|Blind Willie McTell||Savannah Mama||The Classic Years 1927-1940|
|Blind Willie McTell||Lay Some Flowers On My Grave||The Classic Years 1927-1940|
|James Iron Head Baker||Black Betty||Deep River of Song: Big Brazos|
|Moses Clear Rock Platt||Dats All Right Honey||Field Recordings Vol. 13 1933-1943|
|Washington (Lightnin')||Long John||Field Recordings Vol. 6: Texas 1933-1958|
|Will Batts||Country Woman||Memphis Masters: Early American Blues Classics|
|Jack Kelly||R.F.C. Blues||Ruckus Juice & Chittlins Vol. 2|
|Coot Grant & Wesley Wilson||Meat Cuttin' Blues||Raunchy Business: Hot Nuts & Lollypops|
|Eva Taylor||Organ Grinder Blues||Clarence Williams & His Orchestra Vol. 1 1933-1934|
|Curley Weaver||Some Cold Rainy Day||Atlanta Blues|
|Fred McMullen||Poor Stranger Blues||Georgia Blues 1928-1933|
|Curley Weaver||Tippin' Tom||Atlanta Blues|
|James ''Stump'' Johnson||Steady Grindin'||Down On The Levee: The Piano Blues of St. Louis Vol. 2|
|Sparks Brothers||Chicago's Too Much For Me||Down On The Levee: The Piano Blues of St. Louis Vol. 2|
|Georgia Boyd||Never Mind Blues||St. Louis 1927-1933|
|Joe Stone (J.D. Short)||It's Hard Time||When The Sun Goes Down|
|Ruth Willis||Man Of My Own||Georgia Blues 1928-1933|
|Lucille Bogan||Groceries On The Shelf||Shave 'Em Dry: The Best Of Lucille Bogan|
|Memphis Minnie||Too Late||Queen Of Country Blues|
|St. Louis Jimmy||Sitting Down, Thinking Blues||St. Louis Jimmy Oden Vol. 1 1932-1944|
|Walter Davis||Oil Field Blues||Walter Davis Vol. 1 1933-1935|
|Henry Townsend||She's Got What I Want||St. Louis Country Blues 1929-1937|
|Sonny Scott||Rolling Waters||Walter Roland Vol. 1 1933|
|Walter Roland||Early This Morning ('Bout Break Of Day)||Walter Roland Vol. 1 1933|
|Josh White||Blood Red River Blues||Josh White Vol. 1 1929-1933|
|Buddy Moss||Hard Road Blues||Slide Guitar Bottles, Knives & Steel Vol. 2|
|Buddy Moss||Jealous Hearted Man Blues||Slide Guitar Bottles, Knives & Steel Vol. 2|
|Whistlin' Rufus||Who's Gonna Do Your Sweet Jelly Rolling||Piano Blues Vol. 6 1933-1938|
|Turner Parrish||The Fives||Barrelhouse Piano Blues & Stomps 1929-1933|
|Carl Rafferty||Dresser With the Drawers||Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 3 1931-1933|
|Charlie ''Specks'' McFadden||Low Down Rounders Blues||Twenty First. St. Stomp: The Piano Blues Of St. Louis|
|Roosevelt Sykes||Devil's Island Gin Blues||The Essential|
|The Mississippi Sheiks||Show Me What You Got||The Road To Robert Johnson And Beyond|
|Teddy Darby||Bought A Bottle Of Gin||Blind Teddy Darby 1929-1937|
Today’s show is the seventh 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. Between 1927-1930 Atlanta was visited seventeen times, Memphis eleven times, Dallas eight times, New Orleans seven times and so on. The record companies advertised their records in black newspapers, mainly in the Chicago Defender, which was the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper. The Depression, with the massive unemployment it brought, had a shattering effect on the pockets of black record buyers. By 1931 race records were selling about a tenth as well as they had four years previously. For example, Paramount went from waxing over a hundred blues and gospel items in 1930 but only about three dozen in 1931, Columbia had no new artists and its releases were cut by over a third and Victor also cut their releases by a third. In 1932 they were half that. Things hit rock bottom in 1932 with less than 150 new issues – the lowest level since 1922. Many of the era's top sellers like Leroy Carr and Lonnie Johnson made no records at all. Labels took several measures: cutting record prices, making one take instead of two and maximizing studio time by recording lengthier sessions. As always there were still plenty of good records by artists such as Blind Willie McTell, Buddy Moss, Jack Kelly, Roosevelt Sykes, Walter Davis, J.D. Short among others.
|A 1930's ad for the Perfect label. Top row: Spark Plug Smith, Weaver and McMullen, Curley Weaver, and Ruth Willis.Bottom row: Buddy Moss, Coot Grant and Sox Wilson, Fred McMullen, Joshua White. All of these artists recorded in 1933.|
In order to survive the hard times, Victor for example, were forced to follow ARC-BRC and enter the cheap record market. Their 35-cent label, Bluebird, was launched of old Victor material-by Walter Davis, the Memphis Jug Band, Cannon's Jug Stompers and Rev. Gates. Victor also needed new material In the past, tent tiles a day was a good days work. Now, as a further economy, engineers were told to make maximum use of the studio facilities and their own time. Thus, on Wednesday August 2, 1933, no less than thirty-five race titles were recorded in Chicago, by a dozen artists including Roosevelt Sykes (as Willie Kelly), the Sparks brothers, and Walter Davis. The Walter Davis items were put out simultaneously on Bluebird, at 35 cents, and in the Victor 23250 series, at 75 cents. However, it soon became apparent that there was little point in continuing to produce 75-cent race records and at the end of 1933 the Victor race series-which had reached 23432- was withdrawn.
1933 was a particularly good year for the talented Atlanta artists: Blind Willie McTell, Buddy Moss and Curley Weaver. Over the course of several days in September 1933, Blind Willie recorded four sessions for Vocalion in New York City resulting in some two-dozen sides all featuring Curley Weaver. Several sides were unissued at the time only too be issued decades later. Weaver recorded around two-dozen sides at six session in 1933 for Vocalion, Brunswick and ARC. Some sides were unissued. Fred McMullen was recorded around th same time, cutting seven sides for Brunswick and ARC with each playing some of the others sessions. Ruth Willis, Buddy Moss and Blind Willie also show up on Weaver's sessions from this period. Moss cut some two-dozens sides at several sessions in 1933 for Brunswick and ARC in New York City. Some sessions featured fellow Atlanta friends Blind Willie McTell, Ruth Will, Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen.
|Buddy Moss playing guitar in the Green County Convict Camp|
Other artists who recorded prolifically during 1933 were Jack Kelly, Roosevelt Sykes, Walter Davis, Walter Roland, Sonny Scott and Josh White. Singer/guitarist Jack Kelly was the front man of the South Memphis Jug Band, a popular string band whose music owed a heavy debt to the blues as well as minstrel songs, vaudeville numbers, reels and rags. He led the group in tandem with fiddler Will Batts, and they made their first recordings in 1933, cutting some two-dozen sides between August 1 and 3rd for Banner and ARC. Roosevelt Sykes cut two sessions in 1933 for Victor and Bluebird and was busy backing several artists like Walter Davis, Carl Rafferty, St. Louis Jimmy, Clarence Harris and Charlie McFadden. Walter Davis cut two-dozen sides in 1933 for Blue Bird all backed by Sykes. Walter Roland and Sonny Scott recorded on the same dates for Vocalion between July 18-20, 1933 and playing on each others sessions. Roland cut eighteen sides while Scott cut fourteen sides. Josh White cut a dozen sides for Brunswick in 1933.
By 1933 the era of the blues Queens was past with Bessie Smith making her last sides in 1931, Clara Smith in 1932, Rosa Henderson in 1931, although several hung in there for a bit longer like Ida Cox, Victoria Spivey and Eva Taylor who was one of the only ones to record in 1933. In 1920 Taylor moved to New York City, where she became a popular singer in the night clubs of Harlem. The following year she married pianist, publisher and producer Clarence Williams. The couple collaborated on many projects. In 1922 Taylor made her first record for the African-American owned Black Swan label, who billed her as "The Dixie Nightingale". She would continue to record dozens of Blues, Jazz and popular sides for Okeh and Columbia throughout the 1920s and 1930s. She made a handful of strong sides in 1933 backed by Clarence Williams' Jug Band which included Willie "The Lion" Smith and Banjo Ikey Robinson among others.
Among some older styles that were hanging on were some of the vaudeville styled blues, namely with some sides cut by Coot Grant and Wesley Wilson. Coot Grant was the main stage name of Leola B. Pettigrew, a blues singer from Alabama whose legal name became Leola Wilson following her marriage to performing partner Wesley Wilson. The husband and wife, billed as Grant & Wilson, Kid & Coot, and Hunter & Jenkins, cut over sixty sides between 1925 and 1938, often backed with top jazz artists such as Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. They also performed in musical comedies, vaudeville, traveling shows, revues, and in film.
In addition to commercial recordings there was some important non-commercial sides recorded by John Lomax for the Library of Congress. Through a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, John Lomax was able to set out in June 1933 on the first recording expedition under the Library of Congress' auspices, with Alan Lomax (then eighteen years old) in tow. In their successful grant application they wrote, that prisoners, "Thrown on their own resources for entertainment . . . still sing, especially the long-term prisoners who have been confined for years and who have not yet been influenced by jazz and the radio, the distinctive old-time Negro melodies." They toured Texas prison farms recording work songs, reels, ballads, and blues from prisoners. They also recorded music from many others not in prison. The most important find was Leadbelly but also were recorded were fine singers like James Iron Head Baker, Moses Clear Rock Platt and Washington (Lightnin'), all of whom are featured today.