Archive for the ‘Pre war blues’ Category


Author: J.E. Warner

Source: The Record Changer, June 1950


“The last of the great blues singers is gone. It can be said as simply as that, without going into sentimental
eulogies-and Bertha ” Chippie” Hill, who sang deep and hard, and who died suddenly in an automobile accident on the night of May 7, wouldn’t have wanted sentimentality.
Chippie had two singing careers. The first began when she was only fourteen (by her own estimate), and opened at Leroy’s, a once-famous Harlem show spot. It lasted for perhaps a dozen years, with Chippie hitting the top in Chicago in 1926, when she made ten or twelve sides-mostly with Louis Armstrong and pianist Richard Jones. That career was voluntarily cut short at the end of the ‘ twenties, when she retired to concern herself with the job of raising seven


Author: Karl Gert zur Heide

Source: Doctor Jazz Magazine 213, Summer 2011


Karl Gert zur Heide on early blues and the role of May Rainey


Author: Karl Gert zur Heide

Source: Doctor Jazz Magazine 205, June 2009



« For a blues fan, Cow Cow Davenport is a household name, and his « Cow Cow Blues » is a blues classic. Like jazz icon Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), Davenport (1894/95-1955) came from the Deep South of the USA, worked as a comedian, sang and played piano, composed songs and instrumentals, entertained in brothels, and was associated with women who could also sing the blues. Both men made some of their best recordings by cutting piano rolls for the Vocalstyle company in Cincinnati – Morton in 1924, Davenport in 1925/1926.
Besides their association with “the life” (in red-light districts), they shared another habit: crisscrossing the country and the barrelhouse circuit and with vaudeville acts and minstrel shows. This essay will throw more light on the tent-show aspect of Davenport’s career.”


Author: Justin Guidry
Source: A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University – The Department of History

University of Louisiana at Lafayette, April 2007


“The advertisements that appeared in black newspapers for race records in the  1920s were employed to interest the buying public in a new mode of music: the rural blues. Although blues music is characterized by its sadness and despair, these advertisements employed humor and cartoon illustrations in the advertisements. While at first thought, this method of advertising seems inappropriate, further examination of advertisers’ and the public’s perceptions of blues music, as well as some of the qualities of the genre itself illuminate these elaborately drawn advertisements.

While older modes of plantation stereotyping informed the advertisers and illustrators producing the ads, many of the more racially offensive qualities associated with previous, antebellum depictions of American-Americans were eliminated because of the black public’s emergence as a consumer group. The fact that humor was still used reflects not only the stereotypes that advertisers were working with. It also demonstrates popular perceptions of the blues, which itself frequently incorporated humor and sexual imagery.”


Author: David Evans
Source: Blues Revue Quarterly 8, Spring 1993, p14-17


In this column, David Evans attempts to solve the identity of Kid Bailey.

“Around the end of 1963 I purchased a copy of one of the greatest blues albums ever issued, The Mississippi Blues, 1927-1940, Origin Jazz Library 5. The album contained two tracks each by Bukka White, Willie Brown, Kid Bailey, Robert Wilkins, Mississippi John Hurt,  William Harris, Skip James, and Son House. Hurt had just recently been rediscovered, and within a few months of this album’s release White, Wilkins, James and House would join him in the ranks of the rediscovered. These five, along with Sleepy John Estes, would form the core of the Deep South blues legends that brought the greatness of early country blues to new audiences at festivals, concerts, and coffee houses.

But what about the other three artists on OJL-5? Son House told us that Willie Brown died in the early 1950’s. This left William Harris and Kid Bailey. Both have eluded all attempts at constructing a biography and thus remaining among the more intriguing names in the country blues pantheon. This column will be an attempt to solve the identity of Kid Bailey. I’m prompted to make this attempt after receiving a copy of another superb reissue product, this time a CD, Masters  of the Delta Blues: The Friends  of Charlie Patton,  Yazoo 2002. This disc contains six of the tracks that were on OJL-5, includingthe two by Kid Bailey, but with their sound much enhanced.”


Illustrated Kid Bailey’s discography:

Author: James McKune
Source: VJM/Palaver (1960-65)


James McKune, a social isolate, closeted homosexual and alcoholic, born around 1910, after having worked as a re-write man on the New York Times, drifted into an itinerant life, before finally being murdered. If we remember him now, it is because McKune was a passionate pioneer blues collector, who is very much at the basis of the blues revival in the 60s.

He was an obsessive collector of rare recordings, scavenging in junk-shops, but whose collection, stored in his room at the YMCA, contained only some 300 discs, none of them having cost him more than $3 – it was a point of principle.

McKune is said to have unearthed in 1944 a recording made in 1929 by an obscure Mississippi songster by the name of Charlie Patton.

When in 1959, Samuel Charters published his famous “The Country Blues”, James McKune started to write a number of columns in the British-based collector’s magazine VJM Palaver. The series was called “The Great Country Blues Singers” appearing in the early 1960’s, and is largely a reaction to Samuel Charters’ publication that paid more attention to popularity and sales than to what McKune considered to be the “real”, unadulterated folk blues.

Integrated here is a collection of essays: 1, 3-9. The text of number one is reproduced from Marybeth Hamilton’s “In Search of the Blues” (2007, 182-183). (see also here)

Thanks to Raymond Astbury for the scanning.


– 1

– 3(1)

– 3(2)

– 4

– 5

– 6

– 7

– 8

– 9


Author: Barry O’Connell
Source: Smithsonian Folkway Recordings

“Let us now praise famous men.” Dock Boggs belongs among them. Most of his life was lived in the obscurity this Biblical passage celebrates. He deserves fame for his efforts to live true to what he believed his God expected of him. Never a conventional life his was also shaped by extraordinary gifts. Among them was an almost instinctive capacity to see and hear the events of his world newly.

Dock worked forty-five years in coal mines; only for a short period was he able even to imagine he might make a living as a musician. Like many miners he refused to be a company man, a particularly courageous stance in those days when the coal companies held tyrannical power. He spoke out, resisted, named his own course, and followed it. From the early pre-World War I days he was a believer in union, in the United Mine Workers, quick to educate his fellows in the early 1930s about a company attempt to thwart the creation of UMW local by offering a company union in its stead. “Emmet,” Dock told the miner promoting the company union, “that paper you got ain’t worth a dime. Anything the company’s head of and rules and runs, why it isn’t gonna do the men very much good.” He survived all the years underground without suffering either injury to his limbs or to his spirit, a feat which bespeaks luck and brilliant skill. He never bowed to the subtle arts or flagrant acts of the powerful who controlled his work world, the communities he lived in, and the political structure.”