New Two Sixteen Blues

New Two Sixteen Blues (MP3)

Two String Blues (MP3)

In our ongoing series of Chicago Defender blues ads we feature a pair by Texas guitarist George "Little Hat Jones." Okeh placed four ads in the newspaper on the following dates: September 7th 1929, June 21st 1930, June 28th 1930 and October 18th 1930. Jones was brought in for three sessions in San Antonio between 1929 and 1930 resulting in ten songs. At his first session he also backed Texas Alexander on eight sides. Jones was a fine guitarist who's playing is distinguished by fast rhythms and boogie runs. He was also an expressive, confident singer with a declamatory style that bears more than a passing likeness to Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Cross The Water Blues

Cross The Water Blues (MP3)

Cherry Street Blues (MP3)

What we know about Jones stems from the 1960's when Thomas Craig  interviewed Jones in 1962 and subsequently wrote a short article about him for the Texas Monitor for whom he worked as a reporter. Craig interviewed Jones later that year with the tape eventually ending up in the possession of Roy Book Binder. The contents of which were never transcribed or published. Knowledge of its existence came to light during a conversation between Robert Tilling and Book Binder in the 1970's. In 1998 Tilling wrote an article about Jones titled Long Gone And Got Away Lucky in the British Blues & Rhythm magazine.

The following is gleaned from Tilling's article. Little Hat was born in Bowie County, Texas in 1899. He earned his nickname while working construction in Garland, Texas. He states that he had a hat that he wore to work that had about half the brim cut off and the boss man started calling him "Little Hat", even making out his pay checks to "Little Hat" Jones. In addition to his documented sessions Jones also claims Okeh Records called him to New York, but there is no record of further recordings. During the interview, he states that he played with T. Texas Tyler and with Jimmie Rodgers. On the interview tape Jones plays a version of Rodgers' "Waiting for a Train." He also stated that he played in New Orleans, Galveston, Austin, and on one occasion went down to Mexico to play. By 1937 Jones was settled in Naples, married to Janie Traylor, his second wife. Of his work, he stated "I farmed a little bit, worked in the State Department some, railroads, sawmills, big chicken ranch, from that to janitor, working at old folks homes." His obituary states that he worked for many years at Red River Army Depot. Jones died in March 1981 at the Linden Municipal Hospital, and is buried in the Morning Star cemetery in Naples.



Show Notes:

St. Louis BluesWe feature a whole batch of great barrelhouse piano players on today's program.  We kick off with a batch of St. Louis piano men including Henry Brown, Aaron Sparks, Stump Johnson and Peetie Wheatstraw. St. Louis had an abundance of talented piano players and I'llll be doing a whole show devoted to them in a few weeks. Peetie Wheatstraw began recording with sessions in 1930 and 1931. He returned in 1934 recording steadily through 1941, becoming one of the most popular blues artists of the 30's. Wheatstraw recorded in every year of the 1930's save 1933, waxing 175 sides in all. He also sat in on records made by artists such as Kokomo Arnold, Bumble Bee Slim, Alice Moore, JD Short among others. His "A Man Ain't Nothin' But A Fool" features Lonnie Johnson on guitar, one of about two dozen sides they cut together. Henry Brown learned to play the piano from the "professors" of the notorious Deep Morgan section of St. Louis. One of them went by the name of "Blackmouth," another was named Joe (or Tom) Cross. As Brown remembered him, "he was a real old time blues player and he'd stomp 'em down to the bricks." "Deep Morgan Blues" was one of his signature pieces. Brown worked clubs such as the Blue Flame Club, the 9-0-5 Club, Jim's Place and Katy Red's, from the twenties into the 30's. He recorded for Brunswick with Ike Rogers and Mary Johnson in 1929, for Paramount in '29 and '30. He served in the army in the early 40's, then formed his own quartet to work occasional local gigs in St. Louis area from the '50s, and worked the Becky Thatcher riverboat in 1965. In addition to his pre-war recordings, he was recorded by Paul Oliver in 1960, by Sam Charters with Edith Johnson in 1961 and by Adelphi in 1969. Stump Johnson told Paul Oliver in 1960: "I had learned to play the blues by just hangin' roun' the pool room where they have an ole piano, just pickin' it up for myself." Arthur Satherly, a talent scout for QRS, discovered Stump playing at his brother Jesse's music store on Market St. In 1929. "The Duck's Yas Yas" on QRS became a hit, James recorded three more versions of it, and it was covered in '29 by Tampa Red, and several others. His last pre-war recordings were made in Chicago in  1933 for Bluebird, in the company of Dorathea Trowbridge, J.D. Short and Aaron Sparks. From that session we hear "Steady Grindin'", a dirty blues if there ever was one:

Steady grindin' and you can't come in (3x)
I got your man and you can't come in
You can't come in and you can't come out
Because you don't really know what it's all about

Raise your left leg my baby, and give me your tongue (3x)
That's the way to make me do the beadle-e-bum
Bring me a towel baby and make it wet
I been grindin' all night babe, and ain't done nothin' yet

Ain't but one thing that makes me sore (3x)
When you grind me one time and just won't do it no more

James Stump Johnson 78 Other fine piano numbers on deck today include James "Boodle It" Wiggins with the marvelous piano of Charlie Spand on "Gotta Shave 'Em Dry." According to Paul Oliver in Screening The Blues the term has "layers of meaning; at one level it refers to mean and aggressive action but as a sexual theme it refers to intercourse without preliminary lovemaking. Big Bill Broonzy put it succinctly: 'shave 'em dry is what you call makin' it with a woman; you ain't doin' nothin', just makin' it.'" Among those who sang versions of the song were Ma Rainey, Lucille Bogan, Lil Johnson, Papa Charlie Jackson among others. We also hear some terrific piano playing from Turner Parrish on the "Trenches", Romeo Nelson's "1129 Blues (The Midnight Special)" and Freddie "Redd" Nicholson's "Dirty No Gooder" featuring this interesting couplet that somehow slipped past the censor:

 I give you my money, to buy your shoes and clothes
You buy cocaine, sniff it up your nose

I had a couple of listeners ask for some harmonica features  and I have a few lined up in upcoming weeks. In the meantime we hear fine harmonica cuts by Alfred "Blues King" Harris and Forrest City Joe. Forest City Joe was heavily influenced by John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson. He was raised in the area around Hughes and West Memphis, AR, and as a boy played the local juke joints in the area. He hoboed his way through the state working roadhouses and juke joints during the 1940's. Beginning in 1947, he also began working the Chicago area, and a year later had his one and only session for the Chess brothers' Aristocrat label. He also appeared with Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy "Rice Miller" Williamson on radio shows in the West Memphis area. When he returned to Chicago in 1949, he began working with the Otis Spann, appearing at the Tick Tock Lounge and other clubs in the city until the mid-'50s. He returned to Arkansas and gave up music, except for occasional weekend shows with Willie Cobbs, playing in poolrooms and on street corners. He recorded for Atlantic Records in 1959, and was still performing until his death in 1960.

We bounce around quite a bit geographically, hearing some West Coast blues like Gene Phillips and Mel Walker (with the Johnny Otis band), tough Detroit artists like Bobo Jenkins and James Walton and drop down to New Orleans to hear Snooks Eaglin and Sugar Boy Crawford.  Phillips was a West Coast session stalwart who appeared on a myriad of jump blues waxings during the late 40's and early 50's, but faded from view before the dawn of rock & roll. Phillips recorded extensively for the Modern label from 1947 through 1950. After a 78 of his own for Imperial in 1951 Phillips cut one last record in 1954. The bulk of his recordings have been reissued on the Ace CD's Swinging The Blues and Drinkin' & Stinkin'. He was certainly a pioneer on the electric guitar although he doesn't step out on the instrument nearly enough. James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, recorded the original version of "Jock-A-Mo" in 1953 but rarely performs these days, leaving the legacy in the hands of his grandson Davell Crawford. Between 1953-1963 he cut singles for Checker, Chess, Imperial and Ace among other labels.

Negro Country Jam SessionThroughout today's show we play a number of latter day country blues artists include Fred McDowell, Roosevelt Holts, Butch Cage and Willie Thomas, Henry Johnson and John Dudley. Both the McDowell and John Dudley tracks were recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959. This is McDowell's first recordings, taped as he played on his front porch while Dudley was an inmate of Parchman Farm, cutting a legacy of only three exceptional songs.  Also in 1959, folklorist Harry Oster "discovered" Butch Cage (fiddle and vocals) and Willie B. Thomas (vocals and guitar) in Zachary, Louisiana where they had been supplying the dance music at house parties and dances as well at church services for their neighbors. The duo was a huge hit at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival. Roosevelt Holts was born in 1905 near Tylertown, Mississippi, and he took up the guitar when he was in his mid-twenties. He started to get serious about music in the late 1930's, when he and Tommy Johnson used to run together, playing in and around Jackson, MS. During this period he also played with Ishmon Bracey, Johnnie Temple, Bubba Brown, and One Legged Sam Norwood. He cut two very good records that remain out of print; Roosevelt Holts And Friends (Arhoolie) and Presenting The Country Blues (Blue Horizon).


Whiskey Headed Woman 78

We concluded part one with the recording of "Bottle It Up And Go", one of McClennan's most enduring numbers. McClennan's first session was probably his strongest and as Neil Slaven notes "there's a subtle diminution of commitment as the five sessions progress, as though alcohol had begun to erode his skills." His first session is littered with references to Mississippi and Chicago and he's clearly aware of the importance of recording in Chicago as the spoken aside in his first number, "You Can Mistreat Me Here", attest: "Take your time and play it right, f' you're in Chicago." His most evocative number in this regard is "Cotton Patch Blues" as he sings about the woman he left behind in Mississippi:

I left my baby in Mississippi, pickin' cotton down on her knees (2x)
She says, If you get to Chicago all right, please right me a letter if you please

I said "baby, that's all right, baby that's all right for you (2x)
You'll just keep pickin' cotton right there, oh babe, until I get through

Baby, when I get to Chicago, I do swear I'm sure gonna take a change (2x)
If I don't never get back to Mississippi, I'm sure gonna change your name

"Brown Skin Girl" is another number filled with striking imagery delivered with plenty of conviction:

Now I got a brownskin girl, with her front tooth crowned with gold (2x)
Spoken: take your and make this one right because it's the best one you got
She got a lien on my body and a mortgage on my soul
Now friend don't ever let your good girl fix you like this woman got me (2x)
Spoken: how she got you then?
Got me stone crazy about her, as a doggone fool can be
Now I ain't going to tell nobody, baby about the way you do
Say you always keep some fat mouth following you

McClennan also turns in several songs associated with other singers including his take on "Sweet Home Chicago", titled "Baby, Don't You Want to Go", an updated version of Bukka White's  1937 hit titled "New Shake 'em on Down" and rips through a ferocious reading of of Sonny Boy I's "Whiskey Headed Blues" titled "Whiskey Headed Woman." Given the erratic nature of McCLennan's style the session may well have been a difficult one as perhaps the spoken introduction to the session's final song, "Baby, Please Don't New Highway 51 78Tell On Me", indicates: "Now get out this here. This is the last one you got now. When you play these blues, you ain't got to play no more. Let's get on like you like it. These your own blues you makin' now. Y'know this is what your wife likes, yeah …You don't need to hurry now, just take your time and play it right cos you ain't got to play 'nother'n after this."

The following year McCLennan was brought back for two session, one on May 10, 1940 and the following on December 12th. The earlier session features a bassist, probably Ransom Knowling or Alfred Elkins, who seems to have flummoxed McClennan as he exhorts him twice on "My Baby's Gone" to "take your time and play it right man." The ideas seem less fresh on these sessions, particularly the second, with a series of remakes such as Curtis Jones' "New Highway No. 51", "Whiskey Headed Man", Sonny Boy I's "New Sugar Mama"and Sleepy John Estes' "Drop Down Mama." To be fair McClennan's "New Highway No. 51" is a nice reworking, featuring the evocative line: "Now yon come that Greyhound, with it's tongue sticking out on the side." One of the better songs from these sessions is the humorous "She's Just Good Huggin' Size":

Lord, I try to give that little woman, everything that she tells me she need (2x)
But she would hold her a conversation with every lowdown dirty man she meet

That little woman she won't wash now now she won't even iron my clothes (2x)
Spoken: Lord have mercy now!
She won't do nothing I tell her but keep them big feets in the road

 McCLennan was brought back for two more eight-song sessions; one on September 15, 1940 and his last on February 20, 1942. The 1941 session produced one of McCLennan's most enduring recordings, "Cross Cut Saw Blues", although according to Honeyboy Edwards he got the song from Hacksaw Harney. "Deep Blue Sea Blues" was a version of his buddy Robert Petway's "Catfish Blues" which he had cut just a few months prior while "Travelin' Highway Man" is a thinly veiled reworking of his earlier "New Highway No. 51." On his final session he shares studio time with Petway who recorded immediately after McClennan. The two can be heard together on the rousing juke joint blues of "Boogie Woogie Woman" with Alfred Elkins plunking away on bass for an exhilarating performance. For McCLennan's final session he found some more melodic material such as "Roll Me, Baby" and the catchy "I Love My Baby." "Shake It Up and Go" harks back to "Bottle It Up And Go" but with less fire while "Bluebird Blues" is a nice reading of Sonny Boy I's famous number.

McClennan and Gang
L to R: Elmore James, Sonny Boy, Tommy McClennan, Little Walter

 McClennan remained in Chicago and seemed to follow the path of Tommy Johnson, a slave to alcohol who lived long after he recorded but never stepped into a studio again. Honeyboy remembers seeing McClennan singing at Turner's on 40th and Indiana during the late 40's: "He played a little bit and he sang, but he didn't play too long 'fore he just …Tommy just dranked so much he just, he couldn't…" Honeyboy encountered his old friend one more time: "One day in 1962 I was down around Twenty-Second street and Clark at a big junkyard. …I went with some boys to sell some scrap iron and who do I see there but Tommy McClennan! Tommy was living out there in a truck trailer made into kind of a house. " Honeyboy tried to look after him but "he studied drinking all the time. …He asked me to take him back to that [hobo] Jungle. I carried him back down there. …Later on I heard he had taken sick, that he was in the hospital. …Tommy died in that hospital in 1962. …That alcohol was what Tommy was living for, but it ate him plumb up." Big Joe Williams took Mike Bloomfield to see McClennan and he recalled "he was just like a skeleton but his eyes were like hot coals burning at you. And his music was like that, too – it had a savage, searing sound. He was a fierce man."

 McClennan has been well served on record with all his recordings appearing on RCA's excellent 2-CD set Bluebird Recordings 1939-1942, which may be out of print, and also available on two individual Document CD's, Tommy McClennan, Vol. 1: Whiskey Head Woman and Tommy McClennan, Vol. 2: Cross Cut Saw. Single disc collections appear on EPM and Acrobat.

Cotton Patch Blues (MP3)

Whiskey Head Woman (MP3)

Cross Cut Saw Blues (MP3)

I Love My Baby (MP3)

Boogie Woogie Woman (MP3)


Bottle Up And Go 78

 I first stumbled upon the music of Tommy McClennan by accident. In my early record buying days one of my favorite haunts was Tower Records at Broadway and West 4th Street in NYC which had a terrific blues section. I think I was looking for a Tommy Johnson record and somehow got him and Tommy McClennan confused. I wound up taking home the LP Cotton Patch Blues 1939 – 1942 on the British Travelin' Man label which sported an evocative sepia toned cover of cottonfields complete with cotton pickers and and overseer riding a horse. I soon realized my mistake but my disappointment was dispelled when the raw, direct sounds of the first track, "You Can Mistreat Me Here", hit me and was truly floored when I heard the third number, "Bottle It Up and Go." I've been a fan ever since.

 McClennan is a contradiction; at once wholly individualistic with his powerhouse gravel-throated voice, sprinkled with frequent entertaining spoken asides propelled by an exciting, rudimentary guitar style while on the other hand derivative, with a repertoire mostly drawn from other artists. Despite his limited bag of songs, his limited guitar prowess (despite the boastfully titled "I'm a Guitar King"), McClennan made it work through the sheer force of his outsized personality and his intense commitment to his material. His record label, Bluebird, and the record buying public obviously saw something in McClennan as he cut forty sides (at five eight-song sessions), everyone issued at the time, between 1939 and 1942.

At the time Cotton Patch Blues was released in 1984 writer Alan Balfour noted that "what little is known of Tommy McClennan's life is based, as is so often the case, on the recollections of others." McClennan is remembered by bluesmen like Big Joe Williams, Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmy Rogers and most importantly Honeyboy Edwards. Our knowledge of McClennan has been expanded since then with the release of Honeyboy Edwards' 1997 autobiography, The World Don't Owe Me Nothing, where he put pen to ink,  recollecting at length about his old friend and partner.

Tommy McClennanThe following is taken from Honeyboy's memoir which paints a vivid portrait of his old pal: "It was out in Wildwood plantation when I first met Tommy McClennan. Tommy would come out there and play the guitar a while and bump on the piano. He could play the guitar pretty good, but he sure wasn't no piano player. He threw the people; he had them dancing and hollering. …He could play that guitar, and he could holler; Tommy had a big mouth.  …Tommy played the guitar and gambled, shot dice, played cards. …Tommy was dark and had big eyes like a frog. He was real little, about four and ten, just touched me right along there about the shoulder. Tommy didn't weigh a bit over 115 pounds. …I and Tommy, we be together all the time. And when he wasn't with me he was with Robert Petway. …Tommy and Robert was about the same size. They'd come down the street with two guitars, looking like midgets. Now Robert could beat Tommy playing but Tommy could holler more than Robert. …I learned a few licks from Tommy, a few numbers he made. He mad the 'Bullfrog Blues' and Petway made 'The Catfish Blues.' …Robert and Tommy McClennan and me, we'd be together all the time. On days we wasn't out playing at the whiskey houses or on the streets; we'd be at Tommy's house drinking and playing cards, and one of us sitting in the corner practicing some song. …Tommy, he wasn't really a guitar picker; he was mostly a frailer, and played a few chords in the key of C, running chords with that big loud voice. …Tommy McClennan and me played both sides of town [Greenwood, MS]. We used to serenade in the white neighborhoods. We'd walk down the street amongst all those old houses, strumming our guitars, and we'd see them curtains fly back and they'd chuck nickels and dimes out in the street for us. We'd play 'Tight Like That', little jump-up songs for them. Then we'd go back across the river where we come from, raise hell and drink, holler our asses off all night long, singing the 'Cotton Patch Blues' in them shotgun houses in our part of town."

 McClennan arrived in Chicago in 1939 supposedly through the intervention of Big Bill Broonzy who told Bluebird talent scout Lester Melrose he ought to look him up. Again, Honeyboy picks up the tale: "I missed Lester Melrose when he came through Greenwood looking for musicians to record. …He picked up Tommy McClennan then and Tommy recorded 'Bottle It Up And Go' for him. He recorded Tommy, Robert Petway, a gang of musicians through the South." "Bottle It Up And Go" is one of the songs most associated with McClennan although according to Honeyboy he learned the song from Memphis Jug Band member Dewey Corley and in turn taught it to McClennan.  McClennan insisted on playing the song as he learned it in the South, ignoring Northern sensibilities when he sang the controversial lines:

Now the nigger and the white man playin' seven-up
Nigger beat the white man was scared to pick it up 

Broonzy tells a story of McClennan singing these lines at a house party and being forcibly ejected, forced to leave via the window with parts of his guitar around his neck. McClennan is obviously pleased with this act of defiance, barley able to contain himself as he chuckles throughout the rest of the song. It's a bravo performance with McClennan hollering out the blues with gusto, using his guitar to finish his verses, offering a running commentary with his spoken asides and finishing up with an energetic bit of trademark scatting. Jimmy Rogers, who met McClennan in Vance, MS commented on his scatting perhaps half-seriously: "Little Richard sneaked around there and stole 'be-bop-a-lu-bop' and 'be-bam-boom'. That was Tommy."

Bottle It Up And Go (MP3)




Show Notes:

 Black Snake Moan Ad

Today's show is a sequel to a show I did about a year ago on the early Texas piano players. Today's program is wider ranging look at the early Texas blues scene.  The title  comes from Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Got The Blues" recorded in 1926. To quote Tony Russell from the Penguin Guide To Blues: "All the companies involved in the blues business in the '20s and '30s made frequent recording trips to Dallas and San Antonio, and the music they collected and issued is a rich, colorful mixture of theatre and club artists, street singers and pianists circuit-riding the logging camps."

In the 1920's Dallas became a recording center primarily because it is a geographical hub. The major race labels, those catering to a black audience, held regular sessions in Dallas. Okeh, Vocalion, Brunswick Columbia, RCA, and Paramount sent scouts and engineers to record local artists once or twice a year. Quite a number of sessions were also recorded in San Antonio with a few others cut in Fort Worth. Engineers came into the city, set up their equipment in a hotel room, and put the word out. As a result of Jefferson's commercial success, blues singers from around the south flocked to Dallas with the hope of being recorded. In addition to Blind Lemon Jefferson, there were other important blues musicians, who recorded in Dallas during the heyday of Deep Ellum and Central Tracks. These included Lillian Glinn, Little Hat Jones, Texas Alexander, Jesse Thomas, Ramblin Thomas, Sammy Hill, Otis Harris, Willie Reed, Oscar "Buddy" Woods, Black Ace and the young T-Bone Walker.

Blind Lemon Jefferson's records sold thousands of copies to blacks in the urban ghettos of the North, but in Dallas Jefferson was recognized primarily as street singer who performed daily with a tin cup at the corner of Elm Street and Central Avenue. Despite his limited commercial success in Dallas, he had a great influence on the development of Texas blues. Leadbelly credited him as an inspiration, as did T-Bone Walker. What distinguishes Jefferson from the other blues performers of his generation was his singular approach to the guitar, which established the basis of what is today known as the Texas style. Little is known about Jefferson's early life. He must have heard songsters and bluesmen, like Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas and "Texas" Alexander. Both Thomas and Alexander traveled around East Texas and performed a variety of blues and dance tunes. Legends of his prowess as a bluesman abound among the musicians who heard him, and sightings of Jefferson in different places around the country are plentiful. By his teens, he began spending time in Dallas. About 1912 he started performing in the Deep Ellum and Central Track areas of Dallas, where he met Leadbelly. The two became musical partners in Dallas and the outlying areas of East Texas. Jefferson was known to perform almost daily at the corner of Elm Street and Central Avenue in Dallas. In 1925 Jefferson was discovered by a Paramount recording scout and taken to Chicago to make records. Though he was not the first blues singer-guitarist, or the first to make commercial recordings, Jefferson was the first to attain a national audience. His extremely successful recording career began in 1926 and continued until 1929. He recorded 110 sides. Jefferson is widely recognized as a profound influence upon the development of the Texas blues tradition and the growth of American popular music. His significance has been acknowledged by blues, jazz, and rock musicians, from Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and T-Bone Walker to Bessie Smith. Jefferson died in Chicago on December 22, 1929.

Henry Townsend 78Evidence suggests Henry Thomas was an itinerant street musician, a musical hobo who rode the rails across Texas and possibly to the World Fairs in St. Louis and Chicago just before and after the turn of the century. Most agree he was the oldest African-American folk artist to produce a significant body of recordings, supposedly born in 1874. Thomas's repertoire bridged the 19th and 20th centuries, providing a compelling glimpse into the pre-blues era. The 23 songs he cut for Vocalion between 1927 and 1929 include a spiritual, ballads, reels, dance songs, and blues.On many of his pieces, he simultaneously played the quills or panpipes, a common but seldom-recorded African-American folk instrument indigenous to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. His lead-in on "Bull Doze Blues" was reworked 40 years later by Canned Heat in their version of "Going Up the Country."

Texas Alexander was well known in the Texas Brazos River bottomlands when he started recording in 1927. Unable to play himself, Alexander used a variety of accompanists including Little Hat Jones, Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang to the string band blues of the Mississipi Sheiks and the full on jazz of King Oliver's New Orleans band. Alexander's performing and recording career continued into the '30s with sessions for Vocalion. In 1940, he was sent to the state pen at Paris, TX, for killing his wife. After his release in 1945 he spent time in Houston, joining his cousin Lightnin' Hopkins for live shows and recording for the Freedom label with pianist Buster Pickens. By 1954 he was back in the bottomlands where he died of syphilis.

Oscar "Buddy" Woods was a Louisiana street musician known as "The Lone Wolf" and a pioneer in the style of lap steel bottleneck blues slide guitar. Not long after arriving in Shreveport, Woods began a long association with guitarist Ed Schaffer, and together they performed as the Shreveport Home Wreckers. Woods and Schaffer made their first two recordings as the Shreveport Home Wreckers for Victor in Memphis on May 31, 1930. From this first session up until his last, a field recording for the Library of Congress made on October 8, 1940, Oscar "Buddy" Woods was involved in the making of no less than 35Black Ace sides. The impact of Oscar "Buddy" Woods on the development of bottleneck slide playing was crucial; one musician he took under his wing around 1930 was Texas native Babe Lemon Karo Turner, who later assumed the name Black Ace. The Black Ace honed his skills playing at community functions during the '20s, then worked with Smokey Hogg at dances in Greenville, TX in the '30s. Hogg and Buddy Woods were frequent partners for Turner. Turner had a show on Fort Worth radio station KFJZ from 1936 – 1941. He recorded for Decca in 1937. After a stint in the army during the early '40s, Turner's jobs were mostly non-musical. He did make a 1960 LP for Arhoolie. Turner took his nickname from the 1936 recording "Black Ace."Rambling Thomas was the brother of Jesse Thomas. Thomas was discovered by recording scouts playing in Dallas, but prior to that had performed in San Antonio and Oklahoma. Thomas cut 16 sides for Paramount in 1928 and four sides for Victor in 1932.

J.T. "Funny Paper" Smith was a pioneering Texas blues guitarist who was also a gifted composer and singer. A contemporary of such legends as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Dennis "Little Hat" Jones, next to nothing concrete is known of his life; assumed to have been born in East Texas during the latter half of the 1880s, he was a minstrel who wandered about the panhandle region, performing at fairs, fish fries, dances and other community events (often in the company of figures including Tom Shaw, Texas Alexander and Bernice Edwards). Smith settled down long enough to record some 22 songs between 1930 and 1931, among them his trademark number "Howling Wolf Blues, Parts One and Two"; indeed, he claimed the alternate nickname "Howling Wolf" some two decades before it was appropriated by his more famous successor, Chester Burnett. His career supposedly came to an abrupt end during the mid-'30s, when he was arrested for murdering a man over a gambling dispute; Smith was found guilty and imprisoned, and is believed to have died in his cell circa 1940.

Little Hat Jones
Little Hat Jones

George "Little Hat" Jones was born October 5, 1899, in Bowie County, TX. He was a well-known street singer in San Antonio in the mid-'20s, and made his first recordings there on June 15, 1929. At the same session he sat in on guitar for an additional nine tracks by Texas Alexander. OKeh brought Jones back six days later to record four more tunes and again a year later, on June 14, 1930, when he four more. For whatever reason, Jones never recorded again, leaving behind a legacy of ten songs, plus nine more as a sideman for Texas Alexander. He died in Naples, TX, in 1981.

Rambling Thomas was the brother of Jesse Thomas. Thomas was discovered by recording scouts playing in Dallas, but prior to that had performed in San Antonio and Oklahoma. Thomas cut 16 sides for Paramount in 1928 and four sides for Victor in 1932.

Among the other performers heard today are fine woman singers like Lillian Glinn, Hattie Burleson, Bobbie Cadilliac, Hattie Hudson, jug and string bands like the Dallas String Band and Frenchy's Stringband. Hattie Burleson was from Dallas and waxed only seven sides. She was discovered by fellow Dallas singer Lillian Glinn while she was singing spirituals in church. Glinn was born in 1900 in Dallas, Texas where she made her first recordings in 1927, recording 22 sides until December 1929.


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