Had a couple of comments via web/email about the wonderful Irene Scruggs – so here are a couple more tracks. Irene Scruggs only recorded a small batch of songs – 12 or so under her own name, another four with Clarence Williams and his band and the songs with Blind Blake. She would only sing for a unti 1935 unfortunately, but at least she was able to record a good number of songs at least compared with many of the female blues singer I pine for who only had one record in their recorded careers.
The first track I originally uploaded way back in 2007, but the second track is new to the blog and continues Scruggs’ song cycle about falling in love with married men.
Thanks for the kind wishes on our marriage, we had a great couple of weddings and a week of bliss in San Diego and La Jolla which was just what was needed after a couple of months of insanity trying to close on the house and planning the wedding.
I picked up the new Dust To Digital set Take Me To The Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 last week and it hasn’t left my mind since then. Structured much like last years’ Victrola Favorites, Take Me To The Water focus is on the book and what a wonderful book it is – drawn from the collection of folk art archivist Jim Linderman, the book contains some just stunning photos of immersion baptism of both groups and individuals across a pretty broad timeframe. Lyrics and some notes on baptism are scattered through the book and they are insightful and well informed. The book closes with a substantial notes section on each of the songs with recording dates and a brief bio on the singers. The disc itself is quite good – and while it contains some of the same artists from Goodbye, Babylon the sides are different and fit well within the theme. It is somewhat disappointing to see the repetition of artists at all, but I feel that pool of songs that would fit thematically is already slim enough plus the disc is really just a bonus, the book stands alone as a great and important work and one that everyone should pick up.
I know that i just post a few Memphis Minnie tracks, but my Mom called me up to tell that the book she’s reading quotes Memphis Minnie in one of the chapter intros. The book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett and is about Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s and my Mom says it is really great.
The song “Lean Meat Don’t Fry,” is fantastic – Minnie is rare form and is backed by a great band. The song tells a a pretty grim tale of Minnie getting revenge on her “Big Bad Wolf/and you won’t stay home at night.” The tale plays out nicely and concludes with a satisfying “cut from hip to hip.” Bonus request from the email vaults for Memphis Minnie’s tribute to Ma Rainey, Bob Dylan used the first stanza as an ode to Alicia Keys which is still bizarre to me.
With the new WordPress 2.7 is it not possible to use the new Links feature if your blog isn’t “widget” enabled? I guess it is time for an update for the 2.7 world, but it seems weird that Links doesn’t publish a page anymore.
The next line in the song, She’s Got Jordan River In Her Hips is just as a good as the title, but I won’t spoil it for you. This track was recorded by R.T Hanen who may be Jaydee Short, though I’m not hearing it – especially when Jaydee Short has such a unique voice. Most “dirty” blues songs get pretty old quickly, this one had me laughing all week. I’m also posting a great Jaydee Short song (and one I posted way back in 04) for comparison sake. Listening closer to the Jaydee Short makes me wonder if it was pressed at the wrong speed – the balance of guitar speed and voice pitch seem to be off somewhat.
I haven’t been a huge fan of Dust To Digital’s newest series “Art of Field Recording, ” so I never got around to reviewing the first set in full, but I now have the second set and it’s a bit more interesting, though it has all the major faults if the first one. The sets are boxed in a LP sized set, that compared to Dust to Digital’s other work is both ugly and cumbersome – the cds are are in paper cases separated by cheap grey foam. it looks cheap and unprofessional - especially compared to Goodbye, Babylon or even Victrola Favorites. Both the box and disc covers are adorned with the artwork of Art Rosenbaum which I think is pretty hit and miss though having a large picture on the box art with a background of four colored boxes doesn’t do it any favors.
The box includes a large book that was written by Rosenbaum as well, giving an overview of his recording philosophy as well as a track-by-track analysis of each track in the set. His thoughts are clear and always interesting and are well worth the read. The music itself is well recorded and of very high quality, though now that I have eight discs of his recordings I they lack the personal touch of say Harry Smith or Lomax, or a distinct point of view of music itself something I think Old Hat does a great job of capturing. That last point is a bit nit-picky perhaps, but it’s something that I think Dust to Digital normally does a great job, and I was let down by both sets.
Of course the music itself regardless of how it’s package is still really amazing. This track by Jake Staggers is an intersting take on the standard Garfield, a song typically about the assination of president Garfield is turned into a Stagger Lee style murder ballad about a murder over some junk talk and cigars. Staggers is a pretty solid banjo player and it’s always great to hear banjo with blues music.
Disclosure: I work for one of the banks that’s in process of being absorbed. Hire me
Today’s songs are from Carolina Slim a lesser known North Carolina blues player – great voice and a prime example of the Piedmont blues as it matured in the post-war era. Carolina Slim in particular borrows a lot from post-war Texas blues musicians. Both tracks here, Ain’t it Sad and Money Blues, show Slim at a stylistic crossroad – and one that would be extremely interesting to follow if his life wasn’t cut short at the young age of 30.
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’ve updated and cleaned up the Stagolee page. I moved a bunch of songs down to the Missing in Action section (please send?) and added about 20 new songs thanks to Robert who also sent in a bunch of wonderful St James sides. Speaking of St. James – the addendum will be out this week some time so keep your eyes and RSS feeders peeled.
Mason sent in this AWESOME St. James video of pre-Oingo Bongo theater group Mystic Knights doing their take of the song from a documentary called Forbidden Zone. The Same user has them doing Minnie The Moocher and recreating the Betty Boop cartoon that’s pretty awesome also (it’s not work safe).
I’m happy to present So Young, So Cold, So Fair: The Saint James Infirmary Blues, a collection of songs of loss and love regarding The St. James Infirmary. Honey was established over four (!) years ago around the idea that it was too hard actually listen to pre-war blues without buying out of print or import blues records. I try to present the music on this site without too much editing – I don’t make everyone suffer through every single female blues side I get my hands on (though you might think so by reading my email) and as everyone points out I haven’t posted Robert Johnson (This is changing soon) but I think most blues collections have covered the basics to death – and that my site as the next step where you can hear Jessie Derrick and not just Ma Rainey.
This idea of presenting the blues then evolved into I really want to listen to 80 versions of Stagolee and 100 versions of St. James Infirmary right now. With these large collections I don’t edit for quality – The Doors version on here is almost as bad as the Beach Boys take on Stagolee – thought the quality of St. James Songs is far higher than Stagolee. By far. Enjoy!
1. A BIG thanks for everyone who contributed to this collection – it would of have been twenty versions by Jack Teagarden with out you.
2. The numbering is off because I didn’t remove duplicates until after I ordered and numbered the tracks.
3. There will be an appendix with Dock Boggs and a few other people released later.
4. Please share the page, not the links.
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.