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Author Topic: Lemon's piano recordings  (Read 3603 times)

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LoneWolf

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Lemon's piano recordings
« on: March 31, 2007, 09:19:39 AM »
Who played that piano?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2007, 10:00:25 AM »
B&GR4 give the pianist as George Perkins which has been consitent throughout all editions of the work dating back to 1964, so guess came from Paramount files. Does anybody know anything about him?

tommersl

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2007, 10:07:57 AM »
Lemon is not really playing the guitar on those. Also guys that knew him in person have mentioned that he never played with others. If so, why would he record with a piano player? Which makes me think he might be the pianist himself!

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2007, 11:02:50 PM »
The original Paramount ad for "Black Snake Dream" blues credits "Blind Lemon Jefferson and His Guitar. Piano accompaniment by Geo. Perkins."
Lemon does play guitar on the reverse side, also advertised -- "Right of Way Blues" -- and I see no reason to doubt the other part. Lemon, of course, does play guitar with a pianist on "How Long," and I believe that pianist remains unidentified.

The ad is November 2004 in the Blues Images Calendar, BTW.
Chris

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2007, 09:06:21 PM »
Lemon is not really playing the guitar on those. Also guys that knew him in person have mentioned that he never played with others. If so, why would he record with a piano player? Which makes me think he might be the pianist himself!

Please clarify. If you make statements like that we do require attribution. From where did you acquire your information? This is necessary to elevate the site above the level of an informal chat room. Many thanks.

tommersl

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2007, 09:50:09 PM »
Lemon is not really playing the guitar on those. Also guys that knew him in person have mentioned that he never played with others. If so, why would he record with a piano player? Which makes me think he might be the pianist himself!

Please clarify. If you make statements like that we do require attribution. From where did you acquire your information? This is necessary to elevate the site above the level of an informal chat room. Many thanks.
To think I was just curious about the Carl Martin vid and I got a "free" informal chat!!! Unfortunately, no news about Martin's vid source! My last post: I was assuming everybody here read Tom Shaw comments about Lemon. It appeared on almost every source about Lemon. Just to verify that my memory is correct I just re-read the liner notes to Yazoo-1069 and I saw it is still there!

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2007, 11:08:47 AM »
I was assuming everybody here read Tom Shaw comments about Lemon. It appeared on almost every source about Lemon. Just to verify that my memory is correct I just re-read the liner notes to Yazoo-1069 and I saw it is still there!
Which comments in particular? I have dug out the first interview Shaw ever gave to Lou Curtiss "Tom Shaw Talks" (Living Blues 9, summer 1972 p. 24-27) and quickly skimmed through Steve Calt's sleeve notes to the Shaw LP "Blind Lemon?s Buddy" (Blue Goose BG-2008, 1973) as well as his 1986 notes to the Jefferson double Yazoo LP and have to confess I don't really know what I'm expected to see.

Apologies for being a little dense in this matter.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2007, 06:50:57 PM »
Tommersl - I just read Stephan Calt's notes to Yazoo L1069 cover to cover and I'm completely mystified. Can you give us any direct quotes?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2007, 06:52:01 PM by Rivers »

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 08:50:35 PM »
I'd guess he means the quote from Shaw: "He played all the time by his-self, wasn't nobody could play with him."
Chris

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2007, 03:20:27 AM »
Context is everything, Shaw is clearly talking about street playing, busking for money at that point in the narrative. What went down in the studio, at a session Lemon (presumably) agreed to up front, is a very different matter.

Apologies but I get real annoyed when people post opinion as fact, assumption as history. There is so much incorrect information circulating on the net I don't think we want this site to become another source for it.

Creative interpretation of something credible that's been published elsewhere is fine. So long as the original source is mentioned, and what you're proposing is presented as personal opinion.

Otherwise you WILL be called on it!  ;)

Bunker, I can't find anything on George Perkins. The accompanist index in D&G has only the one entry. tommersl's theory that it might be Lemon his own self playing is interesting. What do we know about Lemon's ability on piano? We do know he had used a pseudonym before, on the gospel recordings.

Listening to Black Snake Dream there are a couple of points where the piano and vocal come close to getting out of sync. Sounds to me like two guys but could be one.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2007, 04:54:24 AM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2007, 10:42:22 AM »
Well, Googling doesn't help. The only actual info/discussion that shows up about George Perkins that's not merely an instrument credit for CDs is this thread right here on Weenie.  ;D

According to David Evans, in Big Road Blues, the composition for five of Lemon's songs at the session where the piano accompaniment (or playing) occurred was in fact credited to George Perkins. But, as Evans notes, this includes "Right of Way Blues," which seems to be a Lemon composition to me. I don't have the discographical info at hand but I'm imagining these five would be:

Rising High Water Blues, Weary Dogs Blues, Right of Way Blues, Teddy Bear Blues and Black Snake Dream Blues.

At least two of which seem to me to be more likely Lemon compositions.

Is this a good time to ask whether the mysterious composer Lamoore has ever been unmasked?

Also, just as some additional context to the Shaw quote: In the longer quotes I've looked at, Shaw is not just talking about Lemon playing alone or as a street player, but being effusive in his praise for Lemon's playing overall (and rightly so ;) ). So part of this is Shaw saying in effect, nobody could touch him, nobody could play with him.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2007, 11:09:51 AM »
Rivers, Uncle Bud -- just want to say for the record that I agree with both of you -- me making a guess on what quote tommersl was talking about didn't mean I agreed with him.

Also, on those piano recordings, Lemon addresses the piano player as "Mr. Piano Whupper," and it doesn't sound to me as if he's addressing himself.
Chris

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 12:26:17 PM »
Yes, on Teddy Bear Blues. "Whup that piano, Mr. Piano Whupper. Whup it till it breaks." Which is followed by (somewhat hilariously to me for some reason, but perhaps it's just my twisted sense of humour) "Ah, I feel just like, a teddy bear."

Still, Tommersl's suggestion that maybe it was Lemon playing piano was intriguing to me. I went back and listened. I have to admit I often skip over Lemon's piano-accompanied tracks, never much liked them, at least not compared to "real" Lemon. I'd have to say it doesn't sound like self-accompanied piano and vocal to me. This is particularly true with Teddy Bear, where the piano accompaniment under the vocal is often relatively intricate and doesn't seem like the kind of thing a mere piano dabbler would pull off under his singing.

The other thing is, surely someone out of Lemon's acquaintances who've been interviewed about him would have mentioned if Lemon played any piano. The quality of the playing on the tracks from this session is not just a guitar player punching out chords. If Lemon could play like that, piano would likely have popped up again in more of his recordings, or at least when he was performing, hanging with other musicians etc.

Given the lack of information on George Perkins, however, I do wonder if it's an alias. Perhaps a pianist under contract with another label? But there's that speculation Rivers pops a vein over.  ;D

Offline dj

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2007, 02:09:28 PM »
It's interesting that George Perkins was listed on the Paramount ad for "Black Snake Dream".  That could imply that he was well known enough to be a drawing card in his own right.  Did he perhaps have a career in jazz or in black vaudeville?  Anyone have a jazz discography?   

Offline Rivers

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Re: Lemon's piano recordings
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2007, 04:22:59 PM »
banjochris, I knew that... should have expressed myself better.

dj, one of the first places I searched for George P was redhotjazz.com archives. While they are certainly not complete they're pretty good. Got no hits. Whoever he is he's a top player. I like Uncle Bud's suggestion he might have been someone else under another contract. We need input from a piano player with an encyclopedic knowledge of the players of the day.

 


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