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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

14 commentaires:

  1. Detroit Blues Masters Volume 13


  2. Big thanks Gerard. Everything you post is interesting, informative, and most welcomed.

  3. Thanks a lot, Gerard, another fine compilation in this series!

    A bit of information about Johnny Wright:

    No.17 & 18 - I Stayed Down / I Was in St. Louis /DeLuxe (78/45) 6029)
    No. 21 & 22 - The World Is Yours / Suffocate (rpm (78/45) 443)
    No. 23 & 24 - Look at that Chick / Gotta Have You (Stevens (45) 1001) - March 1959
    No. 25 - Wine Head - B-side of It's Jumpin' (45) J-2001 (A-side is from diff.artist)
    No. 26 & 27 is Hi-Way (the Indiana label) H-0004
    preceeded by Hi-Way H-0001 (1977) Coal Shed / Johnny's Bad Air Boogie

    By the way, congrats to your choice of headline photographs…
    Unfortunately, I missed to post a comment on the superior last one; found it just today so I add it this time:

    What a nice headline photograph! What we have here is a Fender Twin, an old Gibson GA 2x10" brown tolex tube amp, a blonde Kay Bruno fitted with a deArmond style PU and a 1970s GIbson SG Standard with a Lyre Vibrola system. After all, not the baddest equipment for playing the blues. Microphone looks like a vintage Turner plugged into a battered mic preamp box. Reminds me of the times when we played simultanesly with two guitar players and one bass player over a weak Neckermann amp with four inputs resulting in the the loudest and most aggressive player cutting off the other two, and every half an hour the fuses blowing. But we sure had fun…
    Best, however, is the lil gal on the staircase and the two tambourine banging chaps…

  4. Great post as usual Gerard. TYVM.

  5. Thank you, Gerard, for another varied, informative and absorbing collection.

  6. Many Thanks Gérard : as usual very interesting to discover Blues opus.

  7. OK!!!! Gerard, I lived in Detroit in the early 1980s and was lucky enough to see John Lee Hooker when he came to town, as well as Mr Bo and Eddie Burns. Wonderful to see an entire Detroit Count collection. Hastings Street is long gone but the ghosts tip there hat to you!

  8. Many thanks Gerard .. !! Great post ..!!

  9. Gérard,
    Thank you for this compilation. I understand that it took a whole lot of time and labor.

  10. Many thanks, Gerard, I really appreciate your research. Keep Swingin', my man!

  11. Dear Gerard,
    Many thanks for those early Detroit Count sides. New to me! And, thanks for your deep knowledge of and love for our music.

  12. MERCI COMMANDE AMERICANA, aussi pour mon ch'ti Noêl.