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jeudi 26 septembre 2019

R.C. SMITH/ Complete Recordings (re-post)

R.C. SMITH/ Complete Recordings (Re-Post)



           
Robert Curtis Smith, né en 1930 à Cruger (Ms) près de Clarksdale, est une des meilleures découvertes faites par Chris Strachwitz et Paul Oliver durant leur voyage conjoint dans le Sud des Etats Unis en juillet 1960. Un chanteur et guitariste de blues, dans le pur style du Delta, qui compose des morceaux relatant sa vie quotidienne et qui est âgé d'à peine 30 ans! Même pour l'époque, il s'agissait vraiment d'une trouvaille majeure.
            C'est par hasard que Chris et Paul croisent le chemin de R.C. Smith alors qu'il discutait avec son ami Wade Walton dans le petit salon de coiffure que ce barbier/ bluesman tenait dans le quartier noir de Clarksdale. Après que Wade eut impressionné ses visiteurs exotiques de quelques morceaux à la guitare, à l'harmonica et surtout en battant le rythme avec une lame et la sangle de rasoir de sa boutique (un "truc" qu'il rééditera devant chacun de ses visiteurs de plus en plus nombreux au fur et à mesure des années), R.C. a à son tour interprété quelques morceaux avec la guitare de Wade (il avait mis la sienne au clou pour payer les cadeaux de Noel à sa femme et à ses huit enfants)
            D'emblée, Oliver et Strachwitz décident d'enregistrer les deux compères. Smith ne grave que quelques titres et c'est l'année suivante en juillet 1961 qu'il peut s'exprimer sur un album entier qui sortira pour Bluesville, un des meilleurs LP de ce label, avec notamment quelques très grands moments personnels comme le désespérant Council Spur blues. Malheureusement le label Bluesville n'a jamais brillé par sa distribution et l'album sorti presque en catimini à une époque où le blues revival n'était que balbutiant ne se vend qu'à quelques dizaines d'exemplaires!
            A part quelques dollars bienvenus, le disque ne rapporte rien du tout à R.C. Smith qui retourne à sa métairie, conduisant un tracteur pour un salaire misérable. Il confiera être très fier qu'un seul de ses enfants soit décédé! Vers 1969, il abandonne le blues pour la religion, quitte ensuite le Mississippi dans les années 1970 pour une meilleure vie à Chicago.
            Son superbe disque – malheureusement devenu très rare et jamais réédité ni en LP ni en CD – intrigue cependant le cercle des amateurs de Delta blues un peu partout dans le monde, en particulier le fondateur de Living Blues Jim O'Neal qui, grâce à Wade Walton, réussit à le retrouver en 1997 et à le faire monter sur scène (sans doute sa seule apparition en concert) durant le Sunflower blues festival. Mais Smith doit regagner Chicago et élude donc l'idée d'enregistrer l'album que veut O'Neal.
           
L'année suivante, Matthew Bock tombe sur lui un peu par hasard tandis qu'il dirige une congrégation dans le South Side de Chicago, continuant à jouer de la guitare et à chanter, mais cette fois uniquement des gospels. La voix est devenue un peu plus rauque mais sa musique religieuse semble aussi pleine de vigueur et d'inspiration que les blues qu'il avait enregistrés près de 40 ans avant! Il enregistrera cinq nouveaux titres.
            R.C. Smith décède en novembre 2010 à Chicago.
            On ne peut que regretter que ce talent qu'on devine d'importance au vu de ses quelques disques n'ait pu davantage figurer dans les festivals de blues et fréquenter davantage les studios. But anyway this is the real story of the blues!
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

            Robert Curtis Smith, born in Cruger, Ms near Clarksdale in 1930, is certainly one of the best discovery made by Chris Strachwitz and Paul Oliver during their July 1960 blues trip in the Deep South. Here was a blues singer in his early 30's playing the guitar in the true Delta style who also wrote personal lyrics about his everyday life! Even for the 1960's he was a major find and he should certainly have enjoyed concerts, records and international recognition.
            Chris and Paul crossed the path of R.C. Smith while he was chatting with his old friend Wade Walton in Wade's barbershop situated in Clarksdale's "colored" quarter. Wade was mentioned as an old-styled bluesman by several people, leading Oliver and Strachwitz to his shop. After Wade had impressed his exotic visitors in singing and playing the guitar and harmonica and moreover playing his razor strap (a gimmick he would do again umpteenth times for visiting bluesfans from all around the world during the next decades, including yours truly!), R.C. also mentioned he was able to play and sing the blues even he had no guitar of his own at that time (he had to put his guitar at the pawnshop the previous year to be able to buy Christmas gifts to his children and he hadn't been able to buy it back).
            Paul and Chris decided at once to record the two hitherto unknown bluesmen. R.C. Smith recorded only four titles and he had to wait the following year to make a whole album which would be issued on the Bluesville label, certainly one of the best (and much sought after) of these series with some striking numbers like the hopeless Council Spur blues. Unfortunately the Bluesville label was very poorly distributed and Smith's LP sold only a handful of dozens (I was once told less than a hundred!)
            Smith grabbed only a handful of dollars from this record and nothing else happened: no gigs, no more records, nobody coming to see him! R.C. was still living precariously and when asked decades after he said his main pride was to have raised his large family with only one lost child! Around 1969, he gave up entirely the blues for the church and at the end of the 1970's he left Mississippi for Chicago, becoming a fulltime preacher.
            His great LP - unfortunately very hard to find after the mid-60's and never reissued on CD - had nevertheless gained the worldwide blues buffs' attention and it had the indefatigable energy of Jim O'Neal (founder of Living Blues and then relocated in Clarksdale) to at last (and thanks to Wade's tip) find Reverend R.C. Smith in Chicago during 1997. Thanks to O'Neal, R.C. made his first and only stage appearance at the Sunflower blues festival. Jim hoped to record R.C. but it never materialized.
            The following year Matthew Bock crossed R.C.'s path by chance and made him record five new titles, only Gospel numbers, delivered with the same feeling and energy R.C. had 40 years before!
            R.C. Smith died in Chicago in November 2010.
            We can only have regrets this excellent bluesman had not been more on the focus. He probably was able to make strong appearances in big festivals like Newport, the AFBF and others also record more great LPs and become an important name of the blues revival.
            But sadly it's anyway and so usually the story of the blues!
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

R.C. SMITH
The Complete Recordings
R.C. Smith, vcl/g. Clarksdale, Ms. 24 July 1960
01. Stella Ruth
02. Going back to Texas
03. Lonely widower
04. Lost love blues
R.C. Smith, vcl/g; Sam Moore, dms. Clarksdale, Ms. 28 July 1961
05. Please don't drive me away
R.C. Smith, vcl/g. Clarksdale, Ms. 28 July 1961
06. Rock me mama
07. I believe we love each other
08. Put your arms around me
09. Catfish blues
10. I hate to leave you
11. Council Spur blues
12. I feel so good
13. I'm going away
14. Ain't that lovin' you baby
15. Get a real woman
16. See my chauffeur
17. Sunflower River blues
18. Katy Mae blues
19. Goody goody
20. Can you remember me?
R.C. Smith, vcl/g. Chicago, Ill. 1998
21. The Lord will make a way somehow
22. Lye Water conversion
23. Thank you
24. Calvary
25. Milky white way

samedi 21 septembre 2019

TEXAS BLUES Vol. 8/ Willie Johnson Plus

TEXAS BLUES Vol. 8/ Willie Johnson +


Houston, Tx. Eldorado Ball Room c. 1960
Thanks to our generous friends Mike G. & Mike K. from Australia, we now may post 5 very very rare Willie Johnson's tracks that fill most of the gaps in his discography:








Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; The Groovy Five, band. San Antonio, Tx. October 1949
Lost baby
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; Third Ward Sir-Cats, band. Houston, Tx. janvier 1951
Sad and blue
Rocket 88
So happy

Tears come falling down

Thanks again, guys!

lundi 16 septembre 2019

TEXAS BLUES/ Volume 8



TEXAS BLUES/ Volume 8

           
This eighth volume of our Texas blues series is focused on three pianists, this instrument having been most important on all traditional Texas blues.
            I haven't been able to grab much about singer and pianist Melvin Daniels who seems to have been quite active in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during the early 50's. He is only mentioned in blues magazines and books for having sheltered a young King Curtis in his band. Curtis is present on the six nice titles recorded in 1953 by Daniels and those are - if I'm right - his very first recording tracks even with one instrumental (Tenor in the sky) where he is leading the band.
            Lavada Durst is a well known DJ, pianist and singer (and even baseball commentator!) from Austin and he has been very well documented in blues
magazines and books and he has even been the subject of an excellent Austin University's thesis by Peter Okie Weiss! Durst was born in Austin on January 9th 1913. He learned the piano at an early age while hearing and meeting many local blues pianists like Robert Shaw or Baby Dotson. Lavada became "Dr Hepcat" a well loved DJ on KVET radio in Austin between 1948 and 1963, drawing strong audiences with his choice of top R&B and jazz records of the era as well as his jiving between records, public service announcements and commercials. Despite being quite famous locally, Lavada Durst recorded only six tracks, all in 1949 for Uptown and then Peacock, his composition Hattie Green being a small local hit. After going into religion and playing only Gospel music, Durst resumed his blues career during the late 1970's, recording several excellent sessions. He died on October 31st 1995 in his hometown.
            Last but not least, Willie Johnson (not to be confused with the others Willie Johnson, guitarists from Mississippi and Memphis) was a prolific piano player around Houston and San Antonio during the 1940's-50's. He recorded quite extensively as an accompanist of many Texas blues and R&B stalwarts and under his own name (Willie or Bill Johnson) or under group names (Groovy Five, Groovy Trio, Third Ward Sir-Cats!). Surprisingly, almost nothing is known about him and - as far as I know - he has not been the subject of any article in blues magazines! I have been able to gather many of his recordings but too many are still missing and if anyone who would own those quite rare and hard to find tracks would like to share, a .mp3 copy would be appreciated.
            Thanks a lot to Alan Govenar, Jeff and Carlos Rodriguez for their help.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT


TEXAS BLUES
Volume 8
MELVIN DANIELS, vcl/pno; King Curtis, t-sax; Vonzell Tucker, t-sax; Orion Villette, b-sax; Webster Armstrong, g; Henry Dodds, bs; Vernon Lewis, dms. Fort Worth, Tx. 1953
01. I'll be there
02. Boogie in the moonlight
03. If you don't want my loving
04. Hey hey little girl
05. No more crying on my pillow
06. Tenor in the sky
LAVADA DURST (as Dr Hepcat), vcl/pno. Austin, Tx. February 1949
07. Hattie Green (Uptown)
08. Hepcat's boogie
Lavada Durst (as Cool Papa Smith), vcl/pno; band. Austin, Tx. May 1949
09. You better change your ways woman
10. Christmas blues
Lavada Durst, vcl/pno; Wilmer Snakesnider, a-sax; band. Houston, Tx. December 1949
11. Hattie Green (Peacock)
12. I cried all night
WILLIE JOHNSON
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; bs; dms. Los Angeles, Ca. April 1949
Square bear
Fat daddy blues
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; bs; dms. San Antonio, Tx. May 1949
13. Squeeze my baby
14. Too late baby
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; The Groovy Five, band. San Antonio, Tx. October 1949
Lost baby
Wrong love blues
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; Ed Wiley, t-sax; Don Cooks, bs; Ben Turner, dms. Houston, Tx. 16 May 1950
15. Sampson Street boogie
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; Henry Hayes, t-sax; Ed Wiley, t-sax; Goree Carter, g; Don Cooks, bs; Ben Turner, dms. Houston, Tx. June 1950
16. Boogie in blues
17. Weeping little woman
18. Got the boogie woogie blues (vcl: Hubert Robinson)
19. That boy's boogie
20. Shout it out (vcl: Slim Reese)
Willie Johnson (as Bill Johnson), vcl/pno; prob. same band. Houston, Tx. October 1950
21. Bill's boogie
22. Worried blues
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; Third Ward Sir-Cats, band. Houston, Tx. janvier 1951
Sad and blues
Rocket 88
So happy
Tears come falling down
Willie Johnson, vcl on *; Thelma Johnson, vcls; Lee Allen, t-sax; Salvador Doucette, pno; Ernest Mc Lean, g; Frank Fields, bs; Earl Palmer, dms. New Orleans, La. 18 December 1952
23. Here comes my baby
24. Sometimes I wonder why*
25. Love me till dawn
26. Don't tell mama
Willie Johnson, vcl/pno; band. New Orleans, La. 1954
27. Say baby
28. That night



mardi 10 septembre 2019

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON/ Live Recordings (Re-post)

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON (Rice Miller)/
Live Sessions


           
Si les enregistrements en studio pour Trumpet, Chess ou Storyville de Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) qui regorgent de chefs d'œuvre et sont devenus des classiques du Chicago blues, sont aisément disponibles sous diverses formes, les enregistrements en concert ou dans des radios effectués par cet immense bluesman demeurent plus confidentielles et disséminées sur de nombreux albums, souvent très difficiles à se procurer aujourd'hui.
            Nous avons essayé de regrouper tous ces enregistrements "live", l'immense majorité ayant été effectuée en Europe (seul un programme radiophonique en studio à Helena provient des Etats Unis). Evidemment, à l'exception des concerts qui proviennent de l'American Folk Blues Festival dans lesquels Sonny Boy est accompagné de superbes musiciens comme M.T. Murphy, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim etc... les autres sont beaucoup moins musicalement réussis. Derrière Sonny Boy, nombre de très jeunes musiciens anglais qui sont alors au tout début de leur carrière font plus montre d'enthousiasme que d'empathie réelle avec leur leader d'un soir. Mais Sonny Boy est Sonny Boy et dès qu'il chante, parle, susurre, souffle dans son harmonica, claque des doigts, l'instant est magique. Et finalement ces enregistrements, souvent réalisés dans des conditions précaires et qui, parfois, n'étaient même pas destinés à être publiés, constituent un apport très intéressant à l'œuvre du maestro.
            Sauf erreur, tout ce que Sonny Boy a enregistré live dans les années 1963-65 se trouve ici. A l'exception de six titres provenant d'une séance privée que je n'ai pas inclus.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT
Les Rolls Royce des Harmonicas sont ici

            If the studio recordings for Trumpet, Chess or Storyville made by Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) are full of blues masterpieces and are still easily available today, his live recordings (made in concerts or for radio programmes) are much more confidential and scattered on too many albums, very often hard to get. And some that you'll find here are also hitherto unissued.
            We have tried to gather all those live recordings, essentially captured in Europe (with one exception coming from Helena, Arkansas). Of course, with the strong exception of the American Folk Blues Festivals' concerts where Sonny Boy is backed by great American fellow bluesmen (M.T. Murphy, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim etc...), the others are much less musically successful. Behind the great bluesman, many very young British musicians who are at the very beginning of their careers display more enthusiasm than real empathy to their revered one night leader. But Sonny Boy is Sonny Boy and as soon as he sings, talks, groans, whispers, blows his harp, snaps his fingers... the moment becomes just magical! And finally those recordings, very often made in very precarious and technically rough conditions - several were not even aimed to be issued! - are anyway a very rewarding addition to the maestro's complete works.
            Unless I'm mistaken, everything Sonny Boy has recorded live between 1963-65 (nothing was done before, the track on the Argo's Folk Festival album was in fact a studio recording with handclaps added!) is gathered here. With one missing exception, six titles coming from a private recording that I've not included.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON/ Live Discography


The Rolls Royces of the harmonica are here

mercredi 4 septembre 2019

LADIES SING THE BLUES/ Volume 3



LADIES SING THE BLUES/ Volume 3

           
This third opus of our "Ladies sing the blues" series, focused on little known female singers, gathers - contrarily to the two previous volumes which were focused on one blueswoman - three of those ladies who recorded during the immediate postwar years in a jazz/R&B idiom.
            Singer pianist/accordionist Christine Chatman has recorded under her name and as an accompanist or the featured vocalist for many R&B bands: Hank Ballard's Midnighters; Peppy Prince Orchestra; Jack Mc Vea's Combo; Percy Mayfield... and even The Platters (all their 1954 sessions). Sometimes confused with Memphis Slim's French wife Christine (!), she has no relationship with Peter Chatman (Memphis Slim). Her life and whereabouts have been first documented by blues researchers Dan Kochakian and Dave Penny (cf Blues & Rhythm Magazine 224), drawing the attention of Christine's nephew, contemporary drummer Rich Coleman who added a lot of new infos about his quite legendary aunt in Blues & Rhythm 326. We have gathered here the wonderful 15 tracks she recorded as a lead singer.
            I must confess I have no info at all about jazz/R&B vocalist Geraldine Carter who seems to have recorded only those four 1947 tracks (?) as the featured vocalist of the Lloyd Glenn's band. She is certainly not the most expressive female singer of those years but the backing band with Lloyd and guitarist Gene Phillips is first rate and she finally delivers four very nice tracks.
           
Torch singer Jeanne De Metz is only a little bit well documented (thanks to Robert L. Campbell, Robert Pruter and Armin Büttner). She was the singer of saxophonist Johnny Alston's band which was quite popular during the immediate postwar years in Los Angeles' clubs. Jeanne even appeared on The Spotlighter (a local magazine) in 1944 (with the picture herein) that predicted her to be "this lady, in a year or so, will definitely make the top of the ladder"... Which unfortunately never happened. Here are all the tracks she waxed with Alston and his band with the great Walter Fleming on the 88s. plus the band instrumentals from the same sessions.
            Every additional info (or music?) by those quite obscure artists will be greatly appreciated.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

CHRISTINE CHATMAN, vcl/pno; Reginald Adams, tpt; Ralph Bowden, tb; Bill Moore, t-sax; Roger Jones, bs; Horace Washington, dms. New York City, 6 April1944
01. Naptown boogie
02. Bootin' the boogie I
03. Bootin' the boogie II
04. The boogie woogie girl
05. Hurry Hurry (vcl: Big Maybelle)
Christine Chatman, vcl/pno; Gene Ammons, t-sax; Leo Blevins, g; Leroy Jackson, bs; Wesley Landers, dms. Chicago, Ill. 28 February 1949
06. Hey Mr Freddy
07. When your hair turns to silver
08. Do you really mean it?
Christine Chatman, vcl/pno; Little Willie Jackson, t-sax; Peppy Prince, dms; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1953
09. All by myself
10. Wino's lament
11. Run gal run
12. Ain't nothing shaking
Christine Chatman, vcl/pno; Charles Thomas, t-sax; Warren Mc Owens, bs; Peppy Prince, dms; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1954
13. The Honky Tonky
Christine Chatman, vcl/pno; Jack Porter, tpt; Jack Mc Vea, t-sax; William Woodman, t-sax; Gene Phillips, g; Reginald Jones, bs; Rudy Pitts, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1955
14. Hoo doo you baby
15. Oh, how the geese did fly
GERALDINE CARTER, vcl; Lloyd Glenn, pno; Gene Phillips, g; Jake Porter, tpt; Marshall Royal, a-sax; Gene Parker, t-sax; At Edwards, bs; Bill Streets, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 24-26 December 1947
16. Advice to a fool
17. That other woman's gotta go
18. Stranger
19. Texas man
JEANNE DE METZ, vcl; Johnny Alston, t-sax; ; Jack Wilson, tpt; Jack Lake, t-sax/clt; Walter Fleming, pno; Charles Cook, g; Addison Farmer, bs; Al Wichard, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. May-June 1946
20. Everything will be all right
21. Brooklyn jump
22. Ecstasy
23. I'm feeling fine
24. Mr Fine
25. Calypso daddy
26. Red light
Jeanne De Metz, vcl; Johnny Alston, t-sax; a-sax; b-sax; Walter Fleming, pno; Charles Cook, g; Addison Farmer, bs; Al Wichard, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1947
27. Sam the boogie woogie man
28. Weary blues
29. I found a new baby