I kinda like Twitter. Follow Me. I’ve also added some social media links to my posts to bug all your friends with.
I’ve posted about Lonnie Johnson a bunch on this blog, he’s easily one of my favorite male blues artists – and his ranges of styles makes him appropriate for any day. A good cross section of his stuff are these two sides – one an attempted murder ballad about a man who knows his woman is out to kill him in various ways in this warning to all cuckold men. The second is the aptly titled duet “Four Hands Are Better Than One” a fun and fast dance number that is a showy display of both his and his unknown piano companion’s talents.
Lonnie Johnson – Man Killing Broad (1937)
Lonnie Johnson – Four Hands Are Better Than One (1927)
Tompkins Square has put out the first major anthology of the Red Fox Chasers, a North Carolina String band that recorded in the 20s and 30s. All’s not well with this 2-disc set however, which is shocking as People Take Warning is one of my favorite box-sets of pre-war music and Fire In My Bones (review coming soon!) is just as good. This set has 42 sides,spread across 4 or 5 different sessions. Unfortunately the notes only present clues to when and where these songs were recorded – my number one pet peeve in the reissue world.
The music itself is terrific of course, the Red Fox Chasers who often live in Charlie Poole’s shadow are accomplished musicians and pull off close harmony better than almost any other string band of the time. Naomi Wise is their version of the classic North Carolina murder ballad of a girl who is beaten and drowned by her boyfriend who preceded to escape several prisons before karma would catch up to him. A brief scan of Google shows theirs a handful recorded versions of this ballad around , though I only have Doc Watson covering it – feel free to send a couple this way.
Buy Album Here!
Red Fox Chasers – Naomi Wise
Red Fox Chasers- Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?
Dark Was The Night is my favorite song of all time, let me first say that.
There is a new charity compilation by Red Hot called Dark Was The Night with a bunch of indie bands doing mostly covers , and like all things like this is pretty hit and miss. Antony (of Antony and the Johnson’s) does a great cover of the Bob Dylan B-Side “I Was Young When I Left Home” and Sharon and the Dap-Tone’s cover of Inspiration Information is equally excellent.
Kronos Quartet takes on Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night and it leaves me confused. I’ve listened to it a dozen times or so and i can’t really pick out if i like or hate it – it’s this rambling confusing take on the side and I just can’t wrap my head around if it’s successfully or not – which isn’t a shining recommendation I know, but download and let me know what ya’ll think.
Kronos Quartet – Dark Was The Night (2009)
Does Anyone else think that “Add New” is a strange way to phrase the create new post feature in WordPress 2.7? It took me awhile to figure it what it was referring to, but maybe I’m not into the swing of posting again yet.
Speaking of oddly titled things – Warm Wipe Stomp is a great dance number by Peg Leg Howell and His Gang – one of the best early blues bands, and one I haven’t really talked about on this site much. This track has a great energy to it and features both violin and mandolin two instrustments mostly found in country recordings – but both feel right at home on this side.
Peg Leg Howell and His Gang – Warm Wipe Stomp (1930)
I hope that everyone had a lot of fun with the St. James’ posts. I keep going back to the second set of songs personally. I think almost all of those songs are top notch. We are back to our normal, yet sporadic posts of blues joy around these parts.
We are starting off with a wonderful batch of instrumentals by groups of players in Georgia in 1929. The first track is an dual harp instrumental version of “Honey, Where You Been So Long” The harmonica players are Eddie Mapp and James Moore and are back by Guy Lumpkin on guitar. Only Mapp is somewhat known for playing on a few tracks with Curley Weaver. The second track is Mapp back by Slim Barton on Guitar – and Mapp shows what a talented harmonica player he really was – as he leads this take on 4th Avenue Blues.
Eddie Mapp/James Moore – Where You Been So Long? (1929)
Eddie Mapp/Slim Barton – Fourth Avenue Blues (1929)
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)
Thanks to the couple of people who sent me some of the 1960s Black Ace recordings. These were recorded by Arhoolie in 1960 during the start of the blues/folk revival and this song in particular shows that Black Ace was still incredible slide guitar player some 40 years after he first recorded. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to support himself recording during those in-between years – or even record more during his first and last sessions he was certainly capable of recording wonderful music.
Black Ace – Bad Times Stomp (1960)
First, I’d like to take back all the awful things I said about the Reds. I’m sorry. Though I’m still skeptical because we give up so many runs.
Arnold Wiley was a session player for most of his career, he backed Margaret Whitmore on “‘Taint A Cow In Texas” which was posted on Honey sometime ago. He also recorded with his brother as Wiley & Wiley, this track is a solo instrumental track that shows off his piano playing skills to their fullest while not being overly bogged with showing off his technical ability that it looses sight of being an enjoyable song.
Arnold Wiley – Windy City (1929)