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Well as a man he was a good natured fellow to meet, very kind. Well thought of and everybody liked him, wouldn't do nobody no harm at all. He do like most blind men do when they have a family or wife, do all they can to take care of them - Rev. Gary Davis describes Blind Boy Fuller, in Oh, What A Beautiful City

Author Topic: what got you into the blues?  (Read 4121 times)

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Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2011, 08:42:14 AM »
I grew up hearing every kinda blues, my pops was exploring an abandoned house in Glen Burnie MD in 1966 at age 12 where he and his buddies were rifling through all the antiques left in this house. Apparently there were clothes, furniture, photos, old medicine bottles. Inside a victrola, he found 2 Blind Willie Johnson 78s, one of them being "Jesus Blood Can Make Me Whole", he took them home and was converted, to the blues of course. From there he obsessively gobbled blues so I grew up hearing and loving all the best country blues. I remember being pretty freaked out by Charlie Patton and Skip James, in good way. These people were messengers to me, especially in my teenage years. They told me it's ok to express a huge range of emotions. At 15 or 16 I tought myself to fingerpick after obsessing over John Hurt. Spike Driver was the first song I successfully fingerpicked. Right after that I heard John Fahey's Blind Joe Death for the first time and my life was altered permanently.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline Haans

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2011, 01:51:56 PM »
hi stuart!
i'm sure lots of folks got a start from jorma. i really used to like will scarlett too...
thanksgiving was 9 years since dave passed. i really miss him. always liked "snaker's here" best cause it was dave & tony. that's when dave was at his best, just the two of them. floored me that they were soo young and sooo good.
trying to build a really great holzapfel 12 for myself to remember...and never forget.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2011, 01:59:51 PM by Haans »
Johann D. Brentrup
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Offline Annette

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2012, 11:33:52 AM »
On The Road Again by Canned Heat - followed quickly by Vol 2 of Paul Oliver's Story of the Blues LP.


Offline WayneS

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2012, 09:27:18 AM »
Ten years old, crossing the desert at 1 a.m. with my father and brother in a 1953 Chevy, hearing what I remember as Lightnin' Hopkins on the radio.  Lived less than a block from a store that sold race records, largely Lightnin'.  I might have been their only customer for them.  My parents bought me a really awful Stella, and I was hooked.

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: what got you into the blues?
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2012, 11:07:05 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

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.

Wow, I didn't even know about this - pretty cool to hear Sonny Boy Talking... however little he does

as far as I can figure most of it is here (plus some wonderful singing by Mr Lomax himself): blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline Gumbo

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