|Luther Stoneham||January 11, 1949 Blues||The Mercury Blues Story|
|Lightnin' Hopkins||Moanin' Blues||Lightnin' Special Vol. 2|
|Blind Connie Williams||St. Louis Blues||Philadelphia Street Singer|
|Blind Connie Williams||Mother Left Me Standing on the Highway||Philadelphia Street Singer|
|Bessie Smith||The Gin House Blues||The Complete Recordings (Frog)|
|Clara Smith||Jelly Look What You Done Done||Clara Smith Vol. 5 1927-1929|
|Esther Phillips||I Paid My Dues||The Early Hits 1949-54|
|Gabriel Brown||I Get Evil When My Love Comes Down||Shake That Thing: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
|John Henry Barbee||I Know She Didn't Love Me||Down Home Slide
|Ranie Burnette||Two And Two Blues||Ranie Burnette's Hill Country Blues
|Cecil Barfield||I Woke Up Crying||Cecil Barfield: The George Mitchell Collection|
|Ed Lewis||Lucky Holler||Broadcasting the Blues|
|Jaybird Coleman||Coffee Grinder Blues||Jaybird Coleman & The Birmingham Jug Band 1927-1930|
|Ollis Martin & Jaybird Coleman||Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down||The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of|
|Baby Boy Warren||Somebody Put Bad Luck On Me||Detroit Blues: Blues from the Motor City|
|Snooky Pryor||You Tried To Ruin Me||A Taste Of The Blues Vol. 2|
|Bobby Long||The Pleasure Is All Mine||New York On Fire: Bobby's Harlem Rock Vol.2|
|Magic Sam||That's All I Need||Live At The Avant Garde|
|Magic Sam||Don't Want No Woman||Live At The Avant Garde|
|Teddy Bunn||I've Come A Long Ways Baby||The Very Best Of Teddy Bunn 1937-1940|
|T-Bone Walker||Blues For Marili||T-Bone Blues|
|Calvin Frazier||Sweet Lucy||78|
|Pee Wee Crayton||Blues Before Dawn||Complete Aladdin & Imperial Recordings|
|Charlie McFadden||Harvest Moon Blues||Charlie McFadden 1929-1937|
|Willie "Long Time" Smith||Homeless Blues||News & the Blues: Telling It Like It Is|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Low Land Blues||Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 1951-1957|
|Meade Lux Lewis & Big Joe Turner||Low Down Dog||The Piano Blues Vol. 21: Unfinished Boogie 1938-1945|
|Furry Lewis||Cannon Ball Blues||Blues Images Vol. 8|
|Furry Lewis||Fury's Blues||Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go|
|Laura Dukes||Little Laura's Blues||Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7|
|Dewey Corley||Fishing In The Dark||Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7|
|Bukka White||I'm Getting Ready, My Time Done Come||Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7|
|J.T. Brown||When I Was a Lad||J.T. Brown 1950-1954|
|Jimmy Witherspoon||I'm Going Round In Circles||I'll Be Right On Down: The Modern Recordings 1947-1953|
When putting together these shows I usually draw from a long list of show ideas I've jotted down over the years. Things are a bit jumbled right now as I have several shows lined up that revolve around other people's schedules. Without giving too much away, the next few months will see several very interesting interviews and features so you may notice that the list of upcoming shows on this website may get shuffled around until everything is lined up. As for today's show we have wide range of blues including lots of down-home blues including twin spins of street singer Blind Connie Williams, two songs decades apart by Furry Lewis, several artists recorded in the field in the 70's by Gianni Marcucci including by Bukka White, Laura Dukes and Dewey Corley. In addition we hear a set of fine piano men, several top notch blues ladies and ace guitar players like T-Bone Walker and Calvin Frazier. We also spin two from a geat new Magic Sam live set.
According to Pete Welding's booklet notes, Connie Williams was born blind in southern Florida circa 1915 to parents who were migrant farm workers. During his youth, he attended the St. Petersburg School for the Blind (also Ray Charles' alma mater) and became sufficiently proficient on guitar to begin a career as a street musician in the 1930's. He eventually settled in Philadelphia in 1935 and often traveled to New York City, where he plied his trade in Harlem during his visits. It was there that he met Rev. Gary Davis, whose influence can be heard in Williams' guitar and singing style." Welding discovered Williams performing sanctified numbers to accordion accompaniment in a historically black neighborhood of Philadelphia sometime in 1961. After striking up a friendship, Williams revealed to the music writer that he had originally been a guitarist but used an accordion because it could be more easily heard and required less physical effort to play. Not long afterward, Welding purchased a guitar for him. After reacquainting himself with the instrument. The recordings were not released on his Testament label until 1974 on the album Philadelphia Street Singer.
|Read Liner Notes|
While hundreds of blues artists got on record in the 1920's and 30's, the commercial heyday of the blues, numerous other talented artists never got the opportunity while some others had to wait decades for their chance like celebrated bluesmen such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Mance Lipscomb. While not nearly as well known Cecil Barfield and Ranie Burnett made their debuts in the 1970's and left behind a small but strong body of work. Barfield was recorded by George Mitchell who called him "probably the greatest previously unrecorded bluesman I have had the pleasure of recording during my 15 years of field research." Using the name William Robertson, in fear of endangering his welfare checks, he cut the LP South Georgia Blues for Southland in the mid-70's with several other tracks appearing on Flyright’s Georgia Blues Today (reissued by Fat Possum). I imagine Barfield is an acquired taste but to me he is simply mesmerizing; his music, with his droning, lightly distorted electric guitar coupled with his powerful mushed mouth, nasal singing, is hypnotic. Barfield has some originals but his genius is in the way he transforms well known songs into something startlingly original.
Burnette was born in 1913 in Pleasant Grove, MS and in the 40's and 50's played local dances and juke joints in North Mississippi. He wasn't record extensively until the 80's with recordings appearing on High Water and Swingmaster. He did record some sides for David Evans in the 70's.
As the notes to Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7 relate: "The three Memphis blues musicians featured in this album were all recorded on the memorable day of 27 December 1972: Bukka White at his home; Laura Dukes at Furry Lewis’ home; and Dewey Corley at Memphis Piano Red’s home." The recordings were made by Gianni Marcucci who came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. The original albums that collected these recordings are long been out-of-print. All these recordings will be issued as 15 volume series both digitally and on CD on his Mbirafon imprint. I've been corresponding with Marcucci and with his help will be doing an in-depth series of shows on these recordings. At Marcucci's prompting I've pushed this show back until he completes his issuing of the Blues At Home series. These recordings originally came out on Albatros but as Marcucci made clear to me his "experience with Albatros in the 1970's was a nightmare." He further related that the original "…albums presented are full of spelling mistakes and there are also several typos in the digital edition, and errors in the original mastering." He wrote that the releases were an abuse and an offense to my effort (10 years of field research, and 13 years of re-mastering and text editing), as well as an insult to the memory of the featured artists."
Speaking of Furry Lewis we spin two of his numbers: "Cannon Ball Blues" cut for Victor in 1928 and "Fury's Blues" from the out-of-print 1971 LP Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go. The later album is a nice record that finds Furry in good form in front of an appreciative New York City audience.
During today's show we spotlight excellent four songs sets of piano blues and guitar blues. From the pre-war era we hear the under-appreciated singer Charlie McFadden on the lovely "Harvest Moon Blues" from 1929 featuring superb piano work from Eddie Miller. McFadden was a singer based out of St. Louis. Henry Townsend knew him and said that he could play piano a little bit, but preferred that someone else played it on his recordings. Roosevelt Sykes was the usual pianist, even though Eddie Miller and Aaron "Pinetop" Sparks made a couple of appearances, each.
From 1944 we hear Big Joe Turner at the peak of his powers backed by the thundering piano of Meade Lux Lewis.
Of Willie "Long Time" Smith I know nothing outside of the fact that he waxed ten sides at sessions in 1947 and 1954. Several of these sides do not seem to have been reissued, a shame as he was an exceptional vocalist (a disciple of of the popular Dr. Clatyon fro whom he recorded the tribute "My Buddy Doctor Clayton") and good piano player. Homelessness was a reality as detailed in songs like Josh White's "Homeless And Hungry", Bessie Smith's "Homeless Blues" and Sleepy John Estes' "Hobo Jungle Blues." Even after the depression the reality was all too real as Smith sang about eloquently in his 1947 composition "Homeless Blues" featured today:
On one cold frosty morning, the ground was covered with snow (2x)
Well, I met a million people had no place to go
Well some have children, some just have their suitcase and clothes (2x)
You know those people was steady walkin', but they couldn't find no place to go
Perhaps for contractual reasons pianist Roosevelt Skyes recorded a 1948 session for Bullet under the moniker Joe "Boogie" Evans. Whatever the case, Sykes is in superb form on this session backed by uncredited horns, the jazzy guitar of Henry Townsend and Jump Jackson on the drums. From the session we feature the fine "Low Land Blues."
In a set of guitar aces we feature killer instrumentals from T-Bone Walker ("Blues For Marili" from the classic T-Bone Blues album on Atlantic) and the rocking "Blues Before Dawn cut by Pee Wee Crayton for Aladdin. Less well known are Teddy Bunn and Calvin Frazier. Teddy Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals.Among the notable blues singers he accompanied were artists such as Cow Cow Davenport, Lizzie Miles, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and Victoria Spivey among others. In addition to an active session career, Bunn was a member of the jazz groups the Spirits of Rhythm and June 1939, and was among the very first musicians ever to record for the Blue Note record label, first as a soloist, then as a member of the Port of Harlem Jazzmen.
Frazier befriended Johnny Shines, in 1930 they jointly traveled to Helena, Arkansas where they met Robert Johnson. The threesome moved on to Detroit, Michigan. Here they performed hymns on local radio stations. Frazier and Johnson returned south. In 1935, Frazier returned to Detroit. In 1938 he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. Frazier seems to have played with almost every blues or R&B act in Detroit in the post-war era. He updated his sound to a more modern style, influenced in a fair bit by T-Bone Walker. Early in 1954 he bought himself a Stratocaster, likely one of the very first bluesman to play this type of guitar. it's interesting to hear how his style evolved and and one wonders if his pal Robert Johnson would have developed a similar style. Frazier released three singles under his own name in 1949 and 1951. Between 1951 and 1953, Frazier was a recording member of T.J. Fowler's jump blues combo, then recorded with Baby Boy Warren in 1954, whilst his final sessions in the studio appear to be in 1956 backing Washboard Willie. He passed in 1972. In an upcoming feature on Detroit bluesmen I'll be spotlighting Frazier more in-depth.
Finally I should make mention of Live at the Avant Garde, 1968 just issued on Delmark. This is killer a live performance recorded at a Milwaukee coffee house with expectational sound, There are several live Magic Sam performances available which are very good but the sound on this one tops them all.