Sunday, June 30, 2013


Memphis Minnie • Night Watchman Blues (Take 2) • 1950

click on song title to listen

Memphis Minnie, vocal/guitar; Sunnyland Slim, piano; poss. Ernest “Big” Crawford, bass; Leroy Foster, drums. Chicago, c. January 1950

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Remind you of anyone. . . ?

Calvin Frazier • I'm In The Highway Man (fragment) - 
This Old World's In A Tangle (fragment) • 1938

Friday, June 28, 2013

D.P.R.B. Nos. 34, 35 & 36

By the early 60s the Great Folk Scare had hit, following on the heels of the dreaded McCarthy Red Scare. All of a sudden you had FOLK! music coming at you on Top 40 radio: “Walk Right In,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” A friend’s castoff Joan Baez albums brought me a little ways out of hit parade consciousness, Pete Seeger (no longer blackballed) and his hit version of “Little Boxes” brought me back in. Then the Singing Nun’s “Dominique-inique-inique” summed it all up as record producers searched far and near for anything folky, or exotic (“Sukiyaki,” anyone?), that might make them their next million. Bob Dylan was only just a songwriter credit, as I sang along with Joan Baez albums until my voice changed. . . . Then the Beatles came along and there was your next million or two or twenty.

Joan Baez • Engine 143 • 1961

The Singing Nun (Soeur Sourire) • Dominique • 1963

Pete Seeger • Little Boxes • 1963

Get ’em or find ’em: Joan Baez Vol. 2; Billboard Top Pop Hits 1963; The Golden Age of American Popular Music: 
The Folk Hits

Album cover: All Music

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nathan Abshire, born today, 1913

In honor of Nathan Abshire’s birthday (June 27, 1913), here’s a great video clip of the man in action in 1976 at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana. After some introductory comments by host Revon Reed, Nathan and the band launch into his big hit “Pine Grove Blues.” Below the video are both sides of Nathan Abshire’s first postwar record, “Pine Grove Blues”/“Kaplan Waltz,” from 1949.

Nathan Abshire & His French Accordion • Pine Grove Blues • 1949

Nathan Abshire & His French Accordion • Kaplan Waltz • 1949

Nathan Abshire, vocal/accordion; Wilson Granger, fiddle; Earl Demary, rhythm guitar; Ernest Thibodeaux, vocal comments; “Coon” Guidry, bass. Recorded May 23, 1949, KPLC Studio, Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

Thanks to SCRAMBLER390 for the video; and Lyle Ferbrache for the personnel info.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Here’s Floyd Jones with a très hypnotic remake of his classic “Dark Road;” Little Walter on harmonica. . . .

Floyd Jones & His Guitar • Dark Road • 1951

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sumer is icumen in

Richard Thompson • Sumer Is Icumen In • 2006

Illustration: Georgy Kurasov: On a Beach II, 2000.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hello friends, hello pals

Big Joe Williams • Friends and Pals • 1951

Check out the storming guitar solo beginning about 2:07. . . .

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

There’s just one thing, baby

One thing about Sonny Boy Williamson and alternate takes: unlike a lot a recording artists and their progress towards a finished master, often when Sonny Boy does ’em you get a whole new song in a completely different arrangement. I’ve always had the impression he was making it up as he went. Usually it worked. When it didn’t you got “Little Village” the most notable aspect of which is all the cussing. I can see why Checker used the take they used on the original single and Down and Out Blues album. But this one is just as good if quite a bit different. Have a listen. (The originally issued take can be found here.)

Sonny Boy Williamson • The Key (To Your Door) • 1956
[unissued alternate take]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


In the years between Harry Smith’s 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music and the start-up of Nick Perls’ Belzona/Yazoo Records in 1967, Pete Whelan and Bill Givens began to reissue country blues 78s on LP under the Origin Jazz Library imprint beginning in 1960. They drew upon the pioneering collections of Whelan, Bernard Klatzko, James McCune, and others, who had begun to acquire obscure country blues records back in the 1940s when very few record collectors paid much interest to the genre, concentrating instead on classic jazz. OJL’s first issue was Charlie Patton! 1929-32, the first microgroove collection to collect a dozen of Patton’s sides in one place. OJL kept up a modest reissue program through the mid-60s, issuing full LPs by Henry Thomas, another Charley Patton volume, Crying Sam Collins, and many anthologies featuring Mississippi blues, early female country blues singers, jug bands, early jazz, etc. Two of their country blues collections, Really! The Country Blues and Country Blues Encores introduced the folkie crowd to such great country blues artists as Tommy Johnson, William Moore, Son House, Skip James, George “Bullet” Williams, Garfield Akers, Blind Joe Reynolds, Jaybird Coleman, Charlie Jordan, and many others. The cover graphics were crude but effective, many of the LPs had booklets with essays and discographical information inside the sleeve, the remastering was adequate for the time period (Yazoo’s Nick Perls would bring 78 remastering up to state of the art a few years later), and the musical selections were outstanding. In 1967 Pete Whelan bowed out and Bill Givens took over, continuing to issue LPs up until his death in 1999. By that time, Yazoo had long been the premier reissue label for classic country blues, issuing on their own collections many of the blues sides originally put out by Origin with state of the art remastering, and the Austrian Document label was pretty far along in its ambition to issue every single prewar blues 78 ever recorded.

Here, then, is a selection of great country blues that first made the transition from shellac to vinyl on the first half dozen or so OJL albums. 

click on individual song titles to listen:

Moon Going Down – Charley Patton, vocal/guitar; Willie Brown, 2nd guitar. 1930
Touch Me Light Mama – George “Bullet” Williams, harmonica solo/spoken; 
  unknown, vocal. 1928
Texas Easy Street Blues – Henry Thomas “Ragtime Texas,” vocal/guitar. 1928
Going To Germany – Cannon’s Jug Stompers: Gus Cannon, banjo/jug; Noah Lewis, 
  vocal/harmonica; Hosea Woods, guitar/spoken. 1929
Got The Blues Can’t Be Satisfied – Mississippi John Hurt, vocal/guitar. 1928
Rolling Log Blues – Lottie Kimbrough & Winston HolmesLottie Kimbrough, vocal; 
  Miles Pruitt, guitar. 1928
A Spoonful Blues – Charley Patton, vocal/guitar. 1929
Outside Woman Blues – Blind Joe Reynolds, vocal/guitar. 1929

All of the songs heard here can be found in top sound quality on various Yazoo and Blues Images CDs.

Album covers courtesy American Music

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jesse James

The Mountain Ramblers • Jesse James • 1960

Friday, June 14, 2013

The young cowgirl / boy

Buck Owens & His Buckaroos • The Streets of Laredo • 1966
vocal: Doyle Holly

Photo: Country Music Hall of Fame

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

She tells everything what’s on her mind

Johnson Boys • Violin Blues • 1928

Johnson Boys: Lonnie Johnson, vocal/violin; Nap Hayes, guitar; Matthew Prater, mandolin. Recorded in Memphis, 
15 Feb 1928.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Friday, June 07, 2013


Chuck Guillory • Jolie Blonde • 1982

Get it: Grand Texas

Chuck Guillory, fiddle; Preston Manuel, vocal, guitar; Gervis Stanford, second fiddle; Michael Doucet, mandolin; David Doucet, lead guitar; Curzy “Porkchop” Roy, drums. Recorded in Crowley, Louisiana, 17 Dec 1982

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

D.P.R.B. Nos. 26 & 27

More “pre-code” surf music. . . .

Ray Charles • What’d I Say, Part I • 1959

Dave Brubeck Quartet • Take Five • 1961

Get ’em: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years; The Golden Age of American Popular Music: The Jazz Hits

Monday, June 03, 2013

Black gal

Joe Pullem • Black Gal What Makes Your Head So Hard? • 1934

Joe Pullum, vocal; Rob Cooper, piano. Rec. Texas Hotel, San Antonio, 3 Apr 1934

Saturday, June 01, 2013