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My songs ain't writ on papuh... them words, they just come to me while I sing. That's a true God-given talent I was borned with. Only real blues singers like me can make songs on the spot. No mutha's gonna teach you that - Guitar Gabriel, PTCBW 1995 in a semisober moment responding to a naïve student who asked "where ideas for his songs come from?"

Author Topic: Lesser known players?  (Read 14228 times)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #60 on: December 08, 2006, 10:51:21 AM »
I'd love to see that Nelson stuff, Bunker Hill. Too bad if those four sides are it if he was still around and playing in the '50s and '60s. Thanks
Chris

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #61 on: December 08, 2006, 11:46:11 AM »
I'd love to see that Nelson stuff, Bunker Hill. Too bad if those four sides are it if he was still around and playing in the '50s and '60s. Thanks
I've extracted from notes by Tracy Nelson to Rugged Piano Classics - Origin OJL 15. No date on record but was reviewed in Blues Unlimited 35, August 1966 which probably was what prompted the purchase. It would seem that my memory was at fault as to who conducted the interview as you will note from what follows:

We have, courtesy of Pete Welding of Downbeat Magazine and Testament Records, considerable original material on one musician: Romeo Nelson. This was developed in the course of an interview with Romeo conducted by Pete and Erwin Helfer in February, 1964. We present this information at length with the thought that Romeo Nelson's life and career are in many ways representative of those of the other artists on this record.

Romeo Nelson was born in 1902 in Springfield, Tenn, At the age of six, his mother moved to Chicago, taking Romeo and his brother with her. Romeo attended school there until 1915 when his family moved again -- to East St. Louis, Illinois, directly across the river from St. Louis proper. Here it was that Nelson became interested in music thru a man some years older than himself, remembered by Romeo as "Window", who played piano and sang in the taverns along the river front.

Romeo's family moved backed to Chicago in 1919 or so, soon after he had picked up on the piano, and the young man began to play around the city; he supported himself from that time until the 1940's, in fact, through a combination of music and gambling. His playing was confined mainly to house rent parties. These gigs netted him in the neighborhood of 15 or 20 dollars a week, putting him in the income bracket of an unskilled laborer.

It was while working house rent parties that Romeo ran into a number of other pianists around the city -- Clarence "Pinetop" Smith was particularly helpful to younger pianists, showing them figures on the keyboard; Romeo also remembers meeting and playing with such as Cow Cow Davenport and Clarence Lofton, as well as such unrecorded piano men as "Dollar Bill" and "Katy Red", These house rent parties in the Chicago area were exciting affairs, and extremely common in the 20's and 30's. Word would go around about the various parties to be held during the evening, and people would go to the houses where their favorite pianists would be playing. No admission was charged, but people paid for the food and spirits they consumed. The piano player was hired for a set fee by the person throwing the party. The celebrations would go on well into the small hours by which time the guests were all pretty drunk, Romeo recalled, "You could get away with anything -- just hit the keyboard with your elbows and fists, it didn?t make no difference to them, they were so drunk by then. But me, I wasn't a drinker -- didn't smoke neither -- so I used to play all the time I was working at one of those parties. In fact, that's where you get your ideas for new things. You try something out, and if you like it then you just work with it, until you have it all shaped up." Romeo was never much of a singer, he said, but it didn't matter much at the parties, because there was usually someone standing around the piano itching to sing himself. He remembers accompanying singer Red Nelson at some of the parties.

After Clarence Williams, who was an early influence on Nelson, via phonograph records, Romeo's fondest words were for Pinetop Smith, a man of great good humor and one eager to share his knowledge of the piano with others. Romeo said that the term "boogie woogie" was associated with the music that still bears the name only after Pinetop's record with that title in December 1928.

It was through the well-known Tampa Red that Romeo got to make his own records. Tampa was rooming in the home of Romeo's father-in-law. Mr. Foster, a native of Macon, Ga., as was Tampa Red. Tampa and Romeo got to be good friends, and one day the guitarist asked Romeo to accompany him to the studio while he cut come records for Mayo Williams. While there, Tampa urged Romeo to audition for Williams, Romeo recalled that he sat down at the piano and ran through a popular song, whereupon Williams asked him if he could play any blues or barrelhouse music. The pianist was happy to oblige and when he had finished playing, Williams told him he wanted to cut some stuff for him. On Thursday, Oct. 9, 1929, Nelson cut his classic performance of "Head Rag Hop" for Williams. The number was one he played at house rent parties which gave Tampa Red the idea of interjecting comments through the performance to simulate a party atmosphere.

Romeo recalled the big result of his recordings was that he began to command more money for playing house parties. After his records came out, he did play a few taverns in Chicago, among them the Subway, Tip Top, and Swan Clubs, all on the South Side,

Romeo continued his playing-gambling career until World War II, when he gave up the life for the steadier one of a regular job. He first did construction work, and then settled down to the less demanding trade of janitor, one he has stuck to ever since. "I never was much for hard work," he stated, "that's why I took up the piano in the first place."


Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #62 on: December 08, 2006, 11:50:00 AM »
I've since performed a Weenie "search" and see that JohnM and others discussed the work of Nelson a couple of years back.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #63 on: December 08, 2006, 03:14:57 PM »
Thanks a bunch, Bunker Hill. When I tried the search using the thing at the top of the site it didn't return anything, but it did when I clicked the "Search Forum" on the left side.
Chris

Offline Slack

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #64 on: December 08, 2006, 05:16:33 PM »
Quote
Thanks a bunch, Bunker Hill. When I tried the search using the thing at the top of the site it didn't return anything, but it did when I clicked the "Search Forum" on the left side.

Probably need to find a way to make this clearer --- but the search box above the forum is board specific.  If you want to search the whole forum make sure you are at the main index -- or use the Search Forum link on the left column.

Offline dj

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #65 on: December 08, 2006, 05:25:30 PM »
Thanks for the info on Romeo Nelson, Bunker Hill.  Mike Rowe gives a very condensed version of the same info in his notes to DOCD 5103, Boogie Woogie and Barrelhouse Piano, Vol. 2, adding that Nelson's given name was Iromeo, and that after his stint as a janitor he worked as an elevator operator for a publisher and was featured in the publisher's house journal in 1959.  He died on May 17, 1974. 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #66 on: December 09, 2006, 01:40:56 AM »
He died on May 17, 1974. 
When referring to Jim O'Neal's obit I perhaps should have said "belated". ;D

The first time a Romeo Nelson track found its way onto LP was Head Rag Hop in 1958 on the compilation Piano Jazz Vol. 1: Barrel House and Boogie Woogie (UK Brunswick BL-54014) which also featureed Cow Cow Davenport, Pine Top Smith, Speckled Red and Montana Taylor. The sleevenotes of Peter Gammond spoke of Nelson in the past tense! Surprisingly, although Head Hop was reissued many times on jazz labels over the next decade it wasn't until 1966 that a further two song were made available; Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing on the aforementioned Origin LP and Dyin' Rider Blues on the Sam Charters RBF compilation, Piano Blues. The remaining two titles eventually appeared on microgrove in the mid-70s.

Enough of this mindnumbing minutae, I'm off to get a life. :)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #67 on: December 09, 2006, 03:44:46 AM »
...he worked as an elevator operator for a publisher and was featured in the publisher's house journal in 1959. 
Ah which would be "Man Here Blows Real Fine Piano" (Ednews 4, no. 5 , Scott, Foresman and Co. 1959), which Living Blues reprinted, my copy of which seems to be AWOL. Typical...

Offline dj

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #68 on: December 09, 2006, 03:59:31 AM »
Quote
The remaining two titles eventually appeared on microgrove in the mid-70s.

Should that be "The remaining title"?  The only Romeo Nelson cut I'm aware of that you didn't mention is 1129 Blues (The Midnight Special).  If there's another Nelson song somewhere, I'd like to seek it out.

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #69 on: December 09, 2006, 04:04:31 AM »
If that info is of any use:
The Brunswick Album Discography gives release date of Brunswick BL-54014 as early as '1955'. The frollowing (re?)issue on Vogue/Coral LVA 9069 (see pic) which I found at eBay is dated '1957':

PIANO JAZZ VOL.1

BARREL HOUSE & BOOGIE WOOGIE

1957 U.K. VOGUE CORAL CATALOGUE NUMBER: LVA 9069

SIDE 1:

MONTANA TAYLOR: Detroit Rocks,Indiana Avenue Stomp - SPECKLED RED: The Dirty Dozen No.1,The Dirty Dozen No.2,Wilkens Street Stomp - ROMEO NELSON: Head Rag Hop

SIDE 2:

PINETOP SMITH: Pinetop's Boogie Woogie,Pinetop's Blues,Jump Steady Blues,I'm Sober Now - COW COW DAVENPORT: Cow Cow Blues,State Street Jive.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #70 on: December 09, 2006, 05:16:31 AM »
Quote
The remaining two titles eventually appeared on microgrove in the mid-70s.
Should that be "The remaining title"? 
Yes, sorry wasn't concentrating. An all too recurrent complaint these days. :(

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #71 on: December 09, 2006, 05:26:18 AM »
If that info is of any use:
The Brunswick Album Discography gives release date of Brunswick BL-54014 as early as '1955'. The frollowing (re?)issue on Vogue/Coral LVA 9069 (see pic) which I found at eBay is dated '1957':
Absolutely Stefan. I was simultaneously consulting my printed version of the US Decca jazz LP catalogue and the sleeve notes to the Vogue-Coral LP in my possession and quoted the date of the latter rather than former. Duh. Must refrain from posting early Saturday mornings and curb the knee-jerk reactions until later in the day when the synapses have had a chance to recover from the night before.  Just as well you don't have the like of me helping you out with your discographies, eh? ;)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2006, 05:28:00 AM by Bunker Hill »

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #72 on: December 23, 2006, 06:14:58 PM »
How about Bo Weavil Jackson and JD Short they're pretty unappreciated.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #73 on: February 09, 2012, 08:13:17 AM »
The only recordings I could find of his in the Document catalog appear on DOCD-5162, "Texas:  Black Country Dance Music", on which he plays four tracks from 1935 as "Carl Davis & Dallas Jamboree Jug Band".  Has anyone heard these tracks?  Based on how Davis sounded behind Texas Alexander, it seems like they might really be good.

Those four recordings are nothing special, IMHO. Mindless moderately uptempo blues. It does sound to me like he plays with a flat pick. Of the four, "Flying Crow" is the best, with some jazzy chord changes and a little slower than the other pieces. The band sounds to me like they're just concerned about playing fast for dancing.

Unfairly dragging up a quote from almost six years ago (sorry Chris!), simply because I was just listening to the Carl Davis and the Dallas Jamboree Band tracks. I agree in part that the band has a limited "good time" sound to some extent, but there is some stuff of interest in their four tracks, with arrangements that seem to have had some thought put into them (a little like the Memphis Jug Band). Elm Street Woman Blues has some lively guitar playing, Flying Crow is a good one, and Oscar Woods fans might note that "Dusting the Frets" is the same tune as "Don't Sell It, Don't Give It Away", but Dusting was recorded nearly a year earlier than Woods' first solo version.

Washboard and kazoo warnings apply.

Offline Annette

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #74 on: March 26, 2012, 11:28:45 AM »
Blind Joe Reynolds is probably my fave "lesser known player" a lot of those mentioned previously too.

I also like the St Louis school - most of whom seem to have been called Henry something or other...

Annette
Annette

 


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