Two tracks today from Charlie Burse & his Memphis Mudcats. Burse isn’t known outside of his work with the Memphis Jug Band as a guitar player and sometimes spoon player. Document’s new release of his complete record works outside of the Memphis Jug Band show a versatile talent and one that’s equally Lonnie Johnson as Skip Jones.
Charlie Burse & his Memphis Mudcats – Baby, You Win (1939)
Charlie Burse & his Memphis Mudcats – I’m In Buddy’s Wagon (1939)
Charlie Burse & his Memphis Mudcats – Hell’s Highway (1939)
Had a couple of comments via web/email about the wonderful Irene Scruggs – so here are a couple more tracks. Irene Scruggs only recorded a small batch of songs – 12 or so under her own name, another four with Clarence Williams and his band and the songs with Blind Blake. She would only sing for a unti 1935 unfortunately, but at least she was able to record a good number of songs at least compared with many of the female blues singer I pine for who only had one record in their recorded careers.
The first track I originally uploaded way back in 2007, but the second track is new to the blog and continues Scruggs’ song cycle about falling in love with married men.
Irene Scruggs – Voice of the Blues (1930)
Irene Scruggs – Borrowed Love (1930)
I finally got around to picking up the 2010 Blues Images calender. Like last year they still insist that the images and music are all from the 1920s, which isn’t the case. This year’s disc is a better compilation of rarities and classics than last year so you have Charley Patton’s High Water Everywhere, Ida Cox’s Mojo Hand Blues paired with 3 sides being issued for the first time ever. It’s a good package and if you dig old blues imagery the calender is pretty good and it has a bunch of blues/jazz singers birth and death dates on the calender part.
Two of the unreleased songs are takes from Irene Scruggs and Blind Blake’s Married Man Blues tk 2 and 3. Not the strongest of their partnership but still very good, I could listen to Irene Scruggs sing all day and sometimes I do! Take 3 has some harmonizing between Blake and Scruggs that’s not that great, but both takes are very similar otherwise.
Buy Blues Calendar Here
Irene Scruggs and Blind Blake – Married Man Blues tk 2 (1931)
Irene Scruggs and Blind Blake – Married Man Blues tk 3 (1931)
I kinda like Twitter. Follow Me. I’ve also added some social media links to my posts to bug all your friends with.
I’ve posted about Lonnie Johnson a bunch on this blog, he’s easily one of my favorite male blues artists – and his ranges of styles makes him appropriate for any day. A good cross section of his stuff are these two sides – one an attempted murder ballad about a man who knows his woman is out to kill him in various ways in this warning to all cuckold men. The second is the aptly titled duet “Four Hands Are Better Than One” a fun and fast dance number that is a showy display of both his and his unknown piano companion’s talents.
Lonnie Johnson – Man Killing Broad (1937)
Lonnie Johnson – Four Hands Are Better Than One (1927)
Tompkins Square has put out the first major anthology of the Red Fox Chasers, a North Carolina String band that recorded in the 20s and 30s. All’s not well with this 2-disc set however, which is shocking as People Take Warning is one of my favorite box-sets of pre-war music and Fire In My Bones (review coming soon!) is just as good. This set has 42 sides,spread across 4 or 5 different sessions. Unfortunately the notes only present clues to when and where these songs were recorded – my number one pet peeve in the reissue world.
The music itself is terrific of course, the Red Fox Chasers who often live in Charlie Poole’s shadow are accomplished musicians and pull off close harmony better than almost any other string band of the time. Naomi Wise is their version of the classic North Carolina murder ballad of a girl who is beaten and drowned by her boyfriend who preceded to escape several prisons before karma would catch up to him. A brief scan of Google shows theirs a handful recorded versions of this ballad around , though I only have Doc Watson covering it – feel free to send a couple this way.
Buy Album Here!
Red Fox Chasers – Naomi Wise
Red Fox Chasers- Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?
A lot of really wonderful pre-war discs came out towards the end of the 2009 and I missed them all. Of course I get emails promoting pretty much everything BUT pre-war music so I’m playing catch up now. The first of these discs is Gastonia Gallop, a collection of pre-war country/folk songs from Gaston County, North Carolina a place that holds special place in my heart as my Grandparents lived there for most of their lives. As a kid I can remember my Grandfather driving me through the mill houses, for the mill that had long been closed, showing where his friends/cousins lived and how what the impact the mill closing had on the city and the riot of 29 that changed the racial landscape of the city.
This is and Old Hat release, a North Carolina based reissue label who, all state pride aside, are doing the best work around. Their releases are singular in thought and vision. They don’t make sprawling multi disc releases covering everyone who passed through Gaston County, but a selection of important records covering the scope of material – and presented with a strong point of view and narrative that is supplemented by wonderful liner notes. Both tracks presented here are great examples of how “urban” Gaston County musicians sounded – compare this to the string bands to the east and blues musicians to the north during the same time period and it’s a night and day difference from instrumental complexity to just the sound of the recordings, both things not normally associated with pre-war country. It’s great fun to compare the second side here with a lot of the Piedmont blues songs from this period, men had the same thoughts about Carolina girls every where.
Buy Gaston Gallop here!
Wilmer Watts & The Lonely Eagles – She’s A Hard Boiled Rose (1929)
David McCarn – Take Them For A Ride (1930)
These are my favorite types of murder ballads – ones that start of as a typical blues sing, in this case “You Hear Me Knocking” or a “Lost My Woman” style of blues song, but around the halfway mark it turns darker – Leroy Carr kills his woman for running around with another man. This song is simliar to the great Bessie Smith track “Send me to the ‘lectric chair,” though Carr doesn’t plead to be killed but pleads that his woman had it coming for running around with another man. Carr’s piano is a relentless fever, Scrapper Blackwell backs Carr as usual, but is mixed far to low in the mix which is unfortunate.
Leroy Carr – Court Room Blues (1934)
I was recently told that I shouldn’t use a space between blog headlines and exclamation points. Such things were taught in 1st grade. I wasn’t aware of how far our first grade education has come since the advent of Web 2.0. This blog style guide has been updated and enrolled in the 1st grade.
I am returning from Paris where I met up with my wife for our first Thanksgiving together. She is wrapping up a study abroad program in Prague, and what could be more romantic than Paris? Nothing it turns out. Lots of thing would be more romantic than waiting in the bar at JFK for a place into RDU after you’ve been on stand by for the last two planes out of the terminal.
I normally store all my music on an external hard drive or on discs they come on, so I don’t have a lot of options or themes for this post away from home. I only have some odds and ends, starts really of larger posts about these songs, accept these for now. They are not from the prewar era, but are two different takes on how to approach preforming these songs today. I feel like Jack Rose is the best at doing these in a way that would please the blog readers. Stephan Mathieu takes a different approach in his drone version of Washington Phillips. The press release describes the instrumentation as “…as been performed on a historic Phonoharp No.2 zither from the 1890s utilizing five E-Bows and entropic and convolution processes.” His blog explains his work better than I ever could, and has some great pictures of his installations. Check it Out here.
Jack Rose – Dark Was The Night (2008)
Jack Rose – Dark Was The Night (2004)
Stephan Mathieu – Key To the Kingdom pt. 1 (2009)
Stephan Mathieu – Key To The Kingdom pt. 2 (2009)
We are alive. Still listening to blues.
I’m pretty bad at self-promotion, among other things as readers of this oft lapsed blog might have noticed. I wrote a piece for a book called Hang The DJ about female murder blues ballads. You can pick it up at Amazon now! I did a reading of it at the Nashville Book Festival as well, which saw me at my nervous best.
Famous last words, but I’ll have the tracks from that piece up later this week.
A very long time ago someone asked for the newly found Ben Curry tracks. Again these are from the weird 2009 blues calendar that the Blind Blake tracks came from. Ben Curry is another mostly unknown blues player, I posted a track by him back in 2006 under his name Bogus Ben Convington “Adam and Eve in the Garden” which is just as fun as these newly found tracks under his real name. These tracks are somewhat rougher sounding and weaker lyrically than that one, they still are pretty funny – and have that great medicine show guitar sound that I love.
Bogus Ben Covington – Adam and Eve In The Garden (1928)
Ben Curry – Laffing Rag (1932)
Ben Curry – Hot Dog (1932)
Thanks for the kind wishes on our marriage, we had a great couple of weddings and a week of bliss in San Diego and La Jolla which was just what was needed after a couple of months of insanity trying to close on the house and planning the wedding.
I picked up the new Dust To Digital set Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 last week and it hasn’t left my mind since then. Structured much like last years’ Victrola Favorites, Take Me To The Water focus is on the book and what a wonderful book it is – drawn from the collection of folk art archivist Jim Linderman, the book contains some just stunning photos of immersion baptism of both groups and individuals across a pretty broad timeframe. Lyrics and some notes on baptism are scattered through the book and they are insightful and well informed. The book closes with a substantial notes section on each of the songs with recording dates and a brief bio on the singers. The disc itself is quite good – and while it contains some of the same artists from Goodbye, Babylon the sides are different and fit well within the theme. It is somewhat disappointing to see the repetition of artists at all, but I feel that pool of songs that would fit thematically is already slim enough plus the disc is really just a bonus, the book stands alone as a great and important work and one that everyone should pick up.
Buy It Here
Jim Linderman’s Blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb
Carolina Tar Heels – I’ll Be Washed (1928)
Moses Mason – John The Baptist (1928)