We kick today's show off with the last commercial recordings by Memphis Minnie and husband Ernest Lawlars AKA Little Son Joe. The two first began recording together back in February 1939, cutting about 70 sides together, laying down their last recordings for the J.O.B. label on October 5, 1953. From this final session we spin the romping "Kissing In The Dark" with Minnie taking the vocal and "A Little Too Late" released under Little Son Joe's name which is the "B" side of his "Ethel Bea." He cut only a handful of sides under his name and these later numbers showcase a very fine, plaintive voiced singer and a terrific electric guitarist. Little Son Joe took up with Memphis Minnie in the late 1930's, replacing her previous husband and partner, Kansas Joe McCoy. He made a few records under his own name at sessions in 1939 and 1941, including the well-known "Black Rat Swing" but mostly appeared in a supporting role. He retired from music with Minnie in the 1950's.
We play another twin spin, this time moving up to the 1950's, with a pair of featured tracks by Johnny Fuller. Fuller was a West Coast bluesman who left behind a bunch of 1950's recordings. He was equally at home with low down blues, gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. Making the Bay Area his home throughout his career, Fuller turned in classic sides for Heritage, Aladdin, Specialty, Flair, Checker, and Hollywood. By and large retiring from the music scene in the 1960's (with the exception of one excellent album in 1974), Fuller worked as a garage mechanic until his passing in 1985. "Roughest Place In Town" is superb rendition of "Tin Pan Alley" while "Mean Old World", from the same session, is a smoldering uptempo number with some lyrics that still resonate today:
Well you think you got trouble, oughta see what I'm going through (2x)
Well I'm going through starvation, man jobs are so doggone few
Well the banks foreclosed on my home, had no place to hang my head (2x)
Well my finance man came, took my brand new Cadillac
Another double spin, of sorts, is a spotlight on two excellent out of print Bluesway LP's: Lee Jackson's Lonely Girl (Bluesway, 1974) and Andrew "Voice" Odom's Farther Up The Road (Bluesway, 1969). Guitarist/bass session man Lee Jackson played on records of Eddie Clearwater, Homesick James, J.B. Hutto, Little Walter, Shakey Jake, Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Hound Dog Taylor among others. He cut a few singles of his own on small labels and one full-length LP. He was murdered in Chicago in 1979. Andrew Odom was was a great journeyman Chicago singer who recorded relatively sparingly. Odom fell in with Albert King and Johnny O'Neal on the St. Louis blues scene of the mid-'50s and made his recording debut in 1961, singing "East St. Louis" with the band of one Little Aaron for the obscure Marlo imprint. He arrived in Chicago around 1960, hooking up with Earl Hooker and working and recording with him through the decade. A single for Nation Records in 1967 (as Andre Odom) preceded his debut album for BluesWay (cut in 1969, it remained in the can for quite a while before the label finally issued it). A guest spot on Jimmy Dawkins's All for Business, was a highlight of the '70s for the singer. He cut his own album for the French Isabel label in 1982 in the company of Magic Slim & the Teardrops (reissued by Evidence in 1993) and finished his career with the superb 1992 set for Flying Fish, Goin' to California which came out posthumously. Odom passed in December 1991.
There's some excellent vocal performances on today's program including a gorgeous reading of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone To Love" by Dinah Washington and Johnny Moore's Three Blazers on the original 1949 version of "How Blue Can You Get." This number was covered in 1951 by Louis Jordan which is where B.B. King first heard the song. King began using it in his live act at recorded it on his classic Live At The Regal album from 1963. Speaking of Percy Mayfield we hear Percy at his world weary best on the mellow "Ha Ha In The Daytime" his last side for Ray Charles' Tangerine label, a remake of a previously unreleased 1962 number. This one come from Rhino's Tangerine and Atlantic Sides an indispensable collection of Mayfield's 1960's sides.
From the 1970's we play some fine downhome blues form Guitar Gabriel plus excellent field recordings by James Davis and Albert Macon with Robert Thomas recorded by the tireless George Mitchell. Guitar Gabriel is familiar to some collectors as Nyles Jones, the name under which he recorded the superb LP, My South, My Blues, for the Gemini label in 1970.He dropped out of sight for about 20 years and his belated return to performing was due largely to folklorist and musician Timothy Duffy, who located Gabriel in 1991. With Duffy accompanying him as second guitarist on acoustic sets and as a member of his band, Brothers in the Kitchen, Gabriel performed frequently at clubs and festivals, and appeared overseas. He recorded several albums for Duffy's Music Maker label before passing in 1996. Albert Macon began teaching Robert Thomas to play blues guitar when Thomas, who was nine years younger than Macon, was about 15 years old. For over 40 years the two men played music together at fish fries, parties and festivals around Georgia. The two men also received national and international attention, playing such venues as the Knoxville World's Fair and the American Blues Festival in the Netherlands and the WDR Blues Festival in Bonn, Germany. Macon and Thomas recorded Blues and Boogie from Alabama on the Dutch Swingmaster label as well as captured by George Mitchell
As usual there's plenty of vintage blues from the 1920's and 1930's. On tap today are classic performances by Henry Thomas, Tommy Johnson, Georgia White, Sleep John Estes, William Moore and all-time blues classics in Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues" and Pinetop Smith's "Pine Top's Blues." We also jump ahead to hear Son House on a 1964 performance of "Pony Blues" (34 years after his recording debut for Paramount) which comes from the excellent Blue Goose LP The Real Delta Blues, a great collection of early rediscovery sides that unfortunately has yet to make it to CD.