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Author Topic: Joe Stone  (Read 1507 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Joe Stone
« on: July 30, 2010, 10:36:40 PM »
Hi all,
I've been listening a lot recently to the two titles that Joe Stone recorded on August 2, 1933, "It's Hard Time" and "Back Door Blues".  Both were played out of E position in standard tuning and are superlative examples of St. Louis guitar playing of that era.  I've always heard it represented that Joe Stone was a pseudonym for J. D. (Jelly Jaw) Short, and vocally, especially, there is a similarity in the tone production, though to my ears, J. D. Short in that period had a more pronounced head tone and vocal tremolo than "Joe Stone" did.
The instrumental differences are more pronounced than the vocal differences.  Short's sides from that era show a strong player in Spanish and E standard who liked to utilize vibrato.  Stone, though, is notably quicker than Short in his tempos for both "It's Hard Time" and "Back Door Blues", and is, moreover, a spectacularly accomplished strummer with an exciting, ferocious attack and the ability to control his damping while playing really, really fast.  Seriously, I don't know why these tracks haven't excited more comment among Country Blues aficionados, for they rank with the most exciting playing of any period of the music.  On "Back Door Blues", in particular, Joe Stone goes up the neck for one of the later verse accompaniments and rips off some jaw-dropping runs behind and in response to his singing.  I suppose I value this kind of playing all the more for the complete absence of anything like it in the present-day blues scene.  

If you've not heard these tracks and would like to hear Joe Stone, they can be found on the JSP set "When The Levee Breaks--Mississippi Blues, Rare Cuts 1926--1942".  I guess my question for anyone who knows more about these recordings than I was able to glean from the data listed on the record would be, "What was the basis for determining that Joe Stone was actually J. D. Short?"  If it was J.D. Short, he was at some kind of point of technical sharpness and mastery that he never had achieved before on record and would never achieve again.  This is not said to denigrate Short's music, which I particularly like, but just to say that the Joe Stone cuts are quite unusual in their degree of mastery.
All best,
Johnm    
« Last Edit: July 30, 2010, 10:39:27 PM by Johnm »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2010, 12:30:09 AM »
 
I guess my question for anyone who knows more about these recordings than I was able to glean from the data listed on the record would be, "What was the basis for determining that Joe Stone was actually J. D. Short?"
"Ah, there lies the rub", as a Shakespearean character might have said.

The proposition must have been originally mooted somewhere between publication of the 1964 B&GR and that of 1969 because in the latter appeared the statement "There is a possibility that J.C. Stone maybe J.D. Short, but lacking definite evidence, we are listing under Stone". Much the same wording appears in the 1982 and 1997 editions. There's always a possibility that during the past decade it has been substantiated that JD and Stone were one and the same but......

Offline Johnm

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2010, 07:23:51 AM »
Thanks for that info, Bunker Hill.  Based on the differences in touch, tempo and vocal tone, I believe that Joe Stone and J. D. Short were two different people, barring hard information to the contrary.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2010, 08:21:17 AM »
Johnm, your having been a Yazoo note writer in a past life, will be interested to read what Don Kent had to say regarding Joe Stone in the notes to the 1968 St Louis Town LP

JOE STONE: It's Hard Time is perhaps the greatest
blues song that takes the depression as its theme.
It would appear due to stylistic similarities that
Joe Stone is actually a pseudonym for JayDee Short.
To further support this, the files reveal that JayDee
Short was in the studios working as an accompaniest
the same day that Stone recorded.

Perhaps a case of adding two and two and coming up with.....who knows what?

Offline LD50

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2010, 10:17:43 AM »
Johnm, your having been a Yazoo note writer in a past life, will be interested to read what Don Kent had to say regarding Joe Stone in the notes to the 1968 St Louis Town LP

JOE STONE: It's Hard Time is perhaps the greatest
blues song that takes the depression as its theme.
It would appear due to stylistic similarities that
Joe Stone is actually a pseudonym for JayDee Short.
To further support this, the files reveal that JayDee
Short was in the studios working as an accompaniest
the same day that Stone recorded.

Perhaps a case of adding two and two and coming up with.....who knows what?


Yes: according to Godrich & Dixon, on 8/2/33, Short played guitar on Georgia Boyd's Never Mind Blues.* (A great track!) I have it on the old Yazoo LP St. Louis Blues 1929-1935: the Depression, but it's also on Document's St. Louis 1927-1933: Complete Recorded Works.

So give it a listen and compare it to the Joe Stone Bluebird recorded the same day -- I personally think Short and Stone are the same person, and the differences are easily attributable to him just being in a different mood musically in '33, or maybe using a different guitar from the ones he used in '30 & '32. As far as I'm concerned, the vocals are obviously the same guy.

I've always been a huge fan of Short's seven known tracks -- they're great raw stuff, very original (lyrically & otherwise) and very overlooked. There's also THREE Paramounts by him that were released but have never been found.

*In fact, Boyd's two titles (the second one apparently has Sykes on piano) occupy the two matrix nos. immediately before Stone's.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2010, 11:09:45 AM by LD50 »

Offline Alexei McDonald

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2010, 10:52:56 AM »
The interesting thing is that whoever Joe Stone was, he has the bad habit of swallowing the ends of lines, or of singing them so quietly as to be very hard to hear, something that doesn't really happen on the J D Short sides.   Could a man really develop this vocal tic for just one record?   I'm not so sure that Joe Stone and J D Short were the same guy as I was when I got up this morning.   But more importantly, does this mean that my prayers have been answered, and that John Miller is working on a St Louis Blues Guitar instruction DVD?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2010, 12:15:33 PM »
Hi Alexei,
I agree with you that Joe Stone had a sort of diffidence in his vocals that J. D. Short never had, and his guitar playing includes a lot of stuff that never turned up elsewhere in J. D. Short's recordings.  I'm convinced they were two different people despite both being the studio the same day, etc.  The aural evidence for them being the same person is not convincing to me, and without that, the proximity argument doesn't cut much ice.

I am planning on doing a St. Louis guitar lesson, and it's still in the early stages, but I really look forward to the immersion that goes along with the preparation.
All best,
Johnm

Offline CF

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2010, 09:35:27 AM »
I have the JSP set & I have always really liked these tunes, I'm glad you brought them up John. I'm going to spend part of the day listening to the set.
I would have to say, to my ears, vocal-wise anyway, that Stone & Short are one & the same.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline LD50

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2010, 12:48:32 PM »
Compare the guitar accompaniment to Boyd's Never Mind Blues to that of Joe Stone's Back Door Blues, recorded the same day. It's obviously the same guy and the same guitar.

It really sounds like he played a different guitar on his 1932 Vocalion session.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2010, 12:50:30 PM by LD50 »

Offline LD50

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Re: Joe Stone
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2010, 01:32:50 PM »
Hmmm. The plot thickens: listening to Jelly Jaw Short's 1932 Vocalions, I noticed that the guitar on his Grand Daddy Blues sounds an awful lot like Peetie Wheatstraw's guitar on Police Station Blues, which was recorded the next day. The Vocalion records apparently indicate that Wheatstraw was in the studio when Short recorded his numbers, since G&D says that Wheatstraw probably accompanied Short on Short's Let Me Mash That Thing (which has never been reissued). Short's other two 1932 recordings don't sound anywhere near as much like Wheatstraw, to me at least.

So, I wonder if maybe Short played guitar on Snake Doctor Blues and Barefoot Blues, but that Wheatstraw did the guitar on Grand Daddy Blues?

Okay, I'm probably imagining things -- it may be no more than the fact that Wheatstraw and Short influenced each other. But it'd be interesting for someone less ignorant of guitar playing than me to share their opinion.

 


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