There is little known about the early life of Jesse “Monkey Joe” Coleman. He was most likely born in Mississippi, he did work there for some period of time. This American country blues pianist and singer recorded sporadically from the 1930s into the 1970s.
Monkey Joe performed in Mississippi juke joints in the 1930s, and recorded with Little Brother Montgomery in 1935 on Bluebird Records. He began using the moniker “Monkey Joe” during that decade.
In 1936 he recorded boogie woogie song “Gonna Beat It Back To Memphis Tennessee”. This song is worth listening for several reasons, but above all for its structure, clear vocals and catchy piano.
It was on Dr. Johns Gumbo, the Dr. John album where he ‘honored’ the great artists and music of New Orleans when I first heard the music Huey “Piano” Smith. Dr. John recorded a medley of Huey’s songs. One song that was not part of Dr. John mix is “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”.
Ace Records 1957 release by Huey “Piano” Smith
Ace Records was the biggest independent label in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s containing a roster of Mississippi blues artists and Louisiana musicians like Huey “Piano” Smith. Alongside label owner Johnny Vincent, Huey Smith wrote the “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” in 1957 and scored a minor hit, nr 52 in the billboard Chart.
The song gained a whole lot of attention in 1972 when Johnny Rivers scored and international hit with it and reached number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 during the winter of 1973.
Johnny Rivers – 1972 version “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”
He was always present in the studio ready to play the piano. And you could recognise the bluesman of this article by his stylish suit and hat. Roosevelt Sykes the Honeydripper bluesman had a career in blues which lasted seven decades. He made fame in four Blues cities Helena. St. Louis, Chicago and New Orleans and performed with a whole lot of great musicians.
Sykes music was divers, but always groovy
You will like Roosevelt Sykes for his diversity. For example: ‘Sputnik Baby’ is an electric Blues song with influences from Boogie Woogie, to Chicago Blues. On the other hand St. James Infirmary is a jazzy New Orleans blues song that is slow emotional and goes through your bones. Sykes sings beautiful his piano style is soulful and grooves fine on the slow rhythm.
“The Blues Player, he ain’t worried and bothered,but he’s got something for the worried people”
Roosevelt Sykes – Sputnik Baby
Recording His First Songs for Okeh
According to All music’: Sykes began recording in 1929 for OKeh and was signed to four different labels the next year under four different names (he was variously billed as Dobby Bragg, Willie Kelly, and Easy Papa Johnson)! Sykes joined Decca Records in 1935, where his popularity blossomed. After relocating to Chicago, Sykes inked a pact with Bluebird in 1943 and recorded prolifically for the RCA subsidiary with his combo, the Honeydrippers, scoring a pair of R&B hits in 1945 (covers of Cecil Gant’s “I Wonder” and Joe Liggins’ “The Honeydripper”).
I listed some of my favorite tunes of the Honeydripper in this article Scroll down and experience for yourself!
The rhythm and groove, the lyrics and slang and the harp and guitar solos make blues music so great. In New Orleans the piano is the primarily instrument that made the blues big. Throughout the years many blues pianist recorded their albums in New Orleans like Dr. John, Allan Toussaint, Eddie Bo and James Booker. Last few weeks the great blues pianist Cousin Joe inspired me the most.
In 1984 Joe played at a concerthall in New Orleans where he, an old man, performed his favorite songs. I really enjoy cousin Joe’s songs. They are rhythmic, relax and have great themes. Songs like ‘Thats Enough’ and ‘How Come My Dog Don’t Bark’ are a good example of that.
I Dont Want Fortune And Fame, All I Want Is You To Carry My Name, And Thats Enough Yeah Tats Enough Baby Your Loving Is Enough For Me.
His New Orleans concert in 1984 was filmed bij Storyville Films, it is a cool show, Joe performes his bluesiest Piano songs and adds a lot of laughter to his lyrics. Cousin Joe shows he is having a good time. And the song… listen to ‘ New Orleans’ and ‘ Everything Made of Wood Once Was a Tree’. Especially these song are vocally absolute jewells.
Cousin Joe – New Orleans
Cousin Joe – Everything Made of Wood Once Was a Tree (New Orleans 1984)