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lundi 20 février 2023






  This post brings to the fore the Texas piano blues school, a big amount of piano players generally labelled as "Santa Fe piano blues" because the pioneers of the genre were playing in the juke joints scattered along the railway stations of the ATSF (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe), a line that starting in Kansas brought travellers and goods to Santa Fe in New Mexico through Texas.


          One of the pioneer of this style is the enigmatic Andy Boy (probably Anthony Boyd), born in Galveston on 10th November 1904. His playing has touches of older ragtime and he recorded behind Joe Pullum and Walter Cowboy Washington as well as eight beautiful titles in San Antonio in 1937. One don't know when and where he died. He was heard in the 50's in the juke joints of Kansas City although Blues/ A regional experience gives New York as the possible place of his death.



Earl Gilliam was born at Lafayette, La. on 13 January 1930. But he was raised at New Waverly, Tx. where he started to play the piano in his local church at an early age. Trying to make a living with his music, Earl went to Houston and found quickly a job as the piano man of Gatemouth Brown's band. He stayed in Houston almost all his life, playing constantly in local venues, bars and joints. He played as a solo act as well as an accompanist for many bluesmen like Albert Collins, Albert King, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Big Mama Thornton. He also played with Western Swing bands like the famous Light Crust Doughboys which allowed him to make his debut recordings under his name on the Sarg label, mostly a Western Swing and Hillbilly Music label. He only recorded a handful of numbers between 1955 and 1968 (all are here). This is while backing Joe Hughes that he as "rediscovered" and recorded at last a whole excellent album in 2004 for the Dialtone label. Gilliam died 19 october 2011 at his home of Tomball, Tx.


          Although Connie Mack Booker is the pianist of dozens of sessions throughout the years behind a big amount of artists (B.B. King, Jr Parker, Blues Boy Jones, Johnny Copeland etc...) he has not been very well documented. Born on 2 May 1931 at Edinburg, Tx. Connie was raised at Houston, starting to play a deep and bluesy style of piano in the clubs as soon as 1948. He recorded under his name a small amount of tracks that we have been able to gather here, I guess for the first time.


          A lot of thanks to Tom Thumb and Jose Yraberra for their help, sharing some of the rarest tracks on this collection.


                                                 Gérard HERZHAFT



ANDY BOY, vcl/pno. San Antonio, Tx. 24 February 1937

01. Evil blues

02. House raid blues

03. Too late blues

04. Church Street blues

05. Out o'line blues

06. Lonesome with the blues

07. Jive blues

08. Yellow gal blues

EARL GILLIAM, vcl/pno; Lucian Davis, a-sax; Gene Burke, t-sax; Russell Willis, g; Donald Cooks, bs; Leo Hopkins, dms. Houston, Tx. may 1955

09. Don't make me late baby

10. Nobody's blues

11. Wrong doing woman

12. Petite baby

Earl Gilliam, vcl/pno; B.J. Brooks, t-sax; g; bs; Ivory Lee Semier, dms. Houston, Tx. 1962

13. Just you and I

Earl Gilliam, vcl/pno; band. Houston, Tx. c. 1968

14. Funky twist

15. Going back home

CONNIE MACK BOOKER, pno; Eddie Green, dms; L.C. Williams, vcl. Houston, Tx. june 1949

16. Shout baby boogie

17. Rich women blues

Connie Mack Booker, vcl/pno; Goree Carter, g; band. Houston, Tx. 1949

18. Loretta

19. You're trying to bring me down

20. Rich woman blues

21. My baby left me

Connie Mack Booker, vcl/pno; Henry Hayes, a-sax; Ed Wiley, t-sax; Goree Carter, g; Donald Cooks, bs; Ben Turner, dms. Houston, Tx. 1950

22. Trouble making woman

23. Dolphin Street stomp

Connie Mack Booker, vcl/pno; Cal Green, g; band. Houston, Tx. 8 december 1953

24. Love me pretty baby

25. All alone

26. Freight train rollings


mercredi 1 février 2023

CHARLES SHEFFIELD Voodoo is still working



Artiste important de la musique louisianaise, certains de ses titres étant même devenus "titres-cultes"!, Charles "Mad Dog" Sheffield n'en demeure pas moins très largement inconnu et, malgré tous nos efforts, nous n'avons pu recueillir que peu d'informations sur lui.
            Dans son ouvrage essentiel"South to Louisiana" sur les musiques du Sud de la Louisiane paru en 1983, John Broven n'est pas particulièrement disert sur Charles Sheffield qu'il situe esentiellement comme étant un chanteur "originaire de Lake Charles".
En fait, grâce à la ténacité du regretté Eric Le Blanc, nous savons que Charles Richard Sheffield est né le 16 février 1931 à Houston (Tx). Mais c'est effectivement pour le producteur de Lake Charles, Eddie Shuler et son label Goldband, que Sheffield enregistre en 1955-56, accompagné de
l'orchestre du superbe guitariste Clarence Garlow avec en plus Lionel Torrence au saxophone ténor! Mais ce sont les séances suivantes, cette fois puissamment produites par l'incontournable Jay Miller et réalisées dans ses studios de Crowley qui vont faire la réputation de Charles Sheffield. Pratiquement tout est exceptionnel de l'endiablé Shoo shoo chicken au morceau de danse très néo-orléanais The Kangaroo en passant bien sûr par le sublime It's your voodoo working, certainement un des meilleurs morceaux louisianais des années 60.
            Le succès a cependant été modeste et malgré deux séances plus tradives à La Nouvelle Orléans en 1965-66 sous le sobriquet de Prince Charles, Charles Sheffield disparaît de la scène musicale. Il décède dans l'anonymat le 27 mars 2010 à Beaumont (Tx).
            Pour envelopper encore plus de mystère cet artiste, plusieurs anthologies lui ont attribué des titres dans lesquels il n'est nullement présent et que nous avons donc signalés dans la discographie. Il manque encore deux morceaux (en rouge) pour pouvoir compléter cette petite mais importante oeuvre. Comme toujours, toute copie est la bienvenue.
            Merci à Benoit Blue Boy, Marc D. et Robert Wingfield pour leur aide.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

            An important and influential musical figure from South Louisiana with some records still revered in many circles, Charles "Mad Dog" Sheffield remains nevertheless and despite all our efforts to unearth any clue, a very elusive artist.
            In his essential book, "South to Louisiana" from 1983, John Broven writes some facts about Charles Sheffield, particularly about his sessions and him being from Lake Charles. And those lines have been reproduced again and again through the years without unearthing further facts! But thanks to the late Eric Le Blanc we know that our man was in fact born in Houston (Tx) on February 16, 1931.

            But in 1955-56, Charles recorded a dozen titles in Lake Charles for local producer and Goldband label owner Eddie Shuler. Good sides backed by a top-notch band with Clarence Garlow playing the guitar and the great Lionel Torrence blowing his saxophone. But these are the following sessions in 1959-61 - this time for the ubiquitous J.D. Miller in his Crowley studios - that will launch Sheffield's reputation. Everything here is exceptionnal from the boisterous Shoe shoe chicken to the New Orleans type dance tune The Kangaroo through the masterpiece It's your voodoo working, still highly praised everywhere and certainly one of the very best track coming from South Louisiana during the 1960's.
            But the success must have been modest. Charles would record only twice in New Orleans in 1965-66 before vanishing completely. He died in Beaumont (Tx) on March, 27, 2010.
     To add to the mystery, Sheffield has been credited on several anthologies of titles in which he is not present at all! We have put those in the discography. Two titles are still missing to give a complete collection of Charles' works and any copy of it would be welcomed and fully credited.
            Thanks to Benoit Blue Boy, MarcD and Robert Wingfield for their help.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT



CHARLES SHEFFIELD/ Complete Recordings

Charles Sheffield, vcl; Lionel Torrence, t-sax; Boogie Joe Joseph, pno; Clarence Garlow, g; James Williams, bs; Little Brother Griffin, dms. Lake Charles, La. 1955

01. Ooh! Wee baby! Ooh! Wee

02. Isabella

Cry baby cry

Charles Sheffield, vcl; Lionel Torrence, t-sax; tpt; tb; Boogie Joe Joseph, pno; Clarence Garlow, g; James Williams, bs; Little Brother Griffin, dms. Lake Charles, La. 1956

03. Cool Cat

04. Mad dog (Goldband)

05. Mad dog (Hollywood)

06. Clear my nights of misery

07. I got a fever

08. Wicked old fever

09. You move me

10. Nights of misery

11. One hour thirty minutes too long

12. Ball game

Boogie Chidren (in fact by Tabby Thomas)

I love you so (in fact I love her so by Alonzo Smith)

Nothing can keep my love from you (by Alonzo Smith)

Charles Sheffield, vcl; Big Sambo's Swingsters, band. Crowley, La. 1959

13. Is it because I love you?

14. Never no more

I've gotta love

15. Shoo Shoo Chicken

Charles Sheffield, vcl; Lionel Torrence, t-sax; Harry Simoneaux, t-sax; Peter Gosch, b-sax; Katie Webster, pno; Bobby Mc Bride, bs; Warren Storm, dms. Crowley, La. janvier 1961

16. It's your voodoo working

17. Rock'n'roll train

Charles Sheffield, vcl; same band. Crowley, La. juin 1961

18. I would be a sinner

19. The Kangaroo

Give it up (in fact by Vince Monroe/ Mr Calhoun)

20. You're gonna need somebody

Charles Sheffield, vcl; Doctor John, pno; Joey long, g; band. New Orleans, La. 1965

21. Come on home

22. Only you

Charles Sheffield (as Prince Charles), vcl; band. New Orleans, La. 1966

23. Sick

24. Get down on your knees and pray




mardi 20 décembre 2022

CHICAGO/ The Blues Yesterday/ Volume 27

 CHICAGO/ The Blues Yesterday/ Volume 27


This 27th Volume of our popular "Chicago/ The blues Yesterday" series brings to the limelight three jazz and rock artists who in their career performed and recorded Chicago blues.

This is particularly the case to Donna Hightower (1926-2013). Donna, born in Caruthersville, Missouri into a sharecroppers family, sang in the local church while listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday records. While singing for a dinner in Chicago, she was

instantly signed by Bob Tillman, a well known columnist with the Chicago Defender newspaper. She got a gig daily at the Strand Hotel and started to record in Chicago a handful of tunes, some of them being clearly rooted into the Chicago blues of the era. I ain't in the mood would climb to the Top 50 Race Records. Donna went to the West Coast, recording again for RPM with Maxwell Davis and for Capitol but made the most of her successful career in Europe, recording jazz, pop, Gospel for numerous labels and appearing on the biggest jazz festivals.

On the other hand, Wild Child Gipson (Byron Everett Gipson Jr) (1930-1994) was a true pioneer of Rock'n'roll. Born in Gulfport, Illinois, Gipson learned bass and guitar and was a true fan of Lloyd Price. He started his career as a doo-woop singer with the Sliders. During the mid-50's, Gipson became the road manager, car driver and bodyguard of Little Richard (!), also arranging some of his songs and writing some tunes for his leader. Wild Child Gipson also recorded some tracks under his name, Uncle John (an answer to Richard's Long Tall Sally) gaining some commercial success. After an incident where he was shot on the leg, Gipson gave up the road and relocated to Quincy (Illinois) where he mostly made a living outside the music.

Tommy Dean
was a pianist born in Franklin, La. in 1909. He played and recorded first in Saint Louis before taking his chance to Chicago after 1945 where he would play in clubs and record as a studio musician as well as under his name for Miracle, States, King, Federal and Vee Jay labels. Most of his records are in a jazzy blues vein and are very good with great singers like Joe Buckner or Jewell Belle. He died in Saint Louis in the fall of 1964. (cf for a in-depth study of Tommy Dean's life and career)


                                          Gérard HERZHAFT


DONNA HIGHTOWER, vcl; Gail Brocklan, tpt; Poerter Kilbert, a-sax; Riley Hampton, a-sax; Walter Leonard, b-sax; Horace Henderson, pno; Floyd Smith, g; Arthur Edwards, bs; George Reid, dms. Chicago, Ill. 9 october 1951

01. I ain't in the mood

02. Cry

Donna Hightower, vcl; Gail Brocklan, tpt; Poerter Kilbert, a-sax; Riley Hampton, a-sax; Walter Leonard, b-sax; Horace Henderson, pno; Floyd Smith, g; Arthur Edwards, bs; George Reid, dms. Chicago, Ill. 3 february 1952

03. Honest and truly

04. I found a new love

Donna Hightower, vcl; prob. same band. Chicago, Ill. 4 avril 1952

05. Kiss me baby

06. Don't you think I oughta know

07. Farewell blues

WILD CHILD GIPSON (Byron Gipson), vcl/g The Sliders, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1955

08. Honey dew

09. The one I love

Wild Child Gipson, vcl/g; The Sliders, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1956

10. Footloose and fancy free

11. Etta Mae

12. I want cha baby

Wild Child Gipson, vcl/kbds; Freddie Tieken, t-sax; John Moorman, g; The Rockers, band. Chicago, Ill. 1958

13. Uncle John

14. Lost control

15. Sittin' here cryin'

16. Kool

Wild Child Gipson, vcl/kbds; Freddie Tieken, t-sax; Johnny Pisano, g; Freddie Katz & The Jammers, band. Quincy, Ill. 1965

17. Sweet roll'n stone

My kinduva blues

Wild Child Gipson, vcl/org; Peoria Soul Merchants, band. Peoria, Ill. 1966

18. Boogaloo train to Peoria

19. Coal mine n°2

TOMMY DEAN, pno; Gene Easton, a-sax; James Taylor, t-sax; Chris Woods, clt. Buck Underwood, bs; Pee Wee Jernigan, dms. Saint Louis, Mo. 1947

20. Rock easy

Just before day

Tommy Dean, pno; Chris Woods, a-sax; Edgar Hayes, t-sax; Gene Eatson, b-sax; bs; Pee Wee Jernigan, dms. Saint Louis, Mo. avril 1949

Jump for joy (vcl: Pee Wee Jernigan)

Dean's theme

Tommy Dean, pno; Chris Woods, a-sax; Edgar Hayes, t-sax; Gene Easton, b-sax; Eugene Thomas, bs; Pee Wee Jernigan, dms. Chicago, Ill. july 1949

21. Hours past midnight (vcl: Pee Wee Jernigan)

22. Scamon boogie

23. Sweet and lovely (vcl: Pee Wee Jernigan)

24. Just about right

Tommy Dean, pno; Chris Woods, a-sax; Edgar Hayes, t-sax; Gene Easton, b-sax; Eugene Thomas, bs; Pee Wee Jernigan, dms. Chicago, Ill. 4 juin 1952

25. Rainin' (It rains) (vcl: Jewel Belle)

26. Foolish (vcl: Jewel Belle)

27. Cool one groove two

28. Lonely Monday (vcl: Jewel Belle)

Tommy Dean, pno; Chris Woods, a-sax; Edgar Hayes, t-sax; Gene Easton, b-sax; Eugene Thomas, bs; Pee Wee Jernigan, dms. Chicago, Ill. 19 november 1952

Scammon boogie

How can I let you go (vcl: Jewel Belle)

Tommy Dean, pno/og; Oliver Nelson, a-sax; Chuck Tillman, t-sax; Archie Burnside, bs; Edgar Plaes, dms. Chicago, Ill. 20 december 1954

29. Deanie boy

30. Just before day

31. How can I let you go (vcl: Joe Buckner)

32. Why don't chu (vcl: Joe Buckner)

33. 221 Rock

34. Even time (vcl: Joe Buckner)

Tommy Dean, pno; Oliver Nelson, a-sax; Archie Burnside, bs; Edgar Plaes, dms. Chicago, Ill. 17 february 1955

35. The Gold Coast

Tommy Dean, pno/org; Oliver Nelson, a-sax; Chuck Tillman, t-sax; Joe Whitfield, t-sax; Archie Burnside, bs; Edgar Plaes, dms. Chicago, Ill. 11 july 1955

36. One more mile (vcl: Joe Buckner)

37. Skid row

38. Straight and ready

Tommy Dean, org; Charles Williams, a-sax; Fred Lee, t-sax; Haffuch Alexander, pno; Lefty Bates, g; Milton Wilson, dms/perc. Chicago, Ill. 27 may 1958

39. Recession



samedi 3 décembre 2022

A.C. REED/ Early Recordings (Re-post)


A.C. REED/ Early Recordings 

Aaron Corthens dit A.C. Reed (ceci afin de se faire passer pour le cousin du célèbre Jimmy Reed, une parenté guère prouvée) est né à Wardell dans le Missouri le 9 mai 1926. Après des tâtonnements à la guitare et aux claviers, Aaron, un grand fan des big bands, a opté pour le saxophone. Venu jeune à Chicago, il commence sa carrière auprès de Willie Mabon et de Earl Hooker (avec qui il enregistrera substantiellement), gagnant au passage un "saxophone d'or" et un titre de "Roi du Chicago blues, version saxophone"! Durant les années 60, il multiplie les 45t pour une nuée de petits labels, collant le plus possible au style vocal de son cousin présumé, le célèbre Jimmy Reed. Le paresseux This little voice évoque bien Jimmy, mais I stay mad et surtout l'excellent My buddy buddy friends sont des pièces débordant de cet humour désabusé et décapant qui est la marque de la plume d'A.C. Entre 1970 et 1983, Reed est surtout le sideman attitré de Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Son Seals puis Albert Collins, ornant leurs concerts et leurs disques de ses sonorités râpeuses et carrées. Cet style simple mais essentiel au vrai Chicago blues amène nombre de musiciens de rock à utiliser ses talents pour certains de leurs enregistrements, tels Eric Clapton ou les Rolling Stones. Tout cela permet enfin à A.C. Reed d'entreprendre une carrière de leader à l'âge de la retraite. I am fed up with music, un 45t sorti en 1983 en deux versions, l'une "hard", l'autre plus chaste pour les oreilles sensibles est d'une irrésistible drôlerie. Aaron Corthens récolte même un W.C. Handy Award pour le microsillon correspondant: Take these blues and shove'em (Ice Cube)I'm in the wrong business (Alligator) dans lequel A.C. regrette de n'avoir pas embrassé la carrière de boxeur comme Rocky ou Mr T. est dans la même veine, avec le soutien de Stevie Ray Vaughan et Bonnie Raitt. A.C. Reed a enregistré d'autres disques pour Wolf ou Black & Blue, a excellemment figuré dans la célèbre anthologie Living Chicago blues (Alligator). Juste avant son décès (le 25 février 2004 à Chicago), A.C. a signé sans doute son meilleur album pour Delmark, le décapant Junk Food.
            Nous proposons ici l'intégrale des 45t enregistrés par cet intéressant bluesman de Chicago entre 1961 et 1970.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

Born Aaron Corthen (Warden, Missouri; May 9th 1926), this honking saxophone player has been a mainstay of the Chicago blues clubs and the recording studios. He began his career with Willie Mabon, then Earl Hooker which whom he worked and recorded during most of the 1960's. He always said he was a real cousin to the then famous Jimmy Reed, thus taking' the name A.C. Reed but it is unsure the fact is true!
            Anyway, A.C. Reed started to record a string of excellent 45's in 1961 with the minor hit This little voice in which he emulates the lazy phrasing of Jimmy Reed. All his records are full of humour, particularly I stay mad and the superb My buddy buddy friends that will enter the Top 100 R&B.
            After Earl Hooker's death, A.C. played in the bands of Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Son Seals and Albert Collins, demonstrating all over the world his forceful sax playing. This collaboration earned him a strong reputation among the blues fans everywhere and he was asked to record with British stars Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. He then finally launched his career as a leader in the 1980's, fronting his own band and recording several excellent LP's (Take these blues and shove it) and CD's for Alligator (Living Chicago blues and I'm in the wrong business with Stevie Ray Vaughan), Wolf or Delmark (Junk Food, maybe his best album).
            A.C. died in Chicago on February 25th 2004, leaving a strong recorded legacy.
            This compilation gathers all his early 45s.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

Early Recordings
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; Pinetop Perkins, pno; Earl Hooker, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Bobby Little, dms. Chicago, Ill. juin 1961
01. This little voice
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; Little Ray Charles, pno; Reggie Boyd, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Bill Stepney, dms. Chicago, novembre 1961
02. I wanna be free
03. Come on home
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax;Earl Hooker, g; Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, pno; Reggie Boyd, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Bill Stepney, dms. Chicago, Ill, 1962
04. Mean cop
05. That ain't right
06. Crying blues
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; Dusty Draper, a-sax; Bobby Fields, t-sax; Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, pno/og; Ivory Parker, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Frank Swan, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1963
07. I stay mad
08. Lotta lovin'
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; Detroit Junior, pno; Ivory Parker, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Buddy Ray, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1965
09. I'd rather light than switch
10. I got money to burn
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; horns; Lafayette Leake, pno; M.T. Murphy, g; Ivory Parker, g; Leroy Stewart, bs; Tyrone Harris, dms/perc. Chicago, Ill. 1966
11. My baby is fine
12. My baby's been cheating
13. Talking about my friend
14. Boogaloo tramp
A.C. Reed, vcl/t-sax; Pinetop Perkins, kbds; Johnny Twist Williams, g; Earnest Johnson, bs; Charles Hicks, dms. Chicago, Ill. 1970
15. Things I want you to do
16. Three short two

mardi 22 novembre 2022

WILLIE MABON/ Complete Recordings 1949-69


WILLIE MABON/ Complete Recordings 1949-69


 I guess everybody following this blog knows for sure that the post war Chicago blues was not only Muddy Waters-Howlin' Wolf and such Delta blues transplanted in the Windy City. Chicago had its own burgeoning R&B scene, jazz inflected blues and cocktail lounges bluesy music.

          Willie Mabon (born in Hollywood, Tn, near Memphis 24th October 1925) is certainly, in his look as well as in his music, closer to Charles Brown and the California blues than to the Delta-Chicago style. His laid back manners, his soft insinuating voice, his halftones blues with humorous lyrics put Willie Mabon apart from the other Chess artists of the 1950's. After his service in the Marines, Willie came to live permanently in Chicago and embarked himself in a musical career. Influenced by Cripple Clarence Lofton, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Maceo and Sunnyland Sim, he developed a brilliant, classy piano style, also sometimes blowing a harmonica (his first instrument) on a rack. After being the pianist and sometimes vocalist of The Blues Rockers, Mabon waxed many records under his name and enjoyed some good hits (Poison Ivy, I'm mad, The seventh son, I don't know; I'm a fixer). But as so many bluesmen, he couldn't cope with the new Soul trends of the 60's and almost disappeared from the US blues scene. Thanks to French Black & Blue's Chicago Blues Festival tours, Mabon resumed his career in Europe after 1972, touring extensively and recording very good albums for French, British and German labels.

          He died of illness in Paris, France, on 19th April 1985.

          We have been able to gather all his US recordings from his Blues Rockers' beginnings in 1949 to his last Checker session in 1969. Thanks a lot to Jose Yraberra, Marc D. and Tom Thumb for providing some rare records.

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

The complete Mabon's 1949-69 discography is on the comments' links