Big Road Blues ...vintage blues radio & writing 2015-01-27T22:14:27Z http://sundayblues.org/feed/atom WordPress Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 1/18/15: Storyville Special – Blues from Storyville Records]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8867 2015-01-18T22:17:19Z 2015-01-18T22:17:19Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Champion Jack DupreeReminiscin' With Champion JackChampion of the Blues Champion Jack DupreeStoryville SpecialBoogie Woogie, Booze And Wild Women Champion Jack DupreeDrive 'em Down SpecialTwo Fisted Piano From New Orleans: Blues Roots Vol. 8 Speckled RedI Had My FunBlues Masters 11: Speckled Red Speckled RedFour O'Clock BluesBlues Masters 11: Speckled Red Speckled RedEarly Morning Blues Blues Masters 11: Speckled Red Lonnie Johnson & Otis SpannClementine BluesSwingin' with Lonnie: Blues Roots Vol. 5 Lonnie Johnson & Otis SpannSee See RiderSwingin' with Lonnie: Blues Roots Vol. 5 Sleepy John Estes with Hammie NixonDiving Duck BluesPortraits In Blues Vol. 10 John Henry BarbeeI Ain't Gonna Pick No More CottonI Ain't Gonna Pick No More Cotton Sippie Wallace & Little Brother MontgomeryWoman Be WiseSippie Wallace Sings The Blues Sippie Wallace & Little Brother MontgomeryI'm A Might Tight WomanSippie Wallace Sings The Blues Big Joe WilliamsShake Them DownBig Joe Williams Robert Pete WilliamsDoctor BluesRobert Pete Williams Otis SpannT.B. BluesOtis Spann: I Have Had My Fun - Blues Roots Vol. 9 Otis SpannSpann's BoogieOtis Spann: I Have Had My Fun - Blues Roots Vol. 9 Big Bill BroonzyI Get The Blues When It RainsAn Evening With Big Bill Broonzy Vol. 2 Big Bill BroonzyBlack Brown And WhiteAn Evening With Big Bill Broonzy Sunnyland SlimPrison Bound Blues Sunnyland Slim: Blues Roots Vol. 9 Roosevelt SykesThe Way I Feel Roosevelt Sykes: Portraits In Blues Vol. 11 Roosevelt SykesBoot That ThingMemphis Minnie Vol. 4 1938 Sonny Boy WilliamsonThe Sky Is CryingKeep It to Ourselves Sonny Boy WilliamsonRebecca BluesPiano Blues Little Brother MontgomeryI Must Get Mine In FrontDeep South Piano Little Brother MontgomeryBob Martin BluesDeep South Piano Sonny Terry with Brownie McGhee I'm Afraid Of FireWizard Of The Harmonica Brownie McGhee My Last SuitThe Best Of Brownie McGhee Memphis Slim This Is A Good Time To Write A Song Memphis Slim: Blues Roots Vol. 10

Show Notes:

Big Bill BroonzyOn today's program we spotlight a great batch of recordings from the Storyville label based in Copenhagen. Storyville managed to corral  many of the great blues performers who made their way to Europe staring in the latter end of the 1950's and which increased as the American Folk Blues Festival brought many more to European shores throughout the 1960's. I have always been impressed with the quality of the albums Storyville issued. Artists like Champion Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, for example, recorded prolifically for many labels often churning out less than inspired recordings in their later years but Storyville had a knack for eliciting great performances from even the most jaded artists and the fact is that the Storyville albums maintain a consistently high level of quality. In addition to the original recordings, Storyville also released albums of recordings by Harry Oster and Pete Welding.

The year was 1950 when a group of jazz enthusiasts/record collectors often met at the home of Karl Emil Knudsen. Among those present were Heinrich Breiling and the young clarinet phenomenon Henrik Johansen. The label was launched in Copenhagen in 1952 with Knudsen eventually taking over full responsibility of the label. Storyville originally sold imported American records but when American jazz artists began to tour in Europe and Scandinavia Knudsen seized every opportunity to record them for the label. The label's first releases were 78 rpm reissues featuring Ma Rainey, Clarence Williams Blue Five, and James P. Johnson, but Storyville soon began releasing original recordings. Looking back on the period of 1956 to 1964, and to a lesser extant into the early 70's, Storyville’s recorded quite a bit of blues. The first great blues singer to arrive in Copenhagen was Big Bill Broonzy in 1956 and recorded by the label. Many blues artists toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival, which originally ran for a decade between 1962 and the early 70's. Storyville recorded the artists in the wee hours after they had played the evening concert. The label recorded many of the bluesmen who settled down and lived and performed in Europe including Memphis Slim, Champion Jack Dupree and Eddie Boyd. The label seemed to have a special affinity for piano players, cutting several albums by Champion Jack Dupree plus sessions by Speckled Red, Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim and Eddie Boyd. Others who recorded for the label include Robert Pete Williams, Big Joe Williams, Lonnie Johnson, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Sonny Boy Williamson and others. A good chunk of the material has been made its way to CD including the 7-CD set, The Blues Box. The Storyville discography can be a bit confusing as the label repackaged, and re-titled their albums through the years.

Champion Jack DupreeAs mentioned previously, there's a wealth of great piano blues recorded by the label.  Champion Jack Dupree moved to Europe in 1959, first settling in Switzerland and then Denmark, England, Sweden and, finally, Germany. He record prolifically for Storyville, British Decca, Blue Horizon, Sonet and others. Dupree moved to Europe in 1959, first settling in Switzerland and then Denmark, England, Sweden and, finally, Germany. He record prolifically for Storyville, British Decca, Blue Horizon, Sonet and others. Dupree cut 45's, EP's and several albums for Storyville including Champion of the Blues, The Best Of The Blues, Portraits in Blues Vol. 5, The Blues Of Champion Jack Dupree and several others.

Speckled Red first recorded in 1929, cutting his classic "The Dirty Dozens" among others. He did another session in 1930 and a final one in 1938. Charlie O'Brien, a St. Louis policeman and something of a blues aficionado had tracked down old bluesmen during the 1950s, including Speckled Red on December 14, 1954, who subsequently was signed to Delmark Records as their first blues artist. In 1960 he was booked to tour Europe. On June he toured Scandinavia where he recorded for Storyville.

Little Brother Montgomery saw his career pick up in the 1960's and he became a world traveler, visiting the UK and Europe on several occasions during the 1960's, cutting several albums there, while remaining based in Chicago. He cut one of his best latter day albums in 1972 for Storyville titled Deep South Piano. Montgomery can also be heard playing behind Sippie Wallace on the Storyville album Sippie Wallace Sings The Blues recorded in 1966 when when she was touring with the American Folk Blues.

Other piano players who recorded for Storyville were Otis Spann, Roosevelt Sykes, Memphis Slim, Sunnyland Slim and Eddie Boyd. Roosevelt Sykes was recorded for Storyville while on tour for the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival. Memphis Slim first appeared outside the United States in 1960, touring with Willie Dixon, with whom he returned to Europe in 1962 as a featured artist in the first of the series of American Folk Festival concerts. in 1962. That same year, he moved permanently to Paris where he secured his position as one of the most prominent blues artists for nearly three decades. He recorded the album Traveling With The Blues for Storyville in 1960 plus some other scattered sides for the label. Otis Spann recorded an album for the label as well as backing Lonnie Johnson on a fantastic session. Both men were on tour for the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival at the time.

Sonny Boy Williamson: Portrait In Blues Vol. 4Big Bill Broonzy was the first blues singer to be recorded by Storyville. In 1951, Broonzy took his first tour of Europe, where he was met with enthusiasm and appreciation. His appearances in Europe introduced the blues to European audiences and were especially influential in London’s emerging skiffle and rock blues scene. Broonzy’s success also set the stage for later blues artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson II and Muddy Waters to play European venues. Broonzy toured Europe again in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Broonzy was recorded live at Club Montmartre in Copenhagen and these recordings were issued on Storyville as An Evening With Big Bill Broonzy Vol. 1 & 2.

Other blues singers recorded for the label include Sonny Boy Williamson II, Big Joe Williams, John Henry Barbee, Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee and Robert Pete Williams. Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon were recorded for Storyville while both were on tour for the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival while  Big Joe and Robert Pete Williams were recorded for Storyville while both were on tour for the 1972 Festival. Both Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry cut excellent albums in the early 70's for Storyville each accompanying each other. Sonny Boy Williamson first traveled to Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival in 1963 and joined the Festival again in 1964. He recorded a wonderful session for Storyville in 1963 backed by Matt Murphy, Memphis Slim and Billie Stepney.

John Henry Barbee cut an exceptional album for the label and has a fascinating but tragic story. Barbee recorded recorded for Vocalion in the early fall of 1938 where he made the trip to Chicago and recorded four titles. His initial record sold well enough to cause Vocalion to call on Barbee again, but by that time he had left his last known whereabouts in Arkansas. Barbee returned to the blues scene during the midst of the blues revival. His earliest sides are from 1963 recorded at the Chicago club the Fickle Pickle. n 1964 he joined the American Folk Blues Festival and was recorded several times that year: songs by him appear on a pair of albums on the Spivey label, several tracks were recorded while in Europe as well as a an excellent full-length album for Storyville issued as Portraits in Blues Vol. 9. and appears on John Henry Barbee & Sleepy John Estes: Blues Live. In a case of tragic circumstances, Barbee returned to the United States and used the money from the tour to purchase his first automobile. Only ten days after purchasing the car, he accidentally ran over and killed a man. He was locked up in a Chicago jail, and died there of a heart attack a few days later, November 3, 1964, 11 days before his 59th birthday.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 1/4/15: The Blues Ain't Nothin' But…??? – The Year 1938]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8850 2015-01-05T15:26:38Z 2015-01-05T15:26:38Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Bo Carter Who's Been Here?Greatest Hits 1930-1940 Big Bill BroonzyGood Time TonightGood Time Tonight Kokomo ArnoldGoin' Down in Galilee (Swing Along With Me)Kokomo Arnold Vol. 4 1937-1938 Merline Johnson & The Louisiana KidSeparation BluesMerline Johnson Vol. 2 1938-1939 Trixie SmithFreight Train BluesCharlie Shavers & The Blues Singers 1938-1939 Rosetta TharpeRock MeThe Original Soul Sister Pete Johnson Roll 'EmPete Johnson 1938-1939 Meade Lux LewisHonky Tonk Train BluesFrom Spirituals To Swing Joe Turner & Pete JonsonLow Down DogFrom Spirituals To Swing Washboard SamYellow, Black And BrownWashboard Sam Vol. 2 1937-1938 Jazz Gillum Boar Hog BluesThe Bluebird Recordings 1934-1938 Blind John DavisJersey Cow BluesBlind John Davis 1938-1939 Shorty Bob ParkerThe Death of Slim GreenKid Prince Moore 1936-1938 Tampa RedLove with a FeelingThe Essential Lonnie JohnsonBlue Ghost BluesLonnie Johnson Vol. 1 1937-1940 John Henry BarbeeSix Weeks Old BluesMemphis Blues 1927-1938) Big Joe WilliamsPeach Orchard MammaBig Joe Williams Vol. 1 1935-1941 Blind Boy Fuller Funny Feeling Blues Blind Boy Fuller Remastered 1935-193 LeadbellyNoted Rider BluesLeadbelly - The Remaining LOCR Vol. 5 1938-1942 Monkey JoeNew York CentralMonkey Joe Vol. 1 1935-1939 Curtis JonesAlley Bound BluesCurtis Jones Vol. 2 1938-1939 Memphis MinnieGood BiscuitsMemphis Minnie Vol. 4 1938 Georgia WhiteThe Blues Ain't Nothin' But...???Georgia White Vol. 3 1937-1939 Speckled RedEarly In The MorningSpeckled Red 1929-1938 Peetie WheatstrawShack Bully StompThe Essential Cow Cow DavenportRailroad BluesThe Essential Oscar WoodsJames Session BluesTexas Blues: Early Masters From the Lone Star Harlem HamfatsI Believe I'll Make A ChangeHarlem Hamfats Vol. 3 1937-1938 Jimmie GordonFast LifeJimmie Gordon Vol. 2 1936-1938 George CurryMy Last Five DollarsFrank ''Springback'' James & George Curry 1934-1938 Johnnie TempleGonna Ride 74Johnnie Temple Vol. 1 1935-1938 Son BondsOld Bachelor BluesSon Bonds & Charlie Pickett 1934-1941 Sleepy John EstesSpecial Agent (Railroad Police Blues)I Ain't Gonna Be Worried No More 1929-1941 Sonny Boy WilliamsonDecoration BluesThe Bluebird Recordings 1937-1938 Yank RachelI'm Wild And Crazy As Can BeThe Original Sonny Boy Williamson Vol.1

Show Notes:

 1938 Decca Cataloge
1938 Decca Catalog

Today’s show is the twelfth installment of an ongoing series of programs built around a particular year. The first year we spotlighted was 1927 which was the beginning of a blues boom that would last until 1930; there were just 500 blues and gospel records issued in 1927 and increase of fifty percent from 1926 a trend that would continue until the depression. To feed the demand other record companies conducted exhaustive searches for new talent, which included making trips down south with field recording units. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. Sales of blues records plummeted in the years 1931 through 1933. Things picked up again in 1934 with the companies recording full-scale again. During this period there was far less recording in the field during this period and in view of the popularity of Chicago singers there was less need. From 1934 until 1945 there were three main race labels, all selling at 35 cents: Decca, the Brunswick Record Corporation's Vocalion, and RCA-Victor's Bluebird. There were two other labels that featured a fair number of blues during this period; the store group Montgomery Ward, with a label of the same name, drew at various times on Gennett, Decca and Bluebird and Sears Roebuck used ARC material on its Conqueror label. Race record sales were up around 15 per cent in 1937. Sales were a bit down by 1938 with an average of eight race records a week, down from seven a week from the previous year.

From 1934 until 1945 there were three main race labels, all selling at 35 cents: Decca, the Brunswick Record Corporation's Vocalion, and RCA-Victor's Bluebird. There were two other labels that featured a fair number of blues during this period; the store group Montgomery Ward, with a label of the same name, drew at various times on Gennett, Decca and Bluebird and Sears Roebuck used ARC material on its Conqueror label. Race record sales were up around 15 per cent in 1937: Decca and Bluebird each put out around 120 items whilst BRC-ARC issued almost on Vocalion and another 100 on the dime-store labels.

According to John Godrich and Robert M.W. Dixon in their classic book Recording The Blues, the record companies "had three way of unearthing new talent: by placing advertisements in local newspapers, especially just before a field unit was due in a nearby town; by just relying on chance comments from singers, concerning other who might be good recording propositions; and by employing their own talent scouts, who carry out steady, systematic searches. The last method was intensively employed in the the thirties – Roosevelt Sykes, for instance, would find likely artists for Decca (or, sometimes, for Lester Melrose). But despite this, race catalogs in the thirties relied more heavily on a small nucleus of popular singers than they had in the twenties. It was the urban style of blues that now dominated the market – and as in the previous years it was artists such as Tampa Red, Spirituals to Swing ConcertKokomo Arnold, Washboard Sam, Jazz Gillum, Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Peetie Wheatstraw and the Harlem Hamfats who dominated the market. Tampa cut 26 sides, the Hamfats cut around numbers under there own name as well as backing other singers, Peetie Wheatstraw cut 17 sides, Washboard Sam cut over two-dozen sides, Jazz Gillum cut a dozen numbers and Broonzy cut around two-dozen sides. Several big name artists had their careers end during this period including Bumble Bee Slim who's last sides were cut in 1937 (he would record again in the 50's and 60's), while Kokomo Arnold and Casey Bill weldon cut their finals sessions in 1938.

We spin  a few tracks today from a groundbreaking concert held in New York City in 1938. From Spirituals to Swing was the title of two concerts presented by John Hammond in Carnegie Hall on 23 December 1938 and 24 December 1939. The event was dedicated to singer Bessie Smith, who died a year before in a car accident in Virginia. The concerts included performances by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, Helen Humes, Meade Lux Lewis, Albert Ammons, Mitchell's Christian Singers, the Golden Gate Quartet, James P. Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry. The idea was a history, starting with spirituals and leading up to big swing bands, involving African American performers. Hammond had difficulty gaining sponsorship for the event because it involved African American artists and an integrated audience. However, The New Masses, the journal of the American Communist Party, agreed to finance it. The boogie-woogie craze of the late 1930s and early 1940s dates from these concerts. Johnson and Turner, along with Lewis and Ammons, continued as an act after the concerts with their appearances at the Cafe Society night club, as did many of the other performers.

As in the previous year the blues market was dominated by Chicago singers but there several down-home singers recorded. wo down home singers who could hold their own in terms of popularity against the urban artists were Sleepy John Estes and Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller cut twenty-two sides in 1938 for Vocalion. Estes cut an eight song session on April 22, 1938 and at the same session Son Bonds cut one 78 backed by Estes. Other down-home singers featured today include Big Joe Williams, Leadbelly and John Henry Barbee.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 12/28/14: Mix Show]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8826 2014-12-29T15:28:34Z 2014-12-28T22:38:35Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Mickey Champion & Jimmy WitherspoonThere Ain't Nothing BetterBam a Lam: The R&B Recordings 1950-19622 Mickey ChampionI'm A Woman Bam a Lam: The R&B Recordings 1950-19622 Mickey ChampionGood For Nothin' ManBam a Lam: The R&B Recordings 1950-19622 Big Joe TurnerNobody In My MindHave No Fear, Big Joe Turner Is Here Washboard SamBucket's Got A HoleWhen The Sun Goes Down J.B. SmithPoor BoyOld Rattler Can't Hold Me: Texas Prison Songs Vol. 2 Bessie JonesJohn HenryGet In Union Will Slayden Joe TurnerAfrican-American Bajo Songs From West Tennessee Little Brother MontgomeryUp The CountryHome Again, Chicago Roosevelt SykesMusic Is My BusinessMusic Is My Business Lonesome SundownIt's Not True Bought Me A Ticket Blue CharlieWatch That CrowRhythm 'n' Bluesin' By The Bayou Boogie JakeEarly In The MorningBluesin' By The Bayou The Four Blazes Women, WomenMary Jo Goree CarterBack Home BluesThe Complete Recordings Vol. 1 Luke Jones & His OrchestraMama Oh MamaNo More Doggin' The RPM Records Story Vol. 1 King Perry & His OrchestraWelcome Home BabyNo More Doggin' The RPM Records Story Vol. 1 Alberta AdamsRememberChess Blues Alberta AdamsMessin' Around With The BluesMen Are Like Street Cars...Women Blues Singers 1928-1969 Alberta AdamsSay Baby SayT.J. Fowler 1948-53 Leroy FosterLouella Rough Treatment: The J.O.B. Records Story Floyd JonesSweet Talkin' WomanMasters Of Modern Blues Vol. 3 Johnny ShinesTwo Trains Runnin'Masters Of Modern Blues Vol.1 Otis Spann My Home Is On The DeltaThe Complete Candid Recordings Lightnin' HopkinsAnother Fool In Town Jake Head Boogie Sweet Papa StovepipeAll Birds Look Like Chicken To MeRare Paramount Blues 1926-1929 Sweet Papa StovepipeMama's Angel ChildRare Paramount Blues 1926-1929 McKinley Peebles & Bessie JonesYou Got to Reap Just What You Sow/Just a Little Talk with JesusGet In Union Blind Lemon Jefferson'Lectric Chair BluesThe Best Of Blind Lemon Jefferson William HarrisElectric Chair Blues (Jefferson Country Blues)Too Late, Too Late Blues Vol. 3 Mary ButlerElectrocuted Blues (Electric Chair Blues)Bo Carter Vol. 1 1928-1931 Bessie Smith Send Me to the 'Lectric ChairThe Complete Recordings (Frog) Dinah WashingtonSend Me to the 'Lectric ChairSings Bessie Smith

Show Notes:

Bessie JonesFor our final show of 2014 we have a diverse mix show spanning the 1920's through the 1970's and along the way we pay tribute to two blues ladies who recently passed; we end the year on a somber note with tributes to Detroit singer Alberta Adams and L.A. singer Mickey Champion. Also on deck today we spotlight tracks from a great recent collection of sides by singer Bessie Jones, we spin a batch of songs about the electric chair, some fine Chicago blues, a set of swamp blues, we also throw in some jump blues as well as some other odds and ends.

Detroit singer Alberta Adams died at the age of 97 on Christmas Day. Becoming a regular at clubs around Detroit in the 1940s, she eventually was discovered by Chess Records and cut several singles for the label in 1953 including "Messin' Around With The Blues b/w This Morning" and "Remember" and "No Good Man" the latter which was not released. She also briefly recorded with Berry Gordy's Thelma Records in 1962 cutting "I Got A Feeling b/w Without Your Love"and New Jersey's Savoy label where she cut “Say Baby Say” with T.J. Fowler's band in 1952. In the late 1990's and 2000's she record several albums.

Mickey Champion died last month at the age of 89. Discovered in L.A. by bandleader Johnny Otis, Champion recorded several impressive R&B sides in the 1950s and early '60s for West Coast-based labels including Aladdin, Dootone, Modern, RPM and King. The wife of bandleader Roy Milton until his death, Champion began recording again in 2000, releasing a pair of records on Tondef Records. In 2008 Ace Records issued her collected singles from the 1950's and 1960's under the title Bam a Lam: The R&B Recordings 1950-1962.

While I like looking at year end lists of music every year I'm not sure I purchase enough new music or even reissues to make my own list. If I were to compile a list I would certainly include Get In Union released on Tompkins Square Records. The 2-CD set is a collection sides by Bessie Jackson featuring sides with the Georgia Sea Island Singers, combined with many previously unavailable performances captured by Alan Lomax between 1959 Mickey Championand 1966. Bessie Jones was one of the most popular performers on the 1960s and ’70s folk circuit, appearing-usually at the helm of the Georgia Sea Island Singers-at colleges, festivals, the Poor People’s March on Washington, and Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. lan Lomax first visited the Georgia Sea Island of St. Simons in June of 1935 with folklorist Mary Elizabeth Barnicle and author Zora Neale Hurston. There they met the Spiritual Singers Society of Coastal Georgia, as the group was then called, and recorded several hours of their songs and dances for the Library of Congress. Returning 25 years later, Lomax found that the Singers were still active, and had been enriched by the addition of Bessie Jones who possessed a enormous repertoire of black music.  There's practically no blues on this collection but we do play Jones singing a fine rendition of "John Henry."

Also from the is collection we spin a track by an associate of Jones' named McKinley Peebles. Nothing is known about Alan Lomax’s meeting with Peebles, in New York City, in late 1961, in the midst of Alan’s sessions with Bessie Jones, although it’s presumed that they were introduced by Peebles’ friend and busking colleague, Reverend Gary Davis. Peebles was a native of Tide- water Virginia who had made a record for the Paramount label in 1926 under the name Sweet Papa Stovepipe.We play those sides as well today, "All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me b/w Mama's Angel Child." By the way Tompkins Square Records has been issuing some of the best reissues around including some tremendous gospel collections if your a fan of that music.

It appears the electric chair theme started the Bessie Smith's "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair" recorded on March 3, 1927 and written by Fletcher Henderson. The following year several songs appeared using the theme: Blind Lemon Jefferson "'Lectric Chair Blues" (Feb. 1928), William Harris' "Electric Chair Blues (Jefferson Country Blues)" (Oct. 1928) Mary Butler's "Electrocuted Blues (Electric Chair Blues)" (Nov. 1928). Both Ruby Smith in 1938, the niece of Bessie, and Dinah Washington in 1958 covered Bessie's "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair." Guitar Welch recorded "Electric Chair Blues" at Angola Prison in 1959.

Alberta AdamsRegionally we feature sets of Chicago blues artists and Louisiana artists. From Chicago we hear the lovely "Louella" by Leroy Foster. Between 1948 and 1952 Baby Face Leroy Foster waxed a handful absolutely terrific sides under his own name for a number fledgling Chicago labels aided by some of the windy city's best blues musicians. We also hear from Floyd Jones and Johnny Shines from sessions they did for Pete Welding's Testament label.

Down in Louisiana we spotlight Charlie (Charlie Morris) from Lake Charles who cut sessions for Jay Miller in 1957 and 1958 (many unreleased), Boogie Jake who also worked with Jay Miller and backed Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester as well as cutting a few singles and Lonesome Sundown, there most prolific of the bunch, who also got his start through Miller and waxed a stack of great swamp number for Excello between 1956 and 1964. I've been listening to quite a bit of swamp blues lately courtesy of Ace Records who in the last few years has issue a trio of great collections that I would highly recommend:  Bluesin' By The Bayou, Rhythm 'n' Bluesin' By The Bayou: Rompin' & Stompin' and Bluesin' By The Bayou: Rough'n'Tough.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 12/21/14: Christmas In Jail (Ain't That A Pain) – Christmas Blues]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8805 2014-12-21T22:53:08Z 2014-12-21T22:53:08Z ARTISTSONGALBUM The Nic Nacs with Mickey ChampionGonna Have A Merry Xmas Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2 Mabel ScottBoogie Woogie Santa Claus Blues, Blues Christmas Frankie ''Half-Pint'' JaxonChrist Was Born On Christmas Morn Blues, Blues Christmas Titus Turner Christmas Morning BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Jimmy ButlerTrim Your TreeBlues, Blues Christmas Cecil GrantHello Santa Claus Blues, Blues Christmas Harman Ray Xmas Blues Blues, Blues Christmas Champion Jack DupreeSanta Clause BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 4 Jimmy McCracklinChristmas Time Part 1Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 3 Roy Milton & His Solid SendersNew Year's Resolution BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2 Johnny Otis OrchestraHappy New Year, BabyBlues, Blues Christmas Jimmy ButlerTrim Your Tree Blues, Blues Christmas Big Joe TurnerChristmas Date BoogieBlues, Blues Christmas Lil McClintockDon't Think I'm Santa Claus Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 4 LeadbellyChristmas Is CominBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 3 Leroy CarrChristmas In Jail (Ain't It A Pain) Tampa RedChristmas & New Year's BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Rev. J.M. Gates Did You Spend Christmas Day In JailBlues, Blues Christmas Rev. Edward ClaybornThe Wrong Way to Celebrate ChristmasBlues, Blues Christmas Black AceChristmas TimeBlues, Blues Christmas Lowell FulsonLonesome CBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2hristmas Part 1Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2 Hop WilsonNew Merry Christmas Baby Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 3 Charles BrownChristmas Blues Legend! Goree Carter Christmas BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 4 Lonnie JohnsonHappy New Year DarlingBlues, Blues Christmas Robert NighthawkMerry ChristmasBlues Southside Chicago Jimmy WitherspoonHow I Hate To See Christmas Come Around Blues, Blues Christmas Larry DarnellChristmas Blues Blues, Blues Christmas Butterbeans & SusiePapa Ain't No Santa ClausBlues, Blues Christmas Mary Harris w/ Peetie Wheatstraw & Charlie JordanHappy New Year BluesBlues, Blues Christmas Julia LeeChristmas SpiritsBlues, Blues Christmas Bukka WhiteChristmas Eve Blues Memphis Swamp Jam Lightnin’ HopkinsMerry ChristmasBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2 Gatemouth Moore Gate’s Christmas BluesGreat Rhythm & Blues Oldies Vol. 7 Harry ''Fats'' Crafton w Doc Bagby Orchestra Bring That Cadillac BackBlues, Blues Christmas J.B. SummersI Want A Present For ChristmasBlues, Blues Christmas Fats WallerSwingin’ Them Christmas BellsBlues, Blues Christmas Vol. 2

Show Notes:

Paramount Christmas Greetings Ad

I've been doing a Christmas blues show for many years and was always frustrated with the lack of a really good collection of early blues Christmas songs. In 2005 I hooked up with the Document label to put together a 2-CD, 52 track collection of blues and gospel songs from the 1920's to the 1950's called Blues, Blues Christmas. The record proved to be popular and a second volume was released in 2009,  a third volume in 2013 and this year sees the fourth volume. You can read the notes to these by visiting my writing page. Many of today's tracks come from those collections.

On October 30, 1889 banjoist Will Lyle made history by recording "Jingle Bells" – the very first Christmas record. Although no known copies of this recording survive, one of the earliest vocal examples of "Jingle Bells" does survive on an Edison brown wax cylinder entitled, "The Sleigh Ride Party." The first commercial Christmas blues record was cut by Bessie Smith. Her classic "At The Christmas Ball" inaugurated the Christmas blues tradition when it was recorded in November 1925 for Columbia. A year later, circa December 1926, the gospel Christmas tradition was launched when the Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers recorded "Silent Night, Holy Night" for Paramount Records. After these recordings it was off to the races with numerous Christmas blues numbers recorded by singers of all stripes, a pace that continued as blues evolved into R&B and then rock and roll. It’s almost certainly the case that many of these songs were recorded at the prompting of the record companies. Like any business they were always looking for a new angle or gimmick to sell records and advertised these Christmas records boldly, often with full-page ads, in black newspapers like the Chicago Defender and magazines like Billboard.

Perhaps more than any other music, the blues is deeply enmeshed in a particular culture, entangled in the era of segregation, in the era of Jim Crow and in the era of slavery. In his classic Screening The Blues Paul Oliver wrote “for the Negro, Christmas has a deep-rooted significance beyond that of the religious meaning of the celebration itself; a more worldly one of which has none the less firmly established itself in his folkways. Since far back in slavery Christmas has signified a rest, a break in the year's routine which no other festival affords, proving an opportunity for a man to be with his family and, for a brief period at any rate, from the rigorous monotony of rural labor.” The annual Christmas Ball was something looked forward to all year and as Oliver astutely notes “there may have been a change of venue–a Harlem cellar dive for the 'quarters' and a jazz band instead of the fiddles, but there was probably little difference in kind and certainly in spirit at the Christmas Ball described by Bessie Smith…”

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Among Paramount's biggest blues stars of the 1920's were Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Blake who made their debuts for the label several months apart – Jefferson in December 1925 or January 1926 and Blake around August of 1926. Paramount ramped up their blues and gospel recordings considerably in 1927 and a new Jefferson and Blake record appeared every month. Paramount resorted to several novel promotions for their big artists; In 1924 Ma Rainey's sixth release was labeled "Ma Rainey's Mystery Record" with prizes given to the best title while Charlie Patton's "Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues" was listed as by The Masked Marvel with a corresponding advert that bore a drawing of a blindfolded singer – looking nothing like Patton – and the clue that he was an exclusive Paramount artist. Similarly, so successful was Jefferson, that a special yellow and white label was produced for Paramount 12650, "Piney Woods Money Mama" b/w ‘Low Down Mojo Blues" which bore his picture and the wording "Blind Lemon Jefferson's Birthday Record." In a similar vein Christmas records can be seen as just another promotional tool with ads for these records appearing annually in black newspapers every holiday season. Befitting his stardom, Lemon's lone holiday record "Christmas Eve Blues" b/w "Happy New Year Blues", was given a full-page advertisement in the December 12th, 1928 edition of the Chicago Defender. In Paramount's 1928 late fall Dealers' Supplement the label advertised scores of "CHRISTMAS, SPIRITUAL AND SERMON RECORDS THAT ARE DEPENDABLE SALES PRODUCERS" and warned that they "SHOULD BE IN YOUR STOCKS NOW." Blind Blake received the large sized treatment in the 1929 edition of the paper for his "Lonesome Christmas Blues," (also sharing the page was Leroy Carr's "Christmas In Jail – Ain't That A Pain?") his only Christmas record. The flip was "Third Degree Blues" – apparently Blake only had enough holiday spirit for one side!

Blind Blake wishes you a Merry X-mas

The trend continued with more frequency in the 30's. Here are a few notable songs: Butterbeans & Susie "Papa Ain’t No Santa Claus" (1930), Charlie Jordan "Santa Claus Blues" ["Christmas Christmas, how glad I am you are here/ Well I ain’t had a chicken dinner for this whole round year/Shiny bones and naked bones gleaming from around my plate/ …So pass me that chicken, the turkey, duck and the goose/Well all you birds gonna be one legged when I turn you-a-loose"] (1931) and "Christmas "Christmas Blues" (1935), Kansas City Kitty & Georgia Tom "Christmas Morning Blues" (1934), Verdi Lee "Christmas "Tree Blues" (1935), Tampa Red "Christmas And New Years Blues" (1934), Peetie Wheatstraw "Santa Claus Blues" (1935), Bumble Bee Slim's "Christmas And No Santa Claus and "Santa Claus Bring Me A New Woman" (1936), Black Ace "Christmas Time Blues (Beggin' Santa Claus)" (1937), Casey Bill Weldon "Christmas Time Blues" (1937), Bo Carter "Santa Claus" (1938), Walter Davis "Santa Claus" (1935), Sonny Boy Williamson I "Christmas Morning Blues" (1938).

Mary Harris, who cut two sides for Decca at an October 31, 1935 session is most certainly Verdi Lee who cut sides on the exact same date, also in the company of fellow St. Louis musicians Peetie Wheatstraw and Charlie Jordan. It was a holiday themed session with the group cutting "Christmas Tree Blues", "No Christmas Blues", "Happy New Year Blues", "Christmas Christmas Blues" and "Santa Claus Blues" (the latter two with vocals by Jordan and Wheatstraw respectively). Paul Oliver noted that "it would be pleasant to think that each singer was inspired by the others to create a blues on the same subject but at this date, with Christmas two months away, it is more likely that it was a deliberate promotional device by Rev. J.M. Gates: Will The Coffin Be Your Santa Claus[producer] Mayo Williams."

In the 40's there was of course more blues Christmas songs but there was a new music brewing called R&B. Evolving out of jump blues in the late '40's, R&B laid the groundwork for rock & roll. The era's biggest Christmas song was undoubtedly the immortal "Merry Christmas, Baby" cut by Charles Brown & The Blazers in 1947. This perennial classic has been covered numerous times including versions by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Lena Horne , Lou Rawls, Booker T. & the MG's, Otis Redding, James Brown and countless others. Charles Brown's smooth ballad style has become synonymous with Christmas ever since remaking "Merry Christmas, Baby" many times, cutting many other Christmas songs and full length albums including 1961's Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs and Cool Christmas Blues in 1994.

Notable blues and R&B songs from this period include: Champion Jack Dupree's "Santa Claus Blues" (1945), Gatemouth Moore "Christmas Blues" (1946) [recut in 1977 as "Gate's Christmas Blues"], Little Willie Littlefield "Merry Xmas" (1949), Mabel Scott "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" (1947), Harman Ray "Xmas Blues" ["Hold it, hold it man/Don’t play me no jingle bells the way I feel this Christmas/Only kind of bells I want to have anything to do with is some of them mission bells/Man, play me the blues long, loud and lowdown"] (1947), Boll Weavil "Christmas Time Blues" (1947), Big Joe Turner "Christmas Date Boogie "(1948), Thelma Cooper "I Need A Man (For Xmas)" (1948), Smokey Hogg "I Want My Baby For Christmas" (1949), Amos Milburn "Let's Make Christmas Merry Baby" (1949), Harry Crafton "Bring That Cadillac Back" ["I let you eat my turkey on Christmas morn/When I looked around you and my Cadillac was gone"] (1949), Felix Gross "Love For Christmas" ["You can have your turkey and your dressing/Sweet cakes and apple pie/Blue Champagne and Rock & Rye/Everything that money can buy"] (1949), J.B. Summers "I Want a Present For Christmas" (1949 ["Santa Claus, Santa Claus/Hear my plea/Open up your bag and give a fine brown baby to me/ …You can stop by my chimney/Drop her in the chute/ Leave your reindeer outside/Come in and get my loot"] .

One other song from this era is the downright odd "Junior's a Jap Girl's Christmas for His Santa Claus" (1942) a Library of Congress recording by Willie Blackwell that defies categorization. Other non-R&B Christmas songs from the 40's include a few by Leadbelly such as "Christmas Is A-Coming", "The Christmas Song", "On A Christmas Day", Sylvester Cotton "Christmas Blues" (1948), Washboard Pete [aka Ralph Willis] "Christmas Blues" (1948), Alex Seward & Louis Hayes "Christmas Time Blues" (1948), Walter Davis "Santa Claus" (1949).

Clyde Lasley: Santa Came Home DrunkThere was a time you could hit the charts with an instrumental as pianist Lloyd Glenn well knew, scoring big with "Old Time Shuffle Blues" which hit #3 on the R&B charts in 1950 and "Chica Boo" which hit #1 in 1951. He seemed to have a knack for being on hit records, accompanying T-Bone Walker on his 1947 hit "Call It Stormy Monday", and in 1949 he joined Swing Time Records as A&R man, recording a number of hits with Lowell Fulson, including "Everyday I Have The Blues" and the #1 R&B hit "Blue Shadows." In sunny Los Angeles on April 1951 he waxed the shuffling "(Christmas) Sleigh Ride." Glenn's distinctive piano work can also be found on a five-song session Jesse Thomas waxed for Swingtime also in April 1951 which included "Xmas Celebration." Glenn was also present when Lowell Fulson cut his classic two-parter, "Lonesome Christmas Pt. 1 & 2 "in 1951.

The 50's produced many more Christmas gems including: Lowell Fulson's oft covered ""Lonesome Christmas" (1950), Cecil Gant "It's Christmas Time Again" and "Hello, Santa Claus" (1950), Roy Milton "Christmas Time Blues" (1950), Johnny Otis & Little Esther Phillips "Far Away Blues" [also known as "Faraway Christmas Blues"] (1950), Jimmy Liggins "I Want My Baby For Christmas" (1950), The Nic Nacs with Mickey Champion "Gonna Have A Merry Xmas" (1950), Larry Darnell "Christmas Blues" (1950), Sonny Parker with Lionel Hampton "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" (1950), Lloyd Glenn "Sleigh Ride" (1951), Sugar Chile Robinson "Christmas Boogie" b/w "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1950), Titus Turner "Christmas Morning" (1952), Lightning Hopkins "Merry Christmas" (1953), Chuck Berry "Run, Rudolph, Run" (1958) and "Merry Christmas Baby" (1958), John Lee Hooker "Blues for Christmas" (1959).

The 60's, less so in the 70's, produced a number of strong Christmas blues songs including at least one blues classic, Little Johnny Taylor's "Please Come Home For Christmas" (1969) which has become an oft covered holiday classic. Other notable 60's songs include: Sonny Boy Williamson II "Santa Claus" (1960), Lightnin' Hopkins "Santa" (1960) and "Heavy Snow" (1962), Black Ace "Santa Claus Blues" (1960), B.B. King "Christmas Celebration" (1960), Hop Wilson "Merry Christmas, Darling" (1961), Robert Nighthawk "Merry Christmas Baby" (1964), Lowell Fulson "I Wanna Spend Christmas With You" (1967), Louis Jordan "Santa Claus, Santa Claus" (1968), Charles Brown "New Merry Christmas Baby" (1969) featuring Earl Hooker, Bukka White "Christmas Eve Blues" (1969). In the 70's: Jimmy Reed "Christmas Present Blues" (1970), Lee Jackson "The Christmas Song" (1971), Clyde Lasley "Santa Came Home Drunk (1971), Albert King "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" (1974) and "Christmas Comes But Once A Year" (1974), Eddie C. Campbell "Santa's Messin' with the Kid" (1977).

Freddy Ling: I Hear Jingle BellsThere seems to be a dearth of quality Christmas songs in the 70's and 80's. By the late 80's the rise of the CD caused the demise of the 45 record which was one of the main vehicles for putting out holiday songs. However in lieu of the 45 labels began releasing Christmas themed compilations and there have been a number of very good collections. Some of the best include: Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas (1989) from the Antone's label [reissued on Epic in 1986 and Sony in 2001], Alligator Records Christmas Collection (1992), Ichiban Blues At Christmas Vol. 1-4 (1991-97) [Best of Ichiban Blues at Christmas was issued 2002], Bullseye Blues Christmas (1995), Stony Plain's Christmas Blues (2000), Blue Christmas (2000) from the Dialtone label, Blue Xmas (2001) on Evidence. A number of artists issued Christmas themed records including Charles Brown, Huey "Piano' Smith, Johnny Adams, B.B. King and Etta James. Also with the dominance of the CD age labels went back into their vaults to put together compilations of classic Christmas blues.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 12/14/14: They Call Me Big Mama – The Life and Music of Big Mama Thornton]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8767 2014-12-14T22:07:08Z 2014-12-14T22:07:08Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Michael SpörkeInterview Big Mama ThorntonCotton Picking BluesThe Complete 1950 1961 Big Mama ThorntonI Smell A RatHound Dog: The Peacock Recordings Big Mama ThorntonRock-A-Bye BabyHound Dog: The Peacock Recordings Big Mama ThorntonYes, BabyHound Dog: The Peacock Recordings Big Mama ThorntonHound DogHound Dog: The Peacock Recordings Big Mama ThorntonMy StoryThe Complete 1950 1961 Big Mama ThorntonStop Hoppin' On MeHound Dog: The Peacock Recordings Big Mama ThorntonThey Call Me Big MamaThe Complete 1950 1961 Big Mama ThorntonOne More River Saved Big Mama ThorntonBig Mama's Coming HomeThe Complete 1950-1961 Big Mama ThorntonLife Goes OnAll Night Long They Played The Blues Big Mama ThorntonBall N' Chain Ball And Chain Big Mama ThorntonLittle Red RoosterLive In Europe Big Mama ThorntonMy Heavy Load Ball And Chain Big Mama ThorntonSession BluesIn Europe Big Mama ThorntonI'm Feeling Alright With The Muddy Waters Blues Band) Big Mama ThorntonLooking The World OverIn Europe Big Mama ThorntonEverybody's Happy But MeSassy Mama! Big Mama ThorntonJailJail Big Mama ThorntonThat Lucky Old SunLive At Ann Arbor 1970 Big Mama Thornton Unlucky GirlBall And Chain Big Mama ThorntonRock MeGunsmoke Blues

Show Notes:

Big Mama ThorntonWillie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton is probably best remembered for two songs that became huge for Elvis and later Janis Joplin. "Hound Dog" held down the top slot on Billboard's R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953 and Elvis had an even bigger hit with it in 1956. Joplin covered "Ball and Chain" on her debut album which became a million seller. Thornton moved to Houston where she signed with Don Robey's cutting some terrific sides but no hits to match "Hound Dog." After Houston she settled in California where she cut a few singles and struggled playing small club dates. After new management she began to play festivals including the American Folk Blues Festival and cut some fine albums for Arhoolie. She cutting records for Mercury and Vanguard through the 70's and touring up until her death in 1984. Today we feature Big Mama's music and hear my interview with Michael Spörke who has written the biography Big Mama Thornton: The Life and Music.

As Spörke writes: "Willie Mae moved in the house of relatives in Barbour County Alabama, and found herself a job washing and cleaning spittoons in the local tavern. One night the tavern's regular;r vocalist go drunk so Willie Mae convinced the tavern owner that she could do the job. She never looked back after that." As she related to writer Ralph Gleason: "I like my own old down home singing, with the feeling.I learned to sing blues by myself. …My singing comes from experience, my own feeling. I got my own feeling for everything. I never had no one teach me nothing. I never went to school for music or nothing. I stayed home to take care of my mother who was sick. I taught myself to sing and to blow harmonica and even to play the drums by watching other people. I can't read music but I know where I'm singing! If I hear a blues I like, I try to sing it in my own way. It's always best to have something of your own. I don't sing like nobody but myself." Her big break came through singer Diamond Teeth Mary who met Willie Mae when she was working on a garbage truck and  happened to hear her singing. Mary told her about a singing contest for Sammy Greens Hot Harlem Revue. At fourteen years old, she won the contest and began traveling with the Revue.

Thornton’s career began to take off when she moved to Houston in 1948.She made her debut in 1950 cutting "All Right Baby b/w Bad Luck Got My Man" for the tiny E&W label on Houston's Dallas Avenue. She signed a a five year recording contract with Don Robey's Peacock Records in 1951. Thornton played at Robey's Bronze Peacock club and toured the Big Mama Thornton AdChitlin' Circuit. Thornton cut some solid records before "Hound Dog", such as "Cotton picking Blues" and  "Let Your Tears Fall Baby" but nothing hit the charts. Robey negotiated a deal with Johnny Otis in which he would take some of Robey's artists on tour with the revue and that he would also record them. Sh was apparently a big hits as the Chicago Defender proclaimed that Thornton "stopped the show in the Tacoma, Oakland and Richmond auditoriums, as well as in Stockton, Sacramento, Bakersfield and the Elks Auditorium in Los Angeles." While on tour with Otis she cut "Hound Dog." The son was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller especially for Thornton. Otis brought Leiber and Stoller  to see her to see if they could come up with something for her. As Stoller recalled:  "we saw Big mama and she knocked me cold. she looked like the biggest, bad-ass, saltiest chick you would ever see. And she was mean, a 'lady bear' as they used to call 'em. She must have been 350 pounds and she had all these scars all over her face. I had to write a song for her that basically said 'Go fuck yourself' but how do you do it without actually saying it? ..She was a wonderful blues singer with a great moaning style, but it was as much her appearance as her blues style that influenced the writing of Hound Dog." The song went to number one on the R&B charts and was the biggest record Peacock ever had.

Unable to follow the success of  "Hound Dog" she left peacock in 1957 and relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, playing clubs in San Francisco and L.A. but not recording again until 1961. In 1961 she waxed 45's for Irma and Bay Tone. During the latter session she cut "Ball and Chain" but was not released. Her fortunes took an upswing with new manager Jimmy Moore and "the big festivals and shows came back into Big Mama Thornton's life…" Her first big festival shows the 1964 Monterey Jazz Festival which she would play again in 1966 and 1968. In 1965, she toured with the American Folk Blues Festival package in Europe. As Spörke writes: "Big Mama was always put on at the end of each show. She was the highlight." During the festival she got the chance to record an album for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie label. Big Mama In Europe featured an all-star backing band that included Buddy guy, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Walter Horton, Eddie Boyd and others.

Back in the States after her European tour she cut a few singles for Sotoplay, Kent and the terrific "Life Goes On" for Galaxy. In 1966 she cut her second album for Arhoolie, Big Mama Thornton Vol. 2: The Queen at Monterey with the Chicago Blues Band. The album found her backed by a crack Muddy Waters band that included James Cotton, Sammy Lawhorn and Otis Spann among others. 1968 saw the release of the album Ball and Chain on Arhoolie.

While the black audience was turning away from the blues there was a growing appreciation for blues and roots music among white audiences that would benefit Thornton greatly. Between 1966 and 1969 she was in great demand in campuses, clubs, folk festivals and rock festivals. She played in places like the Fillmore and the Ash Grove, sharing the stage with rock bands like the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane. It was during this period she met Janis Joplin and members of Big Brother & the Holding Company. It was at a club that they heard her perform "Ball and Chain." As Joplin  said " she sings the blues with such heart and soul. I have learned so much from her and only wish I could sing as well as Willie Mae." Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company's performance of "Ball 'n' Chain" at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and release of the song on their number one album Cheap Thrills renewed interest in Thornton's career and was the song that made Joplin famous.

Big Mama Thornton at the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival

 

By 1969, she signed with Mercury Records. Mercury released her most successful album, Stronger Than Dirt, which reached number 198 in the Billboard Top 200 record chart. Thornton then signed a contract with Pentagram cutting a gospel album called Saved. Thornton's last albums were Jail and Sassy Mama for Vanguard Records in 1975. Thornton never stopped touring until her passing in 1984, including a return to Europe on 1972. As Spörke writes: "The newspapers, for the most part, wrote that she was found dead, alone in a boarding house, but her friends say  that this is not the truth. It seems more realistic that she had gathered together her old buddies one last time on July 25, 1984. Around six in the evening, rumor has it, she phoned her sister Mattie. She sang for her, her favorite song, 'That Lucky Old Sun.' Then she went to the sofa, drank some gin and milk, fell to sleep and never got up." As Johnny Otis said at her funeral: "Don't waste your sorrow on Big Mama. She's free. Don't fell sorry for Big mama. There's no more pain. No more suffering in a society where the color of skin was more important than the quality of your talent."

 

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 12/7/14: Going Down The Road Feeling Good – Kip Lornell's 1970's Field Recordings]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8722 2014-12-08T00:42:08Z 2014-12-07T22:40:12Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Kip LornellInterview Fats Jefferson Hard Luck Blues North Florida Fives Elroy Hart North Florida Fives North Florida Fives Fats Jefferson Married Woman North Florida Fives Willie Morris Broke Down Blues Goin' Back To Tifton Tom CarterSome Got 6 Months Goin' Back To Tifton C.D. DobbsAberdeen WomanGoin' Back To Tifton Blind Donald DawsonRack 'Em SlowGoin' Back To Tifton Peg Leg Sam Hand Me DownThe Last Medicine Show Peg Leg Sam Who's That Left Here Awhile AgoThe Last Medicine Show Guitar Slim Worried Blues Greensboro Rounder Guitar Slim War Service BluesGreensboro Rounder Guitar Slim Come On Down To My HouseAin't Gonna Rain No More Pernell CharityCome Back, Baby, ComeThe Virginian Pernell CharityFind Me A Home Pernell Charity Pernell CharityI'm Climbing On Top Of The Hill The Virginian Irvin Cook & Leonard Bowles I Wish to the Lord I'd Never Been BornVirginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music John CephasRailroad BillVirginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music Lewis HairstonBile Them Cabbage Down Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music Clayton HorsleyPoor Black Annie Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music Carl Hodges Leaving You, MamaVirginia Traditions: Tidewater Blues Corner MorrisGoing Down The Road Feeling GoodVirginia Traditions: Tidewater Blues Jamie AlstonGoin' AwayAin't Gonna Rain No More Wilbert Atwater Can't Get A Letter From Down The Road Ain't Gonna Rain No More Jamie AlsonSix White Horses Ain't Gonna Rain No More Joe & Odell Thompson Going Down The Road Feeling Bad Ain't Gonna Rain No More

Show Notes:

North Florida FivesFrom the 1960's through the 80's there were folklorists, researchers and dedicated fans such as David Evans, George Mitchell, Sam Charters, Chris Stratwichz, Mack McCormick, Bruce Jackson, Peter B. Lowry, Tary Owens, Art Rosenbaum, Pete Welding, Bengt Olsson, Glenn Hinson, Tim Duffy, Axel Küstner and Kip Lornell who actively sought out and recorded rural blues. Over the years we have featured many of them and today we spotlight the field recordings of Christopher “Kip” Lornell who captured some remarkable, undiscovered musicians in the 1970’s. Lornell was gracious enough to let me talk with him a couple of weeks back which I've edited for today's program.

Lornell began conducting blues research while still in high school. As an undergraduate in New York and North Carolina he interviewed and recorded local blues artists, resulting in articles in Living Blues and other periodicals and albums on the Flyright, Trix, and Rounder labels. Lornell served for four years as the staff folklorist at Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute documenting music from Virginia on the groundbreaking Virginia Traditions series of albums which included some of his field recordings. Since 1992 Lornell has taught courses in American Music & Ethnomusicology at George Washington University and more recently works as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution. In 1997 Lornell received a Grammy for his work on the boxed set The Anthology of American Folk Music for Smithsonian/Folkways. Lornell has published numerous articles, liner notes and books. His books include: Melody Man: Joe Davis and the New York Music Scene, The Life and Legend of Leadbelly (coauthored with Charles Wolfe), Shreveport Sounds in Black and White (Editor), Happy In Service Of Lord: African-American Sacred Vocal Harmony, Exploring American Folk Music, Virginia's Blues, Country, and Gospel Records, 1902-1943 among others. Our focus on today's program is Lornell's blues field recordings from the 1970's which include the following albums:  Pernell Charity: The Virginian (some tracks recorded by Pete Lowry), Ain't Gonna Rain No More: Blues And Pre-Blues From Piedmont North Carolina, Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music, Virginia Traditions: Tidewater Blues, Goin' Back To Tifton, North Florida Fives, Guitar Slim: Greensboro Rounder and The Last Medicine Show where he assisted Pete Lowry.

Peg Leg Sam Jackson: Born For Hard Luck

We open the program with selections from two long out-of-print records released on the Flyright label in 1974:  Goin' Back To Tifton and North Florida Fives. Lornell was just out of High School when he made these recordings following what would because a practice for him which is to look in your own backyard. He correctly assumed that since Albany had significant black population there would be some blues musicians. In hindsight he wishes he had done a similar exploration for religious singers but at the time it was blues that was his primary interest. Most of the musicians were probably rusty and didn't play much anywhere but there some fine performances including some piano players who were recorded far too infrequently during this period. Not all blues musicians from the south came to Chicago and in fact quite a number came to New York such as Sonny Terry, Brownie McGee, Rev. Gary Davis and others. It's not surprising some of them went farther into upstate New York.  The most famous, of course, is Son House who settled in Rochester in 1943.

Lornell eventually connected with Pete Lowry who was teaching at SUNY New Paltz. In his voluminous research, writing and recording Lowry has become perhaps the most renowned expert on the blues of the Southeast and is credited with coining the term Piedmont Blues. Between 1969 and 1980 he amassed hundreds of photographs, thousands of selections of recordings, music and interviews in his travels through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. He formed the Trix label in 1972 as an outlet to release his recordings. Around this time Lornell got an NEA Federal Youth Grant and hooked up with Lowry to do some field recording in the south. One of the artists Lornell recorded was Pernell Charity. Charity spent his whole life around Waverly, VA. The Virginian is his only album released on the Trix label. As Lowry told me: "Pernell is a Kip Lornell discovery, done during his Federal Youth Grant year – I was his mentor and supervisor for that! I did the first tapes for him, then got them back – then did a few sessions on my own later, when I got my NEA Folkarts grant." Lornell wrote the liner notes and noted that "the phonograph record has had an important effect in shaping the song repertoire of many blues musicians…such is the case with Pernell Charity… It was the records of Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, and Blind Lemon Jefferson that inspired Pernell to take up guitar."

 Guitar Slim: Greensboro Rounder
Read Liner Notes

Lornell was also involved with Lowry in recording one of the last medicine shows. The show was  presided over by Chief Thundercloud who was still hawking “Prairie King Liniment” from the tailgate of his station wagon at fairs and carnivals in the Southeast in the early 70’s. In his heyday he traveled will a full cast of comediennes, dancers, singers and musicians, numbering as many as sixteen. In later years his lone partner was Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson, a medicine show veteran who learned the ropes back in the 30’s from Pink Anderson. The duo was recorded and filmed by Pete Lowry and Kip Lornell in Pittsboro, North Carolina in 1972. The recordings issued on a 2-LP set of music and spoken word issued on the Flyright label titled The Last Medicine Show.

James “Guitar Slim” Stephens was first recorded in the early 70's by Lornell who recorded him on several occasions in 1974 and 1975. His first LP, Greensboro Rounder, was issued in 1979 by the British Flyright label and are comprised of these recordings. Green also appears on the anthologies Eight Hand Sets & Holy Steps and Ain't Gonna Rain No More: Blues And Pre-Blues From Piedmont North Carolina. Green's final recordings were made in 1980 by Siegfried Christmann and Axel Küstner for the Living Country Blues USA series of albums. Other songs from 1980 appear on the album Old Time Barrelhouse Blues which also includes sides by Memphis Piano Red. Green passed away in 1991.

The Virginia Traditions series consisted of nine albums issued between 1978 and 1988  by BRI Records, a label operated by the Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College. The recordings, made in various settings between the mid-1920's and the mid-1980's, range from African American work songs to Anglo American ballads to a cappella sacred music and stringband tunes. As the  Blue Ridge Institute's staff folklorist, Lornell was involved with the series, producing, writing liner notes and compiling tracks which included some of his own field recordings. He was most deeply involved in the volumes Non-Blues Secular Black Music and Tidewater Blues which is where we draw our selections form. Smithsonian Folkways has made the entire series available via their website.

BRI00001 BRI00006
Read Liner Notes Read Liner Notes

The final record we look at today is the anthology Ain't Gonna Rain No More: Blues And Pre-Blues From Piedmont North Carolina. The album includes performances recorded in North Carolina in the mid 1970's by Dink Roberts, Joe & Odell Thompson, Jamie Alston, Wilbert Atwater, John Snipes,and Guitar Slim and it contains a mixture of banjo and guitar numbers. It should be noted that during the interview both Kip and I were under the impression this had not been issued on CD but it appears that Rounder did reissue on CD about eight years ago.

Related Listening:

-Kip Lornell Radio Feature (2 hours, 4 min., mp3)

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 11/16/14: Mix Show]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8701 2014-11-16T22:07:23Z 2014-11-16T22:07:23Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Charlie 'Dad' Nelson Michigan Shoe BluesRare Paramount Blues 1926-1929 Tommie Bradley Four Day BluesTommie Bradley - James Cole Groups 1928-1932 Harlem Hamfats Southern BluesHarlem Hamfats Vol. 1 1936 Smoky BabeShake, Shake MattieWay Back in the Country Blues Herman E. Johnson Depression BluesLouisiana Country Blues Curtis Jones Weekend BluesTrouble Blues Cecil Gant My House Fell DownCecil Gant Vol. 7 1950-1951 Meade Lux Lewis Meade's BlueMeade Lux Lewis 1941-1944 Papa Charlie Jackson I'm Alabama BoundFat Mouth Blues Papa Charlie JacksonUp the Way BoundFat Mouth Blues Johnny Wright I was In St. LouisDevil's Jump: Important Indie Label Blues 1946-57 Joe Morris Midnight GrinderAnytime, Anyplace, Anyplace Plas Johnson Worrying BluesHam Hocks and Cornbread Sylvester Weaver Devil BluesSylvester Weaver Vol. 2 1927 Bo Weavil Jackson You Can't Keep No Brown Backwoods Blues 1926-1935 Blind Blake Guitar ChimesThe Best Of Blind Blake Forest City Joe Memory Of Sonny BoyRobert Nighthawk / Forest City Joe: Black Angel Blues Peck Curtis & the Blues Rhythm BoysThe Death Of Sonny Boy WilliamsonMississippi Delta Blues: Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1 Elmore Nixon, Henry Hayes & His Four Kings Alabama BluesBoogie Uproar: Gems From The Peacock Vaults Bea Johnson & Jim Wynn & His Band No Letter BluesBoogie Uproar: Gems From The Peacock Vaults Gus Jenkins Drift OnThe Flash Records Story Sam Collins New Salty DogJailhouse Blues Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals w/ Papa Charlie Jackson Salty DogPapa Charlie Jackson Vol. 2 1926 - 1928 Kokomo ArnoldSalty DogsKokomo Arnold Vol. 3 1936-1937 Little Brother Montgomery Salty DogRare Chicago Blues 1962-68 Bill GaitherWintertime BluesBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939 Lightnin' Slim Wintertimes Blues Winter Time Blues Jasper LoveDesert BluesI Have To Paint My Face Otis Spann Beat-Up TeamOtis Spann Is the Blues Cora Phillips John HenryMusic from the Hills of Caldwell County Dewey Corley & Mose Vinson Rains All Night Tennessee Blues Vol. 1 Fred McDowell & Johnny Woods Fred's BluesMemphis Swamp Jam

Show Notes:

Charlie 'Dad' Nelson: Michigan Shoe BluesAn entertaining mix show for today featuring several tracks by Papa Charlie Jackson who was spotlighted in last week's show on blues banjo. In addition we spina set of sides revolving around the song Jackson made famous, "Salty Dog", a couple of songs revolving around both Sonny Boy's, plus we hear from several outstanding piano players, some fine jump blues, plenty of classic pre-war blues and more.

As Jas Obrecht wrote: "Launching his recording career in 1924, Papa Charlie Jackson was the first commercially successful male blues singer. A relaxed, confident crooner and seasoned 6-string stylist, he became one of Paramount's more popular artists, with 33 discs by 1 930. His classic versions of "Salty Dog," "Shake That Thing," "Alabama Bound" and "Spoon-ful" set the template for many covers that followed." In The Paramount Book of the Blues it claims that he came from New Orleans: "From the ancient-historical city of New Orleans, came Charlie jackson-a witty-cheerful-kind hearted man-who, with his joyous sounding voice and his banjo, sang and strummed his way into the hearts of thousands of people."  Jackson began recording in 1924 for the Paramount label, playing a hybrid banjo-guitar and ukulele. Jackson spent his teen years as a singer/performer in minstrel and medicine shows. He is known to have busked around Chicago in the early '20s, playing for tips on Maxwell Street, as well as the city's Westside clubs beginning in 1924. In August of that year, Jackson made his first record, "Papa's Lawdy Lawdy Blues" and "'Airy Man Blues," for Paramount. He followed this up a month later with "Salt Lake City Blues" and "Salty Dog Blues," which became one of his signature tunes. Most of his records during the next decade are self-accompanied blues (Paramount, 1924–1930; OKeh, 1934), but he also recorded with, or provided accompaniment for, Lottie Beaman, Blind Blake, Lucille Bogan, Bill Bronzy (1935, ARC unissued), Ida Cox, Amos Easton, Teddy Edwards, Hattie McDaniel, Ma Rainey, and Freddy Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals. Jackson supposedly died in Chicago in 1938.

The oldest recordings of "Salty Dog" is credited Papa Charlie Jackson who recorded the song in 1924. According to writer Jas Obrecht, "Old-time New Orleans musicians from Buddy Bolden’s era recalled hearing far filthier versions of 'Salty Dog Blues' long before Papa Charlie’s recording." In his Library of Congress interviews, Jelly Roll Morton recalled a three-piece string band led by Bill Johnson playing the number to great acclaim, probably before 1910. The song has been recorded by Papa Charlie Jackson (1924), Clara Smith (1926), Freddie Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals (1926), the McGee Brothers (1927), The Allen Brothers (1927, 1930, 1934), Sam Collins (1931), Kokomo Arnold (1937),  the Morris Brothers (1938, 1945), Flatt and Scruggs (1950), Blind Willie McTell (1956), Mississippi John Hurt (1963), and Johnny Cash among others.

We hear from a whole batch of fine pianists today including Curtis Jones, Cecil Gant, Meade Lux Lewis, Otis Spann and Jasper Love. Jones scored a huge hit in 1937 with “Lonesome Bedroom Blues.” In 1929, Curtis Jones left Dallas working his way through the Mid and Southwest via Kansas City, then traveling to New Orleans where he finally made his way to Chicago. Arriving there in 1936, he formed his own group and began playing at rent parties and in Southside joints or bars and was soon spotted by Vocalion talent scout Lester Melrose. Over the next five years Curtis Jones was in the studio on no fewer than twenty occasions, recording some hundred titles. is career picked up during the 60's blues revival where he cut several records and eventually moved to Europe where he remained until his death in 1971.

Papa Charlie Jackson: Fat Mouth Blues
Read Liner Notes

Cecil Gant was an army private who allegedly got his first break while performing for a war bond rally in 1944. He scored a massive hit the same year with “I Wonder” the first release on the new Gilt-Edge label. Gant was a first rate ballad singer in the vein of Nat King Cole and Charles Brown but he was also a superb bluesman who could lay down some storming boogie-woogie. Gant recorded prolifically for the L.A. labels Gilt-Edge and 4 Star and in Nashville, which was probably his hometown, for Bullet, Dot and Decca, meanwhile playing in nightclubs throughout the country. Between 1944 and 1951 he waxed over 150 sides before his untimely death in 1951 at the age of 38.

Pianist Jasper Love was recorded in Clarksdale in 1960 by Chris Strachwitz and recorded there again in 1968 by William Ferris. Over a dozen sides were recorded at the 1960 sessions but only two were issued on the anthology I Have To Paint My Face: Mississippi Blues 1960. The two later sides appear on the collection Bothered All The Time. Love was related to pianist Willie Love who cut sides for the Trumpet label in the 50's.

I've played Otis Spann often on the show and along with the less recorded, Little Johnny Jones, probably the finest of the post-war Chicago piano players. "Beat-Up Team" comes form Otis Spann Is The Blues, the first album I ever picked up by Spann and arguably his finest. I think this record captures the depth of his playing better than any other.

We spotlight some fine 50's blues including some jump blues, from Joe Morris, Plas Johnson, plus a pair of tracks from the vaults of Peacock Records.Alabama's Joe Morris began his career as a jazz trumpet player, working with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Earl Bostic, but his legacy rests with his 1950s work as leader of the more R&B-oriented Joe Morris Orchestra. Morris signed with the then fledgling Atlantic Records, and his "Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere" (with a fine vocal by Laurie Tate) put the new record company on the map when it soared to number one on the R&B charts in 1950. The Joe Morris Orchestra functioned as the unofficial house band for Atlantic in the early to mid-'50s, and several future Atlantic stars passed through its ranks, including Ray Charles and Lowell Fulson. In addition to working for Atlantic, Morris also recorded sides for Decca and Herald. He died in 1958.

Born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, Plas Johnson and his pianist brother Ray first recorded as the Johnson Brothers in New Orleans in the late 1940s, and Plas then toured with R&B singer Charles Brown. After army service, he moved to Los Angeles and began session recordings as a full-time musician, backing artists such as B.B. King and Johnny Otis as well as scores of other R&B performers.

We spin two numbers from a recent 2-CD, 50 song collection called Boogie Uproar: Gems From The Peacock Vaults. The Peacock label was founded by Don Robey in 1949 to promote his new artist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The label was named after Robey's Bronze Peacock in Houston. Robey added the Duke label to his operation in 1952, gaining full control of the label in 1953. We played tracks by Bea Johnson and Elmore Nixon. I don't have any information on Johnson outside of eight sides she cut in 1949 backed by the Jim Wynn band with four of the sides going unissued. By his early teens, Nixon was already backing Peppermint Harris on his Gold Star debut. Thereafter he recorded with many Texas artists as a member of alto saxophonist Henry Hayes’ Four Kings, including Carl Campbell, Milton Willis, L.C. Williams, Hubert Robinson, Ivory Lee and Hop Wilson. His debut record, "Foolish Love", was made in 1949 for Sittin' In With. Other sessions followed for Peacock, Mercury Records, Savoy Records and Imperial Records, the latter in 1955. During the mid-60s, he worked with Clifton Chenier, recording on Chenier’s sessions for Arhoolie Records and with Lightnin’ Hopkins for Jewel. At other times he led his own band, working around Texas and Louisiana.

Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals w/ Papa Charlie Jackson - Salty Dog We spin a pair of songs dealing with the death of Sonny Boy Williamson I and II. In the history of the blues there were a number of tributes to those blues who passed: Rev. Emmett Dickenson's "The Death Of Blind Lemon", King Solomon Hill's "My Buddy, Blind Papa Lemon", Scrapper Blackwell's "The Death of Leroy Carr", Bill Gaither's "Life Of Leroy Carr", Memphis Minnie's "Ma Rainey", Brownie McGhee's "Death Of Blind Boy Fuller", Booker T. Washington's "Death Of Bessie Smith", Robert Pete Williams' "Goodbye Slim Harpo", Forest City Joe' "Memory Of Sonny Boy" and Peck Curtis & the Blues Rhythm Boys' "The Death Of Sonny Boy Williamson."

Forest City Joe was raised in the area around Hughes and West Memphis, AR, and even as a boy played the local juke joints in the area. He hoboed his way through the state working road houses and juke joints during the 1940s, and late in the decade hooked up with Big Joe Williams, playing with him around St. Louis, MO. Beginning in 1947, he also began working the Chicago area, and a year later had his one and only session for the Chess brothers' Aristocrat label. He also appeared with Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy "Rice Miller" Williamson (aka Sonny Boy II) on radio shows in the West Memphis area. He recorded for Atlantic Records in 1959 and the same year f in Hughes, AR by Alan Lomax. He was still performing until his death in 1960, in a truck accident while returning home from a dance.

Peck Curtis worked on the Biscuit Time show for about twenty-five years in Helena. Robert Jr. Lockwood claims to have bought Peck his first set of drums shortly after Lockwood and Williamson hired him, in early 1942. During his tenure on King Biscuit Time, Peck also played jukes and nightclubs with Houston Stackhouse, Joe Willie Wilkins, Driftin’ Slim, and others in Arkansas and Mississippi. Curtis and fellow King Biscuit entertainer Robert "Dudlow" Taylor recorded in Helena for the Modern label in 1952. Folklorist George Mitchell also recorded Peck reciting the story of "The Death of Sonny Boy Williamson" and singing a few more songs with Houston Stackhouse and Robert Nighthawk in 1967.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 11/9/14: I Thought I Heard My Banjo Say – Blues Banjo 1920's-1970's]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8676 2014-11-09T22:29:17Z 2014-11-09T22:25:14Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Papa Charlie JacksonAll I Want Is A SpoonfulPapa Charlie Jackson Vol. 1 1924-1926 Papa Charlie JacksonI Got What It Takes But It Breaks My Heart To Give It AwayPapa Charlie Jackson Vol. 1 1924-1926 Papa Charlie JacksonPapa, Don't Tear Your PantsBlues Images Vol. 9 Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon w/ Banjo IkeyRock Me MamaFrankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon Vol. 1 1926-29 Banjo IkeyYou're Bound To Look Like A Monkey When You Get OldBanjo Ikey Robinson 1929-1937 Banjo IkeyGet Off Stuff Banjo Ikey Robinson 1929-1937 Gus CannonPoor Boy, Long Ways from HomeMaster of Memphis Blues Gus CannonCan You Blame The Colored ManMaster of Memphis Blues Gus CannonMy Money Never Runs OutGood for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows 1926-37 Jimmie StrothersI Thought I Heard My Banjo SayField Recordings Vol. 1: Virginia 1936-1941 Jimmie StrothersGoin' To RichmondField Recordings Vol. 1: Virginia 1936-1941 Gus CannonBring It With You When You ComeRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Vol. 2: The Great Jug Bands Gus CannonMadison Street RagBlues Images Vol. 5 Papa Charlie JacksonLong Gone Lost JohnBroadcasting The Blues Papa Charlie JacksonDrop That SackPapa Charlie Jackson Vol. 1 1924-1926 Papa Charlie JacksonSkoodle-Um-SkooBlues Images Vol. 3 Whistler & His Jug BandLow Down BluesThe Jug and Washboard Bands - Vol. 1 1924-1931 Whistler & His Jug BandJug Band SpecialRuckus Juice & Chitlins Vol. 2 Sylvester Weaver Six-String Banjo PieceSylvester Weaver Vol. 1 1923-1927 Sidney StriplingSeassafool (Sebastopol) Deep River of Song: Georgia Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug BandRocking Chair BluesClifford Hayes & The Louisville Jug Bands Vol. 2 1926-1927 Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug BandShe's In The African-American Folk Songs From West Tennessee Will SlaydenSpoonfulAfrican-American Folk Songs From West Tennessee Will SlaydenSo Glad Living Country Blues USA: Introduction Rev. Gary Davis Mister Jim aka Walkin' Dog BluesThe Guitar and Banjo of Reverend Gary Davis Frank Hovington You Rascal YouLonesome Road Blues Bill WilliamsBanjo Rag Low and Lonesome Howard Armstrong; Tom Armstrong; Ted Bogan; Ikey Robinson My Four ReasonsLouie Bluie Dink RobertsGeorgia BuckBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia Dink RobertsHigh SheriffBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia Joe Thompson and Odell ThompsonJohn HenryBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia Irvin Cook and Leonard BowlesMomma Don't AllowBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia John JacksonGoin' up NorthBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia Elizabeth CottonMedley: Here Old Rattler Here/Sent for My Fiddle Sent for My ...Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs Etta BakerGoing Down The Road Feeling BadOne Dime Blues
Papa Charlie Jackson
Papa Charlie Jackson

For sometime it seems that guitar has eclipsed every other instrument to be the the one most commonly associated with the blues. It wasn't always the case and if one looks at the history of black music it's littered with pianos, harmonicas, violins, mandolins, jugs and other instruments. The banjo has a long history in African culture with early depictions dating back to the 1770's and in much of the nineteenth-century minstrel tradition the banjo was identified with black music. The earliest recordings of black banjo music date back to the 1890's. By the 1920's, at the time of the first blues recordings, the banjo was in decline largely replaced by the guitar. The two principal blues banjoists to record in the 1920's were Papa Charlie Jackson and Gus Cannon. Banjo from this era can also be heard in some jug bands and field recordings. The banjo declined even further in the post-war era with scattered recordings, mostly non-commercial, through the decades. If there was a revival of the banjo in the post-war era it was in folk music, propelled by Pete Seeger. There were a few black folk artists whose recordings blurred boundaries with the blues including artists featured today like Elizabeth Cotton, Etta Baker and others. On today's show we follow a somewhat chronological path of blues banjo on record from the 1920's through the 1970's.

Little is known of Papa Charlie Jackson's background. In the 1924 The Paramount Book of the Blues (which is the source of Jackson’s best known photograph) it claims that he came from New Orleans. Jackson began recording in 1924 for the Paramount label, playing a hybrid banjo-guitar (six strings tuned like a guitar but with a banjo body that gave it a lighter resonance) and ukulele. Jackson spent his teen years as a singer/performer in minstrel and medicine shows. He is known to have busked around Chicago in the early '20s, playing for tips on Maxwell Street, as well as the city's Westside clubs beginning in 1924. In August of that year, Jackson made his first record, "Papa's Lawdy Lawdy Blues" and "'Airy Man Blues," for Paramount. He followed this up a month later with "Salt Lake City Blues" and "Salty Dog Blues," which became one of his signature tunes. Most of his records during the next decade are self-accompanied blues (Paramount, 1924–1930; OKeh, 1934), but he also recorded with, or provided accompaniment for, Lottie Beaman, Blind Blake, Lucille Bogan, Bill Bronzy (1935, ARC unissued), Ida Cox, Amos Easton, Teddy Edwards, Hattie McDaniel, Ma Rainey, and Freddy Keppard’s Jazz Cardinals. Jackson supposedly died in Chicago in 1938.

Jackson’s most important impact probably lies in the fact that he paved the way for other male blues artists, not least his Paramount mates Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson, at a time when the business was dominated by female singers. As Stephen Calt wrote: "Jackson was an entertainer and one of the first blues recording artists to rely primarily on his own material, and the first blues singer to record happy-go lucky, up-tempo music that made him popular among the black record-buying public."

A remarkable musician, Gus Cannon bridged the gap between early blues and the minstrel and the pre-blues that preceded it. His band of the '20's and '30's, Cannon's Jug Stompers, along with contemporaries, The Memphis Jug Band, recorded the finest jug music of the era. He learned early repertoire in the 1890's from older musicians, notably Mississippian Alec Lee. The early 1900's found him playing around Memphis with songster Jim Jackson and forming a partnership with Noah Lewis, whose harmonica wizardry would be basic to the Jug Stompers' sound. In 1914, Cannon began work with a succession of medicine shows that would continue into the 1940's.

Cannon's recording career began with Paramount sessions in 1927 cut under the name Banjo Joe and also made sides with Blind Blake. In 1928 he began recording as Cannon's Jug Stompers, cutting over two-dozen sides with the group through 1930 for Victor. He returned in 1956 to make a few recordings for Folkways Records and made some college and coffee house appearances with Furry Lewis and Bukka White. In 1963 the Rooftop Singers had a hit with "Walk Right In" and in the wake of that recorded an album for Stax Records in 1963. He cut a few other scattered sides before his death in 1979.

Gus Cannon
Gus Cannon circa 1920

Another early musician to record with the banjo was Ikey Robinson. Robinson was an excellent banjoist and singer who recorded both jazz and blues from the late '20s into the late '30s. After working locally, Robinson moved to Chicago in 1926, playing and recording with Jelly Roll Morton, Clarence Williams, and Jabbo Smith during 1928-1929. He led his own recording sessions in 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935. His groups included Ikey Robinson and his Band (w/ Jabbo Smith), The Hokum Trio, The Pods of Pepper, Windy City Five, and Sloke & Ike. Robinson also accompanied blues singers such as Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon, Georgia White, Eva Taylor and Bertha "Chippie" Hill among others. In addition to a pair of early songs we also spin him revisit a song he did with Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon, "My Four Reasons", this time with a group consisting of Howard Armstrong, Tom Armstrong and Ted Bogan.

Banjo was featured in blues bands and seems well suited for  jug bands and today we hear from Whistler & His Jug Band and Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band. Whistler & His Jug Band was a long-lasting and popular group that recorded for several labels from the mid-'20s through the early '30s, and influenced many of the jug bands that followed. They first entered the recording studios in September, 1924 when they traveled to Richmond, IN to cut several sides for the Gennett label. The second recording trip took them to St. Louis in April, 1927 recording ten sides for Okeh. They cut their final sides in 1931.

The origins of jug bands can be traced to Louisville, Kentucky around the turn of the century. It was Earl McDonald who took the reins from the Cy Anderson Jug Band. McDonald formed his own band and proved himself a shrew promoter, headlining dates in New York and Chicago. Also based in Louisville was Clifford Hayes who took up the violin at an early age and joined Earl McDonald’s Louisville Jug Band in 1914. Both men backed singer Sara Martin on ten sides in 1924 listed as Sara Martin and Her Jug Band. The two men had a falling out and thereafter led separate bands. Among the bands Hayes worked with were the Dixieland Jug Blowers and the Old Southern Jug Band.

A number of the banjo tracks heard today were made as field recordings including sides by Jimmie Strothers, Sidney Stripling, Will Slayden, Frank Hovington and several tracks from the album Black Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia. Jimmie Strothers was a blind banjo and guitar player from Virginia who recorded 15 tracks for Alan Lomax and Harold Spivacke in 1936. Biographical details are sketchy, but Strothers was apparently a medicine show entertainer for a time before going to work in the mines, where an explosion took his eyesight, forcing him to earn a living as a street singer. Things changed even more drastically when he was convicted of murdering his wife with an axe and was sent to the state penitentiary in Lynn, VA, which was where Lomax and Spivacke, working on a field recording project for the Library of Congress, found him.

Sidney Stripling cut ten sides accompanied by his own banjo in 1941 at Fort Valley State College in Georgia. He was recorded by John Wesley Work III for the Library of Congress.

In 1952, Charles McNutt was a young anthropology student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was also a student of the banjo, and he developed an interest in the instrument’s African (and African-American) roots. Influenced by the field recordings of John and Alan Lomax, McNutt set out to locate and record an African-American banjo player near his home of Memphis, Tennessee. His journey led him to Will Slayden, a sharecropper in his 60s who had given up the instrument when he became a Christian some two decades prior. McNutt rented a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder, loaned Slayden an $8 banjo, and captured an afternoon of history using a hand-held microphone.

Black Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia is a collection of artists recording songs on the banjo and captured  between 1974 and 1997. From this collection we hear fine tracks from Dink Roberts, Joe Thompson and Odell Thompson, Irvin Cook and Leonard Bowles and perhaps most famously John Jackson.

Black Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And VirginiaWe conclude the show with two wonderful female guitarists, Elizabeth Cotton and Etta Baker who's music falls somewhere between folk and blues. Cotton was among the most influential guitarists to surface during the roots music revival. Cotten was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the early weeks of 1895. After first picking up the banjo at the age of eight, she soon moved on to her brother's guitar. By the early '40s, Cotten had relocated to Washington, D.C., where she eventually began working for the legendary Charles Seeger family and caring for children Pete, Peggy, and Mike.When the Seegers learned of Cotten's guitar skills a decade later, they recorded her for Folkways, and in 1957 she issued her debut LP, Folksongs and Instrumentals. The track "Freight Train," written when she was 12, became a Top Five hit in the U.K. She recorded several other album for Folkways.

Etta Baker was born Etta Lucille Reid in Caldwell County, North Carolina, of African American, Native American, and European American heritage. She played both the 6-string and 12-string forms of the acoustic guitar, as well as the five-string banjo. Baker played the Piedmont Blues for ninety years, starting at the age of three when she could not even hold the guitar properly. She was taught by her father, Boone Reid, who was also a longtime player of the Piedmont Blues on several instruments. Etta Baker was first recorded in the summer of 1956. She recorded several albums for Rounder and Music Maker.

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 11/2/14: Old Country Blues – Forgotten Country Blues Heroes Pt. 8, 1960's & 70's]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8647 2014-11-02T22:24:23Z 2014-11-02T22:09:11Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Guitar Slim Little BoyGreensboro Rounder Guitar Slim Worried BluesGreensboro Rounder Lum Guffin Moaning And Groaning Blues Walking Victrola Lum Guffin Railroad Blues Walking Victrola Shortstuff Macon Moanin' Introducing Mr. Shortstuff Shortstuff Macon Great Big LegsIntroducing Mr. Shortstuff Maxwell Street Jimmy Me And My Telephone Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis Maxwell Street Jimmy Drifting From Door To Door Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis Maxwell Street Jimmy Crying Won't Make Me Stay
Modern Chicago Blues Guitar Slim Penitentiary Moan Blues Greensboro Rounder Guitar Slim War Service Blues Greensboro Rounder Guitar Slim Lovin Home Blues Greensboro Rounder Lum Guffin Johnny Wilson Walking Victrola Lum Guffin Old Country BluesOld Country Blues Shortstuff Macon Short Stuff's Corrina Hell Bound & Heaven Sent Shortstuff Macon My Jack Don't Drink Water No More Hell Bound & Heaven Sent Shortstuff Macon Tight Like ThatHell Bound & Heaven Sent Maxwell Street Jimmy Make Some Love To You Chicago Blues Live At The Fickle Pickle Maxwell Street Jimmy Long Haired Darlin' Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis Guitar Slim Won't You Spread Some Flowers On My Grave Living Country Blues Vol. 8 Guitar Slim – Bad Luck Blues Living Country Blues Vol. 8 Lum GuffinOn The Road Again Walking Victrola Lum GuffinJack Of Diamond Walking Victrola Guitar Slim Come On In My Kitchen Living Country Blues USA: Introduction Guitar Slim Lula's Back In Town Living Country Blues vol. 10

Show Notes:

 Guitar Slim: Greensboro Rounder
Read Liner Notes

I was talking last week on the air during our pledge drive about radio and how the landscape has changed with iTunes and services like Spotify and Pandora. What I tried to emphasize is that even with these services there is a vast amount of material that has never been digitized and hence you will never hear on these services. This is certainly the case with the blues. When CD's starting coming out many of us assumed everything would be made available but there remain many, many great albums that remain long out-of-print with little chance of ever getting reissued. If you look in the The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings, one of my favorite resources, there's a thousand pages listing blues CD's but one could come up with a hefty companion volume of all the recordings that have not made it onto CD and therefore not included in that book. Those recordings are featured regularly on this show and make up something of a forgotten history of the blues. There are many artists who's complete output remains unissued on CD, making their achievements virtually forgotten. With companies like Document and Yazoo, almost all of the pre-war materiel has been reissued. Similarly labels like Ace and Classics, among others, have done a good job covering the post-war era. The most glaring oversight is some of the great, little known bluesman who were captured in the 1960's and 70's, many of these field recordings, and issued almost exclusively on small labels. Our ongoing Forgotten Country Blues Heroes continues spotlighting these artists.

From the 1960's through the 80's there were folklorists, researchers and dedicated fans such as David Evans, Pete Welding, George Mitchell, Sam Charters, Chris Stratwichz, Mack McCormick, Bruce Jackson, Peter B. Lowry, Tary Owens, Art Rosenbaum, Pete Welding, Bengt Olsson, Kip Lornell, Glenn Hinson, Tim Duffy, and Axel Küstner who actively sought out and recorded rural blues. Some were hunting for the famous names who made records in the 1920’s and 1930’s, others were seeking to fill in biographical blanks regarding some of the older musicians coveted by collectors and then there were those who were seeking to document the blues tradition as it still existed in rural communities. Today's program spotlights a batch of superb, little known, artists who were recorded during this period, almost all of whose recordings remain out-of-print: Guitar Slim Stephens, Lum Guffin, Short Stuff Macon and Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis.

 Lum Guffin: Walking Victrola
Read Liner Notes

James “Guitar Slim” Stephens was born on March 10, 1915, near Spartanburg, South Carolina. He began playing pump organ when he was only five years old, singing spirituals he learned from his parents and reels he heard from his older brother pick on the banjo. Slim was so small that his feet would not even reach the organ pedals, so he had one of his brothers do the pumping while he practiced the keys. Within a few years, Slim was playing piano. When he was thirteen, Green began picking guitar, playing songs he heard at local “fling-dings,” house parties, and churches. A few years later he joined the John Henry Davis Medicine Show, playing music to draw crowds to hear the show master’s pitch; this took him throughout the southeastern Piedmont. It seems as if traveling was in Slim’s blood from that point on; for in the next twenty or so years, he moved throughout the eastern United States living in such cities as Richmond, Durham, Louisville, Nashville, and Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1953 he arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he lived for the remainder of his life playing both guitar and piano–singing the blues at house parties and spirituals at church.

Green's was first recorded in the early 70's by Kip Lornell who recorded him on several occasions in 1974 and 1975. His first LP, Greensboro Rounder, was issued in 1979 by the British Flyright label and are comprised of these recordings. Green also appears on the anthologies Eight Hand Sets & Holy Steps and Ain't Gonna Rain No More from the 1970's. Green's final recordings were made in 1980 by Siegfried Christmann and Axel Küstner for the Living Country Blues USA series of albums. Other songs from 1980 appear on the album Old Time Barrelhouse Blues which also includes sides by Memphis Piano Red. Green passed away in 1991. I'll be spotlighting more sides by Slim on an upcoming show devoted to the field recordings of Kip Lornell.

Begnt Olsson recorded Lum Guffin between 1972 and 1974, with a few tracks appearing on anthologies and the rest on his only full-length album, Walking Victrola, issued on the Flyright label in 1973. Further field recordings were made in 1978 by Gianni Marcucci and issued on his Albatros label. Guffin performed as a street musician around Binghampton, Memphis during the depression with his sometime partner, mandolin player ‘Chunk’ McCullough or at home for various social gatherings, picnics, dances, etc. Guffin also performed in a fife and drum band during the time of these recordings. He passed in 1993.

 Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis
Read Liner Notes

Regarding Short Stuff Macon the liner notes to his Folkways album (Hell Bound And Heaven Sent recorded in 1964) had this to say: "Short Stuff has now begun traveling the sparse and fickle concert circuit with Big Joe Williams, who, in a trip back to Mississippi,'discovered' him, liked his 'deep down' music, remembered his father and mother, and decided to take him with him.” In 1964 Macon recorded for the Spivey label issued on the album called Introducing Mr. Shortstuff. He appeared one final time on the album Goin’ Back to Crawford alongside Big Joe and others on a 1971 session. Macon passed in 1973.

Maxwell Jimmy Davis was Born Charles W. Thompson on March 2, 1925 in Tippo, MS. He learned to play guitar from John Lee Hooker while still a teenager, developing an insistent single-chord technique similar to that of his mentor; Davis and Hooker regularly gigged together in Detroit throughout the '40s, with the former settling in Chicago early the next decade. There he became a fixture of the West Side's Maxwell Street marketplace area. Davis recorded for Sam Phillips in 1952 but those sides were never issued .Live tracks from 1963 at Chicago's Fickle Pickle have been issued on different albums and there were some sides cut for the Testament label circa 1964.65. In 1965 he recorded his only full-length album, Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis for Elektra. His last recordings were from the late 80's. He passed in 1995.

 

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Jeff http://sundayblues.org <![CDATA[Big Road Blues Show 10/26/14: Mix Show & More]]> http://sundayblues.org/?p=8620 2014-10-26T23:36:51Z 2014-10-26T23:36:51Z ARTISTSONGALBUM Son House Walking Blues Son House 1941-1942 Willie B. Thomas & Butch Cage Sneaky Ways Old Time Black Southern String Band Music Willie B. Thomas & Butch Cage Bugle Call Blues Old Time Black Southern String Band Music Howard Armstrong; Tom Armstrong; Ted Bogan; Ikey Robinson Railroad Blues Louie Bluie Leonard Bowles and Irvin Cook I Wish To The Lord I'd Never Been Born Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music Leonard Bowles and Irvin Cook Momma Don't AllowBlack Banjo Songsters Of North Carolina And Virginia Joe Thompson Careless Love Family Tradition Odell & Joe ThompsonGeorgia Buck Eight-Hand Sets & Holy Steps Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad
Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson Little Brother Montgomery Talkin' Blues Chicago Piano: Chicago Plus Jimmy Yancey Tell 'Em About MeJimmy Yancey Vol. 1 1939 - 1940 Frank 'Sweet' Williams Sweet's Slow Blues Chicago Piano: Chicago Plus Oscar "Preacher" Nelson And Newton "Hoss" Nelson Broke And Ain't Got A Dime Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar Green Paschal Trouble Brought Me DownGeorge Mitchell Collection Volumes 1-45 Big Joe Williams Back Home BluesBlues With A Message Rev Nix It Was Tight Like ThatRev. A.W. Nix & Rev. Emmett Dickinson Vol. 2 1928-1931 Leadbelly Tight Like ThatLeadbelly's Last Sessions McKinney's Cotton Pickers It's Tight Like That McKinney's Cotton Pickers Vol. 1 Roy Hawkins If I Had ListenedBad Luck Is Falling T-Bone Walker Dream Girl Blues The Complete Recordings of T-Bone Walker 1940-1954 Tom Archia Downfall Blues (Whiskey)Tom Archia 1947-1948 William 'Do Boy' DiamondJust Want To Talk To YouGeorge Mitchell Collection Volumes 1-45 Fats Jefferson Love Me Blues Goin' Back To Tifton Furry Lewis Longing BluesFurry Lewis Mississippi Fred McDowell Dankin's FarmMy Home Is in the Delta Willie Long Time Smith I Love You Baby BoogieGood Time Blues 1930-1941 Camille Howard The Boogie And The BluesCamille Howard Vol. 1

Show Notes: 

Chicago Piano: Chicago PlusLast week our feature was on Post-War Black String Bands but due to our pledge drive we ran of time to include all the tracks I intended to play. Today we open up with those tracks with background information to be found on the notes for last week's program. The rest of the show is mixed, featuring some great down home blues and field recordings, a few sets of fine piano blues, a set revolving around a classic blues song, a pair of tracks from a recent reissue and more.

As I was rummaging around my record collection I came across a great series of gate-fold albums that were issued in the early 70's spotlighting blues from the vaults of Atlantic Records. Theses albums feature both issued and unissued sides with excellent notes by Pete Lowry. I believe there were about a half-dozen of these including ones devoted to Blind Willie McTell, Professor Longhair, John Lee Hooker as well as anthologies based on piano blues and  Texas guitar. Today we feature sides from Chicago Piano: Chicago Plus. These sides were recorded in the early 50's, several of the sides not issued at the time of recording.  We spotlight a pair of tracks by Little Brother Montgomery, Floyd Dixon and Frank 'Sweet' Williams. Williams is the most obscure of the bunch and was a minor Chicago blues musician who's only recordings were two songs cut for Atlantic in 1951 which remained unissued until this anthology. It is assumed he was brought to the studio by Little Brother Montgomery. He may be the uncredited drummer on Montgomery 's session recorded on the same day.

We hear several other fine pianists including Willie "Long Time" Smith  and Camille Howard. Smith waxed ten sides at sessions in 1947 and  1954. Several of these sides do not seem to have been reissued, a shame as he was an exceptional vocalist  (a disciple of of the popular Dr. Clatyon for whom he recorded the tribute "My Buddy Doctor Clayton") and good piano player.

Howard was installed as the pianist for drummer Roy Milton & the Solid Senders sometime during World War II, playing on all their early hits for Art Rupe's Juke Box and Specialty labels. Rupe began recording her as a featured artist at the end of the year. Her biggest hit was the romping instrumental "X-Temporaneous Boogie" but she was also a very fine vocalist. She continued to record successfully in the early 1950's.

As we often do, we spin several superb field recordings captured in the 60's and 70's by George Mitchell, Kip Lornell and Tary Owens. We play two sides recorded by Mitchell who made some remarkable field recordings throughout the South over a twenty year period beginning in the early 1960's. What Mitchell recorded in the rural communities of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi in the 1960's amd 70's was a still thriving, if largely undocumented, blues culture. Mitchell had the passion and drive to seek out these folks, and unlike some folklorists didn't use the music to reinforce his own theories, he simply let the musicians speak for themselves and judging by the recordings they clearly responded to Mitchell's sincerity (being a southerner probably didn't hurt as well). Mitchell came along at the right time as he wrote: "As late as 1969 a country bluesman who at least occasionally played could be located in most small towns of Georgia. In 1976, there are very few active blues musicians left in the state! In the short span of seven years, one of the world's most vital and influential forms of music as it was originally performed has all but died out in Georgia, and probably in the rest of the South as well." Today we hear tracks by William "Do Boy" Diamond and Green Paschal.

William "Do Boy" Diamond was recorded in Canton, Mississippi in 1967. Diamond was a basic guitar player but possessed a great, relaxed voice. Born around 1927 in Georgia, Paschal started playing late in life, sometime in the 1950's. He was recorded by Mitchell in Talbotton, GA in 1969 and by that time had given up blues in favor of spirituals.

Kip Lornell has worked on music projects for the Smithsonian Institute, has a doctorate in ethnomusicology and is the author of several articles and books. He also did some field recordings in the in the Southeast in the 70's. Lornell recorded Fats Jefferson outside Albany, New York along with several other artists in the early 70's . These recordings were issued on the long out-of-print album Goin' Back To Tifton issued on the Flyright label in 1974.

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.” Funded by a Lomax Foundation grant in the 1960's, Owens traveled around Texas recording a variety of folk musicians, including guitarists Mance Lipscomb, Freddie King, and Bill Neely, as well as barrelhouse piano players Robert Shaw and Roosevelt T. Williams, also known as the “Grey Ghost.” Owens remained involved in the lives of these musicians for the next several decades and, in some cases, was largely responsible for helping rescue them from obscurity and resurrect their professional careers. Today we hear Oscar "Preacher" Nelson And Newton "Hoss" Nelson from a collection of Owen's field recordings called Ruff Stuff: The Roots Of Texas Blues Guitar.

We spotlight two numbers from a recent 2-CD, 50 song collection called Boogie Uproar: Gems From The Peacock Vaults. The Peacock label was founded by Don Robey in 1949 to promote his new artist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The label was named after Robey's Bronze Peacock in Houston. Robey added the Duke label to his operation in 1952, gaining full control of the label in 1953. Today we play tracks by Bea Johnson and Elmore Nixon. I don't have any information on Johnson outside of eight sides she cut in 1949 backed by the Jim Wynn band with four of the sides going unissued. She possessed a strong, rich voice as evidenced on the moody lover's lament "No Letter Blues."

Boogie Uproar: Gems From The Peacock VaultsNixon's family moved to Houston in 1939, where he would remain until his death. By his early teens, he was already backing Peppermint Harris on his Gold Star debut. Thereafter he recorded with many Texas artists as a member of alto saxophonist Henry Hayes’ Four Kings, including Carl Campbell, Milton Willis, L.C. Williams, Hubert Robinson, Ivory Lee and Hop Wilson. His debut record, "Foolish Love", was made in 1949 for Sittin' In With. Other sessions followed for Peacock, Mercury Records, Savoy Records and Imperial Records, the latter in 1955. During the mid-60s, he worked with Clifton Chenier, recording on Chenier’s sessions for Arhoolie Records and with Lightnin’ Hopkins for Jewel. At other times he led his own band, working around Texas and Louisiana.

Tampa Red and Georgia had a huge hit in 1928 with "Tight Like That" which kicked started the hokum blues style which drew on jug band music and vaudeville for bouncy, rag- influenced songs that abounded with double entendres. On its release, the record was a massive hit, spawning several sequels by Tampa Red and Dorsey and countless imitations by other artists. Today we hear versions by McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Leadbelly and Rev. A.W. Nix. Nix's "It Was Tight Like That" is part of a tradition of popular blues topics that were turned into sermons such as Rev. J. M. Gates' "Dead Cat On The Line" (recorded by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom in 1934) and Rev. Emmett Dickinson's "Death Of Blind Lemon." Nix also recorded other blues based sermons including the two-part "The Dirty Dozen" and "How Long, How Long."

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