Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Fess In London

Professor Longhair- The London Concert

"Justly worshipped a decade and a half after his death as a founding father of New Orleans R&B, Roy "Professor Longhair" Byrd was nevertheless so down-and-out at one point in his long career that he was reduced to sweeping the floors in a record shop that once could have moved his platters by the boxful.

That Longhair made such a marvelous comeback testifies to the resiliency of this late legend, whose Latin-tinged rhumba-rocking piano style and croaking, yodeling vocals were as singular and spicy as the second-line beats that power his hometown's musical heartbeat. Longhair brought an irresistible Caribbean feel to his playing, full of rolling flourishes that every Crescent City ivories man had to learn inside out (Fats Domino, Huey Smith, and Allen Toussaint all paid homage early and often).

Longhair grew up on the streets of the Big Easy, tap dancing for tips on Bourbon Street with his running partners. Local 88s aces Sullivan Rock, Kid Stormy Weather, and Tuts Washington all left their marks on the youngster, but he brought his own conception to the stool. A natural-born card shark and gambler, Longhair began to take his playing seriously in 1948, earning a gig at the Caldonia Club. Owner Mike Tessitore bestowed Longhair with his professorial nickname (due to Byrd's shaggy coiffure).

Longhair debuted on wax in 1949, laying down four tracks (including the first version of his signature "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," complete with whistled intro) for the Dallas-based Star Talent label. His band was called the Shuffling Hungarians, for reasons lost to time! Union problems forced those sides off the market, but Longhair's next date for Mercury the same year was strictly on the up-and-up. It produced his first and only national R&B hit in 1950, the hilarious "Bald Head" (credited to Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers).

The pianist made great records for Atlantic in 1949, Federal in 1951, Wasco in 1952, and Atlantic again in 1953 (producing the immortal "Tipitina," a romping "In the Night," and the lyrically impenetrable boogie "Ball the Wall"). After recuperating from a minor stroke, Longhair came back on Lee Rupe's Ebb logo in 1957 with a storming "No Buts - No Maybes." He revived his "Go to the Mardi Gras" for Joe Ruffino's Ron imprint in 1959; this is the version that surfaces every year at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Other than the ambitiously arranged "Big Chief" in 1964 for Watch Records, the '60s held little charm for Longhair. He hit the skids, abandoning his piano playing until a booking at the fledgling 1971 Jazz & Heritage Festival put him on the comeback trail. He made a slew of albums in the last decade of his life, topped off by a terrific set for Alligator, Crawfish Fiesta.

Longhair triumphantly appeared on the PBS-TV concert series Soundstage (with Dr. John, Earl King, and the Meters), co-starred in the documentary Piano Players Rarely Ever Play Together (which became a memorial tribute when Longhair died in the middle of its filming; funeral footage was included), and saw a group of his admirers buy a local watering hole in 1977 and rechristen it Tipitina's after his famous song. He played there regularly when he wasn't on the road; it remains a thriving operation.

Longhair went to bed on January 30, 1980, and never woke up. A heart attack in the night stilled one of New Orleans' seminal R&B stars, but his music is played in his hometown so often and so reverently you'd swear he was still around."

Download Link:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rare Blues-Rock Album From Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter- John Dawson Winter III

"Blues guitarist Johnny Winter became a major star in the late '60s and early '70s. Since that time he's confirmed his reputation in the blues by working with Muddy Waters and continuing to play in the style, despite musical fashion. Born in Beaumont, TX, Winter formed his first band at 14 with his brother Edgar in Beaumont, and spent his youth in recording studios cutting regional singles and in bars playing the blues. His discovery on a national level came via an article in Rolling Stone in 1968, which led to a management contract with New York club owner Steve Paul and a record deal with Columbia. His debut album (there are numerous albums of juvenilia), Johnny Winter, reached the charts in 1969. Starting out with a trio, Winter later formed a band with former members of the McCoys, including second guitarist Rick Derringer. It was called Johnny Winter And. He achieved a sales peak in 1971 with the gold-selling Live/Johnny Winter And. He returned in 1973 with Still Alive and Well, his highest-charting album. His albums became more overtly blues-oriented in the late '70s and he also produced several albums for Muddy Waters. In the '80s he switched to the blues label Alligator for three albums, and has since recorded for the labels MCA and Pointblank/Virgin.

The early-2000s were quiet as far as new Winter recordings, but there were a number of significant reissues. Alligator issued the best of their years with the artist as Deluxe Edition in 2001, Columbia/Legacy covered his 1969-1971 period with their 2002 release Best of Johnny Winter, and Fuel 2000 came up with Winter's earliest recordings and compiled them on 2003's Winter Essentials 1960-1967. Sony reissued Winter's 1969 self-titled album with five bonus tracks in 2004, the same year the man returned with his first new album in nearly eight years, I'm a Bluesman. The archival reissues continued with Fuel's Introduction to Johnny Winter in 2006, which collected sides Winter recorded in his pre-Columbia years between 1960 and 1967 for the Dart, KCRO, Frolic, Todd, Hall-Way, and Pacemaker imprints."

Download Link:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rare Album From Frank Hovington

Frank Hovington- Gone With The Wind

"A tremendous country blues musician who was singing vividly and playing with flair well after the genre's heyday, Franklin "Frank" Hovington started on ukulele and banjo as a child. He teamed with Willliam Walker in the late '30s and '40s playing at house parties and dances in Frederica, Pennsylvania. Hovington moved to Washington D.C. in the late '40s, and backed such groups as Stewart Dixon's Golden Stars and Ernest Ewin's Jubilee Four. He also worked with Billy Stewart's band. Hovington moved to Delaware in 1967, then was recorded by Flyright in 1975. His '75 LP was a masterpiece, and alerted many in the blues community to his abilities."

Download Link:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Brand New Robert Pete Williams!!!

Robert Pete Williams- Broken-Hearted Man

"Discovered in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Robert Pete Williams became one of the great blues discoveries during the folk boom of the early '60s. His disregard for conventional patterns, tunings, and structures kept him from a wider audience, but his music remains one of the great, intense treats of the blues.

Williams was born in Zachary, Louisiana, the son of sharecropping parents. While he was a child, he worked the fields with his family; he never attended school. Williams didn't begin playing blues until his late teens, when he made himself a guitar out of a cigar box. Playing his homemade guitar, Williams began performing at local parties, dances, and fish fries at night while he worked during the day. Even though he was constantly working, he never made quite enough money to support his family, which caused considerable tension between him and his wife -- according to legend, she burned his guitar one night in a fit of anger.

Despite all of the domestic tension, Williams continued to play throughout the Baton Rouge area, performing at dances and juke joints. In 1956, he shot and killed a man in a local club. Williams claimed the act was in self-defense, but he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was sent to Angola prison, where he served for two years before being discovered by ethnomusicologists Dr. Harry Oster and Richard Allen. The pair recorded Williams performing several of his own songs, which were all about life in prison. Impressed with the guitarist's talents, Oster and Allen pleaded for a pardon for Williams. The pardon was granted in 1959, after he had served a total of three and a half years. For the first five years after he left prison, Williams could only perform in Lousiana, but his recordings -- which appeared on Folk-Lyric, Arhoolie, and Prestige, among other labels -- were popular and he received positive word of mouth reviews.

In 1964, Williams played his first concert outside of Louisiana -- it was a set at the legendary Newport Folk Festival. Williams' performance was enthusiastically received and he began touring the United States, often playing shows with Mississippi Fred McDowell. For the remainder of the '60s and most of the '70s, Robert Pete Williams constantly played concerts and festivals across America, as well a handful of dates in Europe. Along the way, he recorded for a handful of small independent labels, including Fontana and Storyville. Williams slowed down his work schedule in the late '70s, largely due to his old age and declining health. The guitarist died on December 31, 1980, at the age of 66."

Download Link:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rockin' With Red

Piano Red- Live And Feelin' Good

"Willie Perryman went by two nicknames during his lengthy career, both of them thoroughly apt. He was known as Piano Red because of his albino skin pigmentation for most of his performing life. But they called him Doctor Feelgood during the '60s, and that's precisely what his raucous, barrelhouse-styled vocals and piano were guaranteed to do: cure anyone's ills and make them feel good.

Like his older brother, Rufus Perryman, who performed and recorded as Speckled Red, Willie Perryman showed an aptitude for the 88s early in life. At age 12, he was banging on the ivories, influenced by Fats Waller but largely his own man. He rambled some with blues greats Barbecue Bob, Curley Weaver, and Blind Willie McTell during the 1930s (and recording with the latter in 1936), but mostly worked as a solo artist.

In 1950, Red's big break arrived when he signed with RCA Victor. His debut Victor offering, the typically rowdy "Rockin' with Red," was a huge R&B hit, peaking at number five on Billboard's charts. It's surfaced under a variety of guises since: Little Richard revived it as "She Knows How to Rock" in 1957 for Specialty, Jerry Lee Lewis aced it for Sun (unissued at the time), and pint-sized hillbilly dynamo Little Jimmy Dickens beat 'em both to the punch for Columbia.

"Red's Boogie," another pounding rocker from the pianist's first RCA date, also proved a huge smash, as did the rag-tinged "The Wrong Yo Yo" (later covered masterfully by Carl Perkins at Sun), "Just Right Bounce," and "Laying the Boogie" in 1951. Red became an Atlanta mainstay in the clubs and over the radio, recording prolifically for RCA through 1958 both there and in New York. There weren't any more hits, but that didn't stop the firm from producing a live LP by the pianist in 1956 at Atlanta's Magnolia Ballroom that throbbed with molten energy. Chet Atkins produced Red's final RCA date in Nashville in 1958, using Red's touring band for backup.

A 1959 single for Checker called "Get Up Mare" and eight tracks for the tiny Jax label preceded the rise of Red's new guise, Dr. Feelgood & the Interns, who debuted on Columbia's "Okeh" subsidiary in 1961 with a self-named rocker, "Doctor Feel-Good," that propelled the aging piano pounder into the pop charts for the first time. Its flipside, "Mister Moonlight" (penned and ostensibly sung by bandmember Roy Lee Johnson), found its way into the repertoire of the Beatles. A subsequent remake of "Right String but the Wrong Yo-Yo" also hit for the good doctor in 1962. The Doc remained with OKeh through 1966, recording with veteran Nashville saxist Boots Randolph in his band on five occasions.

Red remained ensconced at Muhlenbrink's Saloon in Atlanta from 1969 through 1979, sandwiching in extensive European tours along the way. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1984 and died the following year."

Download Link:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

St. Louis Blues

Henry Townsend- My Story

"Influenced by Roosevelt Sykes and Lonnie Johnson, Henry Townsend was a commanding musician, adept on both piano and guitar. During the '20s and '30s, Townsend was one of the musicians that helped make St. Louis one of the blues centers of America.

Townsend arrived in St. Louis when he was around ten years old, just before the '20s began. By the end of the '20s, he had landed a record contract with Columbia, cutting several sides of open-tuning slide guitar for the label. Two years later, he made some similar recordings for Paramount. During this time, Townsend began playing the piano, learning the instrument by playing along with Roosevelt Sykes records. Within a few years, he was able to perform concerts with pianists like Walter Davis and Henry Brown.

During the '30s, Townsend was a popular session musician, performing with many of the era's most popular artists. By the late '30s, he had cut several tracks for Bluebird. Those were among the last recordings he ever made as a leader. During the '40s and '50s, Townsend continued to perform and record as a session musician, but he never made any solo records.

In 1960, he led a few sessions, but they didn't receive much attention. Toward the end of the '60s, Townsend became a staple on the blues and folk festivals in America, which led to a comeback. He cut a number of albums for Adelphi and he played shows throughout America. By the end of the '70s, he had switched from Adelphi to Nighthawk Records.

Townsend had become an elder statesmen of St. Louis blues by the early '80s, recording albums for Wolf and Swingmaster and playing a handful of shows every year. That's the Way I Do It, a documentary about Townsend, appeared on public television in 1984. During the late '80s, Townsend was nearly retired, but he continued to play the occasional concert until his death in 2006."

Download Link:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Extremely Rare! The Rolling Stones Talk Blues, 1970

This is an extremely rare audio file of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards talking about and playing their favorite Country Blues and electric Blues songs. This was recorded in Denmark in 1970. Enjoy your early Christmas present!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Live Elizabeth Cotten

Elizabeth Cotten- Live!

Album Review:
"No dates are given for this live disc, although according to the liners, "this album is a sampler of performances during her ninth decade" (which would be roughly the early 1970s to the early 1980s). She does some of the most popular items from her repertoire over the course of this 50-minute recording, including "Freight Train," "Shake Sugaree," and "Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie" (which was covered by the Grateful Dead). The guitar playing is good, the vocals are less impressive; there's plenty of storytelling between the numbers, and audience participation on some of the choruses during the songs."

Download Link:

Friday, December 18, 2009

100 Years Of American Music

Alberta Hunter- The Glory Of Alberta Hunter

Album Review:
"Alberta Hunter's comeback after 20 years off the music scene was quite inspiring. She was (along with Sippie Wallace) virtually the only classic blues singer of the 1920s still active during part of the 1980s, and her four Columbia albums (of which this was the third) are surprisingly strong. With able backing by the Gerald Cook quartet, trumpeter Doc Cheatham, trombonist Vic Dickenson and tenor-saxophonist Budd Johnson, Alberta Hunter sings some standards (including "Some of These Days," "The Glory of Love" and "I Cried for You"), a few religious hymns ("Ezekiel Saw the Wheel" and "Give Me That Old Time Religion"), the Yiddish tune "Ich Hob Dich Tzufil Lieba" and her own "Alberta's Blues" and "The Love I Have for You.""

Download Link:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Texas' Robert Shaw: The Ma Grinder

Robert Shaw- The Ma Grinder

Album Review:
"Stunning solo Texas blues and barrelhouse piano by the late pianist. The most amazing material, produced by Mack McCormick in Austin, dates from 1963 -- the rhythmically and technically complex "The Cows" is a tour de force, and "The Ma Grinder" and "The Clinton" aren't far behind. Later numbers from 1973 and 1977 prove that Shaw's skills didn't degenerate with time."

Download Link:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sonny Boy, Vol. 2

Sonny Boy Williamson- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1938-1939)

Album Review:
"Document's Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1938-1939) picks up where the first volume left off, reissuing 24 tracks from the 13-month period of June 1938 to July 1939. Unfortunately, there weren't as many classic performances during this era, leaving this the odd one out from the many volumes in this set. Serious blues fans will still find much of interest here, including versions of "Susie-Q" and "You've Been Foolin' Round Town," plus a second stab at his classic "Sugar Mama Blues.""

Download Link:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unreleased Mance Lipscomb!!!

Mance Lipscomb- Live In Cambridge

"Like Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt, the designation as strictly a blues singer dwarfs the musical breadth of Mance Lipscomb. Born on April 9, 1895 in Navasota, TX, Lipscomb was a sharecropper/tenant farmer all his life who didn't record until 1960, "songster" fits what Lipscomb did best. A proud, yet unboastful man, Lipscomb would point out that he was an educated musician, his ability to play everything from classic blues, ballads, pop songs to spirituals in a multitude of styles and keys being his particular mark of originality. He appeared at numerous blues and folk festivals throughout the '60s, released several albums on Arhoolie and even one for a major label, Reprise, in 1970, Trouble in Mind. Four years later, Lipscomb retired from the festival circuit and passed away on January 30, 1976 in his hometown of Navasota, TX. He was 81. With a wide-ranging repertoire of over 90 songs, Lipscomb may have gotten a belated start in recording, but left a remarkable legacy to be enjoyed."

Download Link:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sonny Boy, Vol. 1

Sonny Boy Williamson- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1937-1938)

"Easily the most important harmonica player of the pre-war era, John Lee Williamson almost single-handedly made the humble mouth organ a worthy lead instrument for blues bands -- leading the way for the amazing innovations of Little Walter and a platoon of others to follow. If not for his tragic murder in 1948 while on his way home from a Chicago gin mill, Williamson would doubtless have been right there alongside them, exploring new and exciting directions.

It can safely be noted that Williamson made the most of his limited time on the planet. Already a harp virtuoso in his teens, the first Sonny Boy (Rice Miller would adopt the same monicker down in the Delta) learned from Hammie Nixon and Noah Lewis and rambled with Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell before settling in Chicago in 1934.

Williamson's extreme versatility and consistent ingenuity won him a Bluebird recording contract in 1937. Under the direction of the ubiquitous Lester Melrose, Sonny Boy Williamson recorded prolifically for Victor both as a leader and behind others in the vast Melrose stable (including Robert Lee McCoy and Big Joe Williams, who in turn played on some of Williamson's sides).

Williamson commenced his sensational recording career with a resounding bang. His first vocal offering on Bluebird was the seminal "Good Morning School Girl," covered countless times across the decades. That same auspicious date also produced "Sugar Mama Blues" and "Blue Bird Blues," both of them every bit as classic in their own right.

The next year brought more gems, including "Decoration Blues" and "Whiskey Headed Woman Blues." The output of 1939 included "T.B. Blues" and "Tell Me Baby," while Williamson cut "My Little Machine" and "Jivin' the Blues" in 1940. Jimmy Rogers apparently took note of Williamson's "Sloppy Drunk Blues," cut with pianist Blind John Davis and bassist Ransom Knowling in 1941; Rogers adapted the tune in storming fashion for Chess in 1954. 1941's motherlode also included "Ground Hog Blues" and "My Black Name," while the popular "Stop Breaking Down" (1945) found the harpist backed by guitarist Tampa Red and pianist Big Maceo.

Sonny Boy cut more than 120 sides in all for RCA from 1937 to 1947, many of them turning up in the postwar repertoires of various Chicago blues giants. His call-and-response style of alternating vocal passages with pungent harmonica blasts was a development of mammoth proportions that would be adopted across-the-board by virtually every blues harpist to follow in his wake.

But Sonny Boy Williamson wouldn't live to reap any appreciable rewards from his inventions. He died at the age of 34, while at the zenith of his popularity (his romping "Shake That Boogie" was a national R&B hit in 1947 on Victor), from a violent bludgeoning about the head that occurred during a strong-arm robbery on the South side. "Better Cut That Out," another storming rocker later appropriated by Junior Wells, became a posthumous hit for Williamson in late 1948. It was the very last song he had committed to posterity. Wells was only one young harpist to display his enduring allegiance; a teenaged Billy Boy Arnold had recently summoned up the nerve to knock on his idol's door to ask for lessons. The accommodating Sonny Boy Williamson was only too happy to oblige, a kindness Arnold has never forgotten (nor does he fail to pay tribute to his eternal main man every chance he gets). Such is the lasting legacy of the blues' first great harmonicist."

Download Link:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Unreleased Fred McDowell!!!

Mississippi Fred McDowell- Live At Court Coffeehouse- Tacoma, 1971

"When Mississippi Fred McDowell proclaimed on one of his last albums, "I do not play no rock & roll," it was less a boast by an aging musician swept aside by the big beat than a mere statement of fact. As a stylist and purveyor of the original Delta blues, he was superb, equal parts Charley Patton and Son House coming to the fore through his roughed-up vocals and slashing bottleneck style of guitar playing. McDowell knew he was the real deal, and while others were diluting and updating their sound to keep pace with the changing times and audiences, Mississippi Fred stood out from the rest of the pack simply by not changing his style one iota. Though he scorned the amplified rock sound with a passion matched by few country bluesmen, he certainly had no qualms about passing any of his musical secrets along to his young, white acolytes, prompting several of them -- including a young Bonnie Raitt -- to develop slide guitar techniques of their own. Although generally lumped in with other blues "rediscoveries" from the '60s, the most amazing thing about him was that this rich repository of Delta blues had never recorded in the '20s or early '30s, didn't get "discovered" until 1959, and didn't become a full-time professional musician until the mid-'60s.

He was born in 1904 in Rossville, TN, and was playing the guitar by the age of 14 with a slide hollowed out of a steer bone. His parents died when Fred was a youngster and the wandering life of a traveling musician soon took hold. The 1920s saw him playing for tips on the street around Memphis, TN, the hoboing life eventually setting him down in Como, MS, where he lived the rest of his life. There McDowell split his time between farming and keeping up with his music by playing weekends for various fish fries, picnics, and house parties in the immediate area. This pattern stayed largely unchanged for the next 30 years until he was discovered in 1959 by folklorist Alan Lomax. Lomax was the first to record this semi-professional bluesman, the results of which were released as part of an American folk music series on the Atlantic label. McDowell, for his part, was happy to have some sounds on records, but continued on with his farming and playing for tips outside of Stuckey's candy store in Como for spare change. It wasn't until Chris Strachwitz -- folk-blues enthusiast and owner of the fledgling Arhoolie label -- came searching for McDowell to record him that the bluesman's fortunes began to change dramatically.

Two albums, Fred McDowell, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, were released on Arhoolie in the mid-'60s, and the shock waves were felt throughout the folk-blues community. Here was a bluesman with a repertoire of uncommon depth, putting it over with great emotional force, and to top it all off, he had seemingly slipped through the cracks of late-'20s/early-'30s field recordings. No scratchy, highly prized 78s on Paramount or Vocalion to use as a yardstick to measure his current worth, no romantic stories about him disappearing into the Delta for decades at a time to become a professional gambler or a preacher. No, Mississippi Fred McDowell had been in his adopted home state, farming and playing all along, and the world coming to his doorstep seemed to ruffle him no more than the little boy down the street delivering the local newspaper.

The success of the Arhoolie recordings suddenly found McDowell very much in demand on the folk and festival circuit, where his quiet, good-natured performances left many a fan utterly spellbound. Working everything from the Newport Folk Festival to coffeehouse dates to becoming a member of the American Folk Blues Festival in Europe, McDowell suddenly had more listings in his résumé in a couple of years than he had in the previous three decades combined. He was also well documented on film, with appearances in The Blues Maker (1968), his own documentary Fred McDowell (1969), and Roots of American Music: Country and Urban Music (1970) among them. By the end of the decade, he was signed to do a one-off album for Capitol Records (the aforementioned I Do Not Play No Rock 'N' Roll) and his tunes were being mainstreamed into the blues-rock firmament by artists like Bonnie Raitt (who recorded several of his tunes, including notable versions of "Write Me a Few Lines" and "Kokomo") and the Rolling Stones, who included a very authentic version of his classic "You Got to Move" on their Sticky Fingers album. Unfortunately, this career largess didn't last much longer, as McDowell was diagnosed with cancer while performing dates into 1971. His playing days suddenly behind him, he lingered for a few months into July 1972, finally succumbing to the disease at age 68. And right to the end, the man remained true to his word; he didn't play any rock & roll, just the straight, natural blues."

Download Link:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sykes' Mentor, Leothus

Leothus Lee Green- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1929-1930)

"Leothus Lee Green, also known as Pork Chops, was an early contemporary of Little Brother Montgomery and a mentor to Roosevelt Sykes. Born in Mississippi around 1900, Green worked as a clothes presser in Vicksburg while perfecting his piano technique. Soon Leothus was traveling throughout the Lower Mississippi River Basin, earning a living by playing piano for the people. Montgomery knew him in Vicksburg, and claimed to have taught him the "44 Blues" in Sondheimer, LA, back in 1922. Sykes first heard Green in 1925 playing his own loosely improvised ragtime, waltz, blues, and jazz accompaniments for silent movies at Miller's Theatre in West Helena, AR. Green taught the then jazz-oriented Sykes how to really play the blues, and the two men became traveling and gigging companions, circulating throughout the region for several years, often simultaneously performing on opposite sides of the same town. Green made his first four recordings in Richmond, IN, for Gennett and Supertone on July 10, 1929, just weeks after Sykes cut his first sides for OKeh in New York. Excepting for a brief excursion to New York in August 1937, Green performed and recorded mainly in or near Chicago. He cut 24 sides for Vocalion in 1929 and 1930, and 14 titles for Decca between August 1934 and September 1937. His last records were made for the Bluebird label in Aurora, IL, on October 11, 1937. Although primarily a bluesman, he was capable of quoting ragtime novelties, shifting into boogie-woogie, and running stride-like jazz passages. Little is known about the life of Leothus Lee Green; his death is believed to have occurred around 1945. All of his known recordings have been reissued in chronological sequence by the Document label."

Download Link:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unreleased Johnny Shines!!!

Johnny Shines- Live At Court Coffeehouse- Tacoma, 1970

Album Review:
"Here's a complete 2-set performance by Johnny Shines recorded in Tacoma,
WA at the Court Coffeehouse in 1970. The first set is solo acoustic,
and on the somewhat murky sounding second set he is playing electric
and is accompanied by an unknown washtub bass player!"

Download Link:

Live Johnny Shines

Johnny Shines- 1915-1922

"Best known as a traveling companion of Robert Johnson, Johnny Shines' own contributions to the blues have often been unfairly shortchanged, simply because Johnson's own legend casts such a long shadow. In his early days, Shines was one of the top slide guitarists in Delta blues, with his own distinctive, energized style; one that may have echoed Johnson's spirit and influence, but was never a mere imitation. Shines eventually made his way north to Chicago, and made the transition to electrified urban blues with ease, helped in part by his robust, impassioned vocals. He was vastly under-recorded during his prime years, even quitting the music business for a time, but was rediscovered in the late '60s and recorded and toured steadily for quite some time. A 1980 stroke robbed him of some of his dexterity on guitar, but his voice remained a powerfully emotive instrument, and he performed up until his death in 1992.

John Ned Shines was born April 26, 1915, in Frayser, TN, and grew up in Memphis from the age of six. Part of a musical family, he learned guitar from his mother, and as a youth he played for tips on the streets of Memphis with several friends, inspired by the likes of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and the young Howlin' Wolf. In 1932, he moved to Hughes, AR, to work as a sharecropper, keeping up his musical activities on the side; in 1935, he decided to try and make it as a professional musician. Shines had first met Robert Johnson in Memphis in 1934, and he began accompanying Johnson on his wanderings around the Southern juke-joint circuit, playing wherever they could find gigs; the two made their way as far north as Windsor, Ontario, where they appeared on a radio program. After around three years on the road together -- which made Shines one of Johnson's most intimate associates, along with Johnson's stepson Robert Jr. Lockwood -- the two split up in Arkansas in 1937, and never saw each other again before Johnson's death in 1938.

Shines continued to play around the South for a few years, and in 1941 decided to make his way north in hopes of finding work in Canada, and from there catching a boat to Africa. Instead, when he stopped in Chicago, his cousin immediately offered him a job in construction, and Shines wound up staying. He started making the rounds of the local blues club scene, and in 1946 he made his first-ever recordings; four tracks for Columbia that the label declined to release. In 1950, he resurfaced on Chess, cutting sides that were rarely released (and, when they were, often appeared under the name "Shoe Shine Johnny"). Meanwhile, Shines was finding work supporting other artists at live shows and recording sessions. From 1952-1953, he laid down some storming sides for the JOB label, which constitute some of his finest work ever (some featured Big Walter Horton on harmonica). They went underappreciated commercially, however, and Shines returned to his supporting roles. In 1958, fed up with the musicians' union over a financial dispute, Shines quit the music business, pawned all of his equipment, and made his living solely with the construction job he'd kept all the while.

Shines did, however, stay plugged into the local blues scene by working as a photographer at live events, selling photos to patrons as souvenirs. Eventually, he was sought out by blues historians, and talked into recording for Vanguard's now-classic Chicago/The Blues/Today! series; his appearance on the third volume in 1966 rejuvenated his career. Shines next cut sessions for Testament (1966's Master of the Modern Blues, Vol. 1, a couple with Big Walter Horton, and more) and Blue Horizon (1968's Last Night's Dream), which effectively introduced him to much of the listening public. The reception was much greater this time around, and Shines hit the road, first with Horton and Willie Dixon as the Chicago All-Stars, then leading his own band. In the meantime, his daughter died unexpectedly, leaving Shines to raise his grandchildren; concerned about bringing them up in an urban environment, he moved the whole family down to Tuscaloosa, AL.

During the early '70s, Shines recorded for Biograph and Advent, among others, and enjoyed one of his most acclaimed releases with 1975's more Delta-styled Too Wet to Plow (for Tomato). He also taught guitar locally in Tuscaloosa in between touring engagements. Despite his own generally high-quality work, Shines was a fascinating figure to many white blues fans simply because of the mythology surrounding Robert Johnson, and he was interviewed repeatedly about his experiences with Johnson to the exclusion of discussing his own music and contemporary career; which understandably frustrated him after a while. However, that didn't stop him from rediscovering his roots in acoustic Delta blues, or including many of Johnson's classic songs in his own repertoire; in fact, during the late '70s, Shines toured and recorded often with Robert Jr. Lockwood, a teaming that owed much to Johnson's legacy if ever there was one. Unfortunately, in 1980, Shines suffered a stroke that greatly affected his guitar playing, which would never return to its former glories. He was able to sing as effectively as before, though, and helped by some of his students, he continued to tour America and Europe. In the early '90s, Shines appeared in the documentary film Searching for Robert Johnson, and he also cut one last album with Snooky Pryor, 1991's Back to the Country, which won a Handy Award. Shines' health was failing, however, and he passed away on April 20, 1992, in a Tuscaloosa hospital."

Download Link:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bo Carter's Dirty Words

Bo Carter- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 (1938-1940)

"Bo Carter (Armenter "Bo" Chatmon) had an unequaled capacity for creating sexual metaphors in his songs, specializing in such ribald imagery as "Banana in Your Fruit Basket," "Pin in Your Cushion," and "Your Biscuits Are Big Enough for Me." One of the most popular bluesmen of the '30s, he recorded enough material for several reissue albums, and he was quite an original guitar picker, or else three of those albums wouldn't have been released by Yazoo. (Carter employed a number of different keys and tunings on his records, most of which were solo vocal and guitar performances.) Carter's facility extended beyond the risqué business to more serious blues themes, and he was also the first to record the standard "Corrine Corrina" (1928). Bo and his brothers Lonnie and Sam Chatmon also recorded as members of the Mississippi Sheiks with singer/guitarist Walter Vinson."

Download Link:

**We also have a great song from a mystery artist. Enjoy!**

Download Link:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hell Ain't But A Mile And A Quarter!

Blind John Davis- 1938-1939

"The piano work of John Davis was featured on blues records by the score during the '30s and '40s. His accompaniments to Tampa Red, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Bill Broonzy, and others brought him fame as a blues musician, but like his piano compatriot Little Brother Montgomery, Davis did not care to be typecast as such and often expressed a preference for the sweet, sentimental favorites he played in countless piano lounges. But as with Montgomery, most of Davis's own recording opportunities came from blues companies, and he never failed to acquit himself well when it came to blues and boogie-woogie. He was the first pianist to do a European blues tour (with Broonzy in 1952), returning to the continent frequently as a solo act during the '70s and '80s. With blues-piano appreciation in Europe being what it is and has been, it's not surprising that most of the albums of Blind John Davis were recorded there and not in Chicago, his home from the age of two until his death."

Download Link:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chicago Style Yancey

Jimmy Yancey- The Best Of Jimmy Yancey

Album Review:
"Although he is not as well known as many of his contemporaries, several of which he actually influenced, Chicago boogie-woogie pianist Jimmy Yancey had a kind of refreshingly gentle tone in his playing that set him apart from most players who depended on speed and attack to win over audiences. Yancey worked most of his adult life as a groundskeeper at the Chicago White Sox's Comiskey Park, and never depended on his piano abilities to earn a living, which may account for his generally soothing sound, even on his more robust numbers, since he played more for joy than for rent money. This set features his wife, blues singer Estelle "Mama" Yancey, singing on a few tracks, and while Yancey's late-'30s and early-'40s material is probably the place to start, this makes a suitable second choice. Highlights include his signature tune, "Yancey Special," and a pair of Chicago-centric boogies, "South Side Stuff" and "White Sox Stomp.""

Download Link:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sunnyland & Lenoir Jam

J.B. Lenoir, Sunnyland Slim & Friends- Live In '63

Album Review:
"Fuel 2000 released this live date with guitarist J.B. Lenoir and pianist Sunnyland Slim almost 33 years after the original session took place at Nina's Lounge, a small club on the near west side of Chicago. The disc moves along at a brisk pace with both Lenoir and Sunnyland in fine shape, whether in a solo context (Sunnyland has three solo spots and Lenoir four) or in combinations with their friends. Hanging around the club that night (July 9, 1963) were St. Louis Jimmy Oden, who plays a mean harp on "Lend Me Your Love"; Chicago street musician John Lee Granderson on three tunes ("J.L.'s Blues," "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," and "That's All Right"); and rounding out the jam session is 20-year-old Mike Bloomfield on acoustic guitar. Highly recommended for both blues fanatics and casual listeners."

Download Link: