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Put lye salt in my gravy, potash in my tea. I know by that she's tryin' to poison me. - Brownie McGhee, Dealing With the Devil

Author Topic: Jesse Thomas  (Read 2246 times)

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Offline book

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  • Robert & The Book
Jesse Thomas
« on: October 21, 2006, 10:59:55 AM »
Hey John, Jesse Thomas was a friend of mine....Back in the 70's and until his death in the 90's, he was a working musician in Louisiana.  He had a couple of bands and worked regularly.  One gig was at the VIP Lounge at Shreveport Downs race track and another when I got down there was at a "supper club"........he was quite content with his life and was sending songs to a Nashville publisher, looking for a hit.
    I did "hip" the folks at the NEW ORLEANS JAZZ  & Heritage Festival to him, and he was hired pretty regularly until his death.....
Roy BB

Offline Johnm

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Jesse Thomas
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2006, 11:43:56 AM »
Thanks for the additional info on Jesse Thomas, Book.  What a player he was!  It's interesting to hear that he did stay active pretty much until the end, but sticking pretty close to his home territory, from the sound of it.  Maybe he didn't like to travel that much, but I sure wish somebody had brought him up to the Coffee House/Festival circuit in the '60s or '70s.  I suppose it may have been, too, that such work did not pay enough from his point of view to justify leaving home.  I have seen a late-life CD of his on Delmark.  Has anybody heard it?  I wonder what it's like.  I think I'll peel off your post, Book, and this one, and start a Jess Thomas thread.
All best,

Offline jharris

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Re: Jesse Thomas
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2006, 07:12:46 PM »
I don't think the Delmark captures Thomas in the best light. If you want to hear Thomas at his best look no further then Document's "Jesse Thomas (1948-1995)" which is terrific. I'll pull a Bunker and quote Chris Smith from the recently discussed Penguin Guide To The Blues:

"These 28 tracks were recorded for nine companies, with accompaniments ranging from solo guitar to a rocking R&B bands to smoky tenor sax and rippling piano. The common denominators are Thomas's ringing guitar, his imaginative. often optimistic lyrics, and his strong, almost strident voice. His playing is indebted to earlier Texan styles, but Thomas developed an unpredictable, energetic and harmonically advanced sound, in part by transferring saxophone solos and his own piano playing to electric guitar."

Thomas's 4 early sides from 1929 can be found on Document's "Ramblin' Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers (1928-1932)" which includes his wonderful "Blue Goose Blues." As Bob Groom mentions in the notes, Thomas's playing bears the strong stamp of both Lonnie Johnson and Blind Blake.

-Jeff H

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Jesse Thomas
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2006, 12:23:14 AM »
Some may be interested in the following from the Letters Page of Blues & Rhythm 96, February 1995. Although the Cora Mae Bryant portion of the correspondence isn't relevant to this discussion, imho it would be disingenuous to edit it out:


In regard to recent comments in B&R and other blues magazines about the payment of royalties to artists. Here are two letters which I think B&R readers and blues collectors will be interested to read. The first is from Jesse "Babyface" Thomas and the second from Howard Hunnicutt.

Johnny Parth,
Document Records

"Dear Mr. Johnny Parth,

I am so thankful for all you have done. It was so kind of you to send me a check. What a joy it was to receive it. I am so delighted. How kind of you to think of me. Again thank you very much.

Jesse Thomas"

"Dear Johnny,

The music you have sent me has been used extensively in the production of my radio show. It is well received by my listeners. One of my regular listeners is Cora Mae Bryant. She calls me frequently in response to hearing recordings she has not heard since her childhood like Kokomo Arnold, Barbecue Bob or of course her father Curley Weaver.

She called me several weeks ago to tell me she had received a check from you in payment for the use of her father's music. As she is a woman of limited means, she was very glad to have received it. Thanks also for your consideration to the heirs of this music.

Thanks for your help,
Howard Hunnicut,
WRFG, Atlanta"

Offline dj

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Re: Jesse Thomas
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2006, 04:06:18 PM »
Speaking of Document's "Jesse Thomas (1948 - 1958), the Penguin Guide To Blues Recordings gives it four stars and a crown, signifying "... truly exceptional: cornerstones of a collection, the basic blues library, shoo-ins for any list of All-Time Best Blues Albums."  It's well worth checking out.


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