Johnson City, Tn
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Posted in Honey on 08.31.05

A few weeks ago I posted Frank Stokes’ Chicken You Can Roost Behind The Moon, there has been a request for the lyrics transcription. I’ve tried doing it by ear, but I’m not getting very far with it. Does anyone have a copy of the lyrics?

Clarence Green, not to be confused with the post war guitar player, was a fiddle player in an obscure string band. This track however is a solo guitar number with Green on guitar showing that he was equally skilled at both instruments. Green has a relaxed voice – letting his guitarwork express most of the emotion in this tale of love gone bad.


Clarence Green – Johnson City Blues

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Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You
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Posted in Honey on 08.30.05

I’ve been having a hard time tearing myself away from this Jack Green and Jeannie Seely album long enough to blog, this might be the finest country duet album this side of Wagner and Parton. I’ve gotten myself all in a muss browsing the depth of emusic’s Document collection. I don’t need another bill, but this might have to happen. Though I hope that the ease of download pre-war blues doesn’t make you all leave Honey. I mean you like me for me, right? guys?

I always joke to Megan, the designer of this site and my dearest love, that the reason I post all these songs about husbands and wives killing each other isn’t because I have some deep resentment of being tied down, but because there aren’t really love songs in blues. This really sweet track by Ollie Shepard proves me very wrong, and is dedicated to Megan. Ollie Shepard is one of the blues musicians who was somewhat popular in the pre-war era , but who time has not been true to, as today Shepard is mostly forgotten which is sad because he stands out as a tender blues figure, not tender like say John Hurt, but as a dashing and romantic blues singer who if alive and well would have fit in nicely as a singer for Verve. This track Brown Skin Woman, is a wonderful love song about his woman who walks “like she’s got an oilwell in her backyard.” Shepard plays piano on the track and is accompanied by Lonnie Johnson on guitar briefly.

Ollie Shepard – Brown Skin Woman

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Hello Hello
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Posted in Honey on 08.29.05

It does appear that most everyone did a good job of spacing out their downloads over last week. Papa Claus is watching, y’know. In the comments of last week’s post I noticed that Document has finally put up their catalog on emusic.com if someone could give me the lowdown on emusic – price -file format and quality – and all that jazz i’d be ever so thankful. One bit of old news, Mr. Rob Hutton, a frequent Honey supporter, has started a wonderful new mp3 blog called Long Sought Home that focuses on gospel traditions from both black and white singers. It has a really fantastic Ola Mae Terrell song up now.

The linear notes of this album say that Eliza Christmas Lee’s (in a bizarre twist her real name is Amelia Christmas, which makes me think they could have done a better job of changing her name to something reasonable) singing voice is too exaggerated, but i think it’s quite wonderful and maybe a little theatrical – but that just adds to the mood of the song. The jazz band that’s backing her is really solid throughout.

Eliza Christmas Lee – I Ain’t Givin’ Nothing Away

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Vacation
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Posted in Honey on 08.22.05

I’ll be away from the blog for the rest of the week. Sorry!

But. I’m posting five blues songs today, now don’t go and spoil the week by downloading them all today. One a day, for five days. I know it’s tempting to open Christmas gifts early, but then all the surprise is gone and all you are left with is wrapping papers and some socks.

Monday: Merline Johnson – Don’t You Make Me High
Tuesday: Rev. Gary Davis – You Can Go Home
Wednesday: Washboard Sam – Diggin’ My Potatoes
Thursday: Tudie Wells – Baby’s Got The Blues
Friday: Dock Boggs – Sammie, Where You Been So Long?

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The Return of the Radio Show
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Posted in Honey on 08.17.05

Tonight marks the return of The Gate City Blues radio program. It streams live at wuag.net (click the live stream link at the top) from 9-11 (EST) and is a great time. The format of the radio show is the same as the blog playing the best in pre-war blues and gospel.

Today’s track is a duet between to of my favorite blues musicians, Bumble Bee Slim and Peetie Wheatstraw as they battle over the love of a woman. The track starts out with some really fun bickering between the two stars, backed by Wheatstraw’s wonderful piano style. The song sort of tapers off towards the end as they don’t interact with each other as much as they do at the beginning of the song. Still, it’s one of the better male/male blues duet tracks I’ve heard.

Peetie Wheatstraw and Bumble Bee Slim – No Good Woman (Fighting Blues)

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Mama Loves A Hard Boiled Man
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Posted in Honey on 08.16.05

Today’s track is one of those haunting blues tracks that you have to hear to believe it, but it is still shocking and awful. It’s also very beautiful, Trixe Smith a very talented but minor blues singer, sings this song “You’ve Got To Beat Me To Keep Me” in such a sullen voice, one that barley reaches over a whisper at times. It’s one of the most awful and sad things I’ve ever heard. Sometimes I shy away from these types of tracks so it doesn’t seem like promoting marginal forms of blues music, but this track I think has enough weight to justify it’s existence as a great blues song.

Trixie Smith – You’ve Got To Beat Me To Keep Me

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The Old Folks Started It
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Posted in Honey on 08.15.05

If you haven’t already, check out both of the Music Maker posts below – great music for a great cause. This month has been huge for Honey, both with the new Skip James remasters and the Music Maker posts we’ve been attracting a bunch of new visitors. If you are new to Honey, please check out the donor’s pages as well as note the policy that songs are not up permanently, that I remove them from the server on a weekly basis (mostly). Also if anyone more computer literate than me could tell me the codecs that the blues videos are encoded in, let me know.

Minnie Wallace was one of the more popular singers that recorded with the Memphis Jug Band, although she had a short solo career that produced some wonderful non-jug band back tracks. This track “The Old Folks Started It” features the wonderful sound of the Jug Band backing Minnie’s soulful voice as she sings a pretty funny song – great contrast.

Minnie Wallace – The Old Folks Started It

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Carolina Breakdown
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Posted in Honey on 08.12.05

Today we are featuring another out released by the Music Maker Foundation. Last week’s post on their release of Precious Bryant’s My Name Is Precious is still up and has some really great tracks posted. The Music Maker Foundation‘s website has a lot more information on their work as well as more detailed biographies on their roster of artists.

Today we are looking at a great release by Music Maker featuring Etta Baker and Cora Phillips two sisters who grew up in a musical household here in North Carolina and are some of the best living blues musicians that I’ve ever heard. Etta Baker is the lead guitar and vocalist on these tracks and she has such a calming voice, it’s something like Elizabeth Cotten but softer. On Broken Hearted blues that incorporates Robert Johnson’s Love In Vein into a original musical arrangement. Cora Phillips plays guitar on the tracks as well and on tracks like “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad,” an all too short instrumental version of the great piedmont blues song, which Etta plays banjo Cora’s guitar is a perfect accompaniment. There was a local documentary about the piedmont blues tradition and it featured Etta and Cora in their living room playing together – it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, they knew exactly where each were going with the song, and were in perfect harmony with each other. These songs capture that essence beautifully.

Buy This Record From The Music Maker Foundation

Etta Baker and Cora Phillips – Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

Etta Baker and Cora Phillips – Broken Hearted Blues

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Unknown
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Posted in Honey on 08.11.05

I’ll put up something more official later this week, but my email address is changing to pkpatnaik at prewarblues.org, please update your address books and contact lists. I’m trying to leave my personal email a little more less crowded as well as have more options for organization with a pop3 mail client on my computer. I still love to hear from ya’ll though.

I generally avoid posting tracks from artists unknown, but today’s track is too good to deny. Recorded by Lawrence Gellert, an Tryon, NC resident by way of Budapest, in Georgia in 1929 the people on this track aren’t known, but they sure can play country blues! This track features some strong guitar playing and good lyrics though a lot of it is heavily obscured by a lot of surface noise. What does make it through the static is a classic country blues song and one that unfortunately not credited to the people who created it. The song also seems to fade out right at the end, though it appears the song is ending at the same time – that’s an very unfortunate mastering choice still.

Unknown – Trouble Ain’t Nothing But A Good Man Feeling Bad

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Keeps On Slippin’
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Posted in Honey on 08.10.05

Oops. By the time I got ready to post it was already after five, so I called it a day. This may or may not relate to not posting yesterday, but the new Green Tea Frappacino at Starbucks is the best summer drink around. There is a great project going on that’s trying to establish a Paramount exhibit in Grafton, Wi (Where most of the famed Paramount recordings took place) as well a music festival and a book on the dance bands of the era. The site is sort of hard to navigate, but there is some really great photos in the gallery.

I was thinking about that Woody Guthrie song again today and my mind immediately jumped to this great Frank Stokes track. Frank Stokes was an early Memphis blues performer who played with a number of string and jug bands, but I think his solo work is his most interesting. He has a really powerful voice and driving guitar style, something that even comes through when he’s singing something as silly as this track “Chicken You Can Roost Behind The Moon,” which he sings “Chicken Chicken” about thirty some times. It’s a really fun and silly track that has just a little bit of anger hidden beneath all the “chicken talk.”

Frank Stokes – Chicken You Can Roose Behind The Moon

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