Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ook, baby, ook

Ookey Ook – The Penguins – 1955

Cleve Duncan, pictured above second from left, passed away at 78 on November 7, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There was an article on the web the other day about a record store owner coming across a 78 of Robert Johnson’s “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and its being valued at somewhere between $6,000 and $12,000. Record prices sure seem to have gone through the roof, and this one is by no means one of the rarest or most expensive. I was kind of underwhelmed when I first heard a dub of this record on a Folkways collection (see top picture) in the mid-sixties, probably because by that time I’d already discovered “Dust My Broom” and “Dust My Blues,” a couple of the many storming versions of Johnson’s song that Elmore James seemingly made a career of. Anyway, the article got me to thinking of favorite Robert Johnson songs. Here’s one, made famous in 1969 by the Rolling Stones and Mick Taylor’s slide guitar solo: “Love In Vain,” unadorned, wistful, without hope.

Robert Johnson • Love In Vain • 1937

Find it: King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. II

Monday, November 26, 2012

If you want to treat me the way you do

This early, rough-and-tumble single of “My Own Fault, Darlin’” was recorded at Tuff Green’s house in Memphis, January 1952. Despite the vibes, it’s a great performance, with terrific, nasty guitar and tortured vocals, sounding a world apart from the better known remake of 1960.

My Own Fault, Darlin’ – B. B. King – 1952

Photo: B. B. King © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012


Robert Nighthawk’s last “commercial” session, for Chess in 1964, included an update of “Black Angel Blues,” with help from Walter Horton and an all-star rhythm section.

Robert Nighthawk • (Sorry) My Angel • 1964

Robert Nighthawk, vocal/guitar; Big Walter Horton, harmonica; Lafayette Leake, piano; Buddy Guy, guitar; 
Jack Meyers, bass; Clifton James, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 30 June 1964.

Photo: Robert Nighthawk, Memphis, 1966. “photo by Mylon Studio, 154 Beale St, Memphis 3, Tennessee, 
Oct 12, 1966.”  (BAK collection)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Had some hard days

Muddy Waters at his second commercial recording session (unissued at the time) trying on the Lester Melrose model for size. It would soon be discarded for Muddy’s own tougher and at once more modern and more archaic style, a real synthesis of the delta country blues of his mentors and the big city blues of his new home town of Chicago. Next stop: Aristocrat.

Hard Day Blues – McKinley Morganfield – 1946

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer – The Swan Silvertones – 1959

For Hyatt Earl Moore

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I asked for water

I Asked For Water (He Gave Me Gasoline) – Lucinda Williams – 2007

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I got a letter this morning

Many years ago, when I was just a blues- and folk-discovering squirt, hearing the Bright Light Quartet’s lilting vocals on “Sweet Roseanne” (on one of the Alan Lomax-produced “Southern Journey” series LPs) was one of the signal finds of that time. The LPs, on Prestige, came out a year after the “Southern Folk Heritage Series” on Atlantic, and both labels issued music recorded during the extensive field trips Mr Lomax made throughout the southern United States in 1959 and 1960. The Bright Light Quartet were a group of menhaden fishermen from Weems on the eastern shore of Virginia and were made up, on various recordings, of Shedrick Cain, James Campbell, Arnold Fisher, Laurence Hodge, and Robert Beane. Most of the songs here originally came out on Southern Journey 5: Deep South . . . Sacred and Sinful, Southern Journey 8: The Eastern Shores,  and Southern Journey 9: Bad Man Ballads. In 1997 Rounder Records began reissuing the Lomax field trips on CD under the series title “Southern Journey” and a few more unissued Bright Lights tunes turned up on those CDs.

Sweet Roseanne / The Prayer Wheel / Straighten ’Em
Po’ Lazarus / Hey, Hey, Honey / Menhaden Chanteys
I’m Tired / Just Beyond the River / Christian Automobile
Po’ Laz’rus – Bright Light Quartet, spring 1960

Friday, November 09, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Fred McDowell & His Blues Boys

Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Mike Russo, guitar; John Kahn, bass; Bob Jones, drums. Berkeley, August 1969

Photo: Fred McDowell, Aug 1969 © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Friday, November 02, 2012

Five Spot

Five Spot – Otis Spann – 1954

For Armen

Otis Spann, piano; B. B. King, Jody Williams, guitars; Willie Dixon, bass; Earl Phillips, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 
25 October 1954.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Fred McDowell, Miles Pratcher, Fannie Davis

Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Fannie Davis, comb; Miles Pratcher, guitar. Como, Mississippi, 21 September 1959