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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => SOTM - Song Of The Month => Topic started by: Johnm on July 01, 2019, 06:37:32 AM

Title: SOTM July 2019: Pony Blues
Post by: Johnm on July 01, 2019, 06:37:32 AM
Hi all,
The Song of the Month selection for July, 2019 is "Pony Blues".  Certainly the most famous version at this point is Charlie Patton's, which has been written about at length in a variety of places, including this forum.  Here is Charlie Patton's "Pony Blues":

https://youtu.be/zoKKJjf-oQA

Charlie was later to record the song as "Stone Pony Blues", a version that is usually discussed as though it is obviously lesser than his original recording.  It seems pretty darn good to me.  Here it is:

https://youtu.be/I5pVb2SxJLQ

Son House recorded "Pony Blues" for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress in 1942, accompanying himself in Vestapol, as opposed to the E position in standard tuning that Charlie Patton had utilized for his accompaniments.  Here is Son's version:

https://youtu.be/g8maodx2e0A

Big Joe Williams recorded the song, first as "My Grey Pony Blues" and later, simply as "Pony Blues".  He accompanied his version out of Spanish tuning, which he used for the rest of his repertoire, too.  Here is Big Joe's "Pony Blues":

https://youtu.be/26R1ZwBzb2g

Honeyboy Edwards put the song back in the E position that Patton had used.  Here is his version:

https://youtu.be/MMjHBRdPYTM

Johnny Young did a terrific version in E in standard tuning that we listened to in the Miller's Breakdown thread.  Here it is:

https://youtu.be/yvs0-sWEtf0

I'll stop there and leave plenty of other versions for folks to find and post--one or two versions at a time only please, so more people get to have a say and contribute.

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Lignite on July 01, 2019, 08:59:25 AM
I always found this to be one of Wolf's most mysterious recorded pieces. It was recorded early in his recording career and based on his mentor Charley Patton's Pony Blues. Why does it suddenly seem to come to an abrupt ending? Who is the terrible harmonica player who is not Wolf? I always heard it was a young James Cotton.Somehow it seems like an out-take not intended for release but I do own an original 78 pressing on Chess.

https://youtu.be/YgisyFEKMWE
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: jpeters609 on July 01, 2019, 09:12:40 AM
Who is the terrible harmonica player who is not Wolf? I always heard it was a young James Cotton.


James Cotton is often credited with playing harp on this recording (it doesn't sound like him), but I have read that the harp player was actually Willie Johnson ó who as a harmonica player was a tremendously exciting guitarist.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: jpeters609 on July 01, 2019, 09:25:25 AM
Floyd Jones slowed it down a bit with "Early Morning" on Chess from 1952:

https://youtu.be/HS64HXc_aqE


Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Johnm on July 01, 2019, 11:13:50 AM
Thanks Lightnin' and Jeff for posting those versions.  The Howling' Wolf one really is odd, I'd not heard that before.  He phrases everything short in the front end of the rendition and it sounds like it might have befuddled the rest of the band, or they just might not have noticed.  The Floyd Jones almost sounds more like a cover of Tommy Johnson's "Cool Drink of Water".  It's neat to have two versions that were unfamiliar.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Norfolk Slim on July 01, 2019, 11:40:52 AM
Not an old version but I have long been very fond of how Alvin Hart plays this one.

https://youtu.be/tf3HJvLALR0?t=55
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Old Man Ned on July 01, 2019, 02:05:10 PM
Love this version from Hayes McMullen

https://youtu.be/K98NRyyEegA

Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Rivers on July 01, 2019, 07:48:12 PM
Re. the Wolf recording, too much vino I reckon. It probably goes without saying most guitar players don't play good harp and vice versa. Both instruments require a lot from a player, dedication and physical fitness help. Wolf killed it, good move.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Rivers on July 01, 2019, 07:55:35 PM
Not an old version but I have long been very fond of how Alvin Hart plays this one.

https://youtu.be/tf3HJvLALR0?t=55


Yeah, alright!
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: blueshome on July 02, 2019, 12:45:33 PM
James de Shay had a hypnotic version filmed in the Devils Music. Canít locate the track on YouTube- it plays as Dust My Broom.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Johnm on July 10, 2019, 06:39:35 AM
Hi all,
Here is a version, played in Spanish tuning, by Johnny Shines:

https://youtu.be/li-Hqz46QmM

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Rivers on July 11, 2019, 07:31:49 PM
Still working on which of the three Son House versions I'm aware of that I like the best.

While I figure it out here's Arthur Crudup's version, supposedly from 1941 for Bluebird, which, imho, has some truly great lyrics, for example "I curled her mane, I put streamline shoes on her feet". Love the voice and guitar playing. Joe McCoy credited on "imb", some kind of bass instrument:

https://youtu.be/L1U1j1PNzqY

From the pristine sound of it I find it unlikely it was the 1941 version but maybe it was.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: alyoung on July 12, 2019, 02:52:35 AM


From the pristine sound of it I find it unlikely it was the 1941 version but maybe it was.

Yep, September 11, 1941. By the late 1930s-early 40s, recording technology had advanced to the point where there's little difference between a 1938 recording and a 1958 (or later) recording if the older one is in good condition. For a good illustration of this, have a listen to the issues on the Australian label Swaggie of Sleepy John Estes and Lonnie Johnson, taken from Decca masters. Coulda been done yesterday.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: Rivers on July 12, 2019, 04:56:02 AM
Thanks for confirming that Alan.
Title: Re: July, 2019 Song of the Month: "Pony Blues"
Post by: jpeters609 on July 26, 2019, 01:56:34 PM
The Howling' Wolf one really is odd, I'd not heard that before.  He phrases everything short in the front end of the rendition and it sounds like it might have befuddled the rest of the band, or they just might not have noticed.

Wolf also recorded another song in Sam Phillips' studio where he played the guitar and used the "Pony Blues" approach: "Dorothy Mae" (takes 1 and 2). Sounds to me like the same harmonica player as on "Saddle My Pony," probably his regular guitarist at the time, Willie Johnson.

https://youtu.be/mCntB9r_GfQ

https://youtu.be/elGsZWoDjLw

Title: Re: SOTM July 2019: Pony Blues
Post by: Johnm on September 11, 2020, 03:48:59 PM
Hi all,
I just found this version by Woodrow Adams, a new name to me, from 1967. That is country!

https://youtu.be/tzCSeF_TUzA

All best,
Johnm
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