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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => SOTM - Song Of The Month => Topic started by: Prof Scratchy on June 19, 2015, 03:14:24 AM

Title: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 19, 2015, 03:14:24 AM
SONG OF THE MOMENT 19th June - RED CROSS STORE

My song of the moment is Red Cross Store  Blues. I first encountered it many years ago on Leadbelly?s Library of Congress recordings, where the song is prefaced by a question from Alan Lomax about blues in general, and then about this song in particular. Here is that recording, and skip to about 3:20 minutes in if you want to go straight to the song:

http://youtu.be/X5Wzilk9NLY (http://youtu.be/X5Wzilk9NLY)

So, according to Leadbelly, The Red Cross Store Blues was a blues about avoiding military service in the First World War. But was it? Leadbelly recorded the song in 1940. The song first appeared on record in 1933, and here?s Walter Roland singing it:

http://youtu.be/9fFlziVtAN8 (http://youtu.be/9fFlziVtAN8)

This version has nothing to do with conscription. Instead it?s a song about poverty and the singer?s reluctance to accept welfare of any kind. Walter wasn?t short of lyrics for this theme, so he recorded a guitar version at the same session. Here it is:

http://youtu.be/yjRxZ3cVDBY (http://youtu.be/yjRxZ3cVDBY)

In both of these versions, Walter Roland laments the fact that he ?cannot go to Hills?, he would have to go the Red Cross Store instead. Hill?s, I learned from Guido Van Rijn?s book ?Roosevelt?s Blues?, was a grocery store located opposite the Red Cross Store in Birmingham, Alabama. American Weenies will probably know Hill?s by the name of the grocery chain which eventually took it over, Winn-Dixie. But if you look online, there are still some traces of Hill?s in Alabama (see attachments).

Both Walter Roland tracks were, according to Godrich and Dixon, recorded in New York on Monday 17th July 1933. Lucile Bogan must have travelled with Roland to the big city, as she was present to record her next hit song, coincidentally entitled Red Cross Man:

http://youtu.be/1xAI6cf4th8 (http://youtu.be/1xAI6cf4th8)

Lucile being Lucile, the lyrics just can?t help but sound salacious. The song certainly takes on a different flavour the way she sings it, and Walter Roland gets another outing on piano. The following day, Walter?s pal Sonny Scott waxed his version of Red Cross Blues. Is it Walter or Sonny playing  the guitar this time?:

http://youtu.be/k4HbJmcbRf4 (http://youtu.be/k4HbJmcbRf4)

1933 was the height of the depression, when people often had to rely on handouts from the Red Cross Store if they were to survive. Small wonder that another Red Cross Blues, an entirely different  song, was issued in short order, this time sung by Walter Davis, who recorded it in Chicago on August 2 1933. It must have been successful, as he was back in the studio in December recording Red Cross Blues No.2:

http://youtu.be/eQKaeA7Yiz4 (http://youtu.be/eQKaeA7Yiz4)

As already stated, this is an entirely different song from the Walter Roland approach, both lyrically and melodically. Walter Davis seems to have been appreciative of the Red Cross Store, and optimistic too about better times ahead. There?s no sense of pride about not accepting welfare - he?s happy that it?s there, to tide him over until the price of cotton goes up next year as forecast. Nonetheless, the support from the Red Cross isn?t enough, and he resolves to head back south where you can raise everything you need to eat.

Josh White, it turns out, was less optimistic. In his version of the Davis song, recorded in New York on 6 March 1934, he sings that he?s a ??.hard luck man - welfare?s helping everybody, but don?t give me no helping hand?. Josh White entitled his song Welfare Blues.

http://youtu.be/jO7jurQmQUs (http://youtu.be/jO7jurQmQUs)

Now, at this juncture, let?s backtrack a little, and concentrate on the melody and refrain of the Walter Roland/ Lucile Bogan/ Sonny Scott songs (and indeed of the Leadbelly version which he claimed dated from 1917). Now, it?s generally believed that the Robert Johnson song Sweet Home Chicago was based either on Kokomo Arnold?s Old Original Kokomo Blues, recorded in September 1934, or on Scrapper Blackwell?s 1928 recording of Kokomo Blues - or a combination of the two. Whilst this is no doubt the case, I wonder if RJ was exposed to Red Cross Store in one of its versions, and whether or not he might even have had a version of it himself. Nobody will ever know (pause for collective sigh of relief), but there is a clue in the recorded works of Calvin Frazier and Sampson Pittman who both are said to have ?run with? RJ and Johnny Shines when the two lived briefly in Detroit. Calvin Frazier in particular appears to have ?borrowed? quite a lot from Robert Johnson. Frazier and Pittman were recorded in 1938 for the Library of Congress. Each of them had a song called Welfare Blues. Pittman?s version bears no resemblance at all to the Walter Roland song, nor to the Water Davis one, but it?s such a great recording, I have to include it. He nails the process of claiming welfare, where they open a case file, put  you in an office and make you wait all day. In his accompaniment he saves his use of the slide until the last moment, hitting you on the nose with the surprise of it.

http://youtu.be/V4wCnusMI_Y (http://youtu.be/V4wCnusMI_Y)

Calvin Frazier?s Welfare Blues, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the Walter Roland song melodically. As well as having a go at welfare, he takes a poke at the WPA too. The accompaniment shows the extent of Robert Johnson?s influence on Calvin Frazier?s playing, or maybe they both went to the same guitar teacher? Anyway, based on the evidence of this Calvin Frazier recording, I?m prepared to wager frankie?s not inconsiderable guitar collection that RJ might possibly could have maybe once heard the Walter Roland track perhaps!

http://youtu.be/UMvgdjhKnF8 (http://youtu.be/UMvgdjhKnF8)

Leaving such conjecture behind, there was another Welfare Blues recording in 1938, this time by Speckled Red. Mr Perryman was clearly unacquainted with Hill?s grocery store. For him, it sounds like he?d rather ?go to the hills?, though I have difficulty making out the rest of the line as he sings it. See if you can make out what he?s singing:

http://youtu.be/JvBWaZrzJ1M (http://youtu.be/JvBWaZrzJ1M)

 
Let?s fast forward a couple of years to 1940 (the same year Leadbelly recorded for Lomax). Over in Chicago, Sonny Boy Williamson (the first, not the second) recorded his Welfare Store Blues:

http://youtu.be/LudDK3Gux4s (http://youtu.be/LudDK3Gux4s)

Here we find ourselves fairly and squarely back in Walter Roland territory both melodically and lyrically, and I think the song really lends itself to that early small combo approach, leaving the other versions we?ve heard stylistically in another world.

The Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee version of The Red Cross Store, recorded in 1942, is up next:

http://youtu.be/P070seSUHKQ (http://youtu.be/P070seSUHKQ)
This version is interesting because it places the song in 1929, when President Hoover was still in power, and before Walter Roland?s version was recorded. Brownie?s reason for not going to the Red Cross Store was because he ?had a girl in the white folks? yard?. He also refers to an inducement (a can of cigarettes) to go to the Red Cross Store, whereafter he was ?put on a train? by President Hoover. This echoes a theme central to the Leadbelly version of the song. In Leadbelly?s intro he talks of the inducements that would be offered to men who agreed to enlist.

Mississippi Fred McDowell has our next take on the Red Cross Store theme:

http://youtu.be/RKcLdxE5t2k (http://youtu.be/RKcLdxE5t2k)

This recording was made at the Gaslight in 1971. His playing approach couldn?t be further away from the versions we?ve heard so far. Is this a completely different song, or is it a very distant cousin of the Walter Roland recording? As we?ll discover later, it?s a version that has endured to at least one present day performer. In 1959, 12 years before Fred McDowell?s Gaslight performance, Alan Lomax had been on the road in the company of Shirley Collins. Some years ago she presented a show at the Edinburgh Festival in which she described their trip. She talked about discovering Fred McDowell in a woodland clearing in the Mississippi Hill Country. Apparently Alan Lomax?s jaw dropped in awe as soon as he heard Fred McDowell play a note. Listening to this performance you can understand why. She also talked about meeting up with Forrest City Joe in Hughes Arkansas, where Lomax recorded this next version of Red Cross Store:

http://youtu.be/idErDB1bN-Y (http://youtu.be/idErDB1bN-Y)

Well, we?re getting  closer in our story to the present day, but there are a couple of more examples I?d like to  share. The first of these is an example of how an old song from the 1930?s can be brought up to date by forgetting all about Roosevelt and changing the name to Nixon. Here?s Thomas Shaw?s Richard Nixon?s Welfare Blues:

http://youtu.be/XzEcM7wDm_Y (http://youtu.be/XzEcM7wDm_Y)


Thomas Shaw locates the Richard Nixon?s Welfare Store ?on the hill?, which is clearly his recollection of Walter Rolands Hill?s Grocery Store on the 1933 recording.

Recorded by George Mitchell, Lonzie Thomas prefers ?Hillary?s Store? to the Red Cross alternative. The lyrics to the song are here (thanks, Johnm): http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=6280.msg66154#msg66154 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=6280.msg66154#msg66154)
And here is Lonzie?s performance:

http://youtu.be/ijTw5EWIO-Q (http://youtu.be/ijTw5EWIO-Q)


So there we have it. Two songs  by two Walters, Roland and Davis, recorded within weeks of each other in 1933. Both good songs, the Roland one turned out to be the VHS, whilst the Davis song remained the Betamax. Roland?s Red Cross Store/Welfare Store and its derivatives is a song about conscription, a song in praise of welfare, a song that rails against welfare, a song where the singer would rather go to Hill?s, to the hills, to the hill, or to Hillary?s. It?s set in the presidencies of Wilson, of Hoover, of Roosevelt, of Nixon. What do you think? With regard to the Walter Roland take on the Red Cross Store theme, did it suddenly appear out of nowhere with the three versions recorded at the 1933 New York session? Or did the song predate that, as Leadbelly and Brownie McGhee had it? And what?s your favourite version? There are probably more that I haven?t found.

One thing is certain, Red Cross Store is a theme that has survived in live performance for upwards of 80 years and counting, for which the following recent video of Fred McDowell?s song is submitted as evidence:

http://youtu.be/1wiSXQ0mPuQ (http://youtu.be/1wiSXQ0mPuQ)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Parlor Picker on June 19, 2015, 07:41:20 AM
>> Apparently Alan Lomax?s jaw dropped in awe as soon as he heard Fred McDowell play a note.

And Shirley Collins said in a talk I saw her give that Lomax wrote one word in his notebook: "Perfect!".

That's Fred for you.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 19, 2015, 08:03:28 AM
Thanks very much for this very detailed post on "Red Cross Store", Professor.  It is going to take a while just to listen through all of the versions, but I'm looking forward to the perspective that will give.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: One-Eyed Ross on June 19, 2015, 08:29:07 AM
Great stuff, perfessor! 

As an aside, my dad, who spent some time riding the rails & living the life of a rambling "tramp" during portions of the 30s -80s, always said that Salvation Army was far better than Red Cross or the Mission kitchens.  (He had to give up riding boxcars when his back got so bad he couldn't hop into a car without using a five gallon bucket).

Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: dj on June 19, 2015, 10:32:51 AM
Roy Dunn does a version of Red cross Store on his 1972 Trix LP Know'd Them All.  It's based on the Walter Roland version.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: David Kaatz on June 19, 2015, 10:53:15 AM
The Josh White link fails here and directly on YouTube. I found this alternative, maybe someone can edit the original post?
http://youtu.be/uQerj_3UL5g (http://youtu.be/uQerj_3UL5g)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 19, 2015, 11:59:08 AM
Thanks davek. The original link seems to be working OK where I am. I think this is just a  pesky youtube thing. Thanks for posting the alternative.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harry on June 19, 2015, 12:20:12 PM
Great song Prof Scratchy. I found the lyrics for the Walter Roland versions. Very accurate I think. Maybe they are on WC already but I couldn't find them.


RED CROSS STORE - WALTER ROLAND

Said me and my good girl talked last night, me and her talked for hours,
She wanted me to go to the Red Cross Store, and get a sack of that Red Cross flour,
I told her: "No". Great Lord, said: "Woman I sure don't want to go",
Say: "I have to go to Hill's 'cause I, got to go to that Red Cross Store".

Say you know them Red Cross folks there they, sure do treat you mean,
Don't want to give you nothin' but, two - three cans of beans,
Now I told 'em: "No". Great Lord girl, said: "I don't want to go",
I said: "You know I cannot go to Hill's, I'm got to go yonder to that Red Cross Store".

But you know the governor done take it in charge now said he gon' treat, everybody right,
He gon' give 'em two cans of beans now, and one little can of tripe,
Now I told 'em: "No". Great Lord girl, says: "I don't want to go",
"I think I better wait till I get a job and go to Hill's, 'cause other than that I've got to go to that Red Cross Store".

Say you go up there early in the mornin', said he ask you: "Boy, how you feel?"
Gettin' ready to give you a nickel's worth of rice and a, bag of that boultin' meal.
Now I told him: "No". Great Lord girl, says: "I don't want to go",
Says: "You know I cannot go to Hill's, I'm got to go yonder to that Red Cross Store".

But you know say I got girl now says she gon', get herself a job,
She gon' take care of me now, while the times is hard,
And I told her: "Yes". Great Lord, "Then I won't have to go",
I said: "When you get paid off we'll go to Hill's, I won't have to go to that Red Cross Store".

But you know say a girl told me this mornin' that she loved me 'cause I, work two days a week,
I told her I worked for the Red Cross, didn't get nothin' but somethin' to eat.
She told me: "No". Great Lord, says: "Man I don't want to go",
She said: "But are you is carryin' me to Hill's" says; I say: "I take you to that Red Cross Store".

RED CROSS STORE No. 2 - WALTER ROLAND

Say you know I had a dream last night that I, had never dreamt before,
I dreamt about that head clerk, down in the Red Cross Store,
And I told 'em: "No". Great Lord, says: "Girl, I can't go",
Says: "I cannot go to Hill's, but I can go to the Red Cross Store".

Said you know that woman I got now you know, she won't treat me right,
Every time I go home now, she want to fuss and fight,
Now I tell her: "No". Great Lord, "I can't go",
Says: "You know I cannot go to Hill's, but I can take you to that Red Cross Store".

Say you know they give you something to eat at the Red Cross you have to, go get it 'fore eleven,
They done moved off of Seventeenth Street to Third Avenue, Thirteen-O-Seven.
And I told 'em: "No". Great Lord, says: "Girl, I can't go",
Says: "You know I cannot go to Hill's but I can, go to that Red Cross Store".


Says I done told you once now says I'm, sure gon' tell you twice,
Says I don't want you keep arguin' with me, about the Red Cross rice.
And I told her: "No". Great Lord, "Girl I can't go",
Say: "You know I cannot go to Hill's, but I can take you to that Red Cross Store".

Say you know I'm gon' sing this here verse now and, I sure ain't gonna sing no more,
?Cause my wife and children is hungry and I, 'spect I'm gonna have to go,
And holler: "Oh, Great Lord I'm gon' have to go",
Say: "You know I just well's to go home and get my crocus sack, go up yonder to that Red Cross Store".

But you know there?s one thing it's certain is that, all these people see,
The Red Cross don't give you every thing you want, they give some thing you need,
And I told 'em: "No". Great Lord, says: "I can't go",
Says: "You know I cannot go to Hill's, I've got to go to the Red Cross Store".
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harry on June 19, 2015, 01:02:38 PM
I came up with a quick, improvised Walter Roland based piano version
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Lastfirstface on June 19, 2015, 01:51:32 PM
In those Walter Roland lyrics, shouldn't "boultin' meal" be "bolted meal"?
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 19, 2015, 02:08:16 PM
Also, it would be a "croker" sack, not a "crocus" sack in "Red Cross Blues, No. 2".
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 19, 2015, 03:40:41 PM
Great post, Prof, and a great topic! A real "hiding in plain sight" moment...  can't wait to get some time to sit down with some of these recordings.

Nice take on the song, Harry - I just wish I could hear the vocal better...  I'm sure it's tricky to get the right balance with a piano.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: waxwing on June 19, 2015, 04:46:12 PM
Wow, professer, exhaustively researched. You must have retired. (Heh, heh) Really great work.

Also, it would be a "croker" sack, not a "crocus" sack in "Red Cross Blues, No. 2".
All best,
Johnm

You're right, Johnm, he does pronounce it "croker sack". Having used the word as part of a jug band name, I found out the derivation is from the original "crocus sack", as crocus bulbs and crocus pollen were heavily traded in colonial slave times as a replacement for saffron from India. No doubt this transcriber, for some reason, chose the original rather than the common colloquial pronunciation by which the sacks were known in later years.

Wax
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 19, 2015, 07:36:24 PM
Hi Waxwing,
I would say Walter Roland was not exceptional in pronouncing it "croker sack", since I have never heard any blues musician or Old-Time musician pronounce the item in question as anything other than a "croker sack".  I have never heard it referred to as a crocus sack.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Old Man Ned on June 19, 2015, 08:01:45 PM
Great post Prof!  Can't help thinking how still relevant this is today with the rising number of food banks in the UK.  And the time span of the recordings shows just how hard and deep the depression hit and remained with people.

My favourite out of these is a toss up between Walter Roland's original version and Sampson Pitman's.  Regarding Speckled Red's version, after 'go to the hills..' I'm hearing 'to plough'...Could be a reference to the Mississippi Hill Country and preferring to work the land rather than go to the Red Cross store.  Just thought..
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 20, 2015, 04:15:24 AM
Great version, harry. Really wish I could play piano! Old Man Ned - thanks for completing the Speckled Red line for me. I think you're hearing it right. I agree on your favorites, but I would add the Sonny Boy Williamson one too. Wax - when you're retired too, you'll have time to read Guido van Rijn's book! Highly recommended.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: uncle bud on June 20, 2015, 06:56:14 AM
Epic post, perfesser. Nicely done. I too am looking forward to exploring all these versions and their content, but will say Lonzie Thomas continues to be among my favourite players ever.

I thought you were playing some piano?
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 20, 2015, 07:05:10 AM
Yes UB, but not properly like Harry!
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 20, 2015, 11:21:51 AM
Leaving such conjecture behind, there was another Welfare Blues recording in 1938, this time by Speckled Red. Mr Perryman was clearly unacquainted with Hill?s grocery store. For him, it sounds like he?d rather ?go to the hills?, though I have difficulty making out the rest of the line as he sings it. See if you can make out what he?s singing:

He sings that last line, with some variations throughout, as: "I'd rather go to the hills and plow, don't like no welfare store."
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 20, 2015, 06:39:53 PM
Thanks for the song history, Professor Scratchy - I was only familiar with the Fred Mcdowell song and doh! I thought he wrote it. Enjoyed being introduced to the Leadbelly,  Sonny Boy Williamson and Thomas Shaw?s Richard Nixon?s Welfare Blues.

Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 23, 2015, 06:31:58 AM
Thanks so much for the topic and post, Prof.  I've made it through the different versions now.  Stand-outs for me were Leadbelly's time, Walter Davis's harmonization and over-all sound, and for attitude, groove and point of view, Lonzie Thomas.  Winner for me was Lonzie.  A couple of thoughts occur:
   * I can certainly understand someone turning up his nose at canned tripe.  Could there be a more unappealing offering?!
   * The songs focusing on "not wanting to go", with the implication of wounded pride and resentment at needing help are more sympathetic and understandable to me from an emotional point of view than those like the Josh White song, which seem to say, "Isn't it great that this vital service is being provided?"

Listening to these songs enabled me to get the one missing point I had been unable to hear in the Lonzie Thomas version, which ended up being "one little can of tripe", so thanks additionally for providing the deeper context that made it possible to hear that.
All best,
Johnm 
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 23, 2015, 07:32:22 AM
They do very nice canned tripe in  Spain!
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 23, 2015, 07:43:28 AM
Wasn't familiar with the Red Cross as an ongoing welfare type operation, doesn't sound like a pleasant experience, but wanted to give tip of the hat mention to their emergency services at least in the 90's.

They actually came with the fire department in NYC and relocated fire displaced tenants to a hotel for free, myself included,and food for a week, had clothing replacement plan. 
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Lastfirstface on June 23, 2015, 07:55:08 AM
The Red Cross has been back in the news a lot lately, and not for good reasons:

https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes (https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 23, 2015, 08:06:34 AM
Hi all,
Re good canned tripe in Spain:  live and learn!  One other thing I thought was that Leadbelly's version was the only one that assigned the Red Cross Store a function having to do with military conscription.  Do you think he was just mistaken about that, or that, as an older musician he had experienced a use of the stores that was later phased out?  Saying "I don't want to go" has a lot more weight in the context of conscription than in the context of getting flour and canned tripe.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: One-Eyed Ross on June 23, 2015, 08:26:07 AM
Perhaps, John (and this is just a scientific wild azz guess):  Draft registration started 5 June 1917.  Is it possible that the Red Cross stores were used as registrars?  Although, that brings in to play the whole Red Cross store being in use 11 - 12 years before the depression started...

Poetic license on Leadbelly's part?
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 23, 2015, 08:54:51 AM
The red cross has a history of partnership with the military:
http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/military-partnership (http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history/red-cross-american-history/military-partnership)

If I heard right Leadbelly says in the introduction that this was a true story song and that the red cross store was where one signed up for the military.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 23, 2015, 09:29:40 AM
You're right, that is what Leadbelly says in the song intro, but there is nothing in the linked history that you gave, Harriet, that indicates that the Red Cross was ever involved in any way with military conscription.  Perhaps it was something that was done locally, for reasons of sharing space or for some other reason, just in the locale that Leadbelly resided in--there's no indication that the practice was nationwide or part of public policy.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 23, 2015, 09:39:45 AM
This is an interesting article:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2202 (http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2202)

I seem to remember some talk in the Calt/Wardlow Patton book about people being conscripted for levee work during the 1927 flood; this article talks about the Red Cross' participation in that. Perhaps that's where some of the resentment originated.
Chris
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 23, 2015, 10:40:05 AM
Maybe the redcross at that Leadbelly's time had stores to recruit volunteers for their own forces in the "partnership" which I gather was aiding enlisted men?

Here's some ww1 redcross recruitment posters in this link - it never says they recruit for the military so I misconstrued the meaning of the leadbelly's description and I am no clearer about that.

https://www.google.com/search?q=red+cross+world+war+1+sign+up&espv=2&biw=1263&bih=848&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=J5eJVYa-Ksis-AHh3oHgDg&ved=0CEkQsAQ#imgrc=_ (https://www.google.com/search?q=red+cross+world+war+1+sign+up&espv=2&biw=1263&bih=848&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=J5eJVYa-Ksis-AHh3oHgDg&ved=0CEkQsAQ#imgrc=_)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Old Man Ned on June 23, 2015, 10:47:32 AM
Harriet: These posters are amazing.  But I was a bit spooked by the photo of the masks of soldiers mutilated faces.  Why would somebody do that?  I can only think to aid plastic surgery but am not even sure if they had that capability at that time.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 23, 2015, 11:17:28 AM
Ned: Those are restorative masks for disfigured soldiers according to the redcross blog

http://redcrosschat.org/2014/10/02/from-the-archives-restorative-face-masks-for-wwi-soldiers/#sthash.vrRUfO4o.dpbs (http://redcrosschat.org/2014/10/02/from-the-archives-restorative-face-masks-for-wwi-soldiers/#sthash.vrRUfO4o.dpbs)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: One-Eyed Ross on June 23, 2015, 11:23:22 AM
I think BanjoChris might have hit the nail on the head with the levee work during the Great Flood.  The forced labor work for blacks, and then leaving many of their families to the vagaries of nature while working to save white families might, indeed, have lead to a great deal of resentment....
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 23, 2015, 11:25:44 AM
The story of the restorative masks and the accompanying photos are remarkable, Harriet.  Thanks so much for tracking that down.  I had never heard of the procedure before.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Old Man Ned on June 23, 2015, 04:52:39 PM
Yeah, thanks Harriet.  I was afraid I might be veering off topic with my question but it's a great article.  Thanks again.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: harriet on June 23, 2015, 07:23:04 PM
I learned from it as well, so thanks. I do look at the Leadbelly song differently as a result.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 24, 2015, 07:50:25 AM
Hi all,
Here are the lyrics for Walter Davis' "Red Cross Blues, Part 2", which Prof Scratchy included in the first post of the thread.  One of the things that gives Walter Davis' chords for the song such an eerie tinge is that for his IV chord, he plays a IVmMaj7.  The way he does it, he plays a IV minor chord but voices the major III note of the scale on top, so it really sings out.  Since he immediately previously voiced his I chord with the same III note on top, there is a profound color shift when he goes to the IV chord, despite (or because) of the two voicings sharing that major III note on top.
The NRA that Walter Davis refers to is the National Recovery Act, one of the early New Deal measures implemented by FDR.  I'd appreciate help with the very end of the last verse.  Walter Davis really swallows the lyrics and I'm just guessing.  Maybe one of you can hear what he sings there.

The Red Cross is helping people, each and every day
The Red Cross is helping people, each and every day
But the rentman has put me out, and I ain't got no place to stay

I believe to myself, I am just a bad luck man
I believe to myself, I am just a bad luck man
The Red Cross is helping everybody, and don't give me a helping hand

I believe I'll go back South, tell me cotton will be good price next year
I believe I'll go back South, tell me cotton will be good price next year
I might as well be goin', because I ain't doin' no good 'round here

NRA is warning people that things will break someday
NRA is warning people that things will break someday
And it will be all right, everybody will have a place to stay

I'm goin' back to the country, and raise everything I need
I'm goin' back to the country, and raise everything I need
If I don't make nothin' off of my cotton, the boss will pay me out for seed

Edited 6/24 to pick up correction from Lastfirstface

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 24, 2015, 08:30:57 AM
How about: "If I don't make nothing off of my cotton, peoples will take me out to eat"?
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 24, 2015, 09:11:03 AM
Ha ha!  I like the concept, Prof, but I'm dubious as to whether Walter Davis relied on the kindness of strangers that much!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 24, 2015, 09:21:41 AM
We'll have to wait for banjochris to chime in!
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 24, 2015, 10:01:10 AM
It also could be "my seed" for the last two words of the line.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Lastfirstface on June 24, 2015, 11:03:34 AM
He really trails off on that line. I'm guessing its "pay me out for seed" and refers to some part of a tenant farming or sharecropping agreement. It seems like some of those agreements involved the farmer paying for materials and tools while still only getting a cut of the cotton profit from the landowner, so maybe he's saying that even if the he makes no real profit from his cut, he'll get enough to pay him back for the money he put into seeding and starting the crop.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 24, 2015, 11:08:44 AM
I think you're right, Lastfirstface, and will go with that.  It's what I was trying to get at in my second suggestion, but your wording is better.  I'll make the change.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 24, 2015, 02:23:20 PM
We'll have to wait for banjochris to chime in!

I think John and Lastfirstface had it right. I was listening to it at work and couldn't make it out too well myself!
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 24, 2015, 04:44:00 PM
Hi all,
Here is a version of "New Red Cross Blues" by Frank "Springback" James on piano with George Curry, a new name to me, on guitar.

http://youtu.be/fKY0XVE3owU (http://youtu.be/fKY0XVE3owU)

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 25, 2015, 02:16:33 AM
That's a great find John. According to Godrich and Dixon, the track was recorded in Chicago in 1938 with Willie Bee (James) on guitar. George Curry is also listed separately in Godrich and Dixon, and his nickname seems to have been Leroy's Buddy. Curry recorded several tracks as vocalist, but these were all unissued. My copy of G&D is quite old now, so maybe the entry for this song has  now been updated. It's a great version.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 27, 2015, 07:03:37 AM
Since Walter Davis' part 2 was posted, I thought I would post the first one:

http://youtu.be/4qxhNiQMu0g (http://youtu.be/4qxhNiQMu0g)

here are the lyrics - not sure about 'faded' in the second verse. I like it, but he may just be singing 'painted' twice.

I have the first stanza of the fourth verse the way I hear it, but I'm not totally sure about it.

Red Cross Blues - Walter Davis

The Red Cross is helping poor people who cannot help themselves
The Red Cross is helping poor people who cannot help themselves
I went down there this morning, they said they wasn't helping no one else

Uncle Sam's flag is painted, painted in red, white and blue
Uncle Sam's flag is painted, painted in red, white and blue
'cause the Red Cross won't help us, what in the world is we going to do?

I spent all my money, did not save a lousy dime
I spent all my money, did not save a lousy dime
I didn't ever think I would be worried, people, with these hard old times

So I will remember this, the longest day I live
So I will remember this, the longest day I live
The Red Cross has told me they did not have nothing to give

My little children was screaming, crying "Papa we ain't go no home"
My little children was screaming, "Papa we ain't go no home"
The Red Cross has cut us off, man, and left us all alone   

Edited to pick up corrections from Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: One-Eyed Ross on June 27, 2015, 07:33:35 AM
Transcription looks good to me.

I hear "faded" which, to my mind, makes sense...the colors are faded because times are hard, etc...

Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 27, 2015, 08:04:58 AM
Frank, I'm hearing that fourth stanza beginning
   SO I will remember this
I'm hearing "painted" twice in the second verse too, I think.

It's fascinating how differently Walter Davis played this one from Part 2 of the same song--harmony, fills, everything.  It's every bit as different from Part 2 as Charlie Patton's two parts of "High Water Everywhere" are from each other.  Big ears Walter Davis had!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 27, 2015, 12:56:04 PM
Thanks, John - made the changes.

Big ears Walter Davis had!

Agreed - wow!
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 27, 2015, 01:23:41 PM
Well, here's a take on it...  probably too many spices in the stew, and the whole thing stayed on the burner too long. You can probably get the gist of it in the first few minutes. Indebted strongly to the playing of Andrew Dunham and Walter Davis, with an honorable mention to the songwriting skills of Johnnie Temple...

http://youtu.be/9mmJ3AbQKGw (http://youtu.be/9mmJ3AbQKGw)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 27, 2015, 01:48:46 PM
Well, good on you, Frank, that is terrific in so many ways!  It doesn't overstay its welcome a bit, because you've got so many ingredients in there and you keep changing them.  The first time you go to that IVmMaj7, it about drove me nuts . . . and it continued to do so every time you went there after that!  The idea of doing verses as lyric breaks and treating a portion of the verse as a refrain is happening, and I assume where Johnny Temple comes in.  Great soloing too, and great to see you trust yourself and just go for it.  One of your very strongest efforts, at least to my tastes.  Electric sounds mighty fine, too.  That made my day.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 27, 2015, 04:20:17 PM
Thanks, John - I'm glad you liked it. That was my first time through the whole thing and most of those ideas were kind of worked out on the fly. It did take me a while to get the IVmMaj7 to work in a way that felt real. It still feels a little like a pastiche of ideas, but maybe that's what happens when you try a new idea...  you need to keep working with it a while before you can really make it part of your everyday language. There was one thing toward the end that I hit on by accident - turning the V7b9 into a Vm7b9 - or put another way: flatVII7 (an F7 in the key of G). I thought it was kind of an interesting sound...  might play with that a bit more.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 28, 2015, 09:17:21 AM
Loved that version, frankie! Even the skull was smililng!
Title: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: uncle bud on June 28, 2015, 09:40:12 AM
Very cool, Frankie. Love all the minor sounds, one of the key hooks for me in the playing of Walter Davis. I've thought before about how to get that mood on guitar, not simple - or risks sounding simple,. Lots of texture here though. Really nifty soloing too.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: frankie on June 29, 2015, 05:12:24 AM
Thanks, guys.

Andrew, I can't really take credit for making the minor sounds work - the heavy lifting was done by the ideas that Andrew Dunham used in Hattie Mae and I just re-purposed them and added the V7 below the Idim. Even that was kind of a happy accident. In general, I tried to stick with thinking of shapes that could be re-used in different places on the guitar as that's a simple and effective way of getting at new harmonies for those of us that are harmonically challenged.

I went with half spanish because it made free-handing a real cinch while at the same time preserving all the familiar stuff on the top 4 strings. Plus, I rarely if ever use that tuning, so it was about time. :)
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 29, 2015, 09:30:47 AM
It's fascinating how differently Walter Davis played this one from Part 2 of the same song--harmony, fills, everything.  It's every bit as different from Part 2 as Charlie Patton's two parts of "High Water Everywhere" are from each other.  Big ears Walter Davis had!

Red Cross Blues was Davis' first recording, and I'm 99% certain (without my B&GR in front of me) that the piano on Davis' first couple of sessions was played by Roosevelt Sykes. And I remember reading somewhere (might have been in Henry Townsend's autobiography) that either the record company or maybe Davis himself felt his piano playing wasn't strong enough yet when he first went to record.

Chris
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 29, 2015, 09:40:40 AM
And Frankie, just listed to your version -- just great! Keeping to the vocal melody had to have been a challenge on that too but you nailed it.
Chris
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 29, 2015, 10:36:46 AM
Hi Chris,
I'm very dubious that Roosevelt Sykes played the piano on "Red Cross, Part 2", whatever DGR said or says.  The time, attack, and especially harmonic stuff is Walter Davis all the way.  Even at that stage Roosevelt Sykes was much more technical than Walter Davis ever became, and he never evinced stuff like that IVmMaj7 in his own recordings.  Why introduce it in the recording of someone else?
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 29, 2015, 10:47:49 AM
No, no, John, sorry if I wasn't clear -- I meant part 1 only -- Red Cross No. 2 is definitely Davis. I mentioned it since you mentioned how different #1 and #2 were.
Chris
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on June 29, 2015, 10:52:14 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Chris.  It certainly does go a long ways toward explaining the extent of the difference in the sound in parts 1 and 2.  The weird halting feel that Walter Davis got in the intro to Part 2, and so many of his other songs, seems like some kind of musical genetic marker for him.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on June 29, 2015, 01:49:16 PM
To my ear, neither of these performances sounds like Sykes ,
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: banjochris on June 29, 2015, 06:11:05 PM
There's definitely something weird going on with Davis' discography -- according to B&GR all the recordings of Red Cross Blues (2 matrices of part 1 and one of part 2) have piano by Roosevelt Sykes (as Willie Kelly) and Davis' first recording on piano is Sloppy Drunk Again.

Also, Document's complete Walter Davis starts in 1933 with Red Cross Blues, leaving 20-odd titles pre-1933 unissued, plus 6 recordings from 2 August 1933. Unless those tracks are issued on the complete Roosevelt Sykes, I'm not sure. But Red Cross #2 sounds more like Davis to me than part 1 does.

Very odd.
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Davey Bob on July 17, 2017, 01:13:33 AM
Many thanks for your research efforts here.

I stumbled upon this thread while checking out the origins of this song. I appropriated the refrain of 'I told 'em no!' in this protest song about the fracking industry in my local area (actually the entire community told 'em no & we kicked 'em out!  ;D).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y4Qlmy2u5I (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y4Qlmy2u5I)


Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on September 25, 2017, 08:04:37 AM
Me and Kid Lucas (thomas8 on WC) were having a go at this on Saturday. Here's a link to the file on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/aj0347/red-cross-store
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Johnm on September 26, 2017, 06:00:13 AM
You guys sound really good, Prof!  Great time, Thomas, and great singing, Scratchy!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: DavidCrosbie on September 26, 2017, 07:11:01 AM
On Forrest City Joe's version...

The link doesn't work for my computer. As it happens, I have two issued tracks on LP and CD. More to the point, I've found how to access the original unedited recording, about a minute longer than the commercial issues. The trick is to visit the
Association for Cultural Equity http://research.culturalequity.org
Then browse by: Collection/Session then Southern US 1959 and 1960 then on page 2 Hughes 10/59

Once you get used to the navigation, you can listen to and/or download recordings ? and likewise view and/or download photos which Alan took at the sessions.

So here's the Red Cross Store recording http://research.culturalequity.org/rc-b2/get-audio-detailed-recording.do?recordingId=6117
(The link takes you to a page with a file-player.)

And here's Forrest City Joe at the piano with his harmonic rack around his neck.
(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fc0383352.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com%2Fthumbs%2F01.01.0428.jpg&hash=7fe7447e146e62d19c94eabbb633501287d679ec)

There's another photo in Shirley Collins' America Over the Water

(https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51pFg0dogHL._AC_US218_.jpg)

In this book Shirley tells the story of the recording, as does Alan in The Land where the Blues Began

(https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51jYV0AJxOL._AC_US218_.jpg)

It started with the recording which became Blues in the Mississippi Night, in which Big Bill and Memphis Slim celebrated
Quote
"Naw, man, that's Mister Charley Houlin, the best friend we ever had in this part of the country, really a friend to our people. He was the man we all run to when somebody mistreated us," Big Bill told me.

"Otherwise known as the Mercy Man." Memphis added.

He then told a tale of Charlie Houlin taking up the complaint of a Black man under his protection. The local sheriff was living in one of his houses but refusing to pay the rent. Houlin confronted the sheriff and actually shot him. Alan was so taken with the story that he went to Hughes specifically to meet this hero. Houlin sent him to Forest City Joe, and told him of the Blues scene in West Memphis ? warning Alan to check in with the police before looking for music. This was fortunate advice, as Alan was indeed stopped and held by the West Memphis police, who grudgingly released him when it was confirmed that he had announced himself.

When Forrest City Joe described the joint where he would be playing, Alan decided that it was no place for a woman, so found a motel where he
Quote
stashed Shirley for safety's stake.
Two worried nights later he collected her and
Quote
we did burn rubber and got out of West Memphis, Arkansas
Title: Re: SOTM June 19th - Red Cross Store
Post by: Prof Scratchy on September 26, 2017, 08:48:16 AM
That Forrest City Joe version's a rocker! Thanks for posting it.


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