I haven’t posted in awhile because I moved to Chapel Hill in November and I don’t have a place to put up my CDs yet, so they are all in boxes and it’s a pretty big pain to get to them at the moment, Ms. Honey assures me that her patent pending shelving system will be put up the week – and posting should pick up around then. I got a new job in the non-profit sector in Orange County, which is a welcomed change from the banking world. The other bit of news is that I got engaged towards the end of last year which is pretty thrilling. The hunt is now on for “appropriate” pre-war blues songs about lasting romance. (please suggest some)
Over holiday I picked up the 2009 Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920s Calendar, which seems like an awfully specific title, especially since its not accurate as most of the images are from the 1930s. The main draw for the calendar is that it has the newly found Blind Blake tracks (as well as some new Ben Curry sides) which are loan from Old Hat records (though it looks like Yazoo might have put the disc together) which came as as shock to me as I figured that they would want first crack at releasing those sides.
Night and Day is the first of the lost Blind Blake tracks, recorded in 1932 it by the numbers “woke-up-without-my-woman” blues song that’s strangely punctuated by some wonderful upbeat ragtime guitar work between stanzas – the guitar trying to be the force Blake wish for “to move these blues away” but I’m not sure if it works.
Sun To Sun fairs better I feel – I know most people don’t listen to Blake for his lyrics – but this song is pretty solid I love “I’ve lived on water/I’ve lived on land/I ain’t find no woman whose been fine with one man” line that ends the song.
Blind Blake – Night and Day (1932)
Blind Blake – Sun To Sun (1932)
Document’s recordings of Monkey Joe have always been the one disc I’ve always put back on the shelf/remove from my Amazon cart, maybe it’s the nick name that always rubbed me wrong – but it is a shame that I didn’t around to listening to him until last month.
Jesse Coleman recorded his first track in 1935 – but continued to play in blues clubs until at least the 1970s. Working as both a session player – he is most known for his aggressive piano playing style and his almost welping singing style. Both of these features are present on the first track a wonderfully original blues number, “Gonna Beat It Back To Memphis” an angry blues letter to world and the blues – he’s not taking the blues lying down on this one. The wonderful Walter Vincson plays guitar on this track – but he’s all but obscured by Coleman’s piano being way too high in the mix. Th e track is credited to Monkey Joe and his Music Grinders – a group consisting of Honey’s favorite Blind Joe Davis on piano and Willie Bee James on guitar -Coleman “only” sings on this side, I Was Laying ‘Em Down, but Davis’ style compliments the track a lot better and allows for the band to really carry the track which is always a pleasure to hear in pre-war era that was dominated by solo performances.
Jesse “Monkey Joe” Coleman – Gonna Beat It Back To Memphis (1935)
Monkey Joe and his Music Grinders – I Was Laying ‘Em Down (1939)
I’ve updated the Stagolee page again, reducing the number of MIA tracks, thanks to Bert and others who have sent in files recently. The Final (!!) update to St. James should be up on the donors page tonight (or at least by 9/2) – apparently I like downloading, deleting and re-downloading those files over and over again. I know I’ve lost a few on the way because of that. If you donated tracks for these collections and haven’t heard from me by tomorrow night (9/2) send me an email (email@example.com) for your password.
This song was requested awhile ago, but I’m just now getting around to putting it up. I wasn’t familiar with George Hannah before this request, I just had a few of his tracks scattered across a few discs. Hannnah isn’t the best singer, but he is a very unique songwriter – focusing on the other side of city life in the pre-war era. Boy in Boat is a great observation of city life, and sound somewhat like Tom Waits in parts. Freakish Man Blues goes more into details about his own personal leanings and is quite fun. Hannah is backed on both tracks by Meade Lux Lewis who is always a pleasure to hear.
George Hannah – The Boy In The Boat (1930)
George Hannah – Freakish Man Blues (1930)
Virgil Childers recorded a handful of sides in Charlotte, NC a recording site more known for pre-war country than blues. Childers is a really light/pop piedmont blues artist (though his style isn’t pure piedmont like Fuller) he has an enjoyable voice and is a pretty solid guitar player. He also recorded Dago Blues, which combined with the version below by Luella Miller are the only two versions I know about. I also enjoy his take on Red River Blues, one of my favorite songs.
Virgil Childers – Dago Blues (1938)
Virgil Childers – Red River Blues(1938)
That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. The delay of St. James has everything to do with the keeper of the bees, so blame her. Everything regarding St. James has been compiled and is ready to go, bees or not.
We celebrated in secret our 4 year anniversary here at Honey H.Q. last month – Casey Bill Weldon was played very loudly – much dancing followed. I think Casey’s guitar sound is my favorite outside of Son House – I also think Casey is served well with a piano backing it pops his guitar sound a lot more than when he’s backed by another guitarist.
Casey Bill Weldon – Someone Changed The Lock On My Door (1935)
I hadn’t heard of Mosaic Select until the other I heard a story on Fresh Air about a new Boogie-Woogie Box set released released by them. Mosaic appears to be somewhat like an American grown Bear Family records specializing in box sets of jazz artists – especially of well known jazz artists little known recording periods. I’m not really an expert in jazz by any means – but these sets look fantastic – The Complete Charlie Parker on Benedetti? Yes Please.
Mosaic’s three disc set of boogie-woogie might be the first serious look at boogie woogie and blues piano in the pre-war era. The set is limited to 5,000 copies and priced at $49 which is high considering the set it self looks like a JSP Box, but without the shadiness and with excellent and extremely well documented notes.
I’m going to pick three tracks, one from each disc just to sample the set, the first track is a showy piece (even for a boogie woogie number) by Meade Lux Lewis – that is a perfect example of the style and just a great composition. The next is an star-studded number with Pete Johnson on piano and Hot Lips Page on trumpet and the great Joe Turner on vocals who complains about the tempo being too fast at the end of this unissued take. I think the tempo is is just right – and the last third of the side has some of the best call and response from a vocalist and his band that I’ve heard. The last track is from the great Cripple Clarence Lofton with a track that sounds like proto-southern soul, wonderful play between the drummer and Lofton, though it features more Lofton’s warbly voice than his fantastic piano skills (though he gets his lines in), I’m just in love with this track.
Buy It Here!!
Meade Lux Lewis – Bear Cat Crawl (1938)
Pete Johnson And His Boogie Woogie Boys – Jump For Joy (1939)
Cripple Clarence Lofton – Strut That Thing (1935)
Posted in 1930s
Truth be told I’m currently obsessed with Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak and the Ohio Player’s Fire – but I’ll refrain from posting selections from those albums today. There’s been a couple of requests for the Lonnie Johnson songs I’ve mentioned recently – so here is a trio of sides from easily the most versatile bluesman around. Death Valley Is Only Half Way To My Home is one my favorite blues songs of all time – and one of the most moving pieces of music I’ve ever heard.
Lonnie Johnson – Death Valley Is Only Half Way To My Home (1930)
Lonnie Johnson – Headed For Southland (1930)
Lonnie Johnson – Southland Is Alright With Me (1931)
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)
“Lord, I’m Troubled About My Soul” is my favorite traditional gospel song, though it does not have a deep recorded tradition as many southern gospel songs. This version is by Lillie Knox who was recorded by John Lomax on one of his Library of Congress field recording trips through South Carolina. Lillie Knox has a incredible voice – and this track recorded acapella is one of the most moving recordings I’ve ever heard.
Lille Knox – I’m Troubled About My Soul (1937)