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I heard them bring that old Iron Curtain down on me - Sleepy John Estes visits eastern Europe, The Voice of the Blues

Author Topic: what got you into the blues?  (Read 4123 times)

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Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2010, 08:54:44 PM »
A mean mistreatin' woman.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline jostber

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2010, 08:00:23 AM »
This great record:



And then a lot of Howlin' Wolf albums.


Offline Rivers

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2010, 07:26:15 PM »
I've seriously thought about this and come to a conclusion.

It was Lonnie Donegan, no doubt about it. Introduced me to the Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly songbook, starting in 1957, lord I was 5 years old! Incredible. God bless Lonnie Donegan. He should have got a knighthood but his brilliant cover of Battle Of New Orleans probably put paid to that.

Consolidation started during the British blues boom of the late '60s when I started playing guitar as a teenager, specifically almost everything on Blue Horizon records, John Mayall's various storied bands, Savoy Brown. I still love Peter Green's playing on the 'Dog & Dustbin' & 'Mr Wonderful' albums. He could have been a contender if someone hadn't spiked him with acid, what a tragedy that was for art.

Then I started getting acoustic. Jo Ann Kelly's recordings got me chasing down Skip James and acoustic CB in general. Holy Modal Rounders were a goldmine (and hilarious). Mississippi John Hurt live at Oberlin was probably my first 'real' CB album, and that inspired me to work seriously on fingerpicking. During that time I heard a couple of Rev. Gary Davis recordings (I can't remember which ones, Newport perhaps) and it filled me with awe and gave me something impossibly huge to aspire to, since I had no idea what he was doing. This was all before I left home in 1969, future uncertain.

Anyway, that's the honest truth of where I started.

Offline outfidel

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2010, 06:54:45 PM »
Muddy Waters doing "Mannish Boy" in The Last Waltz. My older brother bought soundtrack when I was 16 or so -- I was hooked.
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2011, 11:16:26 AM »
Earlier this year I bored the Euro Weenie gathering to death with my route to the blues so I'll keep it to a single sentence. Hearing the 1957 Pye-Nixa LP "Blues In The Mississippi Night" being played at a friends house by his jazz loving father in the summer of 1962.
Came across a scan of the booklet to Blues In The Mississippi Night (Sequel NEX CD 122, 1990) and, wondering where at Weenie to place it for posterity chose this topic since elsewhere I say the record got me into the blues.......

When this record first came out, in 1957, Alan Lomax said that it had been recorded "almost fifteen years ago". and he told in the notes of meeting Leroy, Natchez and Sib at a country dance in the South, and recording their conversation about the blues and where they come from early one Sunday morning. In 1948, he had published an article based on the same interview, which told a rather different story about how the recordings came to be made; in this version, the three musicians and Lomax were on the run from the Memphis police, and had made the recordings while hiding out at "Hamp's Place" near West Memphis, Arkansas.

It's long been known, however, that the only true statement in all this is that Lomax was operating the disc cutter. His three informants were the pianist Memphis Slim ("Leroy"), the guitarist Big Bill Broonzy ("Natchez") and the harmonica player John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson ("Sib"), who had all made careers in the recording industry. Nor did the session take place in the South in the early '40s; Memphis Slim recollected that it was recorded far above the Mason Dixon Line, in New York in 1947. In that year, he and the other two were indeed in New York, for a "Music at Midnight" concert at the Town Hall, which Lomax may have organised. (The bass player, probably Ransom Knowling, who can be heard on some tracks, was most likely part of the concert team also.) The romantic flim-flam and the pseudonyms would seem to have been intended partly to engage the attention and indignation of a illiberal white audience, and partly to protect the three men from the attention and indignation of another, illiberal white audience. Lomax says that he concealed the singers' identities et their own request, end listening to some of their stories, one can well understand it, though it may not be unduly cynical to point out that they all had record company contracts in 1947. (On a BBC radio programme in the '50s, Lomax didn't disguise their names, presumably feeling that the Atlantic Ocean was protection enough.
This record speaks for itself, literally. Nevertheless, a few observations on the musicians, and their songs end conversation, may be helpful. Big Bill Broonzy was born the son of a slave in Scott, Mississippi in 1893, and started out playing the fiddle, which he learned from an uncle, Jerry Belcher, who war, still alive, aged 106, in 1954! It's possible that the dreadful story of the Arkansas Belcher family, slaughtered because one of them married a girl a white man coveted, was about relatives of Bill's. Broonzy made many records, under his own name and as an accompanist, from 1927 onwards. At first, these were aimed at black purchasers, but Big Bill was quick to take advantage of growing white interest in the blues, beginning with his appearance at the 1938 "Spirituals to Swing" concert. He was presented there as having come straight off the farm, and on his first trip to the big city, which was not altogether true, since he'd been based in Chicago for some time; but he then migrated back to Mississippi to see his relatives and do some farmwork, and his rural roots were important to both the man and his music. After World War II, most of Broonzy's recordings were made for white audiences, and he toured Europe extensively before his death in 1958.

He acts as the instigator of the discussion, asking Sonny Boy Williamson to tell what gives him the blues, and skilfully turning the conversation from the "rent situation" that the urban-dwelling Memphis Slim mentions to "the places where you didn't have to pay rent? ... Just on a plantation ..." which Lomax was more interested in hearing about. Broonzy does little singing on the record, trading a few worksongs with Slim, and playing guitar occasionally; but he was also a masterly raconteur, as is borne out by his stories here, whether of the awful violence that could be the fate of blacks who tried to buck the system, or the more lighthearted tale of the obsessional "Mr White" who wouldn't have a black animal on his land, let alone a black man. That story reminds him of the joke about having to call a grey mule "Mister Mule", in line with the supremacist insistence that all whites were addressed as "Mister". (The implication is that the mule and the redneck are equally worthy of the honorific.)

Memphis Slim, born John L. Chatman in 1915 was, like Broonzy, an astute and intelligent man; in many ways he reaped what Big Bill had sown, leaving the USA to settle in Paris and perform almost exclusively for white audiences from the early '60s until his death in 1988. This made him wealthy enough to run a Rolls.Royce, and his life became a far cry indeed from the one that he tells of here. It's difficult to blame him overmuch for turning out e great many rather indifferent records in later life they were his means of escape from the levee camps, which Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples exposed in a 1933 article called "Mississippi Slavery in 1933". Memphis Slim knew about that slavery the herd way, end he and Broonzy describe the poor food and accommodation, the minimal pay and the brutal conditions, with humour and restrained anger.

On "Blues in the Mississippi Night", Slim is the first person heard, with "Life Is Like That", a blues with a structure that owed something to pop music: both this and its philosophising content are typical of Memphis Slim's approach on commercial records. Very far removed from that milieu, though, are his snatches of prison, levee camp and railroad songs; so too is the ballad of the badman, Stackerlee, that he sings in response to Broonzy's tale of murder in Altheimer, Arkansas. The song became an R&B hit for Lloyd Price in later years, but this version has the laconic realism of a police report, matter-of-factly cataloguing the weapon, the location, and the wounds inflicted. Finally, his two piano solos are reminders of what an exceptionally tough pianist Memphis Slim was, bearing down hard on the keyboard from his great height and yet often surprisingly delicate and subtle.

The third member of the trio, Sonny Boy Williamson was born in 1914 and died, the victim of a mugging, in 1948. In his short life, he set the standard and defined the aesthetic for blues harmonica players to this day, developing the Tennessee country blues of his youth into a rocking, amplified music that fore-shadows the classic Chicago blues sound of the '50s. His vocalised harmonica playing and tongue tied vocals were much imitated, but seldom equalled. On this record, we can hear how his singing style was a controlled version of the stammer that sometimes afflicted his speech. He tells the sad story of how he came to write "Good Morning, Little School Girl", his first recording, cut in 1938, which quickly became part of the repertoire of many blues singers. As he says, it was the combination of troubles and drink that gave him the blues, he was universally remembered as goodhearted, but prone to violence when drunk. Bill Broonzy said that every time he got drunk, Sonny Boy would went to tight him or Memphis Slim, though his rages never lasted long. (Listening to the way they tease him when he tells the story about the mule, one can't help feeling that Williamson sometimes had good reasons for coming to blows with the other two.) Sonny Boy sings "My Black Name", which he had recorded commercially in 1941, but he is more reticent than the other two in the discussion, probably as a combined result of his speech impediment and of his being less accustomed to speaking freely before a white man. (As Broonzy points out, if you wanted to cuss out the boss, it was safer to sing it, or take it out on your mule; whites like Lomax, who amazed Muddy Waters by drinking out of the same dipper when they met in 1941, were rare indeed.)

From time to time, music by others is inserted into the conversation by way of illustration. These recordings were also made by Alan Lomax, who had started recording black musicians for the Library of Congress in 1933. Some of the singers cannot be identified - the church service, for instance, could come from almost anywhere In the rural South - but "I Ain't Got Long" was recorded in 1947 et Parchman, Mississippi (and can be heard, along with many other superb worksongs, on Sequel NEX CD 121, ''Murderer's Home"); it seems quite likely that "Berta" and "Don't You Hear Your Poor Mother Calling" come from the same field trip. "Another Man Done Gone" is by Vera Hall (1906-64), from Livingstone, Alabama. She spent most of her life near her birthplace, visited intermittently by researchers who recorded her astonishingly pure, clear and truthful singing. In 1949, she appeared at a concert at Columbia University, New York. and these performances probably come from that time; their echoing acoustic is that of a concert hall.

It must have been a hell of a life to be black in the South when Big Bill. Slim and Sonny Boy were growing up, having to deny your own value as a human being whenever you dealt with a white man, et the risk of being beaten or killed if you decided you weren't going to take any more. What these three men have to say and sing on the matter gives a remarkable insight into those days and ways, and it would be presumptuous of me to try to expound it in these notes; it is also unnecessary, for they tell their stories, which in turn tell the story of a significant part of the black experience, with clarity, wit and power. Not the least remarkable thing about this record is that it ends with a joke that illustrates how the whole system of white supremacy based on oppression and sustained by violence, capable of doing terrible things to its victims, was ultimately absurd. Then they sneek the word "goatshit" onto the white man's record, disguised as s place name! As many blues singers have sung. "You don't know, You don't know my mind; when You see me laughin', I?m laughin' to keep from cryin'." This record reveals some of the reasons for both the laughter and the crying.   Chris Smith

SOURCES
Alan Balfour: Obscure LPs (Blues-Link 3, January/February 1974)
Big Bill Broonzy: Big Bill B1ues (Oak, 1964)
Big Bill Broonzy: letters to Yannick Bruynoghe (Living Blues 55, Winter 1982/3)
John Cowley: review of Vogue VJD 515 (Blues Unlimited 121, November 1976)
John Cowley: Shack Bullies And Levee Contractors part 2 (Juke Blues 4, Spring 1986)
Sheldon Harris: Blues Who's Who (Arlington House, 1979)
Margaret McKee & Fred Chisenhall: Beale Black & Blue (Louisiana State University Press, 1981)
and of course Alan Lomax's notes (1957) to the original issue of these recordings.

« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 11:31:59 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline oddenda

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2011, 06:22:57 PM »
The other way... through jazz. Reviews in Down Beat, and Jazz Review (Nat Hentoff's magazine) of blues records (Big Bill in the former, Chess LPs in the latter) started the whole thing off for me.

pbl

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2011, 04:09:49 AM »
The other way... through jazz. Reviews in Down Beat, and Jazz Review (Nat Hentoff's magazine)
Funny you should mention mags. The guy who gave me the BITMN LP also donated his Jazz Monthly and Jazz Journal 1957-1962 which were full of blues related reading matter. I kept subscriptions to both going until 1970s.

Offline Blind Arthur

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2011, 06:00:36 AM »
For me, in the early 1990ies. A general interest of how popular music evolved in the 20th century. And one guitar teacher. Showed me the Wolf version of "Little Red Rooster" and a typical Muddy and RJ slide riff. That got me interested. Also looked so deceptively simple ;)

The "Blues Collection" magazine here and the then upcoming Document CDs, plus Red Lick selling the Matchbox LPs for so cheap right then. Plus, I found a few books on the subject (like Tommy Johnson, Red River Blues, Sinners and Saints).

So, a general historical attitude, plus I found and find the music extremely accessible. As if it?s made for me. Far more like the then common "Eurodance". Through my guitar teacher I also met one or two other like-minded people. He is still performing, whilst my guitar has hardly been used for the past 4 years. I?ve become mainly a listener now :)

Summary: Combination of "great guitar teacher" plus "Sinners and Saints" plus the Sony set of RJ.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 06:10:52 AM by Blind Arthur »
You canīt trust your baby when the ice man comes hanging around :D

Offline Stuart

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2011, 08:31:39 AM »
Hearing the music and the availability of LPs. It was so long ago that I can't remember the specifics, but it probably started with the major label releases and then progressed to the reissues which were harder to find.

Offline Roscoe

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2011, 06:37:16 AM »
jimmy reed. 1958.
roscoe
eureka springs ar

Offline wreid75

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2011, 11:27:08 AM »
When I first wanted to learn how to play guitar the only musicians that I knew were older blues players, my uncle being one of them. They taught me how to play and because I was blessed with some talent I picked up on it very quickly.  This was electric blues SRV, Clapton, Cray, Thunderbirds, etc that I was taught.  As I got older I discovered the country blues cats and have been driving my friends and family nuts with what they consider shitty recordings of average talent.............dumbasses.  Some of the country blues stuff is more challenging than SRV and those cats had mad skills.

Offline Oatmeal Jones

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #26 on: November 15, 2011, 11:50:05 AM »
I do no play no rock and roll by Fred McDowell and Electric Mud by muddy Waters. I'm 31 now and in my early 20s both were weird enough to warrant sufficient research. Which of course led into a big giant world that eventually came to encompass old time too.

Offline Riffseeker91

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #27 on: November 17, 2011, 06:22:32 AM »
Greetings to everyone.

Listening to bands like Down, Clutch, and other modern heavy blues bands made me look up their influences and in a matter of couple of years i found myself listening to delta blues, jazz, country blues and ragtime. Nowadays you have to dig to find your roots.

Offline Haans

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2011, 04:19:11 AM »
I wish I could say something  8) like I learned it all from Mance Lipscomb, but Hot Tuna got me a start in the early '70's. Then as I was learning to build instruments, I met a guy that played it "real". He turned out to be a lifelong friend, we spent the better part of 30 years flyfishing together, and we still maintain a good relationship.
He introduced me to Dave Ray, and it was all over. I've had the privilege of seeing and hearing Dave hundreds of times before he died. I guess that is the cool thing about my introduction to the blues.
I was crazy for 12 strings and still am...
Johann D. Brentrup
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Offline Stuart

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2011, 07:31:13 AM »
Hi Haans:

Over the years I've met a surprising number of people who have been introduced and gotten into the music via Jorma and Jack, so you're not alone. Given Hot Tuna's relatively high profile and visibility, along with their choice of tunes, it's not surprising. Their brand of the Blues may not suit everyone's tastes, but one cannot discount their importance.

I've been a fan of Koerner, Ray and Glover ever since I heard their music back in the 60s. Every time I listen to their first album, I'm always struck how good they were. It's a damn shame that Dave passed on when he was a relatively young man.

I enjoyed the shop tour and the photos of the instruments. They are beautiful pieces and I'm sure that they sound as good as they look.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 07:33:01 AM by Stuart »

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