Charlie Patton, “Father of the Delta Blues,” writes about what he knows best in this toe tapping, jazzy anthem. Patton was a transient; he never stayed in one town for more than two years. He’s believed to have lived almost his entire life in the delta moving between Tunica and Yazoo City, maintaining his livelihood by nurturing his musical career and living off of his female admirers. Running away from a woman and the prospect of new real estate are the themes that drive Patton’s desire to move to Alabama as he declares: Ahh…, she long and tall, She ain’t good for men, makes ‘em swear and bawl, I have to move to Alabama. A simple message with strong Delta blues roots – Patton knew how to wax it best.
Charley Patton “Gonna Move To Alabama“ (play/download mp3)
Marshall Owens’ “Texas Blues” features powerful vocals that goes hand-in-hand with his unique chord structure. Recorded back in the 30s, this number executes the bliss of the blues beautifully, a quality not easily found in today’s music. Owens’ talented chords and strong voice come together in this signature song that embodies you completely taking you on a journey. So y’all sit back and enjoy.
Marshall Owens – “Texas Blues“ (play/download mp3)
“The Cocaine Habit Blues” has an upbeat jingle that makes you want to tap your foot along to it as you indulge in its subversive fun. In this number the crisp sound of each jug instrument creates a euphorically happy feeling, as the Memphis Jug Band has musically evoked the effect of a cocaine high. The Memphis Jug Band enjoyed its popularity in the late 1920s into the 1930s and the band was composed of violins, mandolins, washboards, kazoos and jugs among other novelty instruments. The band was unique because its members were always revolving, its only permanent member and leader was Will Shade. Together they recorded over 100 sides and provided the American public with the best in Jug Blues. Enjoy!
Memphis Jug Band – “Cocaine Habit Blues“ (play/download mp3)
Very little is known about the life or career of Blind Leroy Garnett, apart from the supposition that he came from the Fort Worth area of Texas. A pianist whose style encompassed boogie-woogie and ragtime, he recorded eight sides between 1929 and 1930, featuring vocals by James Wiggins (himself a highly talented blues pianist) and Marie Griffin. Two of his Paramount Records sides were recorded with Wiggins in Richmond, VA in October of 1929.
Blind Leroy Garnett – “Louisiana Glide“ (play/download mp3)
When you listen to Victoria Spivey’s vocals on “Dope Head Blues” you can’t help but get chills. Her voice, thick and sugary, is as satisfying as the finest slice of velvety chocolate cake. Her voice inflections lend the song an eerie effect which works well with the number, because it’s a song about the struggles, ravages, and paranoia that come with a drug habit. Spivey herself was a charismatic woman of her time and one who strategically kept her career alive during the ever changing turbulent economic seas of the early 20th century. Aside from recording countless songs from 1931-1936, she kept her career alive by working in musical films and stage shows during the late 1930’s and into the 1940’s. Finally in 1962 she launched Spivey records a low-budget label dedicated to blues music.
Victoria Spivey – “Dope Head Blues“ (play/download mp3)
Ma Rainey was also known as the “Mother of Blues,” and was among the first professional blues singers to hail from Columbus, Georgia. “Slow Driving Moan” starts off with easy sounds from the piano and trumpet all the while building up a stage for Ma Rainey’s signature vocals. Known for her ‘moaning’ style of singing, “Slow Driving Moan” illustrates this divine talent remarkably. With her powerful vocal abilities, Rainey’s performance in this number surely brings back the late 1920s for every listener to experience in a three minute time span. Ma Rainey’s legacy stays alive with each listen. Enjoy!
Ma Rainey “Slow Driving Moan“ (play/download mp3)
As you listen to the opening of Henry Townsend’s, Jack O’ Diamonds, you get a sense for the kind of swagger that is characteristic of his music. Townsend was one of the most successful American jazz musicians and one of the few to manage an active recording career that spanned over 80 years. By the time he hit his roaring 20s he was wailing and roaring on stage as he began touring and recording with Walter Davis. Henry Townsend’s musical journey finally came full circle in 1995 when he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and then again in 2008, when he was awarded a Grammy for the Best Traditional Blues album.
Henry Townsend – “Jack O Diamonds/Georgia Rub“ (play/download mp3)
In 1941 “I’m Chasing Rainbows” was launched onto the pop radar when Judy Garland sang her version in the movie, Ziegfeld Girl. Originally published in 1917, “I’m Chasing Rainbows” has had many performances across a variety of medians including a Broadway show titled: Oh Look!. The song has been recorded numerous times, and in 1918 “I’m Chasing Rainbows” was recorded twice. I’m pleased to give you the Harry Fox version, a version that serves as a window into the the mood and tempo of popular music in 1918.
Harry Fox – “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows“ (play/download mp3)
Known for his unique use of instrument, Papa Charlie Jackson is a definite blues recording artist that you should to turn your ear to. A New Orleans native, Jackson’s “Coal Man Blues” illustrates his one-of-a-kind upbeat tempo that is not often associated with traditional delta blues. Not only a great beat to tap your feet to, but “Coal Man Blues” exhibits vibrating sounds from Jackson’s banjo, jamming on his instrument in sync with a melody that really gets you moving. Enjoy!
Papa Charlie Jackson “Coal Man Blues“ (play/download mp3)
It’s one man against the world in Frank Palmes’ track “Aint Gonna Lay My Ligion Down.” Recorded in 1929, this track displays the allure of the country blues harmonica. You feel Palmes’ emotion as he skillfully blows the first few bars and you get the sense that he’s a rebel who will not adhere to unfair requests. There is little to no references to the life of Frank Palmes in the history books, but there is speculation that he may actually be Jaybird Coleman recording under a pseudonym. Regardless of who Frank Palmes really is, one thing is for sure, he played the harmonica with a lot of passion.
Frank Palmes “Ain’t Gonna Lay My ‘Ligion Down (take 2)“ (play/download mp3)