|James & Fannie Brewer||I Want To Know Why||Can't Keep From Crying|
|John Lee Granderson||A Man For The Nation||Can't Keep From Crying|
|Sleppy john Estes||President Kennedy Stayed Away Too Long||Memphis Swamp Jam|
|Ronda Mitchell & Mrs. Lovell||J.F. Kennedy's Reservation||Kennedy's blues|
|Clyde Church||Number Nine Blues||Piano Blues Vol. 1 1927- 1936|
|Bert Mays||Michigan River Blues||Down In Black Bottom|
|Bill Pearson||Detroit Blues||Piano Blues Vol. 5 1929-1936|
|Left Hand Charlie||Gonna Miss My Lognion||Bluesin' By The Bayou|
|Otis Spann||I Wonder Why||Dues Paid: The Bluestime Story|
|Flora D||You're Gonna Cry||Foxy R&B - Richard Stamz Chicago Blues|
|Lee ''Shot'' Williams||Hello Baby||Foxy R&B - Richard Stamz Chicago Blues|
|Rev. Gary Davis||The Angel's Message To Me||Reverend Gary Davis 1935-1949|
|Blind Roosevelt Graves & Brother||I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)||Goodbye, Babylon|
|Blind Willie Davis||Rock of Ages||How Can I Keep From Singing Vol. 2
|Paul Williams w/ Bobby Parker||Once Upon A Time Long Ago Last Night||Titanic And 23 Unsinkable Sax Blasters|
|Bobby Parker||Blues Get Off My Shoulder||Guitar Star|
|Bobby Parker||I Couldn't Quit my Baby||The Blue Horizon Story 1965-1970|
|Sunnyland Slim||Too Late To Pray||Meat & Gravy From Bea & Baby|
|Sonny Boy Williamson||Ninety Nine||The Chess Years Box Se|
|Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon||Fan It||Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon Vol. 1 1926-29|
|John D. Twitty||Sold It To The Devil||Rare 30's Blues Vol. 1 1934-1937|
|Otis Spann||Sad Day In Texas||Can't Keep From Crying|
|Son House||President Kennedy||Kennedy's Blues|
|Perry Tillis||Kennedy Moan||Kennedy's Blues|
|The Southern Bell Singers||The Tragedy Of Kennedy||Kennedy's Blues
|Jack Newman||My Woman Out West||Jack Newman 1938|
|Charlie Segar||Stop And Fix It Mama||Piano Blues Vol. 2 1927-1956|
|The Blue Chips||Crying Holy Unto The Lord||Goodbye, Babylon|
|Jesse May Hill||I'm Going To Lift Up A Standard For My King||Spreading The Word: Early Gospel
|Sister Rosetta Tharpe||Joy In This Land||Complete Sister Rosetta Tharpe Vol. 7|
|Sam Collins||Devil In The Lion's Den||Sam Collins 1927-1931|
|Julius Daniels||Ninety Nine Year Blues||Atlanta Blues|
|Furry Lewis||Good Looking Girl Blues||Blues Images Vol. 11|
We have a number of features running through today's mix show. With the 50th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy we spotlight a number of blues and gospel songs about the tragedy. Last week on our show was part two of our look at the intersection between blues and religious music and I had a few songs that I couldn't fit on last week's show so we play a couple of sets today. Today we also pay tribute to the recently departed Bobby Parker. Also on deck today are some fine piano blues and a spotlight on some recent Ace reissues.
Five years ago I did an entire show around songs dealing with Presidents and politics wih a number of songs revolving around President Kennedy. Overt political commentary was rare in recorded blues and gospel prior to the 1960's. Some of the most moving political songs were tributes for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, who had great appeal to African Americans. Roosevelt was considered the "poor man's friend" and the lyrical evidence suggests he was viewed "as a benevolent and powerful patron or ‘bossman'" while Truman was seen as much more fallible and "unresponsive to the economic plight of black people as well as their growing demands for equal rights." Kennedy's reputation, particularly in the early years, was rather ambivalent but his death, as the lyrical evidence makes clear, "virtually eradicated any criticism of his international or political policies and left him an unadulterated hero." These last quotes come from scholar Gudio Van Rijn who has written the books Roosevelt Blues, The Truman & Eisenhower Blues and Kennedy's Blues which analyze lyrics of blues and gospel songs that deal with topical issues. In addition each book has an accompanying CD, which is where some of today's songs come from. Several of the other Kennedy songs come from the album Can't Keep From Crying: Topical Blues on the Death of President Kennedy on the Testament label. In the wake of John Kennedy's assassination, Pete Welding recorded over a dozen acoustic blues tributes to the late president for the compilation Can't Keep from Crying in late 1963 and early 1964.
Religious imagery is prevalent throughout blues music, particularly the blues of the 20's and 30's; songs talk about the devil, make fun of the preachers, deacons and reverends, use biblical imagery and speak of the afterlife, both heaven and hell in frank terms. In addition there's a slew of bluesman who struggled between blues and religion, artists who moonlighted by singing gospel and those bluesmen who eventually turned full time to religion. On the flipside are artists who straddled blues and gospel and those artists who's musical language was similar to the blues artists, most notably the so-called guitar evangelists, plus sanctified singers and groups who's instrumentation drew from secular music like blues and jazz. We spin great guitar evangelists today including Blind Willie Davis on the driving "Rock of Ages", Blind Roosevelt Graves & Brother, who recorded both blues and gospel, on "I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called)" and Rev. Gary Davis, who also straddled the blues and gospel worlds. Then there's Sister Rosetta Tharpe delivering a blistering late period performance on 1961's "Joy In This Land" and The Blue Chips on the jazzy "Crying Holy Unto The Lord." The Blue Chips were an interesting group cutting seventeen sides in 1936, a mix of jazzy, swinging gospel and bluesier material like "I'm A Rattlesnakin' Daddy" and "Chippin' The Rock Of Blues."
Bobby Parker died at age 76 on Halloween. Born in Lafayette, La., in 1937 and raised in Los Angeles, Parker ended up in D.C. in 1961 after stints in New York City and elsewhere. Before coming here, a young Parker toured as the guitarist for the doo-wop group Otis Williams and the Charms. He played with Bo Diddley on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1955, and subsequently became part of the Apollo Theater house band led by saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. With Williams he made a few recordings in the early 50's including our featured track "Once Upon A Time Long Ago Last Night" which showcases Parker on guitar and vocals. His first solo single, "Blues Get Off My Shoulder", was recorded in 1958, while he was still working primarily with Williams' band. He recorded the single "Watch Your Step" for the V-Tone label in 1961. The song reached no.51 on the Billboard Hot 100. With the success of the song, both in the United States and overseas, he toured the UK in 1968 and recorded his next record, "It's Hard But It's Fair" produced by Mike Vernon and released on Blue Horizon. For the next two decades, Parker played almost exclusively in the D.C. area. By the 1990s, Parker started to record again for a broader audience. He recorded his first official album, Bent Out of Shape, for the Black Top Records label in 1993, with a follow-up in 1995, Shine Me Up.
We spin a batch of fine, rather obscure pianists including Clyde Church, Bert Mays, Bill Pearson , Jesse Coleman and Charlie Seger. Bind Clyde Church cut one 78 for Victor in Memphis in 1929. On the bouncy "Number Nine Blues" he sings about a good time joint:
Down on number nine where the woman and men go
Everyday to have a real good time
They drink corn whiskey and they shoot high dice
Nothing is known about Bert Mays. He recorded three singles in 1927 and 1928, two for Paramount and one for Vocalion in Chicago. Bill Pearson cut four sides, two issued in 1929 and two unissued earlier sides. Charles Seger made his first recordings for Decca in 1934 and '35. In 1940 he recorded four numbers for Vocalion including "Key To The Highway." The song was covered by Jazz Gillum in May of that year for Bluebird with his version featuring Big Bill Broonzy on guitar with a different melody. Gillum's version became a blues standard later covered by many blues and rock artists. Broonzy's name was tacked onto the songwriting credits. As Alan Balfour wrote in the liner notes to Document's complete recordings of Monkey Joe: "For an artist who recorded a substantial body of work in the 1930's and who was still performing in Chicago night-clubs into the 1970s, it is quite astonishing that very little is known of Jesse "Monkey Joe" Coleman." Coleman waxed thirty-nine sides between 1935 and 1940. He was recorded a final time in 1961 working in a reformed version of the Mississippi Sheiks with some sides issued on the album South Side Blues on Riverside. Coleman also may be the pianist behind the mysterious Jack Newman who we feature on "My Woman Out West" from 1938.
We spotlight a set of tracks from three recent Ace Records reissues: Bluesin' By The Bayou, Foxy R&B: Richard Stamz Chicago Blues -Richard Stamz and Dues Paid: The Bluestime Story. All the tracks from Bluesin' By The Bayou stem from the studios of J.D. Miller in Crowley and Eddie Shuler in Lake Charles. Half of the songs are heard here for the first time, while the other half have appeared before on obscure 45's or long-deleted reissue LPs.
Richard Stamz was a colorful R&B and soul DJ who operated in Chicago throughout the 50's and 60's. He hosted a groundbreaking black TV show in the city in 1956, and round 1960 he took over the Cobra/Artistic/Abco studio and the Paso label, which he continued to run alongside his own Foxy label.
One of the most active and prolific blues labels was ABC’s Bluesway label which was run by producer Bob Thiele. When Bob Thiele started his jazz label Flying Dutchman in 1969, he set up the Bluestime imprint at the same time, bringing with him many of the artists he had worked with at Bluesway. Bluestime was short-lived and most of the releases have been out of print since the 1970's. With Dues Paid: The Bluestime Story Ace has begun its reissue of the Bluestime catalog.