I have some great requests coming up on Friday, so be on the look out. Today we are still going through my backlog of field recordings I’ve been meaning to post for a few months now. These recordings come from a trip John and Ruby Lomax took the infamous Parchman State Prison in 1939. These recordings took place in the Sewing Room in the Woman’s area of the prison and all of the women Lomax would record show off an amazing talent pool that matches any of the female country blues artists on the Paramount or Columbia roster. My favorite out of the batch is Mattie May Thomas’ Dangerous Blues, an extremely insightful look at the duality of poverty and violence and the status of black females in the pre-war era.
Mary James – Make The Devil Leave Me Alone (1939)
Beatrice Tisdall – Workhouse Blues (1939)
Mattie May Thomas – Dangerous Blues (1939)
Annabelle Abraham – To Be Sho’ (Hey Logan) (1939)
Today we are featuring a couple of tracks recorded in 1936 by John Lomax at the Richmond Penitentiary. The first track is Clifton Wright who has an sweet, sweet voice and can get up and hit those high and lonesome notes with ease. I can’t help but think that he would have recorded some amazing numbers if he was able to get into a studio. Next is Joe Lee who accompanies himself with foottapping and banging on a body of guitar – he is another great talent that wasn’t able to flourish because of of his situation.
Clifton Wright – Everywhere I Look This Morning (1936)
Joe Lee – Jesus Made Me Just What I Am (1936)
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’ve really been enjoying the Tiger Administration Page for WordPress, created by the guys over at Orderedlist. It’s so much cleaner and easier to navigate than the standard administration page – and it looks really nice too.
Kansas City Frank Melrose, also known as Broadway Rastus, recorded a couple of sides for Paramount in the late 20s. Funnily enough, the two sides Melrose was first known for were the alternative unissused takes of his songs, the song presented here today are the ones actually released in the Winter of 1929. Whoopee Stomp is a simple dance number with Melrose’s playful piano in a duet with Tommy Taylor’s drums – it’s quiet breezy and makes you want to stomp yr feet and pray that winter is finally over.
Kansas City Frank Melrose – Whoopee Stomp (1929)
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)
I like the design. More than I like that Black Lips song. I will be working on a fixed or selectable resolution for those under 1280×1024. The idea behind the design was a 78 album sleeve – orange and brown (colors that also invoke honey and age) with a pre-war style design for both the bee’s and the logo. Edith Johnson’s cover for Honey Dripper Blues is the foundation from which the idea sparked and I think we accomplished the task of modernizing that style in a very respectful manner.
These tracks were recorded by Fisk University on the Mooreheed Plantation in Mississippi. The church and congregation were lead by Rev. McGhee although he doesn’ appear to be the vocal focus on any of the tracks. It is rumored that he might be the same as F.W McGhee ,but it is hard to tell from these tracks. These track feature an incredible energy – the foot stomps dominate the mix and the vocals mimic that rhythm in shape note fashion. Really incredible track for those tax day blues.
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – No Condemnation (1941)
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Testimony (One Day Lord I’ll Give Up This World For You) (1941)
Rev. McGhee and The Church of God in Christ – Jesus Is My Everything (1941)
Posted in Honey
I’m uploading the new wordpress as well as our new, wonderful layout so the site may be up and down for the next hour or so. 5: 11 EST.
Done. Let me know if you like it! The Blogroll is down until I weed out the billion of dead links on the old link sidebar.
Rev. Edward Clayborn is often dismissed as being a one-dimensional guitar player and lyricist, which isn’t without merit. However, that one plodding driving bass line that underscores most of his recorded work is really good. Granted he isn’t as diverse lyrically as Rev. Gary Davis or Blind Willie Johnson, but he is good at what he does – translating Bible scripture into easily understandable music lyrics that never feel preachy or didactic.
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn – Men Don’t Forget Your Wives For Your Sweetheart (1928)
New Stagolee track from the (awesome) soundtrack to Tarantino’s Death Proof, that also features Joe Tex and Eddie Floyd. The track is a pretty close telling of the story by Pacific Gas and Electric. I hadn’t heard of this 70s soul/funk band before Thomas sent me this track – but it is so awesome, I’m ordering their albums today.
Pacific Gas & Electric – Staggolee (1969)
I’m pretty out of touch of what the new blues punk kids are doing, which is a shame because from what do hear it sounds pretty awesome. Atlanta’s Black Lips have been doing this blues punk thing for a few years now, and just released their first live album recorded in a Mexican bar – and it’s fantastic. The bar gives the record a feel that in moments recalls the best of Etta James’ live album from 1953 in front of a rowdy Memphis bar crowd. This track Boone doesn’t capture the feel of the bar as much some of the other ones, but it is such a fantastic in your face blues punk performance it doesn’t really matter.
Black Lips – Boone (2007)