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"Would you like to play with me?" - Henry Townsend's reply to soundman Warren Argo's query as to whether anyone would be playing with Henry at his concert set at the first Port Townsend Country Blues Workshop

Author Topic: Ed Andrews  (Read 2742 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Ed Andrews
« on: December 09, 2005, 12:21:20 PM »
What follows was written some years after a copy of the Ed Andrews 78 finally surfaced. Apart from this piece, some unproductive research in the late 60s by Bengt Olsson, the paragraph in Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues (1986) and the notes to Country Blues Collector’s Items (Document DOCD-5169) can anybody add (or speculate) anything further? Google can't that's for sure. ;D

The first bluesman?
Tony Russell
(From: Jazz & Blues, June 1972, p.15)
A bogus heading, but it will serve to introduce some discussion of a hitherto uninvestigated record, which has a strong claim to be the first commercial release by a country bluesman. It is Ed Andrews's 'Barrel House Blues'/Time Ain't Gonna Make Me Stay' (OK 8137), recorded in Atlanta, Ga., in April 1924. It predates Papa Charlie Jackson's 'Papa's Lawdy Lawdy Blues' (Pm 12219) by four months, and in any case represents rural traditions as Jackson's record does not. (For the same reason, we can for the present bypass Reese Du Pree's 'Long ago blues' (OK 8113), cut in November 1923, with piano accompaniment. Du Pree was a vaudeville performer; I believe Ethel Waters mentions him as such in her autobiography. I haven't been able to hear 'Long ago blues', but the later (February 1924) 'Norfolk blues'/'one more rounder gone' (OK 8127) is stagey rather than rural, though charming and interesting in its way. 'Rounder', by the way, is 'Delia'.)
About Ed Andrews I can discover nothing. The record indicates that he played 12-string guitar, and sang uncommonly like Peg Leg Howell, so he was presumably a local musician rather than a travelling minstrel who happened to be in Atlanta when OKeh's engineers were. It is remotely possible that he was Eddie Anthony, the Macon fiddler who accompanied Howell on several occasions, and made some records of his own with Henry Williams and 'Tampa Joe," but the relevant records do not suggest the identification strongly.
Here now are the texts of Andrews's two performances, with a few notes.

'Barrel house blues' (master 8617, take A)

Hear me knockin come runnin' to your door; (x2)
I ain't a stranger, I been here before.

My mama told me, when I was a child, (x2)
"Runnin' round with women gets you after a while. "

I got nineteen women, I believe I want one more; (x2)
If the one do suit me, gonna let the nineteen go.

Give me whiskey when I'm thirsty, water when I'm dry; {x2)
I want it while I'm livin' — doggone it when I die.

Notes:- between each stanza Andrews plays an instrumental chorus equivalent length. The acoustic recording gives prominence to descending figures on the bass strings. Certain chords in bars five to eight of each chorus are reminiscent of ones used by the 12-string guitarist Charlie Kyle (who recorded for Victor in Memphis in 1928). Vocally, Andrews exhibits the pronounced vibrato of Peg Leg Howell, but he has a rather less varied attack.

'Time ain't gonna make me stay' (master 8618, take unknown)
I'm goin I'm goin cryin' won't make me stay; (x2)

I'll leave here walkin talkin' this very day.
My mama told me ... (etc., as in stanza 2 of 'Barrel house blues')

Read my letter, sure can't read my mind; (x2)
Think I'm lovin be leavin' all the time.

Always tell [when a] woman treat you mean;
Always tell when my girl will treat you mean;
Meals ain't ready, house ain't never clean.

Up on the mountain, far's I could see; (x2)
Man had [my] woman and the blues had me.

Hey, mama, what's the matter, matter now?
Pretty mama, what's the matter now?
Ain't got nobody, lead me round and round.

I'm goin I'm goin ... (etc. as in stanza 1)

Notes:- both A and B takes are reported, and I am uncertain which one applies to the text above (which is derived from a tape-recording). This is a faster piece than 'Barrel House Blues', without the regularly interspersed instrumental choruses. It may not be extravagant to interpret the line "ain't got nobody, lead me round and round" as indicating that Andrews was blind. A blind singer, who probably worked on the streets of Atlanta, would be quite likely to attract the attention of an OKeh talent scout.
The remarkable similarity of Andrews's voice to Peg Leg Howell's suggests that research in and round Atlanta would at least not be misplaced, and might lead to some discovery about Andrews. It is scarcely conceivable that he should be still alive, but he may be remembered by older people. At any rate, his solitary record is an interesting example of the country blues some three years before companies began seriously to record the genre.

 


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