The Roulette Sisters are a quartet out of New York that plays country blues like country blues should be played, with a washboard, foot stomps and guitar. Their album “Nerve Medicine” is a collection of eleven wonderful versions of traditional country blues songs. These two songs “Black Dog Blues” and “You’ve Been Fooling” are my favorites, and the show of the ladies great voices and solid and lively instrumentation.
Visit the Sisters at their website, where they also have their album for sell.
The Roulette Sisters – Black Dog Blues (2005)
The Roulette Sisters – You’ve Been Fooling (2005)
Mary Dixon was a Texas blues singer who recorded 10 tracks in 1929, who should have been allowed to recorded dozens and dozens more. Dixon’s voice is a strong as any of the classic blues singers and her originality of voice and lyrics is only equaled by the larger talents. Her voice delivers these songs with such vigor it’s hard to believe that she didn’t become the next Sara Martin. This track “You Can’t Sleep In My Bed” has some scat singing at the beginning and settles into an aggressive piano driven piece as Dixon tells her man that he shouldn’t come home late, or really come home at all.
Mary Dixon – You Can’t Sleep In My Bed (1929)
New York was New York. I had a blast, but I’m glad to be back in Greensboro, though we have a severe lack of rice pudding restaurants. I’ve also updated my blogroll with Basement Songs which a great blog out of NYC with a good selection of contemporary indie music and great photos.
Earl Thomas recorded four terrific sides in 1936, but was poorly received in the crowded blues piano marketplace at the time. Sounding almost exactly like Leroy Carr didn’t do him any favors either. Thomas was a skilled if not exceptional piano player and his vocal style is almost too similar to Carr’s but these songs are so good, it doesn’t really matter to me.
Earl Thomas – Sugar Girl Blues(1936)
Earl Thomas – Bonus Men (1936)
Me and Ms. Honey are going to NYC this weekend for a few days, from what I can tell most of the real good record stores have closed. Is this true? Is there some hidden blues record store I must goto, or should I just go to Kim’s and call it a day.
Sylvester Palmer was a St. Louis blues singer who recorded a handful of sides with Wesley Wallace in the late 1920s. Palmer was a solid if not spectacular singer, whose voice is much better than the songs he recorded. This track Lonesome Man Blues is a run down of almost every St. Louis blues line without going into a Stagolee tale. Wesley Wallace is wonderful as usual on the piano.
Sylvester Palmer – Lonesome Man Blues (1929)
As requested, Jack Owens was one of the last links to pre-war blues music this country had left when he passed in 1997. A bother-in-law for a time to Skip James, his music came from the same place, it was darkly meditative, though Owens wasn’t as skilled as James. This track features Bud Spires on harmonica and was recorded by Alan Lomax in the mid 60s.
Rob Hutton of Long Sought Home(which unfortunately has closed down, though he is preparing his next venture) has a great piece about Owens here.
Jack Owens – Cherry Ball Blues
I’ve noticed the wonderful influx of readers from metafilter and related sites today, I hope ya’ll enjoy the site – and add it to all of your favorite web 2.0 reading lists. RSS feeds are here.
Alan Lomax recorded Sampson Pittman in 1938 on one of his field recording trips to Detroit, Michigan, a trip that also produced Calvin Frazier. Pittman wasn’t from Michigan, but Arkansas which is referenced often in his songs, but also in his country and delta influenced guitar playing. Pittman’s voice in incredible, both in his power and clarity, which is a real rarity when listening to blues musicians of his age. His only recorded songs are from these Lomax recordings which were collected as “Devil Is Busy” which is far out of print now. They can found on the questionably titled ” Detroit Blues: Blues from the Motor City 1938-1954.”
Samson Pittman – Joe Louis
Samson Pittman – I Been Down In The Circle Before
Poor Boy Burke recorded four sides for Columbia in 1941, though they would sit around unreleased until the early 90s. Nothing is known about Burke or this session, Burke is the singer and quite a polished one at that suggesting that he has been singing for many years before this recording and he is backed by a very good, but unknown band. The whole side has a high degree of polish that isn’t really found a lot until after the war.
Poor Boy Burke – Old Vet Blues (1941)
Issie Ringgold is a mostly unknown blues singer, her sister Muriel was a somewhat popular Broadway singer, but Issie didn’t see any of that success as she only recorded a couple of songs in early 1930. This song, He’s A Good Meat Cutter, is a solid, if uninspired blues side the major draw I have to the song is that I’m in total love with Issie’s voice, it has a bit of high class showtime in it, a little bit of vaudeville and it sounds just perfect.
Issie Ringgold – He’s A Good Meat Cutter (1930)
St. Louis Red Mike (who I think should of just kept his name St. Louis Red) whose real name was John McBailey, is a pretty typical St. Louis blues singer, slow and sweet, but dangerous and violent at the same time. He is backed on this recording by the great Blind John Davis on piano and an unknown most likely Willie Bee James on guitar. The song itself is about Red courting the Devil’s sister, marrying her and taking over hell, is something you don’t hear much of in blues music, even from the Devil’s Son-In-Law himself, Peetie Wheatstraw. Maybe Peetie wasn’t the ambitious type.
St. Louis Red Mike – Hell Ain’t Nothing But A Mile And A Quarter (1937)