ARTISTSONGALBUM
Alfoncy & Bethenea HarrisThat Same CatGeorge Williams & Bessie Brown Vol. 2 1925-1930
Alfoncy & Bethenea HarrisI Don't Care What You SayGeorge Williams & Bessie Brown Vol. 2 1925-1930
Cannon's Jug StompersMinglewood BluesRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Volume 1: The Great Jug Bands
Cannon's Jug StompersBig Railroad BluesRuckus Juice & Chitlins, Volume 1: The Great Jug Bands
Cannon's Jug StompersMadison Street RagBlues Images Vol. 5
Lonnie McIntorshSleep On Mother Sleep OnHow Can I Keep From Singing Vol. 1
Lonnie McIntorshThe Lion and the Tribes of JudahBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Frank StokesRight Now BluesBest Of
Frank StokesDowntown BluesBest Of
Frank StokesBedtime Blues Best Of
Frank StokesWhat's The Matter BluesBest Of
Jim JacksonOld Dog BlueJim Jackson Vol. 1 1927-1928
Tommy JohnsonCool Drink Of WaterWhen The Sun Goes Down
Tommy JohnsonBig Road BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Rosie Mae MooreStaggering BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreHa Ha BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreSchool Girl BluesFour Women Blues
Rosie Mae MooreStranger BluesFour Women Blues
Ishman Bracey Saturday BluesWhen The Sun Goes Down
Ishman Bracey Left Alone BluesIshman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929
Tommy Johnson Bye-Bye BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Tommy JohnsonMaggie Campbell BluesScreamin' & Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton
Ishman Bracey Trouble Hearted BluesTommy Johnson And Associates
Ishman Bracey The Four Day Blues Ishman Bracey & Charlie Taylor 1928-1929
Memphis Jug BandPeaches In The SpringtimeMemphis Jug Band Vol. 4 1927-1928 & 1934
Arthur Petties Two Time BluesWhen the Levee Breaks
Arthur Petties Out on Santa Fe Blues When the Levee Breaks
Jim JacksonWhat A TimeJim Jackson Vol. 1 1927-1928
Elder Richard BryantHe Shut The Lion's MouthMemphis Sanctified Jug Bands Vol. 1 1928-1939

Show Notes:

Victor CatalogueToday's show is the fourth installment spotlighting great recording sessions; The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label roughly a year-and-a-half apart, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930 and the third  spotlighted sessions recorded in Dallas by Columbia in 1927 and 1928. 1927 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.

Today we spotlight some great blues and gospel captured by Victor in Memphis in 1928. As Robert Dixon and John Godrich wrote in the seminal Recording The Blues:" Victor was the only company systematically to exploit the gold mine of black talent in and around Memphis. Their second there, in January and February 1928, yielded three times as much material as the initial visit in early '27 – and again black artists outnumbered white hillbilly performers. Besides more titles by the Memphis Jug Band, Victor recorded the Cannon Jug Stompers, Vocalion's popular artist Jim Jackson and a fine group of Mississippi blues singers – Tommy Johnson, Ishman Bracey and Frank Stokes. Stokes was an oldish man, his voice had a pronounced vibrato and his style of singing and guitar playing were distinctly archaic. His Downtown Blues and Bedtime Blues on Victor 21272 sold well and when Victor returned to Memphis in August 1928 they recorded ten further selections by Stokes. The August visit was Victor's most extensive to date. Between Monday August 27th and Monday 24 September they recorded 189 titles, three quarters of them by race artists. All of the singers they had tried out in February were recorded again. The autumn trio to Memphis now became an annual event for Victor – it was here that they recorded most of their race material." Other artists recorded during these sessions included Alfoncy & Bethenea Harris, Lonnie McIntorsh, Rosie Mae Moore, Bessie Tucker, Ida May Mack, Furry Lewis, Robert Wilkins, Charlie Kyle, Elder Richard Bryant, Bethel Quartet and Will Shade.

According to Recording The Blues: "The record industry as a whole had not been in too healthy a state during the early twenties. After the boom year of 1921, in which for the first time 100 million discs were sold, sales declined slowly but steadily. Eventually even Victor began to feel the squeeze – their sales fell from $51 million in 1921 to $44 million in 1923, and then dropped to $20 million in 1925. Something had to be done, and one obvious move was for Victor to begin large scale production of race records, and compete for a market that had been growing an an enormous rate during the period when overall sales had been falling." After a not too promising start, "…Victor hired Ralph Peer who had been largely responsible for building up Okeh's fine race and hillbilly catalogs. Peer realized that Victor was several years too late to be able to get a substantial share of the classic blues market and decided to concentrate his efforts on the country blues field." Victor begin going in the field in a big way in 1927 stopping in Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans.

Jug bands are synonymous with Memphis and Victor recorded two of the greatest groups: Memphis Jug Band and Cannon's Jug Stompers. The Memphis Jug Band became very popular in Memphis, often playing in Church Park, where Gus Cannon saw them. The Memphis Jug Band first recorded for Victor in February 1927 and over the next four years recorded 57 sides. By 1930 there were seven different jug bands active in Memphis. In 1928 Ralph Peer, who had previously recorded the Memphis Jug Band, returned to Memphis looking for other jug bands to record. Charlie Williamson, the manager of the Palace Theater, recommended Gus. By this time Gus had had a harness made for his jug so that he could wear it around his neck and play banjo at the same time. Gus called up Noah Lewis and Ashley Thompson and on Jan 30 1928 they recorded 4 sides in an old auditorium as Cannon's Jug Stompers. They over two-dozen sides with the group through 1930 for Victor.

As Chris Smith wrote int he notes to Frank Stokes The Complete Victor Recordings 1928-1929: "With nearly forty songs issued on record, some of them in two parts, Frank Stokes was one of the most extensively recorded of the Memphis blues singers of the 1920s; only Jim Jackson's total of recordings is comparable, and many of Jackson's were remakes of 'Kansas City Blues.' Like Jackson, Stokes blends blues with songs from the medicine shows and from the ragtime days of his childhood. Not only was his repertoire one of the most interesting of its time, it was superbly sung, and backed, whether solo, in partnership with Dan Sane, or with Will Batts, by some of the most accomplished and appropriate blues and ragtime playing on record." By most accounts Stokes was already playing the streets of Memphis by the turn of the century, about the same time the blues began to flourish. As a street artist, he needed a broad repertoire of songs and patter palatable to blacks and whites. A medicine show and house party favorite, Stokes was remembered as a consummate entertainer who drew on songs from the 19th and 20th centuries with equal facility.

Born in the 1880’s, Jim Jackson was another experienced medicine show performer and occasional street singer. He had one of the biggest blues hits of the 20’s with his “Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues.” Barrelhouse pianist Speckled Red shared the stage with Jim Jackson in 1928 while touring through Mississippi and Alabama with the Red Rose Minstrels & Medicine Show. Red remembered Jackson as "a big fat feller, weighed about 235 pounds. Tall, stately feller too, and he danced, sang, played git-tar, cracked jokes." Jackson's long career with traveling shows began in 1905, and much of his repertoire was rooted in the 19th century. He recorded close to forty sides between 192 and 1930.

Frank Stokes Ad

For someone who recorded so little Tommy Johnson exerted an influence that was unusually  vast and long lasting; after all his recorded output only consists of six issued sides for Victor in 1928 and six issued sides for Paramount in 1929. t was Johnson’s Victor sides that were the most influential and oft covered: “Cool Drink of Water Blues”, “Big Road Blues”, “Bye-Bye Blues”, “Maggie Campbell Blues”, “Canned Heat Blues” and “Big Fat Mama.” Unlike the Paramount records these sold fairly well and were apparently the songs Johnson sang most often in person. As David Evans wrote: “For about thirty years Tommy Johnson was perhaps the most important and influential blues singer in the state of Mississippi.”

Ishman Bracey was born in Byram, about ten miles south of Jackson, in January 1899. He learned guitar from locals Louis Cooper and Lee Jones and moved to Jackson in the late 1920s after encountering Tommy Johnson. Bracey soon became one of the most popular musicians in the Jackson area’s vital blues scene. Bracey’s music came to broader attention after he auditioned for recording agent H. C. Speir, who operated a furniture store on North Farish Street. Speir arranged for Bracey and Tommy Johnson to make their debut recordings at a session for Victor in Memphis in February of 1928. At that session and another for Victor later that year, Bracey was accompanied on guitar and mandolin by Charlie McCoy. Bracey recorded again in 1929 and early 1930 for the Paramount label.

Little is known about Rosie Mae Moore except for the fact that she was Charlie McCoy's girlfriend during the time of her recordings that all took place in 1928. She recorded four sides for Victor in Memphis in the early part of the year. Later in December she recorded four more sides for Brunswick in New Orleans, backed by McCoy as well as Walter Vincson and Bo Chatman of The Mississippi Shieks. On her Brunswick releases she was billed as Mary Butler.

Memphis may be better known for blues but it was an important center for black gospel music. Memphis was the home of the holiness denomination, the Church of God in Christ. Lonnie McIntorsh recorded two sessions in 1928, one in Memphis and one in Chicago and a final unreleased session in 1930. Elder Richard Bryant led churches in Holendale and Moorehead Mississippi. He cut sides for Victor and Okeh at three sessions in 1928.

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Big Joe TurnerToo Late, Too LateIn The Evening
Big Joe TurnerI Just Didn't Have The PriceNobody In Mind
Mississippi Fred McDowellWhen I Lay My Burden DownAmazing Grace
Charles Henderson, Butch Cage & Willie Thomas Jesus On The MainlineCountry Spirituals
Leroy CarrMy Woman's Gone WrongWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave: The Best of Leroy Carr
Memphis Jug BandMy Love Is ColdMemphis Shakedown
Kokomo ArnoldLonesome Southern BluesKokomo Arnold Vol. 1 1930-1935
Whispering SmithI Tried So HardThe Real Excello R&B
Little BoydBad Man Don't Live To LongBlues Is Here To Stay
Elmore JamesGoodbye BabyEarly Recordings 1951-56
Jimmy ReedI Had A DreamLet The Bossman Speak!
Blind Willie McTellLittle DeliaAtlanta Twelve String
Bukka WhiteThe Atlanta Special The Sonet Blues Story
Maggie JonesAnybody Here Wants To Try My CabbageMaggie Jones Vol. 1 1923-1925
Billie YoungWhen They Get Lovin' They's GoneFemale Blues Singers Vol. 14 1923-1932
Albinia JonesThe Rain Is FallingVocal Blues & Jazz Vol. 4 1938 -1949
Blind LemonDB BluesThe Complete Classic Sides
Skip JamesIf You Haven't Any Hay Get On Down The RoadComplete 1931 Recordings
Papa Charlie JacksonDrop That SackPapa Charlie Jackson Vol. 1 1924-1926
Jaybird ColemanMistreatin' MamaThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Roosevelt CharlesUncle BudBlues, Prayer, Work and Trouble Songs
Dave Tippen & GroupWrite My Mama One More LetterCatfish, Carp & Diamonds: 35 Years of Texas Blues)
Grey GhostWay Out On The DesertCatfish, Carp & Diamonds: 35 Years of Texas Blues)
Mississippi SheiksThe New Shake That ThingBlues Images Vol. 5
'Blind' Willie ReynoldsThird Street Woman BluesMississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35
Charlie PattonBird Nest Bound The Best Of
Jimmy LigginsYou Ain't Goin' To Heaven No HowJoe Liggins 1944-1946
Brother Bell w/ Ike Turner If You Feel FroggishRocks The Blues
The Rockers What Am I To Do?The Federal Records Story 1955-1960

Show Notes:

Big Joe Turner: In The EveningThis has been a busy summer and I have been taking quite a bit of time off. It's been a struggle getting these shows together on time and this one just got in under the wire. Nevertheless a good mix show lined up for today opening with a pair of lengthy cuts from the tail end of Big Joe Turner's career. Along the way we hear some superb pre- war blues from heavy hitters like Charlie Patton, Kokomo Arnold, Mississippi Sheiks and others, several fine blues ladies, a few field recordings, a batch of tough blues from the 50's  through the 70's plus some spirituals with a blues feel

When Big Joe Turner began his series of recordings for Norman Granz' rejuvenated Pablo label, he was a somewhat neglected figure. Big Joe sustained a successful career through the 50's when he signed with the Atlantic label in 1951. He became one of the few black R&B stars to crossover to rock'n'roll but seemed to founder a a bit in the 60's. He didn't really seem to fit in with the general tone of the blues revival. Big Joe eventually moved to California and began appearing irregularly on jazz festivals and L.A. clubs. In 1972 producer and former civic rights activist Norman Granz decided to launch a big band tour of Europe, he chose to reunite old Kansas City partners, Count Basie and his Orchestra with Big Joe. The tour proved to be so successful that Granz recorded the Paris concert live and issued it on his Pablo label. This started a new association between Turner and Granz that resulted in nine LP's through 1978.

I won't claim this is Big Joe's finest period but these records deserve better than the general reputation. There are a number of overly long jams and familiar songs but Big Joe is a consummate blues singer and he's helped along by all-star band that included Count Basie, Sonny Stitt, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Clark Terry, Harry Edison and others. I believe a good chunk of this material is now out-of-print.

We spotlight some fascinating field recordings captured by Tary Owens and Harry Oster. Funded by a Lomax Foundation grant in the 1960's, Tary Owens traveled around Texas recording a variety of folk musicians, prison songs, 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. In the 80's and 90's he operated the Catfish and Spindletop labels. Our two recordings come from a special limited edition disc of Owen's favorite recordings cut between 1965 and 1999 titled Catfish, Carp & Diamonds: 35 Years of Texas Blues.

Country Spirituals
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Through the 50's and 60's Harry Oster captured some incredible field recordings in Louisiana made in and around towns such as Baton Rouge, Eunice and Scotlandville. In 1959 Oster went with New Orleans jazz historian Richard B. Allen to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola prison, to record blues, spirituals sung by choirs and soloists, sermons and personal interviews. Among those he recorded he were Robert ‘Smoky Babe’ Brown, James ‘Butch’ Cage, Roosevelt Charles, Clarence Edwards, Hogman Maxey, Willie B. Thomas. Otis Webster, Guitar Welch, Snooks Eaglin and perhaps most famously Robert Pete Williams. Today we spin selections from a pair of hard to find albums: Charles Henderson, Butch Cage & Willie Thomas performing "Jesus On The Mainline" from the album Country Spirituals and Roosevelt Charles singing "Uncle Bud" from a wonderful record on Vanguard called Blues, Prayer, Work And Trouble Songs. Several years back I did a show devoted to Oster's recordings and will likely do a sequel when Arhoolie unveils their Harry Oster box set sometime in the future.

We opened the show with some 70's sides by Big Joe and from the same period play a fine Jimmy Reed cut. Reed's records hit the R&B charts with amazing frequency and crossed over onto the pop charts on many occasions, a rare feat for an bluesman. Reed has a long association with Vee-Jay and with his his third single, "You Don't Have to Go" backed with "Boogie in the Dark," made the number five slot on Billboard's R&B charts, the hits pretty much kept on coming for the next decade. Reed's slow descent into the ravages of alcoholism and epilepsy roughly paralleled the decline of Vee-Jay Records, which went out of business at approximately the same time that his final 45 was released, "Don't Think I'm Through" in 1965. His manager, Al Smith, quickly arranged a contract with the newly formed ABC-Bluesway label and a handful of albums were released into the '70's. Our selection, "I Had A Dream", comes from 1971 the album Let The Bossman Speak! cut for Al Smith's short lived Blues On Blues label.

Maggie Jones
Maggie Jones

As usual we shine the light on several fine blues ladies including Maggie Jones, Billie Young and Albinia Jones. Maggie Jones was born Fae Barnes in Hillsboro, Texas, around 1900. She moved in the early 1920's to New York City, where she began to perform in local clubs billed as the "Texas Nightingale." On July 26, 1923, she became one of the earliest female Texas singers to record, cutting some three dozen sides for a variety of labels including Black Swan and Columbia through 1926. Sometime in the early 1930's she returned to Texas and was last known to have been performing in Fort Worth area in 1934. Today we hear her on the risque "Anybody Here Wants To Try My Cabbage." Billie Young left behind only one record backed by Jelly Roll Morton on piano. Albinia Jones first recorded for National Records in late 1944.The following year she recorded for Savoy backed by Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas and Sammy Price. She was promoted at the time as the "New Queen of the Blues" and toured widely with Blanche Calloway, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Tiny Bradshaw and the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra.She recorded again with Price for Decca Records in 1947 and made her last records in 949.

 

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Lillian GlinnBrown Skin BluesLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Lillian GlinnDoggin' Me Blues Lillian Glinn 1927-1929
Lillian GlinnCome Home DaddyLillian Glinn 1927-1929
Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams Sun Beam BluesDallas Alley Drag
Billiken Johnson & Fred Adams Interurban BluesDallas Alley Drag
Blind Willie JohnsonI Know His Blood Can Make Me WholeBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Blind Willie JohnsonDark Was the Night -- Cold Was the GroundBlind Willie Johnson And The Guitar Evangelists
Coley JonesTraveling ManThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Washington PhillipsDenomination Blues (Part 1)I Am Born To Preach The Gospel
William McCoy Mama BluesMeaning In The Blues
Dallas String BandDallas RagVintage Mandolin Music
Hattie HudsonDoggone My Good Luck SoulDallas Alley Drag
Hattie HudsonBlack Hand BluesI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 1
Gertrude PerkinsNo Easy Rider BluesTexas Girls 1926-1929
Gertrude PerkinsGold Daddy BluesTexas Girls 1926-1929
Washington PhillipsI Am Born To Preach The GospelI Am Born To Preach The Gospel
Blind Willie JohnsonI'm Gonna Run to the City of RefugeSpreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings
Laura HentonHe's Coming SoonSpreading The Word: Early Gospel Recordings
Laura HentonHeavenly SunshineTexas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935
Frenchy's String BandSunshine SpecialThe Original Howling Wolf 1930-1931
Frenchy's String BandTexas And Pacific BluesJazz The World Forgot Vol. 1
Emma Wright State of Tennessee Blues The Best Of Memphis Jug Band
Bobbie CadillacThe SpasmGood for What Ails You
Billiken Johnson & Neal RobertsFrisco BluesDallas Alley Drag
Dallas String BandSo TiredHow Low Can You Go: Anthology Of The String Bass
William McCoyCentral Tracks BluesTexas: Black Country Dance Music 1927-1935
Willie Reed Dreaming BluesTrouble Hearted Blues 1927-1944
Willie Reed Texas BluesThe Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2
Otis HarrisWalking BluesRamblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers
Otis HarrisYou'll Like My LovingRamblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers
Jewell NelsonJet Black Snake BluesTerritory Singers Vol. 2
Jewell NelsonBeating Me BlueTerritory Singers Vol. 2

Show Notes:

William McCoy- Mama BluesToday's show is the third installment spotlighting great recording sessions. The first spotlighted two sessions conducted by the Victor label roughly a year-and-a-half apart, one in Chicago and one in New Orleans in 1936 and 1937, the second was conducted by Brunswick in Memphis in 1929 and 1930. Today we spotlight some great blues and gospel captured by Columbia in December 1927 and December 1928. In 1927 sessions were conducted December 2nd through the 6th with artists Lillian Glinn, Billiken Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Coley Jones Washington Phillips, William McCoy, the Dallas String Band, Hattie Hudson and Gertrude Perkins. Several of theses artists were recorded again the following December with sessions conducted between December 4th through the 8th. Among the new artists recorded in 1928 were Laura Henton, Texas Jubilee Singers, Frenchy's String Band, Emma Wright, Bobbie Cadillac, Willie Reed, Otis Harris and Jewell Nelson. Several other artists recorded but had no sides issued: Willie Tyson, Willie Mae McFarland, Rev. J.W. Heads and Charlie King. Columbia recorded again Dallas in 1929, recording some of the same artists.

1927 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.

One of the hidden stars of these sessions was pianist Willie Tyson. Tyson was active in Dallas and was part of a group of blues pianists that included K. D. Johnson and Whistlin’ Alex Moore, who accompanied various female blues singers in the 1920's and 1930's. Tyson contributed a number of fine accompaniments to several women blues singers, such as Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Ida Mae Mack, and Bessie Tucker and also backed Billiken Johnson. In addition to his piano accompaniment, Tyson recorded two piano solos that were never issued, “Roberta Blues” and “Missouri Blues.” These proved to be the only sessions for Tyson, who was most likely a theater pit pianist.

We hear several fine, obscure blues and gospel ladies today including Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins, Lillian Glinn, Jewell Nelson, Bobbie Cadillac, Emma Wright and Laura Henton. Blind Willie Johnson: I Know His Blood Can Make Me WholeSinger and vaudeville performer Lillian Glinn was born in Hillsboro, Texas, about 1902 and moved to Dallas when she was in her twenties. Texas blues singer Hattie Burleson discovered her singing in a Dallas church and encouraged her to pursue a musical career. Dallas entrepreneur R. T. Ashford helped Glinn secure a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1927. She cut her first record for Columbia in December 1927, and over the next two years she recorded more than twenty-two sides.

Hattie Hudson, Gertrude Perkins and Jewell Nelson all left behind just one 78 while Emma Wright had one song issued. Singers Bobbie Cadillac and gospel singer Laura Henton left behind six sides. Emma Wright had only one issued side in 1928 backed by trumpeter Leroy Williams who accompanied Jewell Nelson the following day. According to blues historian Paul Oliver Jewel Nelson was "one of the best-known and best loved of the Dallas singers … known to the denizens of the Park (Theatre) as "Daybreak" Nelson because of her famous "Daybreak Blues." She recorded one 78 in 1928 possibly backed on guitar by Coley Jones. Singer Bobbie Cadillac cut six sides (one unissued ) at two sessions in 1928 and the following year cut four more duets with Coley Jones and featuring Whistlin' Alex Moore on piano.

Billiken Johnson didn't sing or play an instrument, and yet he recorded six sides in the late '20s. Johnson's unique talent was his ability to imitate train whistles and provide other vocal effects, all of which made him a popular figure on-stage at the juke joints and taverns of the famed "Deep Ellum" district of Dallas. Under his own name he recorded two tracks for Columbia Records ("Sun Beam Blues" and "Interurban Blues") in Dallas on December 3, 1927, followed by two more ("Frisco Blues" and "Wild Jack Blues") a year later on December 8, 1928. He is also listed as part of a duet of sorts Coley Jones: Travelling Manwith Texas Bill Day on "Billiken's Weary Blues" and "Elm Street Blues," recorded December 5, 1929, in Dallas and also issued by Columbia.

As Blind Willie Johnson got older he began earning money by playing his guitar, one of the few avenues left to a blind man to earn a living. He became a Baptist preacher and brought his sermons and music to the streets of the surrounding cities. While performing in Dallas, he met a woman named Angeline and the two married in 1927. The two performed around the Dallas and Waco areas. On December 3, 1927, Columbia Records brought Blind Willie Johnson into the studio where he recorded six songs. after this session, Johnson didn't return to the studio for an entire year. The second visit (which took place on December 5, 1928) found him accompanied by his wife, Angeline. Although Blind Willie Johnson was one of Columbia's best-selling race recording artists, he only recorded for them one more time — in April 1930 — after which he never heard from them again. As Stephen Calt points out in his liner notes for Praise God I'm Satisfied, the fact that Columbia waited a full year between Johnson's recording sessions probably indicates that they were disappointed with his sales. In fact, in early 1929 Johnson sold about 5000 records. By contrast, Barbecue Bob and Bessie Smith Columbia's most popular artists, sold about 6000 and from 9000-10,000 respectively. As the depression deepened, however, and interest in religion surged, Blind Willie Johnson's popularity jumped, too. He continued to sell around 5000 records annually, but Barbecue Bob's sales dropped to 2000, and Smith's to 3000. Johnson continued to perform on the Texas streets during the '30s and '40s, passing away in 1947.

Coley Jones was born probably in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is presumed that much of his life was spent in Dallas.  He recorded seven sides for Columbia beginning in December 1927 as a solo act accompanying himself on guitar. Jones was also in demand as a sideman and recorded several sides in December 1929, accompanying Bobbie Cadillac and Texas Bill Day on guitar. Jones became associated with the Dallas String Band, which recorded  ten sides for Columbia between 1927 to 1929.

Dallas String Band: Dallas RagVirtually nothing is known about William McCoy other than he was probably from Texas. He recorded six sides for Columbia at three sessions; on December 6, 1927, December 7, 1928 and a final session on December 8, 1928. His records were advertised in the Defender on May 12, 1928, February 23, 1929 and September 21, 1929.

Little is known about Willie Reed, who recorded two songs on the same day as fellow Texas bluesman Otis Harris who exhibits a similar guitar style. Reed went on to accompany blues singer Texas Alexander on ten songs in 1934.

Otis Harris and Frenchy's String Band each cut one 78. Possibly from Dallas, TX., Otis Harris only had one 78 released under his name, "Walking Blues b/w You'll Like My Loving." Frenchy's String Band cut "Sunshine Special b/w Texas And Pacific Blues" in 1928. Polite "Frenchy" Christian was one of the New Orleans jazzmen who ventured westward in the 1920s, settling in Dallas. With a line-up here consisting of cornet, banjo, guitar and bowed bass, "Texas and Pacific Blues" gives an inkling of music played around New Orleans when a string band line up was used.

 

 

 

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Memphis Minnie & Kansas JoeI'm Going Back HomeStuff Tha Dreams Are Made Of
Memphis Minnie & Kansas JoeWhat's The Matter With The Mil Blues Images Vol. 10
Ma Rainey & Papa Charlie JacksonBig Feeling BluesMother Of The Blues
Arnold & Irene WileyRootin' Bo Hog Blues Blues & Jazz Obscurities
Hezekiah & Dorothy JenkinsFare Thee Well Blues & Jazz Obscurities
Bobbie Cadillac & Coley JonesEasin' InTexas Girls 1926-1929
Buddy Burton & Irene SandersElectric Man W E ''Buddy'' Burton & Ed ''Fats'' Hudson 1928-1936
Mae Glover & John ByrdGas Man BluesMississippi Moaners
Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport Mistreated Mamma Blues Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930
Dora Carr & Cow Cow Davenport5th Street BluesCow Cow Davenport - The Accompanist 1924-1929
Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis Talkin' to You Wimmen About the BluesBlues Images Vol. 5
Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis Rough Alley BluesThe Classic Years 1927-1940
Blind Willie JohnsonYou're Gonna Need Somebody on Your BondBlind Willie Johnson and the Guitar Evangelists)
Eddie Head & FamilyDown On MeBlues Images Vol. 6
William & Versey SmithEverybody Help The Boys Come HomeAmerican Primitive Vol. I
Clara Smith & Lonnie JohnsonYou're Gettin' Old On Your JobClara Smith: The Essential
Victoria & Spivey & Lonnie JohnsonFurniture Man Blues - Part 1Victoria Spivey: The Essential
Victoria & Spivey & Lonnie JohnsonNew Black Snake Blues No.1Victoria Spivey Vol. 2 1927-1929
J. T. ''Funny Paper'' Smith & Dessa Foster Tell It To The Judge Part 1The Original Howling Wolf 1930-1931
J. T. ''Funny Paper'' Smith & Magnolia HarrisMama's Quittin' And Leavin' Part 1 The Original Howling Wolf 1930-1931
Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes Lost Lover BluesBaby, How Can It Be?
Memphis Jug Band (Jennie Clayton & Will Shade) State of Tennessee Blues The Best Of Memphis Jug Band
Mississippi Sarah & Daddy StovepipeThe SpasmGood for What Ails You
Butterbeans & SusieCold Storage Papa (Mama's A Little Too Warm For You)Butterbeans & Susie Vol. 1 1924-1925
Butterbeans & SusieTimes Is Hard (So I'm Savin' for a Rainy Day)Classic Blues & Vaudeville Singers Vol. 5
Ruth Willis & Fred McMullenJust Can't Stand ItGeorgia Blues 1928-1933
Hattie HartColdest Stuff In TownMemphis Blues 1927-1938
Charley Patton and Bertha LeeTroubled 'Bout My MotherPrimeval Blues, Rags, and Gospel Songs
Charley Patton and Bertha LeeOh DeathPrimeval Blues, Rags, and Gospel Songs
Jane Lucas & Georgia Tom How Can You Have the BluesKansas City Kitty 1930-1934
Georgia Tom & Hannah MayCome On MamaFamous Hokum Boys Vol. 1 1930
Coot Grant & Wesley WilsonWhippin' the WolfCoot Grant & Wesley Wilson Vol. 3 1931-1938
Coot Grant & Wesley WilsonRasslin' 'till the Wagon ComesCoot Grant & Wesley Wilson Vol. 1 1925-1928

Show Notes:

Blind Willie McTell & Mary Willis - Talkin' to You Wimmen About the BluesToday's show is something of a sequel to a couple of  related shows I aired a couple of years back: Fence Breakin' Blues – Great Country Blues Guitar Duets and Play It It 'Till I Turn High Yeller – Great Guitar/Piano Duets. Today we spotlight some classic blues and gospel female/male duets spanning the years 1925 through 1938. Along the way we hear classic partnerships like Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe and Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson, blues in the vaudeville tradition from Butterbeans & Susie and Coot Grant &  Wesley Wilson, some moving gospel performances, well known artists such as Blind Willie McTell and Charlie Patton and a slew of fine lesser known artists who left behind memorable recordings.

Before blues got on record the music was heard in variety of settings including vaudeville, musicals, minstrel shows and tent shows. Many of these performers made there way on record into the 1920's, perhaps most famously Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey (we hear Rainey today with Papa Charlie Jackson on "Big Feeling Blues"). Among those featured today, Butterbeans & Susie, Coot Grant & Wesley Wilson and Cow Cow Davenport all came out of that tradition.

Butterbeans and Susie were a comedy duo made up of Jodie Edwards and Susie Edwards. Edwards began his career in 1910 as a singer and dancer. The two met in 1916 when Hawthorne was in the chorus of the Smart Set show. They married on stage the next year. The two did not perform as a comic team until the early 1920s. heir act, a combination of marital quarrels, comic dances, and racy singing, proved popular on the TOBA tour. They later moved to vaudeville and appeared for a time with the blackface minstrel troupe the Rabbit's Foot Company. They cut over sixty sides between 1924 and 1930.

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 pair met and began performing together in 1905 and were wed in 1913. Coot had been involved in show business  since she was a child, beginning as a dancer in vaudeville. Her husband, who played both piano and organ, was performing as early as 1905. He performed under a variety of stage names including Catjuice Charlie in a duo with Pigmeat Pete, as well as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox 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.Lottie Kimbrough and Winston Holmes - Lost Lover Blues

In his early years Cow Cow Davenport toured TOBA with an act called Davenport and Company with Blues singer Dora Carr and they recorded together in 1925 and 1926. The act broke up when Carr got married. Davenport briefly teamed up with Blues singer Ivy Smith in 1928. Smith and Davenport cut some two-dozen sides together between 1927 and 1930.

Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson did several duets together that have vaudeville feel to them.  Johnson backed Spivey on numerous recordings in 1926 and 1927 and they made several duets together  in 1928 and 1929 including "New Black Snake Blues Part 1 & 2", "Toothache Blues Part 1 & 2 and "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now Part 1 & 2 ."

More in down-home vein were recordings by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe, J. T. "Funny Paper" Smith and Blind Willie McTell with different partners. Memphis Minnie's marriage and recording debut came in 1929, to and with Kansas Joe McCoy, when a Columbia Records talent scout heard them playing in a Beale Street barbershop. It was supposedly a Columbia A and R man who gave the duo their names. Between 1929 and 1934 Minnie and Joe cut around one hundred sides together. McCoy and Minnie recorded songs together and on their own for Decca Records until they divorced in 1934.

Mary Willis recorded with several Atlanta artists including Blind Willie McTell, Curley Weaver and Buddy Moss. McTell also recorded with singer Ruby Glaze and Kate McTell who are likely the same person. One of the featured tracks, "Talkin To You Wimmen' About The Blues",  was not issued until just a few years ago.  The track and it's flip side, "Merciful Blues", was issued on the CD that accompanies Tefteller's 2008 blues artwork calendar. To quote Tefteller: "the record you see in the center of this page [Talkin' To You Wimmen About The Blues] apparently has not been heard by anyone since its release back in the late fall of 1931. I have had this record in my collection for almost ten years. I had no idea that it was potentially a one-of-a-kind record! …Late last year, legendary Blues reissue producer Larry Cohn called me about his upcoming Blind Willie McTell box set. He told me he would like to borrow certain records from my collection …I sent him a list of what I had. To my amazement , he called immediately with the comment, "I've never heard the Mary Willis record!" Apparently, there is no master in the Columbia vaults. Cohn is aware of no other copy of the record anywhere. Finding this hard to believe, I started calling "all the usual suspects" and sure enough, none of them had the record or had ever heard it."

Between 1930 and 1931 J. T. "Funny Paper" Smith had recorded some twenty issued sides. Among those were a pair of fine duets we feature today: "Tell It To The Judge Part 1 & 2" with Dessa Foster and Mama's Quittin' And Leavin' Part 1 & 2" with Magnolia Harris.

Mississippi Sarah & Daddy Stovepipe - The SpasmAlso on tap today are several fine gospel performances by Blind Willie Johnson, Charlie Paton, Eddie Head and William & Versey Smith . Johnson  may have married Willie B. Harris who sang accompaniment with Johnson on some of his recordings for Columbia Records between 1927 and 1930. Today we feature one of my favorites, "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond."

Bertha Lee met Charlie Patton in 1930 and remained his wife until his death in 1934. During this time, she sang on several of Patton's recordings, which resulted in the recording of three of her own songs, "Yellow Bee", "Dog Train Blues" (unissued), and "Mind Reader Blues". Patton accompanied her on guitar on these records.

William Smith and his wife recorded four songs for Paramount in 1927 while Eddie Head cut the same number for Columbia in 1930.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Freddie BrownRaised In The Alley Blues Barrelhouse Mamas
Sammie Lewis & His Bamville SyncopatorsLeaving Town To Wear You Off My Mind Rare 1920's Blues & Jazz 1923-1929
Sweet Georgia Brown The Low Down Lonely BluesBlues Box 2
Booker T. WashingtonDeath Of Bessie SmithWalter Davis Vol. 5 1939-1940
Memphis Minnie Ma RaineyMemphis Minnie Vol. 5 1935-1941
Peetie Wheatstraw Black or BrownPeetie Wheatstraw Vol. 5 1937-1938
Peetie Wheatstraw Crazy With The BluesPeetie Wheatstraw Vol. 4 1936-1937
Peetie Wheatstraw Peetie Wheatsraw Stomp No. 2Peetie Wheatstraw Vol. 4 1936-1937
Smoky Harrison Hop Head BluesRare Paramount Country Blues 1926-1929
Willie Baker Rag Baby East Coast Blues
Viola Bartlette w/ Lovie Austin's Serenaders Out Bound Train Blues Lovie Austin 1924-1926
Eva Parker You Got Yourself Another WomanBlue Girls Vol. 1 (1924-1930)
Coletha Simpson Down South Blues Blue Girls Vol. 1 (1924 1930)
Rev. Emmett Dickenson The Death Of Blind LemonBlues Images Vol. 6
King Solomon Hill My Buddy, Blind Papa LemonTimes Ain't Like They Used To Be Vol. 8
Group Of Women PrisonersIf There's Anybody Here Wants To Buy Some CabbageField Recordings Vol. 8 - Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi
Champion Jack Cabbage Greens No 2 Junker Blues 1940-41
Washboard SamGood Old Cabbage GreensRockin' My Blues Away
Bill WilliamsChicken You Can't Roost Too High for Me Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways
Peg Leg Sam Straighten Up and Fly RightClassic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways
Blues Bird Mean Low Blues American Primitive Vol. II
Booker T. Sapps, Roger Matthews, Jesse FlowersAlabama BluesRed River Blues 1934-1943
Helen Beasley TiaJuana BluesBlue Girls Vol. 1 (1924 1930)
Blu Lou Barker New OrleansBlu Lu Barker 1938-1939
Rudy Foster Corn Trimmer BluesJuke Joint Saturday Night
Dan Burley 31st Street BluesJazz & Blues Piano 1934-1947
Scrapper Blackwell The Death of Leroy CarrBumble Bee Slim Vol. 4 1935
Brownie McGhee Death Of Blind Boy Fuller No. 1Blind Boy Fuller
Remastered 1935-1938
Robert Pete WilliamsGoodbye Slim HarpoRobert Pete Williams
Jimmie GordonLookin' For The BluesJimmie Gordon Vol. 3 1939-1946
Little Brother Montgomery Alabama BoundFarro Street Jive
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown Leftover BluesGuitar In My Hand Vol. 2

Show Notes:

As I'm looking over today's mix show I have to say, even by the standards of this show, there's some pretty obscure stuff. The mix shows are basically songs that have caught my ear that I haven't played before, new stuff I've acquired or older records I've revisited.  Now I never purposely play records simply because they're obscure, I play records I like and try and play ones I haven't featured before. I've been thinking a bit about the notion of obscurity which for some collectors seems to be the records they most covet simply for the fact of their rarity. So records by Skip James and Charlie Patton, two artists I love, are put on a pedestal while big sellers like Tampa Red and Lonnie Johnson, female singers and piano players get mostly ignored which is something I never understood. I always feel that this show is fairly democratic, spotlighting the well known stars to the utterly forgotten, the blues queens of the 20's, the piano players, recordings made in the field, string bands, jug bands, electrified Chicago blues and everything in between. I've been reading a fascinating book that deals with the world of 78 collecting called Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich. I would highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the music played on my show.

As to today's show we spin a whole batch of utterly forgotten blues ladies from the 20's, several songs that are tributes to blues singers who have passed, a trio of sides by Peetie Wheatstraw, some tracks from a new Smithsonian Folkways anthology, songs about cabbage greens (a euphemism of course), several fine piano players and more.

Today we spin a few sets by some superb but completely forgotten blues ladies from the 1920's: Freddie Brown, Sammie Lewis, Viola Bartlette, Eva Parker, Coletha Simpson and Helen Beasley. Freddie Brown recorded one 78 for Paramount in 1929. As Bob Hall and Richard Noblett wrote in the notes to Magpie's The Piano Blues Vol. 17: Paramount Vol. 2 1927-1932: "The quiet, introspective performance of Freddie Brown contrast strongly with the usual rumbustious Paramount label identity. It was not known if she was a resident of Chicago or came north to make her only recording in 1929. …She has a deep stately vocal style found in some of the so-called classic female blues singers, and may well play her own piano accompaniment, although this is by no means certain." The other ladies were also little recorded: Sammie Lewis & His Bamville Syncopators cut six sides in 1926, Helen Beasley cut one 78 in 1929, Eva Parker left behind four sides, Viola Bartlette cut ten sides between 1925-1926, most backed by Lovie Austin's Serenaders with some featuring Johnny Dodds and Kid Ory.

If There's Anybody Here Wants To Buy Some Cabbage

I imagine most 78 collectors care little for the records of Peetie Wheatstraw who was one of the more commercially successful blues artists of the 30's. Wheatstraw cut a slew of records, many too be honest not terribly exciting, but he cut his share of memorable ones and today I spin a few I may not have played before. Wheatstraw recorded over 160 songs, usually accompanied by his own piano and provided accompaniment on records to numerous others. Between 1930 and his death in 1941 he remained immensely popular for buyers of race records and was a fixture on the vibrant St. Louis blues scene of the 30's. St. Louis chronicler Henry Townsend emphasized this point: "Around town he was pretty well busy; his name was ringing."

There's a number of inexplicable lyrical images in blues like black snakes, jelly rolls and cabbage greens that are clearly euphemisms for sex. I'm not sure what was the first song that equated sex and cabbage greens but Bessie Smith sang the following in "Empty Bed Blues" from 1928:

Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find (2x)
Oh he could grind my coffee 'cause he had a brand new grind
He boiled my fresh cabbage and he made it awful hot (2x)
When he put in the bacon it overflowed the pot

Today we spin a trio of songs in the same vein including a 'Group Of Women Prisoners' singing "If There's Anybody Here Wants To Buy Some Cabbage" recorded in Parchman Farm in 1939, Champion Jack Dupree's "Cabbage Greens No 2" (1940) and Washboard Sam's "Good Old Cabbage Greens" (1942).

Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways
Read Liner Notes

I was listening to Booker T. Washington's "Death Of Bessie Smith", featured today, and got to thinking of other singers who did tributes to famous blues singers. There's a relatively small number of these songs. In 1930, shortly after Blind Lemon Jefferson died, Paramount issued a double sided tribute: “Wasn't It Sad About Lemon” by the duo Walter and Byrd was on one side while the second side was the sermon “The Death Of Blind Lemon” by Rev. Emmett Dickenson. Leadbelly recorded a number of songs about Lemon after his passing. In 1932 King Solomon Hill cut "My Buddy, Blind Papa Lemon" for Paramount: "Hmmm then the mailman brought a misery to my head/When I received a letter that my friend Lemon was dead." Those lines echo the opening of Lemon's “Gone Dead On You Blues”: Mmmmmm, mailman's letter brought misery to my head. Mmmmm, brought misery to my head. I got a letter this morning, my pigmeat mama was dead.” Hill ran with Lemon for about two months after he passed through Hill's hometown of Minden, Louisiana. Hill's widow recalled that "he sung that song a whole lot 'bout Blind Lemon. Said he loved his buddy 'some way better than anyone I know.'" In a similar vein, after Leroy Carr's death, several artists wrote tribute songs including Scrapper Blackwell, Bill Gaither and Bumble Bee Slim. Other tributes today include Memphis Minnie's "Ma Rainey", Brownie McGhee's"Death Of Blind Boy Fuller" and  Robert Pete Williams' "Goodbye Slim Harpo."

Smithsonian Folkways has put out some interesting anthologies and their most recent, Classic African American Songsters from Smithsonian Folkways, is another well compiled collection. The bulk of the sides are drawn from the Folkways catalog but there are several performances that are being issued for the first time. Among those are excellent tracks by Bill Williams, Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson and Martin, Bogan and Armstrong. As with all these anthologies, there is an extensive booklet this one written by writer Barry Lee Pearson.

 

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