Music Notes The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1.html Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:55:15 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb I’ll Play The Blues For You http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/21316-ill-play-the-blues-for-you.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/21316-ill-play-the-blues-for-you.html I’ll Play The Blues For You

By 1970s, Albert King was releasing one album a year. His albums were steady sellers, consistently entering the US Billboard 200 and the US R&B Charts. Although Albert was most popular with blues fans, he’d also built up a following amongst rock fans. However, not many people had Albert King pegged as a soul singer, that is not until the release of his 1972 album ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You.’ This might not have happened if fate hadn’t intervene. Albert was in Stax’s Memphis studios, searching for a song to record for his forthcoming album. Someone, Albert can’t remember who, suggested a Jerry Beach penned track, “I’ll Play the Blues For You.” This was added to the other six tracks that Albert recorded for his ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You,’ his fifth studio album for Stax.

I’ll Play The Blues For You

Accompanying Albert King on ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You,’ were two different rhythm sections, The Bar-Kays and The Movement. Adding their inimitable sound were The Memphis Horns, who later, would play on so many Hi Records’ albums.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Albert King

 

Jerry Marlon Beach was born in Oklahoma City on December 11, 1941, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Army. He was descended from pioneering families in Shelby County, Texas. Jerry graduated from Bossier High School in 1960, and he was already sitting in with local bands playing guitar and singing. By the mid-60s, he and Danny Harrelson were headlining local clubs as "Danny & Jerry". He was a fixture and favorite on the regional music scene for 56 years in several bands. He dedicated every Monday night for 30 years to hosting a Blues Jam every week. He also taught guitar lessons for many years.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Jerry Beach

 

In 1972, the late Albert King recorded Jerry's "I'll Play the Blues For You", which became a #1 R&B hit and has been covered by many artists. Jerry was nominated for a Grammy for the song. [First recording by Geater Davis (1969)].

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

I’ll Play the Blues For You, disc, 1972

 

When ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You’ was released in the autumn of 1972, it proved to be the most commercially successful album of Albert King’s career so far. Not only did it reach number 140 in the US Billboard 200, but reached number eleven in the US R&B Charts.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

I’ll Play the Blues For You, album, 1972

 

That lengthy title song is virtually King’s manifesto. With its spoken-word rap section and a creamy vocal, it’s just one of many highlights here. King had sung standards earlier in his career, and his voice wasn’t always that of a blues shouter, but a richly textured instrument. Naturally, King’s famous electric blues guitar – the guitar which has influenced legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton – is out front all over this record, as it should be. The songwriting (from a variety of contributors) is taut, though, and King’s solos never feel self-indulgent.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Albert King

 

“I’ll Play The Blues For You” is a great song that is a little more sophisticated than a lot of blues songs you’ll find. It doesn’t use a strict 12-bar format. In fact, the B section/turnaround/bridge is fairly unique. It’s a 6-5-4-5 sequence. But it’s a great line for soloing over.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Joe Bonamassa plays ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You’

 

“I’ll Play the Blues for You,” produced and arranged for King by Allen Jones and Henry Bush, was a landmark. It provided King with a new signature song via the title track, as well as showcasing all sides of his musical prowess.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Gary Moore plays ‘I’ll Play the Blues For You’

 

King influenced guitarists such Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Among a long list of accomplishments, King recorded a tribute album to Elvis Presley and even played with the great Steve Cropper as well as the Hi Records gang through the years. King died in 1992 of a massive heart attack.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Albert King

 

I’ll Play The Blues For You lyrics


If you're down and out and you feel real hurt
Come on over to the place where I live
And all your loneliness I'll try to soothe
I'll play the blues for you

Don't be afraid come on in
You might run across some of your old friends

All your loneliness I gotta soothe
I'll play the blues for you

I got no big name and I ain't no big star
I play the blues for you on my guitar
All your loneliness I'll try to soothe
I 'll play the blues for you

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

I’ll Play The Blues For You painted by David Gerald

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:13:15 +0000
Midnight Blues (Snowy White and Gary Moore too) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20900-midnight-blues-snowy-white-and-gary-moore-too.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20900-midnight-blues-snowy-white-and-gary-moore-too.html Midnight Blues (Snowy White and Gary Moore too)

In June 1990 Roger Waters, having split from the Pink Floyd, asked Snowy White to perform with him on the spectacular ‘The Wall’ show in Berlin. White can be seen in the documentary Roger Waters: The Wall. His blonde hair is easily recognizable, as is his gold Les Paul. “It’s quite interesting, because they must have filmed thousands of hours backstage, every show – for months, years. It was a well-oiled machine, and never difficult at all. Even if it wasn’t mine, it was a pleasure playing that really great music.” In 1991 Waters again called upon Snowy, this time to play at the ‘Guitar Legends’ concert in Seville as part of Expo. After this concert Snowy decided that it was time that he returned to the mainstream of things so he set about putting down songs that he had been writing during the previous few years.

Midnight Blues

What from his own catalog would he recommend to someone seeking samples of his quieter, bluesier side?

“There are a lot of things I think sound pretty good,” Snowy said. “But, one that seems very popular, with a lot of downloads on YouTube and comments, is ‘Midnight Blues.’ When I did my first album as The White Flames, I said, ‘To hell with the record companies, to hell with radio play. Forget all that, we’re just going to play for ourselves.’ And I’m really pleased with that song and the album No Faith Required.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roger Waters & Snowy White, "The Wall"

 

Taken from the “No Faith Required” album, “Midnight Blues” sets a quiet mood which is interesting with all of the fire and brimstone of a massive rock show but draws the crowd through subtler means. John “Rabbit” Bundrick’s organ delivers a gospel-like quality well matched to White’s dry talk-singing style. When the impact is due Jeff Allen’s drums produce a thunderous roar as the sustained guitar notes soar above, touching down softly to a cathedral-esque atmosphere and a fading of sound into the swimming reverberation. A mainstay in White Flames Band sets since its inception, “Midnight Blues” manages to deliver on that late night smoky bar mood the title promises.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Snowy White & The White Flames - No Faith Required

 

 

Spring 1989. Gary Moore was touring across Europe promoting his latest album ‘After The War,’ his fifth rock album for Virgin since 1982's ‘Corridors Of Power’. Sales and profile were growing with each album, culminating in ‘Wild Frontier’ in 1987. But Gary was tiring of the 1980s rock treadmill; the emphasis on soulless fret-melting guitar, big hair and looking serious in daft pop videos. He realised, too, that he was repeating himself as a songwriter. He needed to take some risks if he was to move on – but which way to turn?

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Gary Moore

 

Sitting in the tune-up room loosening up before a gig in Germany with his long-time bass player Bob Daisley , the answer came. “We were messing about playing bits and pieces of blues,” says Daisley. “Stuff from the Bluesbreakers’ Beano album. And then it came to me. I said to Gary, ‘Why don’t we do a blues album?’”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Gary Moore - Midnight Blues

 

1990's “Still Got The Blues”album was an abrupt and risky game-changer that reignited the tradition of blistering British blues guitar. The album features two of the finest blues guitarists in the world, namely Albert King and Albert Collins, plus an appearance by George Harrison who wrote the song ‘That Kind Of Woman.’ The slow-uplifting motion of ‘Midnight Blues’ and the grounding grind of the Albert King tribute ‘King Of The Blues’ shows Moore playing at two ends of the blues spectrum and coping with it admirably.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues

 

One thing’s for sure, Gary Moore was a worthy recipient of the most famous Les Paul on the planet. Unforeseen financial problems forced Moore to sell it. An American collector Melvyn Franks bought it, but the guitar has come home. Airey says he heard Joe Bonamassa play “Midnight Blues” on it at the Royal Albert Hall and he “just sat there and burst into tears”.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Les Paul

 

The album had a broader impact, too. While the international white blues scene was dominated by British guitarists in the 1960s and 1970s; the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Healey captured the territory in the 1980s. “Still Got The Blues” put British blues playing back on the map, inspired a new generation of guitar players and provided much of the repertoire for the UK pub blues scene of the 1990s.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Joe Bonamassa at Royal Albert Hall

 

Snowy White - Midnight Blues lyrics


This is my blues
Cause I'm back then on my own again
This is the blues I'm playing

Yes it's the final thing
When the night is cold and lonely
This is the midnight blues

This is the midnight blues
For the girl I left behind me
Ain't it the final thing

This is the blues
Just a feeling deep inside of me
This is the midnight blues

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Snowy White

 

Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues lyrics


Used to be so easy
to give my heart away.
But I've found out the hard way
there's a price you have to pay.
I found out that love, is no friend of mine
I should've known time after time

So long
it was so long ago.
But I've still got the blues for you.

Use to be so easy
Fall in love again
But I found out the hard way, it's
a road that leads to pain.
I found out that love
was more than just a game
you play on to win
but you lose just the same.

So long
it was so long ago.
But I've still got the blues for you.

So many years since I've seen your face,
but You will in my heart
there's an empty space
where you used to be.

So long
it was so long ago.
But I've still got the blues for you.

Though the days come and go
There is one thing I know
I've still got the blues for you.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Midnight Blues

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Fri, 30 Dec 2016 21:43:02 +0000
On the Road Again (Canned Heat) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20481-on-the-road-again-canned-heat.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20481-on-the-road-again-canned-heat.html On the Road Again (Canned Heat)

Canned Heat's debut hit single, "On the Road Again" is one of the finest examples of updating ancient Delta blues into the psychedelic era of Top 40 radio. Based on a basic E-G-A blues chord pattern, Al Wilson built on the basics by adding a droning ‘tambur’ to give the arrangement a contemporary feel and flavor. Underneath and above this is Wilson utilizing is best Skip James-inspired falsetto vocal, as well as guitar and blues harp. The single was a huge hit, but it was live where the piece really took flight, extending -- according to legend -- by up to an hour during their concerts, allowing all of the band's fine musicians a chance to solo at will.

On the Road Again

Canned Heat was rare among the American blues-loving bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. As one critic noted, the musicians were more popularizers than purists. Record-collecting blues fanatics Alan Wilson and Bob Hite (nicknamed "Bear" because of his 300-pound frame) changed the group's focus to electric boogie. After appearances at Monterey and Woodstock, at the end of the '60s the band had acquired worldwide notoriety with a lineup consisting of Bob Hite, vocals, Alan ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson guitar, harmonica and vocals, Henry Vestine or Harvey Mandel on lead guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Adolfo de la Parra on drums.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Canned Heat

 

The music and attitude of Canned Heat were appreciated by a large public which made them one of the popular acts of the hippie era. They were able to deliver on stage electrifying performances either of blues standards or of their own material and occasionally to indulge into lengthier 'psychedelic' solos. Two of their songs “Going up the Country” and “On the Road Again” became international hits and indeed both were re-workings of obscure blues. At the time all their albums were released for worldwide distribution.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Canned Heat, Woodstock 1969

 

Their second released album, ‘Boogie With Canned Heat,’included the worldwide hit “On The Road Again,” an updated version 1953 composition by Floyd Jones. It was a remake of his successful 1951 song "Dark Road". Both songs are based on Mississippi Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson's 1928 song "Big Road Blues".

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Boogie With Canned Heat, album

 

It’s essentially a cover of Jones' tune based on Tommy Johnson’s song except that Canned Heat uses guitar harmonics and an Eastern string instrument called the tambur to get a unique droning psychedelic sound. Wilson was the singer, guitarist, harmonica player, and musical mastermind, and he sings lead on “On the Road Again”. The song is famous for its harmonica solo, which has a note played in it that is very mysterious as it is not playable without an overblow. Alan Wilson retuned his harmonica's six hole up a half step.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bob Hite

 

Wilson’s recording career lasted just three years, as he died of a drug overdose in September 1970. The songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and all-around blues scholar was 27 years old—just like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who followed him into rock ‘n’ roll heaven two and four weeks later, respectively. Canned Heat continued on, but according to Taylor, it was never the same without the Blind Owl.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Alan Wilson

 

Born in Arkansas, Floyd Jones (1917 – 1989) spent much of his formative years in the Mississippi Delta. He became very active in the post-war Chicago blues music scene, especially in it’s early period (the late 1940’s). With his cousin Moody, and other musicians such as Baby Face Leroy, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Young, and Snooky Pryor, Floyd made some now-classic early post-war Chicago blues recordings and also performed in the Chicago area (especially on the famous Maxwell Street), helping to set the stage for more popular post-war stylings from artists such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Floyd Jones

 

The 1950’s saw only a few (but great) recording sessions for JOB, Chess and Vee-Jay but all of his early 1950’s recordings stand as great examples of early post-war Chicago blues. Later in his career, the electric bass replaced the guitar as his main instrument, but he continued to remain active on the scene for many years.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Floyd Jones - On The Road Again, 1953

 

Tommy Johnson (1896 - 1956) was one of the most influential blues artists in Mississippi in the 1920s and 1930s. He grew up in the Crystal Springs area, where he often performed with his brothers LeDell and Mager. His original songs, which were widely covered by others, included “Canned Heat Blues,” “Big Road Blues,” and “Cool Drink of Water Blues.” Tommy Johnson was a pioneer in Mississippi blues whose songs and distinctive falsetto moan were adopted by many of his contemporaries and followers.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy Johnson

 

As a young teen ran away to the Delta. He returned two years later an accomplished performer, which, according to LeDell, Johnson attributed to a meeting with a mysterious figure at a crossroads. The story, which involved Johnson handing over his guitar to a large black man who tuned it for him, predates the similar and more famous tale of the (unrelated) bluesman Robert Johnson (1911-1938) selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Big Road Blues, 1928

 

Johnson’s recordings for the Victor and Paramount labels from 1928 to 1930. In addition to his solo performances, he recorded with the New Orleans-based jazz group the Nehi Boys. Although Johnson did not record after 1930, reportedly due to issues with his rights, he remained a popular performer in Crystal Springs and Jackson, and his influence is evident in the commercial recordings of many famous blues artists.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy Johnson - Big Road Blues

 

In "Big Road Blues"Johnson's lyrics include: "Well I ain't goin' down that big road by myself ... If I don't carry you gonna carry somebody else". Floyd Jones reshaped Tommy Johnson's verses into an eerie evocation of the Delta. In "Dark Road" he added

Whoaa well my mother died and left me

Ohh when I was quite young, when I was quite young ...

Said Lord have mercy ooo, on my wicked son

And in "On the Road Again" he added

Whoaa I had to travel, whoaa in the rain and snow in the rain and snow

My baby had quit me ooo (2×)

Have no place to go

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Floyd Jones - Dark Road, 1951

 

During the recording for their second album, Canned Heat recorded "On the Road Again" with new drummer Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra. The session took place September 6, 1967 at the Liberty Records studio in Los Angeles. Alan Wilson used verses from Floyd Jones' "On the Road Again" and "Dark Road" and added some lines of his own:

“ Well I'm so tired of cryin' but I'm out on the road again, I'm on the road again (2×)

I ain't got no woman just to call my special friend”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Canned Heat

 

On The Road Again lyrics by Canned Heat


Well, I'm so tired of crying but I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
Well, I'm so tired of crying but I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again

I ain't got no woman just to call my special friend
You know the first time I traveled out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow

I didn't have no payroll, not even no place to go

And my dear mother left me when I was quite young
When I was quite young
And my dear mother left me when I was quite young
When I was quite young (When I was quite young)

She said: "Lord, have mercy on my wicked son"

Take a hint from me, mama, please, don't you cry no more
Don't you cry no more
Take a hint from me, mama, please, don't you cry no more
Don't you cry no more

Cause it's soon one morning down the road I'm going

But I ain't going down that long old lonesome road
All by myself
But I ain't going down that long old lonesome road
All by myself

I can't carry you, baby, gonna carry somebody else
 

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Canned Heat - On The Road Again, 1968 single

 

Floyd Jones – On Thed Road Again, lyrics


Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
Well, I'm so tired of crying
But I'm out on the road again
I'm on the road again
I ain't got no woman
Just to call my special friend
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
I didn't have no payroll
Not even no place to go
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
She said "Lord, have mercy
On my wicked son"
Take a hint from me, mama
Please don't you cry no more
Don't you cry no more
Take a…

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Canned Heat

 

Tommy Johnson - Big Road Blues, lyrics


Cryin', ain't goin' down this big road by myself
Now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mama?
Lord, ain't goin' down this big road by myself
If I don't carry you, gon' carry somebody else

Cryin', sun gonna shine in my back door someday
Now, don't you hear me talkin', pretty mama?
Lord, sun gon' shine in my back door someday
And the wind gon' change, gon' blow my blues away

Baby, what makes you do me like you do do do, like you do do do?
Don't you hear me now?
What makes you do me like you do do do?
Now you think you gon' do me like you done poor Cherry Red

Taken the poor boy's money now, sure, Lord, won't take mine
Now don't you hear me talkin' pretty mama?
Taken the poor boy's money; sure, Lord, won't take mine
Taken the poor boy's money now; sure, Lord, won't take mine

Cryin', ain't goin' down this big road by myself
Now, don't you hear me talkin', pretty mama?
Lord, ain't goin' down this big road by myself
If I don't carry you, gon' carry somebody else

Cryin', sun gon' shine, Lord, my back door someday
Now don't you hear me talkin', pretty mama?
Lord, sun gon' shine in my back door someday
And the wind gon' change, blow my blues away
 

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

On The Road Again

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sun, 09 Oct 2016 20:29:11 +0000
Brownsville Blues (Goin' To Brownsville) http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20115-brownsville-blues-goin-to-brownsville.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/20115-brownsville-blues-goin-to-brownsville.html Brownsville Blues (Goin' To Brownsville)

When Big Joe Williams informed Bob Koester of Delmark Records the Sleepy John Estes was still living, Koester was naturally skeptical. No doubt, the improbability of Estes being alive kept blues researchers from looking for him. Discographies list 1941 as his last recording date. It was Chicagoan David Blumenthal who found him while making a documentary film in Brownsville, Tennessee. Estes was brought to Chicago for an exploratory recording session. On March 24, 1962 Sleepy John recorded most of the songs on the album including six previously unissued tracks not on the original LP release of Brownsville Blues. Four songs from this session were issued on John's first Delmark release “The Legend of Sleepy John Estes.” However, most of the material on Legend was from the June, 1962 group session. The theme of Brownsville Blues is the many people and places of John's hometown. Here is the legendary country blues artist Sleepy John Estes singing as well as ever, still writing blues poetry, and playing guitar better than in former years.

Brownsville Blues

John Adam Estes was born near Ripley, Tennessee on January 25, 1904. His parents were sharecroppers who had sixteen children. Like his brothers and sisters, Estes grew up working his parents' fields. The most traumatic event of his childhood occurred during a baseball game when a stone struck him in the eye. He lost his vision completely in one eye and his other grew worse and worse until, by his fifties, he was left completely blind.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sleepy John Estes

 

Estes' father, who played guitar, was probably the first musician he ever heard. His father showed Estes a few chords, let him play his guitar occasionally, and taught him his first song, a ditty called "Chocolate Drop." Before long Estes had built his own cigar-box instruments on which he practiced. At the age of 19, while working as a field hand, he began to perform professionally. The venues were mostly local parties and picnics, with the accompaniment of Hammie Nixon, a harmonica player, and James "Yank" Rachell, a guitarist and mandolin player. He would continue to work on and off with both musicians for more than fifty years.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Nixon, Rachell & Estes

 

Never an outstanding guitarist, Estes relied on his expressive voice to carry his music, and the recordings he made from 1929 on have enormous appeal and remain remarkably accessible today. Estes' records were popular and their sales were good, at least until the Depression deepened and the poor could no longer afford luxuries like phonograph records. Estes made his base in Brownsville where he continued to live and perform, while making regular sorties into Arkansas and Missouri. He went up to Chicago occasionally as well and even claimed to have played for gangster Al Capone, who Estes said was crazy about blues. Despite the popularity of his 1929 records, Estes was not able to record again during the first three years of the 1930s. When he heard that Nixon and Son Bonds had just returned from recording in Chicago, he persuaded Nixon to return to the Windy City and set up a session for him. Finally, in 1934 Estes returned to the studio with Hammie Nixon to record for the Decca label. At the session Estes cut "Someday Baby" and "Drop Down Mama," songs that went on to become blues standards.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Brownsville, Town Square

 

After the 1934 session Estes moved to Chicago where he lived for most of the 1930s. His popularity grew. In 1937 he recorded "Floating Bridge," about being swept off a bridge by a raging river and rescued at the last minute by Hammie Nixon. In 1938 he wrote "Fire Department Blues" about his neighbor Martha Hardin. His last session in 1941 saw his musical chronicle of Brownsville in full flower. He sang about a local lawyer, Mr. Clark, who worked as hard for the poor who couldn't pay as much as for the rich who could. He sang about little Laura whose sexual fantasies had a way of all coming true. And he sang about how machines were pushing sharecroppers off the land around town. That session was Estes' last for some 20 years.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Hammie Nixon

 

Big Bill Broonzy called John Estes' style of singing "crying" the blues because of its overt emotional quality. Actually, his vocal style harks back to his tenure as a work-gang leader for a railroad maintenance crew, where his vocal improvisations and keen, cutting voice set the pace for work activities. Estes sounded so much like an old man, even on his early records, that blues revivalists reportedly delayed looking for him because they assumed he would have to be long dead. Nicknamed "Sleepy" John Estes, supposedly because of his ability to sleep standing up.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

James Yank Rachell & Sleepy John Estes

 

Many of Estes' original songs were based on events in his own life or on people he knew from his home town of Brownsville. Through the eyes of John Estes we see into a world that we may otherwise never truly know. A world of country existence found only in the black culture lying in the shadows of the Mississippi River, the rural road of dirt poor farmers and their ilk like a history of the day-to-day across the geography of mid-century American south. This time and place captured in John's music was even then disappearing into the histories of the world. Generations of farmers leaving behind all they knew to seek better fortunes in the industrial north.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Brownsville Blues, album

 

Sleepy John Estes was one of the greatest Blues poets. Though he could barely play guitar, he was a fantastic, emotional singer and one of the best lyricists in the history of the Blues.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sleepy John Estes

 

Sleepy John Estes - Brownsville Blues lyrics


Now I can straighten your wires : you know poor Vasser
can grind your valves
Man when I turn your motor loose : and it sure will split 
the air

Now Vasser can line your wheels : you know poor Vasser
can tune your horn
Then when he set it out on the highway : you can hear
your motor hum

Now my generator is bad : and you know my lights done
stopped
And I reckon I'd better take it over to Durhamville : and
I'm going to stop at Vasser Williams' shop

Now I were raised in Lauderdale County : you know I was
schooled on Winfield Lane
Then what I made of myself : I declare it was a crying
shame

Now Brownsville is my home : and you know I ain't going
to throwed it down
Because I'm acquainted with John Law : and they won't let
me down

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Going to Brownsville, album

 

Going to Brownsville, version by Ry Cooder


I'm going to Brownsville, take that right hand road
Well, I'm going to Brownsville, take that right hand road
And I ain't gonna stop walking till I get in sweet mama's door

The girl I'm loving she's got great long curly hair
The girl I'm loving she's got great long curly hair
And her mama and her papa well, they sure don't allow me there

If you catch my jumper, babe, hanging upside your wall
Well, if you catch my jumper, babe, hanging upside your wall
Well, you know by that I need my ashes hauled

I'm going to Brownsville, take that right hand road
I'm going to Brownsville, take that right hand road
And I ain't gonna stop walking till I get in sweet mama's door

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Going To Brownsville

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sun, 31 Jul 2016 10:29:09 +0000
I'd Rather Go Blind http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/19720-id-rather-go-blind.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/19720-id-rather-go-blind.html I'd Rather Go Blind

By 1965 Etta James’s career was clearly in decline. After a couple of years away from the business, Etta returned with a bang. She traveled to Muscle Shoals to record at FAME Recording Studios, and it was a match made in heaven. The sessions there were produced by studio owner Rick Hall and featured musical backing by the legendary Swampers. The result of the sessions was the smash hit “Tell Mama,” a song co-written by Clarence Carter. “Tell Mama” was a Top 10 R&B record, and reached #23 on the pop chart. The B-side of that smash was “I’d Rather Go Blind.” The B-side of the singel is of such great quality that it makes that release one of the great double-sided singles of the period, rivaling the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields"-"Penny Lane" for sheer artistic moxie.

I'd Rather Go Blind

Etta James penned this Southern Blues classic during a visit to her friend Ellington "Fugi" Jordan in prison in 1967. The Detroit singer and songwriter had already outlined the song, in which he poured out his grief from being incarcerated not knowing when he would be released. He recalled to Allhiphop.com in 2006: "I got tired of losing and being down. I was in prison and didn't know when I was going to get out. I sat in a piano room and began to write."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Etta James - Tell Mama/I'd Rather Go Blind, single

 

James and Jordan then completed the song, but for tax reasons she gave her songwriting credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster, who was a member of the '50s Los Angeles doo-wop group The Medallions. It was a decision that she came to regret as the royalties accumulated over the years.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Etta James

 

Ellington Jordan was born in the Los Angeles suburb of South Central to family of seven children. Ellington's musical talent was established early on and he quickly became friends with the legendary Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations. This friendship enabled him to move to Detroit to start writing music for the famous Chess Records. Detroit was the R&B "hotbed" for new and established artists at the time. Ellington became friends and worked with such artists as Muddy Waters, Donny Hathaway, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, and Jimi Hendrix. All of these artists influence him today.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Ellington Jordan

 

It was at this time that Ellington (Fugi) was introduced to Black Merda by Eddie Kendricks. Ellington and Black Merda began collaborating with Ellington providing vocals and lyrics to the Black Merda rock n' roll music. Chess Records executives listened to their songs and immediately signed them to their label. Black Merda, with Ellington Jordan, went on to produce two albums for Chess Records and has had an underground, cult following, selling vinyl on EBay for up to $100. Ellington Jordan (Fugi) and the original members of Black Merda have continued their relationship over the years, recently performing several engagements in the Detroit area in 2005.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Ellington Jordan

 

A basic soul-blues stroll rhythm and melody guide “I’d Rather Go Blind”along gently, but with a firm hand. Lyrically, the confessional stance of the lyrics takes it into the realm of some of the better gospel songs of the mid- to late 20th century. Heartbreaking and soulful, the premise of the title is affecting enough, yet the sheer poetry of the words takes it to an even higher place. James' vocal delivery is, of course, unparalleled and positively drips with emotion, giving the entire song and recording a bittersweet feeling that is undeniable.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Chicken Shack - I’d Rather Go Blind, single

 

According to James' autobiography “Rage To Survive”, the lyrics were about being blind in her love life and addictions, though she discreetly replaced smack with booze.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Etta James

 

For many listeners, the two and half minutes of “I’d Rather Go Blind”–James’ heartfelt performance, the subtle tremolo-picked electric guitar, hovering organ, and swaying horn lines—conveyed so much of the emotion the singer must have been feeling. When Leonard Chess heard the song for the first time, he had to leave the room, crying.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Etta James - I’d Rather Go Blind (Chess Record)

 

In 1978, James teamed up with Jerry Wexler and recorded “I’d Rather Go Blind” as “Blind Girl” for the Warner Brothers album, “Deep In The Night.” This version, with a slower tempo, saxophone-laden intro, and acoustic guitar, finds considerable new life in the song. In “Rage...” James wrote that she renamed the song “Blind Girl,” to make it “more specific to the confusion I was feeling.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Beth Hart sings I’d Rather Go Blind

 

In “Rage...”, James wrote about “I’d Rather Go Blind”: “Funny, but that’s a tune that’s deepened along with my life, it’s meaning growing more mysterious. Me and the song have grown old together.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Etta James

 

“I’d Rather Go Blind” lyrics


Something told me it was over
When I saw you and her talking,
Something deep down in my soul said cry, girl,
When I saw you and that girl, walking out.
I would rather, I would rather go blind, boy,
Than to see you, walk away from me child, and all.
Oh, so you see, I love you so much
That I don’t want to watch you leave me, baby,
Most of all, I just don’t, I just don’t want to be free, no.

I was just, I was just, I was just sitting here thinking
Of your kisses and your warm embrace, yeah,
When the reflection in the glass that I held to my lips now, baby,
Revealed the tears that was on my face, yeah.
And baby, baby, I would rather be blind, boy,
Than to see you walk away, see you walk away from me, yeah
Baby, baby, baby, I’d rather be blind now.

By nie zobaczyć jak odchodzisz, odchodzisz ode mnie.
Kochanie, kochanie, kochanie,kochanie,
Wolałabym, wolałabym oślepnąć

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Beyonce - I’d Rather Go Blind

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sun, 15 May 2016 16:10:38 +0000
Sippie Wallace’s Women Be Wise http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/19303-sippie-wallaces-women-be-wise.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/19303-sippie-wallaces-women-be-wise.html Sippie Wallace’s Women Be Wise

In 1965 a young blues buff named Ron Harwood discovered that Sippie Wallace was living in his hometown of Detroit, once again in obscurity. Besides becoming the historical expert on her career, Harwood, now an electrical contractor, gently lured Sippie back to performing and became her manager. In 1966 Wallace recorded an album on Halloween night, Copenhagen, Denmark, “Women Be Wise”, with Roosevelt Sykes and Little Brother Montgomery sharing the piano stool. Bonnie Raitt had been impressed by Wallace's picture on a record she happened to pick up in a London store in 1968. ("I saw the rhinestone glasses and the tiger-striped vest and said to myself, 'This woman really knows how to dress.' ") When she heard of Sippie's recovery, Bonnie urged that she be invited to perform at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. Their duet on “Women Be Wise” sealed their friendship.

Women Be Wise

Sippie Wallace adapted an earlier blues song “Don’t Advertise Your Man” written by Jimmy Foster. The first known recording of “Don’t Advertise Your Man” was in 1924 by Clara Smith (Porter Grainger on piano and Sterling Conaway on ukulele). Clara Smith was a part of the great migration from the south, moving from her home in South Carolina to Harlem in the early 1920s, where she became a popular blues singer. She actively recorded throughout the 1920s, including performances of other Jimmy Foster’s songs: “My doggone lazy man”, “He's mine, all mine” and “Down home bound blues”.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Clara Smith - Don’t Advertise Your Man

 

Clara Smith was one of the most popular and best selling artists of the 1920s. She toured the ethnic theater circuits very extensively but her main forte were the speakeasies, nightclubs and cellar establishments where her risque brand of blues and jazz went over big with home-folk and blue-bloods the same. She was also one of the most well paid and fashionable entertainers of the period. Her voice has been quoted as having the ability to tear the blood from ones heart.

 

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Clara Smith

 

Sippie Wallace (Beulah “Sippie” Thomas) was one of 13 (yikes!) children, born November 1, 1898 in Plum Bayou, Arkansas – a place no doubt whose name sounds much more pleasantly pastoral than the reality. By her mid-teens, Sippie and her brothers Hersal and George were playing and singing the Blues in tent shows throughout Texas. In 1915, she moved to New Orleans with Hersal. Two years later, she married Matt Wallace. In 1923, Sippie, Hersal, and their older brother George moved to Chicago, where Sippie became part of the city's jazz scene. By the end of the year, she had earned a contract with OKeh Records. Her first two songs for the label, "Shorty George" and "Up the Country Blues," were hits, and Sippie soon became a star.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sippie Wallace - “Women Be Wise”

 

In the early '30s, Wallace stopped recording, only performing the occasional gig. In 1936, both George Thomas and her husband Matt died. Following their deaths, Sippie joined the Leland Baptist Church in Detroit, where she was an organist and vocalist; she stayed with the church for the next 40 years. Between 1936 and 1966, Wallace was inactive on the blues scene -- she only performed a handful of concerts and cut a few records. In 1966, she was lured out of retirement by her friend Victoria Spivey, who convinced Sippie to join the thriving blues and folk festival circuit. Wallace not only joined the circuit, she began recording again.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sippie Wallace - “Sings the Blues”

 

In 1966 she recorded the solo project “Sippie Wallace Sings the Blues” for the Danish Storyville label. She lay down several blues tracks with the Otis Spann and Jim Kweskin Jug Band in 1967, although these session would not be released until the early 1990s. With Raitt's help, Wallace signed with Atlantic and recorded “Sippie.” With backing vocals by Raitt, the album was nominated for a 1983 Grammy award for best traditional blues and earned the W.C. Handy Award for best blues album of 1983 the following year. In 1995 Document records released a two-volume Complete Recorded Works, which encompasses the years 1924 through the late 1940s.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sippie Wallace - "Sippie", album

 

Wallace's "Women Be Wise" was her signature song. The album “Sippie Wallace Sings the Blues” helped inspire blues-pop singer Bonnie Raitt to take up the blues in the late 1960s. In 1971 Raitt recorded a rendition of Sippie Wallace's "Women Be Wise" on her self-titled album “Bonnie Raitt.” Wallace toured and recorded with Raitt in the 1970s and 1980s, while continuing to perform on her own. The bond between Wallace and Raitt helped bridge the gap between two generations of blues queens.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bonnie Raitt - "Bonnie Raitt", album

 

In March 1986, following a concert in Germany at Burghausen Jazz Festival, Sippie Wallace suffered a severe stroke, returned to the US, and died on her 88th birthday in Detroit, Michigan.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bonnie Raitt & Sippie Wallace

 

Women Be Wise (Don't Advertise Your Man) lyrics


Now Women be wise
Keep your mouth shut
Don't advertise your man

Don't never sit around explaining
Just what your good man really can do
For these women nowadays
They ain't no good
They'll laugh in your face
Then try to steal your man from you

Now Women be wise
Keep your mouth shut
And don't advertise your man
Dont’ be no fool
Don’t advertise you man

Now Women be wise
Keep your mouth shut
And don't advertise your man

Don't never sit around girls
Explaining to your girlfriends just how good your man really is to you
For these women nowadays
They ain't no good
They will laugh in your face
Then try to steal your man from you

Now Women be wise
Keep your mouth shut
And don't advertise your man

Women be wise
Take my advice
And don't advertise your man

Don't be no fool
Don't advertise your man

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sippie Wallace - Blues Legend

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sat, 27 Feb 2016 16:02:04 +0000
.44 Blues http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18898-44-blues.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18898-44-blues.html .44 Blues

Little Brother Montgomery and Roosevelt Sykes rank among the greatest blues pianists of the 20th century and had unusually long and prolific careers. Both men were born in 1906, passed away in the early 1980's and began their careers within a year of each other; Sykes made his debut in 1929 while Montgomery made his in 1930. Both men also chose to record their versions of “44 blues” at their debut sessions,; Sykes cutting it first in 1929 as "Forty- Four Blues" and following year by Montgomery as “Vicksburg Blues.”

.44 Blues

Roosevelt Sykes was born on January 31, 1906 in Elmar, Arkansas although he was raised in St. Louis. He learned to play the organ in church. This allowed him to move over to the piano. He soon began to work in barrelhouses and jukes in Helena, Arkansas often working with pianist Lee Green. He kept St. Louis as his base of operation, but frequently traveled to Memphis and Chicago in the late 20's. His version of "Forty-Four Blues" was released on the Okeh Record label (1929). This helped to establish his reputation as one of the best blues pianists.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes

 

The origins of „44 Blues” have been traced back to early 1920s Louisiana. Its earlier form was sometimes referred to, was a piano-driven "barrelhouse honky-tonk blues" that was performed as an instrumental. Little Brother Montgomery taught it to another blues pianist along the way by the name of Lee Green; Green, in turn, taught it to Roosevelt Sykes. As Sykes explained: "He was the first guy I ever heard play the ’44 Blues.’ Several people had been playing it through the country of course — Little Brother Montgomery and several others, but nobody had ever recorded it and there was no words to it, no words or lyrics at all. So Lee Green, he took a lot of time out to teach me how to play it."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes - .44 Blues

 

It was not until after Sykes recorded "44 Blues" that Green and Montgomery recorded their versions of "The Forty-Fours." While instrumentally both were similar to Sykes' version, the subject matter and lyrics were different. Lee Green recorded his version, titled "Number Forty-Four Blues" , two months after Sykes. About one year later, Little Brother Montgomery recorded his version titled "Vicksburg Blues". Of the three, Roosevelt Sykes' version was the most popular and "was to be far more influential than Green's version." "[Sykes' lyrics] played on the differing interpretations of the phrase 'forty-fours' — the train number 44, the .44 caliber revolver and the 'little cabin' on which was the number 44, presumably a prison cell." "Undoubtedly, these overlays of meaning generally appealed to other singers, accounting for the frequent use of Sykes' lyrics."

 

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Lee Green - Number Forty-Four Blues

 

Montgomery was born in the town of Kentwood, Louisiana, a sawmill town near the Mississippi Border, across Lake Pontchartrain from the city of New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood. As a child he looked like his father, Harper Montgomery, and was called Little Brother Harper. The name evolved into Little Brother Montgomery, a nickname which stuck. He started playing piano at the age of 4, and by age 11 he was playing at various barrelhouses in Louisiana. His own musical influences were Jelly Roll Morton who used visit the Montgomery household...Little Brother Montgomery recorded his version titled "Vicksburg Blues" in september 1930 (Paramount).

 

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Little Brother Montgomery

 

Leothus Lee Green was born in Mississippi around 1900, Green worked as a clothes presser in Vicksburg while perfecting his piano technique. Soon Leothus was traveling throughout the Lower Mississippi River Basin, earning a living by playing piano for the people. Montgomery knew him in Vicksburg, and claimed to have taught him the "44 Blues" in Sondheimer, LA, back in 1922... Excepting for a brief excursion to New York in August 1937, Green performed and recorded mainly in or near Chicago.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

James Wigging - Forty Four Blues

 

In 1954, when Howlin' Wolf recorded his version, "Forty Four" took on a new outlook. Howlin Wolf's version differs immensely from the first recorded version by Roosevelt Sykes. Backing Wolf, who sang and played harmonica, were Hubert Sumlin and Jody Williams (electric guitars), Otis Spann (piano), Willie Dixon (bass), and Earl Phillips (drums). Together they transformed "Forty Four" into a Chicago blues, with prominent guitar lines and an insistent "martial shuffle on the snare drum plus a bass drum that slammed down like an industrial punch-press."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Howlin' Wolf

 

It was around well before Sykes, and it's known by several different versions of the title. There's "Forty Four," "44 Blues," "The Forty Fours" and "44 Pistols." But for the most part, everything after Wolf is in line with his additions because that beat is impossible to deny.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Howlin' Wolf - Forty Four

 

Forty Four (author unknown)


If de people'll jes gimme
Des a liddle bit o' peace,
I'll tell 'em what happen
To de Chief o' Perlice.
He met a robber
Right at de dō'!
An' de robber, he shot 'im
Wid a forty-fō'!
He shot dat Perliceman.
He shot 'im shō'!
What did he shoot 'im wid?
A forty-fō'.

Dey sent fer de Doctah
An' de Doctah he come.
He come in a hurry,
He come in a run.
He come wid his instriments
Right in his han',
To progue an' find
Dat forty-fō', Man!

De Doctah he progued;
He progued 'im shō'!
But he jes couldn' find
Dat forty-fō'.

Dey sent fer de Preachah,
An' de preachah he come.
He come in a walk,
An' he come in to talk.
He come wid 'is Bible,
Right in 'is han',
An' he read from dat chapter,
Forty-fō', Man!
Dat Preachah, he read.
He read, I know.
What Chapter did he read frum?
'Twus Forty-fō'!

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Memphis Slim - .44 Blues

 

44 Blues lyrics by Roosevelt Sykes


Well I walked all night long, with my .44 in my hand (2x)
Now I was looking for my woman, found her with another man

Well I wore my .44 so long, Lord it made my shoulder sore (2x)
After I do what I want to, ain't gonna wear my .44 no more

Now I heard my baby say, she heard that 44 whistle blow (2x)
Lord it sounds like, ain't gonna blow that whistle no more

Now I got a little cabin, and it's number 44 (2x)
Lord I wake up every morning, the wolf be scratching on my door

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes

 

Number Forty Four Blues lyrics by Leothus Lee Green


Ah, my baby cryin and Ididn’t hear the 44 whistle blowin when she blows
Ah, my baby cryin and I hear the 44 whistle when she blows
And then I feel mistreated and your sweet mama bound to go.

Ah, baby, when you get lonely and think you want to go
Yes, baby when you get lonely and think that you want to go
You know that you ain’t no better, mama
Than the black woman that I had before

Some of these mornins mama, baby and it won’t be long
Ah some of these mornins, baby and it won’t be long
You gonna look for your daddy, baby, and I’m goin to be gone.
I got blues will last me nine months from today.
Baby, I got blues will last me nine months from today.
I’m gonna get my sweet woman to drive my blues away.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Little Brother Montgomery

 

Vicksburg Blues lyrics by Little Brother Montgomery


I got the Vicksburg Blues and I sing ‘em and ache everywhere I go
I got the Vicksburg Blues and I sing ‘em and ache where I go
And the reason I sing ’em is my baby didn’t want me know more

I got the Vicksburg Blues and I sing ‘em and ache where I sleep
I got the Vicksburg Blues and I sing ‘em and ache where I sleep
And the reason I sing ‘em is to give my poor soul ease

[Piano solo]
* Now mama I ain’t gonna be your lowdown dog no more

And I don’t like this old place, mama, and Lord and I never will
And I don’t like this old place, mama, and Lord and I never will
All I can sit right here and look at Vicksburg on the hill

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Little Brother Montgomery - Vicksburg Blues

 

Forty Four lyrics by Howlin Wolf


I wore my .44 so long, I've made my shoulder sore.
I wore my .44 so long, I done made my shoulder sore.

Well, I'm wondrin everybody, where'd my baby go.
Well, I'm so mad this mornin, I don't know where in the world to go.

Well, I'm so mad this mornin, I don't know where in the world to go.
Well, I'm lookin for me some money, pawned gun to have some gold.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

.44 Blues

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Fri, 11 Dec 2015 09:31:09 +0000
Backwater Blues http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18584-backwater-blues.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18584-backwater-blues.html Backwater Blues

Bessie Smith recorded “Backwater Blues” in 1927, and it became an anthem for one of the most devastating national disasters in US history. The Mississippi River flood of 1927 was horrific. About a thousand people lost their lives. Almost half a million homes were destroyed. Almost a million people became homeless for a time. Entire black neighborhoods were wiped out. This incident gave birth to an important blues era, now known as the Delta Blues era. The blues artists who wrote and sang in this era there are famous names in this era such as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, and of course, Bessie Smith, who is one of my favorites.

Backwater Blues

The song has long been associated with the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Bessie actually wrote “Backwater Blues” for the Cumberland River flood that hit Nashville on Christmas morning 1926. The Cumberland River, which flows through the city, rose 56 feet (17 m) above its normal level, still a record. It was recorded (under the title "Back-water Blues") by Bessie Smith (vocals) and Jimmy Johnson (piano) on February 17, 1927.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

 

In the 1920s and 30s, Bessie Smith was “empress of the blues.” Her passionate singing and performing style and her songwriting influenced all the blues and jazz singers that followed. Many of the songs she popularized, both blues and “tin pan alley” tunes, have become standards in blues, jazz, rock and pop music.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bessie Smith - Back-Water Blues, single

 

Bessie Smith was a colossus who straddled jazz and blues. For all the acclaim she still gets, over time she's been marginalized a bit in either field — like she's too jazzy for blues people and vice versa. But Smith played a decisive role in shaping early jazz: horn players who worked with her learned a lot about bluesy feeling and inflections, a raspy vocalized sound, and the economical statement. She helped brass players in particular to find their own individual styles, as personal as singing voices.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bessie Smith, 1923

 

As a live performer, Smith was famous for bellowing to a theater's back rows and balcony. But by the later 1920s, she'd learned how to use the recording studio. She could lower the volume without diminishing her power. This is the Bessie Smith who influenced the young Billie Holiday, whose own early sides a few years later have a similar playful quality.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bessie Smith, 1926

 

In her recording career, Bessie Smith worked with many important jazz performers, such as saxophonist and clarinetist Sidney Bechet, trumpeter Louis Armstrong and pianists Fletcher Henderson and James P. Johnson. Smith collaborated with Louis Armstrong on several tunes, including "Cold in Hand Blues" and "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle." With Johnson, she recorded one of her most famous songs, "Backwater Blues."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bessie Smith

 

The latter part of the 1920's was a boom time for the recording industry. The genre which has been variously known as black, soul, or rhythm-and-blues by the record companies, was then called "race." The early part of the decade was ruled by women blues singers. Bessie Smith was obviously a favorite of Huddie Ledbetter (Ledbelly). He learned her "Backwater Blues" from listening to the record and incorporated it into his repertoire. He even used the woman's point of view when he sang the song.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Ledbelly - Backwater Blues, single

 

Even modernized a bit, Smith's blues began sounding old fashioned by the end of the 1920s; her recording career was almost over. (The Great Depression didn't help.) But she left the music very different from when she began recording. She no longer had to coax musicians into bluesy expressionism; now they carried her.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Backwater Blues

 

Bessie Smith - Backwater Blues lyrics


When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
When it rains five days and the skies turn dark as night
Then trouble's takin' place in the lowlands at night

I woke up this mornin’, can’t even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin’, can’t even get out of my door
There's been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go

Then they rowed a little boat about five miles ’cross the pond
Then they rowed a little boat about five miles ’cross the pond
I packed all my clothes, throwed them in and they rowed me along

When it thunders and lightnin’ and when the wind begins to blow
When it thunders and lightnin’ and the wind begins to blow
There’s thousands of people ain’t got no place to go

Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then I went and stood upon some high old lonesome hill
Then looked down on the house were I used to live

Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go
Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go
’Cause my house fell down and I can’t live there no more

Mmm, I can’t move no more
Mmm, I can’t move no more
There ain’t no place for a poor old girl to go

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Bessie Smith

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Tue, 13 Oct 2015 15:25:01 +0000
West Helena Blues http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18126-west-helena-blues.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/18126-west-helena-blues.html West Helena Blues

Located across the Mississippi from Clarksdale, Helena, Arkansas was a thriving wide-open port town during the’30s and ‘40s. The main street Cherry, which paralleled to levee, had dozens of white saloons, while Elm Street, running just behind, had dozens of black. Bluesmen from all over – Johnny Shines, Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Sunnyland Slim and Rossevelt Sykes – congregated here by the dozens, knowing they could get work. Memphis Minnie sang about “Rechin’ Pete” an unpopular policeman who patrolled Cherry Street. Roosevelt Sykes wrote a song called “West Helena Blues”.

West Helena Blues

Bluesman Cedell Davis, who was born in Helena in 1926, remembered the old days in a 1976 interview: “They could go to town and stay ‘till maybe 9 or 12 o’clock [in Mississippi towns], they’d get out, you see. But now, Helena, you didn’t have to worry about no time, all day, you know what I mean like that. Well, anything that you wanted to spend money on or buy, it was there. All you had to do was look around, it was there.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Cherry Street, Helena 1920

 

Roosevelt Sykes was born on January 31, 1906, in Elmar, Arkansas, a community he later described as “just a little sawmill town.” In 1909, Sykes moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri. He often returned to his grandfather's farm near West Helena and played the organ in a local church. By 1918 he had taught himself the art of blues piano and, three years later, left home to work as an itinerant pianist in gambling establishments and barrelhouses throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. He led the life of a rambler, playing music in order to survive.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes, 1930

 

While in St. Louis, Sykes performed as a soloist and occasionally played with other musicians like guitarist Big Joe Williams. However, his most important mentor was “Pork Chop” Lee Green, who taught Sykes a rendition of the “Forty-Four Blues” piano style.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Helena Downtown, 1930

 

In 1929 Sykes met Jesse Johnson, the owner of the Deluxe Record Shop in St. Louis. Sykes, who at the time performed at an East St. Louis club for one dollar a night, quickly accepted Johnson's invitation to a recording session in New York. Accompanied by Johnson, Sykes arrived at the Okeh Studios in New York in June of 1929. He recorded several numbers, including a version of “Forty- Four Blues” which featured vocals based on the theme of a .44 pistol. During the same year, while attending a recording session for Paramount, Sykes received the nickname “The Honey Dripper” from a song written by singer Edith Johnson.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Edith Johnson

 

In the early 1930s, Sykes moved to Chicago. During the depression years, he recorded for several labels under various pseudonyms. Sykes settled in Chicago in 1941 and, within a short time, became a house musician for the Victor/Bluebird label. Though the label marketed him to be the successor for Fats Waller (who recorded on the same label and died in 1943), Sykes found success as the creator of his own style and remained active as a session man, recording with such musicians as Robert Brown a. k. a. Washboard Sam.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Helena High School, 1929

 

In 1943, while in Chicago, Sykes formed his own group, the Honeydrippers, which often numbered twelve musicians, and within its ranks many of the city’s finest horn players. Traveling with his group, Sykes played venues like the Palace Theater in Memphis. In performing with a larger ensemble, Sykes worked to conform his loose solo-oriented piano style to formal chord sequences. He recalled, in Beale Black & Blue, how he “took up harmony, by having me a band. I had to tell the fellows what I wanted them to do.… But I didn’t play what I told them, see,’cause I never could play anything over again just alike.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes

 

In the post World War II years, Sykes recorded on several labels. In the liner notes to Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival 1973, John Sinclair noted: “The music of Roosevelt Sykes, so timelessly buoyant, so fresh and personal at times, transcended every vagary of the marketplace and lived a vibrant life of its own, no matter what current fads of stylistic alterations held sway, all through the turbulent years between 1929 and 1949.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes

 

Sykes moved to New Orleans in 1954 and, despite the wane in the popularity of blues by the mid 1950s, continued to play in small clubs around the Crescent City. After returning to St. Louis in 1958, he moved to Chicago in 1960, where he was “rediscovered” by enthusiasts of the folk music revival. In 1961 Sykes toured Europe and appeared in the Belgian film ‘Roosevelt Sykes the Honeydripper’. In 1965 and 1966, he toured with the American Folk Blues Festival. While in Europe in 1966, he cut the album ‘Roosevelt Sykes, Gold Mine’ for Delmark. During the decade he also recorded for specialty labels such as Bluesville, Storyville, and Folkways.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Honeyboy Edwards plays West Helena Woman

 

In 1972 Sykes appeared in the French film ‘Blues under the Skin’ and in September 1973 made a triumphant return to the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, a set captured on the LP ‘Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival, Volume 3’. That same year, Delmark released Sykes’s album ‘Feel Like Blowing My Horn’, featuring such Chicago-based bluesmen as guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr. and drummer Fred Below.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Helena - King Biscuit Blues Festival, 2013

 

Sykes worked festivals and concert dates until his death of a heart attack on July 17, 1984, in New Orleans. A man who lived life by his musical talent and ability to communicate with people of all walks of life, Sykes, in ‘Beale Black & Blue,’ cited the real inspiration behind his musical talent. “Blues is a talent you’re born with from God. He gave me the gift,” explained Sykes. “I didn’t even take a lesson in my life.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes

 

Henry Townsend wrote in his book ‘A Blues Life’: “While I was down in Helena one time, I met Red Eyed Jesse Bell. He also played piano. Roosevelt always referred to him; he’d play a number and he’d always refer to it as ‘Red Eyed Jesse Bell played this.’ I think Roosevelt got ‘West Helena Blues’ from Jesse Bell, either him or his baby brother Walter Sykes. Walter Sykes was a genius at his songs and this is one of the things that caused Roosevelt and I to get together. He got a little jealous of his brothers, Jesse and Walter, and he kind of hired me away from them.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Henry Townsend

 

Downtown Helena retains its blues-soaked quality, probably more than anywhere else. The buildings, the river, the levee, the people, the festival, and the radio programs all cast a spell that make it easy to dream you’re back to 1929. Unfortunately it is also desperately poor and seems to be crumbling almost as you watch. Restoring the old buildings seems an insurmountable task, although the Delta Cultural Center and Main Street Helena do what they can. But who knows ?

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Cherry Street today

 

West Helena Blues, lyrics by James Cotton


I got a woman I'm lovin', lives in West Helena Arkansas
She buys me them long toed shoes, keeps that brown mule up in my jaw

She gets paid up on a Friday, Saturday night we go out and have 
ourselves a ball
Out of all the women I've got, I love that woman from Arkansas the best 
of all

You know they say West Helena ain't nothin' but a murderer's home
Well I don't care for the graveyard, people, maybe that's where I'll be 
before long

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Roosevelt Sykes - West Helena Blues

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Tue, 21 Jul 2015 08:36:05 +0000
B.B. King – The Blues Man http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/17787-bb-king-the-blues-man.html http://theblues-thatjazz.com/en/notes/1-blues/17787-bb-king-the-blues-man.html B.B. King – The Blues Man

I've traveled for miles around
It seems like everybody wanna put me down
Because I'm a blues man
But I'm a good man, understand
 

In the mid-1950s, King was performing at a dance in Twist, Arkansas, when a few fans became unruly and started a fire. King ran out, forgetting his guitar, and risked his life to go back and get it. He later found out that two men fighting over a woman named Lucille knocked over a kerosene heater that started the fire. He named the guitar Lucille, "to remind myself never to do anything that foolish."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Gibson Lucille, 2009

 

King used various models of Gibson guitars over the years and named them each Lucille. In the 1980s, Gibson officially dropped the model number ES-355 on the guitar King used, and it became a custom-made signature model named Lucille, manufactured exclusively for the "King of the Blues."

B.B. King (tango)

The future blues icon was born Riley B. King on Sept. 16, 1925, in Itta Bena, Miss., and grew up in several nearby towns, most prominently Indianola, reared primarily by his grandmother after his father left home and his mother died. While picking cotton on a sharecropping farm, he sang gospel in a church choir and developed an affinity for blues guitar, eventually studying with bluesman Bukka White, with whom he lived for nearly a year.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Three O’Clock Blues, single 1951

 

He moved to Memphis in 1946, where he became known as the “Beale Street Blues Boy.” He cut his first single in 1949, and scored a major hit in 1951 with his version of Lowell Fulson’s “Three O’Clock Blues.” He finally put together a touring band in 1955 and began a lifelong commitment to the road, where his ebullient personality flourished.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Beale Street Blues Boy

 

In the early 1960s, King signed with ABC-Paramount, then home to Ray Charles, and his records took on a more sophisticated tone mostly due to him working with arrangers for the first time. His 1965 concert album “Live at the Regal”, recorded in Chicago, became a hallmark concert LP.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Live At The Regal, album

 

In February 1967, King was booked on a bill at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco with Moby Grape and the Steve Miller Band, a booking King thought was a mistake after he arrived, having never played to an all-white audience. Miller and promoter Bill Graham were big fans who wanted him on the bill. "We were all just thrilled to the core," Miller said in ‘B.B. King Treasures’. "It was a very emotional night. He had tears in his eyes because the audience, as soon as B.B. came out on stage, just stood up and gave him a standing ovation."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B. B. King

 

King recalled it as the night he was viewed as a musician instead of as a blues singer. It also led to King meeting and performing with the white blues-rock musicians, among them Bloomfield, Al Kooper and the Blues Project and Clapton, who told journalists the highlight of his first visit to the U.S. was meeting King.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

E.Clapton B.B. King - Riding with The King, 2000

 

It was during this era that a generation of white rock ‘n’ rollers on both sides of the Atlantic began immersing themselves in blues, and King became a hero of sorts to Clapton, Peter Green, the Rolling Stones, the Animals and countless others. Amid this rising appreciation for “authentic” Mississippi sounds by a generation that had never set foot on a plantation, King continued to work both sides of the commercial fence: his raw, raucous concert performances and his sophisticated, pop-sounding studio recordings, epitomized by “The Thrill is Gone.” The latter was his biggest hit in the late ‘60s, its wrenching vocal underscored by melancholy keys and sighing strings.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

The Thrill is Gone, 1969

 

King was one of a precious few bluesmen to score hits consistently during the 1970s, and for good reason: he wasn't afraid to experiment with the idiom. In 1973, he ventured to Philadelphia to record a pair of huge sellers, "To Know You Is to Love You" and "I Like to Live the Love." In 1978, he joined forces with the jazzy Crusaders to make the gloriously funky "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" and an inspiring "When It All Comes Down."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King

 

King's recording career slowed down in the 1980s even as he was adding new countries on tour routes. U2 wrote “When Loves Comes to Town” for King, which they released in 1988 and featured in the film Rattle and Hum. The 1990s saw the creation of B.B. King’s Blues Clubs starting in Memphis in 1991 and then Los Angeles in 1994. A third club opened in New York City in June 2000. King's autobiography,Blues All Around Me,written with David Ritz, was published in 1996. At that time he had a resurgence as a recording artist, putting out 10 albums of new recordings between 1995 and 2008.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

U2 with B.B. King

 

King's music was a unique blend of traditional blues, jazz, pop and swing. And although he was highly skilled on the guitar, he never learned to play and sing at the same time, so he developed a call-and-response between him and Lucille. His songs nearly always alternated between his rustic, crying vocals and his spine-tingling, bent-note playing, both accompanied by facial expressions that were at turns ugly and beatific.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Jagger, Richards and B.B. King

 

"Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said, to make the audience understand what I'm trying to do more," King told The Associated Press in 2006. "When I'm singing, I don't want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King

 

Over the years, he racked up 30 Grammy nominations and 15 wins, including two in 2000: one along with Eric Clapton for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Riding with the King" and another with Dr. John for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't (My Baby)." His last was in February 2009 for Best Traditional Blues Album for "One Kind Favor" (2008).

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

One Kind Favor, album 2008

 

"I'm slower," he told Rolling Stone in 2013. "As you get older, your fingers sometimes swell. But I've missed 18 days in 65 years. Sometimes guys will just take off; I've never done that. If I'm booked to play, I go and play."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King

 

In 1999, in a public conversation with William Ferris, Mr. King recounted how he came to sing the blues. “Growing up on the plantation there in Mississippi, I would work Monday through Saturday noon,” he said. “I’d go to town on Saturday afternoons, sit on the street corner, and I’d sing and play.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King

 

“I’d have me a hat or box or something in front of me. People that would request a gospel song would always be very polite to me, and they’d say: ‘Son, you’re mighty good. Keep it up. You’re going to be great one day.’ But they never put anything in the hat.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King in painting

 

“But people that would ask me to sing a blues song would always tip me and maybe give me a beer. They always would do something of that kind. Sometimes I’d make 50 or 60 dollars one Saturday afternoon. Now you know why I’m a blues singer.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

B.B. King and Friends, Montreux 2006

 

The iconic musician, along with his ever-present guitar Lucille, spent nearly 70 years thrilling audiences and spreading the music he learned as a poverty-stricken youth in the Mississippi Delta all over the world. King, 89, died in Las Vegas, 14 May 2015.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Indianola, Mississippi, Museum of B.B. King

 

]]>
administration@theblues-thatjazz.com (bluesever) Blues Notes Sun, 17 May 2015 17:00:13 +0000