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Fiddle Blues

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Hi all,
We have long had a Mandolin Blues thread, and it just didn't seem right not to have a Fiddle Blues thread as well.  So as not to be hoggish, I am just going to get the ball rolling by naming five of my favorite fiddle blues performances.  They don't even scratch the surface of what has been done.
   * "All Night Long" by Leonard Rutherford, fiddle and Dick Burnett, guitar ( I think).  This might not only be my favorite fiddle blues, it may be my favorite fiddling.  Rutherford's slippery note-making is kind of miraculous.  It is just perfect.
   * "Hometown Blues" by Jimmy McCarroll with the Roane County Ramblers.  What a killer!  The band's heavy time is just mean and nasty, and Jimmy McCarroll was sensational.
   * "Rolling Mill Blues" by Peg Leg Howell with a mystery fiddler (not Eddie Anthony).  This is a very beautiful song with great upper register fiddling by whoever did it.
   * "Georgia Stomp" by Andrew and Jim Baxter.  Everything these guys did was wonderful, but this is the first one I ever heard, on The Anthology of American Folk Music, so it has a special pull for me.
   * "Stop and Listen Blues, #2", with Walter Vinson on guitar and vocal and Lonnie Chatmon on fiddle.  As with the Baxters, the Mississippi Sheiks were responsible for a lot of great music.  You all probably have your own favorites.
All best,

My PegLeg Howell CD says that the fiddle on Rolling Mill is possibly Ollie Griffin.  By the way, I have just been reading Lost Delta Found and there is a bit of interesting stuff in there about Son Sims, who was the sole fiddler that they found at that time (1941) in that area of the Delta.  I think that even 10 years earlier, they might have found more fiddlers.

Some of my favorites:
Dickson County Blues by Arthur Smith, also his Fiddlers Blues
KC Railroad blues by the Baxters -- gorgeous!  And I like Bamalong Blues too
Frisson de Samedi Apres Midi by Wade Fruge -- older generation Cajun fiddler playing the blues, a tune he learned from a black street fiddler
Blues a Bebe -- Creole fiddler Bebe Carriere, Dewey Balfa also played a killer version of this
Jelly Roll Blues by Butch Cage, very funky but wonderful
Leake County Blues -- Leake County Revellers -- hillbilly blues with a lovely "Careless Love" section
I also love Jug Band Blues by Sara Martin, with Clifford Hayes fiddling.

There is much, much more.  By the way, I am looking for suggestions for material to teach, discuss, listen to, etc for my fiddle class at Blues Week next summer. I always make a source material CD for the students and am always looking for new stuff to put on it!
Suzy T.

Bunker Hill:
This isn't really on topic but the compilation that got me taking notice of the instrument in a 'blues setting' was called The Country Fiddlers. Released by Roots in November 1968 it had a jokey cover photo of Johann Stauss's statue in Vienna with a dirty great red X through it. The tracks were:

Andrew & Jim Baxter - The Moore Girl
Chasey Collins - Walking Blues
Jack Kelly?s South Memphis Jug Band - Highway No. 61 Blues
Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony - Georgia Crawl
Mississippi Sheiks - Lonely One In This Town/Sittin' On Top Of The World
T C Johnson &? Tom Nelson -T C Johnson Blues
Tom Nelson - Blue Coat Blues
State Street Boys - Rustlin' Man
Peg Leg Howell & His Gang - Too Tight Blues/Peg Leg Stomp
T C Johnson Boys - Violin Blues
Texas Alexander - Seen Better Days/Frost Texas Tornado Blues
Mobile Strugglers - Fattenin' Frogs/Memphis Blues

Rather eclectic selection for an early attempt at getting guitar/harmonica centric 'country blues' fans interested...but it worked for me despite my earlier vehement hate of the instrument on Charlie Patton recordings! :(

I know what you mean about Henry "Son" Sims' playing on the Charlie Patton stuff, it still doesn't feel all that compelling to me.  Still, I think it is good to study up on all available black fiddling from the 20's because there isn't all that much of it!
I just finished reading "Lost Delta Found" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and got out my copy of the old time fiddle and banjo music by Nathan Frazier and Frank Patterson, which John Work recorded just prior to the field trip where he recorded Muddy Waters, it is definitely not blues music but is one of only a handful of examples of black musicians playing what we think of as hillbilly music -- really, the old time dance music from before the 20th century. Actually it sounds very much like other early oldtime music from the south, very modal.  I think I can still hear some of the Scots-Irish antecedents in the melodies.  To my ears, I can't tell the race of the players, only that the playing is not very slick, but that can be said of almost all the field recordings of fiddle/banjo music that I've heard!

Hi all,
I recently picked up a CD, "Big Joe Williams--Back To The Country", Testament Records TCD 5013, with some outstanding Blues fiddling on it by Jimmy Brown, a transplanted Mississippian residing in St. Louis at the time of the recording (1965) whom I had never heard of before.  The entire CD is superb, with a very generous program of 21 songs and a lot of variety.  Big Joe and Jimmy Brown are also joined by the harmonica player Willie Lee Harris, and on one cut, Big Joe is joined by Bill Foster on second guitar, about whom the notes say nothing.
Jimmy Brown's tone on the fiddle is kind of rough; it has a great edge to it, and some of what he plays brings to mind the playing of Dad Tracy on one of Big Joe's earliest sessions.  Brown shines throughout the program but has particularly strong moments on "See See Rider', one of the best versions of that warhorse that I have heard, "Desert Blues", and "Breakdown", a simple country dance instrumental on which he and Big Joe really tear it up.
One of the things that makes the CD wear particularly well with repeated listenings is its range.  Rather than running the same ensemble through the entire program, the producer, Pete Welding, ran through different combinations of people on different tunes.  All three of the performers are featured on vocals during the course of the program, Big Joe sits out a tune or two, and Jimmy Brown plays guitar on a couple of numbers as well.  I believe the CD may just recently have been re-issued.  If you are a blues fiddler or just like that sound you may want to check it out.  Recordings by blues fiddlers in the post-60s period are not all that common.  I was able to find the CD at Roots and Rhythm for a very reasonable price.
All best,


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