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Author Topic: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?  (Read 710 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Hi all,
Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield recorded four titles around 1943, probably in Newark, New Jersey:  "Tampa Blues", Gas Ration Blues", "Broome Street Blues" and "West Kinney Blues".  For all of their titles except for "Broome Street Blues", which featured them both playing guitar, the duo played harmonica and guitar.  Here are their versions of "West Kinney Blues" and "Tampa Blues":





James Lowry was recorded in Virginia in the early '50s, doing three titles, "Early Morning Blues", "Tampa Blues" and "Karo Street Blues".  Here are James Lowry's versions of "Karo Street Blues" and "Tampa Blues":





It would be interesting and rare enough to see seemingly unrelated artists with such a small number of recorded titles match up on two of their titles, but when you add the fact that "West Kinney Blues" and "Karo Street Blues" are both covers of Lemon Jefferson's "One Dime Blues", and both versions are played out of A position in standard tuning despite Lemon doing his in E position in standard tuning, it makes it seem very likely that all of the artists came from the same locale or that there was some overlap of personnel on the recordings.  I don't think it is the same guitarist on Skoodle Dum Doo and Sheffield's recordings and James Lowry's.  Lowry's style is more complex, but less lively and slower than the style of the guitarist in the duo, but it sure seems like they must have known or heard each other.  Do any of you all know anything more about the possible connection between these artists?

All best,
Johnm

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2015, 04:40:15 PM »
I'd never heard of James Lowry until now but love Skoodle (Seth Richards) and Sheffield's recordings so this was really interesting for me.

It's likely (John) Sheffield played with Lowry since the repertoire they share is the songs that Sheffield sings on, as opposed to Richards.

It would've been cool to hear Sheffield singing to the more relaxed pace of Lowry's guitar.
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline Lignite

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Re: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2015, 05:02:40 PM »
Hey John,
I'll bet they probably knew each other in past days as they both grew in the same geographical area. Seth Richardson is supposedly from Halifax County in eastern NC right on the Virginia border before he moved up to New Jersey or NYC. The James Lowry sides were recorded in the early 1950s and he was supposed to be from Bedford County, VA, very close to Lynchburg and some 150 miles away from Seth's NC location.They might even be cousins for all we know!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2015, 06:20:43 AM »
Thanks, JohnLee and Lightnin' for the thoughts and information on the possible connection between Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2015, 08:03:25 AM »
In his programme notes for the edition of Big Road Blues dated 3rd April 2011, Jeff Harris writes: 'Seth Richards, possibly from Virgina, recorded a couple tracks under his real name in 1928 ("Lonely Seth Blues b/w Skoodeldum Doo"), which would be his last recordings until he recorded four songs as Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield in 1943 for the Regis label'. James Lowry was from Bedford County, Virginia. If Jeff's conjecture is correct, perhaps Seth Richards and James Lowry knew each other from home?

Offline oddenda

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Re: Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield and James Lowry--What was the connection?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2016, 09:34:05 PM »
The singer on both duo sides here is John Sheffield, also playing harp - Seth Richard is the guitarist there. On the other two sides from the session, Richard is the singer... Sheffield plays second guitar on "Broome Street" instead of harp. I think Broome and West Kinney were an intersection in Newark, NJ. I was too wary to go into darkest Newark back in the day, so possibly missed an opportunity. Barbara Kukla, a local journalist, has written good books on Black music in Newark, though.

pbl

 


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