in 1957 but these recordings were not released until 1963 when they were issued by the British 77 label as Pure Religion and Bad Company. His finest recordings during this period were the four he did for the Prestige label: Harlem Street Singer, Say No to the Devil, A Little More Faith and The Guitar and Banjo of Reverend Gary Davis.

A pleasant surprise in recent years are a number of unreleased Davis recordings that have surfaced. Among the notable ones include: If I Had My Way: Early Home Recordings, Demons and Angels: The Ultimate Collection (3 CD), Sun of Our Life: Solos, Songs, A Sermon, 1955-1957, Manchester Free Trade Hall 1964, Live at Gerde's Folk City (3 CD) and At Home and Church (3 CD), the latter two released by Davis ' student Stephan Grossman.

The Angel's Message To Me 78
Originally issued on ARC in 1935
then on the dime store label Melotone in 1936

Among folk revival guitar players of the 1950's and early '60s Reverend Gary Davis's finger picking style was legendary. One of the first to adopt it was Ramblin' Jack Elliott, who recorded "Cocaine Blues" and "Candyman." Dave Van Ronk studied with Davis and also covered many of his songs. Other aspiring folk guitarists and blues players swarmed to take lessons from him including Bob Weir, Stefan Grossman, Ernie Hawkins, Dion, Steve Katz, Janis Ian, Dave Bromberg, Ry Cooder, Roy Bookbinder, Larry Johnson, Jorma Kaukonen among others. As one of Davis' admirers, Terri Thal, recalled: "We worshiped him, musically. Because of Gary's musicianship-not his fame, he wasn't that famous-people were awestruck."

He "…never became an American cultural icon like Armstrong or Muddy Waters. Four decades after his death, his genius has gone largely unrecognized in the popular culture, even though he exerted a considerable influence on the folk scene of the sixties and on the early rock scene of the seventies." Undoubtedly his fame would have been greater had he chosen to focus on blues. "The business of saving souls", Zack writes, "is what occupied him, and fame didn't seem to motivate him. … It could be said that Davis turned Robert Johnson's legend on its head: he didn't sell his soul to the devil, as Johnson was rumored to have done, to acquire superhuman blues guitar chops. Rather, Davis renounced blues music in his prime and devoted his life to God as a preacher. When recording blues material might have opened doors or record producers wallets-and stamped an express ticket out of poverty-Davis refused again and again."

Ian Zack Interview [edited] (MP3, 37 min.)

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Big Road Blues Show 5/31/15: Peg Leg Stomp – Peg Leg Howell & Friends http://sundayblues.org/archives/9344 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9344#comments Sun, 31 May 2015 21:14:33 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9344 ARTISTSONGALBUM Peg Leg HowellNew Prison BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg HowellFo' Day BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg HowellCoal Man Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg HowellTishamingo Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg HowellNew Jelly Roll BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg HowellBeaver Slide RagViolin, Sing The Blues For Me Macon Ed & Tampa Joe Mean Florida BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Macon Ed & Tampa Joe Worrying Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg Howell & His GangMoanin' & Groanin' BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg Howell & His GangPeg Leg StompPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg Howell & His GangPapa Stobb BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg Howell & His GangHobo Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg Howell Skin Game Blues Before The Blues Vol. 2 Peg Leg Howell & His Gang Too Tight BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Sloppy Henry Long, Tall, Disconnected Mama Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Sloppy Henry Say I Do ItPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg HowellRock & Gravel BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony Banjo Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony Turkey Buzzard BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony Lonesome Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 1 1926-1928 Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony Georgia Crawl Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow! Peg Leg HowellTurtle Dove BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg HowellWalkin' BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg HowellAway From home Hard Times Come Again No More Vol. 2 Macon Ed & Tampa JoeEverything's Coming My WayPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Macon Ed & Tampa JoeWinging That ThingPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Brothers Wright And WilliamsI've Got A Home In Beulah LandPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Sloppy HenryCaned Heat BluesMy Rough And Rowdy Ways Vol. 2 Sloppy HenryRoyal Palm Special BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg HowellBroke & Hungry Blues Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg Howell & Jim Hill Monkey Man BluesPeg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930 Peg Leg Howell & Jim Hill Chittlin' Supper Peg Leg Howell Vol. 2 1928-1930

Show Notes:

Peg Leg Howell and His Gang
Henry Williams, Eddie Anthony, Peg Leg Howell

Like Memphis, Atlanta was a staging post for musicians on their way to all points. It’s not surprising then that the first country blues musician, Ed Andrews, was recorded there in 1924. The company that recorded him, Okeh, was one of many to send their engineers to Southern cities to record local talent. Companies like Victor, Columbia, Vocalion and Brunswick made at least yearly visits until the depression. One of the earliest recorded Atlanta bluesmen, Peg Leg Howell, bridged the gap between the era of pre-blues and the period when the blues eventually became the popular music of the day. Born Joshua Barnes Howell in Eatonton, Georgia on March 5, 1888, he was a self-taught guitarist who acquired his nickname after a 1916 run-in with an irate brother-in-law which ended in a shotgun wound to the leg and, ultimately, amputation. Unable to continue working as a farmhand, he migrated to Atlanta, where he began pursuing music full-time; in addition to playing street corners for passing change, Howell supplemented his income by bootlegging liquor, an offense which led to a one-year prison sentence in 1925. He recorded four songs at the end of 1926, eight sides in 1927 with guitarist Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony which were billed as Peg Leg Howel and his gang. Ten final sides were recorded in 1929. Tony Russell described the music as "rugged and without artifice. Howell's early recordings like 'Coal Man Blues' do no lack appeal but are rather overshadowed by his trio sides with Anthony and Williams, which give us a stringband music both less suave and more diverse than that of their near-contemporaries the Mississippi Sheiks." Howell backed singer Sloppy Henry on a few sides and his pals Eddie Anthony and Henry Williams also recorded on their own.

1927 columbia Catalog
Peg Leg Howell featured on a 1927 Columbia catalog

In 1963 three high school students – George Mitchell, Roger Brown, and Jack Boozer tracked Howell down. Mitchell coaxed him into recording again. After a month of practicing on the guitar, Howell made the field recordings that were issued by Testament Records as The Legendary Peg Leg Howell. Howell was also interviewed by Mitchell the results of which were published in Blues Unlimited (the full article is provided below) which is where the below quotes come from.

"My friends call me Peg, …Peg Leg Howell. I was born on the fifth of March. in 1888. I was born in Eatonton, Putnom. County, Georgia. …My father was a farmer. when I was a child I went to school in Putnam County; I went as far as the ninth grade before I stopped. After that I worked on my father's farm with him…plowed. Worked on the farm until 1916, when I was about 28. …I had lost my leg in 1916 and had to quit farm work. I got shot by my brother-in-law; he got mad at me and shot me. …I came to Atlanta when I was about 35 years old. …I learned how to play the guitar about 1909. I learnt myself – didn't take long to learn. I just stayed up one night and learnt myself."

He began performing music in parks and on the streets of Atlanta, sometimes working alongside mandolinist Eugene Pedin, guitarist Henry Williams, and violinist Eddie Anthony, his closest friend. “The men from Columbia Records found me there in Atlanta. A Mr. Brown – he worked for Columbia – he asked me to make a record for them. I was out serenading, playing on Decatur Street, and he heard me playing and taken me up to his office and I played there. …My first record. was "New Prison Blues" (coupled with "Fo Day Blues" on Columbia 14177D). In 1925 I had been in prison for s selling whiskey and I heard the song there. I don't know who made it up. As for selling the whiskey, I would sell it to anybody who came to the house. I bought the moonshine from people who ran it and I sold it. I don't know how they caught me; they just ran down on me one day."

Howell was back before the microphone five months after his debut this time with Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony. His “New Jelly Roll Blues” from this session was his bestselling number and advertised in the Chicago Defender newspaper (Columbia ran eight ads for Howell between 1927 and 1929). The record was listed as Peg Leg Howell and His Gang. The label promoted Peg Leg Howell by putting his photo on the cover of its 1927 catalog. In November 1927, Peg Leg Howell and His Gang recorded three more 78's. "Eddie Anthony recorded with me. He played violin. And Henry Williams; he played guitar. We called the group Peg Leg Howell and His Gang. Made quite a few records with them two."At the November 1st session “Too Tight Blues,” “Moanin’ and Groanin’ Blues,” “Hobo Blues,” and “Peg Leg Stomp” were recorded. Howell made three final Columbia 78's in April 1929. Ollie Griffin was probably the violinist. Three days later, Howell fronted four songs that came out credited to Peg Leg Howell and Jim Hill.

Peg Leg Howell - New Jelly Roll BluesDuring the spring of 1929 Eddie Anthony recorded eight sides for OKeh Records as part of a duo called Macon Ed and Tampa Joe (the identity of Tampa Joe has never been established). On April 19, 1928, Henry Williams and Eddie Anthony recorded a Columbia 78 on their own, the raucous “Georgia Crawl” backed with “Lonesome Blues.” Howell and Anthony were probably the accompanists on a four song session by Sloppy Henry recorded on August 13, 1928. Henry cut sixteen sides between 1924 and 1929 for Okeh. It's been speculated that Anthony plays on on the record "I've Got A Home In Beulah Land" by the Brothers Wright And Williams recorded in 1930.

Henry Williams perished in jail in 1930, and Peg Leg Howell was soon back serving time for bootlegging. After Eddie Anthony died in 1934, Howell told Mitchell, “I just didn’t feel like playing anymore. I went back to selling liquor. Then I ran a woodyard for about two years around 1940. I lost my other leg in 1952, through sugar diabetes.” Howell's final recordings issued on the Testament label captured him in sad shape so those songs will not be featured. Better to remember Howell and his pals in their prime.

Related Reading:

-Welding, Pete; Mitchell, George. “I’m Peg Leg Howell.” Blues Unlimited no. 10 (Mar 1964) [PDF]

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Big Road Blues Show 5/24/15: Fence Breakin' Blues – Great Recording Sessions Pt. V (Pt. 1) http://sundayblues.org/archives/9324 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9324#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 21:06:52 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9324 ARTISTSONGALBUM Hattie HartWon't You Be Kind to Me?Memphis Masters Hattie HartYou Wouldn't, Would You. Papa?Memphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stomper s Memphis Jug Band w/ Hattie HartMemphis Yo Yo BluesThe Best Of Memphis Jug Band Memphis Jug Band K.C. MoanThe Best Of Memphis Jug Band Memphis Jug Band Cocaine Habit Blues The Best Of Memphis Jug Band Memphis Jug Band Fourth Street Mess Around Ruckus Juice & Chitlins Vol. 1 Memphis Jug Band w/ Memphis MinnieMeningitis Blues Memphis Shakedown Sleepy John EstesThe Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly HairI Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More Sleepy John EstesDivin' Duck Blues I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More Sleepy John EstesMilk Cow Blues I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More Sleepy John EstesWatcha Doin'?I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More Frank StokesSouth Memphis Blues The Best of Frank Stokes Frank StokesBunker Hill Blues Folks, He Sure Do Pull Some Bow! Frank StokesRight Now BluesThe Best of Frank Stokes Blind Clyde ChurchNumber Nine BluesPiano Blues Vol. 1 1927-1936 Blind Clyde ChurchPneumatic BluesPiano Blues Vol. 1 1927-1936 Cannon's Jug Stompers Ripley BluesThe Best of Cannon's Jug Stomp Cannon's Jug Stompers Viola Lee Blues The Best of Cannon's Jug Stomp Cannon's Jug Stompers Last Chance BluesThe Best of Cannon's Jug Stomp Memphis Sanctified SingersHe Got Better Things For You How Can I Keep From Singing Vol. 1 Cannon's Jug Stompers Noah's BluesThe Best of Cannon's Jug Stomp Cannon's Jug Stompers Going To GermanyThe Best of Cannon's Jug Stomp Noah Lewis Devil in the WoodpileWhen The Sun Goes Down Bessie TuckerKey to the Bushes BluesBessie Tucker 1928-1929 Bessie TuckerT.B. Moan Bessie Tucker 1928-1929 Shreveport Home WreckersHome Wreckin' BluesTexas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace Shreveport Home WreckersFence Breakin' BluesBottleneck Blues Guitar Classics 1926-1937 Kokomo ArnoldPaddlin' Madeline Blues Kokomo Arnold Vol. 1 1930-1935 Bukka WhiteI Am in the Heavenly WayAmerican Primitive Vol. 1 Bukka WhiteThe Panama LimitedWhen The Sun Goes Down Memphis Minnie & Kansas JoeI Never Told A Lie Four Women Blues Memphis Minnie & Kansas JoeDon't Want No WomanFour Women Blues Memphis Minnie & Kansas JoeGeorgia Skin Four Women Blues

Show Notes:

Victor CatalogToday's show is the fourth installment spotlighting great recording sessions. The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930, the third was recordings Columbia made in December 1927 and December 1928 and the fourth spotlighted Victor in Memphis in 1928 .

To feed the demand for blues and gospel records the record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. As Robert Dixon and John Godrich wrote in the seminal Recording The Blues book: "Victor was the only company systematically to exploit the gold mine of black talent in and around Memphis."  Today we spotlight Victor in Memphis again, this time between Sept. and Nov. 1929 and May through June of 1930. In 1929 Victor recorded Hattie Hart, the Memphis Jug Band, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Noah Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Blind Clyde Church, Frank Stokes, Memphis Sanctified Singers and Bessie Tucker. In 1930 they recorded several of the same artists in addition to the Shreveport Home Wreckers, Kokomo Arnold, Kaiser Clifton, Bukka White and Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe.

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 Victor CatalogJug Band first recorded for Victor in February 1927 and over the next four years recorded 57 sides. Hattie Hart had appeared on several of the Memphis Jug Band's discs in 1929 and 1930, singing the unforgettable "Memphis Yo Yo Blues", "Cocaine Habit Blues", "Oh Ambulance Man", "Papa's Got Your Bath Water On" and "Spider's Nest Blues." Her first recordings were made in Memphis for the Victor label in 1929. Three songs were recorded but only two were issued for her debut single. In 1934 she was recorded again in New York City in September of that year. She moved Chicago where in in 1938 she cut sides as Hattie Bolten.

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 Cannon. 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 recorded over two-dozen sides with the group through 1930 for Victor.

Noah Lewis was born in Henning, Tennessee, and raised in the vicinity of Ripley. He played in local string bands and brass bands, and began playing in the Ripley and Memphis areas with Gus Cannon. When jug bands became popular in the mid-1920's, he joined Cannon's Jug Stompers. He cut seven sides under his own name at sessions in 1929 and 1930. Recording as Noah Lewis' Jug Band, he was backed on two numbers by Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell with just Estes backing him on two other numbers cut a couple of days apart.

When the Victor recording company sent a field recording unit to Memphis in September 1929, Estes recorded several sides backed by the Three J's, with Jones playing piano instead of the jug. . He was invited to record again for Victor in May 1930. This session yielded the up-tempo "Milk Cow Blues," a tune Robert Johnson would later record as "Milkcow Calf Blues." In all the group cut fifteen sides, three were unissued, over the course of eight session in 1929 and 1930.

Frank Stokes was first recorded by Victor in 1927 with his "Downtown Blues" and "Bedtime Blues" selling well and when Victor returned to Memphis in August 1928 they recorded ten further selections. In 1929, Stokes and Sane recorded again for Paramount, resuming their 'Beale Street Sheiks' billing for a few cuts. In September, Stokes was back on Victor to make what were to be his last recordings, this time without Sane, but with Will Batts on fiddle.

catalog24Among the major artists recorded by Victor during these sessions were Bukka White, Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe and Kokomo Arnold. In 1930 Bukka White met furniture salesman Ralph Limbo, who was also a talent scout for Victor. White traveled to Memphis where he made his first recordings, singing a mixture of blues and gospel material under the name of Washington White. Victor only saw fit to release four of the 14 songs Bukka White recorded that day.

Memphis Minnie's 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. In 1930 Minnie recorded a pair of songs back by her friends, the Memphis Jug Band. She may also be on sides Jed Davenport and His Beale Street Jug Band cut that year.

Bukka White made his debut for Victor in 1930 and it may be Minnie's voice backing him on "I am In The Heavenly Way" b/ "Promise True And Grand."

Kokomo Arnold made his debut in 1930 although would not record again until he was in Chicago in 1934 where he recorded prolifically through 1938.

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Big Road Blues Show 5/17/15: My Kind of Blues – A Tribute To B.B. King http://sundayblues.org/archives/9312 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9312#comments Sun, 17 May 2015 18:26:16 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9312 ARTISTSONGALBUM B.B. King LucilleLucille B.B. King You Done Lost Your Good ThingMy Kind of Blues B.B. King Walking Dr Bill My Kind of Blues B.B. King Boogie Rock (aka House Rocker) The Soul Of B.B. King B.B. King Night Life Blues Is King B.B. King The JungleThe Jungle B.B. King Don't Let It Shock You The Soul Of B.B. King B.B. King My Own Fault My Kind of Blues B.B. King Love, Honor and Obey The Soul Of B.B. King B.B. King The Letter The Soul Of B.B. King B.B. King Woke Up This Morning Singin' The Blues B.B. King Woman I Love B.B. King Wails B.B. King How Blue Can You Get?Live At The Regal B.B. King When My Heart Beats Like A HammerThe Vintage Years B.B. King Sweet Sixteen (Parts 1&2) The Vintage Years B.B. King Sweet Little Angel Live At The Regal B.B. King Why Does Everything Happen To MeThe Best of the Kent Singles B.B. King That Ain't The Way To Do ItThe Vintage Years B.B. King Baby Get Lost Blues Is King B.B. King We Can't Make ItB.B. King Wails B.B. King Gamblers Blues Blues Is King B.B. King Shut Your Mouth More B.B. King (Ain't That) Just Like a Woman More B.B. King B.B. Boogie Ladies & Gentlemen ... Mr. B.B. King B.B. KingSave A Seat For MeSings Spirituals

Show Notes:

The king of the blues, B.B. King, died on May 14th. My first blues album was B.B.'s Live At The Regal which I picked up for $3.99 at Tower Records in NYC. After that I started picking up those great reissue albums put out by Ace Records which collected his 50's sides. I'll be focusing on B.B.'s 50's and 60's sides today. Jazz 90.1 will honor B.B. King with a special 12 hour music vigil. Following my show, Jim McGrath (The Blues Spectrum), Derrick Lucas (The Soul Spectrum) and Paul Conley (Jazz Horizons) will all pay tribute to B.B. on their programs today beginning at 5 p.m. through Monday morning at 6 a.m. With the news of B.B.'s passing I did not have time to put together show notes.

B.B. King

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Big Road Blues Show 5/10/15: A Taste Of BluesWay – The BluesWay Label Pt. 2 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9279 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9279#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 21:08:57 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9279 ARTISTSONGALBUM B.B. King Gamblers' Blues Blues Is King B.B. King I'm Gonna Do What They Do to Me Blues On Top of Blues Charles Brown I Want To Go Home Legend! Jimmy WitherspoonNo Rolling Blues The Blues Singer Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry When I Was Drinkin'I Couldn't Believe My Eyes John Lee Hooker Back Biters and SyndicatorsUrban Blues John Lee Hooker I'm Bad Like Jesse JamesLive At Cafe Au Go-Go Otis SpannNobody Knows Chicago Like I Do Down To Earth George Harmonica Smith Help Me ...Of The Blues Johnny YoungI Gotta Find My BabyI Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping Roy BrownWoman Trouble Blues The Blues Are All Brown Big Joe TurnerCherry Red Singing The Blues T-Bone Walker I'm Gonna Stop This Nite Life Stormy Monday Blues Jimmy RushingBad LoserLivin the Blues Mel Brown Seven Forty-Seven Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins Rev. Gatemouth Brown I Come To The Garden And I'm Going ThroughAfter Twenty-One Years Big Joe Williams Franklin Street BluesDon't Your Plums Look Mellow Hanging On Your Tree Homesick James Fayette County Blues Ain't Sick No More L.C. Robinson House Cleanin' Blues House Cleanin' Blues Earl Hooker End of the Blues Do You Remember The Great Earl Hooker Andrew ''Big Voice'' Odom Take Me Back To East St Louis Farther On Down The Road Jimmy Reed I'm Just Trying To Cop a Plea The New Jimmy Redd Jimmy Reed I've Got To Keep on Rollin'Big Boss Man Sunnyland Slim Mr. CoolPlay The Ragtime Blues Lucille SpannCry Before I Go Cry Before I Go Cousin JoeEvolutionCousin Joe Of New Orleans Roosevelt Sykes Dirty Double Mother Dirty Double Mother

Show Notes:

[Shows notes are edited from part one which aired in 2010]

ABC-Paramount formed the BluesWay subsidiary in 1966 to record blues music. The label lasted into 1974, with the last new releases coming in February, 1974. The label issued over 70 albums, numerous 45's plus several titles that remain unreleased. To give the new label legitimacy B.B. King, who was recording for ABC at the time, saw his releases put out on BluesWay (his Blues Is King was the label's first release). BluesWay seemingly signed every major bluesman available, including Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Otis Spann, Joe Turner, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, Charles Brown, Roy Brown, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry among others. In addition to these seasoned performers the label issued records by deserving lesser knows, issuing the first LP's by Lee Jackson, Lucille Spann, Andrew Odom and L.C. Robinson. Legendary jazz producer Bob Thiele (he was the main producer at ABC/Impulse between 1961-69) was instrumental in getting the BluesWay label started but entrusted day to day operations and producing to others. Early sessions were produced by Bill Syzmzyck, Ed Michel, Bob Thiele, with later sessions handled by Al Smith. Al Smith was Jimmy Reed's manager and bandleader, and after Vee-Jay folded in 1966, a producer of soul sessions for ABC and blues sessions for ABC BluesWay. Smith inked a 25-LP production deal with BluesWay in 1973. Twenty of these albums subsequently appeared. After the label folded all interests were bought by MCA who are now owned by Universal.

 60394
Read Liner Notes

The label has been spottily reissued on CD, usually by labels other than the parent company MCA, and in many cases these CD's themselves are out of print. MCA has largely left the catalog to languish. The BluesWay label has a decidedly mixed reputation, cutting many very good records and many downright bad ones. Producer Al Smith has been the target of much of the animosity against the label summed up by writer Pete Lowry in a 1974 Living Blues review: "Finally I get a chance to take a swipe at Al Smith. Unfortunately, he is no longer able to enjoy it, but I'll go on anyway. Here was a strange man-I don't know if he was any kind of bass player, but he surely produced some screwed-up sessions. I won't go into artist "relations," but merely deal with the sessions; there have been some predictable characteristics. Lousy liner notes, replete with phonetic spelling (to be kind), incomplete or wrong personnel data, as well as often incomplete or disordered listings of the tunes… As for the records themselves, they varied from good to near disasters. The results of Al's Special Ninety Minute Album Sessions included inconsistent levels on instruments, as if the warm up/test stuff was mixed for release (as was most likely the case!), some strange sounding stuff (out-of-synch echo units), and just total lack of programming. Al seems to have assembled albums in the order recorded, with no concept of the album as a programmed whole. For an artist to survive this sort of "production" he had to be damn good, or be having a better than average day in the studio." No doubt Lowry is accurate in his assessment but to be fair, as he notes, the label issued quite a number of very good records that deserve a better fate than to languish in limbo. In this article we selectively trawl through the BluesWay catalog spotlighting some of the releases featured on today's program. Hopefully MCA will see fit to to create a proper BluesWay reissue series but until then vinyl may be your only option (where known I'll try and list records which have appeared on CD – reissues have appeared on Charly in the late 80's as well as Off-Beat and One Way in the 90's although these now appear to be out of print. The BGO label has reissued several BluesWay records all of which appear to be in print).

The BluesWay label issued seven albums by B.B. King between 1966 and 1970. Hands down the best of the bunch was the first one, 1966's Blues Is King which ranks as one of King's best live recordings, perhaps just a notch behind the seminal Live At The Regal cut two years previously. Recorded at a Chicago club, B.B. turns in sizzling performances of "Tired Of Your Jive", "Don't Answer The Door" and a spectacular "Night Life." The rest of B.B.'s output during this period is very solid including 1967's Blues On Top of Blues with brassy arrangements of songs like "Paying the Cost to Be the Boss and "Worried Dream" while 1968's Lucille is sparser, most notable for the ten minutes of "Lucille." 1969's Completely Well was B.B.'s breakthrough album featuring "The Thrill Is Gone" while Live & Well is divided evenly between live and studio material and contains "Why I Sing The Blues" and was his first LP to enter the Top 100. His Best – The Electric B.B. King is not a "best of" but a collection of previously issued items as singles and studio leftovers and features strong material like "Don't Answer The Door" a #2 R&B hit, "Paying The Cost To Be The Boss" and "All Over Again." 1970's Back Alley was a "best of" collection. All of B.B.'s output from this period has been reissued on MCA with some titles on BGO.

The New Jimmy Reed Album
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In addition to B.B. King, BluesWay brought heavyweights Jimmy Reed and T-Bone Walker into the fold. With his contract for Vee-Jay over, Al Smith brought Reed over to BluesWay where he cut five albums for the label between 1966-1968; The New Jimmy Reed Album, Soulin', Big Boss Man, Down In Virginia and  I Ain't From Chicago. These are mostly solid outings, finding him mostly singing his classic material and were guitar heavy featuring, in addition to Reed, Eddie Taylor, Lefty Bates and Wayne Bennett. A selection of BluesWay material appears on the CD Jimmy Reed Is Back issued on Collectables. Walker cut three records for the label: Stormy Monday in 1967, Funky Town in 1968 and Dirty Mistreater in 1973. These aren't essential T-Bone records, although quite credible, with Walker playing well featuring a sympathetic band, particularly pianist Lloyd Glenn with the two sounding particularly good together on "Going To Funky Town." Walker revisits a number of his early classics like "Cold Hearted Woman", "Stormy Monday" and "I'm In An Awful Mood", updating these numbers with some 60's styled funk that generally comes across well. The latter two records have been reissued on BGO.

Between recordings under his own name and session work, Earl Hooker was prolifically recorded by BluesWay in 1969 less than a year before he passed away. Hooker was on the West Coast recording for Blue Thumb when he began working club dates with his cousin John Lee Hooker. Hooker was working with BluesWay at the time which is how Earl Hooker's BluesWay association began. The first date was a session with John Lee Hooker which went so well that producer Ed Michel offered to make an album with Earl on the spot. Both the John Lee Hooker album If You Miss 'Im…I Got 'Im and Earl Hooker's Don't Have To Worry were recorded on May 29, 1969 with the same personnel, adding Andrew Odom to Earl's date since he was insecure about his vocals. Considering the quick, no nonsense nature of the recording the results came off exceptionally well. It's inexplicable why Don't Have To Worry hasn't been issued on CD in it's entirety (5 songs appeared on the anthology Simply The Best with one additional song on Blues Masters, Vol. 15: Slide Guitar Classics). Despite his vocal insecurities Hooker sounds confident on "You Got To Lose" and "Don't Have To Worry" (originally called "Do Right Baby" as recorded by Billy Gayles in 1956). Odom's robust, booming vocals are particularly good on "The Sky Is Crying" and "Come To Me Right Away, Baby" while Big Moose Walker takes the vocals on the remarkable "Is You Ever See A One-Eyed Woman Cry?" Hooker stretches out on the instrumentals "Hookin'" and adaptation of "Honky Tonk" and sounds even more inspired in an update of "Universal Rock" a song he first cut in 1960. If You Miss 'Im…I Got 'Im is a very strong outing with Earl and his crew giving a unique twist to Hooker's sound. Hooker's wah-wah is heard to good effect on on moody numbers like "Lonesome Mood", "I Wanna Be Your Puppy, Baby" and lays down some nice slide flourishes on the title track. This has been reissued on CD on the BGO label. BGO has also reissued the other John Lee Hooker BluesWay albums: Urban Blues, Simply The Truth and Live At Cafe Au-Go-Go. The other Earl Hooker album released was 1973's posthumous Do You Remember The Great Earl Hooker which were sides originally cut and released for the Cuca label in the early 60's. This has been reissued on CD by Catfish as There's a Fungus Amung Us but which is likely out of print itself.

Homesick James: Ain't Sick No More
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Ed Michel was so impressed with results that additional sessions were set the following week for Big Moose Walker and Andrew Odom. For the Odom date Michel backed him with jazz veterans Panama Francis on drums and Jimmy Bond on stand-up bass. Hooker for his part was asked to play it straight, without slide or wah-wah. Odom is in fine form and the chemistry between Hooker is faultless with Hooker getting plenty of room to cut loose. The album was released as Farther On Down The Road. Among the highlights are the moody "Stormy Monday", the bouncing "Don't Ever Leave Me All Alone" and a crackling version of "Farther Up The Road" (2 songs appear on Simply The Best). The record wasn't treated well by the critics as Mike Leadbitter clearly expressed in a 1973 edition of Blues Unlimited: "What a bitter disappointment! Muffled sound, endless boring songs and total lack of variation. What have BluesWay done to my heroes?" The album was finally released in 1973 and virtually sank without a trace. Despite Leadbitter's assessment this is a worthwhile release and well worth resurrecting on CD. On the other hand Leadbitter gave a rave write up to Johnny "Big Moose" Walker's Rambling Woman (recorded five days after the Odom session) in the January 1971 issue of Blues Unlimited: "He plays piano with the sort of boogie-woogie drive you just don't hear anymore, and has a nice husky voice-this is an exceptionally good blues album." Walker delivers fine originals including the witty "Footrace" (originally cut in 1961 as "Footrace To a Resting Place" and in 1967), the organ driven "Rambling Woman" (originally cut in 1967), "Baby Talk" with everybody stretching out on instrumentals "Moose Huntin'" and "Moose Is On The Loose." The session is slightly marred by Otis Hale's electric tenor sax. Hale was a guy Walker picked up in the park after hearing him play and disappeared after this session to (thankfully) never record again.

In the summer of 1969 Ed Michel signed up Charles Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon and the duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee. Brown and Witherspoon usually worked with pick-up units and Hooker was selected to worked with them as well as backing Sonny & Brownie following Michel's idea of putting their sound in an urban blues context. Jimmy Witherspoon was recorded first with the album released shortly after Hooker's death under the title Hunh!. The record is decidedly mixed, basically a long jam session, featuring Mel Brown, Jimmy Bond and Charles Brown. This is a laid back affair with some solid jams including "Bags Under My Eyes", "You Can't Do A Thing When You're Drunk" and the 12 minute plus of "Pillar To Post." Witherspoon had also recorded an earlier album for BluesWay in 1969 titled Blues Singer. Tracks from these albums together with several unreleased recordings from the same sessions were released as Never Knew This Kind of Hurt Before – The BluesWay Sessions on the UK-based Charly label in 1989. Hooker, Brown and Bond were brought back the next day, with the addition of drummer Ed Thigpen, tenor Red Holloway and singer Dottie Ivory for Charles Brown's session which was titled Legend! when released. Again a jam session atmosphere prevailed but this time the results were much better, in fact the album is a remarkable one, and ranks as one of the finest BluesWay dates. Brown reworks his old classics in a more modern context resulting in terrific new versions of "New Merry Christmas Baby", "Drifting Blues" and the stunning "I Want To Go Home" all featuring some beautiful and thoughtful playing from Hooker and superb tenor from Holloway. This record has been issued on CD on the Off-Beat imprint. As for Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, their playing and singing are as good as ever but the record never really gels. Michel was obviously not pleased with the results, with the record issued only four years later as I Couldn't Believe My Eyes. The record was chiefly notable for being Hooker's last studio appearance. This has been reissued on CD by the BGO label.T-Bone Walker: Stormy Monday Blues

One of the things BluesWay should be applauded for is giving lesser known deserving bluesmen an opportunity to record. It was on BluesWay that artists such as L.C. Robinson, Lee Jackson, Lucille Spann, Cousin Joe and the aforementioned Big Moose Walker and Andrew Odom recorded their first full length records. On the short list of truly great BluesWay recordings one would have to place L.C. Robinson's House Cleanin' Blues. Robinson was an immensely talented steel guitar player, strong vocalist and fiddle player who had only one single from 1954 and a handful of tracks on a 1968 World Pacific LP to his credit. House Cleanin' Blues is a flawless set featuring Robinson's distinctive steel guitar on the blazing title track plus a batch of equally potent originals like "Separation Blues", "My Baby Crossed The Bay" and some outstanding fiddle on the brooding "Summerville Blues." Sadly Robinson recorded only once more for Arhoolie. Lee Jackson was a distinctive Chicago guitarist who had waxed a handful of singles in the 50's and 60's for Cobra, C.J. and Bea and Baby as well as appearing on records by Willie Dixon, Little Walter, St. Louis Jimmy, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim and others. His Lonely Girl is a very solid Chicago blues outing – although it could probably have been better with more rehearsal – featuring his slightly reverberated, jazzy guitar on fine cuts like the title track, "Juanita" (first cut by him in 1961) and "When I First Came To Chicago." The band is solid with Carey Bell being a real standout. Lucille Spann had made a handful of recordings with husband Otis and after his death in 1970 and cut a fine tribute to him immortalized on the out of print Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1972. Her lone album, 1972's Cry Before I Go, was quite good, spotlighting her strong, raspy, gospel vocals (she sang in church in Mississippi and Chicago) backed by a terrific Chicago ensemble of Detroit Junior, Mighty Joe Young, Eddie Taylor and Willie Smith. Highlights include the title cut, the hard luck "Meat Ration Blues" and the superb "Country Girl" which evolves into an impassioned tribute to her late husband. New Orleans singer/pianist Pleasant Joseph was introduced to Al Smith through Roosevelt Sykes who was acting as a talent scout for the label. Between 1945 and the early 50's he cut a slew of of swinging sides with top drawer session men that highlighted his witty wordplay and made him a big draw on the New York scene. If you want to know where Dr. John found his inspiration look no further than Cousin Joe. Joe hadn't record in nearly a decade when he made the exceptionally good Cousin Joe Of New Orleans, backed by a sympathetic combo that finds Joe in energetic and humorous form as he updates his classic numbers like "Beggin' Woman", "Chicken A-La-Blues" and "Evolution Blues."

L.C. Robinson: House Cleanin' Blues
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In addition to Cousin Joe, BluesWay recorded a number of piano players including the above mentioned Roosevelt Sykes plus two dates by Otis Spann and one session by Sunnyland Slim. Sykes was one of the great blues piano men who made his debut back in 1929 and recorded prolifically for numerous labels up until his death in 1983. On the surface his lone BluesWay date, Dirty Double Mother, would be just another brief pause in a long career and one would expect a typically professional outing if nothing else. Sykes, however, was clearly inspired turning in an exuberant performance backed by the same band as Cousin Joe plus the great sax of Clarence Ford. Ford was a veteran who's worked graced countless records by artists like Amos Milburn, Fats Domino, Snooks Eaglin, Ear King, Little Richard, Guitar Slim and many others. Ford is terrific here as is Sykes who's witty way with a lyric is heard to fine effect on "May Be A Scandal", "Double Breasted Woman" as well as stomping boogies like "Jookin' In New Orleans" and "Dooky Chase Boogie." From New Orleans BluesWay went to Chicago where they recorded two albums by Otis Spann, The Blues Is Where It's At and The Bottom of the Blues, in 1966 and 1967. The first was recorded before a small studio audience, the second featuring the debut of Spann's wife Lucille with both sessions backed by Muddy Waters and his band. Spann is in commanding form on tracks like "My Home Is In The Delta", "T'ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do", "Heart Loaded With Trouble" and "Doctor Blues." Both records have been reissued on the MCA CD Down To Earth: The BluesWay Recordings, which seems to be out of print, and as individual CD's on BGO. The other Chicago piano player recorded was Sunnyland Slim who's oddly titled Plays The Ragtime Blues was released in 1972. Despite the title this is an exceptionally strong, well recorded set of Chicago blues finding Sunnyland backed superbly by Carey Bell and The Aces (Louis Myers, Dave Myers and Fred Below). "Get Hip To Yourself" is a terrific tough times tale with sizzling guitar from Myers with other highlights including "Mr. Cool" and the jazzy "Canadian Walk."

Alongside Otis Spann and Sunnyland Slim, Al Smith produced sessions by other Chicago artists including Carey Bell, Homesick James, Snooky Pryor, Johnny Littlejohn and Johnny Young. These sessions are definitely a mixed bag. Carey Bell's Last Night is his second album having cut a record for Delmark in 1969. The BluesWay LP is a superior outing finding Bell turning in a very strong Chicago blues record filled with plenty of inspired harp work on tracks like "Last Night", "Tomorrow Night" and instrumental showcases like "Rosa, I Love Your Soul" and "Freda." Bell receives excellent support from Pinetop Perkins, Dave Myers, Eddie Taylor and Willie Smith. This has been reissued on CD on the One Way label. With the addition of Snooky Pryor the same band backs Homesick James on his Ain't Sick No More. This is a very solid, relaxed outing with James in fine form on songs like "Buddy Brown", "Fayette County Blues" and " Money Getter." Snooky Pryor hadn't recorded in over a decade, having become disgusted with the record business, when he cut the lukewarm Do It If You Want To. It was Homesick James who directed Al Smith to his pal Snooky Pryor. Like the Cousin Joe and Roosevelt Sykes, this record was cut in New Orleans featuring some of the same band members. Pryor's brand of Chicago blues doesn't find sympathetic backing from the band and only a few songs like "The One I Crave To See" and "Do It If You Want To" rise to the occasion. Johnny Littlejohn was a fine slide player and singer who unfortunately was ill served on record so perhaps we can't totally blame Al Smith for the tepid Funky From Chicago. While Littlejohn turned in a sterling performance on his 1968 debut Arhoolie record, this one lacks the former's excitement. Littlejohn sounds muted on this recording with few tracks that stand out despite backing from a band that included Eddie Taylor, Dave Myers and Fred Below. Sadly Littlejohn's subsequent records weren't much better. Johnny Young's I Can't Keep My Foot From Jumping was Young's final recording, passing not long after this superb date. Young is in top form playing mandolin on all cuts backed by a tough band featuring stellar guitar work from Louis Myers and the debut by harp man Jerry Portnoy who is uncredited. Young energetically romps through first rate numbers like "Deal The Cards", "I Know She's Kinda Slick", and "No. 12 Is At The Station" among others. This is one of Young's best dates outside of his fine late 60's Arhoolie session.

 Rev. Gatemouth Moore: After Twenty-One Years
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The BluesWay label cast a wide net pulling in several classic blues shouters and those in a similar vein, cutting albums by veterans such as Jimmy Rushing, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Roy Brown and Big Joe Turner. It may have been relatively late in Jimmy Rushing's career when he recorded two albums for BluesWay, Every Day I Have the Blues and Livin' the Blues, but he was still in prime singing voice. Joined by a terrific cast of old pals like trombonist Dickie Wells, trumpeter Clark Terry, and tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate, Rushing puts across his distinctive brand of jazzy blues on tunes like "Berkeley Campus Blues," "Blues in the Dark," "I Left My Baby," "Sent for You Yesterday," "We Remember Prez" and "Evil Blues", the latter benefiting from Shirley Scott's organ and the guitar of Kenny Burrell. The end results are two fine swinging sets of vintage Jimmy Rushing. Both albums have been reissued on the Polygram CD Every Day I Have The Blues. Like Rushing, Vinson was well into a long illustrious career when he cut 1967's Cherry Red, his first recording after a five year hiatus from the studio. Backed by the fine small combo of Buddy Lucas on tenor/harmonica, Patti Brown on organ and Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Vinson turns in a marvelous session revisiting past glories like "Cherry Red", "Alimony Blues", "Somebody's Got To Go" as well as newer gems like 'Cadillac Blues" and "Flat Broke Blues." Bloomfield's playing is a real stand out. This album has been reissued on the One Way label. Big Joe Turner's 1967 album Singing The Blues finds the veteran shouter in fine form featuring ace tenor man Buddy Lucas and terrific blowing from George "Harmonica" Smith. The former album has been reissued on CD on the Mobile Fidelity label. The sixties were slow for Roy Brown. There were a few sessions for fly-by-night labels like DRA and Connie and Mobile. Chess cut four sides on him in 1963, but never released them. He became a door-to-door salesman, easing himself into the homes of older blacks with autographed pictures of the former star that was him. "I sold a lot of encyclopedias that way, he recalled. Brown cut 1968's The Blues Are All Brown (reissued in 1973 as Hard Times: The Classic Blues Of Roy Brown) which features the fine title track but the remainder is a bit lackluster.

BluesWay lists several albums that went unissued. Rocky & Val: I Stopped & Looked at the World , John Lee Hooker: Untitled Album, Jimmy Reed: Untitled Album, Little Andrews 'Blues Boy' Odom: Take Me Back to St.Louis and Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry: Untitled Album.

In closing, the BluesWay label has an uneven track record due primarily it seems to the quickie recording sessions and lack of rehearsals among musicians who in many cases hadn't play together much. Producers such as Bill Syzmzyck, Ed Michel, Bob Thiele did an admirable job considering these conditions but certainly Al Smith deserves much of the criticism leveled at him. Still there were many good records that deserve a better fate than languishing in the out of print bin. Even those that have been reissued on CD on One Way and Off-Beat in the early 90's all appear to be out of print. The BGO BluesWay reissues do appear to all be in print. Many of the LP's can be found easily on ebay although there are a few elusive ones. Hopefully MCA will see fit to due a proper reissue program of the BluesWay catalog as they did of the better known Chess catalog. At the very least they should reissue some of the better albums in there entirety like the Charles Brown, Earl Hooker, Johnny Young, L.C. Robinson and Sunnyland Slim to name a few. A very credible BluesWay box set could also be assembled, a 3 or 4 CD set say, cherry picking the best of the label. Major labels are usually indifferent about their blues holdings so I won't hold my breath but certainly the BluesWay catalog deserves a better fate.

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Big Road Blues Show 5/3/15: Mix Show http://sundayblues.org/archives/9254 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9254#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 21:05:49 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9254 ARTISTSONGALBUM B.B. King My Own Fault, Darlin aka It's My FaultThe Vintage Years B.B. King Dark Is The Night Pt.1 & 2The Vintage Years Freddie Brown Whip It To A JellyBarrelhouse Mamas Rosa Henderson Papa If You Can't Do Better (I'll Let A Better Papa Move In)The Essential Olive Brown Lookin For A HomePeacock Chicks & Duchesses King Queen & JackStack-O-Lee BluesHawaiian Guitar Hot Shots Casey Bill Weldon Go Ahead BuddyBottleneck Guitar Trendsetters Of The 1930's Hauulea EntertainersRailroad Blues Hawaiian Guitar Hot Shots Oscar WoodsCome On Over To My House BabyTexas Slide Guitars: Oscar Woods & Black Ace Big Joe TurnerJohnson and Turner BluesHave No Fear, Big Joe Turner Is Here Henry GrayI Declare That Ain't RightKnights Of The Keyboard: Chicago Piano Blues Meade Lux LewisRising Tide BluesMeade Lux Lewis 1940-1944 Mississippi John HurtCow Hooking BluesD.C. Blues: The Library of Congress Recordings Vol. 2 Wilbur Sweatman and His OrchestraThe Hooking Cow BluesWilbur Sweatman Vol. 2 Ace Holder Leave My Woman Alone R&B On Lakewood Boulevard Elmore NixonA Hepcat's AdviceLyons Avenue Jive Sam Morgan's Jazz BandShort Dress Girl Breaking Out Of New Orleans 1922-29 Danny BarkerChocko Mo Feendo HeyHistory Of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Vol. 1 29-49 Forest City JoeDown on the Levee BluesSounds of the South Boy Blue I Got To GoSounds of the South Texas AlexanderTexas Troublesome BluesTexas Troublesome Blues Josh White Josh And Bill BluesJosh White: The Remaining Titles 1941-1947 Tampa Red Black Hearted BluesDown In Black Bottom Big Joe Turner Poor HouseSinging The Blues Roy BrownHard TimesThe Blues Are All Brown Lela BoldenSouthern Woman Blues Piron's New Orleans Orchestra Lela BoldenSeawall Special Blues Piron's New Orleans Orchestra Mississippi John Hurt FrankieAvalon Blues, The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings Nick Nichols & Whistlin Moore AlexFrankie And Johnny (The Shooting Scene) Part 1Whistlin' Alex Moore 1929-1951 Jewell Long Frankie And Albert Rural Blues Vol. 2 1951-1962 Joe Callicot Frankie And Albert Ain't A Gonna Lie To You Tiny Grimes Frankie And Johnny (Boogie)Tiny Grimes Vol.4 1950-53

Show Notes:

Lela Bolden - Seawall Special BluesAn eclectic show on tap for today including several songs with a New Orleans connection which is not surprising after just spend the last week in the crescent city. In addition we spin a pair of vintage numbers by B.B. King,  a batch of Hawaiian flavored blues, sets revolving around W.C. Handy's "The Hooking Cow Blues", Frankie and Johnny", a pair of tracks from the Bluesway vaults, several fine woman singers and some outstanding piano players.

From New Orleans we spin tracks by Sam Morgan, Armand Piron and Danny Barker. The recordings by Sam Morgan's Jazz Band for Columbia Records in 1927 are some of the best regarded New Orleans classic jazz recordings of the decade.The band was one of the most popular territory bands touring the gulf coast circuit (Galveston, Texas to Pensacola, Florida).

In New Orleans he Danny Barker was dubbed "Banjo King of New Orleans." In 1930 Barker moved north to New York City where he switched from banjo to guitar and in 1938 joined Benny Carter's Big Band and from 1939 to 1949 was the rhythm guitarist for Cab Calloway. He also worked as a freelance rhythm man around New York playing and recording with Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow, Bunk Johnson, Edmond Hall and Henry "Red" Allen. By 1965, Barker, back in New Orleans, had married singer Blue Lu Barker. He split his time between performing with his wife and the Fairview Baptist Church Christian Band which he founded, lecturing on traditional jazz and working as Assistant to the Curator of the New Orleans Jazz museum up until his death in 1994.In the 1980's Barker published the wonderful autobiography A Jazz Life. From 1945 we play his "Chocko Mo Feendo Hay" a New Orleans classic recorded by others as "Jockamo."

After touring briefly with W.C. Handy in 1917, Armand Piron started an orchestra under his own name. Piron's New Orleans Orchestra quickly became the best paid African American band in New Orleans. In 1923, Piron took his band to New York City as part of his ambition to make the group nationally known. He succeeded in making a hit there, landing a residency at the Roseland Ballroom, and making recordings for three different companies, Okeh, Victor and Columbia. Lela Bolden cut one 78 for Okeh backed by Piron on violin and Steve Lewis who played Piano in Piron's band.The Hooking Cow Blues

B.B. King was in hospice care Friday at his home in Las Vegas, according to a longtime business associate with legal control over his affairs. Probably my first blues album was B.B.'s Live At The Regal which I picked up for $3.99 at Tower Records in NYC. After that I started picking up those great reissue albums put out by Ace Records which collected his 50's sides. Ace has done a great job collecting B.B.'s early sides on well over dozen CD's including a 4-CD box set called The Vintage Years which I highly recommend. We open the show with a couple of early gems, the two-part "Dark Is The Night" and "My Own Fault, Darlin'."

Some Scholars have suggested that the slide style was directly influenced by the “diddley bow” or “jitter-bug,” a single-stringed instrument they say was carried to America by West African slaves. The more likely story, John W. Troutman argues in his article Steelin’ the Slide: Hawaii‘i and the Birth of the Blues Guitar (the article can be found below) is that the musical technique popularized in the Mississippi Delta came from traveling Native Hawaiian musicians who laid the guitar flat on their lap and played it with a piece of metal slid across the strings. Oral testimony, newspaper clippings, and other evidence show that Hawaiian musicians frequented southern cities from Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Memphis, to New Orleans, and sometimes collaborated with black musicians. Most of the earliest documented African-American slide guitarists, and certainly the most significant, understood their style as that of playing ‘Hawaiian guitar. Casey Bill Weldon, for example, was even billed as the Hawaiian Guitar Wizard.

“The Hooking Cow Blues” was a tune was written by Memphis bandleader Douglas Williams in 1917, published and recorded by WC Handy and recorded for Columbia  by him the same year. The recorded was listed as a fox trot. "The Hooking Cow Blues" was recorded by Wilbur Sweatman and his Orchestra with vocal by Corky Williams and ssued in 1935 on Vocalion. Mississippi John Hurt recorded the song in the 1960's. It's unclear who put lyrics to the song.

ABC-Paramount formed the BluesWay subsidiary in 1966 to record blues music. The label lasted into 1974, with the last new releases coming in February, 1974. The label issued over 70 albums, numerous 45's plus several titles that remain unreleased. To give the new label legitimacy B.B. King, who was recording for ABC at the time, saw his releases put out on BluesWay (his Blues Is King was the label's first release). BluesWay seemingly signed every major bluesman available. I did a feature on Bluesway in 2010 and will finally get around to a belated sequel this year. Today we play cuts from Big Joe Turner's Singing The Blues from 1967 and Roy Brown's Hard Times from 1968 (also issued on Bluesway in 1973 as The Blues Are All Brown and reissued on Charly as The Bluesway Sessions).

The song "Frankie and Johnny" was inspired by one or more actual murders. One of these took place in an apartment building located at 212 Targee Street in St. Louis, Missouri, at 2:00 on the morning of October 15, 1899. Frankie Baker a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as "Albert") Britt in the abdomen. Britt had just returned from a cakewalk at a local dance hall, where he and another woman, Nelly Bly (also known as "Alice Pryor"), had won a prize in a slow-dancing contest. Britt died of his wounds four days later at the City Hospital. On trial, Baker claimed that Britt had attacked her with a knife and that she acted in self-defense; she was acquitted and died in a Portland, Oregon mental institution in 1952. In 1899, popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed "Frankie Killed Allen" shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to "Frankie and Johnny" appeared in 1904.The song has also been linked to Frances "Frankie" Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Unlike Frankie Baker, Silver was executed.Hundreds of versions of the recording have been made in all genres. We feature an eclectic mix of versions by Mississippi John Hurt, Jewell Long, Nick Nichols with Whistlin Moore Alex, Joe Callicot and Tiny Grimes.

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Big Road Blues Show 4/19/15: The Blues Is All Wrong – Little Recorded But Great Pt. II http://sundayblues.org/archives/9228 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9228#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 21:05:12 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9228 ARTISTSONGALBUM Elizabeth JohnsonEmpty Bed Blues Part 1Clarence Williams & The Blues Singers Vol. 1 1923-1928 Elizabeth JohnsonSobbin' Woman BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II Elizabeth JohnsonBe My Kid Blues I Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1 George ToreyLonesome Man Blues Memphis Blues 1927-1938 George ToreyMarried Woman BluesBlues Images Vol. 3 Frenchy's String Band Sunshine SpecialThe Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No. 1 Frenchy's String Band Texas and Pacific Blues How Low Can You Go: Anthology Of The String Bass Edward ThompsonSeven Sister Blues A Richer Tradition Edward ThompsonShowers Of Rain BluesThe Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Vol. 2 1928-1932 Edward ThompsonWest Virginia Blues The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Vol. 2 1928-1932 Leola Manning Satan Is Busy In Knoxville Barrelhouse Mamas Leola Manning The Blues Is All Wrong Favorite Country Blues Guitar: Piano Duets 1929-1937 Pigmeat TerryMoaning the Blues American Primitive Vol. II Pigmeat TerryBlack Sheep BluesAmerican Primitive Vol. II Dan Stewart New Orleans BluesDown In Black Bottom Lonnie ClarkDown In TennesseeDown In Black Bottom Lonnie ClarkBroke Down engineDown In Black Bottom Bobby GrantLonesome Atlanta BluesMississippi Moaners Bobby GrantNappy Head BluesBefore The Blues Vol. 3 Margaret ThorntonTexas Bound BluesBarrelhouse Mamas Margaret ThorntonJockey BluesBarrelhouse Mamas Blind Leroy GarnettLouisiana GlideMama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here Blind Leroy GarnettChain 'em DownMama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here Johnnie HeadFare Thee Well - Part IThe Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Vol. 2 1928-1932 Johnnie HeadFare Thee Well - Part IIThe Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Vol. 2 1928-1932 Hattie BurlesonJim NappyI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2 Hattie BurlesonSadie's Servant Room BluesTerritory Singers Vol. 2 Hattie BurlesonBye Bye BabyI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2 Marshall OwensTexas BluesBlues Images vol. 4 Marshall OwensTry Me One More TimeBlues Images vol. 4 Hattie Hudson Doggone My Good Luck Soul Dallas Alley Drag Hattie Hudson Black Hand BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1 Leola ManningThe Arcade Building Moan Rare Country Blues Vol. 1 Leola ManningLaying in the Graveyard Rare Country Blues Vol. 1

Show Notes:

Elizabeth Johnson - Empty Bed BluesAll the artists featured today recorded from one to eight titles and all left behind barley a trace of biographical information. We hear from several outstanding blues ladies including Elizabeth Johnson, Leola Manning, Margaret Thornton, Hattie Burleson, and Hattie Hudson. In addition we spotlight  several other excellent bands, singers, guitarists and pianists including George Torey, Frenchy's String Band, Edward Thompson, Pigmeat Terry, Lonnie Clark, Dan Stewart, Johnnie Head, Bobby Grant, Blind Leroy Garnett and Marshall Owens.

"Rainin' here, rainin' here, rainin' here, rainin' here, stormin' on the sea" sings Elizabeth Johnson in mesmerizing fashion on her masterpiece "Be My Kid Blues." Johnson is a mystery woman who cut four sides in 1928. “Be My Kid Blues b/w Sobbin’ Woman Blues” finds her backed by a unique band (listed as Her Turpentine Tree-O) that consisted of woodblocks, clarinet and guitar. She's backed by the great King Oliver on cornet on the two-part “Empty Bed Blues.”

An East Knoxville cafeteria worker and aspiring evangelist of 25, Leloa Manning was struggling with a troubled marriage when she recorded at the St. James Hotel in Knoxville, TN; once  on Aug. 28, 1929, and once on April 4, 1930. Six numbers were cut between the two sessions, all were issued. The first couple of sides she cut were religious songs, "He Cares For Me b/w He Fans Me", the latter sounding more like a blues number than a religious one. The previous year Frankie 'Half-Pint' Jaxon cut the risque "Fan It." When she returned to the studio she had a batch of utterly unique songs such as "Satan Is Busy In Knoxville" which seems about a real-life serial killer, "The Blues Is All Wrong" an up-tempo boogie-woogie piece, "Laying in the Graveyard" and the topical "The Arcade Building Moan" about a tragic fire that occurred in Knoxville just fifteen days prior:

It was on one Thursday morning, March the 20th day
I think it was about two a.m., I believe I can firmly say
The women and the children was screaming and crying
Not only that, they was slowly dying
Oh, listen, listen, how the bell did ring
When the Arcade Building burnt down.

Hattie Burleson recorded four tracks in Dallas, TX, for Brunswick Records in October 1928. Two years later she recorded three sides in Grafton, WI, for Paramount Records. Little else is known about her life, save that she lived in the famed Deep Ellum area of downtown Dallas, where she operated a dancehall for a time. Her song "Jim Nappy" became a favorite among the Santa Fe group of pianists. According to Paul Oliver it was about her real life lover who managed the traveling shows she put together.  Her "Sadie’s Servant Room Blues" is a rare protest song dealing with domestic service.

I receive my company in the rear
Still these folks don't want to see them here
Gonna change my mind, yes change my mind
Cause I keep the servant room blues all the time

Burleson was also responsible for discovering Lillian Glinn singing in a Dallas church and encouraged her to pursue a musical career. Pianist Willie Tyson cut two solo piano numbers for Columbia in 1927 which went unissued. The next day he backed singer Hattie Hudson on “Black Hand Blues” and the classic “Doggone My Good Marshall Owens - Try Me One More TimeLuck Soul" her only 78 cut for Columbia records.

Margaret Thornton cut one great 78 for Black Patti backed by great pianist Blind James Beck, "Texas Bound Blues b/w Jockey Blues." Beck also backed singer Mozelle Alderson.

Most of today's male blues guitarists are as mysterious as their female counterparts. George Torey, Johnnie Head, Bobby Grant, Frenchy's String Band, Dan Stewart, Lonnie Clark and Pigneat Terry left behind a sole 78. George Torey had only two titles released, both recorded at a session in Birmingham, Alabama on April 2, 1937.  The two tracks, "Married Woman Blues" and "Lonesome Man Blues" were included on an early Yazoo anthology, Ten Years in Memphis. There is no other evidence that Torey was from Memphis, and none of the Memphis musicians questioned about him in the late '60s and '70s could remember him. One other song from the session, "Delta Blues" was unissued and may hint at his origins.

Johnnie Head cut one 78 for Paramount in 1928, the two-part "Fare Thee Well."

Bobby Grant was  recorded early in 1927 and whose driving slide guitar showpieces "Nappy Head Blues" and "Lonesome Atlanta Blues" denote a possible Mississippi background. I first heard him on the Yazoo compilation Mississippi Moaners.

Frenchy's String Band cut "Sunshine Special b/w Texas And Pacific Blues" in 1928. Polite "Frenchy" Christian was one of the New Orleans jazzmen who ventured westward in the 1920's, settling in Dallas. With a line-up here consisting of cornet, banjo, guitar and bowed bass, "Texas and Pacific Blues" gives an inkling of music played around New Orleans when a string band line up was used.

Pigmeat Terry only cut one 78, for Decca "Black Sheep Blues b/w Moaning The Blues" in 1935 and possessed a high, whispery, moaning voice, a bit reminiscent of the popular Joe Pullum who made his debut the prior year.

My mother's gone to glory, my father's dyin' of drinkin' in his sin (2x)
My sister won't notice me, she's too proud to take me in
I'm a black sheep in my family and how they dog me around (2x)
Someday I'll get lucky and won't be found around

Edward Thompson was a native of Alabama, and he may have known and played with Ed Bell and Pillie Bolling at some point in his life. He traveled to New York City in 1929 and cut six songs in one session. All of these were issued over three records. The recordings were mastered by Gennett, and either sold or leased to Paramount. This recording had Thompson billed as "Tenderfoot Edwards". Nothing else about him is known.

Marshall Owens cut  two 78 s 'for Paramount in 1932, "Texas Blues b/w Try Me One More Time" and one 78 which has never been found, "Texas Blues – Part II b/w Seventh St. Alley Strut."

Dan Stewart cut only one side of a 78 for Brunswick in 1929. The flipside was Jim Clarke's “Fat Fanny Stomp.”

Lonnie Clark only left behind two recordings that were made in 1929 for Paramount, "Down In Tennessee b/w Broke Down Engine." Bob Hall wrote of him "his heavy expressive voice on "Broke Down Engine" is accompanied by a rocking two-handed chorded piano played in a rather primitive style and nicely offset by a neat mandolin obbligato."

Leroy Garnett's recorded legacy only consisted of two sides, "Louisiana Glide b/w Chain 'Em Down", waxed in 1929 for Paramount. He is believed to have been from Fort Worth, TX. He also recorded behind singer James 'Boodle It' Wiggins. As Bob Hall and Richard Noblett wrote: "Garnett's two solos reveal his as a pianist of considerable technique. 'Chain 'Em Down', a superb barrelhouse piece has echoes of the Alabama pianist Cow Cow Davenport …'Louisiana Glide' has strong ragtime influence and the air of a set composition rather than an improvised performance"

 

 

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Big Road Blues Show 4/12/15: Mix Show http://sundayblues.org/archives/9088 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9088#comments Sun, 12 Apr 2015 21:05:51 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9088 ARTISTSONGALBUM Jimmy And Mama Yancey Monkey Woman Blues Chicago Blues Piano Vol. 1 Otis Spann It Must Have Been The Devil Genesis: Beginnings Of Rock Vol. 3 Al Winter Boogie 88 Hollywood Boogie: Obscure Piano Blues & Boogie Woogie From Los Angeles Mable Hillery Lonesome Road It's So Hard To Be A Nigger Mable Hillery Mr. President It's So Hard To Be A Nigger Jimmy WitherspoonBig Family Blues 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Vol. 2; Toast Of The Coast Tony AllenYou're A Mean And Evil Woman 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Vol. 1; On With The Jive Lucille Bogan and Papa Charlie Jackson Jim Tampa Blues Papa Charlie Done Sung That Song Laura DukesBricks In My PillowTennessee Blues Vol. 1 Elmore James Strange Angels Something Inside Of Me Wild Jimmy Spruill Hard GrindScratchin': Wild Jimmy Spruill Story Guitar Gable Long Way from HomeRhythm 'n' Bluesin' By The Bayou: Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies Pee Wee CraytonRockin the Blues Texas Blues Jumpin' In Los Angeles: The Modern Music Sessions 1948-51 John Lee Hooker I Don't Be Welcome HereThe Complete1948-51 Vol. 3 Blind Joe Hill Highway 13 First Chance Jimmy Reed I'm Just Trying To Cop A Plea Soulin' Tampa Red I Still Got California On My MindThe Bluebird Recordings 1934-1936 Lane HardinCalifornia Desert Blues Blues Images Vol. 9 Jesse Thomas Gonna Move to California Jesse Thomas 1948-1958 Lawyer Houston Out In CaliforniaLightning Hopkins: Lightning Special Vol. 2 Howlin' WolfCalifornia BoogieSmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters Johnny WoodsSo Many Cold MorningsSo Many Cold Mornings John Tinsley Cotton Picking BluesCountry Blues Roots Revisted Walter Davis Strange Land BluesWalter Davis 1930-1932 Roy HawkinsStrange LandBad Luck Is Falling Roger (Burn Down) GarnettLighthouse BluesThe Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1 Dorothy Everetts Macon Blues The Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1 Irene Wiley Bo Hog BluesThe Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1 Jimmy RushingSomebody's Spoiling These WomenBlues & Gospel Kings Vol. 4

Show Notes:

ctf10024 (1)
Read Liner Notes

A wide ranging mix show today  including songs a pair of sides by singer Mabel Hillery, sets of piano blues, some heavy duty guitar slingers, a pair of sets revolving around specific lyrical themes, music from the vaults of King Records and west coast record man John Dolphin and a batch of outstanding early pre-war blues sides.

Shortly after the death of folklorist Tary Owens on September 21, 2003, Brad Buchholz, wrote that, “Tary Owens devoted most of his life to music, though only rarely to his own. The greater mission, to Owens, was to champion the music of forgotten or unsung Texas bluesmen—to put their songs on records, to place them on a stage, to encourage a larger public to celebrate their artistry.” Owens operated the Catfish and Spindletop labels issuing some fine recordings of neglected Texas artists. We spotlight two tracks from Texas Piano Professors by little recorded piano men Dr. Hepcat, Grey Ghost and Erbie Bowser. I want to thank Gerrit Robs for making this album available to me.

We spin a trio of tracks from the Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1, which I recently picked up along with the second and third issues. The magazine does a great job filling the hole left by the late lamented 78 Quarterly. The Annuals are something between a magazine and a softbound book, roughly 8.5 inches by 11.75 inches with 178 pages. They are edited (and  contributed to) by Paul Swinton, owner of Great Britain’s Frog Records, one of the  premier prewar jazz and jazz/blues reissue record companies. Each Annual comes with a companion CD featuring 26 cuts that reflect the articles in the Annual.  Most of the blues tracks have appeared on other collections, but Roger Garnett's marvelous "Lighthouse Blues" (recorded for the Library of Congress in 1939) and Irene Wiley's fantastic "Bo Hog Blues" (with a probable late 1940's recording date) have not been issued before. We also spin Dorothy Everetts terrific "Macon Blues" from her lone 1928 78 record.

A member of The Georgia Sea Island Singers (she joined in 1961), Mable Hillery was less known than leader, Big John Davis or Bessie Jones, who also had her own performing career. 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. Hillery was very active in civil rights issues during the 60's. In 1968, after touring in England, where she did TV and concert dates, Hillery made a her only album for the record label Xtra, It's So Hard To Be A Nigger, which has never been issued on CD. This is a (The Frog Blues And Jazz Annual No. 1)wonderful record and Hillery was a tremendously expressive singer. The acapella title track sounds like a lost field recording by the Lomax's or Lawrence Gellert. A few other sides by her appear on various anthologies. She died at the age of 46 in 1976. 

We spin several songs with lyrical themes including several revolving around "California" and several using the title "Strange Land." In 1936 Robert Johnson famously sang the lines "But I'm cryin' hey baby, Honey don't you want to go/Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago." This line always seemed a bit confusing too me but I think many blues singers viewed California as an idyllic, almost mystical place far from the Jim Crow south. From 1934 we spin Tampa Red's jaunty "I Still Got California On My Mind", Lane Hardin's "California Desert Blues" ("When I reach old Los Angeles, Californy, you oughta heard me jump and shout"),  Jesse Thomas' "Gonna Move to California", Howlin' Wolf's "California Boogie" and "Out In California" by Lawyer Houston:

Well I'm going out on Central
Going to get me a room at the hotel Dunbar
And then I'm going out to Hollywood to become a movie star

"Way out in California, that's where I long to be" sings Walter Davis in "Strange Land Blues." Roy Hawkins cut the doomy "Strange Land" in 1948 and updated it 1961.

We spin three tracks from the series Blues & Gospel Kings which spotlight early blues and gospel from King records. There are four volumes in the series spanning the years 1945 through 1952. Founded by Syd Nathan in 1943, King Records was one of the most influential independent labels of the 1940s and 1950s. By the end of the latter decade, it had become the nation's sixth largest record company. The label originally specialized in country music and." King advertised, "If it's a King, It's a Hillbilly – If it's a Hillbilly, it's a King." The company also had a "race records" label, Queen Records (which was melded into the King label within a year or two) and most notably (starting in 1950) Federal Records which launched the singing career of James Brown. In the 1950s, this side of the business outpaced the hillbilly recordings.

We also feature tracks from west coast record man John Dolphin and King Records. The legendary John Dolphin, also known as Lovin’ John, was one of the first and most well respected, black business man who made his way in the music business of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s. Dolphin first entered the music business as a retailer where in 1948, when he opened Dolphin’s of Hollywood, a record store on Vernon Avenue that would stay open 24 hours a day.The store featured deejays broadcasting on the local station of KRKD, in front of the huge, glass window. In 1950, John Dolphin mounted his own label, Recorded In Hollywood, eventually selling the label to Decca. Dolphin launched follow-up labels including Lucky, Money and Cash. In 1958 Dolphin was shot and killed by a disgruntled songwriter. The Ace label has issued two volumes of recordings made by Dolphin: On With The Jive! 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Of Hollywood Vol. 1 and Toast Of The Coast: 1950s R&B From Dolphin's Of Hollywood Vol. 2.

Mabel Hillery
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We play a set of guitar heavy hitters today, most from some recent reissues. The track by Wild Jimmy Spruill comes from a great 2-CD set, Scratchin’: The Wild Jimmy Spruill Story. After arriving in New York in 1955 Spruill went on to play guitar on a staggering number of records notably for Bobby and Danny Robinson’s group of labels, including Fire, Fury, Enjoy, Everlast and Vim. He also cut some terrific sides under his own name. Our Pee wee Crayton cut comes from Texas Blues Jumpin' In Los Angeles: The Modern Music Sessions 1948-51, the third CD on the Ace label of Crayton's Modern sides. "Long Way From Home" by Guitar Gable comes from another recent Ace reissue, Rhythm 'n' Bluesin' By The Bayou: Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies the tenth volume in the “By The Bayou” series, pulling sides from the  vaults of J.D. Miller’s Crowley studio.

 

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Big Road Blues Show 4/5/15: Folk Songs of America – The Music of Lead Belly http://sundayblues.org/archives/9182 http://sundayblues.org/archives/9182#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 21:06:04 +0000 http://sundayblues.org/?p=9182 ARTISTSONGALBUM Interview Pt. 1Jeff Place Leadbelly Black GirlThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly Been So Long (Bellevue Hospital Blues) The Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 2Jeff Place Leadbelly Irene (Goodnight Irene)The Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly CottonfieldsThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 3Jeff Place Leadbelly Fannin StreetThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 4Jeff Pace Leadbelly Noted RiderThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 5Jeff Place Leadbelly Silver City BoundThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly One Dime BluesThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly & The Golden Gate Quartet Alabama BoundAlabama Bound Interview Pt. 6Jeff Place LeadbellyWNYC- Folk Songs of America ProgramThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 7Jeff Pace LeadbellyRock Island LineThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection LeadbellyShorty GeorgeLeadbelly: The Remaining LOCR Vol. 3 1935 Interview Pt. 8Jeff Place Leadbelly The TitanicThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly Jim Crow BluesThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Leadbelly The Bourgeois BluesThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 9Jeff Place Leadbelly & Josh WhiteMother's Blues (Little Children Blues)Leadbelly: Important Recordings 1934-49 LeadbellyDiggin' My PotatoesThe Smithsonian Folkways Collection Interview Pt. 10Jeff Place Leadbelly I'm On My Last Go-RoundLeadbelly: Important Recordings 1934-49) Leadbelly Don't You Love Your Daddy No More Leadbelly & Josh White (Reamaining Titles) 1937-1946 Leadbelly When a Man's a Long Way from HomeLeadbelly Vol. 5 1944-1946

Show Notes:

Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways CollectionToday's program is our first show devoted to Lead Belly who I haven't played all that much on the show over the years. I remember picking up my first Leadbelly album back in High School. It was a self-titled album on Columbia collecting some of his 1930's blues sides. For whatever reason the album didn't make much of an impression on me. It was only years later, after picking some of the collections on Document that I got a better appreciation of the sheer breadth of his repertoire and talent. Today's show is inspired by a recent 5-CD box set on the Smithsonian Folkways label, The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, that serves as an excellent career retrospective and has an informative booklet with essays by Robert Santelli and Jeff Place. We play a number of tracks from the box set plus chat with producer Jeff Place, who I spoke with a couple of weeks back.

Lead Belly's recording career began with recordings made in 1933 by John and Alan Lomax at Angola prison and after his release from prison he recorded prolifically right up until his death in 1949. Lead Belly never had much success among black audiences, his commercial blues recordings did not sell, but he found success among the folk music audience. He became a fixture in New York City's folk music scene befriending and performing with Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger. Lead Belly was also the first blues musician to see success in Europe when he traveled there in 1949. He died later that year in New York City.

As Robert Santelli writes in the notes: "Lead Belly was a man of contradiction and complexity. It was hard to truly know him, said the people who tried, and it was next to impossible to place him in a particular music style or form and have him remain there for long. He was a folk musician who also played the blues. He knew his share of work songs and field hollers, having sung them while picking cotton and doing farm chores. He learned prison songs while incarcerated, and he sang them like a man who had seen life’s underbelly. Spirituals and gospel tunes came naturally to him. He gave new life to old ballads whose origins were buried in the past. He could sing children’s songs when kids were present. And at house parties and local fish fries, if someone wanted to hear a few standards or a pop hit of the day, he could sing and play them too. Lead Belly moved through American music genres and song circles naturally and effortlessly, never seeing the boundaries and categories that were created for commodity’s sake by men with bow ties and clean suits. He was the very definition of a 'songster,' an old-time, old-school human jukebox of a performer and recording artist who never quite realized just what an American music treasure he had become in his life."
LeadBelly
Huddie Ledbetter was born January 15, 1888, in the Caddo Lake District near Mooringsport in the northwest corner of Louisiana, near the Texas and Arkansas lines. Two of Huddie’s uncles, Bob and Terrell, were musicians and introduced him to new songs. His uncle Terrell gifted him a small accordion when was seven years old. He would acquire a guitar around 1903. Huddie had become adept at all sorts of musical styles, and found that he could pick up a few extra cents playing at local country dances, or “sukey jumps." By the time Huddie left Mooringsport in 1906, he had fathered two children out of wedlock and had a bad reputation locally. After some rambling to New Orleans and other places, he landed in Shreveport. Along the way he had learned all types of songs, including popular songs of the early 1900s. Around 1910, a now-married Huddie moved to Dallas, Texas. According to Charles K. Wolfe and Kip Lornell in The Life And Legend Of Leadbelly: "Sometime during his wanderings – probably late in 1910, when he was living near Dallas – Huddie acquired his first twelve-string guitar." Leadbelly told may tales of how he picked up the instrument. One of the less fanciful stories is recounted in the book: 'I saw one of those old 12-string Stellas sitting in the window of a Dallas store. The year before I heard a man play it in one of those traveling medicine shows where they sold a cure-all for fifty cent a a bottle.' Captivated by the loud, ringing sound of the instrument, Leadbelly  had spent the rest of the night hanging around the medicine show tent listening to the man play. Shortly, thereafter, when he finally saw one of the twelve-strings for sale; 'the price of the guitar was $12', he recalled, 'I had to have it.'" In 1912, he met and started playing as a duo with Blind Lemon Jefferson who in the 1920's would become one of the best-selling blues artists in the country.

In June 1915, Huddie was involved in an altercation and was sentenced to 30 days on a chain gang. Huddie escaped and fled to New Orleans, and then back to Mooringsport. He could not stay there, and so, traveling with his wife, he began going by the name Walter Boyd and went to live with relatives in DeKalb, Texas. In December 1917, Lead Belly found himself in a confrontation, a gun was fired, and Will Stafford lay dead. 78-rpm-rare-blues-leadbelly-record-alabama-bound-on-hmv-mh-160-must-see-ee_5789957Huddie claimed it was self-defense but was sentenced to between 7 and 30 years in a Texas prison. He began at the Shaw State Prison and later was transferred to the notorious Sugarland Prison. He was released in 1925.

He would be free for just five years; in 1930 another fight landed him in Louisiana’s notorious Angola Prison for six to ten. Lead Belly became known around the prison for his singing and guitar playing. John and Alan Lomax arrived at Angola on July 16. Lead Belly was suggested to them as a good singer to record, and they realized they had really made a “find.” The Lomaxes made 12 recordings and returned the following July to record 15 more songs. He had a special one prepared, “Governor O.K. Allen.” He asked if John Lomax would deliver a recording of the song to Allen’s office. Lead Belly had previously written asking for a pardon as well. It is not known whether Allen listened to the song, but Lead Belly was officially granted a pardon on July 25, 1934.

He returned to Shreveport and began to lobby John Lomax for a job. Alan was suffering from an illness, and John needed a driver. In the fall, performing this role, Lead Belly took off with them on a recording trip. He would sometimes warm up the prisoners by singing his songs and showing them the kinds of things Lomax wanted. Lomax was anxious to present his new discovery to a meeting of the Modern Language Association in Philadelphia, which launched the flurry of sensationalism that accompanied Lead Belly’s arrival on the scene. Finally it was the big move to New York. In 1935, the Lomaxes had lobbied for Lead Belly to sign a recording contract with the American Recording Corporation (ARC). Of the 43 songs Lead Belly recorded for ARC, only six saw the light of day.

In breadth and number, the greatest collection of songs Lead Belly ever recorded were the hundreds he did for the Library of Congress. The two Lomaxes were acting as his managers and took two thirds of the cut. Eventually there was a falling out and Leadbelly moved to Shreveport then Dallas. He eventually decided to give New York City another try. During the same time period, Lead Belly was being introduced to singers in New York who came from a strong protest song background. In April 1939, Lead Belly recorded a session for the small Musicraft Records and the following year for the Library of Congress. Throughout 1941 and early 1942, Lead Belly had a weekly show on WNYC’s The American School of the Air called Folk Songs of America. He also made recordings for RCA in 1940, some backed by the Golden Gate Quartet.

The commercial labels that recorded Lead Belly didn’t know how to market his music. For better or worse, Lead Belly’s strongest audience turned out to be the music fans involved in the folk revival, mainly in New York. City. Around this time Leadbelly Leadbelly Columbia Albumbegan recording for Moe Asch and his Asch label. Lead Belly recorded mainly for Asch for the rest of his life. In 1945, Asch Records went out of business and was followed by Asch’s second label, Disc Recordings of America. Lead Belly continued to record for Disc. During that time and for years to come Lead Belly’s apartment at 414 East 10th Street was a hub of musical activity. His niece Tiny Robinson remembers “it being like a friendly hotel that would receive musical guests like Sonny and Brownie, Bill Broonzy, Burl Ives, Eartha Kitt, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Harry Belafonte."

In 1948 Lead Belly was recorded extensively  by Fredric Ramsey. These sides were eventually released by Smithsonian Folkways as a 4-CD set titled Lead Belly's Last Sessions. In the late 1940's, Lead Belly began to feel something was physically wrong. In 1948, at a show in Paris during his trip to Europe, he found he could not continue playing his guitar. He was taken to a Parisian doctor who diagnosed Leadbelly with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He died in New York at Bellevue Hospital a little over a year later on December 5, 1949.

Over the next few years, a series of memorial LP's honoring Lead Belly were released by both the new Folkways label and Stinson Records, and many of Lead Belly’s numerous friends took part in memorial concerts. The band the Weavers, featuring Pete Seeger, celebrated Lead Belly’s music on stage, recording “Rock Island Line,” “Silvy,” and “Goodnight Irene” (among others). "Goodnight Irene” became a huge hit in 1950.

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