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7/11/2008

Bo Carter singing Corrine Corrina

This is, as far as I know, the first recording of this tune, which would become a standard. It’s been recorded by Milton Brown, Bob Wills, Tampa Red, Cab Calloway, Bob Dyan, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. There’s some nice mandolin on this track, I’m guessing it was played by Charlie McCoy. The fiddle sure sounds like it was played by Bo’s brother, Lonnie Chatmon. Anyone with access to a decent blues discography can feel free to correct me.

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Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous posts:
Bo Carter singing Please Warm my Weiner

1/16/2008

Geeshie Wiley playing Last Kind Words

This is a work of almost indescribable beauty, a vocal performance with a striking depth of feeling and guitar accompaniment that is equally remarkable. As far as I know, her entire recorded output consists of six sides for the Paramount label, and, while each is to be treasured, her Last Kind Words is the most transcendent. It is one of the finest records you will ever have the privilege to hear.

Recorded in Grafton, Wisconsin, for the Paramount label, probably in March, 1930.

Last Kind Words (MP3)
Courtesy of the archive.org

10/27/2007

Mississippi John Hurt playing Louis Collins

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: Audio, TweedBlog. Tags: , , ,

One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Hurt sings even the most brutal subject matter with a voice that is gentle and reassuring. Hurt’s fingerpicked guitar on this song has become a standard for anyone learning fingerstyle guitar.

Recorded in New York City on December 21, 1928 for the OKeh label.

Louis Collins (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Frankie
Mississippi John Hurt playing Nobody’s Dirty Business
Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driver’s Blues

10/26/2007

Mississippi John Hurt playing Frankie

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: Audio. Tags: , , ,

This was one of two tracks cut at Hurt’s first session, in Memphis, on Valentine’s Day, 1928. The song shifts in pitch over the course of the track. It starts in ‘B’, and drifts noticeably sharp. Likely the machine used to cut the recording was moving at an uneven speed. Permanent studios used systems such as a weight lowered slowly from a high place to get the platter to rotate at a constant speed (much as a grandfather clock works), but the mobile recording studios set up in hotels and warehouses on trips like this were likely hand-cranked. The same thing happens on Hurt’s recording of Ain’t Nobody’s Dirty Business, recorded on the same equipment at the same session.

Frankie is a variation on Frankie and Johnnie, one of the classic songs in American folk music, in which woman kills her cheating lover. Incidentally, if one were to adjust for inflation the $100 Frankie paid 1n 1928 for Albert’s suit of clothes, you would be looking at a $1124.36 suit of clothes. Not too shabby.

Frankie (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Nobody’s Dirty Business
Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driver’s Blues

10/24/2007

Mississippi John Hurt playing Nobody’s Dirty Business

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: Audio, TweedBlog. Tags: , , ,

Mississippi John Hurt recorded this on Valentine’s Day, 1928, for the OKeh label’s 8000 ‘Race’ series. Though he cut eight sides at this session, only two saw a commercial release: Nobody’s Dirty Business and Frankie. The strength of the material from this session earned Hurt an invitation to New York to record more sides later in the year.

Nobody’s Dirty Business is structurally interesting, comprised of seven-bar phrases. The short phrase length makes the beginning of each new phrase a bit of a surprise for the listener — the downbeat of the new phrase comes where one expects a measure of rest at the end of the previous phrase.

Nobody’s Dirty Business (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driver’s Blues

10/23/2007

Mississippi John Hurt playing Stack O Lee Blues

Mississippi John Hurt recorded this in New York City on December 28, 1928, for the OKeh record company. Like Hurt’s other 1928 recordings, it failed to make much of an impact commercially, and the Great Depression obliterated the record industry in short order. Hurt returned to Mississippi and worked as a sharecropper. Though he would occasionally perform at dances and other local events, he never recorded again until his ‘rediscovery’ as part of the 1960s folk revival.

Stack-O-Lee Blues is one of the most frequently recorded ‘bad man’ ballads. That said, I’ve never heard a finer performance. Hurt’s gentle vocal delivery belies the violence of the lyrics, and the wordless vocal in the middle section is a thing of rare, timeless beauty.

Stack O Lee Blues (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous Mississippi John Hurt Posts:
Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues
Mississippi John Hurt plays Goodnight Irene
Mississippi John Hurt singing Spike Driver’s Blues

10/22/2007

Mississippi John Hurt playing Avalon Blues

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: Audio, TweedBlog. Tags: , ,

Recorded in December, 1928, for the OKeh record company, as part of their seminal 8000 ‘Race’ series. This was Mississippi John Hurt’s last commercially released side prior to his ‘rediscovery’ by Tom Hoskins in 1963. Like so many other early country and blues musicians, Hurt’s recording career didn’t survive the Depression. His entire recorded output consisted of 12 sides cut in two sessions in New York city.

Despite the relatively small output, Hurt’s work was extraordinary. His three-finger guitar playing and gentle vocal style sounded utterly unlike anything his Mississippi contemporaries were doing. His recording of Spike Driver Blues was included in Harry Smith’s landmark Anthology of American Folk Music, which helped engender interest in his work among a new generation of fans.

Hurt had long since abandoned the music business, however, having returned to Mississippi to labor as a sharecropper. The story of his rediscovery is the stuff of legend — Hoskins was guided to look for Hurt by the lyrics of this song: “Avalon’s my hometown, always on my mind.” Hurt’s appearance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival helped launch a second career on the folk circuit, which lasted until his death three years later.

Avalon Blues (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org