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What you want with a rooster, he won't crow 'fore day? What you want with a man who won't do nothin' he say? - Charlie Patton, Banty Rooster Blues

Author Topic: Fiddle Blues  (Read 8309 times)

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Online Johnm

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Fiddle Blues
« on: December 07, 2005, 09:34:51 AM »
Hi all,
We have long had a Mandolin Blues thread, and it just didn't seem right not to have a Fiddle Blues thread as well.  So as not to be hoggish, I am just going to get the ball rolling by naming five of my favorite fiddle blues performances.  They don't even scratch the surface of what has been done.
   * "All Night Long" by Leonard Rutherford, fiddle and Dick Burnett, guitar ( I think).  This might not only be my favorite fiddle blues, it may be my favorite fiddling.  Rutherford's slippery note-making is kind of miraculous.  It is just perfect.
   * "Hometown Blues" by Jimmy McCarroll with the Roane County Ramblers.  What a killer!  The band's heavy time is just mean and nasty, and Jimmy McCarroll was sensational.
   * "Rolling Mill Blues" by Peg Leg Howell with a mystery fiddler (not Eddie Anthony).  This is a very beautiful song with great upper register fiddling by whoever did it.
   * "Georgia Stomp" by Andrew and Jim Baxter.  Everything these guys did was wonderful, but this is the first one I ever heard, on The Anthology of American Folk Music, so it has a special pull for me.
   * "Stop and Listen Blues, #2", with Walter Vinson on guitar and vocal and Lonnie Chatmon on fiddle.  As with the Baxters, the Mississippi Sheiks were responsible for a lot of great music.  You all probably have your own favorites.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Cleoma

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2005, 10:37:08 AM »
My PegLeg Howell CD says that the fiddle on Rolling Mill is possibly Ollie Griffin.  By the way, I have just been reading Lost Delta Found and there is a bit of interesting stuff in there about Son Sims, who was the sole fiddler that they found at that time (1941) in that area of the Delta.  I think that even 10 years earlier, they might have found more fiddlers.

Some of my favorites:
Dickson County Blues by Arthur Smith, also his Fiddlers Blues
KC Railroad blues by the Baxters -- gorgeous!  And I like Bamalong Blues too
Frisson de Samedi Apres Midi by Wade Fruge -- older generation Cajun fiddler playing the blues, a tune he learned from a black street fiddler
Blues a Bebe -- Creole fiddler Bebe Carriere, Dewey Balfa also played a killer version of this
Jelly Roll Blues by Butch Cage, very funky but wonderful
Leake County Blues -- Leake County Revellers -- hillbilly blues with a lovely "Careless Love" section
I also love Jug Band Blues by Sara Martin, with Clifford Hayes fiddling.

There is much, much more.  By the way, I am looking for suggestions for material to teach, discuss, listen to, etc for my fiddle class at Blues Week next summer. I always make a source material CD for the students and am always looking for new stuff to put on it!
Suzy T.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2005, 12:35:14 AM »
This isn't really on topic but the compilation that got me taking notice of the instrument in a 'blues setting' was called The Country Fiddlers. Released by Roots in November 1968 it had a jokey cover photo of Johann Stauss's statue in Vienna with a dirty great red X through it. The tracks were:

Andrew & Jim Baxter - The Moore Girl
Chasey Collins - Walking Blues
Jack Kelly?s South Memphis Jug Band - Highway No. 61 Blues
Henry Williams & Eddie Anthony - Georgia Crawl
Mississippi Sheiks - Lonely One In This Town/Sittin' On Top Of The World
T C Johnson &? Tom Nelson -T C Johnson Blues
Tom Nelson - Blue Coat Blues
State Street Boys - Rustlin' Man
Peg Leg Howell & His Gang - Too Tight Blues/Peg Leg Stomp
T C Johnson Boys - Violin Blues
Texas Alexander - Seen Better Days/Frost Texas Tornado Blues
Mobile Strugglers - Fattenin' Frogs/Memphis Blues

Rather eclectic selection for an early attempt at getting guitar/harmonica centric 'country blues' fans interested...but it worked for me despite my earlier vehement hate of the instrument on Charlie Patton recordings! :(

Offline Cleoma

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2005, 10:58:38 AM »
I know what you mean about Henry "Son" Sims' playing on the Charlie Patton stuff, it still doesn't feel all that compelling to me.  Still, I think it is good to study up on all available black fiddling from the 20's because there isn't all that much of it!
I just finished reading "Lost Delta Found" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and got out my copy of the old time fiddle and banjo music by Nathan Frazier and Frank Patterson, which John Work recorded just prior to the field trip where he recorded Muddy Waters, it is definitely not blues music but is one of only a handful of examples of black musicians playing what we think of as hillbilly music -- really, the old time dance music from before the 20th century. Actually it sounds very much like other early oldtime music from the south, very modal.  I think I can still hear some of the Scots-Irish antecedents in the melodies.  To my ears, I can't tell the race of the players, only that the playing is not very slick, but that can be said of almost all the field recordings of fiddle/banjo music that I've heard!

Online Johnm

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2006, 10:35:11 PM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up a CD, "Big Joe Williams--Back To The Country", Testament Records TCD 5013, with some outstanding Blues fiddling on it by Jimmy Brown, a transplanted Mississippian residing in St. Louis at the time of the recording (1965) whom I had never heard of before.  The entire CD is superb, with a very generous program of 21 songs and a lot of variety.  Big Joe and Jimmy Brown are also joined by the harmonica player Willie Lee Harris, and on one cut, Big Joe is joined by Bill Foster on second guitar, about whom the notes say nothing.
Jimmy Brown's tone on the fiddle is kind of rough; it has a great edge to it, and some of what he plays brings to mind the playing of Dad Tracy on one of Big Joe's earliest sessions.  Brown shines throughout the program but has particularly strong moments on "See See Rider', one of the best versions of that warhorse that I have heard, "Desert Blues", and "Breakdown", a simple country dance instrumental on which he and Big Joe really tear it up.
One of the things that makes the CD wear particularly well with repeated listenings is its range.  Rather than running the same ensemble through the entire program, the producer, Pete Welding, ran through different combinations of people on different tunes.  All three of the performers are featured on vocals during the course of the program, Big Joe sits out a tune or two, and Jimmy Brown plays guitar on a couple of numbers as well.  I believe the CD may just recently have been re-issued.  If you are a blues fiddler or just like that sound you may want to check it out.  Recordings by blues fiddlers in the post-60s period are not all that common.  I was able to find the CD at Roots and Rhythm for a very reasonable price.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline banjochris

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2006, 12:29:50 AM »
I totally agree that "Rolling Mill Blues" and "All Night Long" are way up there -- I'll add a few of my own favorites:

"Warm Wipe Stomp" -- Macon Ed and Tampa Joe. This is one of the most bizarre recordings ever, with slide guitar and a surreal conversation going on with the music.

"Right Now Blues" -- Frank Stokes and Will Batts.

"Memphis Stomp" -- Lonnie Johnson with Nap Hayes and Matthew Prater. A real virtuoso performance from Johnson.

"Please Baby" -- Mississippi Sheiks.

"Been Listening All the Day" -- Blind Joe Taggart. More old-time than blues, but a personal favorite.

All the Baxter stuff, of course, and the Frazier/Patterson and Gribble, Lusk and York tracks on the Altamont album. And I also recommend Fiddlin' John Carson's "Hawk and the Buzzard" -- a great version of "Raise a Ruckus Tonight."
Chris


Offline GhostRider

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2007, 10:56:42 AM »
HI:

Whilest listening to the Victor Recordings of Frank Stokes (which includes four guitar-fiddle duets), I found a fiddle tune I quite liked, Bunker Hill Blues. The recording is a bit whupped and Franks guitar accompanyment is pretty basic, but the fiddle is great.

Who is the fiddler on these four tunes?

Alex

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2007, 11:13:09 AM »
Who is the fiddler on these four tunes?
Will Batts who can also be heard on, I think, all of Jack Kelly's recordings. He's discussed in Bengt Olsson's 1970 Memphis Blues booklet. I'll see if there's anything said worth reporting back.

Edit: In fact it's an entire very interesting chapter devoted to an interview with his sister Maggie Tuggle. At the end there's a list of Batts's entries for the period 1921-1955 from the Memphis City Directory.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 11:22:04 AM by Bunker Hill »

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2007, 01:28:52 PM »
"Come Back Corrina" Recorded By Charlie Patton In 1929 Features Henry "Son" Simms On Fiddle And Vocals.


Henry Eventually Played With Muddy Waters On His Field Recordings For Alan Lomax.

Online Johnm

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2007, 04:39:33 PM »
Hi all,
I recently heard a Blues fiddler I had never heard before:  E.L. Coleman, who recorded one tune with Sylvester Weaver on slide guitar and Charles Washington on banjo-guitar.  The tune is called "Steel String Blues" and it appears on the Sylvester Weaver, Volume 1 recording on Document.  The ensemble sound is a real one-of-a-kind affair.  Weaver sounds to be playing lap-style slide in Vestapol, and pretty darned Hawaiian sounding.  He goes to a flat VI chord in the sixth bar of the form, and it sounds fine even though neither of the other two players plays to it.  Washington is playing out of E in standard tuning and has a lot of nice touches to what he is doing.  Coleman was a smooth player with good intonation, and changes what he plays a lot during the course of the rendition.  It's nice not to hear the same pass over and over again, though if the playing is good enough, that approach can be pretty great, too.
I was wondering--does Dixon & Godrich have a performer's index?  It would be interesting to know if E.L. Coleman ever showed up on any other recordings.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline dj

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2007, 05:27:20 PM »
Hi, John.  E.L. Coleman had one other release under his own name, "Blue Feelin' Blues", recorded right after "Steel String Blues", but accompanied by Clarence Williams on piano rather than by Weaver and Washington.  At the same session he accompanied Sara Martin on "Strange Lovin' Blues" and "I Can Always Tell When A Man Is Treatin' Me Cool", both with Weaver and Washington.  There was an additional master cut at the same session, right after Coleman's two songs and before the two on which he accompanied Martin, but as of 1997 it had never turned up.  All this recording took place in St Louis in late March or early April of 1925.   

Offline Rivers

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2007, 05:31:23 PM »
D&G does indeed, primary sequence is by performer with an additional index to accompanists.
 
As primary artist:

E.L.Coleman Instrumental Trio, April 1925, St Louis
E.L.Coleman, vn; Sylvester Weaver, g; Charles Washington, bj
Steel String Blues

E.L.Coleman, vn; Clarence Williams, p
Blue Feeling Blues

As accompanist backing Sarah Martin, March/April 1925, St. Louis
E.L.Coleman, vn-1; Sylvester Weaver, g; Charles Washington, bj
Can't Find Nobody To Do Like My Daddy Do
I'm Sorry Blues
Daddy Ease This Pain of Mine
Strange Lovin' Blues - 1
I Can Always Tell When A Man Is Treatin' Me Cool - 1
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 12:40:20 PM by Johnm »

Online Johnm

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2007, 09:41:18 PM »
Hi all,
Thanks, dj and Rivers, for the rapid response on E.L. Coleman.  I'm glad to hear there is more of Coleman's playing on record.
I wondered if anyone knew anything about the history of two Blues or Blues/Jazz violinists of the recent past, Papa John Creach and Don "Sugarcane" Harris.  I remember hearing Harris do some terrific work with Frank Zappa that was very Blues-influenced.  I don't even know if Creach and Harris are still alive.
A present-day violinist working in a Bluesy style is the New Yorker Charles Burnham, who has done some really nice work with James "Blood" Ulmer and Cassandra Wilson.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2007, 11:30:00 AM »
Hi all,
I wondered if anyone knew anything about the history of two Blues or Blues/Jazz violinists of the recent past, Papa John Creach and Don "Sugarcane" Harris. 
The first record he and Dewey Terry (as Don & Dewey) made was an instrumental aptly entitled Fiddlin' The Blues (1955). Harris died in Los Angeles (27 Nov 1999), he was 61. There were numerous, lengthy obituaries published in blues and jazz publications. He's got an entry in Sheldon Harris's Blues Who's Who (p. 211, 1979 ed)

As for Papa John Creach, if I can find where I put Neil Slaven's Zappa biography from memory there's quite a bit on him in that. (No my musical tastes don't stretch to Zappa, the book was given to me in the hope that it might...some hope!)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Fiddle Blues
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2007, 03:57:02 PM »
Papa John Creach played with Hot Tuna on their 2nd album Burgers. He passed away in 1994. I remember the local Tuna heads tended to call him "Papa John Screech" which was definitely a cheap shot, probably it took a while to get used to his contribution to the sound. But he was actually very good.

 


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