The George Mitchell Collection Keys and Positions

From Weeniepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Georgemitchell cover.gif

Notes by John Miller [Go to original forum thread]
A consolidated sortable list of tracks is available at The George Mitchell Collection, Volumes 1-45 - Sortable Track Listing
Tuning / position column content varies depending on guitar tuning. Where the guitarist is in an open tuning the column shows the common name, Vestapol (open D/E), Spanish (open G/A), Cross note (open Dm/Em). Where the guitar is in standard tuning the column shows the 1st position I chord.

Disc 1

Cecil Barfield

Albany, Georgia, 1976

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-01Lucy Mae BluesGA-
1-02I Woke Up CryingGG#
1-03Love BluesED
1-04I Told You Not to Do ThatGA


Cecil Barfield certainly merits all the discussion his music has been generating lately. His "Lucy Mae Blues" was a terrific choice to open the entire set. The weird, trancey picking pattern ostinato he accompanies himself with is arresting enough, but when he comes in singing with his strangled headtone, he's got you. His bass alternation is one I've never run into before. Over his I chord, G, he alternates third fret sixth to third fret fourth, then third fret sixth to a quick hammer at second fret fourth string. Over his IV chord, the alternation is even more eccentric: third fret fifth string to third fret fourth string, than open fifth string to third fret fourth string--a bass alternation of C-F-A-F over a C chord, in which the only chord tone in the bass is the opening C! He sounds about as much like himself and absolutely nobody else working in the same style as it is possible to do in a vernacular style that had already been around for decades when he was recorded. Judging by the very small sample of his music offered here, he had a special predilection for G position in standard tuning, but the one song he does in E position, standard tuning (tuned a whole step low), "Love Blues", is brutally low-down, as tough as anything that ever came out of the Mississippi delta or hill country. So much for generalizing about sound based on where a player lived.

Buddy Moss

Atlanta, Georgia, 1963

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-05In the EveningED+
1-06Hey Lawdy MamaEC#+
1-07Thousand Woman BluesAG
1-08Blue Shadow FallingEC#+
1-09Cold Rainy DayEC#+
1-10AmyAF#+


Buddy Moss sounds absolutely magisterial here, singing and playing with utter authority. His playing has a tremendous sheen and finish. It's worth remembering, too, how young he was when these recordings were made in 1963: 49-years-old, born in 1914, really the prime of life for a musician. He favors E position in standard tuning and tunes significantly low for all of his tunes. The "Amy" he is shown playing here is Blind Boy Fuller's "Mamie", of course.

Leon Pinson

Cleveland, Mississippi, 9/18/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-11Motherless ChildVestapolC#-
1-12Somebody is Calling My NameVestapolC#-
1-13What God Can DoStandardE
1-14He'll Understand and Say Well DoneVestapolEflat+


Leon Pinson comes across beautifully here with great singing and playing. His first two numbers appear to be played with a slide and the guitar in the conventional position. His final number, "He'll Understand and Say Well Done" sounds as though it is played lap style, and with its extreme vibrato and vocally-inflected phrasing sounds a lot like the work of present-day players working in the Sacred Steel tradition, like Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent. Pinson's version of "What God Can Do", more commonly known as "How Great Thou Art", employs extreme low tuning in standard tuning and conventional fretting, a sound likewise employed by Rev. Pearly Brown.

Houston Stackhouse

Dundee, Mississippi, 8/28/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-15Big Road BluesDropped-DC#+
1-16Cool Water BluesEEflat+
1-17Big Fat Mama BluesAAflat+
1-18Take A Little Walk With MeEEflat+


Are there other instances of electric bands as faithfully rendering earlier acoustic styles as Houston Stackhouse's band played the music of Tommy Johnson? There must be other such cases, but I can't think of any right now.

Big Joe Williams

Chicago, Illinois, 1963

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-19Everyone Got A WomanSpanishBflat
1-20What She Need with A RoosterSpanishBflat
1-21Sink or SwimSpanishBflat
1-22Prison BoundSpanishBflat


Big Joe Williams' numbers come from a live performance in which he appeared to be in an unusually pensive mood. He works with extremes in his dynamics, moving from barely audible singing to roaring. When he does a cover like "Prison Bound", it is so much his own. His way of playing in Spanish ventured into a lot of territory that he had all to himself.

John Lee Ziegler

Kathleen, Georgia, late 1978

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-23Who's Gonna Be Your ManVestapol slideG+
1-24If I Lose, Let Me LoseVestapolG+


John Lee Ziegler's two tunes, for which he is joined by an expert spoon player, are the high points of the disc for me. They are just beautiful, he must have had one of the prettiest voices ever in the country blues, up there in Sam Collins' or Lemon's league. There is something special about a tuning or position occurring at a great distance in pitch from where it is normally heard, too. Ziegler is playing in Vestapol at G, considerably higher than that tuning is normally heard, and the sound just draws you in.

Othar Turner

Como, Mississippi, 8/24/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
1-25Black WomanVestapolC#+
1-26Bumble BeeVestapolC#+


Prior to hearing the Othar Turner cuts here, I never knew he played guitar at all, knowing him primarily for his fife playing. He is substantially the roughest player here, and cuts the narrowest swath in terms of the amount of variety in his playing.

Disc 2

Lonzie Thomas

Lee County, Alabama, early 1980s

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-01Rabbit On A LogVestapolD+
2-02Raise a Ruckus TonightVestapolD+
2-03My Three WomenSpanishF#
2-04Red Cross StoreVestapolD+


Lonzie Thomas, like Cecil Barfield and John Lee Ziegler, is worth the price of admission all by himself. He really was terrific. His "Rabbit on the Log" employs the same melody as John Hurt's "Payday", Henry Thomas' "Shanty Blues", and the Mississippi Sheiks' "Bootlegger Blues". For it and "Raise a Ruckus Tonight", he employs a backwards alternating thumb lead that bears a coincidental similarity to the right hand approach that Roscoe Holcomb used when finger-picking in his personalized Spanish tuning. Lonzie Thomas's time is much more loose-limbed and funky than Roscoe's, and not nearly so quick, though. All of Lonzie Thomas's performances communicate a droll sense of humor; none more than "My Three Women", a sensational one-chord number in Spanish that employs an irregularly recurring greasy bend on his unwound third string. He really reefs on it and it sounds great. Lonzie Thomas compares favorably with any of the rediscovered country Blues musicians of the '60s--'80s

Sleepy John Estes

Brownsville, Tennessee, 1962

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-05Rats in the KitchenAB+
2-06Special AgentAB+
2-07Trying To SeeGA+
2-08Mail Man BluesGA+


Sleepy John Estes is in great voice here. It's a little surprising not to hear him play in C position standard tuning at all, since it was much his favorite playing position on his early recordings.

Teddy Williams

Canton, Mississippi, 9/16/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-09Down Home BluesDropped-DE
2-10Catfish BluesED+
2-11Black MattieEF-
2-12Sun Don't ShineABflat+


Teddy Williams sounds really good and has a lot of variety in his playing. I'm hard pressed to think of many Mississippi players who worked in dropped-D, other than Tommy Johnson, Walter Vinson, Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon. Teddy Williams liked to sing sharp and drive his voice very hard.

Green Paschal

Talbotton, Georgia, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-13Trouble Brought Me DownVestapol slideD-
2-14My LordVestapol slideD-
2-15Mother Is DeadVestapol slideC#+
2-16Lay My Burden DownVestapol slideC#+
2-17Your Close FriendVestapol slideC#+
2-18I'm Going to Leave it in the Hands of the LordVestapol slideC#+


Green Paschal's slide religious numbers in Vestapol sound strong. He doesn't do any left-hand damping to stifle harmonics and it all sounds fine. "Your Close Friend" is an especially strong number. He's a really nice singer, too.

William "Do Boy" Diamond

Canton, Mississippi, 9/15/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-19Hard Time BluesVestapolB+
2-20Just Want to Talk With YouSpanishF-


The liner notes describe William "Do Boy" Diamond as not much of a guitarist, but if you can sing like Diamond could, just a little bit of guitar is all that's needed, and he more than fills the bill. He's a sensational singer with interesting and unusual lyrics and especially sounds good on guitar on "Hard Time Blues", where he is tuned quite low.

Dewey Corley & Walter Miller

Memphis, Tennessee, Summer, 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-21Just I Dream I got on my MindAA
2-22Memphis is a Wonderful CityABflat
2-23Down to ArkansasABflat


Walter Miller was a nice player in A, standard tuning. Dewey Corley, on one-string bass, kazoo and vocals, must have been quite a character. He has the distinction, on "Memphis is a Wonderful City", of doing the very worst kazoo playing I have ever heard, and that includes little kids.

Bud Grant

Thomaston, Georgia, 1969, Spring

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
2-24Rock Me MamaEF+
2-25Freight Train BluesAG#
2-26So SweetAG+
2-27Bud Grant's GruntEF+


Bud Grant was a Georgia player. His "Freight Train Blues" is Blind Boy Fuller's "Lost Lover Blues", a candidate for the most-frequently covered tune in this set. He plays "So Sweet" out of A, standard tuning and it works really well there.

Disk 3

Bud White

Richland, Georgia, 2/2/69

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-01Go Ahead OnEF+
3-02You've Been Gone So LongEF+
3-03White HorsesCross-noteEflat+


Bud White's first two numbers are fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. "White Horses" will make you sit up and pay attention, though, for it is sensational. Identification of the tuning is unusually difficult, for White never plays an open third string from the beginning to the end of the song. Cross-note at last seems the obvious choice for he inflects a bend of the IV note on the third string, and were he in Vestapol, he would be doing that at the first fret, next to the nut, which is unlikely. What a great performance this one is.

George Henry Bussey

Waverly Hall, Georgia, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-04When I'm Sober I'm Drunk BluesGF#-
3-05Mean MistreaterEEflat-
3-06Blues Around My BedEC#
3-07Looking For My WomanAE+


George Henry Bussey is an uncle of Precious Bryant, nee Bussey. Based only on the sample of his work included in the set, he played most often in a style very derivative of Blind Boy Fuller. He was an unusually diffident singer, and sounds very shy about his singing. His two strongest numbers are those where he is tuned the farthest from concert pitch, most particularly "Looking for My Woman", where he is tuned a full fourth low, giving the guitar a very eerie timbre. One trend that is playing out in the course of this set is the non-importance of tuning to concert pitch for the players here. Players are almost never tuned to concert pitch, and are often as much as a minor third or more high or low of concert pitch. There is no reason to believe that players of an earlier era working in the same style placed any greater an emphasis on tuning to concert pitch. It's more important to suit your vocal range than to conform to an externally imposed standard of whatever type.

Jim Bunkley

Geneva, Georgia, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-08Old Red #2Vestapol slideD+
3-09Jack of DiamondsSpanishF+
3-10Them Greasy GreensAG+
3-11Rocking ChairEEflat+


Jim Bunkley sounds like he would have been fun to see in person. His unusual non-slide version of "Jack of Diamonds" is made all the more unusual by being played squarely in the Lydian mode, with a #IV note and major VII note in the scale adhered to throughout the course of the rendition. Rev. John Wilkins' final number at his Saturday afternoon concert set at Port Townsend this year was in the Lydian mode, too.

Tom Turner

Columbus, Mississippi, 9/6/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-12Old BreakdownEC#+
3-13Drop Down Mama # 1SpanishG#+


Tom Turner's two pieces are terrific. His "Old Breakdown" sounds like it comes from the same family as Robert Wilkins' "Rolling Stone" instrumentally, and from "Catfish", vocally and melodically. His thumb-popped bass notes on "Drop Down Mama #1" have the very sound that Son House got in his post-rediscovery playing, when popping bass notes in Spanish tuning.

James Shorter

Senatobia, Mississippi, 8/2/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-14Search Me Lord *(a capella)Aflat+
3-15My Mother Died and Left Me(a capella)E
3-16Consolation(a capella)E+
3-17Home Going(a capella)G-

'*' = w/Jessie Mae Hemphill
James Shorter's a capella religious numbers are wonderful, really one of the high points of the entire collection. "My Mother Died and Left Me" and "Consolation" could not be improved upon, even in one's imagination. It is such beautiful and controlled singing. Jessie Mae Hemphill, who joined Shorter for "Search Me Lord" and a little bit of "Home Going" sounds like a child, very sweet.

Abe McNeil

Memphis, Tennessee, 1962 & Friar's Point, Mississippi, Summer 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-18Better Than MyselfGAflat+
3-19Steady Rollin' ManGAflat+
3-20Drink, Drink, Drink *Cross harpE

'*' = hambone, clapping w/Robert Diggs, harp and vcl
Abe McNeil sounds good in G position in standard tuning, sort of like he started with Tommy McClennan's licks in that position and kept going. Robert Diggs' singing and playing on "Drink, Drink, Drink" are excellent.

Joe Callicott

Nesbit, Mississippi, 9/1/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-21Country BluesCB+
3-22River BluesEEflat-


Joe Callicott sounds wonderful, as always, on his two numbers. He was another beautiful singer.

Johnny Woods w/ Fred McDowell

Senatobia, Mississippi, 8/26/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
3-233 O'Clock in the MorningCross harp, Vestapol slideF-
3-24I's Be TroubledCross harp, Vestapol slideF-


Johnny Woods and Fred McDowell play so well together on all of their material from this period it's as though they shared one mind and had the same impulses simultaneously, translated to work on each one's instrument. Harmonica/guitar duos can't get much better than this.

Disk 4

Robert Diggs

Friar's Point, Mississippi, Summer 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-01Someday BabyCross harpE
4-02Racehorse CharlestonCross harpE
4-03Done Lost My HealthCross harpE
4-04Drive Your CarE (gtr), cross harpE


Robert Diggs was a beautiful harmonica player and singer, with a big, open, relaxed sound on the harp and a much lighter singing voice. His every move on the harmonica bespeaks a very high level of musicianship. He belongs right up there with people like Noah Lewis, Sonny Terry, Alfred Lewis. . . you name it. If I was a harp player, I would be studying his playing.

Cliff Scott

Draneville, Georgia, 3/24/69

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-05Woke Up This MorningSpanish, slideBflat
4-06Long Wavy HairVestapol slideE
4-07Please Come HomeAG#-
4-08Pole Pattin'GG#-


Cliff Scott was evidently a younger player, in his 30s when George Mitchell recorded him. If he's still alive, he could be as young as 70 or in his mid-70s, possibly a candidate for Port Townsend. His "Woke Up This Morning" is essentially the same song as Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues". "Please Come Home" is Blind Boy Fuller's "Lost Lover Blues". "Pole Pattin'" is very old sounding, somewhat akin to a piece like Henry Thomas's "Old Country Stomp". My favorite of Scott's numbers is "Long Wavy Hair".

Jimmy Lee Harris

Phenix City, Alabama, early 1980s

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-09I Wanna RambleVestapolE
4-10Sitting Here Looking 1000 Miles AwayVestapolE-


Jimmy Lee Harris's two numbers are tricky to identify with regard to tuning/position. "I Wanna Ramble" has a vaguely Latin feel, kind of mamboish, with the "Spanish tinge" Jelly Roll Morton mentioned, and Jimmy Lee's brother, Eddie, supplies the guitar accompaniment. Jimmy Lee apparently mastered a technique while in prison, of doing a vocal impression of a blues harp, thus inspiring his fellow inmates to dub him "Harp Boy". When he comes in doing the impression, you really do a double take. Jimmy Lee's second number, "Sitting Here Looking, 1000 Miles Away" brings to mind Ornette Coleman's observation that he realized at a certain point that it was possible to play "sharp in tune and flat in tune". In Jimmy Lee's case, it is "sharp in tune", for every time he comes to the normally flatted seven note in the blues scale, he splits the difference between it and the major seventh note, and since he is singing right on top of his playing and does the very same pitch inflection on the guitar that he does with his voice, there can be no question as to his intent, especially since to get the pitch where he wants it requires a bend (his guitar is in tune).

R. L. Burnside

Coldwater, Mississippi, 8/24/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-11Just Like a Bird Without A FeatherEC+
4-12Skinny WomanSpanishG+
4-13Goin' Down SouthEC#
4-14Poor Black MattieSpanishF#


The R.L. Burnside recordings included here are Burnside's debut recordings and they are spectacular. "Just Like a Bird Without a Feather", tuned quite low, opens with extreme bends and absolute authority, both instrumentally and vocally; it ends with a fade, and it makes you wonder how long Burnside actually played the song. On "Skinny Woman", Burnside indulges in some guitar top rhythm-keeping, a la Bukka White on "Aberdeen Mississippi", and I have never heard the technique used to better effect. "Goin' Down South" is very trancey, and once again, tuned quite low. "Poor Black Mattie" employs a great time lick and is taken at a much quicker tempo than is Robert Belfour's version. Burnside's singing and playing throughout these four tunes could not be improved upon. Whew, George Mitchell must have been so excited when he first heard him and realized what he could do.

Robert Johnson

Skene, Mississippi, 7/2/69

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-15Hold My Body DownVestapol slideD-
4-16Trying to Make It HomeVestapol slideD
4-17Precious LordVestapol slideD
4-18He'll Make a WayVestapolD


The four Robert Johnson numbers, for which he is joined by three of his daughters on vocals, are spectacular. Johnson was a very strong player in Vestapol, with great time, and a strong singer, with a serious-sounding deep voice. When his daughters first come in singing back-up on "Hold My Body Down", the effect is hair-raising. It is yet another reminder of the power that religious music can have.

Robert Longstreet

Starkville, Mississippi, Summer 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-19Sugar MamaCross harpE
4-20Black GalCross harpE
4-21Sloppy DrunkCross harpE
4-22Decoration DayCross harpE


Robert Longstreet was a strong solo harmonica player with a hyper-dramatic vocal delivery, somewhat along the lines of Junior Wells, but with a deeper voice. He sounds like he should be fronting a Chicago blues band.

Fred McDowell w/Johnny Woods

Senatobia, Mississippi, 8/26/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
4-23Shake 'Em On DownVestapol slide, cross harpE-
4-24Mama Says I'm CrazyVestapol slide, cross harpE-


The Fred McDowell/Johnny Woods duo has been discussed previously in this thread. Their two tunes on this disc are among their most exciting.

Disk 5

John Henry Barbee

Chicago, Illinois, 1963

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-01That Ain't ItEE-
5-02Gonna Lose Your MindEE-


John Henry Barbee generates the kind of rhythmic momentum and big sound on his two numbers here that would normally require an entire band to achieve. He was a strong singer who sounded mature. "Gonna Lose Your Mind" especially has some terrific lyrics.

Albert Macon & Robert Thomas

Society Hill, Alabama, early 1980s

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-03Flat Foot BoogieEEflat
5-04Mama Can I Lay It DownEEflat+
5-05How Can You Do ItAAflat+


Albert Macon and Robert Thomas played pretty much right on top of each other, both working out of E position in standard tuning. They create quite a din, and I can see them being in demand for dances or parties.

Jessie Clarence Gorman

Thomaston, Georgia, Spring, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-06John HenryVestapol slideD-
5-07Goin' Up to the Country #1VestapolE
5-08Goin' Up to the Country #2VestapolE


Jessie Clarence Gorman was a relatively younger man at the time he was recorded (born in 1928), and was kind of a shy singer. His 16-bar blues, "Goin' Up to the Country, parts 1 and 2 is a really nice piece in Vestapol that would be worth figuring out.

Will Shade

Memphis, Tennessee, 1962

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-09Dirty DozensEE-
5-10Won't You Send Me JohnCB+
5-11Wine Headed ManEE-
5-12K. C. Blues *G (tnr gtr), cross harpG-

'*' = w/Charlie Burse
Will Shade sounds like a consummate pro, even after you find that he had fallen on hard times during the period in which these recordings were made. His version of "Dirty Dozens" is indeed dirty, the dirtiest version I've heard on record, and he delivers it with great relish. "Won't You Send Me John" bears a resemblance to "I Got Rhythm"--same bridge and similar A parts, in which it substitutes I-I7-IV-IVminor for I-VI-II-V. The recording of "K. C. Blues" with Will Shade switching to harmonica and being joined by Charlie Burse showcases Shade's still-very-fine harmonica playing, and is the most clearly audible recording I've ever heard of Burse on tenor guitar. He sounds really good, and it makes you realize how valuable he must have been as an ensemble rhythm player.

Georgia Fife and Drum Band

Waverly Hall, Georgia, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-13Every Time I Come Aroundn/aAflat+
5-14J. W.'s Specialn/aBflat/Dflat
5-15Old Hen Cackle n/aA
5-16Buck Dancen/an/a


The Georgia Fife and Drum Band was the first such band, I believe, to be found outside of northern Mississippi. Their "Every Time I Come Around" you might know as "You've Gotta Stop Kicking My Dog Around". It was difficult for me to figure out what key "J.W.'s Special" and "Old Hen Cackle" were in, and I'm not at all sure I have it right. The fife in the band is microtonally tuned (or played) and is not easily oriented as even being in a pentatonic scale, for instance.

Como Fife and Drum Band

Como, Mississippi, 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-17Hey Freddien/aE
5-18Late in the Eveningn/aE
5-19Punky Tonyn/aE
5-20Shimmy She Wan/aF#+


The Como Fife and Drum Band is much easier to hear for me. Their song, "Punky Tony" is the song Little Walter recorded as "My Babe".

Maxwell Street Jimmy

Chicago, Illinois, 1963

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-21You Got to Reap What You SowEE-
5-22Everything's Gonna Be AlrightEEflat+


Maxwell Street Jimmy sang with a very smooth, rapid tremolo, and excelled at rapidly trilled hammers on the guitar.

Precious Bryant

Waverly Hall, Georgia, 1969

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-23That's the Way the Good Thing GoEF#
5-24Georgia BuckC position, tuned EflatGCFADBflat
5-25When the Saints Go Marching InEC#+


Precious Bryant was the youngest musician to be included on the set. She sounds very much as she does today, which is very fine, with a sassy sort of vocal delivery. She is really a nice guitarist.

Rosa Lee Hill

Como, Mississippi, 8/23/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
5-26Pork & BeansCross-noteC#
5-27Count the Days I'm GoneCross-noteBflat+
5-28Roll & TumbleCross-noteC#+
5-29Bullying WellCross-noteE


Rosa Lee Hill, Sid Hemphill's daughter, is one of the major finds of the entire set for me. She was a sensational guitarist and very strong singer. She normally (at least on these cuts) tuned significantly low and on "Count The Days I'm Gone", she's tuned almost a diminished fifth low, playing in cross-note at Bflat--that is LOW! The slackness of the strings on the various low-tuned songs allowed for extravagant bends, which she delivers with beautiful consistency and sustain. It is superb blue guitar-playing. I'd rank her with any of the great playing woman blues singers of the past--Geeshie Wiley, Elvie Thomas, Memphis Minnie, you name it, as well as any of the men players from her part of the world. She sounds as good as any of them to me.

Disk 6

Furry Lewis

Memphis, Tennessee, 1962

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-01Good Morning Judge   Vestapol slideC#+
6-02Furry Lewis' Careless LoveVestapol slideC


Furry Lewis is in fine form here, very expansive. "Furry Lewis' Careless Love" is "See that My Grave Is Kept Clean"

Jimmy Lee Williams

Porlan, Georgia, 1977

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-03What Make Grandpa Love Grandma SoVestapol slideEflat-
6-04Have You Ever Seen PeachesVestapol slideC#


Jimmy Lee Williams is terrific. Like the Furry Lewis cuts and the J. W. Warren cuts that follow, the cuts of Jimmy Lee that are offered here are available on a Fat Possum commercially released disc that is devoted wholly to his music, called "Hoot Your Belly", that is reviewed in the Music Reviews section of the board.

J.W. Warren

Ariton, Georgia, 1981 & 1982

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-05Hoboing Into HollywoodDropped-DC#-
6-06Sundown BluesAG#-
6-07Rabbit On A LogVestapolB-
6-08You're Gonna Miss MeVestapolF#-


J. W. Warren likewise sounds excellent. "Sundown Blues" is a Blind Boy Fuller cover. I like "Rabbit On A Log" the best of his tunes; on it, he pretty much plays banjo on the guitar. "You're Gonna Miss Me" is a tough identification, and I don't recall it from J. W.'s CD. I wonder if it is being released for the first time here?

Eddie Harris

Phenix City, Alabama, early 1980s

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-09House on the HillEE
6-10I Have to Love SomebodyEE


Eddie Harris was the brother of Jimmy Lee Harris, who was featured earlier in the collection.

James Davis

Henderson, Georgia, late 1970s

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-11Old Country Rock #1FG
6-12Instrumental #1EG
6-13Who Stole the Lock off the Henhouse DoorEG
6-14Instrumental #4EG


James Davis sounds wonderful, with a beautiful, screamy tone on his electric guitar, and an ensemble that consists, apart from him, of two rocking drummers. They play great dance music, and their last number has a very funky Cajun/Zydeco feel and sound.

Robert Nighthawk

Dundee, Mississippi, 8/28/67

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-15Canned HeatGG
6-16Nighthawk BoogieEEflat+
6-17Down by the WoodshedGG-


Robert Nighthawk--whew, what a player! He was the most boppish of the blues players who ended up playing amplified in Chicago that I have heard, and "Down By The Woodshed", in particular, is hot, hot, hot.

Jessie Mae Hemphill

Dundee, Mississippi, August, 1967

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
6-18Home Going(a capella)F#
6-19I Want to be Ready(a capella)B-
6-20Interviewn/an/a


Jessie Mae Hemphill is joined by an unnamed male singer on "Home Going" (probably James Shorter) and they shadow each other's phrasing so well. Both of her numbers are beautifully sung, but it would have been nice to include something that featured her playing.

Disk 7

Jessie Lee Vortis

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-01Miss MaybelleSpanishF#-
7-02When My Baby Got On BoardSpanishF#


Jessie Lee Vortis' two numbers in Spanish are excellent, and are really tantalizing. It would be interesting to know how many more titles by him were recorded by George Mitchell. "Miss Maybelle", re-titled as "Hoppin' Frog", has been covered by the Otis Brothers, Pat Conte and Bob Guida.

George Hollis

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-03Them Greasy Greens #1F (gtr), unknown (vln)Eflat
7-04Rock and Roll to Milledgevilleunknown (vln)Eflat


George Hollis was a very rough fiddler. On his version of "Greasy Greens #1", he is accompanied by a barely audible guitarist. He sounds like he is cross-tuned for "Rock and Roll to Milledgeville", the title of which I suspect to be a misapprehension of "Rocky Road to Milledgeville".

Willie Rockomo, Bruce Upshaw

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-05Black Rat SwingAA
7-06Tease Me Baby #2Cross harpA
7-07Someday Baby #1Cross harpA
7-08Wonder Why My Baby Treat Me so BadGG
7-09Rosa LeeCross harpA


The cuts by Willie Rockomo and Bruce Upshaw are mixed up with regards to the credits. "Black Rat Swing" is shown as a solo number and it is clearly a guitar/harmonica duet. I believe Upshaw was the harmonica player in the duo, and he was really superb. His solo numbers are excellent.

Buddy Hubbard

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-10I Got A WomanVestapol slideEflat-
7-11So SweetVestapolF#+



Ira "Tiny" Coney

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-12You're Gonna Miss MeAF#+
7-13MamieAF#+
7-14I'm So LonesomeAF#+


Ira "Tiny" Coney was an earnest-sounding fellow who liked to phrase long.

Eddie Hodge

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-15Blood Red RiverCross-noteEflat-
7-16Sitting on Top of the WorldVestapol slideD+
7-17Glory HallelujahVestapol slideD+


Eddie Hodge's "Glory Hallelujah" is more commonly know as "When I Lay My Burden Down"

Pettis Sisters

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-18Jesus is Coming Back to MeFF
7-19Bound for ZionEflatEflat


The Pettis Sisters do some very exciting up-tempo Gospel. Their accompanists sound a bit more uptown than is the norm for this set.

Houston & Sara Mae Stovall

(Unknown location and date)

TrackTitleTuning / positionPitch
7-20You Told Me BabyEE
7-21Sweet as an Apple on a TreeCross harpE
7-22Juke #2Cross harpE
7-23Woke Up this MorningEE
7-24Tell Me You Love MeAA


I believe that in the Houston & Sara Mae Stovall duo, Sara Mae played the guitar and Houston played the harmonica and sang. He was a very expert harmonica player and really exciting, especially on "Juke #2". "You Told Me Baby" is more commonly known as "But That's All Right", I think. "Tell Me You Love Me" is the Jimmy Reed song, "Honest I Do", and it is sort of a shambles, due to the guitarist accompanying it as though it were a 12-bar blues, which it certainly is not. It's an odd choice to conclude such a glorious collection of music.