Category Archives: Delta Blues

Looking back at Muddy Waters birthday on 4 april: his first recording session

This week blues legend Muddy Waters would celebrate his 104th birthday. Muddy is still a major influence  in music history, artist like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and even today rappers like Kanye  West are all influenced by his sound. For his birthday we look back at his first recording session.

Stovall Plantation recording session 1941

It was historian Alan Lomax who made a trip to the Stovall Plantation back in August 1941 to record McKinley Morganfield with Henry ‘Son’ Sims. They recorded ‘Country Blues’, ‘I Be Troubled’ and ‘Burr Clover Blues’.

“Morganfield would later become the ‘King of Chicago Blues’ as Muddy Waters. He had learned the guitar and harmonica and began playing in juke joints and at parties and dances in and around the Clarksdale, Mississippi area from about 1935 onwards”.(udiscovermusic)

Continue reading Looking back at Muddy Waters birthday on 4 april: his first recording session

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“I shall not be moved” Folkloric masterpiece – Mississippi John Hurt

Mississippi John Hurt – I Shall Not Be Moved

I Shall Not Be Moved is a special song in several ways, I heard this song for the first time in the HBO tv series Deadwood and put on repeat a whole lot of time since then. Mississippi John Hurt is an excellent guitarist, but his vocals in this song really do it for me.

According to internet’s biggest encyclopedia “The folkoric song describes how the singer “shall not be moved” because of their faith in God. Secularly, as “We Shall Not Be Moved” it gained popularity as a Civil Rights Movement, protest, and union song

I’m on my way to heaven, I shall not be moved
I’m on my way to heaven, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

 

mississippi John HurtPhoto: This is a 1965 recording of “Mississippi” John Hurt singing, “Lonesome Valley” on the TV program, “Rainbow Quest”.

Million Dollar Quartet – I Shall Not Be Moved

Also The Million Dollar Quartet, (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins & Johnny Cash). Recorded “I Shall Not Be Moved”. The song was naturally transformed into a rock n roll version. It was art of a hiatorical recording at Sun Studio on Tuesday, December 4, 1956.

‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ CHARLEY PATTON

In late November early December of 1929 Charley Patton was the first known artist to record “I Shall Not Be Moved.

I shall not, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

I’m on my way to heaven, I shall not be moved
I’m on my way to heaven, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

Oh preacher, I shall not be moved
Oh preacher, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

I’m sanctified and holy, I shall not be moved
Sanctified and holy, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

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Samuel James: gatekeeper of the Delta Blues

Samuel James: gatekeeper of the Delta Blues

Samuel_James_by_Jon_Reece_floating
Samuel_James_by_Jon_Reece_floating

If Samuel James had lived eighty years ago he would be on posters around town alongside Son House, Robert Johnson and Big Joe Williams. He is a Blues guitarist inspired by the delta sound. Groovy, now and then slow, but always a bluesy voice accompanied by guitar. Samuel James isn’t a new cat in town, this blues-based singer/songwriter has dazzled audiences around the world for the better part of a decade. 

Samuel James is a fantastic guitarist in the Delta Blues style. Not only for using the slide in a lot of songs, but also the way James puts rhythm in a ´simple´ riffs is admirable. There are a lot of singer-songwriters around, I often miss the rhythm and the groove in their songs, I always hope they will start playing some blues songs. Samuel James is the singer-songwriter you want to see. He plays blues and there is always rhythm in Blues.

Recorded albums Samuel James

Albums of James that give you the best insight in his style are ‘Songs Famed for Sorrow and Joy’ (2008) ‘For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen’ (2009) And ‘for the Dark Road Ahead’ (2012) all released on Toronto’s Northern Blues label.

Stomping Delta Blues

His songs make you Stomp your feet and you will easily listen it for hours. Samuel James describes his music as: “A mixture of Charlie Patton, Preston Reed, Bill Withers and Townes Van Zandt”. Most of all: Samuel James is a gatekeeper of the Delta Blues.

Samuel James on Spotify

Samuel James “Wooooooo Rosa”

Samuel James “Bumly” playing Parchment Farm

 

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Square-necked guitar of Black Ace

Square-necked lap guitar of Black Ace

Black Ace  was the boss card in your hand and one of the only bluesmen to play a square-necked, `Hawaiian` Lap Guitar.  This Texas Blues man  by the name of Babe Karo Turner was an unique guitarist, playing his songs with the guitar flat on his knees. For the Slide effect Black Ace used an old small medicine bottle.

Black Ace for Arhoolie Records

Black Ace recorded in 1937 a few songs, twenty three years later Ace met Arhoolie founder Chris Strachwitz who was in Dallas with the British researcher Paul Oliver in search of a singer named Little Brother. Instead of Little Brother they found Black Ace. Strachwitz recorded  after meeting Ace in a local bar a magnificent album his house. The album would be Black Ace´s only published record. (Arhoolie 40th anniversary collection booklet)

Black Ace Best blues songs


Songs you Should really listen are `The Black Ace´, a song with great guitar and the theme song of the artist of this article. “Beer Drinking Woman”,  is a true delta blues song sang in the speech style of the delta. “Your Legs Too Little”, is a faster song, and lyrically a precursor of hip hop and rap.  `Santa Claus Blues,’ isn’t a song of begging for better times or more money but, for the return of Black Ace’s baby. (Scott Cooper —Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Review of Black Ace


Living Blues writer Brett Bonner explains the greatness of Balck Ace in his review: “Black Ace is an artist often passed over by blues listeners because he recorded so little and doesn’t fit into any of the most well-known regional stylistic categories. His music is beautiful, though, with a sensitive styling that is totally his own.”

(Brett Bonner — Living Blues)

 

Black Ace on Spotify

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Diddley bow and Delta Blues revivalist Lonnie Pitchford

Playing blues on a Diddley bow

What we all need to know about Lonnie Pitchford is how he taught himself to play that amazing one-string Diddley bow, with bailing wire and snuff cans on the side of his house. Lonnie’s father who was a bluesman in the local juke joint didn’t allow his song to play music. At age six Lonnie Pitchford was fed up with it and started to make his own instrument.

Ambassador of the Delta Blues

That first Diddley bow was the start of the music career of a great musician. Pitchford remarkable for his one string songs, was a true ambassador of the delta blues revival. Not many blues musicians born in the fifties continued to play the great delta American blues, Lonnie Pitchford did. He travelled through the United States to perform on his one string guitar in the spirit of Robert Johnson.

Blues in the spirit of Robert Johnson

Lonnie Pitchford was mentored by Robert Lockwood who was Robert Johnson stepson. Alongside Lockwood Lonnie lived as a carpenter, making his own instrument and even his own home. Although Putchford made over more than twenty five yeats music, his only album ‘All Around Man’ was released in 1994.

Lonnie Pitchford in Blues documentaries

In Alan Lomax documentary ‘The land where the Blues began’ Lonnie Pitchford shows how to make al diddley bow. Pitchford was also part of the movie ‘Deep Blues’ by Robert Mugge. Watch these great movies below.

In 1998 while recording his second album Lonnie Pitchford passed away at his home in Lexington. A diddley bow is featured on his headstone which was paid for by CCR frontman John Fogerty. His grave is neat Elmore James’ grave, in the new port babtist church cemetery.

Lonnie Pitchford If I had Possession Over Judgement Day

Lonnie Pitchford (All Around Man 1994) – This Is The Blues

Lonnie Pitchford – National Down Home Blues Festival – Atlanta, Georgia (1984)

“The Amazing Jack Daniel’s Diddley Bow”

The Land Where the Blues Began (Alan Lomax)

Deep Blues Pilgrimage To The Crossroads

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