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Author Topic: Question: Blind Blake as session musician  (Read 891 times)

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Offline MissouriTiger

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Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« on: September 24, 2018, 02:24:56 PM »
Hello friends,

I seem to recall once reading somewhere that Blind Blake was accomplished at other styles of music beyond what he recorded, including jazz, and that he was in demand as a session player. None of this is surprising considering his level of skill. But as documented details of his life seem to be in short supply, I wonder what is concretely known about his career. I wonder if anyone on the forum knows:

1. How much is known about Blind Blake's career, what other musicians he played with, and what other musical styles he played but didn't record?

2. Are there any records in existence where you can hear a guitarist in accompaniment and say "That sounds like Blind Arthur Blake. I bet that's him playing on this record?"

3. Just curious, does anyone know if he has living relatives?


Offline banjochris

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2018, 04:34:20 PM »


2. Are there any records in existence where you can hear a guitarist in accompaniment and say "That sounds like Blind Arthur Blake. I bet that's him playing on this record?"

Lots of them, but we pretty much know for sure that it's him on those records. The vast majority of the "session" tracks he played on are included on CDs of his complete recordings, with the notable exception of his accompaniments to "Banjo Joe" (Gus Cannon), which are included on Cannon's complete recording sets, his two numbers backing Ma Rainey, available on her complete recording sets (in really bad sound), and a couple of numbers playing with Charlie Spand. "Hastings St." with Spand has Blake talking and is usually included with Blake's stuff; his accompaniments on "Soon This Morning" and "Fetch Your Water" usually aren't.

We just had a big discussion (in other words argument) on the Facebook Real Blues Forum about which Spand tracks Blake plays on; he's often, in my opinion, credited with more of them that he's actually on. But "Soon", "Fetch" and "Hastings" for sure are Blake.
Chris

Offline MissouriTiger

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2018, 07:50:42 PM »
Hey buddy, I appreciate the reply. Great info!

Thanks,

Greg

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2018, 02:31:38 PM »
There's a good amount of sides where he's accompanying female singers: Elzadie Robinson, Irene Scruggs, Leola Wilson, etc. As far jazz goes, I'd say his sides with Johnny Dodds and Jimmy Bertrand are definitely more in that direction.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2018, 03:10:20 PM »
In relation to your question about living relatives, I’m sure there may well be if Arthur wasn’t an only child. Now we have details of his death, but details of his place of birth and family of origin remain a mystery. Maybe one day a researcher will track down his early life history and from that we may know if there are family members still around.


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Offline waxwing

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 01:05:29 AM »
Blues and Gospel Records has an Index To Accompanists and sure enough there was an entry for Blake. Here are the artists listed there, along with the discography from the pertinent sessions taken from those artists' main entries, arranged pretty much in chronological order. I included any interesting notes.

banjochris, you might be interested in the note under Charlie Spand, which indicates Hastings Street was originally released as a Blind Blake recording. It lists the other two you mentioned also. The session a couple months later must be the 4 songs in dispute on RBF, as they are listed as "unknown, g." 

If anyone has a copy of Jazz Records 1897-1942 by Brian Rust it may have a similar index to accompanists. Perhaps there is an entry for Blake there, but I have no knowledge of him doing jazz session work.

Wax

Blind Blake as Accompanist

Leola B. Wilson
   Chicago      c. July 1926
   Leola B. Wilson, v; acc. by Blind Blake, g.
   2655-2      Dying Blues         Pm 12392
   2656-2      Ashley St. Blues         Pm 12392

   Chicago      c. November 1926
   Leola B. Wilson, v; acc. by Blind Blake, g; poss. Jimmy Blythe, p-1.
   4010-2      State Street Men Blues -1      Pm 12426
   4012-2      Down The Country         Pm 12444
   4013-2      Black Biting Bee Blues      Pm 12444
   4014-2      Wilson Dam            Pm 12426

Ma Rainey
   Chicago      c. December 1926
   Ma Rainey, v; Blind Blake, g; poss. Leroy Pickett, vn.
   4019-2      Little Low Mamma Blues      Pm 12419, Bwy 5005
   4020-1      Grievin Hearted Blues         Pm 12419
   4020-2      Grievin Hearted Blues         Pm 12419, Bwy 5005

Gus Cannon
   Chicago      c. November 1927
   Gus Cannon, v-1/bj-2/k-3/sp-4/whistling-4; Blind Blake, g-2.
   20144-2   Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home -1, 2   Pm 12571, Bwy 5054
   20145-2   Madison Street Rag -2, 4                 Pm 12588
   20146-2   Jazz Gypsy Blues -2, 3                 Pm 12604
   20148-2   Can You Blame The Colored Man -1, 2           Pm 12571
   20149-2   My Money Never Runs Out -1, 2              Pm 12604

Elzadie Robinson
   Chicago      c. April 1928
   Elzadie Robinson, v; acc. by Johnny Dodds, cl; Blind Blake, g/whistle-1; Jimmy Bertrand, x.
   20528-3   Pay Day Daddy Blues -1      Pm 12635
   20529-      Elzadie’s Policy Blues      Pm unissued
   20534-3   Elzadie’s Policy Blues      Pm 12635

   Chicago      c. May 1928
   Elzadie Robinson, v; acc. by Johnny Dodds, cl; prob. Jimmy Blythe, p; Blind Blake g/whistle-1.
   20583-1   Elzadie’s Policy Blues                      Pm 12635
   20584-1,-2   Pay Day Daddy Blues -1      Pm 12635
Both sets of recordings of these two titles were issued.

Daniel Brown 
   Chicago      c. May 1928
   Daniel Brown, v; acc, by Tiny Partham, p; Blind Blake, g; unknown, wb.
   20574-2   Beulah Land                      Pm 12663

Bertha Henderson,
   Chicago      c. May 1928
   Bertha Henderson, v; acc. by Blind Blake, g-1/p-2.
   20556-1   That Lonesome Rave -1      Pm 12697
   20557-2   Terrible Murder Blues -1      Pm 12645
   20558-1   Leavin’ Gal Blues -1         Pm 12697
   20560-2   Lead Hearted Blues -1      Pm 12655
   20662-2   Let Your Love Come Down -2   Pm 12655

Charlie Spand
   Richmond, IN      Thursday, 6 June 1929
   Charlie Spand, v; acc. by own p; Blind Blake, g.
   15154--   Soon This Morning Blues      Pm 12790
   15155-A   Fetch Your Water          Pm 12790
Columbia and Signature reissues with the title Hastings Street labeled as by Charlie Spand will be found under Blind Blake (17 August 1929) as it was originally issued under his name.

Papa Charlie Jackson and Blind Blake
   Grafton, WI      c. September 1929
   Charlie Jackson, bj/v/sp; Blind Blake, g/v/sp.
   L-27--      Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It – Part I   Pm 12911
   L-28--      Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It – Part II   Pm 12911

Paramount All Stars – The record was made by Paramount as a kind of ‘sampler’ of some of the blues singers who were recording for them during this period. The artists performed excerpts from some of their recorded titles. The Titles performed by the individual artists do not appear on the labels. Only a few choruses of each number are played.
   Chicago      c. October 1929
   The Hokum Boys-1: prob. Alex Hill, v; poss. Georgia Tom Dorsey, p; unknown, 2nd v; Will Ezell, p-2/sp-2; Blind Blake g-3/sp-3; Blind Lemon Jefferson, g-4/sp-4; Charlie Spand, p-5/v-5; Papa Charlie Jackson, v-6/bj-6; prob. Alex Hill, commentary.
   21453-2   Hometown Skiffle – Part I /comprising: Shake That Thing -1/ Mixed Up Rag -2/ A Blues -3                  Pm 12886, SD 107, Te R20
   21454-2   Hometown Skiffle – Part II /comprising: Introduction -4/ Sellin’ That Stuff -1/ Soon This Morning -5/ Shake That Thing -6    Pm 12886, SD 107, Te R20
It is possible that Blind Blake impersonates Blind Lemon Jefferson, but there is no clear evidence in support of this theory.

Irene Scruggs
   Grafton, WI      c. 26 May 1930
   As Chocolate Brown, v; acc. by Blind Blake, g/sp-1.
   L-325-1   Stingaree Man Blues         Pm 12944
   l-326-2,-3   Itching Heel -1         Pm 12944
         How I’m Feeling         Pm prob. unissued

   Grafton, WI      Wednesday, 28 May 1930
   As Chocolate Brown, v; acc.by Blind Blake, g.
   L-348-2   You’ve Got What I Want      Pm 12978, prob 13121
   L-353-2   Cherry Hill Blues         Pm 12978   

Laura Rucker
   Grafton, WI      c. May 1931
   Laura Rucker, v; acc. by Blind Blake , g.
   L-909-1   Fancy Tricks            Pm 13138
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline Lignite

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 06:21:58 AM »
The entry for Blake in the Rust discography only mentions the  sides that he cut with Johnny Dodds and Jimmy Bertrand in 1928 which I guess they consider to be jazz;

Doggin' Me Mama Blues          PM 12873
C.C. Pill Blues                          PM 12634
Hot Potatoes                          PM 12673
South Bound Rag                    PM 12681
Sweet Papa Lowdown            PM 12737

Offline alyoung

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 06:46:24 AM »
In relation to your question about living relatives, I’m sure there may well be if Arthur wasn’t an only child. Now we have details of his death, but details of his place of birth and family of origin remain a mystery. Maybe one day a researcher will track down his early life history and from that we may know if there are family members still around.
The New Paramount Book of the Blues, by Alex van der Tuuk, gives Blake's birthplace (Newport News, Va) and names his parents.  No mention of siblings, but lots of other good information. For those among us eagerly awaiting opportunities to learn more about the people who made the music, this is an indispensable book.

Offline MissouriTiger

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2018, 10:01:11 AM »
I just want to say how much I appreciate all of the thoughtful replies!

Offline CF

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2018, 12:19:30 PM »
https://sundayblues.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BR263-Blind-Blake.pdf

The article written after Blake's Death Certificate was discovered
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline SportinFingers

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2019, 08:05:27 AM »
Has anyone heard of Bill Williams? Check out the song No Good Buddy (Take 1). There's a distinct Blake style and in my opinion it sounds like Blake sings a few verses. Let me know if you agree.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2019, 08:50:45 AM »
Hi SportinFingers,
The lead guitarist on "No Good Buddy, Take 1" is either Big Bill Broonzy or Arthur Pettis.  My bet would be on Broonzy, because he recorded a lot of duets with other guitarists.  It's neither Broonzy nor Pettis singing, nor is it Blake.  I think it is the seconding guitarist singing, possibly Frank Brasswell.  Here is the track, for folks who are interested:



All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 08:55:41 AM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2019, 08:58:09 AM »
Hi SportinFingers,
Oops, I take it back, I think it is Big Bill Broonzy singing, after all, so that would make him the lead guitarist, as well.  EDITED TO ADD:  Wrong again, they're both singing, and alternating verses.  One of the singers is Broonzy, though.  And I think the second singer and guitarist is Arthur Pettis.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 09:01:26 AM by Johnm »

Offline SportinFingers

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2019, 09:04:48 AM »
Thanks for the reply. Check out 1:27 on the song. I believe the first singer is the person you think sounds like Big Bill. At 1:27 it sounds just like Blake. The first picker (beginning of the song) sounds just like some of Blake's other slow key of C blues.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Question: Blind Blake as session musician
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2019, 09:10:25 AM »
Hi SportinFingers,
At 1:27 is Arthur Pettis singing.  Broonzy sings the previous verse, "Your wife is after me".  Actually, the guitar part is full of phrases that only Broonzy and Arthur Pettis (or people who copped the licks from them) played.  It is a distinctive way of playing in C in standard tuning with a lot of licks that both of those players used, and Blake never did.  The slides into the open D and A strings are Broonzyisms all the way.
All best,
Johnm

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