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Author Topic: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade  (Read 3116 times)

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Offline ScottN

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2013, 10:04:15 PM »
Hi all,

How about post (Vietnam) war - Larry Johnson's Fast and Funky - The Beat From Rampart Street...are we still within bounds?

Thanks,
              Scott

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2013, 10:38:08 PM »
Hi all,Could you give some sources for hearing music by Wright Holmes, Charlie Booker and Junior Brooks and a bit of information on when they were recorded and where they were from?  Thanks.
All best,
Johnm
Wright holmes was interviewed in 1967. I've posted it here but guess it should really be in "books & articles". You may wish to relocate it.

Alley Blues: The Story of Wright Holmes
(Blues Unlimited 45, August 1967 pps 13 & 16)

The musical career of Wright Holmes spans almost 30 years of the Texas blues. From his early days of performing for the whores, gambler and sweet back men at Bob London's notorious 'Hoosh Pad' speakeasy in Houston's Fifth Ward, through a brief but exciting recording career in the forties, on up to today, singing for church services and evangelistic meetings, Wright has lost none of the elemental flavour that characterises his blues.

Wright Holmes was born in Hightower, Texas on July 4, 1905 "Makes me a patriotic baby". He moved to Houston in 1930 at the height of the Depression, when jobs for Negroes were few and far between, but was more fortunate than most for he could play guitar and sing blues. Bob London's speakeasy was, more or less, the central watering place for the Houston bluesmen of the thirties and his white mule bootleg whiskey was the best in town. Here there was always a game of Georgia Skin or Yoker to enliven the evening and the shady ladies would be around, using Bob's place as a rendezvous and pick up spot for tricks. This was the environment that nurtured bluesmen like 'Tibu', 'Mobile' and Texas Alexander who would come in to sing for tips until the day that Bob London got a jukebox. One evening Wright came in and began to sing and play but was told to stop. "The Music Box" was now the allowed entertainment. Wright left and so did most of the clientele causing Bob to change his tune in a hurry. Guitars and Wright Holmes in particular were always welcome thereafter.

World War Two took Wright, like thousands of other Southern Negroes to Detroit and Chicago to work in the defense plants (perhaps the single most important event in the popularisation of the blues and Negro music), but when the War was over he returned to Houston and resumed his musical activities, playing at the 'Club De Lisa', 'The Whispering Pines' and the 'Ebony Club' on Dowling Street. He also was featured on various shows broadcasted by KT RH, then owned by Jesse H. Jones, a Houston business tycoon and Government official, along with many other Negro artists, both blues and spiritual.

In 1947, Wright went to the Gold Star studio on Houston's Southside arid recorded 'Alley Blues' and 'My Own Lonesome Blues' for Bill Quinn, receiving the usual 75 dollars. Wright still remembers calling Bill repeatedly, only to finally learn that his record would not be released. When asked about the session, Bill's facile memory brought it clearly to mind. "Wright Holmes, I recorded a fellow named Holmes, but he sounded too much like Lightnin' Hopkins, so I never released it". Later that year, Wright was heard by Abe Conley who owned a small studio off Lyons Avenue. At the O.K. studio Wright cut 'Alley Blues', 'Gone From Home Blues', 'Good Road Blues' and 'The Midnight Rambler'. Conley sold the material to Miltone Records on the Coast and three sides eventually turned up on Gotham Records. Like so many performers, Wright received no royalties for his efforts. This fact, plus a desire to settle down, convinced him to give up the bluesman's life in 1950.

In the early part of 1967, I found Wright through Bill 'Guitar Papa' Barnes. He had lost his right leg to gangrene and walked on crutches. His Gibson guitar was worn and had the look of a well used tool, while his voice still had power and dignity. Wright had worked hard since 1950, owning an attractive cottage in a good neighbourhood in Houston's Northsjde. He and his wife, Elzadie, live frugally on their Social Security cheque, which Wright supplements with Church jobs. When Mike and I went to meet him, he was playing at the Universal Evangelistic Temple on Bell Street, the Temple being only a small part of the Universal Community Place run by Evangelistic Connie Martin, 'Evangelistic Prophetees of the South West' and 'purveyor of Consecrated Oils for Healing and Success'. The Place also offers 'Neatly furnished rooms and apartments, reasonable and reliable, in and out guests', under the general supervision of Bishop Martin, Connie's husband.

Wright had been asked to supply the music for 'Founder's Week' services and was eager to return to the comforts of home. After a brief service in the 8' x 20' chapel, highlighted by a large picture of Jesus, illuminated by a red bulb, we took Wright back to his cottage under the cool pines of Kashmere Gardens, where he could think back to the times when Bob London made the best whiskey in Houston and one could listen to bluesmen like Luther Stoneham, Tibu, Mobile, Thunder Smith, Bob Richardson and Texas Alexander.   Larry Skoog

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2013, 03:20:03 AM »
Hi all,

How about post (Vietnam) war - Larry Johnson's Fast and Funky - The Beat From Rampart Street...are we still within bounds?

Thanks,
              Scott
Definitely! One of my all-time favourite albums.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline oddenda

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2013, 04:41:33 AM »
Dom 94 -

          Glad you like "my" stuff. Those were interesting, and generally good. times.

Peter B.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2013, 06:34:36 AM »
Thanks very much for the information on Wright Holmes, Bunker Hill.  I thought of a couple more I would add to this list:
   * Ralph Willis--Just A Note
   * Dan Pickett--99 and 1/2 Won't Do
All best,
Johnm

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2013, 06:50:28 AM »
Hi all,
It's neat to see the choices people are making here.  In your post, Jeff, you mentioned a couple of musicians with whom I'm not familiar.  Could you give some sources for hearing music by Wright Holmes, Charlie Booker and Junior Brooks and a bit of information on when they were recorded and where they were from?  Thanks.
All best,
Johnm

Charley (or sometimes Charlie) Booker was a singer/guitarist from Leland, Mississippi. He recorded 4 sides for Modern on one of the Bihari field trips to that state (around the same time they first recorded Elmore James) in 1952. Charlie was accompanied by the harmonica player Houston Boines on these sides, including the great "No Ridin' Blues," which had its inspiration in the melody line of Charley Patton's "Green River Blues." Booker said that it was Boyd Gilmore (another one of my favorites who also recorded for Modern) who turned him on to Patton's tunes (Gilmore apparently owned some Patton 78s). Booker also recorded a couple songs at Sun, where the unissued "Walked All Night" comes from -- it's a stomper. His discography is here:  http://www.wirz.de/music/bookcfrm.htm

Bunker Hill provided some great info on Wright Holmes, the only man who Lightnin' Hopkins apparently viewed as a true rival and threat around Houston. Man -- Holmes' playing sounds to me like the equivalent of driving through the trees with your headlights off. It is a daring ride. Great lyrics and edgy, snorted vocals, too. Only recorded three issued sides, I think. All great. Find 'em here:  http://www.wirz.de/music/holmefrm.htm

And Junior Brooks also recorded for Modern (in Arkansas, I think), during one of THE all-time great postwar blues sessions (in a group with Baby Face Turner, Sunny Blair, and Driftin' Slim) in 1952. The two sides under his name were recorded with Baby Face Tuner on lead guitar -- and John, if you want to explore an under-appreciated and really, really impressive postwar electric country blues guitarist, you need to look into Baby Face Turner. He was the guitar player on all the sides of these Arkansas Modern sessions, and his playing is truly the anchor and the innovator in every song. Just listen to his tone -- it is instantly recognizable and really sweet. This is Delta blues as it would have been played by one of the pre-war greats with an electric guitar. Anyway, the Junior Brooks song, "Lone Town Blues," has Baby Face on lead guitar and Junior on vocals and rhythm guitar. The playing is just absolutely driven -- you can imagine these guys had played a lot together. And Junior's vocals are just WOW. You need to listen. When this record was first heard by blues researchers, there was some wondering if it was Son House. You can understand that thought, once you hear the song. You should be able to find records where you can hear both of these guys here:  http://www.wirz.de/music/micklfrm.htm

In the end, I really can't sing Baby Face Turner's praises highly enough. This is a guitar player who needs to be vaunted. He came from the Arkansas delta and apparently died in the 1960's. (Junior Brooks was said to have been older and supposedly died not long after his recordings were made in the early 50's.)

Some youtube links:

Charley Booker:


Junior Brooks:


Wright Holmes:
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 07:49:14 AM by jpeters609 »
Jeff

Offline Lyndvs

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2013, 07:33:38 AM »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2013, 08:55:44 AM »
Thanks very much for the information on Wright Holmes, Bunker Hill.  I thought of a couple more I would add to this list:
   * Ralph Willis--Just A Note
   * Dan Pickett--99 and 1/2 Won't Do
All best,
Johnm
Dan Pickett, whose appearance in 1965 on Country Blues Classics Vol 2 (BC6), started four decades of speculation as to the "who, what, when and where", was finally put to rest in 1986. Bruce Bastin was trawling through the Gotham files and spotted a royalty payment to James Founty covering one of Pickett's sessions. Eighteen months later Axel K?stner tracked down his relatives, who provided him with a 1950s photo of Pickett/Founty in 2011.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2013, 04:21:36 PM »
Thanks very much for the additional information on Charlie Booker, Junior Brooks and Wright Holmes, Jeff.  I really appreciate it, and it's great to have the attached videos to put their sounds in my head.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

Offline outfidel

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2013, 01:33:17 PM »
I'd add:

Etta Baker -- Carolina Breakdown
John Jackson -- Boat's Up the River
Roscoe Holcomb -- Trouble in Mind
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 01:36:01 PM by outfidel »
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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2013, 08:04:16 AM »
This is a great long overdue topic. I've opined in past conversations that the post war stuff has an out of time lonesome desperation and sense of despair that is absent in much of the earlier recordings. The music of older people choosing to work in an outdated style.
Guitar Pete Franklin - Gotta find my baby
Smokey  Babe - Locomotive Blues
Shirley Griffith - Meet me in the Bottom
Robert Curtis Smith. Can't recall titles
Baby Tate - see what you done done
Blind Snooks Eaglin - mama don't you tear my clothes
Alex Seward......
Wade Walton
Memphis Slim - Mother Earth
Doug Quattlebaum........
Larry Johnson- keep it clean
Memphis Willie B. - brownsville Blues
Etta Baker..railroad Bill naturally
Peg Leg Sam
Barrelhouse Buck
Elizabeth Cotton for sure, everything she did was great as far as i'm concerned
Fred McDowell certainly
Connie Williams?
John Lee Zeigler
Arthur Weston
Jessie Mae Hemphill and her Dad Sid for that matter
Everybody George Mitchell recorded
And then there are the people who may have recorded a few titles pre War
But the bulk of whose career was post war
Rev. Davis
Brownie McGhee
Leadbelly
Lightnin' Hopkins
Must be many more
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2013, 08:23:00 AM »
Wow wright Holmes is amazing! Thanks for that. Puts me in mind of a big one we've omitted, Hacksaw Harney who I don't believe has any pre war records.
I didn't mention Robert Pete Williams but definitely.
And even though he doesn't qualify as a Blues player, since the only people who listen to him and dig his music come from the same group,and since his playing is so great and casts such a long shadow, i feel we should accord a special place of honor to the late great Joseph Spence.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2013, 09:26:17 AM »
Puts me in mind of a big one we've omitted, Hacksaw Harney who I don't believe has any pre war records.
Only as accompanist to Pearl Dickson and Walter Rhodes http://www.wirz.de/music/harnefrm.htm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2013, 01:58:25 PM »
The Wright Holmes cut really is terrific, and your description of it is apt, Jeff.  Holmes sounds like he's taking every corner on two wheels, operating at the very edge of his ability to control what he's doing, which can make for some very exciting music.  He merits admiration, too, for getting some altogether different sounds in E in standard tuning; as much as that position has been played in, that's really tough to do!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Post-War Country Blues--A Hit Parade
« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2013, 02:31:18 PM »
Thanks for the info and the YT links, Jeff--especially Wright Holmes. It sounds like no grass ever grew under his feet, that's for damn sure!

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