Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Duhks

So not only are the Old Crow Medicine Show playing tomorrow night, but The Duhks (Myspace) are here next week, along with Aoife O'Donovan of Crooked Still Which promises to be a right rootsy night, as they have some cracking songs up on their Myspace page

And here's a Crooked Still track for the fun of it.

Ain't No Grave

this is from their recent "Shaken By A Low Sound" and there are a couple of tracks from there previous CD on their Listen and Buy page.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm Going Down the Road to See Bessie

So The Band sang on "The Basement Tapes".

Bessie Smith died following a car accident in 1937, four years after her last recordings, still in demand throughout the 30s for live performances. The 20s were her heyday, though.
Today is the anniversary of her death. 70 years ago.

There is a good discography at Red Hot Jazz and you can listen to each track there, or at Jazz On Line which has a few extra tracks, albeit a slightly smaller selection. Either will keep you going for hours, though. (Both use the RealAudio Plugin).

CBS put out a ten(?) double LP set of her recordings many years ago which bizarely had the first recordings and the last recordings on the same double album and the recording sessions actually met up on the last LP of the set (being the middle of her career) if I understood the whole concept. I bought the first (and last ...) sessions LP and not having had access to it for a few years now I seem to remember that there were a few stunning standout tracks and the rest were not so memorable. It's a tribute to Bessie Smith's vocal prowess that as i sift through the Discographies looking for the songs I have, that I recognise and can put a tune to most of the tracks from that double album. Sometimes the material was below par, but Bessie's voice always connects.

I was wondering what to post of 160 recordings, and there are a couple of (to me) favourites, and her first single (which apparently sold 750,000 copies in the first year (1923). That's mind-boggling.

Then there is an oddity. let's start there.

Graveyard Dream Blues and Cemetery Blues were the two tracks recorded on the 26th of September 1923. Yep. Todays date. The anniversary of the day she died. Strange, huh? I went looking through the discography to see, and there are a couple of death related titles, but nothing so strikingly poignant. I'm not reading much into this. Just pointing out the oddity, and the way Graveyard Dream Blues finishes. It has a little more depth and power because of the circumstances as I look back on it, wondering if in some way she was looking forward. Weird.

Bessie's First single was Down Hearted Blues and it was a good choice. Beautiful.

Another track from 1923 is Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do - a strong contender for my favourite of all her recordings, as is Black Mountain Blues which popped up recently in a version by Nick Drake.

You can get all of these tracks on Quadromania at which is 24-bit remastered and contains 65 tracks on 4 CDs.

But listen up to these and explore the discographies. Bessie Smith left an amazing legacy.


I was just browsing the Hype Machine and came across Lil Mikes excellent and tasty selection of musical morsels, including "Big Butter and Egg Man" By Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. But my ears won't have it. Who is that singing? Bessie surely didn't sing that high, ever? Well maybe on occaision, but ...

A bit of research: there are plenty of references on the web to Louis and Bessie doing this trackin 1926, but also ProperBox 93 contains the track and lists the vocalist as May Alix on a November 1926 session in Chicago.

Is this the track or is there really a Bessie Smith version of this track out there?

oo i love a good mystery ...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Janis Martin 1940-2007

Kingdom favourite Janis Martin died a fortnight ago, aged 67. As called by bookofjoe

I've had the RCA double LP of her on my desk since the last post about her, waiting to get to a record player, and the new needle turned up in the post day before yesterday. That album is the first one ripped to my hard drive.

She'd been due to play the Americana Festival in Nottinghamshire this summer, which would have surely seen her onstage with Rosie Flores. Janis sang on Rosie's '96 CD Rockabilly Filly along with Wanda jackson, and Rosie has championed her on the Rockabilly scene over the years.

According to her website Rosie and Janis were working on tracks for a Janis Martin CD earlier this year. I wonder if that went ahead?

Click, click ...

Actually YES! it did, news up on the Myspace fansite and features two songs from the album. Long White Cadillac and Sweet Dreams. Bittersweet as someone said in the comments. Great tracks though.

Speaking of great tracks. Here are a couple.

Let's Elope Baby 1956 from her first session for RCA
Good Love from 1958

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Old Crow Medicine Show Show

First the bad news.

I've known for a while that OCMS are playing the Open House Festival in Belfast at the end of the month (it's the end of September already?) and it has been a trying time. Very tempting. A 200 mile drive on a Friday afternoon across Ireland and sleeping in the car. Hmmm. You sense the hesitation.

So now the good news.

There's an extra date added in Galway. Saturday night. An hour up the road. Almost home turf. Woo!!

It's still an hour though so I will take the car (hopefully chock full of local hillbillies). Shanks' Pony isn't in it.

Don't Ride That Horse from Big Iron World

They have a few Scottish and English dates before and after, and a Dublin gig the night after Galway. Still time to play Limerick but nothing booked so far. (We live in hope). Check their website for details and their Myspace

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm saving up coupons to get one of those

Last friday I wandered up to my local record emporium after work wondering what was going to grab me. I was hoping for the Gillian Welch album which features "Elvis Presley Blues" and "I Dream a Highway" a fifteen minute wonder of a track which i heard over at The Late Greats, but it was not to be. No i was swayed by a reduction, a special offer. A few quid off. So I bought another ProperBox. Blazing Bluegrass another 100 tracks for my auditary pleasure, and pleasure is the word. 25 Bill Monroe sides, 25 by Flatt and Scruggs, 25 by The Stanley Brothers and a various CD. And the usual great book.

Then I got home that night and Kat at Keep The Coffee Comin' posted "Rocky Road Blues" which might still be up. So I plugged in and started to listen, read, (and sup) and really got pulled in to how Monroes Blue Grass Boys were a starting point and a launch pad for so many key players. Flatt and Scruggs being pivotal in the maturing of the Monroe sound in the mid forties, before heading out on their own.

I also was struck by how much these songs seem to come from an awareness of community. People geting on with things. How little posturing or ego there is in them. Someone in the comments to Kat's post said this is Bluegrass - Sacred Music. I get that. It's certainly not all religious, though a fair amount is, but it's all about humanity getting on with Life.

And it turns out that today is the 11th anniversary of Bill Monroes passing so here without further ado are a couple of tunes.

The Coupon Song 1941, is a funny tune from the first incarnation of the Bluegrass Boys.
Shine Hallelujah Shine 1947 has a stunning four part harmony by Bill, Flatt, Scruggs and bass player Howard Watts; and
Blue Moon Of Kentucky 1954, is a sign of just how influential young Elvis' version of Monroes most famous song was. Within a couple of months of Presley's hit, Monroe recorded this version taking us from the original waltz time to a stompin 4/4 Bluegrass Boys rendition.


Labels: , , ,