I first heard a Theremin used in rock music by Rev. Paul Jackson of The Uptones. The instrument was easy to record, but you looked lame playing it. Not much later I saw Aron Mardo not looking lame using this all electronic instrument in an inspired performance with his brother in their band Mardo. I fell in love with the unlimited possibilities of this electronic instrument. As I looked further, into this instrument’s roots, I also found some Public Domain music using all electronic music instruments. As you guessed, it wasn’t made before 1925, it was made in 1960 in a no-copyright-law USSR! This video features Russian Thereminist Konstantin Kovalsky, performing with Vyacheslav Mescherin’s ensemble of electro-musical instruments. I find this a mind-boggling display of electronic instruments. Konstantin makes the theremin sound almost human in his solo. I found this video fascinating.
Everybody listen to this man, listen to the depth of sorrow in that harmonica. A real blues player cannot cheat the feeling of grief on any topic. It comes from within. Bad water wasn’t a modern problem. When the river runs dry on land and in the heart, the music must replenish the soul for hope to be replenished. I’m proud to link to this song by Jaybird Coleman.
Louis Armstrong & His All-Stars recorded “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” in Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 1927. The moment was captured in a crisp recording that is as impressive as it is pure fun. Armstrong’s inspired composition and tight arrangement are brought to life by one of the hottest big bands of all time. Ripped to mp3 from a well preserved 78 RPM vinyl side, this ebullient instrumental classic is free to enjoy and share, hosted by the good folks at archive.org.
Kokomo Arnold’s left-handed slide guitar playing and vocals, delivered with the same intensity and conviction as a sermon from a Sunday preacher, made his records sound 20 years ahead of their time. From 1934, “Sissy Man Blues” has a place in gay music history, with the famous, and perhaps the most lucidly sung phrase on the record, “Lord if you can’t send me no woman, please send me some sissy man.” This is evidence of the presence of a queer vibe in 1934, when this song was written.
The Empress Of The Blues, Bessie Smith, got her start busking with her brother in Chattanooga as a young girl. Still a child when she auditioned for the Stokes troupe, she won the gig as a dancer, not a singer, because that chair was already filled by none other than Ma Rainey, The Mother Of The Blues! Both singers became major stars, enjoying long and prolific performing and recording careers. Bessie Smith’s “Thinking Blues” is a great intro to this magnificent and hugely influential American music legend. I found a very good sonic version at YouTube.com
Backed by her Georgia Jazz Band, here is the great Ma Rainey, reflecting on the joy and consequences of “Booze and Blues.” So good. This Youtube post “show more” is a great biography of this talented woman who was truly a force in the Blues.