ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Jimmy RogersRound About BoogieDown Home Blues Classics: Chicago
Jimmy RogersLittle Store BluesChicago Boogie! 1947
Jimmy RogersLudellaEarly Rhythm & Blues 1949 From The Rare Regal Sessions
Memphis MinnieDown Home GirlEarly Rhythm & Blues 1949 From The Rare Regal Sessions
Johnny ShinesSo Glad I Found YouChess Blues Guitar 1949-1969
Little Walter Muskadine BluesBlues World Of Little Walter
Little Walter Just Keep Loving Her Blues World Of Little Walter
Jimmy RogersGoin' Away BabyComplete Chess Recordings
Jimmy RogersThat's All Right Complete Chess Recordings
Jimmy RogersMoney, Marbles And ChalkComplete Chess Recordings
Jimmy RogersThe World Is In A TangleComplete Chess Recordings
Jimmy RogersBack Door FriendComplete Chess Recordings
Little WalterCan't Hold Out Much Longer The Complete Chess Masters 1950-1967
Muddy WatersGone To Main Street The Complete Chess Recordings
Jimmy RogersOut On The Road Complete Chess Recordings
Jimmy Rogers Act Like You Love MeComplete Chess Recordings
Jimmy Rogers Left Me With a Broken Heart Complete Chess Recordings
Muddy WatersMy Life Is RuinedThe Complete Chess Recordings
T- Bone Walker Papa Ain't SaltyT-Bone Blues
Jimmy Rogers Walking By Myself Complete Chess Recordings
Jimmy Rogers If It Ain't Me (Who You Thinking OfThe Complete Chess Recordings
Sunnyland Slim It's YouSunnyland Special
Howlin' WolfDown In The Bottom The Complete Recordings 1951-1969
Jimmy RogersTricky WomanAmerican Folk Blues Festival '72
Jimmy RogersWhat Have I Done?Chicago Blues at Home
Jimmy Rogers & Muddy WatersThat's Alright I'm Ready

Show Notes:

Jimmy RogersAn under-sung hero of the blues, Jimmy Rogers played a a key role in creating the electrified, band-oriented postwar Chicago sound. He was a member of Muddy Waters’ first band in Chicago, and cut great sides for Chess under his own name  including blues standards like "That’s All Right," "Ludella", "Chicago Bound," and "Walking By Myself." In addition to playing on dozens of sides backing Waters, Rogers also backed numerous others including Memphis Minnie, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Shines, Floyd Jones and others. After a final Chess single in 1959, Rogers, outside o fa lone single  on the C.J. label, did not record again until the 1970's, when he cut the his first full-length album for Shelter Records. He rejoined Muddy Waters in 1978 for the I’m Ready album and tour and released several albums later in life before passing in 1997.

Born James A. Lane, he was raised by his grandmother after his father was killed in a scuffle at a sawmill. She moved them often, living in several owns in several states: Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. His first guitar was a diddley bow, a broom wire nailed to the side of a house and plucked,  next was the harmonica. Soon he was playing other people’s guitars. Meeting and watching Houston Stackhouse, Tommy McClennan, Robert Petway, Robert Lockwood, and Joe Willie Wilkins, and listening to King Biscuit Time on the radio, Rogers developed a solid musical foundation and earned a reliable reputation as a player. Rogers had family in Chicago, and had been there several times before settling permanently in the mid-1940s. He found an apartment on the Near West Side, next to the Maxwell Street market, which is where he was living when he befriended a factory coworker who was Muddy Waters’s cousin. From the time Muddy and Jimmy first played together, they knew they had a good sound. Rogers understood how to play bass parts and how to play licks that complemented Muddy’s slide.harlem1021abjl

Initially, Rogers and Waters played with a third guitarist named Claude "Blue" Smitty. To keep the sound varied, Rogers often played harmonica instead of guitar, until Blue Smitty left and Rogers found Little Walter. Muddy, Rogers, and Walter began gigging together and, on their off nights, called themselves the Headhunters, roving the Chicago club scene of the late 1940s, sitting in on other people’s gigs and showing off their new, urban blues sound.

Rogers made his first solo recording in 1946 for the Harlem label, but Rogers' name did not appear on the record, which was mislabeled as the work of "Memphis Slim and his Houserockers" and Sunnyland Slim. Following that Rogers, with Little Walter at his side, cut the 1948 single “Little Store Blues” for the tiny Ora Nelle label. The legendary Ora Nelle label was run out of a record store by Bernard and his wife Idel, known as Red, operated for a year or two, managing just two releases. Another 10 sides of alternate takes and unreleased material make Ora Nelle's entire legacy. George Paulus, who had been a regular customer at Maxwell Street Record and Radio for several years, bought the surviving lacquers from the Abrams family. Paulus recalled: "I asked Bernie where he recorded Walter and Rogers. He matter of factly replied, “We had a little disc cutting machine in the front of the shop.  Recorded right about where you are standing. The boys just sat on chairs and played. Hell, Walter played harp on the steps when he was relaxing.” Red came over and said ,”Walter was a very nice talented fellow and we wished him all the best.” "Ora Nelle Blues," sung by Othum Brown, was named after one of Red’s relations. “We couldn’t get the distribution so we sold the records right out of the store.” Art Sheridan licensed Ora Nelle 711 "(Ora-Nelle Blues") for reissue on his Chance label. It was the only reissue from the label to take place before the blues revival of the 1960s. Part of his agenda is revealed by the retitling of this side, as "That's Alright." For "Ora Nelle Blues" was the same piece as "That's All Right," which in the meantime had become a hit for Jimmy Rogers—on Chess in 1950. Rogers teamed up with  Little Walter again on sides issued circa 1950 on the Regal and Herald labels; "Muskadine Blues", "Just Keep Lovin' Her" and "Boll Weevil" all of which featured Baby Face Leroy and Muddy Waters. Rogers hooked up with Walter again in 1952 classic "Juke b/w Can't Hold Out Much Longer" for Chess.

rogers34
Muddy Waters, unknown (maraccas), Otis Spann, Henry Strong,
Elgin Evans, Jimmy Rogers (presumably from the early 1950s)

source: Mike Rowe: Chicago Blues – The City and the Music.- New York (Da Capo Paperback) 1975,
first published in 1973 as "Chicago Breakdown", p. 146 ("from Chess files")

 

In 1949 Rogers backed Memphis Minnie for the Regal label and cut an early version of ‘‘Ludella,’’ for the label which he recut in 1950 at his first Chess Records session. 1949 aslo saw some unreleased sides cut for Tempo-Tone and Apollo where he recorded a version of "That's Alright." That year he also accompanied Muddy Waters as a sideman on “Screaming and Crying,” which initially came out on the Aristocrat label, soon renamed Chess Records. For the next half-decade, Rogers was a mainstay of the Waters band onstage and in the studio. With "That’s All Right" on the other side, Rogers' first release became a two-sided hit. The full Muddy Waters band had yet to back Muddy on records, the label preferring the simpler sound of Muddy and an upright bass; however, Chess let the band record with Rogers as the leader, beginning in December 1950. A year later, they began regularly recording with Muddy. Rogers continued to perform and record with Muddy, even as his solo career took off. When "Juke" became a hit for Little Walter, Muddy’s band boasted a line-up with three stars. Through the early 1950's, Rogers was on nearly all of Muddy’s major hits: "Standing Around Crying," "She’s All Right," "Mad Love (I Want You to Love Me)," "I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man," "I Just Want to Make Love To Love To You", I’m Ready," and more.

Jimmy Rogers: That's All RightAround late 1956, Jimmy departed the Waters band to go solo, but the two remained close friends. Beginning with 1950’s “That’s All Right” b/w “Ludella,” Rogers’ Chess 78's rank right up there with Muddy’s as some of the finest examples of postwar Chicago blues. Among the highlights are 1950’s “Goin’ Away Blues,” 1954’s “Chicago Bound” and “Sloppy Drunk,” with backing by Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, and 1956’s “Walking By Myself,” Rogers’ highest-charting record. After playing for about a year in Wolf’s band Rogers virtually retired from music for a time during the '60s, operating a Westside clothing shop that burned down in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King's tragic assassination. He did cut a single for Carl Jones' C.J. label in 1966.

Rogers returned to the studio in 1972 for Leon Russell's Shelter logo, cutting his first LP, Gold-Tailed Bird (with help from the Aces and Freddie King). There were a few more soli albums but he wasn't as prolific as he might have been. We close our show with Rogers and Muddy reuniting on a update of "That's Alright" from the album  I'm Ready, the second of Waters' Johnny Winter-produced albums for the Blue Sky Records label. I'm Ready was issued one year after he found renewed commercial and critical success with Hard Again. The album earned Waters a Grammy Award in 1978 and reunited Waters with Walter Horton as well. Muddy and Rogers did occasional gigs together thereafter, until Muddy’s death in 1983.

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Luther Stoneham January 11, 1949 Blues The Mercury Blues Story
Lightnin' HopkinsMoanin' BluesLightnin' Special Vol. 2
Blind Connie Williams St. Louis Blues Philadelphia Street Singer
Blind Connie Williams Mother Left Me Standing on the Highway Philadelphia Street Singer
Bessie Smith The Gin House Blues The Complete Recordings (Frog)
Clara SmithJelly Look What You Done Done Clara Smith Vol. 5 1927-1929
Esther PhillipsI Paid My Dues The Early Hits 1949-54
Gabriel Brown I Get Evil When My Love Comes DownShake That Thing: East Coast Blues 1935-1953
John Henry BarbeeI Know She Didn't Love Me Down Home Slide
Ranie Burnette Two And Two BluesRanie Burnette's Hill Country Blues
Cecil Barfield I Woke Up CryingCecil Barfield: The George Mitchell Collection
Ed Lewis Lucky HollerBroadcasting the Blues
Jaybird Coleman Coffee Grinder Blues Jaybird Coleman & The Birmingham Jug Band 1927-1930
Ollis Martin & Jaybird Coleman Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' DownThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Baby Boy Warren Somebody Put Bad Luck On MeDetroit Blues: Blues from the Motor City
Snooky Pryor You Tried To Ruin MeA Taste Of The Blues Vol. 2
Bobby Long The Pleasure Is All MineNew York On Fire: Bobby's Harlem Rock Vol.2
Magic Sam That's All I NeedLive At The Avant Garde
Magic Sam Don't Want No WomanLive At The Avant Garde
Teddy Bunn I've Come A Long Ways BabyThe Very Best Of Teddy Bunn 1937-1940
T-Bone WalkerBlues For MariliT-Bone Blues
Calvin FrazierSweet Lucy 78
Pee Wee Crayton Blues Before DawnComplete Aladdin & Imperial Recordings
Charlie McFadden Harvest Moon BluesCharlie McFadden 1929-1937
Willie "Long Time" Smith Homeless BluesNews & the Blues: Telling It Like It Is
Roosevelt Sykes Low Land BluesRoosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 1951-1957
Meade Lux Lewis & Big Joe Turner Low Down DogThe Piano Blues Vol. 21: Unfinished Boogie 1938-1945
Furry Lewis Cannon Ball Blues Blues Images Vol. 8
Furry Lewis Fury's Blues Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go
Laura Dukes Little Laura's Blues Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
Dewey Corley Fishing In The Dark Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
Bukka White I'm Getting Ready, My Time Done ComeBukka White & Others Blues At Home 7
J.T. Brown When I Was a LadJ.T. Brown 1950-1954
Jimmy WitherspoonI'm Going Round In CirclesI'll Be Right On Down: The Modern Recordings 1947-1953

Show Notes: 

Blind Connie WilliamsWhen putting together these shows I usually draw from a long list of show ideas I've jotted down over the years. Things are a bit jumbled right now as I have several shows lined up that revolve around other people's schedules. Without giving too much away, the next few months will see several very interesting interviews and features so you may notice that the list of upcoming shows on this website may get shuffled around until everything is lined up.  As for today's show we have wide range of blues including lots of down-home blues including twin spins of street singer Blind Connie Williams, two songs decades apart by Furry Lewis, several artists recorded in the field in the 70's by Gianni Marcucci including by Bukka White, Laura Dukes and Dewey Corley. In addition we hear a set of fine piano men, several top notch blues ladies and ace guitar players like T-Bone Walker and Calvin Frazier. We also spin two from a geat new Magic Sam live set.

According to Pete Welding's booklet notes, Connie Williams was born blind in southern Florida circa 1915 to parents who were migrant farm workers. During his youth, he attended the St. Petersburg School for the Blind (also Ray Charles' alma mater) and became sufficiently proficient on guitar to begin a career as a street musician in the 1930's. He eventually settled in Philadelphia in 1935 and often traveled to New York City, where he plied his trade in Harlem during his visits. It was there that he met Rev. Gary Davis, whose influence can be heard in Williams' guitar and singing style." Welding discovered Williams performing sanctified numbers to accordion accompaniment in a historically black neighborhood of Philadelphia sometime in 1961.  After striking up a friendship, Williams revealed to the music writer that he had originally been a guitarist but used an accordion because it could be more easily heard and required less physical effort to play. Not long afterward, Welding purchased a guitar for him. After reacquainting himself with the instrument. The recordings were not released on his Testament label until 1974 on the album Philadelphia Street Singer.

Furry Lewis: Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go
Read Liner Notes

While hundreds of blues artists got on record in the 1920's and 30's, the commercial heyday of the blues, numerous other talented artists never got the opportunity while some others had to wait decades for their chance like celebrated bluesmen such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Mance Lipscomb.  While not nearly as well known Cecil Barfield and Ranie Burnett made their debuts in the 1970's and left behind a small but strong body of work. Barfield was recorded by George Mitchell who called him "probably the greatest previously unrecorded bluesman I have had the pleasure of recording during my 15 years of field research." Using the name William Robertson, in fear of endangering his welfare checks, he cut the LP South Georgia Blues for Southland in the mid-70's with several other tracks appearing on Flyright’s Georgia Blues Today (reissued by Fat Possum). I imagine Barfield is an acquired taste but to me he is simply mesmerizing; his music, with his droning, lightly distorted electric guitar coupled with his powerful mushed mouth, nasal singing, is hypnotic. Barfield has some originals but his genius is in the way he transforms well known songs into something startlingly original.

Burnette was born in 1913 in Pleasant Grove, MS and in the 40's and 50's played local dances and juke joints in North Mississippi. He wasn't record extensively until the 80's with recordings appearing on High Water and Swingmaster. He did record some sides for David Evans in the 70's.

As the notes to Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7 relate: "The three Memphis blues musicians featured in this album were all recorded on the memorable day of 27 December 1972: Bukka White at his home; Laura Dukes at Furry Lewis’ home; and Dewey Corley at Memphis Piano Red’s home." The recordings were made by Gianni Marcucci who came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. The original albums that collected these recordings are long been out-of-print. All these recordings will be issued as 15 volume series both digitally and on CD on his Mbirafon imprint. I've been corresponding with Marcucci and with his help will be doing an in-depth series of shows on these recordings. At Marcucci's prompting I've pushed this show back until he completes his issuing of the Blues At Home series. These recordings originally came out on Albatros but as Marcucci made clear to me his "experience with Albatros in the 1970's was a nightmare." He further related that the original "…albums presented are full of spelling mistakes and there are also several typos in the digital edition, and errors in the original mastering."  He wrote that the releases were an abuse and an offense to my effort (10 years of field research, and 13 years of re-mastering and text editing), as well as an insult to the memory of the Bukka White & Others Blues At Home 7featured artists."

Speaking of Furry Lewis we spin two of his numbers: "Cannon Ball Blues" cut for Victor in 1928 and "Fury's Blues" from the out-of-print 1971 LP Live at the Gaslight at the Au Go Go. The later album is a nice record that finds Furry in good form in front of an appreciative New York City audience.

During today's show we spotlight excellent four songs sets of piano blues and guitar blues. From the pre-war era we hear the under-appreciated singer Charlie McFadden on the lovely "Harvest Moon Blues" from 1929 featuring superb piano work from Eddie Miller. McFadden was a singer based out of St. Louis. Henry Townsend knew him and said that he could play piano a little bit, but preferred that someone else played it on his recordings. Roosevelt Sykes was the usual pianist, even though Eddie Miller and Aaron "Pinetop" Sparks made a couple of appearances, each.

From 1944 we hear Big Joe Turner at the peak of his powers backed by the thundering piano of Meade Lux Lewis.

Of Willie "Long Time" Smith I know nothing outside of the fact that he waxed ten sides at sessions in 1947 and  1954. Several of these sides do not seem to have been reissued, a shame as he was an exceptional vocalist  (a disciple of of the popular Dr. Clatyon fro whom he recorded the tribute "My Buddy Doctor Clayton") and good piano player. Homelessness was a reality as detailed in songs like Josh White's "Homeless And Hungry",  Bessie Smith's "Homeless Blues" and Sleepy John Estes' "Hobo Jungle Blues." Even after the depression the reality was all too real as  Smith sang about eloquently in his 1947 composition "Homeless Blues" featured today:

On one cold frosty morning, the ground was covered with snow (2x)
Well,  I met a million people had no place to go
Well some have children, some just have their suitcase and clothes
(2x)
You know those people was steady walkin', but they couldn't find no place to go

Perhaps for contractual reasons pianist Roosevelt Skyes recorded a 1948 session for Bullet under the moniker Joe "Boogie" Evans. Whatever the case, Sykes is in superb form on this session backed by uncredited horns, the jazzy guitar of Henry Townsend and Jump Jackson on the drums. From the session we feature the fine "Low Land Blues."

a106a4In a set of guitar aces we feature killer instrumentals from T-Bone Walker ("Blues For Marili" from the classic T-Bone Blues album on Atlantic) and the rocking "Blues Before Dawn cut by Pee Wee Crayton for Aladdin. Less well known are Teddy Bunn and Calvin Frazier. Teddy Bunn played with many of the top jazzmen of that period on guitar or banjo and sometimes he provided vocals.Among the notable blues singers he accompanied were artists such as Cow Cow Davenport, Lizzie Miles, Peetie Wheatstraw, Johnnie Temple and Victoria Spivey among others. In addition to an active session career, Bunn was a member of the jazz groups the Spirits of Rhythm and June 1939, and was among the very first musicians ever to record for the Blue Note record label, first as a soloist, then as a member of the Port of Harlem Jazzmen.

Frazier befriended Johnny Shines, in 1930 they jointly traveled to Helena, Arkansas where they met Robert Johnson. The threesome moved on to Detroit, Michigan. Here they performed hymns on local radio stations. Frazier and Johnson returned south. In 1935, Frazier returned to Detroit. In 1938 he was recorded by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress.  Frazier seems to have played with almost every blues or R&B act in Detroit in the post-war era. He updated his sound to a more modern style, influenced in a fair bit by T-Bone Walker. Early in 1954 he bought himself a Stratocaster, likely one of the very first bluesman to play this type of guitar. it's interesting to hear how his style evolved and and one wonders if his pal Robert Johnson would have developed a similar style. Frazier released three singles under his own name in 1949 and 1951. Between 1951 and 1953, Frazier was a recording member of T.J. Fowler's jump blues combo, then recorded with Baby Boy Warren in 1954, whilst his final sessions in the studio appear to be in 1956 backing Washboard Willie. He passed in 1972. In an upcoming feature on Detroit bluesmen I'll be spotlighting Frazier more in-depth.

Finally I should make mention of Live at the Avant Garde, 1968 just issued on Delmark. This is killer a live performance recorded at a Milwaukee coffee house with expectational sound, There are several live Magic Sam performances available which are very good but the sound on this one tops them all.

 

 

 

 

 

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Lucille Bogan Black Angel BluesLucille Bogan Vol. 2 1930-1933
Tampa RedBlack Angel BluesTampa Red Vol. 5 1931-1934
Robert Nighthawk Sweet Black Angel Prowling With the Nighthawk
Tampa Red Sweet Little Angel Tampa Red Vol. 14 1949-1951
B.B. KingSweet Little Angel The Vintage Years
B.B. King Sweet Little Angel Live At The Regal
Earl Hooker Sweet Brown Angel Simply The Best
Tony HollisCross Cut Saw BluesChicago Blues Vol. 1 1939-1951
Tommy McClennanCross Cut Saw BluesComplete Bluebird Recordings
Albert King Crosscut Saw Born Under A Bad Sign
Curtis Jones Tin Pan Alley BluesCurtis Jones Vol. 4 1941-53
Guitar Slim Green Alla Blues California Blues 1940-1948
Jimmy WilsonTin Pan Alley Bob Geddins' Big Town Records Story
James ReedRoughest Place In TownR&B Guitars 1950-54
Johnny FullerRoughest Place In TownWest Coast R&B And Blues Legend Vol.1
Ray Agee Tin Pan AlleyWest Coast Blues Vol. 2 1952-1957
The Sparks BrothersI Believe I'll Make A ChangeDown On The Levee: The Piano Blues of St. Louis
Jack Kelly & his South Memphis Jug BandBelieve I'll Go Back HomeJack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band 1933-1939
Josh WhiteBelieve I'll Go Back Home Josh White Vol. 2 1933-1935
Carl Rafferty Mr. Carl's BluesRoosevelt Sykes: The Essential
Kokomo ArnoldSagefield Woman BluesBottleneck Trendsetters
Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell I Believe I'll Make A ChangeWhiskey Is My Habit, Women Is All I Crave: The Best of Leroy Carr
Robert Johnson I Believe I'll Dust My BroomThe Centennial Collection
Washboard SamI Believe I'll Make A ChangeWashboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940
Arthur Crudup Dust My BroomWhen The Sun Goes Down
Robert LockwoodDust My BroomRough Treatment: The J.O.B. Records Story
Elmore JamesDust My BroomElmore James: Early Recordings 1951-56
Robert PetwayCatfish Blues Catfish Blues: Mississippi Blues Vol. 3 1936-1942
Tommy McClennanDeep Sea BluesComplete Bluebird Recordings
Muddy Waters Rollin' StoneThe Complete Chess Recordings
Muddy Waters Still A Fool The Complete Chess Recordings
John Lee Hooker Catfish Blues John Lee Hooker: Vol. 4 Detroit 1950-51
B.B. King Fishin' After Me (Catfish Blues)The Vintage Years

Show Notes:

Johnny Fuller: Roughest Place In TownIn our first show of the year we traced the origins and evolution of several classic blues songs. I got some good feedback on the show so we today do a follow-up. On today's program we provide the history and context behind classics like “Black Angel Blues“, “Crosscut Saw“, “Tin Pan Alley“, “I Believe I'll Make A Change (Dust My Broom)“ and “Catfish Blues."

The song known today as either "Sweet Black Angel" or "Sweet Little Angel" is one of the most popular and frequently recorded songs in the blues. Although composer credits are often given to Tampa Red, whose "Black Angel Blues" appeared in March 1934, the first recorded version was Lucille Bogan’s, whose "Black Angel Blues" was recorded mid-December 1930. The two artists shared recording sessions in 1928 and 1929, and it is probably impossible at this late date to determine who originally created the song. Although Bogan’s recording credits "Smith" as the composer, she wrote many of her own songs and made be the author of the song. During the early post–World War II era, the lyrics of the song began to change. In 1949, Robert Nighthawk had gone back to the song’s prewar roots cutting the song for Aristocrat Records as "Black Angel Blues (Sweet Black Angel)", but in 1950 Tampa Red was the first to record it as "Sweet Little Angel". B.B. King did the same in 1956; he also changed the song’s final line from ". ..bought me a whiskey still" to "…gave me a Cadillac de Ville." We also spin B.B.'s classic live version from Live At The Regal. Guitar legend Earl Hooker recorded two versions during his career; 1953 saw him record "Sweet Angel (Original Sweet Black Angel)" for the Rockin’ label and in 1962 he recorded a reworked version titled "Sweet Brown Angel" for Checker, which went unreleased at the time.

"Cross Cut Saw Blues" was first released in 1941 by Mississippi bluesman Tommy McClennan. Tony Hollins, a Mississippi bluesman and contemporary of Tommy McClennan, recorded a version of "Cross Cut Saw Blues" with similar lyrics on June 3, 1941, three months before McClennan. The song was not released at the time, but eventually appeared in 1992. In an interview, John Lee Hooker, who knew Tony Hollins, was asked "Well, did Tony Hollins or Tommy McClennan do it first? They both recorded it around the same time". Hooker responded "I think Tommy McClennan did it first."Eddie Burns knew Hollis in Clarksdale in the 40's and recalled that Tommy McClennan: Cross Cut Saw Blueshe was very popular. Burns recalled him singing "Cross Cut Saw", "Crawlin' King Snake" and "Tease Me Over" all of which he recorded in 1941. In 1966, Albert King recorded his version calling it "Crosscut Saw". The same lyrics as McClennan's "Cross Cut Saw Blues" were used, except for two verses which were replaced by guitar solos. However, King uses a different arrangement. The song was a success, reaching No. 34 in the Billboard R&B chart.

Pianist Curtis Jones composed “Tin Pan Alley Blues” which he recorded in 1941. Guitar Slim Green recorded "Alla Blues" in 1948, a retread of the Curtis Jones number. Green said that he and his partner Turner wrote it and that producer Robert Geddins stole it from him. Green and Turner's version would become some kind of West Coast national anthem. Jimmy Wilson’s mournful, bluesy voice ensured him a huge hit in California in 1953 with his version of "Tin Pan Alley," a masterpiece with an unmistakable gloomy tone. The song was soon revived under the original title by West Coast artists Ray Agee and by Johnny Fuller and James Reed under the title "Roughest Place In Town." In more recent years the song was popularized by Stevie Ray Vaughn who recorded "Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place in Town)" on 1984's Couldn't Stand the Weather.

"I Believe I’ll Make a Change" was first recorded on February 25, 1932, by Aaron and Milton Sparks in Atlanta, Georgia, for Victor Records. Other musicians were to use the song’s melody on their own recordings, including Jack Kelly and His South Memphis Jug Band in 1933 (as "Believe I’ll Go Back Home,"), Josh White (1934), and Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell (934). Other version of "I Believe I’ll Make a Change" continued to appear through 1942, including Washboard Sam’s rendition for Bluebird in 1939. The tune is best known today by the title "I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom," first recorded to those words by Robert Johnson on November 23, 1936, for the ARC label. Lyric antecedents for the "dust my broom" stanza can be found in songs such as "Mr. Carl’s Blues" by Carl Rafferty with Roosevelt Sykes in 1933 and "Sagefield Woman Blues" by Kokomo Arnold in 1934 for Decca. The "Dust My Broom" version of the song would continue to be played as bluesmen traveled between Mississippi and Chicago. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup recorded one version in March 1949 for Victor, Johnson protege´ Robert Lockwood cut another in November 1951 for Mercury. Elmore James is the post–World War II musician most identified with "Dust My Broom," waxing four versions between 1951 and 1962.

Robert Petway: Catfish Blues"Catfish Blues" was first recorded on March 28, 1941, by Mississippi bluesman Robert Petway for RCA Bluebird. Another version, titled "Deep Sea Blues," was made by Petway’s contemporary Tommy McClennan on September 15, 1941, also for RCA Bluebird. There s a good case for believing that Petway composed it: "He just made that song up and used to play it at them old country dances. He just made it up and kept it in his head," says Honeyboy Edwards, who learned the song from Petway in person. After the Petway and McClennan versions were released other treatments of "Catfish Blues" included John Lee Hooker (1951, Gotham) and, a bit later, by B. B. King (as "Fishin’ After Me (Catfish Blues)," 1960, Kent). Two distinctive recordings were made by Muddy Waters for Chess Records in the early 1950's. The first was "Rollin’ Stone" (1950, Chess), which was simply a retitling of the standard "Catfish" tune and lyrics. Nonetheless, the title would be adopted in 1962 by the Rolling Stones and in 1968 for the rock publication Rolling Stone. The second was "Still a Fool" (1951, Chess), featuring a two-electric guitar accompaniment.

Share
ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Dusty Brown Will You Forgive Me BabyBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Dusty Brown Well You Know (I Love You)Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Jimmy Lee RobinsonAll My LifeBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Jimmy Lee RobinsonTimes Is HardBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Grover Pruitt Mean TrainBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
Bobby DavisHype You Into Selling Your HeadBandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera
George & His House RockersYou Don't Love MeChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Sunnyland SlimRecession BluesChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Henry GrayHow Can You Do ItChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Eddy ClearwaterNeckbones EverydayChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Eddy ClearwaterA Minor Cha ChaChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Morris PejoeLet's Get HighChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jimmy RogersI'm A Lucky Lucky ManChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jo Jo WilliamsAll Pretty WomanChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Jo Jo WilliamsYou Can't Live In This Big World By YourselfChicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
Lonnie BrooksFigure HeadThe USA Records Blues Story
Mighty Joe YoungTough TimesThe USA Records Blues Story
Fenton RobinsonDirectly From HeartThe USA Records Blues Story
Fenton RobinsonSay Your Leavin'The USA Records Blues Story
Willie MabonSometimes I Wonder The USA Records Blues Story
Willie MabonJust Got SomeThe USA Records Blues Story
J.B. LenoirI Feel So GoodThe USA Records Blues Story
J.B. LenoirI Sing Um The Way I Feel Mojo Boogie
Jesse FortuneGood ThingsThe USA Records Blues Story
Jesse FortuneToo Many CooksThe USA Records Blues Story
Homesick JamesCrossroadsThe USA Records Blues Story
Hound Dog TaylorYou Don't Love MeChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Earl Hooker Wild MomentsChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Eddie ShawBlues For The West SideChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Big Moose WalkerThe Things I Used To DoChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Little Mac Simmons Come BackChicago Blues from C.J. Records
William Carter Goin' Out WestChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Lee Jackson JaunitaChicago Blues from C.J. Records
Jimmy RogersBlues FallingC.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2
Jimmy RogersBroken HeartC.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2

Show Notes:

jimmy Lee Robinson: All My LifeToday's show is the first part of our look at small Chicago blues labels in the 1950's and 1960's. Over the course of today's program we spotlight four small Chicago labels that issued some great records: Bandera, Atomic-H, C.J. and USA. Atomic-H was run by Rev. Houston. H. Harrington who operated the label between the mid-50's up until 1961. The tiny Bandera label was formed in 1958 and run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. C.J. Records was run by singer/songwriter Carl Jones who waxed some fine sides in the early 60's. The USA label was operated by Paul Glass who cut some excellent records during the 60's. The four labels recorded singles by artists such as Detroit Junior, Hound Dog Taylor, Little Mack Simmons, Homesick James, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmie Lee Robinson and Earl Hooker – great Chicago artists who all recorded numerous singles for Chicago's small labels, few of which made any noise outside of Chicago. Many of these artists hopped from label to label, rarely staying long at one place while others were snapped up by larger labels like Chess and Vee-Jay.

All-State Record Distributing head Paul Glass began the USA label in Milwaukee in 1959 in partnership with deejay Lee Rothman. By 1961 Glass had taken complete control of USA and had moved it to Chicago. Initially, most of the artists were blues performers, notably Willie Mabon, Junior Wells, Ko Ko Taylor, Ricky Allen, and Fenton Robinson. Other USA bluesmen were Andrew Brown, Eddy Clearwater, A. C. Reed, Jesse Fortune, Jimmy Burns, and Homesick James. Producers on these records included Willie Dixon, Al Perkins, Al Smith, and Mel London. Most of the artists only stuck around fo a single or two before trying their luck elsewhere. Beginning in 1966, the label began concentrating on rock acts. However, occasional blues and hard soul acts continued to be released, such as Mighty Joe Young and Bobby Jones. USA closed down in 1969. During the early 1970's, the USA label was briefly revived under different ownership, releasing singles by Lonnie Brooks and Jackie Ross, Eddie Shaw: Blues From The West Sideamong others.

CJ. Records was owned by a black entrepreneur named Carl Jones and was essentially a boutique operation run from his home. Carl and Cadillac Baby carved out a niche  for themselves by working and helping to establish homegrown talent, many who went on to build nice careers  for themselves with a few like Hound Dog Taylor and Betty Everett who achieved national recognition. Jones was a musician himself (banjo and trumpet) in the 1930s, and in 1945 he recorded two sides for Mercury. In 1956 Jones founded the C.J. label, eventually followed by subsidiary imprints Colt and Firma. Although he recorded some country and some gospel, the bulk of his output was in the blues field, having recorded Earl Hooker, Mack Simmons, Hound Dog Taylor, Homesick James, Betty Everett, and Detroit Junior. Jones’s record company had no distribution during its last two decades of existence.

The tiny Bandera record label was launched in 1958 in Chicago, where it was over-shadowed by the Windy City's giant indie labels Chess and Vee-Jay. The label was run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. They never had an office but ran the label from their home at 2437 West 34th Place. Muszynski was an ardent talent spotter and hung out in many of the clubs on the south side of Chicago where she was a well-known figure. On Chicago's 'Record Row', Violet was known as "Vi the record lady". Bernie recalls that she was a great hustler, into PR and record promotion and very good at schmoozing. Her greatest discovery was the Impressions, at the time when Jerry Butler was lead vocalist. She signed the Impressions to a recording contract and got them leased to Vee-Jay. Bernie recalls, "That got us the money to set up Bandera and paid for recording sessions at RCA in Nashville for my newest discovery, Bob Perry". Bernie hit on a name for their new label, Bandera, taking it from one of Slim Whitman's early hits "Bandera Waltz.." Many of the recording sessions for Bandera were held at small Chicago recording studios such as Hall and Balkan, while studios in Memphis and Nashville were also utilized. Vi and Bernie also set up a couple of subsidiary labels: Laredo and the gospelFenton Robinson: Say You're Leavin'label, Jerico Road.

Atomic-H Records was a tiny label that recorded blues and gospel but only issued a few 45s. It was owned and operated by Rev. Houston H. Harrington who was also Eddy Clearwater's uncle and was responsible for Eddy making his way to Chicago from Alabama. Houston began recording his fellow musicians in the 40's on a portable disc-cutting machine while living in Mississippi although none of these were issued. After he settled on Chicago's West Side in the early 1940s, and started his short-lived record label in the 1950s and revived it briefly in the early 1970s. The first Atomic  single  (the  H  came  later). cut in  Iate  1953  in Harrington's basement studio  at  1651  S.  Trumbull  and  likely  Issued sometime  in 1955, was credited to "Jick & His Trio" (actually Homesick James). Around 1958 he grew more serious about recording, cutting singles over the next few years by Jo Jo Williams, Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy Rogers, Eddy Clearwater, Morris Pejoe and others. Most of Atomic-H's singles were limited to 500 pressings making them extremely rare. Delmark’s 1972 Atomic-H collection, Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band, may have been the first time any of these tracks were widely heard and has since been issued on CD with additional tracks.

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ARTIST
SONG
ALBUM
Ivy SmithGin House Blues Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927-1930
Clara SmithWoman to Woman The Essential
Issie RinggoldBe On Your Merry WayBlue Girls Vol. 2 1925-1930
Frank BusbyPrisoner BoundBill Gaither Vol. 2 1936-1938
Keghouse Canned Heat Blues Piano Blues Vol. 4 1923-1928
Eugene Powell Pony Blues (Santa Fe) Blues At Home Vol. 3
John JacksonPoor BoyThe Blues Revival Vol. 1 1963-1969
Nugrape TwinsThe Road Is Rough & RockySinners & Saints 1926-1931
Mississippi John Hurt Praying On The Old Camp Ground Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 OKeh Recordings
Eddie Head & His FamilyDown On MeAmerican Primitive Vol. I
Louisiana Red I'm a Roaming StrangerThe Lowdown Back Porch Blues
Howlin' Wolf Poor BoySmokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960
Big Moose Walker Footrace to a Resting Place/Wrong Doing WomanTo Know A Man
Samuel Brooks Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here LongField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
George BoldwinCountry Girl Blues Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934-1942
Willie Ford & Lucious CurtisHigh Lonesome HillMississippi Blues 1940-42
Joe Linthecome Humming BluesHokum, Blues & Rags 1929-1930's
The Three Stripped Gears1931 Depression BluesThe Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Jesse AndersonYou'd Better Think TwiceWelcome To The Club
Johnny Twist WilliamsTeach Me HowDown On Broadway And Main
Jimmy NolenStrollin' with Nolen Strollin' with Nolen
Unknown Female SingerAngel ChildField Recordings Vol. 3: Mississippi 1936-1942
Mattie DorseyStingaree BluesBarrelhouse Women Vol. 2 1924-1928
Frank StokesNehi Mama Best OfSara Martin Vol. 4 1925-1928
Blind Joe ReynoldsNehi Mama Blues Blues Images Vol. 5
Joe Turner with Albert Ammons Rock Of Gibraltar Blues Albert Ammons: Alt. Takes, Radio Perfs & Uniss. Home Recordings
Duke HendersonBeggin And PleadinDust My Rhythm & Blues: Flair Records R&B Story
Gene ParrishScreamin' In My SleepRhythm 'n' Blues Shouters
Sippie Wallace Parlor Social De LuxeI Can't Be Satisfied Vol. 2
Sara MartinDown At The Razor BallSara Martin Vol. 3 1924-1925
Blind Willie McTellRazor Ball The Great Race Record Labels Vol. 2: Columbia
Washboard SamDown At The Bad Man's HallWashboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941
Bill Gaither Wintertime BluesBill Gaither Vol. 4 1939
Lightnin' SlimWintertime BluesWe Gotta Rock Tonight

Show Notes: 

Our first mix show of the new year finds us digging deep into the pre-war blues catalog featuring several fine artists who left us with only a few 78's, several well known artists like Clara Smith and Blind Willie McTell and some interesting field recordings. From he post-war era some excellent Chicago blues, a few blues shouters, some down-home blues and a few gospel items. We also explore the origins of a well known blues theme.

Frank Busby" 'Leven Light CityWe hear from several superb blues ladies including Ivy Smith and Clara Smith. Ivy Smith hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and primarily worked with pianist Cow Cow Davenport. She was a good singer who cut close to two-dozen sides between 1927-1930. Clara Smith was a much bigger name although perennially eclipsed by Bessie Smith. In 1923 she settled in New York, appearing at cabarets and speakeasies there and that same year made her first records for Columbia Records, for whom she would continue recording through to 1932. She cut over a hundred sides often with the backing of top musicians like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Green, Joe Smith, Fletcher Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and James P. Johnson. Today we feature the lovely "Woman to Woman" from 1930 that features Smith's voice at her best with sympathetic cornet work from Ed Allen.

Then there's the lesser knowns such as Issie Ringgold who waxed one 78 in 1930 for Columbia and was the sister of Muriel, a star on Broadway, Mattie Dorsey who cut four sides for Paramount in 1927 and the unknown field recording of a woman singing "Angel Child" recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942.

Several of the of the male singers featured today are also one hit wonders: Joe Linthecome was an expressive, light voiced singer who cut one marvelous 78  ("Humming Blues b/w Pretty Mama Blues") for Gennett in 1929, Frank Busby was a sensitive singer who cut one 78 ("'Leven Light City b/w Prisoner Bound") in 1937 for Decca backed by Bill Gaither (we also spin Gaither's "Wintertime Blues" today) on guitar and Honey Hill on piano, the Three Stripped Gears were a string band possibly from Georgia, and possibly white, who cut four superb instrumentals and pianist Keghouse who waxed ten sides in 1928 for Okeh and Vocalion, only four of which were issued. Keghouse also recorded a couple of numbers backed by Lonnie Johnson and Thomas "Jaybird" Jones. Jones also made field recordings for Lewis Jones in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1941-1942 and performs "The Keghouse Blues." In the spoken introduction he talks about his friend Keghouse and how they went to Memphis to make records for Okeh and how he died shortly afterwards.

As anyone who's listened to this program knows I have a huge interest in field recordings, devoting several shows to the topic and interviewing several of the men who made the recordings. The Albatros  label was active from Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3the early 70's through the early 80's issuing reissues of pre-war recordings, folk material and most interestingly, to me anyway, is several volumes of field recordings by label owner Gianni Marcucci. Marcucci came to the States in the 70's and captured some fine field recordings  in the 70's and 80's in Tennessee and Mississippi. These albums are long been out-of-print. Recently Marcucci has issued some CD's on he Mbirafon imprint including one by singer Van Hunt, Sam Chatmon and now has issued collections by Eugene Powell (Eugene Powell: Blues At Home Vol. 3and Memphis Piano Red (Memphis Piano Red: Blues At Home Vol.4). The latter two are available only digitally via  iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. We spin a superb track off the Eugene Powell collection which contains unissued numbers plus tracks from the Albatros LP Police In Mississippi.  I finally tracked down some missing records from Albatros and will be doing an entire show devoted to the label shortly.

Other field recordings come from the pre-war era and were recorded by John Lomax:  Samuel Brooks' "Oh the Sun's Goin' Down and I Won't Be Here Long" (1942) recorded in Edwards, Mississippi and Willie Ford and Lucious Curtis on "High Lonesome Hill." Ad David Evans writes "Lucious Curtis was making a precarious living as a musician while his partner, Willie Ford, worked at a sawmill when John A. Lomax encountered them in 1940 for their only recording session."

In our first show of he new year we traced the origins of several classic blues songs. Today we spin a quartet of related blues songs from the 20's, 30's and 40's that draw from a much earlier source. Around the term of the century there was the "bully song" or more formally "The Bully of the Town" or "Looking for the Bully." There were several songs published with 'Bully" in the title around this period. Paul Oliver noted that the song "reinforced the stereotypes of the razor-totin', watermelon-suckin', chicken-stealin' 'nigger' of that period." The core of the story is an altercation, usually with a razor, between the bully and a rival with the action usually happening at a dance or ball.  Oliver has written about this both in Songsters & Saints and in a chapter titled Lookin' For That Bully in the book Nobody Knows where the Blues Come from: Lyrics and History (the entire chapter is available on Google Books).  In the blues era several songs drawn on these earlier sources including Sara Martin's "Down At The Razor Ball" (1925), Blind Willie McTell's "Razor Ball" (1930) and Washboard Sam's "Down At The Bad Man's Hall" (1941).  Oliver mentions all the songs but one he seems to have overlooked is Sippie Wallace's "Parlor Social De Luxe" (1925) which seems to me at least marginally related. The most famous related song, however, is the Willie Dixon penned "Wang Dang Doodle" (1960) which draws its inspiration from the Sara Martin number. As Dixon recalled "the one Wolf hated most of all was 'Wang Dang Doodle.' He hated that 'Tell Automatic Slim and Razor-Totin' Jim.' He'd say, 'man, that's too old-timey, sound like some old levee camp number.'" In 1966 Koko Taylor had a big hit with the song.

In addition to the down-home blues we also spin some Chicago and jump blues. We play the Howlin' Wolf gem "Poor Boy" (1957) a terrific updating of this old number and Big Moose Walker on "Footrace To A Resting Place" and "Wrong Doing Woman." The Walker tracks were recorded at Elmore James' last sessions for Fire in 1961 and come from the 2-LP set To Know A Man on Blue Horizon. At the time these songs were just attributed to "Bushy Head."

Nugrape Twins: The Road Is Rough And RockyWe spin some great blues shouters including Big Joe Turner on the magnificent "Rock Of Gibraltar" (1936) with Albert Ammons on piano,  Gene Parrish's jumping, raunchy "Screamin' In My Sleep" ("she'd slip and slide and I keep moaning low") featuring Maxwell Davis and superb guitar from West Coast ace Chuck Norris. Parrish cut a dozen sides in 1950-1951 for RPM and Victor.

We also hear from Big Duke Henderson & His Orchestra on "Beggin And Pleadin"from a new 2-CD set on Ace called Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story. In 1945 Henderson made his debut for the Apollo label on a recommendation by Jack McVea. He was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians including McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo. In 1947 Al "Cake" Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years including Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty,] Modern, Imperial and Flair. Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting as Brother Henderson as a gospel DJ. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher.Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1972.

We also slip in a few gospel numbers: Mississippi John Hurt's "Praying On The Old Camp Ground", Eddie Head and His Family's "Down On Me" which Paul Oliver notes "was notable for the fluent guitar which imparted an easy swing to the recording, and from Eddie Head's skillful harmonizing to his family's singing" and the Nugrape Twins' "The Road Is Rough & Rocky" credited in the Columbia files to "Mark and Matthew (The Nugrape Twins)." The duo recorded eight sides at sessions in 1926 and 1927 for Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

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