Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band – “Highway No. 61”

Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band - Highway No. 61

Several decades before Bob Dylan recorded his breakthrough "Highway 61 Revisited" album, the folk-blues song "Highway No. 61" was interpreted by numerous blues singers including Charlie Pickett, Memphis Minnie and Joe McCoy, The Sparks Brothers and others. Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band recorded this classic version with fiddler Will Batts on vocal duties. According to Dylan, when he told his record label the title of his new album in 1965, they didn't understand it, and only agreed ... [Listen and Learn More]

The Mississippi Sheiks – “Please Baby”


The Mississippi Sheiks from Bolton, Mississippi were a popular band in their time, and their recorded songs have been covered by an impressive list of artists that includes Howlin' Wolf, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte and Bob Dylan. Three of the Sheiks were brothers Lonnie, Sam, and Armenter Chatmon, the latter of whom is famously known as Bo Carter, who enjoyed a successful solo career while he managed and was a part time member of the band. This recording of "Please Baby" ... [Listen and Learn More]

Mississippi John Hurt – “Avalon Blues”


"Avalon Blues" was the last song recorded by Mississippi John Hurt in the 1920's. Named for Hurt's hometown of Avalon, Mississippi, this song provided clues that folk musicologist Tom Hoskins used to locate the legendary bluesman in the early 1960's. That meeting led to Hurt's appearance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, which re-launched his career and gained him international recognition. After that, Mississippi John Hurt performed extensively, even recording three new albums and appearing on ... [Listen and Learn More]

Big Joe Williams – “Stack O’ Dollars”


Mississippi blues legend Big Joe Williams testifies on the real value of a Stack O' Dollars, on this astonishing early Delta blues recording. Williams' unique 9-string steel guitar rhythm, alongside a haunting fiddle lead, provides the perfect accompaniment to his searing vocal. Joe Williams continued to tour and perform for decades after recording this and numerous other sides for various early record labels. This song is as relevant today as it has ever been. ... [Listen and Learn More]

Son House – “My Black Mama (Part 1)”


The lyrics and music that Son House put down in the 1920's and early 30's left an indelible mark on blues, country, rock, RnB, and just about every genre of American music. His classic "My Black Mama (Part 1)" has been covered and reinterpreted by a who's-who of blues legends including Robert Johnson, who recorded it as "Walkin' Blues." John Lee Hooker called his post-war version "Burnin' Hell," based on the lines "Ain't no heaven, ain't no burnin' hell, where I'm goin' when I die, can't nobody ... [Listen and Learn More]

Bertha Lee with Charley Patton – “Mind Reader Blues”

Charley Patton

Recorded shortly before Charley Patton's death, "Mind Reader Blues" is a song he performed with his common-law wife, Bertha Lee. In her magnificent voice, Lee scolds Patton for his womanizing even as he lovingly accompanies her on guitar. The lyrics are auto-biographical: "I remember a day when I were livin' at Lula town, I remember a day when I were livin' at Lula town, my man did so many wrong things 'til I had to leave the town." Bertha Lee hailed from Lula, Mississippi, and Patton lived ... [Listen and Learn More]

Kansas Joe McCoy – “Pile Driver Blues”


Kansas Joe McCoy and his wife Memphis Minnie were stars in the Memphis and Chicago blues music scenes. Together they recorded the hit "Bumble Bee" in 1929 for Columbia Records, and a stack of other great vinyl 78 sides. "Pile Driver Blues" features Kansas Joe singing over their trademark lead and rhythm guitar interplay. Jimi Page and others in the English blues and rock scene would draw heavily on their influence a few decades later. ... [Listen and Learn More]

Frank Stokes – “I’m Going Away Blues”


Often hailed as the "Father of the Memphis blues" guitar style, Frank Stokes recorded dozens of 78 RPM sides for Paramount and Victor Records in the 1920's. Under his own name and as part of the Beale Street Sheiks, Stokes introduced a touch of show biz professionalism to what had been a mainly folk music tradition. Playing the southern minstrel and vaudeville circuit, he influenced not only blues artists, but also country singers like Jimmie Rodgers. "I'm Going Away Blues" features a country ... [Listen and Learn More]

Walter “Buddy Boy” Hawkins – “Snatch It Back Blues”


Walter "Buddy Boy" Hawkins is one of those great pre-war blues artists for whom it is hard to find biographical info. What is known is that he recorded several sides for Paramount in the late 1920's, capturing his sublime vocal and guitar style for posterity. "Snatch It Back Blues" tells of a life of train-hopping and vagabonding in the American south, and is a folk blues classic. ... [Listen and Learn More]

Son House – “Clarksdale Moan”


Son House was discovered and promoted as a young man by reigning Delta Blues king, Charley Patton. House's style would greatly influence Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, and later Bonnie Raitt, John Hammond, Jr. and The White Stripes. Released in 1930, the 78 RPM vinyl of "Clarksdale Moan" was long considered a "Holy Grail" of lost blues recordings. Here's an mp3 from an original copy found by an ecstatic collector in the 1990's. An absolute treasure. ... [Listen and Learn More]

Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie – “When The Levee Breaks”


A peculiar detail about Chicago Blues legend Joe McCoy is that he had a lot of stage names. Best known as Kansas Joe McCoy, he also performed and recorded as Georgia Pine Boy, Hallelujah Joe, Hillbilly Plowboy and Mud Dauber, to name just a few. Joe was married for a time to blues guitar great Memphis Minnie (who's real name was Lizzie Douglas) and they made this classic record together in 1929. This song was much later recorded by Led Zeppelin. Here's the timeless original, hot off the 78RPM ... [Listen and Learn More]

Charley Patton – “High Water Everywhere Parts 1 & 2”

charley patton high water record label

The "Father Of The Delta Blues," Charley Patton lived from around 1887 to April 28, 1934. His performances and recorded works became blueprints for the greats who followed in his footsteps, from Robert Johnson to Howlin' Wolf to well, everybody. High Water Everywhere, Parts 1 & 2, are songs penned by Mr. Patton about the Great Mississippi Flood he witnessed and survived in 1927. While the two distinct parts work as individual pieces, together they tell a complete, epic story. And he just ... [Listen and Learn More]