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 (1938)
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 (1929)
Irene Scruggs – Voice of the Blues (1930)
The best part about packing up and moving is that you realize that you have a bunch of cds that aren’t even opened. This could also be the worst part – as it really exposes how deep my addiction goes. In a releated note Document Records is having a huge mid-summer cd sale with a bunch of titles from £2.99 – £5.99, that’s GBP so about 6 to 9 USD.
This cut from Ora Brown is from the Tiny Parham and the Blues Singers, Parham was a band leader but he also worked as a talent scout for Paramount Records and these singers are some of the ladies he was pitching to Paramount, who unfortunately never recorded a bunch of songs. I don’t know anything about Ora Brown – she recorded these two songs in 1927 with Will Ezell and this version of Jinx Blues might be my new favorite.
Ora Brown – Jinx Blues (1927)
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 (1924)
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 (1926)
Marie Grinter – M.C. Blues (1926)
I moved the logo over to the left side of the page last night, hopefully that will help those with lower resolution monitors – and those with higher resolution monitors get a nice wave of bees. We’ll mess around with color shades with the type tonight and see if we can get to a more readable shade for everyone.
Fannie May Goosby has stolen my heart. I don’t normally go for the higher, dramatic voices. She nails it. She’s sweet and succinct and doesn’t drag her vaudeville career into many of her recorded songs (and the few vaudeville style duets she did do aren’t so bad either). Fannie also wrote most of her own songs, a rarity in female blues and they show her to be a clever and smart writer along with her solid singing its a shame she did not become as popular as Lucille Bogan who was recorded at the same session in Atlanta in 1923.
Fannie May Goosby – All Alone Blues (1923)
Fannie May Goosby – Stormy Night Blues (1928)
Big thanks! to Jeff for solving the blues mystery – you guys are the best readers a boy could hope for. If anyone else has a song mystery on their hands – send it into pkpatnaik at prewarblues.org and the bees will jump right on it.
Virginia Liston was a well traveled singer by the time she recorded these sides for Okeh in the early 20s. Liston had fallen ill and forced to stop touring as much and so she started to record pretty standard female blues numbers, though I doubt these were the same songs she was singing in New York and Chicago blues bars at the time. She does bring an intersting perspective to these songs though, she’s not docile or angry – but consistently blue. The first track here, You Thought I Was Blind But Now I See, she keeps her temper and stands up strong to her man, in this well written third person narrative. The second track presented today is a pretty rough transfer, but it’s so so blue. Liston has given up on men – she prefers to be alone – and if IF she’s with a man, it’s just for money and show. Right On Virginia.
Virginia Liston – You Thought I Was Blind But Now I See (1923)
Virginia Liston – I Don’t Love Nobody (1924)
Sorry for the lack of blues postings this week – it has been crazy busy around Honey H.Q. and in my blogging time I’ve been trying to fix some annoying CSS errors with the new redesign and Internet Explorer. I did get everything working so all it needs is a coat of paint and it will be ready to go live. Also a big thanks to everyone who donated this week – I’m working on getting some more downloads up for the loyal Honey Bees.
Long-Time followers of the blog will know that I’m obsessed with this song and the sound. Martha Copeland recorded her take on it in 1927 and it is an interesting take eschewing the typical dirge for a more traditional blues sound which is a shame, but I absolutely love her spoken work part towards the end. The little hints of the traditional dying crapshooter blues dirge sound are nice though I would have preferred if they had used it throughout.
Martha Copeland – The Dying Crap-Shooter’s Blues (1927)
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)
Hannah Sylvester recorded a handful of songs for Fletcher Henderson’s Band in 1923 and unlike the majority of his female blues singers she was able to pull off the blues style and not just vaudeville style over singer that a lot of his works are mired with. Her voice is sweet, but solid and Henderson and a very young Coleman Hawkins back her well on this great blues song “Down South Blues.”
Hannah Sylvester – Down South Blues (1923)