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” captures their distinct blend of country, folk, and blues.
“Last Gold Dollar” is the first of several sides Ephraim Woodie and the Henpecked Husbands recorded for the Columbia label in 1929. Led by Ephraim Woodie’s affecting vocal, this North Carolina group featured Clay Reed on fiddle and multi-instrumentalist Edison Nuckolls on banjo. Original pressings of their records are rare and highly sought-after by collectors, and we are lucky to have this nice clean digital copy to share and enjoy. This song is about as sincere and uncomplicated as any love song ever could be.
Guitarist Napoleon “Nap” Hayes and mandolinist Matthew Prater recorded this instrumental gem in Memphis, Tennessee in February of 1928. “Easy Winner” combined elements of ragtime and blues into a string band format, borrowing freely from Scott Joplin’s most famous piece, “The Entertainer.” Though biographical information about Hayes and Prater is scarce, we do know they performed as the Blue Boys and also as the Johnson Boys, leaving behind a handful of brilliant instrumental recordings on the Document Records label for us to enjoy.
Opening day of the baseball season always makes me think of Ed Meeker and his classic song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. Edward Meeker served as Thomas Edison’s announcer on many of the audio recordings on the Edison label. He also performed Vaudeville skits and created sound effects in those very early days of recorded entertainment. Remember to sing along! “It’s 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out at the old ball game.”
Here’s a cool video with some historical images including the original penned lyric sheet:
Here’s some blistering harmonica boogie from “blues harp” masters Dutch Coleman and Red Whitehead. Expertly shaping the tone with their breath and their mouths, this duo of innovators created a trance-inducing sound way back when, and lucky us, they recorded it. Pure instrumental music goodness with two guys jamming full-on and stompin’ they feet.
Old Time Music legend Asa Martin delivers a tongue-in-cheek tune about the perplexing ways of women. As Martin straight-faces these lyric without a shred of guilt in his drawl, his one-liners pile up to what would drive a modern-day woman out of her working shoes. I’m gonna take the fifth amendment on this particular topic and hope that you get a good tickle out of this mp3. Great mandolin and guitar pickin’ on this track, copied from an old 78 RPM record and free for ya’ll to enjoy.
Guitarist Tommie Bradley and fiddler James Cole recorded “Where You Been So Long?” in Richmond, Indiana. Their music, a unique blend of blues, vaudeville, hillbilly fiddling, and Tin Pan Alley style jazz, provides the perfect backdrop to their sparkling vocal harmonies. There’s so much energy in this track, it puts you right in the room with them nearly a century ago. Another priceless gem from the wayback machine. Enjoy and share.
Here’s another classic Ukulele gem from the “Under The Ukulele Moon” collection, lovingly compiled by Happy Puppy Records. Accompanied by a small brass band and choir and of course a gleeful ukulele strum, this topical tropical number has lyrical references to the Women’s Suffrage movement of the time, and hula dancing. Of course! Enjoy with a nice umbrella drink in your finest beach apparel. And don’t forget to vote.
“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 The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, before his death in 1966. Hurt’s home in Avalon is now open to the public as The Mississippi John Hurt Museum.
Here’s a lovely ode to Hawaii, performed by American popular music and early radio legend Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards, accompanying his romantic vocal on, what else? Ukelele! It’s a beautiful song without a trace of irony, from a time when beautiful songs without a trace of irony were beautiful and not ironic. Jump in, the water’s nice! This is from a compilation called “Under The Ukele Moon” which you can find at archive.org, in time for your next Luau.