A few weeks back I passed along the sad news that Doc's Juke Joint was going off the air. Starting June 3rd the blues will be back to four hours as we announce the addition of The Blues Spectrum with Jim McGrath to the Sunday lineup, immediately following Big Road Blues. Jim is well know to the Rochester blues community, probably best known for his overnight blues program on WXXI for many years. Jim was an inspiration to several of us, including myself, who went on to host their own blues shows in Rochester. In addition, Jim has been compiling the Living Blues Playlist that has appeared in Living Blues magazine for the past twenty-five years. Jim was born and raised in Rochester, and started listening to music in the 50's coming to jazz in high school due to a priest that enjoyed jazz and had an after school jazz club. It was just a listening activity but that coupled with stories of The Pythodd Club and other Jazz venues lead Jim to a life long love of the music. But after "liking what he liked" he sat down and tried to figure out what he liked about the music styles, and the common denominator turned out to be the blues. To learn more about Jim McGrath, click here.
Tue 29 May 2012
Sun 27 May 2012
|John Brim||Dark Clouds||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Humming Blues||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Hard Pill To Swallow||John Brim 1950-1953|
|J.B. Lenoir||Eisenhower Blues||J.B. Lenoir 1951-1954|
|J.B. Lenoir||The Mojo||J.B. Lenoir 195 -1954|
|J.B. Lenoir||Mamma Talk To Your Daughter||J.B. Lenoir 1951-1954|
|Little Willie Foster||Falling Rain Blues||Juicy Harmonica Vol. 2|
|Little Willie Foster||Four Day Jump||Hand Me Down Blues|
|John Brim||Moonlight Blues||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||It Was A Dream||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Rattlesnake Blues||John Brim 1950-1953|
|J.B. Lenoir||Give Me One More Shot ||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|J.B. Lenoir||Let Me Die With The One I Love||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|J.B. Lenoir||Natural Man||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|John Brim||Lifetime Baby||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Ice Cream Man||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Tough Times||John Brim 1950-1953|
|John Brim||Gary Stomp||John Brim 1950-1953|
|J.B. Lenoir||We've Got Both To Realise||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|J.B. Lenoir||Don't Dog Your Woman||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|J.B. Lenoir||I've Been Down So Long||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|J.B. Lenoir||Don't Touch My Head!||J.B. Lenoir 1955-1956|
|John Brim||You Got Me Where You Want Me||Whose Muddy Shoes|
|John Brim||Be Careful What You Do||Whose Muddy Shoes|
|J.B. Lenoir||Louise||J. B. Lenoir, Sunnyland Slim & Friends: Live In '63|
|J.B. Lenoir||I Sing Um The Way I Feel||Mojo Boogie|
|J.B. Lenoir||Slow Down Woman||American Folk Blues Festival '65|
|Little Willie Foster||Crying The Blues||Goin' Down To Eli's|
|Little Willie Foster||Little Girl||Goin' Down To Eli's|
|J.B. Lenoir||My Father's Style/So It Rocked On/Move To Kansas City||Conversation With The Blues|
|J.B. Lenoir||Alabama||The Complete L+R Recording|
|J.B. Lenoir||Shot On James Meredith||The Complete L+R Recording|
Today's show spotlights three great bluesmen who were active on the Chicago scene from the late 40's through the 60's: John Brim, J.B. Lenoir and Little Willie Foster. Guitar/Vocalist John Brim cut a batch of great singles in the 50's and 60's for a variety of labels, often accompanied by his wife on drums or harmonica, as well as backing artists like Big Maceo, Jimmy Reed and Albert King. J.B. Lenoir cut terrific boogie based and topical numbers through the 50's and 60's for variety of Chicago labels. Leroy Foster cut just four great sides for Blue Lake and Cobra in the 50's before injury curtailed his career.
John Brim was born on a farm about ten miles from Hopkinsville, Kentucky on April 10, 1922. Brim picked up his early guitar licks from the 78's of Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy before heading first to Indianapolis in 1941 and Chicago four years later.There he met Tampa Red, Big Maceo, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Boy Williamson. He played with Sonny Boy for about a year and a half from 1946 as well as odd dates with Muddy Waters, L.C. McKinley, Eddie Boyd and Willie Mabon. He met his wife Grace in 1947.She was a capable drummer, harmonica player and singer. She soon joined John in a group together based in their new home town of Gary, Indiana. Brim formed his own group called The Gary Kings which featured Jimmy Reed. His wife was the vocalist on a 1950 single for Detroit-based Fortune Records that signaled the beginning of his career ("Strange Man" b/ "Mean Man Blues" for the Fortune label).
Brim recorded for Random Records, J.O.B. Records, Parrot Records (the topical "Tough Times" which appeared on the R & B best sellers lists in Detroit and Chicago), and Checker Records ("Rattlesnake," his answer to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" was pulled from the shelves by Chess for fear of a plagiarism lawsuit). All of his 1950s recordings for the Chess brothers were later included on the compilation LP/CD Whose Muddy Shoes (which also included the few recordings Elmore James made for Chess and Checker). On some tracks Little Walter played the harmonica, whilst Jimmy Reed, Snooky Pryor, or James Dalton were also featured blowing the harp. Cut in 1953, the suggestive "Ice Cream Man" had to wait until 1969 to enjoy a very belated release. Brim's last Chess single, "I Would Hate to See You Go," was waxed in 1956 with a combo consisting of Little Walter, guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr., bassist Willie Dixon, and drummer Fred Below. In 1971 a brief return to the recording studio with Grace and son John Jr. produced two originals "Moving Out" an instrumental, and "You Put The Hurt On Me" which the Brim family produced on their own BB label. It would be close to two decades before Brim recorded again. He played often at the Elsewhere Lounge in Chicago during the 70's.
In between touring, Brim operated dry-cleaning businesses and a record store. When the royalties from Van Halen’s recording of "Ice Cream Man" came through, they enabled him to open John Brim’s House of the Blues Broadway Nite Club in Chicago. Brim continued to perform occasionally around Chicago, and was a regularly featured performer on the Chicago Blues Festival beginning in 1991, when he was backed by the local Chicago blues band The Ice Cream Men. He was tempted back into the recording studio again in 1989 to record four songs for the German Wolf label, and renewed interest in him finally led to his recording his first solo CD, Ice Cream Man, for Tone Cool Records in 1994. It received a W. C. Handy nomination as the best Traditional Blues Album of the Year. He recorded again in 2000, 50 years after his recording debut, and continued to tour, playing in Belgium in 2001. One of his final appearances was at the 2002 Chicago Blues Festival. He passed in 2003.
|16mm footage shot in Chicago by Steve and Ronnog Seaberg and Peter Amf, 1964.|
J.B. Lenoir was born on a farm in Monticello, Mississippi in 1929. As he sang about so forthrightly in his songs, he was determined to leave Mississippi: "The way they do's you down there in Mississippi it ain't what a man should suffer, what a man should go through. And I said, after I seen the way they treat my daddy I never was goin' to stand that no kind of way. So I just worked as hard as I could for to get that money to get away…" Lenoir did get away, spending time in New Orleans before arriving in Chicago in 1949 and was mentored by Big Bill Broonzy. Playing the clubs in Chicago he came to the attention of some small labels, on his first session he was backed by Snooky Pryor on harp, Sunnyland Slim on piano and Eddie Taylor on guitar, the two songs recorded — "In The Evening" and "Please Don't Go Away" were issued on the tiny Negro Rhythm label. His first single for Chess in 1951, "Korea Blues," was a superb topical blues and a minor hit. From late 1951 to 1953, he waxed several dates for Joe Brown's JOB logo in the company of pianist Sunnyland Slim, drummer Alfred Wallace, and on the romping "The Mojo," saxophonist J.T. Brown. Lenoir waxed his most enduring piece, often-covered, "Mama Talk to Your Daughter," in 1954 for Al Benson's Parrot label. Lenoir's 1954-1955 Parrot output and 1955-1958 Checker catalog contained a some of his performances. In 1954 he recorded another minor topical hit, “I'm In Korea b/w Eisenhower Blues.” The latter song was too incendiary for the times, and was forced off the shelve and re-recorded with tamer lyrics as "Tax Paying Blues."
Taken all my money, to pay the tax
I'm only givin' you people, the natural facts
I only tellin' you people, my belief
Because I am headed straight on relief
Mm mm mm, I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?
Scattered singles for Shad in 1958 and Vee-Jay two years later kept Lenoir's name in the public eye. His music was growing substantially by the time he hooked up with USA Records in 1963 (billed asJ.B. Lenoir & his African Hunch Rhythm). Even more unusual were the two acoustic albums he cut for German blues promoter Horst Lippmann in 1965 and 1966. Alabama Blues! and Down in Mississippi were done in Chicago under Willie Dixon's supervision, where Lenoir cut some scathing topical numbers like "Born Dead," "Shot on James Meredith" and "Alabama:"
I never will go back to Alabama, that is not the place for me (2x)
You know they killed my sister and my brother,
and the whole world let them peoples go down there free
By the time of his 1967 death, the Lenoir had moved to downstate Champagne, and that's where he died, probably as a delayed result of an auto accident he was involved in three weeks prior to his actual death. Two interesting Lenoir documents surfaced in recent years; first is the short film made in the early 60's by a Swedish fan who made a brief color film on Lenoir that was later included in the Wim Wenders part of the PBS TV documentary Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues. In 2003 on the Fuel label, released recordings made form a tape made in 1963 at a small club called Nina's Lounge in Chicago and features JB Lenoir playing live to a tiny crowd (the CD's eighteen tunes are split between Lenoir and Sunnyland Slim).
Little Willie Foster moved from Mississippi to Chicago in the early 40's and fell in playing harmonica with Floyd Jones, Lazy Bill Lucas and cousin "Baby Face" Leroy Foster. Foster was probably from Belzoni and Johnny Williams remembers giving him first job when, with Willie and his cousin Robert, he played the 520 Club, 520 E. 63rd Street. Foster ran with the same group of musicians much of the time, playing at the Jamboree with Homesick James and Lazy Bill or with Floyd Jones. He waxed two sides for Blue Lake in 1951 and two for Cobra in 1956. Both sessions feature backing from Lazy Bill Lucas and Floyd Jones, with Eddie Taylor on guitar on the earlier session. Shortly after this last session he was seriously wounded by a gunshot which ended his career. Foster passed in 1987. Foster was described by Snooky Pryor as "a good harmonica player, but kind of a terrible rough little guy." Foster's "Falling Rain Blues" had a poetic flair:
Got up this morning, looking through my window pane (2x)
Though I could see my baby walking out in the showers of rain
Lawd, my baby's gone, she's gone down in old Shade Grove (2x)
That's where they carried my baby, carried her down to her burying ground
Sun 20 May 2012
|Ida Cox||I Got The Blues For Rampart Street||The Essential|
|Bertha Chippie Hill||Pratt City Blues||How Low Can You Go?: Anthology of the String Bass|
|Victoria Spivey||Black Snake Swing||Men Are Like Street Cars: Women Blues Singers 1928-1969|
|Harlem Hamfats||Oh Red!||Harlem Hamfats Vol. 11936|
|Brown Bombers of Swing (Casey Bill Weldon)||Walkin' In My Sleep||Casey Bill Weldon Vol. 3 1937-1938|
|Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon||Down At Jasper's Bar-B-Que||Frankie 'Half-Pint' Jaxon Vol. 1 1926-1929|
|Laura Smith||Don't Leave Me Here||Laura Smith Vol. 1 1924-1927|
|Sippie Wallace||I'm A Mighty Tight Woman||First Time I Met the Blues (When the Sun Goes Down series)|
|Rosetta Howard||Men Are Like Street Cars||Men Are Like Street Cars: Women Blues Singers 1928-1969|
|Texas Alexander||Tell Me Woman Blues||Texas Alexander Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Peetie Wheatstraw||Gangster's Blues||Peetie Wheatstraw Vol. 7 1940-1941|
|Wingy Carpenter||Preachin' Trumpet Blues||Jazzin' The Blues Vol. 2 1939-1946|
|Oliver Cobb||Cornet Pleading Blues||Male Blues Of The Twenties|
|Blind John Davis||Jersey Cow Blues||Blind John Davis 1938-1952|
|Edna Winston||I Got A Mule To Ride||Leona Williams & Edna Winston 1922-1927|
|Edith Wilson||He Used To Be Your Man But He's My Man Now||Johnny Dunn Vol. 1 1921-1922|
|Mamie Smith||Goin' Crazy With The Blues||Jazz The World Forgot Vol. 1|
|Blind Blake||CC Pill Blues||All The Published Sides|
|Frenchy's String Band||Texas And Pacific Blues||Sunshine Special: Texas 1927-1929|
|Freddie Keppard's Jazz Cardinals & Papa Charlie Jackson||Salty Dog||Breaking Out of New Orleans 1922-1929|
|Louis Armstrong & The Hot Fives||I'm Not Rough||The Complete Hot Five And Hot Seven Recordings|
|Original Washboard Band & Julie Davis||Jasper Taylor Blues||Johnny Dodds 1927-1928|
|Oscar "Papa" Celestin & Sam Morgan||Short Dress Gal||Breaking Out of New Orleans 1922-1929|
|Elizabeth Johnson||Empty Bed Blues Part 1||American Primitive Vol. 1|
|Sara Martin||Death Sting Me Blues||Sara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928|
|Teddy Peters||Georgia Man||King Oliver: Sugar Foot Stomp|
|Hot Lips Page||Down On The Levee||Hot Lips Page: 1938-1940|
|Washboard Rhythm Kings||I'm Gonna Play Down by the Ohio||Washboard Rhythm Kings Vol. 2 1932|
|Ben Norsingle||Rover's Blues||Sunshine Special: Texas 1927-1929|
|Joe Pullum||Woman Trouble Blues||Joe Pullum Vol. 2 1935-1951|
|Bessie Smith||Gimmie A Pigfoot||Bessie Smith Volume 8 (Frog)|
|Trixie Smith||My Daddy Rocks Me||Trixie Smith Vol. 2 1925-1929|
|Ma Rainey||Yonder Comes The Blues||Mother Of The Blues|
Today show is call Jazzin' The Blues and as the title suggests, we explore the jazzy side of early blues recordings and the bluesy side of jazz. Not surprisingly we play a number of women blues singers of the 1920's who were often backed by jazz bands. When Mamie Smith cut “Crazy Blues”, the first recorded blues by a black singer, her band was called the Jazz Hounds. Following in that tradition, singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Victoria Spivey were often paired with top flight jazz musicians such as King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, Coleman Hawkins and others. As the era of the classic woman blues singers faded the men gained the spotlight, first playing and singing solo, then evolving to bigger bands that often included horns and elements of jazz and swing. Many of the jazz outfits of this period incorporated plenty of blues and today we hear the bluesier side of artists such as Louis Armstrong, Hot Lips Page, Freddie Keppard and others.
Throughout today's backing band are quite a few jazz luminaries who backed the classic blues ladies of the 1920's. We spin several sides today featuring King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. King Oliver made his landmark recordings in 1923 with his Creole Jazz Band featuring his protege Louis Armstrong, clarinetist Johnny Dodds, trombonist Honore Dutrey, pianist Lil Harden, and drummer Baby Dodds. Oliver continued to make recordings through 1931 although he seemed to fade from the spotlight not long after his initial recordings. From May to December, 1928, Oliver did some 22 sessions with his old friend, Clarence Williams, who had played with him around Louisiana and who had manged clubs like the Big 25 and Pete Lala's. Williams had become a music publisher, entrepreneur and early A&R man around New York. Seeing Oliver down on his luck, Williams used him as a backup player for several blues singers. Prior to 1928 Oliver had accompanied artists such as Butterbeans & Susie in 1924 ("Kiss Me Sweet b/w Construction Gang"), Sippie Wallace in 1925 ("Morning Dove Blues b/w "Every Dog Has His Day" and "Devil Dance Blues"), Teddy Peters ("Georgia Man"), Irene Scruggs ("Home Town Blues b/w Sorrow Valley blues"), Georgia Taylor in 1926 ("Jackass Blues") plus several others.
Among the notable recordings of 1928 included six sides backing Sara Martin including the superb "Death Sting Me Blues" which features a suitably mournful solo from Oliver plus equally fine playing on "Mean Tight Mama" and "Mistreating Man Blues." His two numbers with Texas Alexander, "Tell Me Woman Blues b/w Frisco Train Blues," work surprising well with Oliver playing some beautiful, sympathetic fills on both numbers offset by the elegant guitar work of Eddie Lang. Lang and Oliver also back Victoria Spivey on "My Handy Man b/w Organ Grinder Blues" although Oliver is less prominent. Among the best recordings from this period are his backing of the terrific Elizabeth Johnson, an obscure singer who waxed only four sides at two session in 1928. "Empty Bed Blues Part 1 & 2" has Johnson's expressive vocals finding a marvelous counterpoint in Oliver's earthy responses.
In the early 1990's the Affinity label issued the comprehensive Louis Armstrong And The Blues Singers 1924-1930, a six CD set that I believe covers all the sessions Armstrong did backing blues singers. During 1924-26 (and to a lesser extent 1927-30) Armstrong made many recordings other than his own sessions, arranged by an old friend from New Orleans, pianist Clarence Williams Those he backed include some of the era's best woman blues singers like a Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, Bertha "Chippie" Hill, Bessie Smith, Clara Smith and Victoria Spivey. We also spin the marvelous "I'm Not Rough" as recorded by Louis Armstrong & The Hot Fives featuring Lonnie Johnson. This is the final recording session with the "classic" Hot Five lineup (plus Lonnie Johnson). Hereafter, the "Hot Five" would be whoever Armstrong happened to be recording with.
Other classic jazz artists who appear more than once on today's program are Freddie Keppard and Johnny Dodds. After playing with the Olympia Orchestra Keppard joined Frankie Dusen's Eagle Band, taking the place recently vacated by Buddy Bolden. Soon after Bolden was off the music scene Keppard was proclaimed "King Keppard" as the city's top horn player. About 1914 Joe "King" Oliver won a musical "cutting contest" and claimed Keppard's crown. Keppard made recordings in Chicago between 1924 and 1927 including two versions of "Salty Dog", which we feature today, from 1926 featuring Papa charlie Jackson. Jackson first cut the song in 1924 which made him a recording star. We also hear him back Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon on the rollicking "Down At Jasper's Bar-B-Que." Jaxon was a vaudeville singer, comedian and female impersonator. He traveled extensively throughout the United States between 1916 and 1921 and in the early 1920's he often appeared on the bill with King Oliver and Freddie Keppard in Chicago. Throughout the rest of the 1920's and 1930's he continued to tour the vaudeville circuit, and record. On record he was backed by jazz musicians such as Keppard, Punch Miller, Henry “Red” Allen and others.
Johnny Dodds was one of the greatest clarinetist of the 1920's who had a very soulful, bluesy style of playing.He worked with most of the major Hot Jazz bands of the era including the bands of Kid Ory, King Oliver amd Louis Armstrong. Dodd's appears on several of today's recordings including those with Keppard, Armstrong, as a member of Jasper Taylor's Original Washboard Band, backing Sippie Wallace on the 1929 version of her classic "I'm A Might Tight Women" and backing guitarist Blind Blake. We hear Dodds backing singer Julia Davis who cut one 78 for Paramount in 1924 and one final terrific record in 1928, "Jasper Taylor Blues b/w Geechie River Blues", backed by the Original Washboard Band featured washboard player Jasper Taylor.
During the spring of 1928 Blind Blake cut some of his most ambitious records. Jimmy Bertrand manned xylophone for "Doggin' Me Mama Blues" and played slide whistle on our featured track, "C.C. Pill Blues" while the great Johnny Dodds soloed on clarinet. Dodds and Bertrand provided more accompaniment on Blake's "Hot Potatoes" and "South Bound Rag." Bertrand, Dodds, and Blake were also teamed on "Elzadie's Policy Blue b/w Pay Day Daddy Blues" with singer Elzadie Robinson.
We spin several jazz artists and groups who often worked on the bluesy side of the street including Papa Celestin, Hot Lips Page and the Washboard Rhythm Kings. Papa Celestin was one of the most popular of New Orleans cornet players, and considered a major player in the development of jazz. Most of the great New Orleans players up to 1950 played for him one time or another. In 1910 Celestin started the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra which would become one of the most enduring bands and featured Louis Armstrong among others. elestin began recording with his own groups for Okeh from 1925 until the Depression forced him to give up the group. With singer Sam Morgan we hear him on "Short Dress Gal."
In his early years, Hot Lips Page played in circuses and minstrel shows and backing such blues singers as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Ida Cox. Page's main trumpet influence was Louis Armstrong. He joined the Blue Devils circa 1927, staying until1931, when he joined the Bennie Moten Orchestra, the leading dance band out of Kansas City.Though not a regular member of the band, Page appeared as a vocalist, emcee and hot trumpet soloist with Count Basie's Reno Club orchestra after the Moten band finally disbanded upon that leader's sudden death in April, 1935. Page embarked upon a solo career during this period, playing with small pick up bands out of Kansas City. We hear his wonderful "Down On The Levee" cut for Decca in 1938.
The Washboard Rhythm Kings were a loose aggregation of jazz performers, many of high calibre, who recorded as a group for various labels between about 1930 and 1935. The band played good-time swinging music, featuring spirited vocals, horns, a washboard player and occasionally kazoo. Today we feature their swinging "Down by the Ohio" from 1931.
Sun 13 May 2012
|Mamie Smith||Crazy Blues||Crazy Blues: Best of|
|Mamie Smith||Kansas City Man Blues||Crazy Blues: Best of|
|Sam Jones (Stovepipe No. 1)||A Woman Gets Tired Of The Same Man All The Time||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sam Jones (Stovepipe No. 1)||A Chicken Can Waltz The Gravy Around||Good for What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows|
|Kid Cole||Sixth Street Moan||Cincinnati Blues|
|Kid Cole||Hey Hey Mama Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Kid Cole||Niagra Falls Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Cincinnati Jug Band||Newport Blues||Ruckus Juice & Chittlins, Vol. 1|
|Bob Coleman||Tear It Down||Cincinnati Blues|
|Bob Coleman||Cincinnati Underworld Mama||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sweet Papa Tadpole||Have You Ever Been Worried In Mind? - Part One||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sweet Papa Tadpole||Black Spider Blues ||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sweet Papa Tadpole||Keep Your Yes Ma'am Clean||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sam Jones (Stovepipe No. 1)||Court Street Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Sam Jones (Stovepipe No. 1)||Bed Slats||Cincinnati Blues|
|Walter Davis||M&O Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Leroy Carr||George Street Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport||Cincinnati Southern Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|King David's Jug Band||Rising Sun Blues||Ruckus Juice & Chittlins, Vol. 2|
|King David's Jug Band||Tear It Down||Ruckus Juice & Chittlins, Vol. 1|
|King David's Jug Band||Sweet Potato Blues||Ruckus Juice & Chittlins, Vol. 2|
|Frances Wallace||I Had To Smack That Thing||Cincinnati Blues|
|Clara Burston||Can't Get Enough||Cincinnati Blues|
|Walter Cole||Everybody Got Somebody||Cincinnati Blues|
|Walter Cole||ama Keep Your Yes Ma'am Clean||Cincinnati Blues|
|Kid Cole||Tricks Ain´t Walking No More||Cincinnati Blues|
|Kid Cole||War Dream Blues||Cincinnati Blues|
|Jesse James||Lonesome Day Blues||Piano Blues: The Essential|
|Jesse James||Southern Casey Jones||Cincinnati Blues|
|Walter Coleman||Smack That Thing||Cincinnati Blues|
|Walter Coleman||Carry Your Good Stuff Home||Cincinnati Blues|
While the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, does not have its own blues style, it is notable for a large degree of blues activity since the 1920's. The major African American community where blues was performed in the 1920's was the West End, where individual blues performers, jug bands, and larger units played on streets such as Court, Cutter, George, or Sixth, or at joints and clubs such as Mom’s, the Bucket of Blood, or, later, the Cotton Club. The patriarch of the scene was Sam Jones, ‘‘Stovepipe No.1,’’ a songster who recorded between 1924 and 1930. Then there was Bob Coleman and Walter Coleman, who were likely brothers, who recorded under various pseudonyms—Kid Cole, Sweet Papa Tadpole, Walter Cole, and Kid Coley among them, as well as with the Cincinnati Jug Band—between the years 1928 and 1936. Cincinnati was also the birthplace of Mamie Smith and hosted performers such as Walter Davis, Jesse James, Clara Burston, and Leroy Carr. Other longtime residents who have been on the scene since the 1920's and 1930s', such as James Mays, Pigmeat Jarrett, and Big Joe Duskin, were ‘‘rediscovered’’ in the 1970s and have had successful performance and/or recording careers. Our focus today will be on the pre-war era.None of these artists were major blues stars in terms of record sales or influence but they left behind an impressive body of work sprinkled with more than a few blues classics. All the information for today's show comes from Steve Tracy's superb book, Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in the Queen City.
Based on the recorded evidence from the 1920's and 1930's, Cincinnati had a variety of distinctive performers that reflected a diversity of performance, and this recorded evidence is verified by contemporary accounts of an active street and speakeasy scene during that period. Blues activity seemed to be especially spirited in the West End, an African American community with its share of bars and brothels attracting a clientele eager for entertainment both indoors and out. Additionally,musicians "on every street corner" according to pianist Pigmeat Jarrctt and harmonica player James Mays, provided a raucous soundtrack for daily community activities and conversations, emphasizing the, music's practical and aesthetic uses and value.
Mamie Smith notched her place in American music as the first black female singer to record a vocal blues. That record was "Crazy Blues" (recorded August 10, 1920), which sold a million copies in its first six months and made record labels aware of the huge potential market for "race records"; thus paving the way for Bessie Smith and others. mith toured as a dancer with Tutt-Whitney's Smart Set Company in her early teens, and sang in Harlem clubs before World War I. Soon thereafter, Smith began touring and recording with a band called the Jazz Hounds, which featured such jazz notables as Coleman Hawkins, Bubber Miley, Johnny Dunn, and more, and she toured with the bands of Andy Kirk and Fats Pichon in the 1930s. She also appeared in several films.
Sam Jones is remembered by elderly Cincinnati residents as a wanderer whose distinctive look (a stovepipe hat) and sound (one man band guitarist, harmonica and kazoo player blowing through a stovepipe to achieve a unique sound) made him a popular street performer. He cut sessions in 1924 and in 1927 with guitarist David Crockett. “Court Street Blues” refers to a street in the city's West end where Stovepipe reportedly performed. “Bed Slats” was recorded later by Cincinnati artists Bob Coleman and King David's Jug band. On December 11, 1930 Stovepipe with David Crockett went into the studios with a group who called themselves King David's Jug Band. They cut six sides for the Okeh label.
The moniker Kid Cole masks the identity of a singer/guitarist who recorded under seven names during his career. At his first session he was accompanied by Sam Jones on harmonica. He recorded another session under the same moniker in 1931. His "Sixth Street Moan"is a reference to a street in the city's West End and and is also mentioned in two songs recorded by Stovepipe Pipe No. 1. "Hey Hey Mama" also mentions the city by name:
And it's when I die lay a deck of cards on my grave (3x)
And it's no more browns in Cincinnati that I crave
On June 13 and 15, 1931 a Kid Coley recorded four songs for Victor in Louisville, Kentucky. "He had the high pitch and quavery voice of Kid Cole, but his voice was somewhat huskier and older-sounding (more than would be explained by the three years that separated the two recording sessions) than Cole's, though this may be due to a more dramatic theatrical approach to the lyrics… …Coley does not sound much like Kid Cole" but "combined with the vocal sound and the similarity of the name, a tentative case can be made that Kid Coley either was or knew Kid Cole/Bob Coleman." The three songs from the first session are accompanied by piano and possibly Clifford Hayes of the Louisville Jug Band. One of the songs, "Clair and Pearley Blues", has been suggested by Paul Oliver as being based on the murder in Cincinnati of Pearl Bryan by her lover Scott Jackson and his accomplice Alonzo Walling in 1896.
The Cincinnati Jug Band recorded only one session in January 1929, yielding two songs. They accompanied Bob Coleman on two others. “Newport Blues” refers t a city across the Ohio river from Cincinnati that had a reputation as a wide open town in terms of bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. Their other song, “George Street Stomp”, refers to a central street in Cincinnati's red light district, a street that in the 20's and 30's that housed a number of Cincinnati blues figures. Pigmeat Jarrett has verified that Kid Cole and Bob Coleman were the same person and Patfoot Charlie Collins, leader of the Cincinnati Jug Band, recalled his name as Bob Cole, not Coleman. After the Cincinnati Jug Band recorded, Coleman cut two sides under his own name, "Tear It Down b/w Cincinnati Underworld Woman." Paramount ran an advertisement for the record with a photo of Coleman. In June he cut one more song, "Sing Song Blues."
Around July 29, 1930 at the Vocalion studios in Chicago, Tampa Red and possibly his regular partner Georgia Tom backed a singer who called himself Sweet Papa Tadpole on six sides. It's likely this artists was the same person as Bob Coleman who also recorded as Kid Cole. As Steve Tracy notes: "Tadpole's two-part 'Have You Ever Been Worried In Mind', a sixteen-bar AAAB blues like Kid Cole's 'Hey Hey Mama Blues' and Bob Coleman's 'Sing Sing Blues', features the characteristic light, high-pitched singing we've come to expect from Bob Coleman, though the guitarist is replaced by the smooth and expert slide guitar of Tampa Red… …The Bob Coleman who emerges from the Tadpole session is less folksy than the man of the Kid Cole session, a bit smoother and more urbane than the man of the Bob Coleman session with the Cincinnati Jug Band, but unmistakably the same person."
Bob Coleman cut four sides were cut as Walter Cole on September 4, 1930, two were unreleased, "all of which bore a striking resemblance to the sound of Sweet Papa Tadpole incarnation of our man Bob." The backing on these sides was possibly Sam Soward on piano and James Cole on violin. As to "why the name changes?", Tracy observes, "possibly there was a fearon Coleman's part that he was breaking a contract-every time he changed recording companies, from Vocalion to Paramount to Vocalion to Gennett, he changed his name.
“Some of the most spectacular recordings made by a Cincinnati artist are yet by another artist named Coleman, this one Walter Coleman. His February 6, 1936 recordings feature high powered, Piedmont influenced guitar duets, of the first rank; intricately intertwined guitar parts fairly bursting from the grooves during solos and providing wonderfully solid support for Coleman's light, high pitched, effervescent vocals.” His “'I'm Going To Cincinnati" gives many references to local landmarks and people. Most likely Walter Cole and Walter Coleman are the same person although there may have "been two separate people who recorded under the variety of Cole/Coley/Coleman/Tadpole names… “"I'm Going To Cincinnati' is undoubtedly the most fascinating of all Cincinnati blues recordings…" but "it can rank as a bona fide classic of recorded blues."
Now I'm going to Cincinnati, I'm going to spread the news
The fanfoot in Chicago sure don't wear no shoes
Because I'm going to Cincinnati, the times is good
I'm going to Cincinnati where they eat fried food
And I'm going to Cincinnati, boys, where the bottle is good
Now when you come to Cincinnati don't get too full
You're liable to meet the cop they call Stargel Bull
Now when you come to Cincinnati stop on Sixth and Main
That's where the good hustlin women get the good cocaine
Walter Coleman cut three more sides in June (two were unissued) backed by pianist Jesse Coleman and an unknown jug player.
It was once believed that Jesse James was a convict, brought to the studio under guard to make his four recordings in 1936. This "information" was originally given to Paul Oliver by Sammy Price in 1960 who was a member of Decca's A&R staff in the 30's. This romantic idea probably came from the lyrics of "Lonesome Day Blues." James was probably Cincinnati-based, as he accompanied titles by Walter Coleman on the same date as his own session, June 3, 1936. James was a rough, two-fisted barrelhouse pianist, with a hoarse, declamatory vocal delivery, equally suited to the anguished "Lonesome Day Blues", a robust version of "Casey Jones" as "Southern Casey Jones", "Highway 61" and the ribald "Sweet Patuni", which was issued much later on a bootleg party single. There's conflicting information regarding James; Karl Gert zur Heide collected information that James lived in Memphis in the postwar years and worked and even broadcast out of Little Rock, Arkansas while Pigmeat Jarrett claims he stayed in Cincinnati on Fourth Street, moving to Kentucky around 1955.
We spin a trio of songs by artists not from Cincinnati , but connected to the city: "M&O Blues" comes from Walter Davis' first session recorded in Cincinnati at the Stinton Hotel and spin "Cincinnati Southern Blues" with singer Ivy Smith and pianist Cow Cow Davenport (the song refers to the Cincinnati Southern railroad which ran from Cincinnati to Chattanooga). We also hear “George Street Blues”by Leroy Carr, who according to Pigmeat Jarret, visited Cincinnati, playing at Babe Baker's club at sixth and Mound. The song refers to the city's tenderloin district.
Sun 6 May 2012
|Jerry McCain||Things Ain't Right||Jook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues|
|Jerry McCain||That's What They Want||Jook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues|
|Jerry McCain||She's Tough||Tuff Enuff - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol. 3|
|Irene Scruggs||Home Town Blues||Sugar Foot Stomp|
|Victoria Spivey||Showered With The Blues||Victoria Spivey Vol. 3 1929-1936|
|Mamie Smith||Crazy With The Blues||Crazy Blues: The Best Of Mamie Smith|
|Bill Crosby||Sneaking Woman Blues||Chicago Jump Bands: Early R&B Vol. 1 1945-1953|
|Charles Gray||I'm A Bum Again||Chicago Jump Bands: Early R&B Vol. 1 1945-1953|
|The Big Three Trio||Appetite Blues||A Shot in the Dark: Nashville Jumps|
|Thomas Shaw||Born In Texas||Born In Texas|
|Thomas Shaw||Prowling Ground Hog||Blind Lemon's Buddy|
|Sammy Lawhorn||After Hours||After Hours|
|Cleo Page||Leaving Mississippi||Leaving Mississippi|
|Fred McDowell||Black Minnie||You Got To Move|
|Jessie Mae Hemphill||I'm So Glad You Don't Know What's On My Mind||Mississippi Blues Festival|
|Bukka White||Good Gin Blues||Aberdeeen Mississippi Blues|
|Bukka White||Aberdeen Mississippi Blues||Aberdeeen Mississippi Blues|
|B.B. King||Broken Promise||More B.B. King|
|Frankie Lee Sims||Well Goodbye Baby||4th & Beale And Further South - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol.2|
|T.J. Fowler||Wine Cooler||T.J. Fowler 1948-1953|
|Robert Johnson||Phonograph Blues||The Centennial Collection|
|Buddy Moss||Joy Rag||The Essential|
|Sylvester Cotton||Cotton Field Blues||Blues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949|
|Sylvester Cotton||I Tried||Blues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949|
|Texas Alexander||Crossroads||Texas Alexander Vol. 2 1928-1930|
|Elmore James||Standing At The Crossroads||King Of The Slide Guitar|
|Johnny Shines||Standing At The Crossroads||Standing At The Crossroads|
|Jerry McCain||Steady||Tuff Enuff - Ace (MS.) Blues Masters Vol. 3|
|Jerry McCain||Courtin' In A Cadillac||Jook Joint Blues: Good Time Rhythm & Blues|
Once again we open and close today show on a sad note with the passing of Jerry "Boogie" McCain. McCain died at the age of 81 on March 28, 2012. A lifelong resident of Gadsden, Alabama, McCain began playing music semi-professionally in his teens. During the 1950's cut singles such as "Wine-O-Wine", "Stay Out of Automobiles", "Courtin' in a Cadillac" and other numbers for the Trumpet and Excello labels. Record collectors discovering southern downhome blues in the 196'0s were especially excited by his coupling of the harmonica instrumental "Steady" and "She's Tough" (1960)."She's Tough" was covered, almost 20 years later by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and recalled in the title of the group's later album Tuff Enuff. In the 1960's McCain made further recordings for Okeh and Jewel but soon afterwards his recording career faded, not to be fully revived until the late 1980's, when he signed with the Ichiban label and made several albums. He had to wait longer than many of his contemporaries to be invited to Europe, but after his first trip in 1990 he was often booked for festivals and club engagements. His last album, and one of his best, This Stuff Just Kills Me (2000) was cut for Music Maker and produced by Mike Vernon with an all-star cast.
Also on tap today are a batch of fine blues queens from the 20's, twin spins by Bukka White, Thomas Shaw, Sylvester Cotton, some fine small band blues from the 40's, some fine latter day down-home blues and a trio of songs about the crossroads.
Jazz great Mary Lou Williams recalls coming across the young Irene Scruggs: "In St. Louis, our show picked up a young blues singer named Irene Scruggs… …Irene had not long settled in St. Louis, and was starting out to become one of St. Louis' finest singers." Scruggs got to sing with a number of Joe "King" Oliver's bands that played in St. Louis in the mid 1920's. She first recorded in 1924 and in 1926 she reignited her working association with Oliver. Two of the songs that Scruggs wrote, "Home Town Blues" and "Sorrow Valley Blues", were both recorded by Oliver. She recorded again for Okeh in 1927, this time with Lonnie Johnson. Scruggs formed her own band in the late 1920's, and appeared regularly performing around the St. Louis area. Using the pseudonym, Chocolate Brown, she recorded tracks with Blind Blake and by the early 1930's, Little Brother Montgomery took over as her accompanist on both recordings and touring work. Her recording career finished around 1935. In the 40's she left for Europe where she stayed for the remainder of her life.
|Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds 1922. Left to right: unknown, Bubber Miley,unknown, unknown, Mamie Smith, Coleman Hawkins, unknown, unknown.|
On August 10, 1920, in New York City, Mamie Smith recorded a set of songs all written by the African American songwriter, Perry Bradford, including "Crazy Blues" and "It's Right Here For You (If You Don't Get It, 'Tain't No Fault of Mine)", on Okeh Records. It was the first recording of vocal blues by an African American artist, and the record became a best seller, selling a million copies in less than a year. In his autobiography, Born With The Blues, Perry Bradford wrote: "When my jazz band played for Mamie Smith to record the "Crazy Blues, we had no arrangements. They were what I called 'hum and head arrangements.' I mean we would listen to the melody and harmony of the piano and each man picked out his harmony notes. It was crude, but the sound that Mamie and my Jazz Hounds planted that February morning in 1920 had such 'down home' original corn in it that it has sprouted, grown and thrived all down through the years." The success of Smith's record prompted record companies to seek to record other female blues singers and started the era of what is now known as classic female blues. Smith continued to make a series of popular recordings for Okeh throughout the 1920's. Today we spin her terrific, hard swinging, "Goin' Crazy With The Blues" from 1926.
After the war dozens of small labels sprouted to serve the demand for blues and R&B records, many failed or had limited success while others grew and became major players. While down-home artists like John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins found popularity there were also loads of small R&B combos hitting the market. Today we hear a trio of 40's combos including the popular Big Three Trio and the lesser known Bill Crosby and his Band, Charles Gray & His Rhumboogie Five and T.J. Fowler's band. William J. "Bill" Crosby was a Chicago vocalist whose career remains obscure. Crosby made two sessions for Columbia in Chicago in 1945 and 1946. We spin his humorous "Sneaking Woman Blues." The short-lived Rhumboogie label was the very first R & B independent to come out of the Chicago area. It was named for the famous night club of the same name which was noted for being part owned by world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. In early 1946 Rhumboogie issued # 5001, two tunes by Charles Gray & His Rhumboogie Five ( a pseudonym for Buster Bennett who takes the vocals). The songs were "I'm A Bum Again" and "Crazy Woman Blues" of which we play the former:
I used to eat fried chicken, and steaks big enough for two
But now I'm lucky, if I could buy some groundhog stew
T.J. Fowler assembled his own band and in 1947 accompanied saxophonist Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams on that artist's first recordings for the Savoy label. Fowler began making records as a leader in 1948, beginning with small Detroit labels like Paradise and Sensation and landing his own contract with Savoy in 1952, sometimes featuring singer Alberta Adams. Fowler's ensemble also used outstanding guitarist Calvin Frazier who back in the 30's ran with Robert Johnson. In Detroit, Fowler and his men served as the backing band for T-Bone Walker and spent the next few years gigging around the Motor City and southeastern Michigan.
We spin some excellent post-war country blues today by Sylvester Cotton, Thomas Shaw, Cleo Page and Jessie Mae Hemphill among others. Sylvester Cotton was a contemporary of John Lee Hooker (one of the Cotton sides was actually credited to Hooker when issued), and, like Hooker, performed solo with their guitar. The sides were cut in Detroit in 1948 and 1949 by recorded by Bernie Besman who ran the Sensation label. All of his recordings, along with contemporary Andrew Dunham, can be found on the Ace label's Blues Sensation: Detroit Downhome Recordings 1948-1949.
Thomas Shaw spent about five years on the Texas house party circuit in the 1920's and early 1930's before moving to San Diego in 1934. Shaw met many great Texas bluesmen including Smokey Hogg, T-Bone Walker, Mance Lipscomb, Blind Willie Johnson, Ramblin' Thoms, JT "Funny Papa" Smith and Blind Lemon Jefferson who he was clearly a disciple of. He met Jefferson in Waco, Texas in 1926 or 27. JT "Funny Papa" Smith offered to let Shaw play on one of his records in 1931 but Smith was sent to jail on a murder charge. In the 1960's and 70s he recorded excellent albums for the Advent, Blue Goose and Blues Beacon labels before passing in 1977.
Not much is known about Cleo Page who seems to have been based in L.A.. In the 50's he cut some singles under different names and backed some west coast artists on record and cut several tough singles in the early 70's. Some of these were issued on the LP Leaving Mississippi which came out on JSP in 1979, the same year Page passed away on L.A..
Jesse Mae Hemphill was born near Como and Senatobia, Mississippi,in northern Mississippi just east of the Mississippi Delta. She began playing the guitar at the age of seven and also played drums in various local Mississippi fife and drum bands. Her musical background began with playing snare drum and bass drum in the fife-and-drum band led by her grandfather, Sid Hemphill. Aside from sitting in at Memphis bars a few times in the 1950's, most of her playing was done in family and informal settings such as picnics with fife and drum music. The first field recordings of her work were made by blues researcher George Mitchell in 1967 and David Evans in 1973. Evans went on to produce her debut album, She-Wolf, in 1981. She recorded and toured prolifically in the 80's across the US and Europe.
‘‘Straight Alky Blues’’ was composed and first recorded by Leroy Carr in 1929. It provided the melodic basis and, to a lesser extent, a lyric basis for ‘‘Black River Blues’’ by Roosevelt Sykes (1929) and for ‘‘Cross Road Blues’’ by Robert Johnson. Johnson's was released by Vocalion in 1937. His second take was performed at a less hurried tempo and with greater care on the guitar, but it was not released until 1961 as the lead track of the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers. ‘‘Cross Road Blues’’ was introduced to white rock musicians by Cream, who included a live recording from a Fillmore East concert on their 1968 two-LP set Wheels of Fire. Today we play variations on the songs by Elmore James, Johnny Shines and Texas Alexander. Alexander's song has little to do with Johnson's version, except for the opening line:
Lord, I was standin' at the crossroad, I was tryin' my best to get a ride (2x)
Nobody seemed to know me, everybody was passin' by
One final record worth mentioning is by Sammy Lawhorn, who spent most of his career as a session guitarist. Lawhorn was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and worked down south with Driftin' Slim and with Sonny Boy Williamson II on the King Biscuit Time radio program. After being discharged from the army in 1958 he moved to Memphis, Tennessee and did recording sessions with The "5" Royales, Eddie Boyd, Roy Brown and Willie Cobbs. He relocated to Chicago the early 1960's, and found regular work as a club sideman to Junior Wells, Otis Rush and Elmore James, which led to him sitting in with Muddy Waters band on a couple of occasions. By October 1964, Lawhorn was invited to join Waters band on a full time basis. Over the next decade, he subsequently played on a number of Waters' albums including Live At Mister Kelly's, The London Muddy Waters Sessions, The Woodstock Album, and Folk Singer. Lawhorn's career started to be hampered by his drinking and Waters fired him in 1973. Lawhorn died in April 1990, at the age of 54. The only album issued under his own names was a solid, low key affair titled After Hours issued on the Isabel label recorded in he early 80's. Today we play the title track.