Mrs. Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tenn. in 1894 she learned her craft working with the venerable Gertrude (Ma) Rainey. She was one of the earliest blues singers. She honed her considerable singing abilities working in traveling shows. She started her recording career in New York City, where she recorded more than 160 songs between 1323 and 1933. She worked with and recorded with jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins. She was even appeared in the 1929 movie St. Louis Blues.
She was called the “Empress of the Blues” because of her wonderful and powerful singing voice.
Like so many blues singers, the blues finally caught up with her. She died in a car accident while on tour in Mississippi in 1937.
"Down Hearted Blues" (3:24, 597kB) - Columbia 80863-5, New York City, 16 February 1923
"The St. Louis Blues" (3:10, 550kB) - Columbia 14064-D, New York City, 14 January 1925
"Cold in Hand Blues" (3:11, 558kB) - Columbia 14064-D, New York City, 14 January 1925
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" (2:57, 511kB) - Columbia 14451-D, New York City, 15 May 1929
"I'm Down in the Dumps" (3:10, 548kB) - Okeh 8495, New York City, 24 November, 1933
Monday, August 29, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
On this day back in 1917 John Lee Hooker, blues singer and guitarist was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was the son of cotton-sharcroppers. He told of learning to play the blues from his stepfather and other blues men that he met in the Mississippi Delta. He is reported to have consturcted his first instrument from strings made of rubber inner tube nailed to a barn. He left home and the tender age of 14, and started singing in a gospel group. In 1943 he moved to Detroit and in 1948 he made his first recording, the rythm-and-blues hit "Boogie Chillun".
His discogrphy is a long and varied one. He recorded more than 100 albums accompanying himself on electric guitar. His music is a mix of slow blues tunes and fast boogies, which he played as he toured thgoughout the United States. After Hooker was rediscovered by the white blues-rockers of the 1960's he recorded with several rock musicians and influenced many young singers and electric guitar players.
Hooker's later popular albums include;
16-song Rhino CD The Very Best Of John Lee Hooker (April 25, 1995),
Chill Out (February 21, 1995),
and Live At The Cafe Au Go-Go (And Soledad Prison) [LIVE] (1996).
He won three Grammy awards and was inducted (1991) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mr. Hooker passed away on Thursday, June 21st 2001.
"Mr. Lucky Windows Media Player File"
John Lee Hooker
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005
While not in the same vane as many of my recent post. I have been posting mostly prewar blues in SqueezeMyLemon, that is because that is where I am at right now. Those blues are the ones that shade me right now. That is how blue I am. If you understand what I trying to say.
But there is an event that is going on in the world of the blues that I want to draw your attention to. It is the up coming release of the 25th Anniversary Edition of the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers".
I have heard some of the critics say that this movie is really not about the blues at all. I mean it does not really have any blues greats in it. But that is OK. I think that Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi both loved the music and it showed in the work that they did on Sartuday Night Live and in the original movie.
Then there is the matter of the musicians, in the movie. The band, which had among others, Steve Cropper, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Lou Marini, was a real band of real musicians that played a tight, sharp, and clean set. In the movie there were musical performances by the band and guests Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, and James Brown which are classic and priceless. Even though they are not strictly blues performances. But they reflect where the music was at when the movie was made.
A very good interview was done on Terry Gross' NPR show, Dan Aykroyd, Still Full of the 'Blues'.
On Aug 30th there will be an anniversary event. The event will feature a live Q&A discussion with director/writer John Landis and the film's star and co-writer, Dan Aykroyd (via satellite from Toronto), followed by a first time screening of the film in high definition and cinema surround sound. The entire program will be presented live via satellite beginning at 6:30 p.m. PT / 9:30 p.m. ET to 83 movie theatres from coast to coast.
There are many highlight in the movie that still make me laugh to this day;
1. The seemingly endless, escalating series of car crashes. (I loved this, some don't)
2. "We've got both kinds of music: country AND western"
3. "We're on a mission from God"
4. When Ray Charles (God rest his soul) orders during the diner scene "four fried chickens and a Coke."
5. The scene with Carry Fisher, makes me laugh to this day.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Here is an interesting article about the juke joints down in the delta and I think it is a good take on what is going on down there. If you ever get a chance to go down there you can see where many of the blues founders were born and raised, lived played the music and died.
Juke joints have got the blues
Clarksdale, Miss., shops and residents live and breathe by the blues
BY JOHN BORDSEN for KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
Friday, August 05, 2005
"Little" Milton Campbell's publicist, Carrie Newton, confirmed that the 70-year-old Mississippi musician died around 8:50 a.m. Thursday at a hospital in Memphis, Tenn. No other details were released.
Little Milton suffered a stroke on July 27 and slipped into a coma.
May God bless his soul and I hope he has a peaceful journey. Campbell is survived by his wife, Patricia, and several children.
You can read about it here at the WTOK.com website.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Master bluesman as pitchman; From Marketplace
Listen to this story Uses RealPlayer.
New health ads on TV for medical devices, like new hips or knees, are tapping celebrities for their marketing push. Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH. In this ad you will hear the master blues man B.B. King do a spot for diabetes. (photo © Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Traveling the Blues Highway Text by Charles E. Cobb, Jr. from the NationalGeographic.com is an interesting article. It is accompanied by some awesome photos that can be seen here; Blues Highway photos.