I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday – here at Honey H.Q. our holidays have been postponed until after the New Year because of shipping and logistic delays. I’ve fixed the Utah Smith link below – so everyone can hear that wonderful song, instead of me just teasing you with it. In the comments section of that post I was correct about the location of Mississippi Records, it is actually a domestic record shop in Portland,OR. I was able to track down one e-retailer that has it (Other Music out of NYC) Aquarius Records out of San Fransisco stock the record, but they are out of stock at the moment.
I’m going back to an older Trikont release today, Flashback #4 Blue and Lonely is a great introduction to pre-war blues and jazz. It covers most of the big names like Ma Rainey, Blind Willie Johnson and Tampa Red, but also has some more obscure artists and some other non-blues popular music from the period. I think it makes a much better introduction to blues as a whole than those Rough Guide To… compilation discs or even the Folkways Classic Blues series (as far as introduction to the genre goes). This track is by Lee Morse and the Blue Grass Boys, though it’s certainly not a bluegrass song – Morse goes in and out phrasing styles – from blues to vaudeville which might put some people off – but I find the song enjoyable despite the questionable choice of her flat delivery.
Buy the disc here!
Lee Morse and the Blue Grass Boys – Moanin’ Low (1928)
Sorry for avoiding the blog for a few weeks but i’ve slowly but I’ve started the slow crawl to unemployment as my work contract has unexpectedly terminated, or rather will be terminated sometime in January or February whenever I finish what I’ve been working on recently. I think I’ve come to the acceptance phase of termination and I’m pretty excited to move on to other and hopefully better employment or possibly grad school.
I am looking for recommendations on graduate schools – I’m interested in getting into a southern studies/history or a musicology program like the one at University of Memphis where I could focus on southern musical culture or history. In my brief search I’ve discover programs at both Ole Miss and University of Memphis that excite me , but I’m open and interested in other programs around the country. I’m sort of nervous about going into a music department because I’ve never taken any music courses (I was a history major in undergrad) and a lot of music programs have very daunting requirements for someone who can’t read music. But please send me your recommendation and advice to pkpatnaik at prewarblues.org
I was sent this album a few weeks ago by a reader it was released by a small british label, Mississippi, called Life is a Problem – and I can’t get it out of my head. This track in particular has really changed my mind about Utah Smith – a post-war gospel guitar player who until I heard both of his tracks on this album I thought he was so boring and all coffee shop hype. This track in particular “I Am Free” with his noisy electric blues guitar and his backing chorus with handclaps and shouts that really bring this song alive.
The two releases that I’ve heard of by this label are available for purchase here (UK) and are vinyl only.
For domestic readers of this site – Other Music stocks the album online - here.
Utah Smith – I’m Free
I asked this question in the comments secition of the post below, but I thought I’d ask it up front also. Does anyone know where to buy
Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search Of Blind Willie McTell
in the States? Having a large % of your readers located in Europe makes me feel like I’m missing out on a lot of things, like cheap prices on Document Records and this biography.
Trikont Records is another wonderful European based recorded label, whose compilations are much easier to find than Document’s here in the States. I’ve been pouring over their early harmonica recordings compilation titled “Black & White Hillbilly Music” this past week – and it’s a perfectly sequenced album – flowing between black and white artists with ease helping make those connections between playing styles easier to grasp. The harmonica was important because it was cheap, portable and easy to play but a lot more versatile than the kazoo, so it allowed people of all races and classes a chance to play and hear a lot of different styles of harmonica playing. Of course with the folk revival of the 60s and onward it seems a lot of the nuances of the harmonica have been lost and everyone just plays it like kazoo. This disc is a revelation on just how versatile the harmonica is – and how so many groups incorporated it into their playing style. Two of the tracks I liked the most were from Nelstone’s Hawaiians a country duo named for the two members Hubert Nelson and James Touchstone and also their use of Steel Guitar which at this time was more associated with Hawaiian music more so than country or guitar. The sound of steel guitar and the harmonica in duet is not something I’ve heard before , but it shows that they are perefect match for each other.
Buy the disc here!
Nelstone’s Hawaiians – Just Because (1929)
Nelstone’s Hawaiians – Mobile Country Blues (1929)