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lundi 17 octobre 2016


             DETROIT BLUES MASTERS Vol. 10

Commençons ce nouvel opus de la Saga blues (et Gospel!) de Detroit avec le formidable prêcheur Brother Will Hairston, auteur du puissant Alabama bus, qui relate le célèbre déclenchement du mouvement antiségrégationniste depuis Montgomery dans l'Alabama, le tout premier morceau à parler du Rev. Martin Luther King. Grâce à Guido Van Rijn qui a pu interviewer la veuve et la fille de Will Hairston, nous connaissons bien la vie de ce superbe chanteur et compositeur de nombreux "protest-songs". Né le 22 novembre 1919 à Brookfield, Ms, Will Hairston s'est installé à Detroit en 1945. Tout en travaillant chez Chrysler, Hairston, un prédicateur renommé dans son Eglise Baptiste, a enregistré 27 titres (souvent pour ses labels maison à l'exception d'une séance pour Joe Von Batlle) généralement des commentaires passionnés de la lutte des Noirs pour mettre fin à la ségrégation qui sévira dans certains Etats du Sud jusque en 1967. Nous avons pu regrouper 10 morceaux de sa discographie très difficile à se procurer. Si certains de nos lecteurs possèdent le reste, une copie .mp3 serait évidemment très bienvenue! Brother Will décèdera à Detroit le 7 mars 1988.
courtesy Mrs Willie Hairston
Si certains disques du chanteur guitariste L.C. Green (né le 23 octobre 1921 à Minter City, Ms - † le 24 août 1985 à Pontiac, Michigan) ont été réédités souvent, nous avons ici regroupé la totalité des enregistrements connus de ce bluesman qui a fait toute sa carrière à Detroit, enregistrant en compagnie de son cousin l'harmoniciste Walter Mitchell une série de superbes titres down-home à souhait.
            Enfin, nous avons complété ce recueil avec un étrange blues enregistré en 1966 sans doute par le syndicat des camionneurs en hommage au célèbre dirigeant syndical et mafieux Jimmy Hoffa sur le label Tronquista (ce qui veut dire camionneur en espagnol). Swinguant sur l'air de John Henry, Hoffa's blues a été pressé en quantité limitée pour être vendu à la Convention des Camionneurs de Miami en juillet 1966! Le chanteur de R&B (Hoffa a aussi été un ardent militant antiségrégationniste) qui délivre cette singulière ode à Hoffa (qui fera de la prison et finira probablement assassiné par le tueur à gages Richard Kuklinsky en 1975) demeure anonyme. Sa voix m'est familière mais je n'arrive guère à mettre un nom précis. Si certains ont une meilleure idée, elle est la bienvenue!
            Merci à tous ceux qui ont contribué à cet article, Pierre Monnery, Marc (pour leur généreux partage de certains de ces titres), Guido Van Rijn pour son article sur Brother Will Hairston (cf la revue Blues & Rhythm n° 167), Mr Mightygroove et D.J. Lucien pour leur expertise concernant Hoffa's blues.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

            Let's start this Detroit blues: Volume 10 with the powerful Gospel and protest song shouter and composer Brother Will Hairston, well known for his striking Alabama bus (about the Montgomery racial bus incident) which is the very first song to mention the Reverend Martin Luther King. Thanks to blues writer and researcher Guido Van Rijn, who interviewed Hairston's widow and daughter, we know the life of this great singer. Will Hairston was born on 22nd November 1919 at Brookfield, Ms and went to Detroit in 1945 to work on the Chrysler Plant. But he also preached in his local Baptist Church and recorded (mostly on his own labels, with the exception of one session for Joe Von Battle) 27 extraordinary and passionate topical blues/Gospels, mostly about the struggle of the African-Americans against segregation in the Southern States. We have been able to gather 10 of those titles. If anyone has the very elusive other tracks and would be willing to share, any .mp3 copy would be most welcomed. Brother Will died in his Detroit home on March, 7th 1988.
If the best known records of singer-guitarist L.C. Green (born 23 October 1921 at Minter City, Ms - † 24 August 1985 at Pontiac, Mi) have been often reissued, we have here gathered the complete known recordings of this excellent very down-home bluesman who made all of his musical career in Detroit, most often backed by his cousin Walter Mitchell, a blues singer and harp player himself.
            At last we have Hoffa's blues, an odd blues made as a tribute to International Brotherhood of Teamsters'leader (and Mafia member) Jimmy Hoffa. It was recorded in 1966 for the Convention of the Truck Drivers' Union that was based in Miami this very year and pressed only for this event. Hoffa who was very popular among workers (and among African Americans for his stand for equal rights) was banned from AFL-CIO before being send in jail for his Mafia's connections and finally probably murdered by the hired killer Richard Kuklinsky in 1975! Anyway this Hoffa's blues swinging on the John Henry tune is sung by an "anonymous" excellent laid-back R&B singer who is still a mystery. Any more clue?
            Thanks to all who contributed to this article: Pierre Monnery and Marc for their generosity in sharing rare tracks; Guido van Rijn for his first rate research about Brother Will Hairston (cf: Blues & Rhyhtm Magazine n° 167), Mr Mightygroove and D.J. Lucien for their expertise on Hoffa's blues.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

Brother Will Hairston, vcl; band. Detroit, Mi. décembre 1955
01. My God don't like it I & II
Brother Will Hairston, vcl; Louis Jackson, pno; Washboard Willie, wbd. Detroit, Mi. 1956
02. The Alabama Bus I & II
03. Mighty wind
04. The Bible is right
05. Seems like a dream
Brother Will Hairston, vcl; The Dixie Aires, vcls; band. Detroit, Mi. novembre 1957
06. Shout school children
Brother Will Hairston, vcl;  band. Detroit, Mi. 1964
07. The Story of President Kennedy
08. Holy Ghost don't leave me
Brother Will Hairston, vcl; Louis Jackson, pno; Washboard Willie, wbd. Detroit, Mi. 1965
09. March on to Montgomery
Brother Will Hairston, vcl; The Greater Love of Tabernacle, vcls; band. Detroit, Mi. 1968
10. This may be the last time
L.C. Green, vcl/g; Walter Mitchell, hca/vcls. Gallatin, Tn. 1952
11. When the sun is shining
12. When the sun was shining n°2
13. Remember way back
14. Little machine
15. Little schoolgirl
16. Come back sugar mama
17. Hold me in your arms
L.C. Green, vcl/g; Walter Mitchell, hca; Robert Richard, hca. Detroit, Mi. 1953
18. Going to the river
19. Going down to the river
L.C. Green, vcl/g; Walter Mitchell, hca; pno. Detroit, Mi. 1954
20. Pistol blues
21. Mary Ann blues
22. Hastings street boogie
23. Things is going so tough today
24. Shine my light
Anonymous, vcl; band. Detroit, Mi. 1966
25. Hoffa's blues

18 commentaires:



  2. Where is possible to find the other 9 volumes, thanks for answer. GREAT JOB !!!

  3. Great stuff - as always, many thanks, Gerard!
    Any chance for Washboard Willie on JVB 59 and
    Herculon in a further volume?

  4. Another very welcomed collection, many thanks Gerard.

  5. Thank you very much ...great series collection ..!!

  6. This is so good! Thank you very much Gerard.

  7. For public requests, new links for Bobo Jenkins/ Complete


  8. Thanks...from Detroit. Great to hear Alabama Bus again.

  9. First time on your blog and already knocked out!!
    Wonderful work.
    I could not react with my gmail account, got the response: need a host name.
    So I had to react anonymous!
    Love the musicand appreciate your work! Smokey

  10. As a Detroit native, who saw several of these artists when they were alive and active, I must thank you deeply for doing what you have done to lift them and their work at least a little bit out of their undeserved obscurity. Plus, it's just wonderful to hear some of these guys and ladies again, or for the first time. Local music cultures are a funny thing, and sometimes we lose perspective and pieces of our history as time and styles and concerns move forward. For instance, although I remember him well from local civil rights gatherings, I certainly never thought I would hear Brother Will again. Much love to you brother, keep the faith!

    1. Thank you very much, mingusal for your warm comments. I'm so glad to be able - as a far foreigner - to bring you something from your own backgrounds. Wonderful music there that stood so well the test of time and that tells great human beings were behind all this...

  11. Incidentally, maybe a hint on the Hoffa record. The label it's on, "Tronquista", is the name the Teamsters Union uses for its Puerto Rico affiliate local ("Union De Tronquistas"). As far as I can find out this is the sole recording on that label, suggesting a privately produced recording. While it's possible that it was made in Detroit, it really doesn't sound like a Detroit production to me at all, and the voice is completely unfamiliar. The music sounds more like a '60s "soulful" big band hotel lounge act. Think more Joe Willams blues, than John Lee Hooker blues.

    So, perhaps a Miami production? Especially since Miami was a Teamsters' stronghold and Miami Beach is where the Teamsters' convention was held at which this record was passed out.