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samedi 20 avril 2019



            Let's start this new volume of our Detroit Blues Masters' series with the legendary singer-pianist Detroit Count, "legendary" mostly for his classic two sided storytelling of the Hastings Street Opera recorded by the great Joe Von Battle and reissued umpteenth times! But Bob White, the real name of Detroit Count has much more to offer. Bob, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, around 1920 went to Detroit in 1938, seemingly already an accomplished barrelhouse pianist. He recorded as soon as 1940 with The Florida Kid and under his real name. His whereabouts during the war years are shady but it seems that he was drafted and served on the Pacific zone. Anyway, he recorded again in 1948 and 1949 as Detroit Count, then a well known character and musician of the burgeoning Hastings Street scene. He is at ease either on a boogie piece like Detroit boogie (Piano boogie) or a cocktail lounge piece. The early 1950's find him playing the piano and the organ Hammond and singing as a member of the Emmit Slay Trio. He waxed a last session in 1954 with the Sax Kari band that I unfortunately have been unable to get a copy. He disappeared from the musical scene after the mid-1950's and seems to have passed in Detroit around 1970.
Although he recorded his first tracks in Detroit, singer and guitarist Johnny Wright is certainly not a Detroit blues performer. Born in Centerville, Tennessee February 20 1930, he began to sing and play guitar at an early age alongside his brothers Sherman (who played harmonica) and George (at the fiddle). In 1950, Johnny went to Saint Louis to try his luck. In a couple of years, he had gained a great reputation playing regularly at the Cosmopolitan Club He was even a member of an early Chuck Berry's band! In 1953, seeking for work in Detroit, Johnny recorded for Joe Von Battle the autobiographic blues I was in Saint Louis/ I stayed down boy that were issued on the DeLuxe label. The record gained enough attention for Johnny to be recorded by Ike Turner in Saint Louis. Wright then formed his own blues band and recorded again for the local Stevens label. Always seeking more opportunities, Johnny moved to Los Angeles, joined Ike Turner's band, formed a new personal one to play regularly in Southern California. But the 1960's were lean years for the blues and Johnny had to find a day job at Terre Haute, Indiana in a steel mill while playing week ends in local clubs with a white band under the nickname "Rolling Stone". He thus recorded a late 45s with the Steve Rusin band and played locally until his death at his Terre Haute's home on 2 June 1988.
            Last but not least, singer Katie Watkins is a total unknown, having recorded two very down home blues in 1957-59, the first backed by the Sax Kari's band with Kari on guitar.
            Thanks to all of those who helped for those researches, particularly the Dave Kyle's article on the National Road Magazine.
                                               Gérard HERZHAFT

Volume 13
DETROIT COUNT (Bob White), vcl/pno; Alfred Elkins, bs/vcls. Chicago, Ill. 7 November 1940
01. I'm the woogie man
02. Pullet and Hen blues
Detroit Count, vcl/pno. Detroit, Mi. 1948
03. Hastings Street Opera I & II
Detroit Count, vcl/pno; band. Detroit, Mi. 1948
04. I'm crazy about you
05. Hastings Street woogie man
06. Detroit boogie
07. Parrot Lounge boogie
Detroit Count, vcl/pno; King Porter, tpt; Wild Bill Moore, t-sax; band. Detroit, Mi. 1949
08. My last call
09. Little Tillie Willie
Detroit Count, vcl/og; Emmit Slay, g; Larry Jackson, dms. Detroit, Mi. 23 January 1953
10. You told me that you loved me
11. Brotherly love
Detroit Count, vcl/og; Emmit Slay, vcl/g; Larry Jackson, dms. New York City, 30 March 1953
12. I've learned my lesson
13. Be mine once more
14. Male call
Detroit Count, vcl/pno; Sax Kari, g; band. Detroit, Mi. 1954
Brand new gal
One room, the blues and you
JOHNNY WRIGHT, vcl/g; Band. Detroit, Mi. 17 November 1953
15. 54 blues
16. Boogie baby
17. I stayed down
18. I was in Saint Louis
19. She went away
20. Up boy
Johnny Wright, vcl/g; Raymond Hill, t-sax; Eddie Jones, t-sax; Ike Turner, g; pno; Jesse Knight Jr, bs; Eugene Washington, dms. Saint Louis, Mo. November 1955
21. The world is yours
22. Suffocate
Johnny Wright, vcl/g; Joe Whitfield, t-sax; bs; Joe Hunt, dms. Saint Louis, Mo. January 1959
23. Look at that chick
24. Gotta have you for myself
Johnny Wright, vcl/g; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1962
25. Wine head
Who was?
Johnny Wright, vcl/g; Steve Rusin, hca; Billy Five Coats, pno; Dave Kyle, g; Steve Ridge, dms. Terre Haute, In. 1978
26. Move
27. Shut up
KATIE WATKINS, vcl; Sax Kari, g; Jimmy, bs; dms. Detroit, Mi. 1957
28. Trying to get you off my mind
Katie Watkins, vcl; band. Detroit, Mi. 1959
29. Don't take, give

Thanks to our friend Tom Thumb, we have now three 1977 tracks by Johnny Wright backed by Steve Rusin and band: Coal Shed + Johnny's bad air boogie + I was in Saint Louis (solo guitar version with Steve Rusin). Those titles are there

vendredi 5 avril 2019


SHAKEY JAKE/ Complete Studio Recordings

James D. Harris was born 12 April 1921 (or 1920) at Earle, Arkansas and raised on his parents' small farm. He came to Chicago still a teenager. There he listened to the numerous blues players of the Windy City and saw several times John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson who encouraged him to play the harmonica and sing the blues. He so started a musical career around 1945. With a warm and soft voice, he gained some recognition in Chicago clubs but always found a better way of living in working outside the music. Garage owner, taxi driver, cook, record label owner, strip club owner (and maybe a pimp!)... James earned his Shakey Jake's nickname as a noted gambler, shaking the dice (although some better informed people (?) once told me Jake was named "Shakey" by the numerous women he knew for his bedtime skills). Anyway, he resumed a full blues career during the 1950's in training, promoting, composing blues for and playing with his nephew, Magic Sam (Jake had just married Sam's aunt). Although he is not often credited for that, Shakey Jake played an important part in creating and defining the blues style that would be later on called "West Side Sound" and many of Magic Sam's songs were penned and arranged by his uncle.
            Under his name, Shakey Jake recorded two singles in 1957 and 1958 and two odd full albums for the then fledgling Bluesville label that were very bad received at the time of being issued but that finally are aging rather well. German promoters of the first American Folk Blues Festival wanted another and more famous harp player, also a Shakey, Big Walter Horton on the bill but Willie Dixon who was at the AFBF wheel in Chicago didn't want Walter because of him being not very reliable and instead took Shakey Jake. Jake fared quite well on the very successful tour, befriended with T-Bone Walker (and even won his shoes on cards!) but turned down several offers to record and play more in Europe. In 1968, he toured and recorded in California for the World Pacific label and feeling that the L.A. weather suited him better than windy Chicago's, he settled in Los Angeles where he became a favorite of the local young blues bands like Rod Piazza or William
Clarke. He opened a club (Safara Club), launched a record label (Good Time), recorded with his protégés. But the times were hard for Jake who lived in a very bad and dangerous area and had to sell discarded paper and cardboard to recycling centres for his bread and butter.
            Quite ill during the late 1980's, he finally came back to Pine Bluff, Arkansas where he died on 2 March 1990.
            He leaves us a nice blues heritage. We have gathered here almost all of his studio recordings that thus do not include his AFBF 1962 performances which are easily available elsewhere on CDs.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT