- April 1st,1906-- Carl Martin
- April 15th.,1894-- Bessie Smith
- April 29th.,1927-- James "Big Jay" McNeely
- April 4 4th.,1960-- Sylvester Weaver
- April 11th.,2017-- John Warren "J" Geils Jr.
- April 29.,1997-- Keith Ferguson
First, a correction on an item in last month's Trivia section: I don't know if it was how I tapped the keys or if it was being in too much of a hurry to get it typed, but I showed Howlin' Wolf arriving in Chicago with $4,00.00 in his pocket. Look at that closely: I had the comma correct but I left out a "0". Although in, 1952, getting into town with four hundred dollars would have been impressive for a bluesman, it should have read $4,000.00, an unheard-of amount then, or even now! Now, on to the Blog.
Some April Blues Births:
Answer To The March 2019 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for is/was "Texas" Johnny Brown, born John Riley Brown, on February 22,1928, in Ackerman, Mississippi. There are two versions of his childhood-- I'll give you both, as they are plausible. As a child he played guitar, next to his father, an ex-railroad worker who had been blinded by an accident while at work, in the streets of their town, and in close-by towns. The other story is that Johnny's father, Cranston Exerville "Clarence" Brown, had likely left his wife and Johnny. Johnny lived with his mother until she passed away, when he was nine years old. He then moved to live with his father. Johnny played the tambourine and danced, to accompany his father, who sang and played guitar. Also accompanying them was their dog, named Carburetor, who would strum the guitar on cue. He and his father lived alternately in New Orleans, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi, while they travelled and performed in towns in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Johnny moved to Houston, Texas, in 1946, while the other version says the family had done that. Somewhere around that 1946 date, his father moved to Ethel, Mississippi, where he passed away in the mid-'50's. Johnny got his professional music start in the backing band of Amos Milburn, The Aladdin Chickenshakers, most likely so named because that's the label on which they recorded. He also backed Ruth Brown on her early recordings on the Atlantic label. He entered military service, served three years, and was discharged in 1953. On his return, he backed Lightnin' Hopkins and "Little" Junior Parker, among others, throughout the'50's, while he also worked as a sideman/studio musician for the Duke/ Peacock labels (same company). In the late '50's he wrote the song "Two Steps From The Blues". The song was recorded by Bobby "Blue" Bland, on Bland's first studio album, and its title was used as the title of that album. During the '50's and '60's, he recorded as a sideman for many different artists, but was usually uncredited. He also toured, as the lead guitarist with Bobby Bland, during those years. Starting around 1963, he also worked outside the music field, as a truck driver, a forklift operator, a mechanic, and as a landscaper. In the mid-'60's he sat in on jam sessions with people, such as Goree Carter, Clarence Holliman, Joe Bell, and Roy Gaines. He retired in 1991, and formed his own band, The Quality Blues Band. In 1998 they recorded an album, "Nothin' But The Truth", nominated for "the Best Comeback Album of The Year", in 1999. That included his "Two Steps From The Blues" song and it was the first time he recorded it himself. They recorded a second album, "Blues Defender", in 2001, which was released in 2002. Both of those were on the Chocktaw Creek Records label, which Johnny owned, named after the county where he was born. He passed away on July 1,2013, at home, in Houston, of lung cancer. Sadly, I only got to meet and chat with him once, some years back. An interesting man, and the loss of yet another relatively unrecognized talent and contributor to the blues world.
Blues Question For April 2019: This guitarist preferred not to be known as a bluesman, but rather, as a versatile musician. On the blues front, he played on recordings of many of the big names of the blues. You've probably heard his work on some of those recordings, and, yes, even on some of Bland's songs, though he's usually uncredited. One of those recordings, as a sideman, is sometimes said to be the beginning of rock guitar. Any idea who this "bluesman" might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For April 2019: The song is "Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse)", and the artist is Rosco Gordon. I picked this one 'cause we need a little more humor in our day to day lives, a little stress relief.
Blues Trivia For April 2019: I hope you enjoy the Blues Blogs, and pick up some information and ideas about the blues from them. If you've liked them, and that has prompted you to go back and see some of the earlier ones, you'll have noted on some of them, that the video isn't there anymore, but has been replaced with a frown and the message "Sorry, Video Not Available" or "Video Has Been Removed Because Of Possible Copyright Infringement". This has not been done by myself or NEOBA, but rather by the person or site which originally posted it. As you can see, almost all of what I write about is the earlier recordings and artists. Seeing those videos removed, if you think about it, indicates that BMI or ASCAP services, or whatever individual or record company who/that has procured the rights to that recording, either didn't give permission or receive compensation for someone to use it. Sometimes it's just a record company who wants you to purchase an album or collection of theirs. If it's protecting rights, or compensation going to the correct entity, then I'm O.K. with it. The important thing is, do not lose the music. Almost all of those about whom I write, we have in stock, or, can get it. Some, however, are gone, so enjoy them if you can find them on the web. Whatever you do, do things right or don't do them at all.
Some April Blues Passings:
Proprietor of The Sound of Blue record shop in Kent, Ohio.