Songbird !
Posted in 1920s,Female Blues on 05.30.07

The good people over at Mozilla (the birds behind Firefox) have developed a new media player for XP, Vista, OSX and Linux that is really spiffy – and can do all the fancy functions of iTunes, without being awful and bloated. The coolest part about the player is that it has an integrated browser that when pointed to your favorite music blog, say Honey, Where You Been So Long?, it will find all the mp3s on the front page, give you track info and allow you to download them all in one swoop. You can even subscribe to the page so it will automatically down the songs to a folder and place it in your library everyday. Not to sound like they are paying my bills, but this seriously blowing my mind.

download it here! and then go to the forums and force them to add me to the bookmarks that come with the download.

Laura Smith was a popular blues singer of the time, recorded more than 20 songs in her recording career and touring across the midwest as a blues singer. She’s mostly known for her violent blues numbers, although some of them like the wonderfully titled “I’m Gonna Kill Myself” comes up more silly than anything else. This track Gravier Street Blues is her best song and one of the best murder ballads, though it’s mostly a mix of other murder ballads. Gravier Street is a street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, though I can’t find any seedy back story to the street.

Laura Smith – Gravier Street Blues

Carl Davis & The Dallas Jamboree Band
Posted in 1930s,Texas Blues on 05.24.07

It’s been really busy at work recently so I haven’t had time to tend to my blog (also the company’s firewall blocks my site!!) or get around to the requests, hopefully this weekend I’ll have some time to tend to my growing backlog of work to be done ’round here.

It’s been real nice to hear from so many of the early Honey Bees recently, if you bought one of those CDs that took my forever to send out, the login for the new and easier to keep up mix session is the login from your old login/password set.

Carl Davis fronted this blues band in the mid 30s for a handful great Texas blues sides before sliding into blues history. Davis is a fantastic blues singer – great power and emotion in his voice and the band made up of mostly unknown players is just as good. I don’t want to over sell these downloads, but I think they are just as good many if not all of the known Jug and Hokum bands that litter the popular pre-war blues consciousness.

Carl Davis & The Dallas Jamboree Band – Elm Street Woman Blues
Carl Davis & The Dallas Jamboree Band – Flying Crow Blues (1935)

compare Carl Davis & The Dallas Jamboree Band’s take on Flying Crow Blues to Dusky Dailey – Flying Crow Blues (1937) another Texas blues musician who recorded around the same time.

Make The Devil Leave Me Alone
Posted in 1930s,Country Blues,Field Recording,Honey on 05.16.07

I have some great requests coming up on Friday, so be on the look out. Today we are still going through my backlog of field recordings I’ve been meaning to post for a few months now. These recordings come from a trip John and Ruby Lomax took the infamous Parchman State Prison in 1939. These recordings took place in the Sewing Room in the Woman’s area of the prison and all of the women Lomax would record show off an amazing talent pool that matches any of the female country blues artists on the Paramount or Columbia roster. My favorite out of the batch is Mattie May Thomas’ Dangerous Blues, an extremely insightful look at the duality of poverty and violence and the status of black females in the pre-war era.

Mary James – Make The Devil Leave Me Alone (1939)
Beatrice Tisdall – Workhouse Blues (1939)
Mattie May Thomas – Dangerous Blues (1939)
Annabelle Abraham – To Be Sho’ (Hey Logan) (1939)

Everywhere I Look This Morning
Posted in 1930s,Field Recording on 05.15.07

Today we are featuring a couple of tracks recorded in 1936 by John Lomax at the Richmond Penitentiary. The first track is Clifton Wright who has an sweet, sweet voice and can get up and hit those high and lonesome notes with ease. I can’t help but think that he would have recorded some amazing numbers if he was able to get into a studio. Next is Joe Lee who accompanies himself with foottapping and banging on a body of guitar – he is another great talent that wasn’t able to flourish because of of his situation.

Clifton Wright – Everywhere I Look This Morning
Joe Lee – Jesus Made Me Just What I Am (1936)

M.C. Blues
Posted in 1920s,Female Blues,Honey on 05.07.07

I love whistling. Even though I’m unable to whistle in a proper manner (i suck in, rather than blow out) I lover the sound of a proper whistle. It doesn’t seem that whistling was all that popular int pre-war blues music, although country and jazz music of the era featured whistling promtely. It seems when the moment arises to whistle in blues music the kazoo is always pulled out – and I mean I love the kazoo – Tampa Red’s especially, it’s no substitute for the whistle.

Marie Grinter published three songs for Okeh in her recording career and is unknown for good reason – she wasn’t spectacular, although I place the blame on her backing musicians rather than her voice, because while unrefined it’s better a lot of female blues singers who recorded 20 or 30 sides. This song, M.C. Blues features a great whistling chorus, though you know your career isn’t going to take off when the get the name of your signature song wrong (it should be M.G. Blues). She used whistling on another song East and West blues recored in the same session, it’s not nearly as good as M.C. Blues , but I’ve included it for thematic sake.

Marie Grinter – East and West Blues
Marie Grinter – M.C. Blues (1926)