I don’t really make apologies for posting mostly piano based music, but the sheer number of emails asking more guitar based blues tracks this week has given me pause.
Ed Andrew recorded a couple of sides in the early 20s for Okeh – the first of which is usually referred to as “the first country blues” record made. While I haven’t really done the research to state that claim without warning, It does appear that this is one of the earliest, but more importantly it’s one of the most solid examples of the genre that would sweet out of Georgia and and cover most of the non-delta South. Andrews is tired but plaintive on this side as he gives a overview of his life long blues. Andrews has a weird wobble on the end of his stanzas – I’m not sure if it’s from the recording of possible medicine show past – but it lends an element of weariness that the track benefits from I think.
Ed Andrews – Time Ain’t Gonna Make Me Stay (1924)
I don’t really know anything about today’s singer – Genevieve Davis – outside of this track she recorded with Louis Dumaine’s Jazzola Eight is flat out fantastic. The song is a familiar theme of northern disillusionment that followed both great migrations northward best represented in the blues world in Lonnie Johnson’s Southland Is Alright By Me. Davis doesn’t go into the theme as deeply as Johnson – but her lyrics are particularly effective lines like “did you ever dream lucky/wake up gold [referring to her honey] in hand/and you didn’t have a dollar to pay your house rent man.” Davis’ work on the song is done pretty quickly at around the minute and the half mark – leaving the rest of the song up to the Jazzola Eight who really knock it out of park – incredible work and some of the best examples of pre-war New Orleans jazz that I’ve heard. It is also the first by the Eight that I’ve heard. If anyone has their solo or backing work – I’d love to hear it.
Genevieve Davis – Haven’t Got A Dollar To Pay Your House Rent Man (1927)
My recent request for help with my spam problem was a success, so I’m asking for some more tech help – Is anyone using WP- Mint – Popular Posts? I would like to track my downloads per file, something dreamhost doesn’t offer, and all the Mint plugins for download track use a php script that also prevents the songs from being saved – only streamed. If I could this mint popular post plugin working, at least I would know which posts people are reading the most, and hopefully also download the song the most, not ideal but at least I’d get some idea of what ya’ll are downloading. I have the plugin pointed at my Mint database – but I don’t know what to do from there. My WordPress theme isn’t widget aware is that the problem?
I recently discovered this Sara Martin track – Shipwrecked Blues and it’s unlike any Sara Martin song I’ve heard before. She sings in vaudeville pitch and the song has lots of strange pauses and breaks – and is only minimally backed up by a solo piano. The pace of the song is also really strange – it’s very rocky – side to side much like a ship making it hard to follow, not to mention Martin who is normally very clear mumbles and slurs her way through some of the stanzas and she also reaches for the higher notes (and does some awful rolling of them), something not typical of her style at all. It makes me wonder if this is her at all. Thoughts?
Sara Martin – Shipwrecked Blues (1926)
If anyone can help me out with my spam issue I’d love to know how to prevent it. I’m currently using Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam plugin for WordPress, but it doesn’t seem to work that well. Also it doesn’t seem to work with Safari.
I often search my archives to see what I’ve posted before – and upon searching Ida Cox, one of my favorite blues singers of all time – I noticed I’ve only posted her one other time. Of course in that post I expressed my outrange of that same fact. I’ve been listening to Ida sing Coffin Blues, quite possibly the saddest blues song I’ve heard this side of Lonnie Johnson’s Death Valley is Only Half Way To My Home. Backed by Jesse Crump on his beautiful and heartbreaking reed organ Ida sings about burying her man – without metaphor or happiness – this is the sadness of the blues at its most pure.
Ida Cox – Coffin Blues (1925)
Lizzie Miles was a New Orleans Singer who had a wide range of singing styles though I think she was only able to pull off jazz and blues – this track in particular is a fantastic blues performance and really shows why she was one of the biggest blues star of her time. She Is backed by Jelly Roll Morton on piano, and what a wonderful piano track this is – he almost steals the show from Miles who is at her somber and plaintive best.
Lizzie Miles – I Hate A Man Like You (1929)
My computer is in tip top shape. Time Machine managed to scramble my password upon restore which didn’t make my life easier, I’ll say that.
If anyone has any information on the Folklore programs at Western Kentucky, Georgia State or UNC(Chapel Hill) let me know. Thanks!
Doom and Gloom is the latest pre-war related release on the Trikont label and like always it’s a fantastically researched and document release two things that almost never ever go together. The theme behind Doom and Gloom and pretty self explainartory – though War and Wrecks might be more clear – as most of the songs deal with wars and accidents and ships sinking (this is also the theme behind People Take Warning) more so than gloom per se. The set is also smartly bookended with two wonderful Blind Willie Johnson songs and features some real deep cuts from family faces like Charlie Poole, Big Bill Broonzy and Casey Bill Wheldon which is always refreshing. The two tracks I’m highlighting are a solid pre-war side from Big Bill Broonzy about the great flood of 1927, and I’ve sadly neglected Big Bill even though he is one of the finest blues guitar players of all time. The second side is the Sinking of the Titanic by Richard Rabbitt Brown who I hadn’t heard before – but according to the linear notes played mostly in brothels which makes me want to seek out the rest of his recordings.
update: apparently I have heard Richard Rabbitt Brown before, he’s on The Anthology as well as Goodbye, Babylon I’ve never really noticed him until now though. There is also a movement that says he might have recorded under Blind Willie Harris
Buy It Here!!!
Big Billy Broonzy – Southern Flood Blues (1937)
Richard Rabbitt Brown – Sinking of the Titanic (1927)
John Bondurant left a couple of comments on the Buel Kazee and Wise County posts from a few months ago – and linked to Berea College’s wonderful collection digitalized field recordings from Kentucky and the greater Appalachia area. It’s a revelatory website and really well laid out – you can even search by county! Check it out here.
I received the new Dust To Digital Release, Victrola Favorites from Ms. Honey for Christmas, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since then. I think that Dust To Digital is a pretty hit and miss reissue group – but all their releases have a striking amount of detail and love poured into the song choices (though the art direction and build quality of another one of their new releases, Art of Recording, leaves a lot to be desired and has prevented me from reviewing it fairly thus far.) and this one might be their best work yet.
The set is loosely themed around a collection of 78s from around the world compiled by collectors Jeffery Taylor and Robert Mills and design to simulate a Victrola parlor or I guess more accurately – their Victrola parlor where they play long forgotten 78s they have found from all corners of the world and through many different means. The collection of sides is wonderfully sequenced and each song moves smoothly into the next despite being all different corners for the world. The names and records are mostly unfamiliar to me – which is a pleasant surprise – as this is not just a good collection of sides in the way Goodbye, Babylon or Tikont’s Flashback series are, but it’s a masterful and well documented collection of songs, unheard a much more challenging feat – and one that puts this collection on a short list for one of the best collections of songs that I’ve ever heard. The collection is two discs and held in the covers of a 144 page booklet with amazing detail shots of the 78 labels, sleeves and advertising that accompanied these sides. I can’t really say this strongly enough, but I highly recommend this release.
Buy It Here !
Kelly Harrell – O! Molly Go Ask Your Mother (1927)
Carlos Ramos – Torre De Belem (1931)
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)
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)
If you are looking to donate to a charity this holiday season please consider The Music Maker Foundation – a charity located in North Carolina dedicated to helping blues musicians with living and health care expenses as well as giving them the opportunity to record music. There are several different ways to donate from monthly or quarterly reoccurring to one time donations and it goes to a wonderful cause.
more information here.
By request here are two Dock Boggs recordings from his first two recording sessions in the late 1920s. Boggs recorded a handful of songs in the 20s before the economic times forced him back into the coal mines where he worked most of his life. He would recorded again in the mid 60s for Folkways, a few songs from that sessions are on this website. According to Amazon this disc is now out of print and fetching some crazy prices, so I might upload a few more tracks from to save some folks a few bucks.
Dock Boggs – Hard Luck Blues (1927)
Dock Boggs – Will Sweethearts Know Each Other There? (1929)