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The Bible's right, somebody's wrong. Ah mean, you are wrong - Sister O.M. Terrell, The Bible's Right

Author Topic: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues  (Read 643 times)

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Offline harry

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SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« on: February 25, 2016, 09:41:48 AM »
My song of the month is Ground Hog Blues.

It's a blues tune played on both piano and guitar, in different keys and tunings. Performed in solo, duo and combo settings.
Groundhogs are most common in the northern parts of the United States, but have been known to populate parts of Texas, particularly the northern areas around Dallas.
Obscure bluesmen complaining about groundhogs were from The Lone Star State. Lil' Son Jackson, Willie Reed, Willie Lane and Ramblin' Thomas were from Texas (although Thomas was born in Logansport, Louisiana. He relocated to Deep Ellum, Dallas in the late 1920s).

Is this song literally about the frustrations of a groundhog rooting in the backyard or does it involve the same old sexual innuendo? ("a mule kicking in my stall", "somebody's fishing in my pond").

In any way Clifford Gibson explains the question as follows;

From Sneaky Ground Hog;

There's a reason why I call him a groundhog
Cause that rascal can't be seen
But he's not really no groundhog
He's just an ordinarily human being

There's a sneaky old groundhog been rooting around my home somewhere
Because I can tell a difference in my baby's love affair


The earliest version of this song dates back to 1928 named "Dirty Ground Hog Blues" recorded by Charles "Cow Cow" Davenport. Davenport was an excellent piano player. He learned to play organ in his father's church. Both his parents were musicians. It looked like he was going to follow in the family footsteps until he was expelled from the Alabama Theological Seminary in 1911 for playing ragtime. Davenport's early career revolved around carnivals and vaudeville and also played rent parties in Chicago. He moved to Cleveland in 1930 and recorded with Sam Price. In 1938 he suffered a stroke that affected his piano playing for the rest of his life. He died in 1955. Talent scout H.C. Speir told researcher Gayle Dean Wardlow that Davenport was the best piano player he ever heard. Most recordings credit Davenport as the writer of Groundhog Blues.



Cow Cow Davenport - Dirty Ground Hog Blues - October 25, 1928, Chicago, Ill.

Unfortunately it's not available on YouTube but you can find the song on Document Records.



Ramblin' Thomas - Ground Hog Blues, Ground Hog Blues No. 2 - February 9, 1932, Dallas, Tx.   
               
Ground Hog Blues No. 2 was discovered from a ultra rare Victor 78 and released on Document Records (Too Too Late, Vol. 2)

Ramblin' Thomas played his version in vestapol. This is take 2.





Willie Reed - Some Low Down Groundhog Blues - September 26, 1935, Dallas, Tx.





Blind Mack with Kid Stormy Weather (piano) - Rootin' Ground Hog Blues - 16/17 October 1935, Jackson, Miss.

Another piano version.





Big Joe Williams with Robert Lee McCoy (guitar) and  Sonny Boy Williamson (harmonica) - Rootin' Ground Hog -  May 5, 1937, Aurora, Ill.

Big Joe Williams is the first one (that I know of) that changed the perspective of this song. Instead of complaining about the groundhog he is the groundhog himself (I'm a rooting groundhog).





Sonny Boy Williamson - Groundhog Blues with Blind John Davis (piano), Charlie McCoy (guitar) Alfred Elkins (bass) and Washboard Sam (washboard) - December 11, 1941, Chicago, Ill

Sonny Boy Williamson did a version probably picked up from Big Joe (he played harmonica on his record) although he completely changed the lyrics making it almost an original song.





Willie Lane - Prowlin' Ground Hog - mid-1949, Fort Worth, TX (uncertain)





John Lee Booker (Hooker) - Ground Hog Blues - April 26, 1951 

John Lee Hooker's version is probably the best known.





Clifford Gibson - Sneaky Ground Hog - December 18, 1951, St. Louis, MI





"Lil' Son" Jackson - Ground Hog Blues - 1960, Dallas, Tx.

I first heard this song by "Lil' Son" Jackson and I still like his version the best. Although I wonder why he choose to keep the song so short. (only three verses, clocking 2 min. 15 sec.).  "Lil' Son" Jackson played the song a la Lightnin' (good old key of E). He sounded so much like him that the song mistakenly appears on a compilation album of Lightnin' Hopkins even titled Groundhog Blues (Sittin' In With).





The Groundhogs - Ground Hog - Tony McPhee - guitars, vocals and Ken Pustelnik - drums November 1970, London, UK

Tony McPhee apparently liked the song so much he renamed his band The Groundhogs (previously called The Dollar Bills) after he took it over (and steered them towards the blues). The Groundhogs played with John Lee Hooker in 1964, when John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers were unable to fulfill a commitment to back Hooker on the final week of his British tour. Hooker told McPhee how much he liked working with the band and agreed to use The Groundhogs as his backing band on his next visit to England. Hooker was back in 1965, and not only used them as his band but also recorded an album (Hooker and the Hogs). Oddly they did not record Ground Hog Blues but the song appears on the 1971 album Split.





"Squeeze Me Tight" - Billy Boy Arnold with  Mel Brown (guitar), Billy Flynn (guitar), Bob Stroger (bass) and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (drums) November 1/2, 2007, Toronto, Canada.

Not sure why Billy Boy Arnold's version is called "Squeeze Me Tight" (based on Sonny Boy's) but it's cool to hear how this number get's a Chicago blues treatment.





If you want to learn this song for yourself check out John Miller's Texas Blues DVD lesson. He'll discuss "Lil' Son" Jackson's version.

Thanks for checking out my song of the month and take good care of yourself, harry.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 09:53:01 AM by harry »

Offline jaycee

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2016, 12:44:50 PM »
Thanks for posting this Harry. Great way to spend some of Thursday night, listening to all the different versions of this song.
jaycee

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 03:03:46 PM »
Washboard Sam and the Chicago Four - I'm A Prowlin' Groundhog - Melotone 6-10-55, 1936



Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 03:32:01 PM »
dj pointed out two more:






http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=136.msg18503#msg18503

Scroll up a bit for Lil' Son Jackson lyrics

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2016, 04:45:17 PM »
Nice choice of song! Sam Chatmon footage from the Lomax Archive:


Offline harriet

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2016, 04:48:49 PM »
Thanks for a great topic, Harry.  Look forward to listening to all of them - I am familiar with the Rambling Thomas and BJW versions and so far appreciate your introduction to the Lil' Son Jackson version, am glad to hear the Tony McPhee as well. And the Sam Chatmon...
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 04:53:02 PM by harriet »

Online Pan

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2016, 06:27:58 PM »
Great research work and a great topic, Harry!

Much appreciated!

Cheers

Pan

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2016, 03:06:54 AM »
Another great SOTM, harry! Enjoyed listening to all these versions, and the Groundhogs' one brought back memories of a 17 year old me, seeing John Lee Hooker and the Groundhogs perform together at a tiny blues club in Yorkshire!

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2016, 08:07:02 AM »
Nice choice for the Song of the Month, Harry, and the research is great.  I have to admit that I don't hear any similarity between Lil' Son Jackson and Lightnin Hopkins, either vocally or instrumentally.  Here is an Old-Time "Groundhog", featuring Gaither Carlton on fiddle, Arnold Watson on banjo and Doc Watson on autoharp (!) from the first Watson Family album:



Shoulder up your gun and whistle up your dog
Shoulder up your gun and whistle up your dog
Off to the woods for to catch a ground hog
Oh, ground hog

Run here, Sally, with a ten-foot pole
Run here, Sally, with a ten-foot pole
To twist this whistle pig out of his hole
Oh, ground hog

SOLO

Here comes Sal with a snicker and a grin
Here comes Sal with a snicker and a grin
The ground hog gravy all over her chin
Oh, ground hog

Look at them fellers, they're a-goin' wild
Look at them fellers, they're a-goin' wild
Eat that hog before he's struck or biled
Oh, ground hog

SOLO

I dug down, but I didn't dig deep
I dug down, but I didn't dig deep
There laid a whistle pig, fast asleep
Oh, ground hog

SOLO X 2

Now the meat's in the cupboard and the butter's in the churn
Meat's in the cupboard and the butter's in the churn
If that ain't ground hog, I'll be durned
Oh, ground hog

Well, you eat up the meat and you save the hide
You eat up the meat and you save the hide
Make the best shoestring that ever was tied
Oh, ground hog

SOLO X 2

Look at them fellers, they're about to fall
Look at them fellers, they're about to fall
Eat 'til their britches won't button up at all
Oh, ground hog

A little piece of cornbread a-layin' on the shelf
A little piece of cornbread a-layin' on the shelf
You want any more, you can sing it yourself
Oh, ground hog

SOLO

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 26, 2016, 10:28:20 AM by Johnm »

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2016, 08:25:39 AM »
There's a lot of 78 records of that other old time "Ground Hog." Off the top of my head: Land Norris, George "Shortbuckle" Roark, and Jack Reedy and His Walker Mountain String Band.

Offline harry

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2016, 03:44:14 PM »
Glad you all liked my song choice for this month. And thanks for posting the additional versions.

Found out that even Jimmie Rodgers has a version of this song. I think the type of "old time groundhog" Lastfirstface is referring to.

« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 03:47:35 PM by harry »

Offline harriet

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2016, 06:32:13 PM »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM - February 26, 2016 - Ground Hog Blues
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2016, 03:59:32 PM »
Hi all,
Here are the lyrics for Thomas Shaw's version of "Prowling Ground Hog", which he played out of a position in standard tuning, and which Harriet posted immediately prior to this post in the thread.

I'm the prowling groundhog, mama, and I walk 'round in my den
REFRAIN: I'm the groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now when I come out, see my own shadow, Lord, and I'll go back in

I'm the prowling groundhog, mama, and I walk 'round in my den
REFRAIN: I'm the groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now when I come out, see my own shadow, girl, and I'll walk back in

Now, I walked this mornin', babe, my feets got soakin' wet
Tryin' to find that woman, boy, I ain't found her yet
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm a prowl, prowlin' groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now when I come out, see my own shadow, yes, and I'll go back in

I'm a groundhog, mama, and I walk 'round in my den
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm a groundhog, and walk 'round in my den
Now when I come out, see my own shadow, yes, and I'll go back in

Now, I walked this mornin', babe, my feets got soakin' wet
Tryin' to find that woman, boy, ain't found her yet
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm the groundhog, and I'll walk 'round in my den
Now, when I come out, see my own shadow, yes, and I'll go back in

Now, I told you too, baby, told you two or three times
You got a home, long as I got mine
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm the groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now, when I come out, see your own shadow, yes, and I go back in

Now, I'll take her, mister, take her, you can't keep her long
You take the girl I'll keep that all-in-all
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm the groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now, when I walk out, see my shadow, yes, and I'll go back in

Now, I told you, baby, baby, told you two, three time
You got a home, long as I got mine
REFRAIN: Yes, I'm the groundhog, and I walk 'round in my den
Now, when I come out, see my own shadow, yes, and I'll walk back in

SOLO AND FADE

All best,
Johnm




« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 04:00:52 PM by Johnm »

Tags: SOTM