I’m Still Sloppy Drunk
Posted in 1930s,Country Blues,Piedmont Blues on 10.07.07

Ruth Willis might be my favorite female country blues singer. Of course Memphis Minnie gets all the mainstream press and the cool kids and their overpriced reissues love Geeshie Wiley (though its hard to fault them for that) but Ruth Willis gets my heart. Best known for her fantastic work with Blind Willie McTell she also recorded a handful tracks with Fred McMullen (himself a lost Georgia blues treasure) that I think are even better than her work with McTell. Willis is backed on this track by McMullen and Curley Weaver (or perhaps Buddy Moss) but it’s Willis’ vocal ability that really sells this track – driving each word into your heart with incredible precision.

Ruth Willis – I’m Still Sloppy Drunk (1933)

The Rest of Billy Bird
Posted in 1930s,Piedmont Blues on 09.23.07

By request here are the other four sides by Billy Bird. Mill Man Blues is a solid blues number, almost the equal Down in the Cemetery. The other two sides are Alabama Blues part 1 and 2. Theses numbers are based off Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues, thought they aren’t near as great as that number. Part 1 plays off T for Texas and Part 2 is a little more vulgar, and I think the better take of the song.

Billy Bird – Mill Man Blues (1936)
Billy Bird – Alabama Blues Pt. 1 (1936)
Billy Bird – Alabama Blues Pt. 2 (1936)

We’ll Never Die
Posted in 1930s,Piano Blues on 09.18.07

I promise. It’s been a rough few months, thanks for sticking around.

I posted a track by Speckled Red way back in June of 05and it’s still up to download, which is remarkable I think. I don’t revisit too many of my old posts, there are far too many blues people to unearth to repeat the same dozen artists that CD compilations seems to be happy to produce. Speckled Red is also so fun and lively; this track will surely get you out of your seat – and it also provides a great counterpoint to the question I always get “Why are the blues so depressing?”

Speckled Red – You Got To Fix It (1938)

Put Me In Six Feet Of Ground
Posted in 1930s,Female Blues on 08.13.07

Ruby Walker recorded under the name Ruby Smith, and it’s pretty easy to hear why. On this cover of Bessie Smith’s ‘Lectric Chair Blues she attempts (and mostly succeeds) at sounding just like Bessie Smith. While this doesn’t make her the most interesting of the female blues singers it does make her a pretty solid one. Besides most female blues singers couldn’t even hold a candle to Bessie’s singing talent – Ruby Walker has a few lit.

Ruby Walker (Smith) – ‘Lectric Chair Blues

Voice Of The Blues
Posted in 1920s,1930s,Female Blues on 08.08.07

Apparently I’ve made an enemy over in Amsterdam. Prewarblues.org was under “attack” sometime over the weekend – which is pretty lame. I mean i know I took some time off, but that’s no reason to try to crash my site…right?

Irene Scruggs won a talent contest for Okeh which allowed her to record a handful of sides for that label and also allowed her to travel around as part of several groups as well as forming her own band in St.Louis. For a relatively unknown blues singer she recorded with some of the best in the industry: Lonnie Johnson, King Oliver and Clarence Williams. The first track here Worried Love is a duet with Johnny Hodges on piano – and it’s quite fun in the mood of Lonnie Johnon’s duets with Victoria Spivey. The second track is her with a fantastic, but unknown guitar player -in a much more standarded blues number “The Voice of the Blues.”

Irene Scruggs – Worried Blues Pt. 1
Irene Scruggs – Voice of the Blues (1930)

Find Yrself A Job
Posted in 1930s,Texas Blues on 06.18.07

This song by Black Ace is by request – the reasons of which I won’t speculate. Black Ace was a fantastic slide guitar player from Texas, though unlike most Texas blues musicians He did not set to emulate Blind Lemon, but whose inspirations lie in delta-blues great Robert Johnson and Oscar Woods. He recorded a handful of tracks in 1930s and then recorded a few more tracks in the 1960s, though I haven’t heard those. If anyone has heard his last recordings let me know if they are worth picking up.

Black Ace – Trifling Woman (1937)

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)

Black Snake Moan

The new movie Black Snake Moan does not come out until March 2nd (Friday!!), but here at Honey H.Q. we’ve gotten our hands on the soundtrack which features Samuel L. Jackson doing a few classic blues numbers. Jackson plays an aging bluesman in the movie – and I’m guessing sings these songs during the course – as there is a lot of ambient nosies and dialog in the background of these tracks, especially before Black Snake Moan where he tells a story about his own personal blues and how his wife the did him wrong. Jackson learned how to play guitar for the role and it comes off well, but the star of course his his voice which is perfectly suited for the blues.

Black Snake Moan is left more or less the same as when Blind Lemon Jefferson first sang it in 1927 but his take on Stagolee is a very loose take on the tale that doesn’t feature a gambling match, Stetson hat or any real reason for the murder. It’s sort of a mix between Snatch and the Poontangs and a R.L. Burnside telling of the song which isn’t my favorite by any stretch of imagination, but Jackson sells it a lot better than Burnside. For those keeping up with our ongoing Stagolee project, this Burnside number is new to the list. I’ve also posted a bunch of other takes on the classic Black Snake Moan, my favorites are either Lemon’s original or Rosa Henderson’s female take on the song.

R.L Burnside – Staggolee (2001)
Samuel L. Jackson – Stackolee (2007)

Samuel L. Jackson – Black Snake Moan (2007)
Blind Lemon Jefferson – That Black Snake Moan (1927)
Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Snake Moan
Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Snake Moan No. 2
Brownie McGhee – Black Snake Moan (1951)
Lead Belly – Black Snake Moan (1935)
Rosa Henderson – Black Snake Moan (1927)
Martha Copeland – Black Snake Moan (1927)
Cobb and Underwood – Black Snake Moan (1930)