Joe's Blues Blog April 2023
Due to ongoing computer access issues we are sharing a copy of Joe's Blues Newsletter from April 1998. Hope you enjoy it!
Joe's Blues Blog March 2023
Due to computer problems this is a "Best of" from March 2015
March Blues Births:
March 2015 Blues Question: This blueswoman’s father was a drummer in the W.C. Handy Band. Early in her career she worked as a singer, dancer or both. A little later on she learned guitar from one of the greats of the time. From that time she taught herself to also play banjo, ukulele and mandolin. She, at this time, is known to have only recorded on two labels, though that may not be correct, judging by the people and/or bands with whom she performed. Any idea who this woman is/was??
The Answer to The February 2015 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for is/was “Boogie” Bill Webb. He performed with Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey, Bubba Brown and Chuck Berry while he lived in the Jackson, Mississippi area While first living in New Orleans, he worked with the Fats Domino Band. After moving to Chicago he worked local house parties and, at various clubs, sat in with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and others. When he moved back to New Orleans, he recorded with Roosevelt Holts, in Bogalusa, on the Arhooli label. It’s unclear, but rumor has it that he was arrested for selling his records on the streets of New Orleans. Supposedly he was only jailed for a short period. He passed away August 23rd.,1990, in New Orleans.
March 2015 Blues Trivia: If anyone is a fan of Bonnie Raitt, you should know that one of her main influences of her career was a lady by the name of Sippie Wallace. She was born Beulah Thomas, one of the thirteen children of George Washington Thomas Sr. and Fanny Bradley. Beulah got the nickname of Sippie because of sipping her food and would be best- known by that name for the rest of her life. She got the Wallace part of her name when, in 1917, she married Matt Wallace, a gambler. Born November 1st, 1898, in Plum Bayou, Arkansas. Shortly after that, the family moved to Houston, Texas, where her father was to become the deacon of the Shiloh Baptist Church. Sippie sang and played the organ in that church up to about age 12 At that age she moved to New Orleans to stay with her older brother, Goerge w. Thomas Jr., for a short time. She then moved back to Houston, where she stayed until 1923, when she then moved to Chicago. She stayed there until late in 1929, when she moved to Detroit, Michigan, which would be home for the rest of her life. Though living in Detroit, she did a considerable amount of recording in Chicago. Some of the people with whom she recorded with were Eddie Haywood, Clarence Williams, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Albert Ammons. While home in Detroit she also did some recording, but worked mostly outside the music field. She worked as a singer/ organist at the Leland Baptist Church from 1929 up into the 1970’s. Also while living in Detroit she served as director of National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, Inc., Chicago, forward from the mid-1930s. She met then toured and performed with Bonnie Raitt from the mid-1970’s into the 1980’s. Sadly, she passed away on November 1st.,1986, her 88th. birthday, in Detroit after suffering a massive stroke while performing at a concert/ festival in Germany. There are several parts of the trivia related to her. Two of her brothers, George Jr. and Hersal were composers and performers. Her niece, Hociel Thomas, daughter of George w. Jr. was also a singer/ pianist. The main part of the trivia is that her younger brother, Hersal, wrote, then, for his first recording a song called “Suitcase Blues” at the age of 15. That song, by the way, has been recorded by many other since including Sippie. He was performing in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 19, in a place called “Penny’s Pleasure Inn”, where he died of food poisoning. The circumstances of that poisoning were never resolved.
Some March Blues passings:
Joe's Blues Blog February 2023
Some February Blues Births:
Answer To The January 2023 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/ is Luther Tucker, born January 20th.,1936, in Memphis, Tennessee. His father, who was a carpenter, made him his first guitar. His first store- bought guitar, a Sears Silvertone, was given to him by his mother, as a way to keep him out of trouble. His mother, a boogie- woogie style piano player, would later introduce him to Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Lockwood Jr.. From those intro's, Tucker became Lockwood's student, much like our own Cleveland Fats (Mark Hahn) and Jerome Freeman did. When you listen to Luther's playing, though his style is his own, you can hear Lockwood's influences. When Luther's family moved from Memphis to Chicago in 1945, some of his friends in his teenage years were Freddie King, Otis Rush, and Magic Sam (Maghett). In '52 he started performing with his uncle, John Thomas "J.T.", "Boogie" Brown. Since he was now in Chicago, he got back together with Lockwood (Luther was 16 at the time). Robert, being in the Musician's Union and strong supporter of it, asked if they would allow Tucker to play in the blues clubs, if he, Robert, would take responsibility as the guardian of the 16 year old. Robert would play lead guitar, and Luther played bass on a down- tuned 6 string, since the Fender bass wasn't yet invented, and he'd sometimes play rhythm guitar. The pair worked, off and on, for seven years, with Little Walter. Tucker went on to record as lead guitarist on many of the classic blues recordings of Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Rogers, Snooky Pryor, and Otis Rush. When he later moved to California, he also worked with John Lee Hooker, Robben Ford, and Elvin Bishop. In the mid to late '60's, he worked in Muddy Waters' band, along with James Cotton. In '68 a "cooperative" band was put together, with Luther on guitar, Sam Lay on drums, Bobby Anderson on bass, Alberto Gianquinto on piano, and James Cotton on harmonica and vocals. At their first gig, the announcer asked them what the band's name was, and one of them replied "the James Cotton Blues Band". Between that start and 1973, the band travelled and performed from the West Coast to the East Coast, and then on to Great Britain, Europe, and several other countries. In '73, Luther left the band and moved to San Anselmo (Spanish for "Saint Anselm"), California, where he started his own band. Once there, he also worked with John Lee Hooker's band, L.C. (Louis Charles) "Good Rockin' " Robinson, Elvin Bishop, and the Grayson Street Houserockers. He was a house musician at Antone's in Austin, Texas. He would also perform backup with visiting friends, such as Fenton Robinson, Freddie King, and Jimmy Reed. Sadly, he passed away on June 18, 1993, in Greenbrae, California, of a heart attack.
Blues Question For February 2023: This bluesman is not real well- known, as he's seldom out in front of the big name players. He is well thought of by other bluesmen, and respected for his abilities. Been around a long time, and recorded with many leaders. I know, not much info for you with which to work, but that's all part of the fun in this. Any idea on who or what this player might do or be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For February 2023: The song is "Rough Dried Woman", and the artist is "Big Mac", believed to be Willie McNeal, b 1901, d 7/18/1972, a truck driver by profession, out of Arkansas. The base for this was one of four instrumentals by Howlin' Wolf's band members in '63, featuring Hubert Sumlin on lead guitar, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor on guitar, Little Johnny Jones on piano, and Willie Williams on drums. The Big Mac vocal was over- dubbed later by Don Clay, a Chicago record man, who owned the Dawn label. If you see a copy of it on vinyl, you'll notice that the writing credit is by (B.)Earle,(Don) Clay, (Willie) Williams. Yes, it's the drummer on the record. If you listen to it, you might want to lower your volume a bit -- this is not a "blues shouter", it's a "blues screamer". The recording was leased to Stan Lewis, owner of the Jewel, Paula, and Ronn labels, out of Shreveport, Louisiana, who released it there, and it was a hit in the area, before it went national. The flip side of both releases following is the original instrumental version by Wolf's band members. The Ronn records version is # R-8. It was also released on the Dawn label, # 102, both in '66 (other sources say '67). Yes, it's been covered by others, including Magic Slim and Charlie Musselwhite. Whatever, just hang on & listen ! Enjoy !
Blues Trivia For February 2023: Stan Lewis set up Stan's Music Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana, the town in which he was born. Over the years, it grew into 6 locations, over 200 employees, and a huge mail order business. In '72, the business sold over 2.5 million singles, and 470,000 albums. In '64, he had started Jewel Records, to record and sell some local talent, along with some national artists. Here's some trivia: he, shortly after starting the Jewel label, he started two subsidiaries of it: Paula, named for his wife Pauline, and Ronn, named after his brother, Ronnie. Another little bit of trivia: some of his earliest customers at his original record shop were Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Buddy Holly. He had an employee at the record store, Dale Hawkins. You might remember his hit song from '57, "Susie Q", which was to honor Lewis' daughter Susan. That original store was about 10' x 12', and before too many years, Lewis owned and used the whole block it was on, to expand.
Some February Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog January 2023
Some January Blues Births:
Answer To The December 2022 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is William Lorenzo "Weep" Robinson, aka Weepin' Willie, born July 6, 1926, in Atlanta, Georgia. His sharcropper parents picked cotton, potatoes, beans, and tomatoes, going up and down the East Coast, when he was a youngster. His mother died when he was 10, so he and his father continued to do the same type of work, travelling from Florida to Virginia, but with vegetables, rather than cotton. When he was 15, his father sent him, with a friend, James Henry, to Trenton, New Jersey, telling him he'd be there with him, in a "few weeks", but Willie never saw him again. Willie tried several "careers" after that, picking vegetables, sewing potato bags, milking cows, and washing dishes. After convincing a recruiter that he was 18, he joined the Army, serving 3 years, driving a truck. After his discharge, he returned to Trenton, delivering milk in the Princeton, N.J. area. His musical career started when he got jobs as an emcee and comedian, in various clubs, where he met a lot of the big name bluesmen who performed in them. Some of those booked at the club where he mostly worked, were B.B.King, Jackie Wilson, and Little Richard. B.B. encouraged him to sing, but he told B.B. that he only knew 4 songs, and that they were all King's, to which King responded "then sing em". That started his career. In '59, a woman from Louie's Lounge in Roxbury, a neighborhood in Boston, had heard him in Trenton, and after his set, she said to him "I like your band, do you want to go to Boston ?". He went, and he remained there for the rest of his life. In 1999, at the age of 73, he recorded and released his only album: "At Last, On Time", featuring "Mighty" Sam McClain, who put everything together to make the recording, and Susan Tedeschi, who at that time, was a rising star. If you listen to that album, you'll find two things about it. First, his singing on the slow blues tunes is good, but, second, some of the songs with the others playing, just about drown out his singing, so that you can barely hear him. Of course, that also shows off the talents of the others. By 2005, he was on the street, living in a homeless shelter. When local blues musicians heard about this, they put on a benefit concert, in his honor, to make sure he was getting better care, ie- food, and clothing. Later, he moved to Mount Pleasant Home, in Boston's Jamaica Plain area. He and his band were still performing, and Willie worked a benefit concert with Steven Tyler. He and his band did their last performance on December 25, 2007, at the Mount Pleasant Home. Willie was a smoker, and the Home kept reminding him not to smoke in bed, which was a habit of his. They even put a sign in his room to remind him. On December 30, 2007, he smoked his last cigarette, in bed, fell asleep, and died as a result of the ensuing fire.
Blues Question For January 2023: This bluesman's name should be familiar to you, as he's played in bands and/ or with individuals, darned near every big name in the blues, especially in Chicago. His discography shows only two solo albums, and three more backing others. That'd be incorrect, as he's been recording with others for many years. He's hardly ever even mentioned by casual blues fans, as they don't know his work. Any idea who this bluesman might be ?
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For January 2023: The song is "Your Funeral and My Trial", and the artist is Sonny Boy Williamson II. It was recorded in 1958 on the Checker label (a subsidiary of Chess Records), and sold both in 10" shellac 78 rpm, and 7" vinyl 45 rpm. The record number was #894, on both sides. The flip (B) side was "Wake Up, Baby". The BMI numbers were ,on the A side, #8753, and the B side was #8755. It's been covered by many performers since then. I'll tell you why I picked this song, in the February 2023 Blues Blog.
Blues Trivia For January 2023: Sonny Boy Williamson was first recorded in 1951, then went on to record for the Chess- owned Checker label, and then on to Chess Records, where he did the largest quantity of his recording, roughly 70, between 1955 and 1964. His first LP to be released was "Down and Out Blues" in 1959, on the Checker label. It was a collection of his singles recorded earlier. In '72, Chess released "This Is My Story", a compilation album of his recordings on the Chess label. In the early the '60's, Sonny Boy toured Europe several times. Here's the trivia: on one of those tours, while in England, he set his hotel room on fire, by trying to cook a rabbit in a coffee percolator. Also, it's been said that at one of his shows, a fellow known as Robert Plant stole one of Sonny Boy's harmonicas.
Some January Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog December 2022
Some December Blues Births:
Answer To The November 2022 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Joe "Guitar" Hughes, birth name Maurice Hughes, born September 29th.,1937, in Houston, Texas. His style of playing was inspired by both Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, because of their shuffles on the guitar, and their fiery style of playing them. Those two influencers, though, played different styles at different times, so Joe's liking their styles was, I think, only for certain songs or performances and recordings. First band that Joe was in, in the '50's, was The Dukes of Rhythm. There was another guitarist in that band, a lifelong friend of his, a fellow Texan, Johnny Copeland. At different times in the '60's, he worked with Little Richard (Penniman), and with Bobby "Blue" Bland. In the '80's, he started touring/ performing in Europe, where, in '86, he recorded "Texas Guitar Master", on the Double Trouble Records label, a Dutch record company. He would eventually record two more albums for that label. That first album, by the way, also featured a live recording of Joe and "Texas" Pete Mayes. He recorded on four more labels, mostly in the U.S., up to and including his last, in 2001. He passed away from a heart attack, in Houston, Texas, on May 20, 2003.
Blues Question For December 2022: This bluesman started his career in the '50's, when he was in his 30's. Before that, and, sometimes, after that, he worked as a sharecropper, picking vegtables or whatever, a soldier, and, on occasion, a boxer. He worked with many of the big names in the blues, over the years, and you've probably never heard of him, or heard him perform. Any idea who this bluesman might be ???
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For December 2022: It's the month of Christmas, so It's gotta' be a Christmas song. The song is "Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues", and the artist is Sonny Boy Williamson II. This was recorded on Trumpet Records, in Jackson, Mississippi, on August 5, 1951, matrix # DRC 45, catalogue # 145, a 10" 78 rpm disc, the flip side being "Pontiac Blues", #DRC 46, same catalogue # 145.
Blues Trivia For December 2022: This ties in with the above listed record company-- Trumpet Records. In 1949, Willard and Lillian McMurry, bought a building that had housed a hardware store, with the intention of remodeling it and making it their furniture store. It was located at 39 North Farish Street, which was basically at the dividing line of the white owned and run business's, and those owned and run by African-Americans. They were working in the building, when Lillian heard some of the workers playing left- behind records on a record player, also left- behind. One song in particular, really impressed her, as she'd never heard an African- American or "race record" before. That artist was Wynonie Harris, and the song was "All She Wants To Do Is Rock". She had the workers make a list of what was there that she might be able to sell, of those records, and what to order if she chose to sell more. They sold out quickly, which told her they could make money selling records of this type. Before the end of 1950, they had converted an area of the furniture store into a record store, named "Record Mart". She then decided that they needed to record some of these people, who, up to that point, didn't have access to being recorded, or being paid for their work, or getting well- known, so that they could earn a living by playing their music. They added a recording studio in the back of the store, naming their record company Trumpet Records. You'll see on Trumpet's listings of records, the numbers are sometimes preceded by DRC-. The recording studio itself, which was the parent company of Trumpet, was named Diamond Record (sometimes shown as Recording) Company, hence the DRC letters. There's a ton of trivia here, but I'm only going to use some of it. Lillian and Trumpet started the recording careers of many of the big names. One of those was Sonny Boy Williamson II. He'd been on the radio, at KFFA, in Helena Arkansas, since 1941, but no one had recorded him. She tracked him down, and got a contract signed to do so. His very first recording was "Eyesight To The Blind", the A-side, and "Crazy 'Bout You, Baby", on the B-side. They were numbered DRC-15 and DRC-16, respectively. The backing players were: Willie Love on piano, Joe Willie Wilkins on guitar, Elmo (Elmore) James, also on guitar, with Joe Dyson on drums. That was recorded on January 4, 1951, released on a 10", 78 rpm shellac record. Here's another kicker- it was re-recorded on March 12, 1951, with the same players, Sonny Boy, Love, Dyson, James, but minus Wilkins,but adding Henry Reed on double-bass (stand- up bass). The re-recordings were DRC-15-2 and DRC-16-2. Lillian was known to be more than honest in all her business affairs, which was not the case with quite a few of the larger labels. She's also the one who paid for Sonny Boy's headstone, in 1965, long after he had worked with her. His wife, Mattie, also worked at the store back then, for Lillian. Two of his songs, "Pontiac Blues" and "309", were in reference to Lillian's car, which she sometimes let him use, and the 309 song for the address of Trumpet. In the session of August 5, 1951, for Sonny Boy (same session at which he recorded the above listed Song Of The Month and Pontiac Blues), he convinced Elmo James to record a song. As a young man, new to the recording methods of the time, James was afraid of the microphone, but Lillian assured him it was just for practise purposes. She secretly recorded it, at least as some have said, and it made him so mad that he then refused to record any more songs for her, so, no B-side. That song was "Dust My Broom". She then took a song, recorded on July 24, 1951, vocal by Bobo Thomas, "Catfish Blues", and made it the A-side, with James's "Dust My Broom" as the B-side. On the record's label, both sides are credited to Elmo James, incorrectly. She did, after that disagreement, provide a signed copy of the contract for that session and what was going to be done during it, dated before the session actually happened. Anyhow, the A-side was DRC-52, the B-side DRC-53, both under catalogue #146. There were and are some great recordings by some who went on to become well-known from the exposure that those Trumpet recordings gave them. As I said, lots of trivia , on both Lillian and Willard, and what all went into Trumpet's greatness in the music world. I found an out of print book that I've ordered that goes deep into Trumpet's story, including Lillian's work putting it all together.
Some December Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog November 2022
Some November Blues Births:
Answer To The October Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Charles Henry "Baby" Tate, born January 28,1916, in Elberton, Georgia. I got this far before the discrepancies started showing up. A man who likes the American Musics, Stefan Wirz, has compiled a list of musicians, along with lots of other info, in the basic areas of American music, and part of it's called an "illustrated discography". He gets more in depth in researching his info than most, in his efforts to get it right. Under Baby Tate's listing, he shows that Tate was born in Magnolia Township, Abbeville, Georgia. Next--his birth date, and it's variances. The 1916 date is correct, but there's a group, WBSS Media, that shows the year as 1920. I have a picture of his burial plot stone, which has the correct dates, along with another picture showing his military (provided by) headstone, which shows the year as 1919. Oh, engraved on his plot stone is "See What You Done, Done", the title of the song he's best known for. The military headstone also says he was a PFC, in the 4086th. Quartermaster Service Company, when he was overseas during W.W. II, and yes, he performed in pubs in England when he was stationed there. Anyhow, it shows that in 1926, he was moved to Greenville,South Carolina, where he ran with Blind Boy Fuller (Fulton Allen), which is also, questionable. Fuller was born and raised in North, not South Carolina. Tate, as an adolescent, had seen and heard Blind Blake performing in Elberton, and that was his influence to learn to play guitar. By the late '20's, he had taught himself to play it, and with that ability, he formed a trio, including himself, Joe Walker (Willie Walker's brother), and Roosevelt "Baby" Brooks, and worked with them locally, in the Greenville area. Early in '30, up into '32, they performed as The Carolina Blackbirds, both at local spots, and on WFBC radio, which was broadcast from the Jack Tar Hotel. "Jack Tar" is a slang term for a sailor. I believe that, during Tate's time, that that hotel was named The Poinsett Hotel. During the rest of the '30's, Baby mainly worked as a mason, but also at other odd jobs. He was in the Army from c'42 to '46, after which he returned to the Greenville- Spartanburg area, performing in the "club circuit". He claimed that in the '50's, he recorded several tracks for Kapp Records, which were not released. He relocated to Spartanburg, where he performed solo, before he sometimes paired up with Pink Anderson. That working relationship lasted up into the '70's, until Pink was disabled as a result of a stroke. In '62, he recorded his only album -- "Blues of Baby Tate: See What You Done Done", on the Bluesville label. He recorded several tracks, at different sessions, for the Trix label of Peter Lowry, but they were never released. He did record an album with Peg Leg Sam for the Trix label, which was released. He has recorded with many other artists, so his music is out there, ya' just gotta' find it. Baby died from the effects of a heart attack, in the Veteran's Administration Hospital, in Columbia, South Carolina, on August 17, 1972. If you find that one album on c.d., it's a wee might pricey, but so's the one of Peg Leg Sam.
Blues Question For November 2022: Here's another relatively unknown bluesman, this one from Texas. He also worked a lot, as a sideman, for other well-known artists, in the blues, R & B, and R & R genres. He's recorded 7 or so albums of his own, some here in the States, some overseas. One of his good friends for many years, is another bluesman who is quite well-known. The one we're looking for can most definitely play some good blues. Any idea who this one might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) for November 2022: The song is "Flyin' High", (sometimes shown as "Flying High"), and the artist is Johnny Copeland, father of Shemekia, who's a great singer & song writer, on Alligator Records. I picked this one because, for Johnny, it's an oddball, as it's him on a video, sitting, playing an acoustic guitar. He's recorded and performed this particular song, both live and recorded, but always on an electric guitar. I went back and tried to find an acoustic recording he'd done, but no such luck. It's only on this YouTube video. Whatever--Just enjoy it !!
Blues Trivia For November 2022: Well, here we are, again, the Fall season, with lots of color displayed by the trees, as they put on their Winter coats. Also, there are 2 holidays this month: Veteran's Day, on the 11th., and Thanksgiving, on the 24th., the latter aka "Turkey Day:. While I was looking for a suitable song to recognize that day, I found only 1 with Thanksgiving in the title. It was "Thanksgivin' Blues", by Roosevelt Sykes, but it had nothing to do with Turkey Day. Then I ran across a list, well, actually, 3 lists, each one with songs the writer felt had some bearing to or about that holiday. In the third list, which had the largest number of songs listed, was a song -- "Turkey Trot", by Little Eva (Eva Narcissus Boyd), released in 1962. That record made it to #20 on the national charts here in the U.S. You might remember her better for her song that went to #1, both here and in the U.K., a spot it held for awhile, "The LoCo Motion". That song was titled that way to describe her dancing style. The original Turkey Trot was a song and dance from 1908, done in a fast ragtime style, and it had its own dancing style. There have been many cover versions of Little Eva's version done over the years, both by individuals and bands, and I looked/listened to quite a few of them. One that I enjoyed watching was a parody of it, done by a pop-punk group, actually, a band, the Dollyrots, titled "Let's Turkey Trot". What makes it good is that people, and some teachers, sent in videos of their children and/or their students (and some adults, too) doing the dance steps/motions like the ones from 1908. The trivia part is that those 3 lists were put together and posted by one Joe Bonamassa. If you watch-- ENJOY !!
Some November Blues Passings:
Joe's Bues Blog October 2022
Some October Blues Births:
Answer To The September Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is David Maxwell,aka "Mad Dog" Maxwell, born March 10, 1943, in Waltham, Massachusetts ( where the Waltham Watch Co. started out). I've got nothing on his earliest years, but when in high school, he was friends with Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (later, one of the two founders of "Canned Heat"), and they performed locally at/for several different venues. He attended the University of Rochester, and then the Eastman School of Music, which was a private, exclusive branch school of the main, University of Rochester, both, of course, were/ are in Rochester, New York. By the late 1960's, he was into the blues scene in Boston (home of the original House of Blues, which really was a house!). His piano playing style was influenced by all the great blues piano players of that era and earlier times. He became friends with Otis Spann, who was one of his influencers. In the early '70's, he was spotted and recruited by Freddie King, who he accompanied and performed with. In '74 & '75, he did the same with Bonnie Raitt. From '77 into '79, he did the same with James Cotton. Early '80's, he returned to Boston and formed a band -- "David Maxwell and the Blues Wizards". The performers in the band were: David on piano, Paul Richel on guitar, Ed Friedland on bass, Chuck Lair on drums, and "Weepin' Willie" Robinson on vocals. He toured and recorded with Otis Rush in the '90's. Also in '91, he performed on the soundtrack of the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes". He played on James Cotton's 1997 album "Deep In The Blues". He collaborated with Louisiana Red (Iverson Minter) and Otis Spann on the albums "You Got To Move" in 2009, and "Conversations In Blue" in 2010. His final album, recorded in 2012, was "Blues In Other Colors", done with non-Western instruments; in it he fused blues with "world musics". Over the years, he both recorded and performed with so many other musicians, it would be hard to put that list in the Blog-- there's only so much room for that type of info here. Sadly, he passed away in Massachusetts General Hospital, of prostate cancer, on February 13,2005.
Blues Question For October 2022: This bluesman influenced no one, and is, himself, barely known.This Piedmont- style artist was good at his craft, and he had two brothers who were also musicians. He performed in the U.S. and in the U.K.. He only recorded one album, and today, a copy of that album is a bit "pricey", but he did record with others on their recordings. Any thoughts on who this bluesman might be??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For October 2022: The song is "Black Cat Bone", and the artist is Johnny Winter. This one I took from the "Johnny Winter Live Bootleg Series, Vol.2"; Friday Music Studios label, # FRM-1083, released in 2008. The same song is on other releases in this series on Johnny Winter, and there are 14 releases in his series, from 2007 through 2017. This version is supposed to have Johnny on guitar and vocals, Jon P (Paris) on bass and harmonica, Bobby T (Torello) on drums. Other versions have Jon P on them, but may feature others on bass, drums, or guitar. Pat Rush is on guitar on some versions of this. Picked this song 'cause it's October--the month of Halloween, so just enjoy the cut, and hand out goodies for the neighborhood kids !
Blues Trivia For October 2022: Since this is the month in which we find Halloween, I'd just like to note that there are many songs about it, or are related to it. Some go back in time to the earliest jazz and blues recordings, usually referencing hoodoo or voodoo, in both of those genres. You'll also find these same types of songs in the Chicago - style, both early, later, and current styles. They can also be found in the rock, garage band, rap, hip- hop, R & B, soul, metal, and pretty much any type of music genre. It's definitely not limited in it's acceptance. Whatever genre or type of music you like, just listen to and enjoy it, as some of it can be interesting, funny, true to life, or sometimes, just garbage. There are hundreds from which to choose !
Some October Blues Passings:
August 29th, 2022
Some September Blues Births:
Answer To The August 2022 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Bob Stroger, born December 27, 1930, on a farm just outside of Hayti, Missouri. Some records show that the family moved to Chicago in 1955, which is probably correct. Some sources say that this was when Bob was 16, but with simple addition, 1930 + 16 would be 1946, not 1955. Anyhow, the family lived in an apartment in back of Silvio's, a blues and jazz nightclub. Bob's brother- in -law played in J.B.Hutto's band, and Bob was the one who drove him to their gigs. After he had learned how to play bass guitar, Bob formed a band, a family band, called The Red Tops. When Willie Kent was brought into the band, it was re-named: Joe Russell and The Blues Hustlers. Bob using the Joe Russell tag for gigs, however, didn't stick. After that ended, he was playing jazz with Rufus Forman, until he had the good fortune to meet Eddie King. That meeting was the start of a long- running blues career. He played bass on King's 1965 single recording, "Love Yoy, Baby". He backed King for 15 years, until King moved to Peoria, south of Chicago. Stroger quit playing for a couple of years, until he was recommended to Otis Rush. He backed, toured, and recorded with Rush, in the late'70's up into the mid- '80's. In the late '80's into the early '90's, he worked as a session musician. In '98, he performed at the Lucerne Blues Festival, with a group of musicians. This prompted the recording of his debut album: "In The House: Live At Lucerne, Vol.1". On this, he was accompanied by Ken Saydak on the keyboard, Billy Flynn on guitar, James "Big" Wheeler, alson on guitar, Ron Sorin on harmonica, and Marty Binder on drums. All of them, with the exception of Sorin and Binder, did vocals on different tracks. Sitting here, looking at this c.d., it was released in '02, and was manufactured in Switzerland, with an intro track, and 10 others. Ten years later ('08), Bob recorded his second album, "Bob Is Back In Town", on Airway Records. He recorded another in '22: "That's My Name", for Delmark Records. He was nominated, and won, in the Blues Foundation's Blues Music Award, for "Best Blues Bassist", twice, once in 2011, and again in 2013. He's still around, and will be 92 on December 27, this year.
Blues Question For September 2022: This bluesman was influenced by most all of the big names in Chicago blues. He's recorded quite a few albums under his own name, and accompanied or backed so many players on their recordings/ gigs, it'd take some serious space to list them all. He's won blues music awards for his work. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) for September 2022: The song is "Let Me Down Easy", and the main artist is Gloria Hardiman, co- billed with Steve Freund. It features Hardiman on vocals, Freund on guitar, Ken Saydak on keyboards, Bob Stroger on bass (yes, the same as the featured artist above), Eddie Turner on drums, and Diane Holmes and Gail Washington on backround vocals. This was recorded in the first of three recording sessions, in 1983, in Chicago, released on Razor Records # R5103, a 12" L.P. album.
Blues Trivia For September 2022: This is on the above album, with some reference to others, about it's recording, the artists, and the later release of it on Delmark Records. In the first recording session, 3 songs were recorded: "Dr. Feelgood", "Let Me Down Easy", and "New Orleans Hopscotch Blues". The second session had 4 tracks recorded, and the third session had 3 tracks recorded, for the 10 total on the original L.P., 5 on each side. When Delmark released it on c.d., # DE837, they added 4 tracks to it, 2 by Hardiman, and 2 by Saydak. I didn't realize Bob Stroger on bass was on this recording. The trivia part is that Razor Records also released a 7" 45 RPM, # R5104, with "Dr.Feelgood" on the "A" side, and "Let Me Down Easy" on the "B" side. The label on the record shows the artist as being "The Blueprints". That group was originally made up of Gloria Hardiman on vocals, Steve Freund on guitar, Ken Saydak on keyboard, Bob Stroger and Harlan Lee Terson on bass (whichever one was available at any given time), and Eddie Turner on drums. There were others added on the Delmark release, but still from those same sessions. They were: Sam Burkhardt on tenor sax (on sessions 2 & 3), Fred Grady on drums (session 3), Gary Heller and Bob Levis on guitar (no sessions shown), Harlan Lee Terson on bass (session 2), and Sunnyland Slim (Albert Luandrew) on piano (session 3). I believe that "Let Me Down Easy" by Hardiman might possibly be based on the 1965 recording of the same name, on the Calla Records label, # C-102, by Bettye La Vette. Incidentally, that song was written by Dee Dee Ford, under/ behind the pseudonym Wreich- Holloway, and her real name was Wrecia Holloway. Also, as is usual, the "Blueprints" all went their seperate ways: as of 2020 they were: Freund is in San Francisco, Hardiman is doing festivals with Johhny Kilowatt, out of Iowa City (I've heard she's now back home and only performs in/ at her church), Terson and Stroger own "The Bass Chair" in Chicago music venues, And Turner is helping inner city kids, learn and stay out of trouble, as a coordinator at "off the streets club", a boys and girls club in Garfield Park, in Chicago's West Side.
Some September Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog August 2022
First off, I need to apologize for not getting the info in the July Blog to transmit correctly. In the "Blues Passings" section, the first 2 names didn't come through, for some reason, so I'll give them to you now: On the 8th.,1991-- Willie Nix; on the 19th.,2002-- Alan Lomax. Hope that helps ! Then, on the Song and Artist section, I listed the live recording of "Linda Lou", made at the Knickerbocker Cafe, on the Fan Club label, out of France. The one that's in the Blog on the NEOBA site is actually on the Alligator label from an L.P. that was originally released in 1978. I'll cover that, in a reference mode, in the Trivia section of this blog. Now, on to the Blog.
Some August Blues Births:
Answer To The July 2022 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/ is Earl Lacy Forest, born December 1, 1926, in Memphis, Tennessee. Not much I could find on his early years, but by the late '40's he performed with a group known as "The Beale Streeters". This wasn't a formally formed band, but rather, a collection of different musicians, performing together sometimes, and backing others of the group in performances and/ or recordings. Some of those were Adolph "Billy" Duncan, Johnny Ace (John Alexander), Willie Nix, Herman "Little Junior" Parker, Riley "B.B." King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and Roscoe Gordon. Earl was the drummer on many of B.B.'s early recordings. Different members, at different times, would front the group, while the others made up the backing band. In '51, they recorded for the Modern Records label, owned by the 4 Bihari brothers. Earl backed Bland on his session, and that particular session also included, in various parts of the backing band, Billy Duncan on tenor sax, Matt Murphy on guitar, and Ike Turner on piano, who was also the "talent scout" for Modern, and was the one who had set up this session. Earl was a great songwriter who co- wrote, with Bill Harvey, the blues standard "Next Time You See Me", which has been recorded by many different artists, including James Cotton, Junior Parker (he was the one who first recorded it in '57, on the Duke label), and Frankie Lymon. In '53, Earl recorded several singles on the Duke label, one of which was his first credited recording: "Whoopin' And Hollerin'", with Johnny Ace on piano.That one made it up to #7 on Billboard's R & B chart. Some of his singles records after that, listed his name as Earl "Whoopin' and Hollerin' " Forest. From '53 to '63 Earl also recorded singles that were released on the Duke, Meteor, and Flair labels, those last 2 being subsidiaries of the Modern Records label, owned by the Bihari brothers, and located in California. He's in backing band's recordings of many mainline artists. Earl passed away on February 26,2003, in the Memphis V.A. Med. Center, of cancer.
Blues Question For August 2022: This bluesman has been around a long time, and has nowhere near the recognition he should have. He's been a sideman on many mainliner's recordings, live performances, and tours. He only has 3 albums as the featured artist. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) and artist(s) For August 2022: The song is "Another Cow Dead Tonight", and the artist is Eddie King. It's on Roesch Records, #RR035, from 1997. The performing artists are: Eddie on lead guitar & vocals, Tim DeHuff on rhythm guitar, Scott Spray on bass, Roger Young on piano & organ, "Blue" Lou Marini on tenor sax, Birch "Slide" Johnson on trombone, Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin on trumpet, and Joe Roesch on drums. How's that for a different title ? Enjoy one from another under-recognized artist !!
Blues Trivia For August 2022: I made reference to this in the beginning of this Blog, so here we go. That Alligator recording was on an L.P., issued in 1978. It was also issued in the U.K., Italy, and France, at the same time, on the Sonet label, 13 tracks on all of those. There are some listings that show 12 tracks only, minus 1 of Eddie Shaw's Band's songs. There are a total of 18 different releases of that album, including L.P.'s, cassettes, and C.D.'s. The first re-release of it by Alligator, on c.d., was in 1991. There are indications that it was released first, with 16 tracks, having added 4 tracks by Carey Bell's Blues Harp Band, and removing 1 track of Shaw's band. It was supposedly released again in 1991, with the removed Shaw recording put back in, for a total of 17. It was re- released again (maybe ?) by Alligator in 2006. The whole point of this is that you need to research thoroughly when you're shopping for your favorite older recording, as what's being advertised is not always what you're going to get ! A lot of these vendors use "stock photos" and descriptions, not always what they really have. Just be careful when buying !, because changes like these are common for most large record companies materials, usually on older recordings, whether done by the company itself or others, trying to make a buck.
Speaking of Alligator Records, they have a new Shemekia Copelnd album, #ALCD-5010, due out on a Friday, August 19. It's titled "Done Come Too Far", and it's a really great album, with a couple modern sound blues, some earlier style blues, and even a slightly country tune. Check it out ! It's kind of an extension on the thoughts in/on her last album.
Some August Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog July 2022
A "Hi there" to T.J.Gassan, and thanks for your comments, and yes, I miss a lot of things about the old location. Hope you continue to enjoy the blog and find it, at least a little bit, entertaining, and also to let others know there's a lot for all to learn, including me ! Now, on to the Blog---
Some July Blues Births:
Answer To The June 2022 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/ is Johnny Edward Jenkins, born March 5, 1939, in Macon (Bibb County) Georgia. There's not much info on his early life but in the late '50's he started a band, known as "The Pinetoppers", and through the years, had in it Johnny Jenkins on lead guitar and vocals, Samuel Davis on rhythm guitar, Ish Mosley on saxaphone, Willie Bowden on drums, and, of course, Otis Redding on vocals, who was an "unknown" at the time. Otis also served as Johnny's personal driver, as Johnny had no driver's license. In 1962, the band's manager, Phil Walden, set up a recording studio date, with the recording managed by Jenkins. Johnny recorded 2 songs: "Spunky", an instrumental on the "A" side, and "Bashful Guitar" on the "B" side. They were released on the "Volt" label (Stax) #V-122, with recording numbers of V1134 & V1135, but not until 1964. There were 40 minutes of studio recording time left, and Otis used it to record "These Arms Of Mine" (A side) and "Hey Hey Baby" (B side). Those were released on #45-V103, with recording numbers V6511 & V6512, respectively, and were released in 1962. Otis's recordings of those songs featured Jenkins on guitar and Steve Cropper on piano. Redding's recordings were selling well, which led Walden to promote him, while putting Jenkins on the "back burner", as far as career development. Johnny stuck it out though, up until '70, when he recorded an album -- "Ton Ton Macoute !" (look that one up--you'll be surprised what it was named after). That album was recorded with members of the Allman Brother's Band, Including Duane, and it was Johnny's debut album. Johnny had had early success, both with the Pinetoppers, and as a solo performer, as he was quite the showman when performing. Remember, this was in the late '50's, and he was playing left-handed (normally), both in front and behind the back, with a right-handed guitar, not re-strung for a "southpaw". He also played using his teeth, which was kinda' never seen back then. Remember I stated in the Blues Question that he influenced a young player who had seen him perform when the youn man was in Macon visiting relatives. That young man was another "lefty", using the same basic set-up as Johnny, ie., right handed guitar not restrung for left- handed players, and he would use some of Johnny's showmanship too. That was a "kid" named Jimi Hendrix, who said that he was influenced by Johnny's playing. Anyhow, dissatisfied with the music business, Johnny walked away from it. He would work different jobs to support his family, and, on occasion, play a local gig. This would have been in the early '70's. Walden kept in touch with him, and finally convinced him in '96 or '97, to do another album, which he agreed to do. That one was titled "Blessed Blues", and had some of the blues standards on it, along with some of Johnny's tunes. Johnny recorded 2 additional albums, 1 in 2001, and 1 in 2005. Sadly, he passed away, from a stroke, on June 26,2006, in his hometown of Macon, Georgia.
Blues Question For July 2022: This bluesman was known for his work as a sideman, but he also did quite a few recordings of his own, either as a solo artist, or with a backing band. he's recorded on singles and on albums, as a sideman. He's also known to be a good songwriter, both for himself, and for other artists. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For July 2022: The song is "Linda Lu", and the artist is "Left Hand Frank" (Craig). This version was recorded and titled "Left Hand Frank: Live At The Knickerbocker Cafe", in the late '70's, at the Knickerbocker Cafe, in Westerly, Rhode Island, which is now known as The Knickerbocker Music Center. The musicians on this song are: Left Hand Frank on guitar & vocals, Peter "Hi-Fi" Ward on rhythm guitar, Michael "Mudcat" Ward on bass (yes,they're brothers), and Ted "Houserocking" Harvey on drums. By the way, the "Knick" opened in 1933, and it was named after a train that went through Westerly. Also, it's where the Roomful of Blues band got started, and they're still the house band there. This albumis on bothFan Club cd # FCD-101, and Last Call cd # 42428, both of which are out of France.
Blues Trivia For July 2022: In the February 2021 Blues Blog Trivia section, I listed some of the differences between Hoodoo and Voodoo, and mentioned the "Voodoo Queen of New Orleans", Marie Laveau. I also gave you a description of one of the "charms" used in both practices-- the "gris -gris". Now, about that item: you've heard of Dr.John, a New Orleans musician, most likely. That was used as the title of his first album, "Gris Gris". There are cerrently 70 different releases of that album. He picked that title because he'd been interested in the New Orleans voodooist history after he'd moved there, which was/ is still prominent. Some of the practioners of some of those forms were/are called "root doctors". The most famous of them was Dr. John Montenet, aka Bayou John, an African priest and freed slave, and he's a whole other story. Here's the trivia part: the Dr.John you know really studied up on the history of root doctors and all of the "problems and/ or ills" that they could cure, or , at least, help with, and admired Dr. John Montenet from that. Our Dr.John thought enough of the original Dr. John that he hunted down and aquired some of his things. Early in his performing career, he was sometimes called Dr.John, rather than Mac Rebennack, his real name. He eventually decided to keep and use the Dr.John moniker to also honor the memory of the "root Doctor John".
Some July Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog June 2022
First Off, I'd like to congratulate the winners of the NEOBA Blues Challenge of 2022: in the single/ duo class, Chris Yakopcic, and in the band category, The Nate Lupi Band. They will now move on to the International Competition in Memphis. About that -- I'd like to say good luck there, and remember that you're going up against the best offerings from all over, so practice, make the best effort you can to be the best you can, and it'll work out. But remember also that they're not going to just hand it to you, you gotta' earn it ! Secondly, I'd like to give a shout out to Ritchie Braziel, and his son, David. I've learned a lot about the R & B genre of years past, and I'd like to think that he and David have learned , at least a little bit, about the blues from me ! Now, on to the Blog.
Some June Blues Births:
Answer To The May 2022 Blues Question: The artist we were looking for was/is Ronald James Taylor, born October 16,1952, in Galveston, Texas, to parents Marian and Robert "Bruno" Taylor. He had two sisters -- Roberta and Frances. After he finished high school, he attended Wharton County Junior College, where he played football (he's a BIG guy), and participated in the school's choir and theater. His choir teacher had suggested that Ron join the choir, after he'd heard him singing The Temptations. At 19, he moved to New York, where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, with the intention of becoming a singer. As he was a "barrel-chested bass- baritone", he had an extensive "career" in musical theater productions. Oddly, when he graduated from the Academy, he couldn't read a musical note, and could barely play the piano, but he did find work as a singer. In '77, he played the Cowardly Lion in the touring show of "The Wiz". By '82 he was doing the voicing of Audrey II, the funky, conniving, street- smart, talking killer plant in an off- Broadway production of "The Little Shop of Horrors", which ran till '87, with over 2,000 performances. Also in '87, Ron played Rufus Payne, a blues musician, in a production of "Lost Highway", which was a story about singer Hank Williams. While on this production, he came up with the idea of a musical revue, "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues". It was intended to chart the development from it's African origins to it's American success. He finally convinced the director of the "Lost Highway" production, Randal Myler. In '94, Myler accepted the idea to do it with Taylor. Taylor co- wrote the revue with Myler, Lita Gaithers, Charles Bevel, and Dan Whetman. Ron was the show's associate producer and lead singer, and was it's narrator. It started out as a 45 minute show and was performed at 25 local high schools.That was so well accepted that it was moved to The Denver Center For The Performing Arts, made 2 hours long , now featuring 50 songs, with 3 people added to the original 4. In '95 the revue ran at The Cleveland Playhouse, tied in, time-wise, with the initial opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He won several awards for that revue he'd written, and was nominated and won a few others in his various career paths. As I said in the Blues Question, he was a busy man, and that's putting it mildly. I could probably fill 8 to 10 more pages with the info, and still not have all of it listed. He was in over 20 films from '83 to 2002. He also did a lot of television, sometimes several episodes of a series (he even played a Klingon in Star Trek), sometimes only a single appearance. He sang The Star Spangled Banner at many pro baseball games. He would only do that in a straight-up rendition, as it was meant to be done when it was written, unlike some of the song's butchers. He was part of the blues group The Nervis Bros, and toured with them, performing all over the U.S.A. He also sang with notables, such as Etta James, Sheila E, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and others. A c.d. of the original cast performing the numbers in "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues", complete with some video attached, is still available. On it are some of his versions of blues standards, and they're well done ! He had a stroke in '99. He passed away on January 16,2002, of a heart attack, at his home, in Los Angeles, at the young age of 49.
Blues Question For June 2022: This bluesman, a guitarist, is best known for being the guitarist on recordings of another artist. He did influence another player though, who came to be far more recognized and famous than himself. He did do some albums under his own name, though. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For June 2022: The song is (Night Time Is) The Right Time, and the artist is Napolean Brown Goodson Culp, known much better as Nappy Brown, recorded on the Savoy label, #1525/14025, on October 1,1957. The musicians on it were: Nappy on vocals, Buster Cooper on trombone, Hilton Jefferson on alto sax, Bud Johnson on tenor sax, Kelly Owens on piano, Skeeter Best on guitar, Leonard Gaskin on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums.
Blues Trivia For June 2022: This is on the above song, and it's variations. It was first recorded by Roosevelt "The Honeydripper" Sykes, on April 29,1937. It was recorded again by Big Bill Broonzy, on March 21,1938, with the same title wording, but with a "#2" on the end of it. Some say it was "borrowed" from a Leroy Carr song, with a changing of some of the words, "When The Sun Goes Down", which Carr recorded on February 25,1935. The next good version recorded was Nappy's, in '57. It didn't do all that well on the charts, so in '58, Ray Charles "borrowed" it, recorded it with the Raelettes as the "response" artists. That's the only version that charted well. It has been recorded since that time by many players, but none that good. You just can't beat the earlier versions, so don't even try. Here's a little bit of the trivia: Nappy's career was born in gospel singing, and progressed into the blues and R & B. When he was 16, he started a gospel group -- "The Golden Crowns". After that he had "The Golden Bell Quintet", then on to the "Selah Jubilee Singers". The group that went with him to record for Savoy were "The Heavenly Lights". It was his gospel group that did the response end of the "call and response" type of song that is (Night Time Is) The Right Time. It was not a "studio group" who backed Nappy. Listen to his version, and you'll hear the gospel overtones in it.
Some June Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog May 2022
First off, let me wish all performers who are vying for a spot or shot at making it to the National Blues competition, via a win here, at home, with the help and backing of NEOBA, and all of it's hard-working people, the best of luck (that's read "a quality performance") in your efforts.
Some May Blues Births:
Answer To The March/ April Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/ is Jimmy Johnson, born as James Earl Thompson, on November 25,1928, in Holly Springs, Mississippi. In his youth he sang in gospel groups and played piano. His family moved to Chicago around 1950, where he worked as a welder, and played guitar in his spare time. Two of his brothers were also musicians, and they were all influenced by their neighbor, one "Magic Sam" (Samuel Gene Maghett). In '59 Jimmy also changed his last name to Johnson, as did his brother Syl (Sylvester Thompson, who was advised to do so by a record producer with whom he was working). The third brother kept his name as it was-- Mac Thompson. Jimmy liked the styles of both Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, and that's what influenced his playing.He performed with people such as both Freddie and Albert King, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Eddy Clearwater, and many other of the big names in the Chicago blues area. In the early '60's he went more toward the soul end of the music, where he performed with notable people, such as Otis Clay, Denise LaSalle, Garland Green, and others. By '74 he was back to playing the blues, with Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins, and toured Japan in '75 with Otis Rush. In '80 Jimmy was awarded at the first annual Blues Music Awards, in Memphis. His career kept growing after that until December 2,1988, when his touring van crashed in Indiana, killing his band's keyboardist St. James Bryant, and Larry Exum the band's bassist. Jimmy was also injured, and took an extended break from performing. In '94 he returned to it, and did a recording for Verve Records, album titled "I'm A Jockey". In 2002 he and brother Syl recorded an album on Evangeline Records, titled "Two Johnson's Are Better Than One". He was inducted into The Blues Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2020, he was honored as "the Best Blues Guitarist", by Living Blues Magazine, and a year later he was named "Best Blues Artist of The Year". A year after that, he passed away at his home in Harvey, Illinois, on January 31,2022, just six days before his brother Syl also passed away. The third brother, Mac, born January 28,1934, had passed away, earlier, on October 10,1991.
Blues Question For May 2022: This person isn't a bluesman, per se, but is known as an actor, but he is an excellent writer (songs included) and singer. For someone with his abilities he's not well known by most, but he sure has a long list of credits. He did do some touring with an unknown blues band, as the vocalist. Any ideas who this person might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For May 2022: The song is "Crying At Daybreak", and the artist is Howlin' Wolf. This was the "b" side of an RPM recording , with the "a" side being "Passing By Blues", RPM #340, recorded October 2,1951, at KWEM radio in West Memphis, Arkansas. The artists on this were: Howlin' Wolf on harmonica and vocals, Ike Turner (yes, that Ike) on piano, Willie Johnson on guitar and bass, and Willie Steel on drums. This is the first recording of the Wolf's where he mentions "smoke stack lightning" in the lyrics. The song "Smokestack Lightning" was recorded in February of '56, on Chess Records, #1618. Incidentally, the "smoke stack lightning" referred to in the songs is the description of the sparks being emitted from the smoke stack of a locomotive, in the darkness of night.
Blues Trivia For May 2022: The radio station mentioned earlier, KWEM, was a leading station that started broadcasting on February 9,1947,(990AM) on the dial, officially opened two weeks later. It was started by the owners of a Little Rock area station, KXLR,(1450AM), who wanted to build a network of radio stations, to broadcast Arkansas Razorback's Football. Howlin' Wolf had a show on KWEM(990AM) from 1949 to 1952. The people who got their music careers started at or through this station were many, such as Paul Burlinson (rockabilly guitarist), B.B.King, on a show that was run by Sonny Boy Williamson II, Jim Stewart, who founded STAX records, and also James Cotton and Hubert Sumlin. Johhny Cash's first radio broadcast was on this station, as was also the first for an unknown performer who wasn't very well received by the station's audience because he didn't have a band. You might have heard of him: Elvis Presley. The station has gone through a lot of changes over the years since those days-- moving the offices to Memphis (on the other side of the river) while keeping the transmitter in West Memphis, changing call letters, ownership of it, and on and on. It is now still functioning again as KWEM-LP (low power)FM (93.3). It is now owned by Arkansas State University. It broadcasts blues and gospel musics, and is used as a "training ground" for the community college's digital media program, as it's on-line also.
Some May Blues Passings:
A Footnote re the March/April Blues Blog: There was an album listed/ provided for your entertainment, "Heartbreakin' Woman", by Marva Wright. The one that was chosen/is pictured is the third and the last, to this date, re-issue of the album, and it's on Mardi Gras Records, # MG1038, released in 1998. The original on Tipatina's label, # T-007, shows Marva in black leather slacks and jacket, astride a blue motorcycle (possibly a Harley or other V-twin),outside the front of Tipatina's, and was issued in 1990. The second re-issue is on Sky Ranch Records (out of France), # SR652307, released in 1991 (France only). That has a cover with what I'd call a "ghosted picture" of Marva, looking to the left, and singing. Just thought I'd let you know !!
Joe's Blues Blog March/April 2022
First of all, let me wish all a Happy St.Paddy's Day (Yeah, I know I'm late), a Happy April Fool's Day, and most of all, a Happy, Safe, And Blessed Easter (even for the marshmallow Peeps and the Cadbury Bunny).
Since I couldn't get the March Blog out on time, even though I had it almost finished, I've decided to re-do it and combine it with the April Blues Blog, as I've used the info combined to do so. I've added a little and scrapped a little to do this.Some March Blues Births:
Answer To The February 2022 Blues Question: The blues artist we were looking for was/is Marva Wright, born Marva Maria Williams, on March 20,1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother was Mattie P. Gilbert, and her father was Rev. Arthur Williams. Marva graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, then attended Southern University in Baton Rouge. Her musical "career" started with her singing gospel, in church, with her mother, who was a pianist and gospel singer there too. Her mother was a big influence in her singing, as was a family friend by the name of Mahalia Jackson. Marva's very first singing on a recording was "I Walk With The King", a gospel song, accompanied by her mother, at the age of 9. Marva didn't turn professional until 1987, at almost 40 years of age. She was working a second job to support her then family. The song that got her noticed was her performance of "Dr. Feelgood', an Aretha Franklin tune. In 1989, she was at Tipatina's, along with several other local artists, doing a show, when she recorded "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean", a song originally recorded in 1952 and released in '53, by none other than Ruth Brown. That night's performances were recorded, and later in 1989, released on the Ooh-La-La label, #1401, as "Tipatina's Proudly Presents Live And In Person". It's 10 great tracks, recorded in Dec. 1988 & Jan. 1989, all by different artists. The first tune on it is Marva, doing the song I just listed earlier. Later in '89, she recorded/released her first album, "Heatbreakin' Woman", on the Tipatina Records label, #T-007. She wrote that title song, and if you get a chance to hear this c.d., you'll see why and how she got the title "The Blues Queen of New Orleans". There are 2 other c.d.'s worth mentioning here. One, under her own name, is "After The Levees Broke", done in 2007, her extremely heartfelt album, done after she lost everything she and her family had, when hurricane Katrina broke the levees, and destroyed so many lives. It took her bandleader quite awhile to convince her to record this heartbreak, and yet, have a positive outlook for the future album. The man who recorded it was also from New Orleans, and he too, lost everything to the flooding, including his recording studio and all it's equipment. He recorded this c.d., with Marva, her band leader--Benny Turner, and the rest of the musicians, in his new studio location and place of residence-- Australia. The other one worth noting, is a compilation c.d., put together and distributed in Germany, in 1993, of New Orleans musicians. It was sponsored by Tabasco Sauce, released on the ARIS / Ariola BMG label, and has 14 tracks, all by different artists. If you want that c.d., you're going to have to get it from Germany (yes, I have that one too). She has 12 albums under her own name, and quite a few compilation albums. Marva has 4 children from her previous marriages: Gerry and Elizabeth Martin, and Jeanne and James Kelly Jr. The daughters all have different last names now, as they're all married. She also has quite a few grand-babies. After a series of strokes, from which she never fully recovered, she had the last one, which was fatal, on March 23, 2010, a few days after her 62nd. birthday, at her daughter's house, in New Orleans.
Blues Question For March And April 2022: This bluesman was quite a versatile player/singer/writer in the blues genre. He has a younger brother, also a gifted bluesman. Both of them are well-known in their own areas of the music. Both have shared the stage with the big names in the blues, and have also been the lead act(s). Any idea who this bluesman might be ???
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For March And April 2022: Referring to the Blues Question & Answer sections on Marva, it's her song-- "Heartbreakin' Woman", on Tipatina's Records album, # T-007. Also on this album is her doing "St.James Infirmary", and it's the only album of hers that that particular song is on. Also on it is "Born Under A Bad Sign". If you get on youtube, you can get either just the individual songs, or the full album. I'd personally opt for the full album (but I have the c.d.). The other musicians on that album are: Ronald Jones-- backing vocals,, drums, piano; Juanita Brooks-- backing vocals; Marva Wright-- backing vocals,,lead vocals; Sammy Perfect-- organ,,piano; and Daryl Johnson-- bass.
Blues Trivia For March And April 2022: If you have Amazon Prime (I don't, but I borrowed it), they made a movie/series (8 episodes so far), titled "Jack Reacher", after the main character in the Lee Child series of books (there are 26 published, with the 27th. due out in October 2022), and I've read all but #25- The Sentinal (I'm part way through it), and #26-BetterOff Dead, which I have on order. Anyhow, this first movie series is based on the first book- "Killing Floor", with the tv series titled simply "Jack Reacher". The story is set in Margrave, Georgia (a fictional town, as there is no Margrave town, township,city or county anywhere that I could find). Reacher's older brother, Joe, had told him that it was in that town that bluesman Blind Blake had possibly died. That actually was a clue from Joe that there were some problems in Margrave that needed looking into by a qualified investigator, since Jack was just that, in the Army, up until he retired. The whole story revolves around the fact that, once there, Jack's arrested for murder, with an unidentified victim. It's discovered by Reacher when he's at the Morgue, that this "victim" is his brother, Joe. From that point, his entire being and purpose is to eradicate all/ anyone connected to Joe's murder. Reacher originally went there to check the story about Blake. (Arthur "Blind" Blake actually died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) As you go through all the episodes in the series, you'll hear a lot of bluesmen on the soundtrack, such as Blake, Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Corey Harris, and others. You'll hear Blind Blake doing "Police Dog Blues", at least in part, Howlin' Wolf doing "Spoonfull", again, in part, as are all the tunes. Child mentions Blake in 2 or 3 of the other books in the Reacher series. That Police Dog Blues tune was recorded on the Paramount label, in Richmond, Indiana, on August 17,1929. Blake recorded exclusively on and for the Paramount label. If you've read any Dean Koontz or Stephen King books, you will also find that they both, at times, mention some early and also current bluesmen, and/or their songs. There's some trivia items here: the actor who plays Reacher in this series is Alan Ritchson, who is listed, in different places, as being either 6'3" or 6'2" in height, and in the books he's shown to be 6'5". The actor Tom Cruise, who played Reacher in 2 movies, is 5'7", a long way from Reacher's description. Want to guess who comes off better in the role ? Another item is what I mentioned earlier-- that there's a lot of great cuts on the soundtrack. A third item is that Ritchson read all the books in this series, in their order, to prepare himself for the role. Yes, I know, it's not straight-up blues, but it should tell you that you can find the blues almost everywhere you choose to look, or you may just stumble into them. Don't ever complain--just enjoy !!
Some March Blues Passings:
Also, by the way, Alligator Records has 3 artists on the Blues Chart: Tinsley Ellis, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, and Shemekia Copeland, and mentions of several other of their artists, including Chris Cain, Tommy Castro, Curtis Salgado, and others.
Joe's Blues Blog February 2022
First, Some Info On Where We've Been: Due to some family health issues, which caused some nasty financial issues, we were forced to shut down the parent company, Balista & Associates, which, by law, had to also first shut down any & all susidiary companies, one of which was The Sound of Blue. Well, I'm still here, but with a new name: Blues Hipp-O. To reach me you'll have to go through NEOBA, who will get in touch with me, to answer questions, or whatever. The Hipp-O thing was chosen because the Blues is a lot like the animal: most times peaceful and quiet, other times, up to 8,000 pounds of bad attitude, with no sense of humor when tampered with. I'll try to get the Blog written each month, as time and health permits.
Some February Blues Births:
Answer To The September 2021 Blues Question: (yes, I know I'm late) The bluesman we were looking for was/is Johnny Mars, born December 7, 1942, in Laurent, South Carolina. In his early years, his family moved frequently, as they were sharecroppers. At the age of 9, he got his first harmonica. When he was 14, after the death of his mother, Mars and his younger siblings moved to Paltz, New York. Having left high school, he began performing in various clubs in New York City. He signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in the early '60's, with the band "Burning Bush". By the mid-'60's he'd moved to California and started a band, got lots of gigs, but no recognition, other than in Northern California. He got some advice from Rick Estrin, of "Little Charlie and The Night Cats", to tour the U.K. (England). While there, he did some recording for/ with Big Bear Records, then re-located to Somerset, England. He taught for 15 years, at / for primay schools in England. He is still touring and performing in such places as The Bath Music Fest (in England), The Pocono Blues Festival (in the U.S.A.), and the Kastav Blues Festival (in Croatia), with Michael Roach, with whom he had partnered up with in 2008.
Blues Question For February 2022: This blues artist started out, as have many, singing in a church choir, eventually progressing to performing the blues, after listening to it for many years. She has a great blues voice, and is well- known in her native area. Any idea who this performer might be ???
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For February 2022: The song is "(It) Wuden't Me" (sometimes shown as Wudn't Me), and the Artist is Chuck Berry. I know it's not strictly a blues song, but it's descriptive of how, years ago, a young Black man, might have been treated in Alabama. It was done on the ATCO label (a susidiary of Atlantic Records), on the L.P. # SD-38-118, in 1979. The other players on this record were Bob Wray and Jim Marsala on bass, Johnnie Johnson on piano, Kenneth Buttrey on drums, and, of course, Chuck Berry on guitar and vocals. It became available on c.d. in 2017, on the Varese Sarabande label. It's under the original album's name: "Rockit", with the same picture as the original L.P. cover.
Blues Trivia For February 2022: Back in the early '70's, some musicians in the U.K. got together and formed a company called Magnum Music Corp.. Some sources list this company as the one that recorded & released that recording of Chuck Berry's Rockit L.P. in 1988. You ever heard backround music in an elevator, in a retail store, in a restaurant, in a doctor's office, or any other place ? Well, that's what was started by Magnum Music back then, re-releasing some of those old albums and/ or recording for the "backround" music that you hear today. The original of "Rockit" was, of course, on ATCO, which was released in 1979. Listen to the song "Wuden't Me"'s lyrics and pay attention. In it, you'll hear Chuck mention the "Delford County Jail". Nowhere could I find a Delford County itself, or an associated jail. What I did find was that in Chuck's hometown, St. Louis, there is an 8 block long area called the "Delmar Loop". On it there are are over 150 specialty shops/ businesses. It is located on the border of St. Louis (the city) and St.Louis County. It got that name because over a hundred years ago, it's where the streetcars "looped around" for their return runs. Some of the current notables are "Salt and Smoke", at 6525 Delmar Blvd., an "everything made from scratch" barbeque joint. Another is called "Blueberry Hill", at 6504 Delmar Blvd., founded in 1972, now known as an entertainment venue, with a restaurant. It has one area known as "The Duck Room", as Chuck played there for many years. Imagine going there and seeing/ hearing him live, while you're eating. By the way that album, "Rockit", was released on c.d. in 2017, on the Varese Sarabande label, featuring the artwork from the original L.P.. Little hard to find, but it is available. If you can't clearly hear the lyrics to the song, get on your computer, and type into your search browser: "Wudn't Me lyrics", and you'll get multiple choices to look at/ see them. There are quite a few other "artists" listed, but just disregard them. It also will bring up another similar song by Chuck:"It Wasn't Me", but that's from 1965(?), and is totally different.
Here's a little info for you: if you like Southern blues- rock, you'll like the January 21st. release from Alligator Records,: Tinsley Ellis-- "Devil May Care". If you like some good fret work and string- bending, and active vocals, have a listen !!
Some February Blues Passings:
Some September Blues Births:
Answer To The August 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Frank Edwards, aka Mr. Frank, Black Frank, and/or Mr. Cleanhead, born March 20,1909, in Washington, Georgia. He worked as a singer, guitarist, and/or a harmonica player for roughly 80 years. His day job(s), to pay the bills and allow him to play the blues, was as a carpenter, painter, and/or plumber, except for a two year stretch, when a house fire left him without a guitar. He left home at fourteen years of age, after an argument with his father, and headed to St.Augustine, Florida. Once there, he bought a guitar and was encouraged to learn how to play it by a local bluesman, one Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker), who was only six years his senior. During that period he also learned to play the harmonica, influenced by listening to recordings by John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson (the first). He had also met and become friends with Tommy McClennan, who encouraged him to make some recordings. In his career he recorded for 4 labels: OKeh, on March 28,1941; Regal, in August 1949, but that one is shown to be done in May of 1950, which went unreleased at that time (those are now on several compilation c.d.'s); Trix, on September 27, November 17, and December 8, of 1972 (#3303, titled "Done Some Travelin'"); Music Maker Relief Foundation's recordings of him were done from 1996 to 2002, at different locations (venues), with a couple of his early recordings added in to showcase his talent. Those were released on a c.d. titled "Chicken Raid", named after one of his songs. He was being driven home from that last session, done on March 22, 2002, just two days after his 93rd. birthday. His driver was in Greenville, South Carolina, on the way to Frank's home in Atlanta, Georgia. when Frank had a heart attack. An ambulance was called to transport him to the hospital, but while in it, he passed away, March 22, 2002. There is one other recording of him, done live, at a blues festival in Georgia, on the Southland label, in 1984. You'd have to read his full bio, to get a true idea of how much he travelled while honing his craft.
Blues Question For September 2021: This bluesman was born in South Carolina, and now lives in England. He's a songwriter, singer, and harmonica player, who, at various times, lived in New York, the Carolina's, and good ole' northern California. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For September 2021: The song is "Blue Midnight- Alternate Version", and the artist is Little Walter (Jacobs), recorded in October of 1952. The other players on it are Louis Myers Dave Myers on guitars, with Fred Below on drums. Nothin' like a good blues instrumental !! So, ENJOY !!
Blues Trivia For September 2021: While digging for facts on Frank Edward's recordings, I wondered about the OkeH label, and how it came to be. Ah, yes--open another can of worms, please! It's a figure of speech and not meant to degrade the poor worms, just don't want to upset the word police. Anyhow, Otto K. E. Heinemann founded the Otto Heinemann Phonograph company in 1916. In 1918, he changed the "parent" company's name to The General Phonograph Corp., and began cutting records. The label's were changed to read OKeh. That label has been re-done many times over the years, in what's in caps, mixed with lower case letters. That company was sold to Columbia in 1926, and re-named The American Record Corp. (ARC). CBS bought the company in 1938. It's now owned by Sony Entertainment. Many things about OKeh have changed over all these years; the way the name is on the actual record or c.d. label, the types of musics recorded, the registered owner of the company, what label gets to distribute those recordin medias, and on and on. And, yes, it's name has been shut down/discontinued many times, by all the different owners, only to be resurrected for another time. You want to really scramble your brain, research the OKeh record label's full history, from it's inception in 1916, to the present day ! And people tend to think there's nothing to all this info being checked. Yeah, right !
Some September Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog August 2021
Some August Blues Births:
Answer To The July 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Curtis Ray, who was also known as Ray Curtis, and/or "Alabama Red", which is the one I'll use. He was born December 21, 1926, in Penola, Alabama (there's another bluesman of some fame from that town also-- Benjamin Joe "Bennie" Houston, aka "Boston Blackie"). Just to give you an idea of how small that "town" is, it is 0.72 square miles, with a 2010 census population of 144. By the age of 14 he'd learned how to play and sing, both piano and guitar. As he was growing up, he played for Sumter High School, some local churches, house parties, "box suppers", throughout the South. He moved to Birmingham, where he attended Parker Industrial High School. His first band included at least 3 other players/ singers. Sometime in the '40's he moved to Chicago, where he put another band together. They performed in many nightclubs, churches, many "senior citizen" affairs, and at both the Mississippi and Chicago Blues Festivals. Red recorded several 45 rpm records for some small Chicago labels. By '74, he was working at Florence's on Chicago's South Side. About '75, he recorded for the ACE/Westside and Palos labels. He also recorded for the Wasp label, #751-1 on the A side, "Going Back to Alabama, Part 1", which was the first time one of his recordings was credited to "Alabama Red". On the flip side, #751-2, was the same title, labeled as "Part 2". Later on in '75, he performed with others in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By October, he was back in Chicago, playing at The South Park Lounge. From '79, up into '89, he recorded for several small labels again. Those recordings were credited, seemingly with no rhyme or reason, to Curtis Ray, Ray Curtis, or Alabama Red.He passed away on August 2, 2006, in Chicago. The only c.d. available of some of his work is "Alabama Red: Windy City Blues", on the Wolf label, out of Austria, of songs he wrote/ recorded in the '70's and '80's, which we have in stock.
Blues Question For August 2021: This bluesman, again, a not well-known figure, was adept with guitar, harmonica, jug, and washboard, but he also worked regular jobs, as blues wasn't his main source of income. He made his first recording in 1941, and his last in 2002. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For August 2021: The song is "Blues After Hours", and the artist is Connie Curtis "Pee Wee" Crayton. He first recorded it in 1948, for the Bihari Brothers' Modern Records label, a 10" shellac, 78 rpm record, #20-624, at 2:31 in length. On the flip side was "I'm Still in Love With You". On that first recording of Pee Wee's, the backing musicians were David Lee Johnson on piano, Bill Davis on bass, and Candy Johnson on drums. Though that's a good version, I prefer the one on Blind Pig Records, #5052, released in 1999, at 5:23 in length.
Blues Trivia For August 2021: This spins off the Song Of The Month (the prior entry). I gave you the info on the first version about the backing musicians, and the length, and listed my preferred version on Blind Pig's c.d. The Trivia part is what went into/on that c.d. It was a re-release compilation put together from 2 Murray Brothers L.P.'s. The tracks on the c.d. aren't in the same order as they were on those L.P.'s, so explaining this is a little difficult, but I'm workin' on it anyhow. Those albums were, first, #MB-1005, recorded on August 23, 1983. On it, besides Pee Wee, were Rod Piazza on harmonica, Doug MacLeod on rhythm guitar, Don Fredman on bass, Honey Alexander (later to become Piazza) on keyboards, Claude Williams on trumpet, Bill Clark and Marshall Crayton Jr. on tenor sax (on different tracks), Fred Clark on alto, tenor, and baritone sax, and Soko Richardson on drums. The second L.P.#MB-1007, used on this c.d., was recorded in December of 1984, and released in 1985. The players on that L.P. were, of course, Pee Wee, Llew Matthews on keyboards, Fernando Harkles on sax, Eric Ajaye on bass, and Lee Spath on drums. Both of those L.P.'s were produced by Bob Murray and Rod Piazza. They were recorded at Vinnick Studio, in Riverside, California, with Wayne Vinnick as the recording engineer. For the c.d., some of the mixing/mastering was done by Steve Savage, at Different Fur Recording, in San Francisco. We have that c.d. in stock here.
Some August Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog July 2021
First, a note about the June 2021 Blog. In the Blues Births section, I listed Robert "Rockin' Robin" Montgomery, and I should have added to that entry that he was Wallace Coleman's keyboardist, and besides blues he was also a knowledgeable player of folk and rockabilly music, and these music's histories.
Some July Blues Births:
Answer to The June 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Jim Jackson, born June 1876, but, as usual, other sources show other possible years being either 1884 or 1890, though no specific date has been found, in Hernando, Mississippi. While being raised on a farm, he learned to play guitar. By 1905, he was working as a dancer, singer, and musician, in visiting traveling medicine shows, and also at local parties and dances. Before long, he was traveling and performing with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, who featured "Ma Rainey" (the original) and Bessie Smith. I said, in the June Blog, that he landed an early gig at a "prestigious" spot, and that was at the Peabody Hotel, in 1919 (ever seen the hotel's duck walk?). With his abilities, he became a popular attraction there. On October 10, 1927, with a contract agreement with Vocalion Records, he recorded "Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues", which became a hit for him, along with being a best-seller both for him and Vocalion. It has since been covered many times in both the blues and Rock&Roll genres, by many artists, who have also had hits with it. Over the next couple of years, he would record more versions and/or additional titles to the original "Kansas City Blues", creating a "series" of them. One of his recorded songs, which is my favorite of his work, is a medicine show song -- "I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop". In late '29 and early '30, he ran a traveling medicine show, "The Red Rose Minstrels", throughout Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama. In February of '30, he recorded his last session, in Memphis. Then he moved back to Hernando, where he continued to perform locally, until his death, on December 18, 1933.
Blues Question For July 2021: This bluesman, born in Alabama, ended up in Chicago, where he would become a fixture in the blues clubs. He played both piano and guitar, but is best known for his vocals. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For July 2021: The song I'm going to show is how to type it in to get the correct recording. The song is "Big Chief: Parts 1 & 2-Watch", and the artist is Henry Roland "Roy" Byrd, aka "Professor Longhair" or "Fess". I listed this song this way because there are several different versions of that he recorded, but this is the original, recorded in 1964, on the Watch label, with Part 1 on one side and Part 2 on the flip side of a &" 45 rpm record. When you listen to this, realize that this is the man who influenced so many New Orleans keyboard players, be it on the piano or organ, such as Dr.John, James Booker, and Fats Domino.
Blues Trivia For July 2021: This is kind of an expansion of last month's Trivia section. If you read it, then you know that I briefly touched on slavery's early days and the fact that it included Blacks (African- Americans) and Indians (the only true Native Americans). The two races were often grouped together in the "slave camps", and would eventually "co-mingle", from or out of which came their offspring. The decendents of those would eventually start the beginnings of the Mardi Gras Indian Tribes. At the time I wrote that, I only knew of two tribes who had recorded: The Wild Tchoupitoulas and The Wild Magnolias. Boy, was I wrong !! Never satisfied that my research is complete, I started digging further into the Mardi Gras Indian tribes and their music. I found at least six more tribes who've recorded a full album or c.d. Then I found quite a few compilations c.d.'s that had other tribe's recordings, sometimes only one song or up to four or six. In June's Trivia, I mentioned Big Chief Bo Dollis and The Wild Magnolias. Here are some of the other chiefs: Chief Smiley Ricks, Big Chief Victor Harris, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (the person who founded the Wild Magnolias), and Big Chief Alfred Doucette, to name a few. Some of the other Tribes are: Fi Yi Yi, The Treme Brass & Indian Band, Cha Wa, Hundred & One Runners, 79rs. Gang, Fi Yi Yi & The Mandingo Warriors, and The Flaming Arrows. There are more of them, but, you get the picture. My whole point being, never stop learning about all of the aspects of the blues and it's influence and interaction with other music genres, over all these years.
Some Blues Passings For July:
Joe's Blues Blog June 2021
Some Blues Births For June 2021:
Answer To The May 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Cornelius Green III, aka "Lonesome Sundown", born on the Dugas Plantation (near Donaldsonville) Louisiana, on December 12, 1928. Growing up there, while in gradeschool, he taught himself how to play piano. When he was 18, in '46 or '47, he moved to New Orleans, to work outside the music field, as a porter. He returned to Donaldsonville in '48, where, after listening to records by Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, he decided to get serious about his music career, and took guitar lessons from a cousin. In '52, he moved to Jeanerette, where he took a job as a truck driver. In '53, he moved to Port Arthur, Texas, where he worked at the Gulf Oil refinery. While living there, he took some gigs playing in some local clubs and bars. In '55, he was listening to a band at the Blue Moon Club. He was asked, by the band's leader, if he'd like to sit in with them. That was Clifton Chenier, with his new band, The Zydeco Ramblers. He ended up touring with Chenier and the band, as the second guitarist, next to the first guitarist-- one Phillip Walker. They toured/performed throughout the South, then up to Chicago. From there, across the country, to play the West Coast. He recorded with Chenier, in '55, in Los Angeles, on the Specialty label. He also got married that year. Later in '55, he moved to Opelousas, Louisiana. He put together a demo tape, and took it to Jay Miller, in Crowley. Miller, after hearing the tape, gave him the "Lonesome Sundown" name, because of the melancholy tone in Green's vocals, tempered with the strongly-influenced Chicago style of his guitar work. Another strong influence to the sound of swamp blues recordings that Miller made, and then leased to Excello Records, which was based in Nashville.Sundown wrote most all of his own songs, which he recorded with Miller, over an 8 year period. By 1965, he was "disillusioned" with the music business and his lack of success in it. About this same time, he was going through a rough divorce, and missing his seven children. He joined The Apostolic Faith Fellowship Church, where he would eventually become a minister. In '77, he was persuaded to go back into the recording studio, where he recorded an album, titled "Been Gone Too Long", on the Joliet label. It would be released a second time on the Alligator Records label, but the sales of either/both of these releases were never that great. My own copy is on the Hightone label, released 1n 1991. In '79, he played at the New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival, and also toured and performed with Phillip Walker, in Sweden and Japan, then walked away, completely, from the music business. In '94, he suffered a stroke, and could no longer speak. He died April 23,1995, from the effects of that stroke.
Blues Question For June 2021: This bluesman, like Leadbelly, knew and played hundreds of songs in the blues, folk, country, and gospel genres. Though he travelled and performed extensively, one of his earliest "gigs" was a residency at a famous spot. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For June 2021: The song is "It Hurts Me Too", and the artist is Jimmy Nolen, recorded May 4, 1956, in Los Angeles, on the Federal label (a subsidiary of King Records), #12278, in both 78 and 45 rpm versions. The musicians on this recording are: Jimmy Nolen on vocals and guitar; Eldee Williams on tenor sax; Kenny Battle on baritone sax; Devonia "Dee" Williams on piano; Johnny Parker on bass, and Earl Hyde on drums. I'm guessing, but I think that these people were "borrowed" from Johnny Otis' band, since he was bandleader, talent scout, etc, for King Records. We have a c.d. in stock titled Jimmy Nolen "Before The Funk", which has all his Federal sides, from the time, before he joined the James Brown band. Incidentally, this song was originally written and recorded in 1940, by Hudson Whittaker, aka "Tampa Red", even though the writing credit on the record's label shows Nolen as the writer.
Blues Trivia For June 2021: How do you feel about paying restitution to whomever, for things that our forefathers may or may not have done 300 or so, years ago? Where does this "political correctness" stop, so we can get back to reality? We have it "right here in River City" (Cleveland Oh.), with the Cleveland Indians, "The Tribe". The images and name are "demeaning to Native Americans". O.K., so you want to do away with the "Tribe" name, pictures, portraits, or anything else that might be offensive. Think about this: how long will it be before one of these morons wants to get rid of the memories of "Bo "Big Chief" Dollis and The Wild Magnolias", a New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian tribe. There are currently 38 Mardi Gras Indian tribes, where, at one time, there were 61. They are 1 of 2 Tribes who recorded their music, the other being "The Wild Tchoupitoulas", formed by George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry, and that album was self-titled. It wasn't a commercial success, but it was a critical one, and, as such, it's in the Library of Congress National Registry, with a designation of "cultural, artistic, and historic importance in the nation's aural legacy". You might be wondering how this particular recording relates to the blues, well, here's your answer: the musicians on this were put together by Big Chief Jolly, and 4 of them were his nephews, all musicians, but who had never before worked together. You know them as The Neville Brothers-- Art, Charles, Aaron (Tell It Like It Is), and Cyril. This album was done in '76, and the discography of the Neville Brothers recordings as starting in '78. All blues fans know that much of the blues was born in the Delta, with slaves working the fields. The part that they don't know, because you have to do some serious digging into the history of slavery, is that that "trade" was started by the Danes, with African people who they "purchased" from tribal chiefs. Now, when they arrived here, they were put into "slave camps", along with native (American) Indians, so, no, all slaves were not black. The mingling of the Africans and native indians is where the Mardi Gras Indians got their start. All of our history is not good, but we'd better start teaching the coming generations that because it's bad or reflects bad people, times, events, it should not be removed, but should be studied to keep from repeating the past. Stop removing monuments, places, memorials of our past, as it's what made us who we are, and right now, that's not a pretty picture. Now, Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias started to make recordings in '70, and made many singles and albums from that time forward. They got enough recognition and praise that they performed at Carnegie Hall, and the Capital Centre in Washington, D.C., at the height of their popularity. They have 1 c.d. titled "1313 Hoodoo Street", which showcases their talents in the blues, R&B, soul, funk, and the New Orleans sound. I don't stock either of these group's recordings, but I do have my own copies, which I'll be happy to show you if you stop in. I can still get these, new, if you want. You want to learn about the blues ? It's a lot of work, Bubba.
Some Blues Passings For June 2021:
Joe's Blues Blog May 2021
First-off, I want to let you know that on June 18th., Alligator Records 50th Anniversary 3CD set should be here, in stock. It has 58 tracks, or you can opt for the 2 LP gatefold set, with 24 tracks, but that will be special order only.
Some Blues Births For May 2021:
Answer To The April 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Frank Stokes, born January 1,1877 or 1888, in Whitehaven (known earlier as White Haven), Tennessee, a couple of miles from the Mississippi state line. One source shows that his daughter gave the year as 1888, while another source says that his WW I draft card shows the 1877 year. His parents died when he was young, and he was raised by his stepfather, Fred Corbin, in Tutwiler, Mississippi, which is where he learned to play the guitar. He worked on a farm, but did some performing at local parties and suppers, in and around the Memphis area. He settled in Hernando, MS, around 1900, which is where he met local residents and bluesmen Dan Sane (born Daniel Sains), Elijah Avery, Robert Wilkins, and Jim Jackson. He partnered up with Sane, and they travelled, on weekends, to busk in and around Memphis. His "day job" at that time was as a blacksmith. He then met Garfield Akers, then performed with him as a buck dancer, comedian, and as a "blackface Songster", in the Doc Watts Medicine Show, from around the mid-'10's to the mid-'20's. Stokes and Sane worked with Jack Kelly's Jug Busters (aka Jack Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band). The two of them did some recordings for the Paramount label, in Chicago, in 1927, as "The Beale Street Sheiks". They then did some recordings for the Victor label, in Memphis, under that same name. Some of those recordings are credited to Stokes, rather than the Sheiks, but Sane was on them. Some of the last Victor recordings have him accompanied by Will Batts, rather than Sane. The Sheiks recorded in ,27,'28, and '29, on both labels. One oddball here is a song titled "Unnamed Blues", recorded by Stokes in March of '29, on the Paramount label, #21246-1, which was never released. The other song on that session, however, "Jumpin' On The Hill", was released. The only place you can find that previously un-released song is on Yazoo Records LP-1056, issued in 1977, or on CD #1056, released in 1990. That album was put together with the assistance of Frank's daughter, Mrs.Helen Kent. The mastering on that LP was done by Nick Perls, and the jacket(cover) notes were done by Steve Calt. Through the '30's and early '40's, Stokes sometimes travelled alone, and at other times with others, such as Sane, Willie Borum, or Roosevelt Stokes (son), and performed in and around Memphis, at parties, suppers, some clubs, and in Church's Park (now known as W.C.Handy Park). He also did some tent and medicine shows, including working with the Ringling Brothers outfit. Around '49 he moved to Clarksdale,MS, and settled there, occasionally performing with Bukka White, in local "tonks". He retired from musical work in '51, as he was having trouble with his blood pressure, according to his daughter. He passed away in Memphis, on September 12, 1955, from the effects of a stroke. By the way, for you country music fans, when Stokes was performing at tent and/or medicine shows, there was a young man who copied his guitar style, and even performed some of his songs, and later, patterned his style after him. That person you should know-- one Jimmie Rodgers.
Blues Question For May 2021: This bluesman played piano and guitar. In his early days he worked as a porter, then, later on, as a truck driver, and still later, in an oil refinery. His first playing gigs were on an offer for him to sit in with a Zydeco band. He, like many others of his quality blues work, is mostly overlooked. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For May 2021: The song is "I Had A Dream", and the artist is Lafayette Jerl "Thing" Thomas on vocals and guitar, recorded September 9, 1968, in Berkely, CA. Others on this recording were L.C."Good Rockin" Robinson on steel guitar and guitar, Charles Thomas on guitar, Dave Alexander on piano, Malachi "Big Daddy" Spencer on bass, And Garwell Barfield on drums. It wasn't released until 1969, and I'll get to that in the following Trivia section.
Blues Trivia For May 2021: As stated above, this is about 1 LP, but the idea pertains to others, in all genres of music, as well. When you go looking for an older recording of a particular artist or song, you have to be careful. A lot of the early recordings, and I'm talking about shellac records, then vinyl, both LP's and 45's, cassette tapes (yes, even 8-tracks), and some of the early CD's, sometimes have incorrect info on them. On the above-listed song, I gave you the recording date for it. The album that that song is on is World Pacific Records, #WPS-21893, which was released sometime in late April 1969 or shortly thereafter, in the U.S.. It was also released in the U.K., on Liberty Records, #LBS-83234. Side 1 shows 5 songs, side 2 shows 6. The song's listings on the jacket (cover) and on the LP's labels match, but the actual vinyl record has a different order in which the songs are listed. I could give you all the wrong and correct listings, but that'd be a lot if typing and space. The 5 songs on side 1 and the first 3 on side 2, show the writer as being "Beulah Lacyson". I could find no record of this person. The person who arranged and directed those 8 songs was Jimmy McCracklin. I believe that the writing credit was to honor his wife (and possibly get the royalties), whose maiden name was Beulah Fayson. The last three songs on side 2 were recorded on March 7, 1969, in Los Angeles, rather than in Berkely, and with totally different backing band. The rear cover shows that the notes were done by Pete Welding in April of 1969. At this date, I can find no other place where that song can be found. You never know, it might show up on a compilation some day. All I'm saying is that when you find something you like, do some research so that you know that it's right, then get it, because it may never be again.
Some Blues Passings For May 2021:
Joe's Blues Blog April 2021
Some April Blues Births:
Answer To The March 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Robert L. "Bob" Geddins, born February 6, 1913, in Highbank, Texas. Some records show him being born in Martin, but that's a county in another part of the state. I believe those records should be changed to read Marlin, which is 10 miles north of Highbank, though Marlin is still wrong. I'm skipping the history of Highbank, but, that too, is an interesting story. In 1933 Geddins got his feet wet in the blues and gospel areas-- he started a record store in a building next to his grandmother's garage, in Los Angeles. In '42, he went to West Oakland to visit his mother, who had just moved there-- he stayed ! He heard complaints from migrant workers who had come from the South, that they couldn't find any blues or gospel records, so he took a job at Wolf Record Store. He then got some training in welding at the Kaiser Shipyards, and also went to night school to learn radio repair. After those efforts, he and a friend of his, Jack Gutshall, with a loan from his stepfather, worked around the clock for 2 weeks, and built his first record manufacturing plant, at Center and Eighth Streets. So was the start of a long and varied career. Over the next 17 or 18 years, he founded/ owned several record labels, among them, Down Town, Big Town, Cavatone, Irma (named after his wife), Art-Tone, Veltone, and many others, much smaller ones, to do small production runs. Most of his deals, whether with other record producers or artists, were done on a handshake basis. That probably wasn't a good idea for his part, as some of those other producers and promotors were selling product pirated from him, behind his back. He made a lot of those deals to pay his business expenses, and to support his large family: wife Irma Jean (nee Dyer) and 16 children, 8 boys and 8 girls, 2 were deceased, so, raising 14. By '52 or '53, he was "unhappy" with the way the music business, in general, was going, so he opened a radiator repair shop; remember he was a Mr.Fixit, mechanically talented. At the same time, he also went into songwriting, which he was also good at. Some of the songs he wrote are: "Tin Pan Alley" for Jimmy Wilson, "Mercury Boogie" for/with K.C.Douglas, "My Time After A While" for Tiny Powell, and "Hydramatic Woman" for Joe Hill Louis. His best-known song, however, is "Haunted House", sung by Johnny Fuller, released in 1958, on Specialty Records, #655. It became a big, national hit, when it was covered by Jumpin' Gene Simmons, a rockabilly artist, on Hi Records, #45-2076, in 1964. If you look at the label on the Hi release, you'll see the performer is Jumpin' Gene Simmons, but you'll also see that the writer is listed as "Geddins". The original by Fuller is still the best version, though it's been covered by many artists since then, and has become a Halloween favorite. A lot of Geddins' early recordings were also early recordings of quite a few who went on to become highly successful, including Jimmy McCracklin, Big Mama Thorton, Johnny Fuller, Jimmy Wilson, James Reed (a piano player, not the one you're familiar with), Lowell Fulson, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Etta James, Juke Boy Bonner, and many others, including many gospel groups. He performed/recorded 1 song under his own name-- "Irma Jean Blues". He recorded a few others as "The Mystery Man". His studio band for other's recordings was known as "The Bob Geddins Cavaliers". His Cava-Tone records was as an advertisement for them. Up into the '80's, Bob and his offsprings were still making deals for small pressing runs. He passed away February 16,1991, of liver cancer, a month after he was stabbed when he was robbed by 2 teenagers, of a royalties check he had just received.
Blues Question For April 2021: This bluesman developed a blues guitar style, over the years, that others now use. His parents died when he was young, and he was raised by his stepfather. He recorded quite a bit, but almost all of it was either just himself, or one other person at a time, a different person on the next session. Any idea as to who this might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For April 2021: The song is "He Won't Bite Me Twice", and the artist is Big Amos Patton, the nephew of one Charley Patton, who is considered to be the father of the Delta Blues. Big Amos went to Stax Records with this song, hoping to get a contract with them. They wanted the song, but they wanted Albert King to record it. Big Amos was having none of that, so he went to Hi Records and pitched the same deal. He ended up doing 6 songs for them, including that one. It's now available on a 2 cd set on Hi Records: Rivertown Blues + R & B Sessions + The Soul (in stock here). He then went back to his own locale, performing a gig, now and then. After that, he just disappeared.
Blues Trivia For April 2021: As I was sitting here typing this in, I looked at what I'd put together for the trivia section and realized that it was way larger than what I'd already written in the blog, so here's the modified version. As I was researching the info for the Geddins section, I was led to more West Coast and Bay Area indie blues people and labels. I accumulated 70 or so pages, both printed and hand-written. It should be said that there is a definite style here in this music, much like the blues in other areas of the country. Did you know that the West Oakland/ Oakland area was called the Harlem of the West ? For this section, I had put together a list of "indie" labels and their owners, plus the artists they recorded. As I said, it turned out way too big to put in here, so maybe, sometime in the future, I'll put them in here, one at a time. I'll keep trying to do better at this.
Some April Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog March 2021
Some March Blues Births:
Answer To The February 2021 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Willie Nix, aka Memphis Blues Boy, born August 6,1918, in Memphis, Tennessee. As a youth he learned to tap dance. In his teen years he toured and performed with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, as a dancing comedian, in the late '30's. In the early '40's he did the same with the Royal American Show. Somewhere around this time he learned how to play guitar, drums, and do vocals. In the mid '40's he worked in the parks and streets around Memphis and close-by towns. According to some sources he performed on a radio show with Robert Lockwood Jr., in Little Rock, Arkansas, but a different source says that that took place in Memphis. This was around '47. Then Willie joined up with Sonny Boy Williamson II, Willie Love, and Joe Willie Wilkins. This group performed in jukes and clubs in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, as "The Four Aces". After that, he performed around Memphis (Tn.) and West Memphis, Arkansas. He made his first recordings on June 18,1951, at Memphis Recording Service (later that year to become Sun Records), on the RPM record label, which was a subsidiary of Modern Records of Los Angeles. His second session, made at the now renamed Sun Records, were released on the Checker label, a subsidiary of Chess Records. Shortly after that, he made some on and for Sun. This was when he started to record as a drummer for the recordings of other artists, such as Joe Hill Louis, Big Walter Horton, Muddy Waters, and others. He moved to Chicago in '53, and made some recordings there, as the vocalist, shown as "Willie Nix and His Band" on the Chance label, and as "Willie Nix and His Combo" on the Sabre label (a subsidiary of Chance Records). The backing band consisted of Snooky Pryor on harp, Sunnyland Slim on piano, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor on guitar, and Alfred Wallace on drums. In '58 he returned to Memphis to serve a term in jail ('58 & '59). When he returned to Chicago, he performed with such notables as Elmore James, Sonny Boy II, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Shines, and others. In the mid-'50's he toured and performed with Elmore James all over the South and Midwest. After that, he kept on as a hobo, working mostly outside the music field, as a migrant laborer, though he did play the local jukes and clubs in the West Memphis area. In '59, he teamed up with Willie Cobb and his band, to tour, up into '67. In '68, he recorded with Willie Cobb, on the Riceland label, in Memphis. While in Memphis, he also worked with Big Amos Patton. During and after that time, he continued to work outside the music business, but he did perform to entertain the other workers around him, up into the '70's. He moved to Leland, Mississippi, where he performed on occasion, in the local jukes and clubs, when his worsening health would allow him to do so. He suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away on July 8,1991, in Leland. You can't find a good collection of his own works, but most of his recordings are 2 or 3 here and there on compilations. You can also find him on the drums on other artist's recordings, if you look.
Blues Question For March 2021: This bluesman's name you've probably seen if you've done any reading or research on the blues. He recorded only 2 sides under his own name, but he and his band backed many other artists. He was a big influence on the West Coast blues scene. Any ideas on who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song And Artist For March 2021: The song is "The Thrill Is Gone", and the artist is Roy Hawkins. He was backed on this by Maxwell Davis on tenor sax, Willard McDaniel on piano, Johnny Moore on guitar, bass, and drums. This is the original first recording of this song. It was done on April 25,1951, at Modern Records in Los Angeles. Take 5 of the song is on Youtube and Spotify. Take 4 is on Spotify only, and on Ace Records U.K. c.d # CDCHD-754, out of print, in stock here, but not cheap, as it came from France. The title is Roy Hawkins: The Thrill Is Gone. There is a second c.d. frm Ace, # CDCHD-1096, titled Roy Hawkins: Bad Luck Is Falling. It's on order, but not here yet. It lists another previously un-released version of the song, which I believe, is track 5. The difference between the 2 is on the sax lead-in: #5 starts with a higher note. It's been covered by Luther Allison, Joe Bonamassa, B.B.King (as his signature song), Aretha Franklin, Patricia Barber, and Willie Pooch, just to name a few. If you look it up, you'll find it's been covered by well over a hundred performers.
Blues Trivia For March 2021: This ties in, kinda, with the Song Of The Month. If you've listened to the song on Youtube and seen the picture of the record's label, notice that the song writing credit on it. It's Modern Records # 826 and it shows Hawkins-Taub to be the ones who got the credit. This is a little deceptive, and if you dig a little further, you'll find the writing of it incorrectly credited to Dale Petite and Art Benson. WRONG again. The original writer was Rick Darnell, working with Roy Hawkins. Darnell wrote over a hundred blues tunes, some that became standards, but usually not credited to him. Modern Records was founded in 1945, by the 4 Bahari brothers,; Lester Louis Bahari, Julius Jeramiah Bahari, Saul Samuel Bahari, and Joseph Bahari. Besides the money being made by Modern, they soon learned that they could make more by getting writing credits. That was a pretty common practice for the record producers, from the small labels right on up to the larger ones. It wouldn't look good to use their own names, so most used pseudonyms, and the Bahari's were no exception. Julius was Jules Taub, or just Taub, Joe was Joe Josea, and Saul used Sam Long. Taub, by the way, was their mother's maiden name. And some of the musicians were just as good at doing the same thing, usually so they could record for another record company without being caught not honoring their contracts. Just think about these things when you see song writing credits !
Some March Blues Passings:
And a Happy St. Paddy's Day !! to ya'.
Joe's Blues Blog February 2021
Some February Blues Births:
Answer To The January 2021 Blues Question: The group we were looking for was/is The Dixie Blues Boys. As I said in the Question, their name would suggest a Southern heritage or starting point, but they recorded in Los Angeles, on June 6,1955. They recorded 5 sides, with only 2 being released, on the Flair Records label, a subsidiary of Modern Records, which was founded in 1946 by the 4 Bihari brothers. The 2 sides that were released were "Monte Carlo" and "My Baby Left Town". One or the other can be found now on different compilations, on quite a few labels. You can get both on 1 c.d., P-Vine Records (out of Japan), #PCD-3038, which is now out of print, so expect to pay the long dollar for it. A CD that has all 5 of those sides on it is ACE Records U.K., #CDCHD-1003, which is also out of print. Since it's got all 5 sides on it, it's even more expensive. There's 1 currently advertised on Amazon for $902.81 plus $3.99 freight, with tax on top of that. I contacted ACE in England, and they told me that due to slow sales of that disc, they were not planning to re-issue it. I have located and ordered 3 of them, from different sources, 2 from France, and 1, from, of all places, Russia, and NO, they weren't cheap, but they are definitely ordered. Just for your info, the P-Vine disc title is "Blues From The Deep South", and the ACE title is "The Modern Downhome Blues Sessions, Volume 3". Now, about the group itself, about which not much is known. When John Broven of ACE Records was researching for the liner booklet in that disc, he found the original contract that the group had signed with Modern Records. There were 4 signatures: Charles S .Johnson, Ozie (or O.Z.) Saxton (most likely the "Dee Dee" credited on the releases as the vocalist), Dan Winston, and Clarence Wilkins. The odd thing on this disc is that there were 2 harp players, 1 being Saxton, the other only known as "Leonard". Supposedly the two worked together on gigs in Los Angeles. Those sides featured the 2 harps, guitar, upright bass, and drums, and not sure (other than the harps) who played what instrument. The debate is ongoing about from where the group originated and/ or where their base of operations was. Some of the suggestions are: Itta Bena, Mississippi; Helena, Arkansas; Monroe, Louisiana; St.Louis and Kansas City, Missouri. Some of the players were born in Mississippi or Louisiana. Maybe someday more info will be found about the group's founding and travels.
Blues Question For February 2021: This bluesman is another you've never heard of, but you should. He was a great vocalist who also played guitar and/ or drums. An early example of post-war electric blues, but he didn't record that much of his own work, most of his many recordings are with him as a sideman for many of the big names, both in the studio and on tours with them. Any ideas on this one ??
Blues Song(s) and Artist(s) For February 2021: The song is "The Devil's Shoestring", and the artist is Jimmy Reed. To understand why I picked this song, see the "Blues Trivia" section.
Blues Trivia For February 2021: As promised last month, it's about Hoodooists (and more). First off, gotta' clear something up: Hoodoo is NOT Voodoo ! Both have their basis in religions, and in some cases, similar practices. Voodoo is a combination of different African tribal religions and some from Haiti, and sometimes requires animal sacrifices (unless you believe what Hollywood seems bent on supplying). Haiti was a French territory until a war between the 2 led to Haiti becoming it's own country. New Orleans was a port city, so immigrants (and some who had been slaves) settled there, after the end of the civil war. One of those was a woman named Marie LaVeau, who was a Haitian Voodoo priestess. She didn't as yet, have a church there, and a Catholic priest allowed her to use his church for her followers to have their services. She would eventually be known as "the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans". The French language was spoken in Haiti, since it had been a French-controlled territory for years, so that's what most immigrants from there spoke. When in New Orleans, it was combined with the Creole (Indians) language, and became known as Cajun. That's why when you hear Cajun music (and sometimes Zydeco) it's usually done with French vocals. The immigrants from Haiti and West Africa countries who settled in Memphis, spoke in English, then throw in a little bit of European folklore, Christianity, and Judaism and --presto-- you have Hoodoo. In it, spells are cast in the hope that good fortune, in all aspects of an individual's desires or needs, are met. The Hoodooist often uses roots, animal body parts, or an article of a person's personal property, to work a mojo (cast a spell). Enter Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett Rainey (the original Ma Rainey) with the recording "Louisiana Hoodoo Blues" in 1925. She was rumoured to be a caster of Hoodoo spells. Then came Lillie Mae Glover, known, after Ma Rainey's death in '39, as Ma Rainey II, or Big Memphis Ma Rainey, in later years. Besides her music, she was also recognized as a highly-skilled Beale Street Hoodooist. Not always easy to find, she was sought out by other musicians, to help with their difficulties in writing songs, matters of the heart, or getting work, or to get a mojo hand (a charm bag) from her. She only worked with items that were inexpensive and easily found, such as sugar, flour, lumps of coal, or something small from the person being helped. Then came Elizabeth "Kid" Douglas, who you should know as "Memphis Minnie", recording a song called "Hoodoo Lady", on February 18,1936. All 3 of them were considered to be "Hoodoo Ladies". Sonny Boy Williamson and Amos "Junior"wells also sang about Hoodoo. Some of the items used in the practice of Hoodoo are: White Snakeroot--a branched herb; Aspan Seed-- an herbal seed; and here's the one referred to in the Blues Song Of The Month, Devil's Shoe String-- a member of the honeysuckle family of plants, it's long,white roots (like shoe strings) are used in Hoodoo. A man-made item, 1 of 2, used is red flannel, to make small bags in which to put spell ingredients or a gris-gris. A Gris-Gris is the other man-made item-- an amulet (a good luck charm) used in both Hoodoo and Voodoo. The early ones had Islamic scripture engraved on them. If you're going to go to Memphis' Beale Street for the first time or you've been there before, you should go into the A.Schwab store. it's the last original business on Beale (it was founded in 1876), and it's in the oldest original building on Beale (built before 1870's). When it first opened, it was a haberdashery, and now it's a tourist's delight, as far as souvenirs, and hard-to-find items too. It now has an original old-time soda fountain, and they also serve sandwiches. The real attraction there, though, is, or was, on the second floor. It was a museum on the history of the store and of Beale Street, and had Hoodoo potions, lotions, and other items used in Hoodoo. There was also a large selection of blues vinyl. I've heard that, since the new owners bought it in 2011, the second floor is now reserved for large gatherings or luncheons, and that what was up there is now downstairs, on the first floor. Unfortunately, it's called "progress". I hope you've taken time to read all of this, and understand what I keep saying-- the blues is so much bigger than most realize. We need to always keep seeking knowledge and learning more about what makes the blues what it really is ! 'Nuff said !
(Editors note: In January 2020 we stopped at A. Schwab and while there is now a meeting area much of the 2nd floor is as Joe describes)
Some February Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog January 2021
Some January Blues Births:
Answer to the December 2020 Blues Question: The blueswoman we were looking for was/is Lillie Mae Glover, born September 9, 1907, in Columbia, Tennessee. When she was 13, the family was living in Nashville. Her father was a preacher, but she wanted to sing blues, so she ran away from home. She would later say that she ran away , since her father was a preacher, and she believed that to sing blues, which was considered to be "dirty music", would bring shame to the family. In the early to mid-'20's, she travelled and performed as either/or a blues singer or comedian, with such groups as the Tom Simpson Traveling Medicine Show, Rabbit Foot Minstrels, The Bronze Mannequins, The Vampin' Baby Show, The Georgia Minstrels, Harlem In Havana, and Nina Banson's Medicine Show. Some of these shows were on the road, and some were at venues in Memphis, which is where she settled. She performed all over Beale Street, and downtown Memphis, in the '20's. In April of '27, she recorded 6 sides under the name May Armstrong, for a Chicago record company. Around August of '27, she recorded 6 sides as Side Wheel Sally Duffie, and 2 of those sides have not been found. In Richmond, Indiana, on July 29, 1929, she recorded 4 sides as Mae Glover. On February 24, 1931, she recorded 10 sides, again as Mae Glover, and 2 of those have not been found. I have the titles and numbers for them, and, hopefully, some day, maybe they'll be found. By the way, 1 title from that last session was "Forty Four Blues", when it was released under her name. Another release of that song was titled "Big Gun Blues", when it was released on the Varsity label, under the name of Mae Muff. Under it's original name, it was released on the Supertone and Champion labels. One source lists her birth name as being Lillie Mary Hardison, born September 9, 1906, but that date doesn't work with any of the confirmed info I could find. I went back and tried to research the Hardison family. Turns out, it was a fairly common name in both Carolinas and in Maury County Tennessee, from th 1600's through the early 1850's, but record-keeping after that is sketchy, at best. Back to the person in this, Mae. In '28, she married Willie Glover, shown in some sources as a preacher, and in others, a cook. From the mid-'20's on, she performed at venues up and down Beale Street, and downtown Memphis, such as the Midnight Rambles, The Coca-Cola Club, The Citizen's Club, The Manhattan Club, Hotel Improvement, and a venue that's still popular today, The Peabody Hotel. Early in her career, her then manager had told her that she could make more money as a hoodooist than as a performer. She had taken that to heart, and practiced that craft, along with her singing career, and became a sought-after hoodooist on Beale Street. Her inspiration in her singing was Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett "Ma" Rainey, and after the original Ma Rainey's death in '39, Glover started to go by the name Ma Rainey II. She would not record again until '53, when she recorded under the name "Big Memphis Ma Rainey". Some sources say "she recorded several sides for Sun Records", while some others say "she recorded a few sides for Sun Records". Well, she recorded TWO only, get it right, people. Now, some of the recordings she made earlier were with a Mississippi guitarist, named John Byrd, backing her (with others also). There's a cd, now out of print, on the da Story Blues label, #3517-2, titled John Byrd & Walter Taylor (1920-1931). That label and brand is a spin-off of Document Records, out of Austria at that time. Included on that cd are 2 tracks , basically sermons, by the Reverend George Jones and Congregation, titled "That White Mule of Sin" and "The Heavenly Airplane", featuring guitar accompaniment by Byrd, along with vocals by Byrd and Sister Jones, which is believed to be Mae Glover. I have a new copy of all of Glover's recordings, along with an excellent pre-owned copy of the Byrd/Taylor cd, in the store. A man named Paul Savarin, who owned a blues and barbecue restaurant in downtown Memphis, around 1970, hired her to sing with the Blues Alley All Stars. She performed there, even after requiring help to walk, until her health declined enough that she went to the hospital. When she checked out of the hospital, she went to Iuka, Mississippi, to live with a friend, in December of '84. Most sources show her passing away on March 25, 1985, but, after some serious digging, I believe the correct date to be April 3rd. She had said, in one interview, that "I was the Mother of Beale Street, and I ruled that street between Fourth and Hernando". A UPI press story about her death said that former owner of Blues Alley, Paul Savarin, said she would be buried near her longtime Memphis political boss E.H.Crump, and that her gravestone's inscription will read " I don't care what Mr.Crump don't allow, I'm gonna barrelhouse anyhow". If your'e a true blues fan, you might know that the Mr. Crump being referred to here was a Democratic candidate for the mayor of Memphis, in 1909. There was a campaign song written for him titled "Mr. Crump", by a mister W.C.Handy (ever heard of him ?) Handy re-wrote the song later and changed it's title to "Memphis Blues". Though she was a hard worker all her life, there was never enough money to live on, and the actual epitaph on her pink granite headstone says " I'm Ma Rainey #2, the Mother of Beale Street / I'm 78 years old / I never had enough of nothing and it's too damn late now ! ". Some other names she used at different times were Sister Jones, Big Sister, Flossie Brown, Sally Sad, and Bessie Jones.
Blues Question For January 2021: This blues group only recorded four songs, with a fifth one being a different take on one of those four. The group's name throws off where their actually from. Any ideas on this one ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For January 2021: The song is "Sputterin' Blues", and the artist is Walter Robertson, a west coast harmonica player. Yes, I know -- in today's "culture" (I use that term loosely), that this recording is not "politically correct". Robertson only recorded 2 songs, one's a sad blues, the other--this one-- was, when recorded, was as a laugh-getter in the clubs of the day. So, incorrect as it is, get over it, live with it, and, most of all, enjoy it!
Blues Trivia For January 2021: Due to the length of the answer above, the amount of research that it required, and a concern about the reader being overwhelmed by info, I'm going to forego the hoodooist and related info till February's Blog. I hope I got the above info on Mae Glover clear enough for you. If not, call me and I'll cover more ground.
Some Blues Passings In January:
Joe's Blues Blog December 2020
Hope all had a nice, safe, and enjoyable Thanksgiving, even with our current health "situation". Just remember what that particular day was, and is all about, from it's first one forward.
Some December Blues Births:
Answer To The November 2020 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is John Henry Barbee, born November 14, 1905, in Henning, Tennessee. He claimed he was born as William George Tucker, and the confusion starts. One source states, according to a U.S. Census record, that his parents were father, Beecher Barbee, and mother, Cora Gilford. Another source, however, lists his parents as Becker Tucker, father, and Cora Gilton, mother. The first names are close, so maybe it was just an error in translating the notes from which these entries were made. At any rate, John taught himself how to play guitar at a young age, but his normal work was on his parent's farm. He did play at some house parties and suppers in the area during that time. In the early '30's he travelled around the South, all the way to the Delta. Along those travels, he would work with other bluesmen, such as Big Joe Williams, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, and Sunnyland Slim (Albert Luandrew), through that area and in Memphis. Around the mid-'30's, he was living in Luxora, Arkansas (0.9 sq.miles), most likely with his girlfriend. It's directly north of Memphis, in the northeastern part of Arkansas, and is located next to the old "blues highway", Route 61. He travelled from there, to Chicago, to play the blues. He sometimes performed on the famed Maxwell Street. He did four recordings for Vocalion on September 8, 1939. 2 were released, 2 were not, but the released ones sold well enough that Vocalion wanted him to do some more recording, but he couldn't be found at his last known location, which was Luxora. I don't have exact dates for some of this, other than the recording date. He would later say that he changed his name to John Henry Barbee to pay tribute to his favorite folk song-- "The Ballad of John Henry". Some surmise that he did it to evade detection under his real name, to avoid the legal system. He believed that he had shot and killed his girlfriend's lover, and it wasn't till many years later that he found out that he had only wounded him. He had quit the music business and worked odd jobs instead. He served in the U.S. Army in the early '40's. When the blues revival started in the '60's, Willie Dixon tracked him down, so he could take John on a European tour with The American Folk Blues Festival group. He had been working as an ice cream server somewhere. When he returned to the U.S. after that tour, John used some of the money he had earned from it, to buy his first car. Just 10 days after he bought it, he was involved in an accident in which he ran over and killed a man. While waiting in jail for disposition of the case, he had a heart attack and died on November 3, 1964, 11 days shy of his 59th. birthday. NOTE: Those 4 original songs for Vocalion can be found on Document Records DLP520 vinyl, or DOCD5159 cd, or Wolf Records #107 cd. He also recorded on several smaller labels in the U.S. and Europe, when he was on that tour. The big label he recorded for over there was Storyville. There's a Storyville cd "Blues Masters Vol.3" that has all the studio tracks he recorded for them, it's out of print, but it can be found, used. They also did a live recording of him, along with one of Sleepy John Estes, at a club in Copenhagen, doing a set each, at different times. That one I found new and it's on it's way, and it has both of them on it. The Wolf cd is also on order.
Blues Question For December 2020: This blues person was active for many years. She recorded under four different names, at different times. She worked the streets and parks of Memphis, and was known as "gifted hoodooist". Any idea who this blues lady might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For December 2020: The song is "The Twelve Blue Days of Christmas", and the artist is Jack de Keyzer. Covid or not, 'tis the season!!
Blues Trivia For December 2020: In each month's blog, I put in a list of Blues Births, and Deaths. In last month's blog I had listed in the Births section John Paul Hammond. I noticed when it was published that the Editor had added Jr. to the end of his name, which is O.K., as it's a pretty common thing with Hammond's name. This is not meant to be critical of that, nor trivial, at least to me. I've often wondered about that Sr./Jr. tag, so I thought O.K., time to dig into this. The common thought is that all the name has to be the same: first, middle, and last. What I found is that there is no set rule on what's the correct way to use these tags, but there are ways that are commonly agreed upon for it. John's great grandfather was John Henry Hammond, a general in the Civil War. His son, John Henry Hammond, was a Columbia Law School graduate, who, along with his legal work, also did other jobs to take care of his family. John Henry Hammond II (actually the III, our John's father) was a record producer, a music critic, and a civil rights activist. Even though our John is often tagged with the Jr., according to the commonly accepted way, he's not, since his middle name is Paul. As each generation passes away, the Sr. tag goes to the next in lineage, with the next then being now Jr., instead of III. It goes that way as each generation passes away. If you follow that line of thought, our John would be either Sr. or the First. Again, I'm not being critical, but rather, pointing out how hard I try to get the info I give you, Correct, to the Nth. degree. You can drive yourself a little nuts with some of this. Think about Robert Lockwood Jr. How many times do you see him incorrectly shown as Robert Jr. Lockwood ?
Some December Blues Passings:
Joe's Blues Blog November 2020
First, a couple of notes: The 2021 Blues Calendars with free c.d. are in stock here now, and secondly, we'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and hope you can celebrate it with family, whether that be just a small one, with immediate family, or a large one, with many relatives or friends. Please, just be mindful of today's health concerns or conditions or needs of those around you.
Some November Blues Births:
Answer To The October 2020 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is "Big John" Thomas Wrencher, aka "One Arm John", born February 12,1923, in Sunflower, Mississippi. Interested in music at an early age, he taught himself to play the harmonica. By his early 20's, he was working as a roving musician, performing in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. By the mid to late 1940's, he was in Chicago, playing on Maxwell Street and at house parties, sometimes with other local bluesmen. In the '50's, he moved to Detroit, performing in that area with Robert Henry "Baby Boy" Warren. While living there, he also sometimes travelled to Clarksdale, to perform and/ or visit with family. As I stated in last month's Blog, some blues musicians were injured and got even better at their craft, and he was no exception. In 1958, just outside of Memphis, Big John was injured in an automobile accident. Because of those injuries he lost his left arm, hence, the "One Arm John" name he sometimes used. In the early '60's he settled in Chicago, and eventually spent Sundays playing on Maxwell Street, from around 10:00 AM to around 3:00 PM. In 1964, he was filmed and recorded, with that material to be used in a documentary film titled "And This Is Free" (we have both versions of this, on dvd, in stock here), and these were the earliest recordings of him as a solo performer. He was also recorded on Maxwell Street, as a sideman, with Robert Nighthawk, and also as a member of the Chicago String Band. There are 2 recordings of Nighthawk on Maxwell, one with Big John, the other featuring Carey Bell (Harrington). In '73 and '74, Big John travelled with (in '73) The Chicago Blues Festival, and (in '74) with The American Blues Legends, performing all over Europe. His work on that '74 tour, backed by Eddie Taylor and his band, was recorded and put on an LP, by Big Bear Records, and later released by them, on c.d. In '77, he was on a trip to visit with family, in Clarksdale, and was in Wade Walton's barbershop (that place is on the Blues Trail; check it out), had a sudden heart attack and passed away, on July 15th. One of his recordings with his own band, done on Maxwell, is on LP only, and is considered to be one of the best ever blues recordings. I've seen that one for sale, from different sources, at anywhere from $250.00 to $475.00. If you want more info on his work or recordings, stop in and see me.
Blues Question For November 2020: This bluesman has said he took his name from a song he liked. He did a lot of work with some of the biggest names in blues, and also did some recording of his own. Due to some legal problems, he dropped out of sight for many years, before returning to touring and performing again. He did vocals and played slide guitar. Any idea who this bluesman might be ??
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For November 2020: The artist is Shemekia Copeland, and the song is " Apple Pie And A .45 ", off her new Alligator Records album "Uncivil War", which came out on 10/23/20, and is in stock here. This is a good album, but a little on the sad side, as it deals with some of the pressing problems we face today. But-- let me say, there's also a somewhat hopeful note in it's content. We met and worked with her at a festival in New York, at a ski resort. She was 19 at the time, and was traveling with 2 of her aunts, in support of her first Alligator album "Turn The Heat Up", in '98.
Blues Trivia For November 2020: In the October 2019 Blog, I told of Sonny Boy Williamson III, and the fact that he only recorded 4 songs before disappearing. I also said that there is only one cd that has all four songs on it, but that it's out of print, and if you could find one, expect to pay a collector's price for it. It is "Red River Blues; Shreveport Blues From R A M Records". I've since found three of them, one each in France, Belgium, and England, and they're now in stock here. Yes , there is one currently shown for sale here in the U.S., but it's at twice what we have it for. We are always trying to find the things that some others can't, and to take care of all the blues fan's requests for help. May seem trivial to you, but it's important to us.
Some November Blues Passings:
Proprietor of The Sound of Blue record shop in Kent, Ohio.