|Ivy Smith||Gin House Blues||Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930|
|Clara Smith||Woman to Woman||The Essential|
|Issie Ringgold||Be On Your Merry Way||Blue Girls Vol. 2 1925-1930|
|Frank Busby||Prisoner Bound||Bill Gaither Vol. 2 1936-1938|
|Keghouse||Canned Heat Blues||Piano Blues Vol. 4 1923-1928|
|Eugene Powell||Pony Blues (Santa Fe)||Blues At Home Vol. 3|
|John Jackson||Poor Boy||The Blues Revival Vol. 1 1963-1969|
|Nugrape Twins||The Road Is Rough & Rocky||Sinners & Saints 1926-1931|
|Mississippi John Hurt||Praying On The Old Camp Ground||Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings|
|Eddie Head & His Family||Down On Me||American Primitive Vol. I|
|Louisiana Red||I'm a Roaming Stranger||The Lowdown Back Porch Blues
|Howlin' Wolf||Poor Boy||Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960|
|Big Moose Walker||Footrace to a Resting Place/Wrong Doing Woman||To Know A Man|
|Samuel Brooks||Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long||Field Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942|
|George Boldwin||Country Girl Blues||Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942|
|Willie Ford & Lucious Curtis||High Lonesome Hill||Mississippi Blues 1940-42|
|Joe Linthecome||Humming Blues||Hokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930's|
|The Three Stripped Gears||1931 Depression Blues||The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of|
|Jesse Anderson||You'd Better Think Twice||Welcome To The Club|
|Johnny Twist Williams||Teach Me How||Down On Broadway And Main|
|Jimmy Nolen||Strollin' with Nolen||Strollin' with Nolen|
|Unknown Female Singer||Angel Child||Field Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942|
|Mattie Dorsey||Stingaree Blues||Barrelhouse Women Vol. 2 1924-1928|
|Frank Stokes||Nehi Mama||Best OfSara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928|
|Blind Joe Reynolds||Nehi Mama Blues||Blues Images Vol. 5|
|Joe Turner with Albert Ammons||Rock Of Gibraltar Blues||Albert Ammons: Alt. Takes, Radio Perfs & Uniss. Home Recordings|
|Duke Henderson||Beggin And Pleadin||Dust My Rhythm & Blues: Flair Records R&B Story|
|Gene Parrish||Screamin' In My Sleep||Rhythm 'n' Blues Shouters|
|Sippie Wallace||Parlor Social De Luxe||I Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2|
|Sara Martin||Down At The Razor Ball||Sara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925|
|Blind Willie McTell||Razor Ball||The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2: Columbia|
|Washboard Sam||Down At The Bad Man's Hall||Washboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941|
|Bill Gaither||Wintertime Blues||Bill Gaither Vol. 4 1939|
|Lightnin' Slim||Wintertime Blues||We Gotta Rock Tonight|
Our first mix show of the new year finds us digging deep into the pre-war blues catalog featuring several fine artists who left us with only a few 78's, several well known artists like Clara Smith and Blind Willie McTell and some interesting field recordings. From he post-war era some excellent Chicago blues, a few blues shouters, some down-home blues and a few gospel items. We also explore the origins of a well known blues theme.
We hear from several superb blues ladies including Ivy Smith and Clara Smith. Ivy Smith hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and primarily worked with pianist Cow Cow Davenport. She was a good singer who cut close to two-dozen sides between 1927-1930. Clara Smith was a much bigger name although perennially eclipsed by Bessie Smith. In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there and that same year made her first records for Columbia Records, for whom she would continue recording through to 1932. She cut over a hundred sides often with the backing of top musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Green, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and James P. Johnson. Today we feature the lovely "Woman to Woman" from 1930 that features Smith's voice at her best with sympathetic cornet work from Ed Allen.
Then there's the lesser knowns such as Issie Ringgold who waxed one 78 in 1930 for Columbia and was the sister of Muriel, a star on Broadway, Mattie Dorsey who cut four sides for Paramount in 1927 and the unknown field recording of a woman singing "Angel Child" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.
Several of the of the male singers featured today are also one hit wonders: Joe Linthecome was an expressive, light voiced singer who cut one marvelous 78 ("Humming Blues b/w Pretty Mama Blues") for Gennett in 1929, Frank Busby was a sensitive singer who cut one 78 ("'Leven Light City b/w Prisoner Bound") in 1937 for Decca backed by Bill Gaither (we also spin Gaither's "Wintertime Blues" today) on guitar and Honey Hill on piano, the Three Stripped Gears were a string band possibly from Georgia, and possibly white, who cut four superb instrumentals and pianist Keghouse who waxed ten sides in 1928 for Okeh and Vocalion, only four of which were issued. Keghouse also recorded a couple of numbers backed by Lonnie Johnson and Thomas "Jaybird" Jones. Jones also made field recordings for Lewis Jones in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1941-1942 and performs "The Keghouse Blues." In the spoken introduction he talks about his friend Keghouse and how they went to Memphis to make records for Okeh and how he died shortly afterwards.
As anyone who's listened to this program knows I have a huge interest in field recordings, devoting several shows to the topic and interviewing several of the men who made the recordings. The Albatros label was active from the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. These albums are long been out-of-print. Recently Marcucci has issued some CD's on he Mbirafon imprint including one by singer Van Hunt, Sam Chatmon and now has issued collections by Eugene Powell (Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3) and Memphis Piano Red (Memphis Piano Red: Blues At Home Vol.4). The latter two are available only digitally via iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. We spin a superb track off the Eugene Powell collection which contains unissued numbers plus tracks from the Albatros LP Police In Mississippi. I finally tracked down some missing records from Albatros and will be doing an entire show devoted to the label shortly.
Other field recordings come from the pre-war era and were recorded by John Lomax: Samuel Brooks' "Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long" (1942) recorded in Edwards, Mississippi and Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis on "High Lonesome Hill." Ad David Evans writes "Lucious Curtis was making a precarious living as a musician while his partner, Willie Ford, worked at a sawmill when John A. Lomax encountered them in 1940 for their only recording session."
In our first show of he new year we traced the origins of several classic blues songs. Today we spin a quartet of related blues songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's that draw from a much earlier source. Around the term of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball. Oliver has written about this both in Songsters & Saints and in a chapter titled Lookin' For That Bully in the book Nobody Knows where the Blues Come from: Lyrics and History (the entire chapter is available on Google Books). In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941). Oliver mentions all the songs but one he seems to have overlooked is Sippie Wallace's "Parlor Social De Luxe" (1925) which seems to me at least marginally related. The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. As Dixon recalled "the one Wolf hated most of all was 'Wang Dang Doodle.' He hated that 'Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-Totin' Jim.' He'd say, 'man, that's too old-timey, sound like some old levee camp number.'" In 1966 Koko Taylor had a big hit with the song.
In addition to the down-home blues we also spin some Chicago and jump blues. We play the Howlin' Wolf gem "Poor Boy" (1957) a terrific updating of this old number and Big Moose Walker on "Footrace To A Resting Place" and "Wrong Doing Woman." The Walker tracks were recorded at Elmore James' last sessions for Fire in 1961 and come from the 2-LP set To Know A Man on Blue Horizon. At the time these songs were just attributed to "Bushy Head."
We spin some great blues shouters including Big Joe Turner on the magnificent "Rock Of Gibraltar" (1936) with Albert Ammons on piano, Gene Parrish's jumping, raunchy "Screamin' In My Sleep" ("she'd slip and slide and I keep moaning low") featuring Maxwell Davis and superb guitar from West Coast ace Chuck Norris. Parrish cut a dozen sides in 1950-1951 for RPM and Victor.
We also hear from Big Duke Henderson & His Orchestra on "Beggin And Pleadin"from a new 2-CD set on Ace called Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story. In 1945 Henderson made his debut for the Apollo label on a recommendation by Jack McVea. He was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians including McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo. In 1947 Al "Cake" Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years including Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty,] Modern, Imperial and Flair. Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting as Brother Henderson as a gospel DJ. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher.Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1972.
We also slip in a few gospel numbers: Mississippi John Hurt's "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", Eddie Head and His Family's "Down On Me" which Paul Oliver notes "was notable for the fluent guitar which imparted an easy swing to the recording, and from Eddie Head's skillful harmonizing to his family's singing" and the Nugrape Twins' "The Road Is Rough & Rocky" credited in the Columbia files to "Mark and Matthew (The Nugrape Twins)." The duo recorded eight sides at sessions in 1926 and 1927 for Columbia.