Virgil Childers
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Posted in 1930s,Honey,Piedmont Blues on 06.23.08

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.

Virgil Childers – Dago Blues (1938)
Virgil Childers – Red River Blues(1938)

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Luella Miller
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Posted in 1920s,Female Blues on 06.17.08

I updated the release dates for the first blues mix below – I knew someone would call me out for not including it – yet here we are. Does anyone know if Yazoo Records is still releasing albums? Their website doesn’t seem like it has been updated since the last batch of Patton reissues, but I keep seeing new (at least to me) discs pop up every so often.

We have a trio of songs from Luella Miller today. Miller was was a well traveled blues singer – her topical songs seem to focus on St.Louis and Mississippi though she recorded in both New York and Chicago. The first track was her first release and feature guitar great Lonnie Johnson on violin! He would appear on several of her early recordings on guitar, but it’s interesting to hear him on violin – which I’ve only heard a handful of songs feature him on that instrument. The last two tracks are my favorite, and unfortunately her last recorded works – her voice has matured a lot in couple years between recordings and she’s back by her best band, especially on the on wonderful side Wee Wee Daddy Blues.

Luella Miller – Dago Hill Blues (1926)
Luella Miller – Chicago Blues (1928)
Luella Miller – Wee Wee Daddy Blues (1928)

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Hambone Willie Newbern
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Posted in 1920s,Country Blues on 06.09.08

There’s not a whole lot out there about “Hambone” Willie Newbern – the story about him giving guitar tips to Sleepy John Estes and his temper – which may of led to his death in prison in 1947. Listening to his sides over the weekend, and pretty much all day today – I haven’t heard a more interesting and exciting blues musician for the first time in a very long time. Newbern’s got that hard, driving guitar that’s as steady as the railroad – and a great booming voice that must have been amazing to hear in person, and both of which make for a great blues musician and one that needs to be heard by everyone.

Newbern was born in Tennessee, and traveled as musician all across the South playing in medicine shows which shows in his vocal style and subject matter. I prefer his more personal material – his narrative about being arrested and thrown in jail is my personal favorite. These tracks were recorded in 1929 in Atlanta over two sessions for Okeh.

Hambone Willie Newbern – Shelby County Workhouse (1929)
Hambone Willie Newbern – Hambone Willie\’s Dreamy Eyed Woman\’s Blues (1929)

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Introduction To The Blues Part 1
Posted in Female Blues,Mix on 06.04.08

If you remember the brief lived blog “Workbook” that was linked from this blog (back when I still had links) or if you were the guy who wrote that blog, please contact me, regarding one of the mixes you posted a few years ago.

I started this mix a few years ago, and just got around to completing it yesterday when I found my list of songs while cleaning up my back up drive. Part One is devoted to my favorite type of blues, female blues. It’s meant to be an overview of the genre with a balance between obvious classics and personal favorites, much those “rough guide to..” series of mixes. The first two mixes in the series will be available to everyone, though as I break it down into sub-genres and styles and personal those will through donation only.

Please leave suggestions and comments about future mixes in the comment sections. Also if you want to contribute a mix one a sub genre of pre-war music (not just blues) send me an email and we can work those details out.

Coming Soon – The Gents

Tracklist:

01. Hattie Hart – I Let My Daddy Do That (1934)
02. Gertrude ”Ma” Rainey – Black Eye Blues (1928)
03. Lucille Bogan – Shave ‘em Dry (1935)
04. Victoria Spivey – Black Snake Blues (1926)
05. Viola McCoy – I Ain’t Gonna Marry, Ain’t Gonna Settle Down (1924)
06. Clara Smith – Death Letter Blues (1924)
07. Sara Martin – Death Sting Me Blues (1928)
08. Mamie Smith – Crazy Blues (1920)
09. Jessie Derrick – If You’ll Come Back To Hollywood (1926)
10. Bessie Smith – Cemetery Blues (1923)
11. Bessie Tucker – Got Cut All To Pieces (1928)
12. Arizona Dranes – My Soul Is A Witness For The Lord (1926)
13. Gladys Bentley – How Much Can I Stand (1928)
14. Louise Johnson – On the Wall (1930)
15. Memphis Minnie – Nothin’ In Ramblin’ (1940)
16. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – God Don’t Like It (1939)
17. Trixie Smith – You’ve Got To Beat Me To Keep Me (1925)
18. Ozella Jones – I Been a Bad, Bad Girl (Prisoner Blues) (1942)

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Doing The Crawdaddy (In Heaven)
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Posted in Post-War on 06.02.08

Bo Diddley passed today – leaving behind one of the best and most consistent bodies of work this side of Sam Cooke. My favorite song by him is this one – which I think captures the best aspects of his work – the great Diddley backbeat – and that wonderful voice which I think is severely underrated among post-war blues greats, and rock music in general.

Bo Diddley – Ride On Josephine (1960)

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Someone Changed The Lock On My Door
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Posted in 1930s,Country Blues on 06.01.08

That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. The delay of St. James has everything to do with the keeper of the bees, so blame her. Everything regarding St. James has been compiled and is ready to go, bees or not.

We celebrated in secret our 4 year anniversary here at Honey H.Q. last month – Casey Bill Weldon was played very loudly – much dancing followed. I think Casey’s guitar sound is my favorite outside of Son House – I also think Casey is served well with a piano backing it pops his guitar sound a lot more than when he’s backed by another guitarist.

Casey Bill Weldon – Someone Changed The Lock On My Door (1935)

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I’m A Doctor For Women
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Posted in Honey on 05.13.08

I don’t think Champion Jack ever took the Hippocratic Oath. This song is almost silly with it’s other-man side of the black snake/ice man blues tales – The song almost ends up like a lesser Lil’ Johnson track – warm, but not bawdy – but there is a certain darkness that runs under the song “If you believe I’m A Good Doctor/I Got the remedy right here in my hand.” A double innuendo that doesn’t have the charm or good natured humor of a typical blues song.

Champion Jack Dupree – I’m A Doctor For Women (1946)

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Gonna Write You A Letter
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Posted in Honey,Post-War,Texas Blues on 04.27.08

This track from Jesse Thomas is a little bit outside of the range of years normally covered hear, but its so fantastic I couldn’t keep it to myself. Thomas was a session player (most famously with Bessie Tucker) and played mostly around Texas during the pre-war years. This track is from 1948 and he has plugged in, but still retains the purity of the pre-war blues guitar. I love love love the guitar song on this recording.

The next song on this Kent release is another pre-war star’s initial post war recording – Whistling Alex Moore, under his birth name Alexander Moore – does a rowdy Texas Blues number called Neglected Woman – and it’s a rave. The full band here is fantastic and Moore does a great job on piano keeping setting the blazing pace of this number. I wish the drums were a little more in the mix – but it still has the great sound that is also present on Jesse Thomas’ song. I’ve also added an mostly instrumental version of Lillie Mae Blues from that same Alexander Moore session.

Jesse Thomas – Gonna Write You A Letter(1948)
Alexander Moore – Neglected Woman (1951)
Alexander Moore – Lillie Mae Blues (1951)

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Time Ain’t Gonna Make Me Stay
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Posted in 1920s,Country Blues,Honey on 04.25.08

I don’t really make apologies for posting mostly piano based music, but the sheer number of emails asking more guitar based blues tracks this week has given me pause.

Ed Andrew recorded a couple of sides in the early 20s for Okeh – the first of which is usually referred to as “the first country blues” record made. While I haven’t really done the research to state that claim without warning, It does appear that this is one of the earliest, but more importantly it’s one of the most solid examples of the genre that would sweet out of Georgia and and cover most of the non-delta South. Andrews is tired but plaintive on this side as he gives a overview of his life long blues. Andrews has a weird wobble on the end of his stanzas – I’m not sure if it’s from the recording of possible medicine show past – but it lends an element of weariness that the track benefits from I think.

Ed Andrews – Time Ain’t Gonna Make Me Stay (1924)

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Break From St. James/Boogie Woogie
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Posted in 1930s,Honey,Piano Blues on 04.23.08

I hadn’t heard of Mosaic Select until the other I heard a story on Fresh Air about a new Boogie-Woogie Box set released released by them. Mosaic appears to be somewhat like an American grown Bear Family records specializing in box sets of jazz artists – especially of well known jazz artists little known recording periods. I’m not really an expert in jazz by any means – but these sets look fantastic – The Complete Charlie Parker on Benedetti? Yes Please.

Mosaic’s three disc set of boogie-woogie might be the first serious look at boogie woogie and blues piano in the pre-war era. The set is limited to 5,000 copies and priced at $49 which is high considering the set it self looks like a JSP Box, but without the shadiness and with excellent and extremely well documented notes.

I’m going to pick three tracks, one from each disc just to sample the set, the first track is a showy piece (even for a boogie woogie number) by Meade Lux Lewis – that is a perfect example of the style and just a great composition. The next is an star-studded number with Pete Johnson on piano and Hot Lips Page on trumpet and the great Joe Turner on vocals who complains about the tempo being too fast at the end of this unissued take. I think the tempo is is just right – and the last third of the side has some of the best call and response from a vocalist and his band that I’ve heard. The last track is from the great Cripple Clarence Lofton with a track that sounds like proto-southern soul, wonderful play between the drummer and Lofton, though it features more Lofton’s warbly voice than his fantastic piano skills (though he gets his lines in), I’m just in love with this track.

Buy It Here!!

Meade Lux Lewis – Bear Cat Crawl (1938)
Pete Johnson And His Boogie Woogie Boys – Jump For Joy (1939)
Cripple Clarence Lofton – Strut That Thing (1935)

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