Will Shade
Posted in Honey on 11.30.04

I’m going to make an effort to post some more gospel music up here. I started out posting some, but it has been awhile since I’ve explore the other side of pre-war blues. I sent another batch of mixes out today, hopefully no one has been waiting too long for their mix, I got behind by a lot recently, but I should be mostly caught up now.

The Memphis Sanctified Singers were a gospel supergroup of sorts featuring Bessie Johnson and Will Shade (leader of the Memphis Jug Band who played some of the best gospel music of the pre-war era. The basic structure of the songs are similar to blues songs, but instead of having call and response between the singer and the guitar, it is a much more traditional call and response between the leader singer and their choir. Isn’t Will Shade’s voice the best thing ever?

  • Memphis Sanctified Singers – He Got Better Things For You

  • Salad Days
    Posted in Honey on 11.29.04

    I hope everyone’s thanksgiving went well and that a short week full of Louise Johnson was enough to hold you over until now. I’ve been trying to search my blog archive using google, but it seems to only search to a certain point – I’m using search term site:prewarblues.blogspot.com but it doesn’t seem to cover the whole site. Any help?

    St. Louis Jimmy or Jimmy Oden was a major player through both the prewar blues era through the war and the birth of the Chicago sound. This track “That’s All I Think” was recorded in 1932 with Roosevelt Sykes on piano, one of the best matching of voice and accompaniment that I can think of. Later Jimmy would form JOB records who had a great stable of Chicago style blues and was later bought by Apollo then Delmark record labels.

  • St. Louis Jimmy – That’s All I Know

  • Remaining Titles
    Posted in Honey on 11.24.04

    I hope everyone has a happy thanksgiving! I’ll resume posting on Monday.

    Here are the remaining sides by Louise Johnson as promised

  • Louise Johnson – By The Moon And Stars
  • Louise Johnson – Long Ways From Home

  • Hang It On The Wall
    Posted in Honey on 11.23.04

    Lots of really great response to the Louise Johnson track yesterday, so I will be posting one more track today along with a fun Cripple Clarence Lofton for comparison and the remaining two tracks on Wednesday.

    In the comment sections for yesterday’s post corrected my post, in which I stated that the piano in “On The Wall” was played by Cripple Clarence Lofton, when it was recently discovered that Johnson played her own piano during those sessions. It of course was assumed because Johnson was a girl she couldn’t play piano like that and also the rarity of female singers accompanying themselves on tracks. Today’s tracks are from Cripple Clarence Lofton, an fiery piano track called “I Don’t Know” and a “Million-Dollar” session with Louise Johnson, Charley Patton, Son House (or William Brown) called “All Night Long.” Both Lofton and Johnson have similar piano styles and draw from the same lyrical pool, adding to the confusion.

  • Louise Johnson – All Night Blues (Take 1)
  • Cripple Clarence Lofton – I Don’t Know

  • On The Wall
    Posted in Honey on 11.22.04

    I’ll be updating the blog until Wednesday, then taking a break (from everything) until Monday the 29th for Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a fun and short week, this track going up today is the fire, really. Undertow was really fantastic, though it suffers from a very unsure voice at times and overall it isn’t as personal and moving as All The Real Girls or George Washington, but it was a fine third film and shows Green really moving into his own style.

    Today’s track is from a ghost of a recording artist. Louise Johnson recorded only four tracks in her career, and all of them are really fantastic. It is even more surprising that she recorded so little with looking at who she recorded with : Crippled Clarence Lofton on piano, Son House with some spoken word and she was dating Charley Patton ! This track “On The Wall” is a fast piano blues track, that seems to anticipate Ruth Brown and Big Maybelle Smith twenty some years before they recorded. Oh Man, it’s so good. I can post her other three sides, if demand is high enough.

  • Louise Johnson – On The Wall

  • Guest Blogger !
    Posted in Honey on 11.19.04

    I’m finally going to see Undertow tonight in Chapel Hill, I’m so very excited. Undertow is the new David Green film, the guy behind George Washington and All The Real Girls, and if you google it please do not view the trailer, it’s easily the worst trailer I have ever seen. I picked up a stack of CDs at the radio station today, including the New Sally Timms and the Castanets both of which look to score highly on my year end lists.

    Bob Linn always sends me some really great string band and early country tracks, but this one is not only the best thing he’s sent me, but one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. I was unable to find any information on the artist, but who ever Fisher Hindley was, he was a great talent.

    …the song speaks to one of the primary occupations in this part of Georgia in the early
    20th century — working in a cotton mill. Every town had its mill village, and farmers, unable to live under the crop-lien system, found they could do better by moving to town and working in a mill. Moving from the relative freedom of farming to the confines of a weave room would make anybody blue, and Hindley makes the experience graphic.

    -Bob Linn

  • Fisher Hindley – Weave Room Blues

  • Floating Bridge.
    Posted in Honey on 11.18.04

    I’m sorry about all the recent link problems, I have a hard time telling how many times something is underscored, apparently. Tomorrow I’ll be features a really great string band track sent to me by a reader who always sends me the best music, it’s a really great track, so make sure you check back tomorrow for it.

    Sleep John Estes along with Son House were the first blues musicians I truly fell in love with. Estes’ unique singing voice along with his unusually personal tales really helped me understand the scope of the blues. This track Floating Bridge tells the story of a near drowning experience the previous year and it’s so hauntingly told, punctuated by a wonderful harmonica by Hammie Nixon. One of the best.

  • Sleepy John Estes – Floating Bridge

  • Ice Pick Blues
    Posted in Honey on 11.17.04

    While searching for pictures of Whistlin’ Alex Moore, I stumbled upon Wherehouse.com the mall cd store that has a used cd section. For what ever reason they have a handful of really great blues cds in their used cd section including about half of the document Charley Patton discs, Bumble Bee Slim (Document) among other things. Also the complete works of Blind Willie Johnson for only 9.99 which is a good price for that double disc set. I’m still searching through, but it seems like a good place to find some cheap pre-war blues cds. The Memphis Jug Band link should be working now, if not refresh the page and try again.

    Alex Moore was born in Texas and learned to play piano at a early age. He recorded for Columbia, but never really played outside of Texas until he was rediscovered later in his life. A good boogie-woogie style piano player, the most distinguishing aspect of his music is of course his high pitch whistle that sounds a lot like Sonny Terry’s voice. This track is a pretty great murder ballad, and features some great moaning whistlin’.

  • Whistlin’ Alex Moore – Ice Pick Blues (Link Fixed!)

  • The Dozens and Dozens.
    Posted in Honey on 11.16.04

    I hope all is well with you and yers, o holy barbarians of the super highway…

    Hmmm, well I learned the hard way on how not to attempt a post on this here blog. I’m about the most computer illiterate person I know, an IT dunce if you will…

    I’d just finished this nice little piece on Sol Hoopii and tried to get it up but to no avail. Alas, though I don’t believe in fate, I’ll take it as a sign to save the slack-key king for another day.

    It’s cold outside and I’m feeling like some funky stinky dirty rhythm and blues circa 1969. I want a heapin helpin of Snatch and the Poontangs to warm me up and make me blush and grin. You know about Snatch and the Poontangs only album?

    This is the dir-TEE brainchild born of Johnny and Shuggie Otis whose seed lies in their earlier 1969 album Cold Shot with the Signifying Monkey, Pt.1 – the monkey’s adventures are resolved in Pt. 2 on Snatch…

    This is one of the raunchiest albums around that would give the bluest of Rudy Ray Moore, LaWanda Page, and Redd Foxx a blistering run for their money.

    The charm of this album, aside from late night drunken guffaws, lies in its preservation of a classic African American institution called “the dozens.? To me there’s not much funnier and more fun to play. “The dozens? are some damn funny rhyming insults that have been on occasion popularized by the likes of Shirley Ellis in “The Clapping Song,? Rufus Thomas in “Walking the Dog,? and way way back by Kokomo Arnold in “The Twelves.? Its modern day incarnation has become the “Yo Mama? snaps (or gags) that were popular a few years back (and still are at my house), published in books (by James Percelay) and I think there was a sketch about the dozens on In Living Color.

    The images presented by Mr. O and his Crew are crude and timeless – many lines of which you may recognize from blues songs from pre-war to Chess’s slick Chicago. (Nick Cave also does a good job of lifting some of these lines word for word on his version of “Stagger Lee? (Murder Ballads, 1996).

    This stinky stew can always lift my spirits to an underbelly up high cause it don’t get much better than some lowdown street humor on a chilly Tuesday evening.

    Yo mama’s got a peanut butter wig with jelly sideburns,




    ps – i hope you enjoy “two time slim,? you’ll probably recognize a line or two…

  • Snatch And The Poontangs – Two Time Slim

  • Honey Is Like A Black Snake
    Posted in Honey on 11.16.04

    Thanks for all the help, now the front page should show the last 10 or so posts, making it a bit easier to read and hopefully still not take a long time load, for those of you who are still on dial-up.

    Will Shade’s jug band the Memphis Jug Band, in my opinion is the best example and most talented Jug Band from the pre-war era. I think they capture the band dynamic more than Cannon’s Jug Stompers or the Beale St. Jug Band that really feature their lead singer more so than the entire band. This track is a response track to the hundreds of both male and female blue tracks about black snakes. Those songs normally focus on the other man or a no good man, the Memphis Jug Band, doesn’t hide so much behind the black snake metaphor and makes it clear they are talking about a no good cheatin’ mama and it’s a lot of top tappin’ fun.

  • Memphis Jug Band – A Black Woman Is Like A Black Snake (Link Fixed!)