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I learned when I was fifteen that a show, a live show, has to have an opening, a middle, and an ending. If you know that, your shows will sound like the highlights of an average show all the way through - Miles Davis

Author Topic: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs  (Read 7023 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« on: February 03, 2007, 12:25:12 AM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up the JSP set "Memphis Shakedown--More Jug Band Classics" and was listening to the disc devoted primarily to Charlie Burse and his Memphis Mudcats, a sophisticated band with alto sax, piano, bass and drums that recorded relatively late, in 1939.  After hearing a bunch of fairly frenetic raggy up-tempo circle of fifths type of tunes and blues, all of a sudden, at track fourteen, I hear the band take a more relaxed dance tempo and launch into a beautiful version of the Country song, "It Makes No Difference Now", with the singer, Robert Hunter, doing a really lovely job.  Hearing this performance after so many tunes sounding so much alike I was reminded how much I like to hear Blues singers sing Pop and country material occasionally.
I was struck by this over thirty years ago when I heard Leroy Carr's renditions of "Think Of Me Thinking Of You" and Irving Berlin's "How About Me".  They just knocked me out, though in fairness I'd be perfectly happy to hear Leroy Carr sing the phone book.  In more recent years, though, I've had occasion to hear Blues singers sing Pop, or more often Country material, and almost always particularly like it.  Probably a number of you heard John Jackson sing "Just Because" with hot Swing back-up chording, but perhaps fewer have heard John Cephas sing the old Louvin Brothers tune, "When I Stop Dreaming".  It is really terrific, right up there with Ray Charles' recordings of Country songs.  A couple of years ago at Port Townsend, a number of you may have heard the Maryland songster Warner Williams sing one Country song after another.  I know he considers that music just as much his as are the Blues.  And the Delaware musician Frank Hovington had a really nice recording of "Nobody's Darling But Mine".
I'm curious if any of the rest of you share my liking of blues singers singing Pop and Country material, and if you have any favorite performances on record that you would care to recommend.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2007, 02:09:56 AM »
those that came to my mind immediately (in sequence of their appearance - to my mind, that is ;-):
- Long Way From Tipperary by Mance Lipscomb
- Brother Can You Spare A Dime by Steve Mann
- Up A Lazy River by Bill Williams
- I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome by Bill Williams

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2007, 05:07:21 AM »
I think that Charlie Patton's "Some These Days I'll Be Gone" was a pop song, I don't quite remember though.

Offline Richard

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2007, 05:57:19 AM »
I think an awful lot of stuff could be classed as pop songs of the period, but it's what you do with the material that counts and sticks in the mind.

I was in sort of late mainstreamy jazz thing once and we used to a boppy version of "When the red, red robbin goes boppin' along" and it did too  :P
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2007, 06:14:27 AM »
I'm quite partial to Big Bill Broonzy's dead thumb version of "Glory of Love". It's one of those songs that are not too hard to play but hard to get sounding right.

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2007, 10:13:37 AM »
Johnm, I don't know that I share your liking for such to a great extent, but I listen to it, and--if I can get up on the pulpit for a minute--I think that it's important that we do listen to it or we risk losing sight of the entire context into which you have to fit "The Blues" and what "The Bluesmen" were. For example, it's almost a revelation to hear Tampa Red crooning with The Chicago Five in some of his 1936-38 sides and to know that, e.g., "Delta Woman Blues" and "Seminole Blues" were chronologically right in the middle of those.  Wald's selection is a pretty good start, but it's important to remember that those represent merely the tip of the iceberg.  Down off the pulpit now, a song that I think fits in this category somehow that has always interested and really puzzled me is Lonnie Johnson's "Nile of Genago."

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2007, 11:56:10 AM »
...a song that I think fits in this category somehow that has always interested and really puzzled me is Lonnie Johnson's "Nile of Genago."
On October 28, 2005 a member of Mary Katherine Aldin's prewar blues group asked what the significance of the title was. The silence was deafening - not one response, or even an educated guess. Any ideas?

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2007, 12:34:55 PM »
It looks like an anagram. http://wordsmith.org/anagram/anagram.cgi?anagram=Nile+of+Genago

I like "A FLEEING GOON" myself.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2007, 04:56:46 PM »
A would imagine "Nile of Genago" to be a misheard or corrupted foreign title, a tune from the land of Mondegreen, like "Croquet Habits" or "Hammer Blues." Maybe it was originally "Isle of" something.
Chris

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2007, 04:40:03 AM »
Good topic, John.  Just from the CDs I had in the car this weekend, here's an unscientific survey: 

On the hillbilly side of things, there's Stovepipe No. 1 singing the square dance tunes "Lonesome John", "Cripple Creek and Sourwood Mountain", and "Turkey In The Straw" in 1924, accompanying himself on guitar, harmonica, and stovepipe.

And on the pop side, there's Ollie Shepard in 1939 singing "Oh Maria" in a very Louis Jordan vein, accompanied by piano, bass, drums and a vocal group.

And don't forget country blues players Joe and Charlie McCoy who moved to Chicago and as part of the Harlem Hamfats recorded a wide variety of styles besides blues.  Just from the first volume of their complete works on Document there's pop ("Little Girl"), novelty  ("Weed Smoker's Dream") and swing instrumentals ("Hamfat Swing", with some fine mandolin by Charlie McCoy).
 

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2007, 01:02:08 PM »
I just heard a really good example of a couple of "blues" singers singing a pop song:  Walter Roland and Sonny Scott, recording as "The Jolly Two" doing a romping, infectiously good humored version of "Come On Down".  It's pretty much two-part vocal harmony throughout, with both men playing guitar and one of them taking a nifty single-string solo. 

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2007, 10:29:07 AM »
A nice example of a "blues" singer singing a pop song just played on the Juke:  Joe Pullum singing "Dixie My Home" accompanied by the pianist Andy Boy.  A bit of internet searching turned up the fact that Tony Russell called this song "Fosteresque" in a January 1971 Jazz Monthly article.  An apt description.

Joe Pullum is a singer who's worth a closer look and listen.  Here's a link to the entire Russell article, in case anyone's interested:  http://www.blues.co.nz/dig-this/documents/pullJM71.pdf   

Edited to add:  Oops!  I should have checked the Weenie Tabs first.  I see Bunker Hill posted this same article in the Forum a scant four months ago.    :o   
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 11:46:44 AM by dj »

tommersl

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2007, 02:19:59 PM »
Luke Jordan's Tom Brown reminds me the style of country ballads.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2007, 03:28:42 AM »
Herve Duerson singing "You'll Be Sorry Some Day".

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2007, 03:35:54 PM »
Joe Evans and Arthur McClain, a duo from eastern Tennessee who recorded as the Two Poor Boys, did the pop songs "Little Son Of A Gun (Look What You've Done)", "Take A Look At That Baby", "Oh, You Son Of A Gun", "Georgia Rose", and "So Sorry Dear", the country tune "New Huntsville Jail", and the dance tunes "Old Hen Cackle" and "Sourwood Mountain" in addition to their blues numbers.     
« Last Edit: May 09, 2007, 03:42:44 PM by dj »

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