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Ohio and West Coast one man band blues of Blind Joe Hill

Ohio and West Coast one man band blues of Blind Joe Hill

Blind Joe Hill was a bluesman in the tradition of musicians like Joe Hill Louis and Jesse Fuller, the tradition of excellent one man band performers. Blind Joe Hailed from Akron Ohio for the bigger part of his life until he moved to the West Coast. During his Ohio days Joe Hill recorded for the Barrelhouse Record Label a rare album called Boogie In The Dark at the Glass Finger Studios.

Blind Joe Hill Fannie Mae

I listenend to his song Fannie Mae one of Blind Joe Hill’s better known recordings today. Like other one man band performers you really feel the song building up. Starting with the catchy guitar and harmonica, which slowly gets accompanied by the drums where the hi-hat starts ticking, the bass drum sets the beat and the guitar guides the song into a full grown composition. Then.. Blind Joe Hill starts singing.

Buster Brown 1# hit recording

‘Fannie Mae’ was already a hit before Blind Joe Started playing the song. In 1959 Rhythm ‘n blues singer Buster Brown wrote and recorded this song, which became famous through the tricky harmonica riff. Buster scored a #1 hit with ‘Fannie Mae’ in 1960. Nevertheless Blind Joe Hill did a good job transforming this song into a folk blues masterpiece.

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Blues around Beale street Memphis Willie Nix

Blues around Beale street Memphis Willie Nix

The Baker Shop Boogie by Willie Nix was recorded in the Memphis Sun Records studio in January 1953. Willie Nix was an innovative drummer and gifted lyricist as well as vocalist. Willie Nix had as a musician an integral part in Memphis’s Beale Street blues community during the late forties and early fifties. Willie’s Boogie is a true rhythm and Blues song, with a great harmonica interlude throughout the song. Nix really brings the groove and feel of this song into your living room, car or local bar.

From Tap dancer to Bluesman

photo credit: Saturday via photopin (license)

We know Willie Nix as a great drummer, singer and Harmonica player, but Willie didn’t start his career as a musician in his teenage years he was a tap dancer with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Nix was part of a famous minstrel family that became the home of many blues legends like Big Joe Williams, Brownie Mc Ghee, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Through the Minstrels Nix became part of the group musicians who performed at Beale Street. He met Sonny Boy Williamson and together with fellow bluesman Willie Love, Joe Willie Wilkins he performed throughout the deep South as the Four Aces. (not to be confused with the fifties pop group).

Willie Nix recording career

As a bandleader of solo musician Nix recorded and played in both Memphis and Chicago, and worked with the finest bluesmen in both cities, among them Junior Parker, B.B. King, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Bobby Blue Bland. In the fifties he made a two year stop in prison. After his release from prison Nix moved back to Memphis and continued to be a local fixture in the blues community. He performed on and off until his death in 1991.

Willie Nix Memphis backing band

Willie Nix recorded Nervous Wreck in 1953 for Chance Records. His Backing band contained some of the greatest blues musicians around. Eddie Taylor on guitar, Sunnyland Slim on Piano honky tonking throughout the song. Snooky Pryor delivering a leading harmonica melody and Alfred Wallace bringin the steady drums.

Prison Bound Blues was probably sang most of Willie’s time in prison and describes prison time in a way you will only find back in blues songs. Early one morning,The blues came fallin’ down, Early one morning, The blues came fallin’ down, I was all locked up in jail, And prison bound.

allthough it is difficult to find recordings of Willie Nix around the internet or in your local recordstore, the music of Nix is absolutely worth listening. Like Joe Hill Louis, Nix’s style is truely a Memphis blues, recognisable for the rhythm, the up-tempo and the clear vocals.

Willie Nix – Prison Bound Blues

Willie Nix – Try Me One More Time

Willie Nix – Just One Mistake

Willie Nix, Truckin’ little woman

Willie Nix Lonesome Bedroom Blues (1951)

photo credit: Saturday via photopin (license)
Video Credits:I do not own the copyrights to these recordings. These videos are for historical and educational purposes.

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Reverend Deadeye performing as a Punk Blues Saint

Reverend Deadeye performing as a Punk Blues Saint

Last Sunday afternoon the holy experience of Reverend Deadeye’s music overwhelmed me. It was the song ‘Drunk on Jesus’ of this former snake handlin’ performer from Arizona that got to me.

Rev Deadeye is the reverend’s son of a reverend’ son who delivers a punk-rock version of gritty pre-war delta blues which he blends with fiery gospel interpretations capable of turnin’ the whole room into a whiskey filled bar room revival.

Punk style Blues music

RevDeadeye-press photo - credit photo to Yeheshua Johnson
RevDeadeye-press photo – credit photo to Yeheshua Johnson

Reverend Deadeye continued the punk style use of the slide guitar, like Hound Dog Tayler did fifty years ago. Hound Dog turned the slide guitar into a Rock ‘n Roll instrument. Rev Deadeye into a true punk machine. It is the use of his modified wok-lid resonator guitar that makes the Reverend songs so recognizable.

The slide guitar was a true delta blues instrument but is now evolved by Reverend Deadeye. The sound changed but the soul of the music doesn’t. It is great to experience how blues and punk rock music are so close to each other.

Songs of Reverend Deadeye

Especially in songs like ‘Yonder Blue’ and ‘Fuck The Devil’ you hear the punk and rock influence in his music. His voice is like a radio stream from blues-punk heaven: gritty, hard and raw. It is the use of his homemade beer can microphone that completes the raw sound of his performance.

Reverend Deadeye One Man Band

Like Joe Hill Louis, and later Ben Prestage did, Reverend Deadeye is an excellent one man band performer. Besides the use of his beer can microphone and wok-lid resonator Guitar, listen to his Kick Drum and washtub snare. To get the idea of his songs you should listen for the some heavy songs to “Backslider Baby’ and ‘Bless My Soul’. For some happy grooving songs to ‘Baby On That Train’.

Shows of Reverend Deadeye

Don’t expect a Sunday mornin’ church service at one of Reverend Deadeye’s shows; instead, expect a Saturday night baptism with fire holy rollin’ revival. I really enjoy the music of the Reverend. Follow him here…

Reverend Deadeye – Fuck the Devil

Reverend Deadeye – “Underneath the Ground”

Reverend Dead Eye Performs on Late Night Denver

Reverend Deadeye – Penticostal Rattle Snake Shake

Reverend Deadeye Spotify

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One Man Band Perfection Ben Prestage’ Blues music

One Man Band Perfection Ben Prestage’ blues music

Ben Prestage is a one man band musician from Indiantown Florida who can easily be compared to Memphis great Joe Hill Louis. Growing up in rural Florida, on a 14-mile-long dirt road, near the headwaters of the Everglades Ben was born to play the blues.

Ben Prestage Deep down in Florida

Florida blues music ben prestage pressphoto
Florida blues music ben prestage pressphoto

If Prestage wanted to go to a bar or possible every living thing it was 7 miles either direction to the nearest paved road, and when you got to pavement, you still weren’t near a town. It was panther, gator, and cottonmouth country.

If you want to do something out there in deep down Florida you get quickly to playing music. There was only one kind of music in the house. Whether it was being played on an instrument, or on a recording, it was Blues.

Playing Banjo music at a young age

Ben Prestage came from a musical family. Not only his mother and father made their mark, his grantparent too. He recalls: “One day though, in my early teens, I went to help a neighbor build a chicken-coop on his property. When we went inside to eat lunch, I asked him about a banjo I saw in the corner. He picked it up and I heard Bluegrass music for the first time”. From Bluegrass to Blues is a big step but the rural Florida swamp has some blues feeling over it. He walked out of Florida and went to Memphis to play that blues songs.

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Woodrow Adams Raw Delta – Memphis Blues

Woodrow Adams Raw Delta – Memphis Blues

As much as we all want to, we’d like to understand the blues, the myths and the unknown. About some artist we can tell a lot, others stay unknown. What all the musicians on this website have in common is talent and the blues. From Mississippi to Memphis to Chicago Woodrow Adams didn’t get the fame he deserved. He lived close to Howlin’ Wolf in the forties but his neighbour made national fame Woodrow didn’t. Nevertheless Woodrow Adams was a great bluesman.

Woodrow Adams blues Songs

His best songs are available to listen here. Listen to ‘Last Time’ and  ‘Train Time’ in particular. Adams is a Delta and Memphis style Bluesman, comparable to Joe Hill Louis, which whom he played with. His perfect harmonica style is comparable to Slim Harpo and Little Walter.

Woodrow Adams is raw blues, the origins lie in the deep Mississippi Delta. Bluesmen like Son House where of the same type. Later on this style of music was popularized, but when Woodrow played that kind of thing he didn´t had a lot of national success. Nevertheless  he was a well known figure in the local juke joints of Mississippi.

Woodrow Adams and Howlin´ Wolf

Tunica_County_MS_sign (Wiki commons phot Thomas R Machnitzki)
Tunica_County_MS_sign (Wiki commons photo Thomas R Machnitzki)

Woodrow Adams lived in Robinsville Mississippi during the forties, Howlin’ Wolf lived close by, the two jammed on the blues together, went probably to the juke joints and drank beer or moonshine . That is how I imagine it. Adams learned his harmonica and guitar style from Howlin’ Wolf.  Later on they went to Memphis. Wolf made several recordings with Sam Phillips. Adams did too. The recording session of Adams and Phillips was released on Checker record. Unfortunately it didn’t had a lot of commercial success.

In 1955 Woodrow had more success, he recorded for the Bihari Brothers, who had a successful record label: Modern Records since 1945, since Hadda Brooks recorded “Swingin’ the Boogie.  The Bihari brothers launched more labels and therefore the oldest brother Lester went to Memphis to lead Meteor Record. Adams recoded a single for the label and it sold a little here and there.

Woodrow Adams was named after the 28th president of the United States Woodrow Wilson.

Woodrow Adams The Last Time


Woodrow Adams: Something On My Mind

Woodrow Adams How Long (1967)

Woodrow Adams: Sad and Blue

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One Man Band: Blues of Joe Hill Louis

One Man Band Blues of Joe Hill Louis

During the forties and fifties Memphis developed into a city with one of the best music scenes around the world.  The city where Rock ‘n Roll was born, soul and funk established worldwide sales, and  Beale Street was the musical entertainment center of it all. The city was growing because  the migration from Mississippi to Memphis developed and among the talented musicians that came along I recently came across Joe Hill Louis.

Joe Hill Louis on Beale Street

In Memphis Joe Hill would travel around the circuit of Beale Street clubs, performing in places as Haney’s Big House alongside other Memphis Blues musicians. Haney’s Big House was a wooden club owned by Big Will Haney and the only club that allowed white and black people. It was the place the best bluesman would go to.

Nickname: Be-Bop Boy

He had like many other bluesmen different nicknames my favourite is Be-Bop-Boy. Many musicians recall: Be-Bop Boy was an excellent performer together with Docter Ross he was the best one-man band in town. Imagine: Joe  Hill Louis would sit behind his drum-kit, playing guitar switching over to harmonica and swing the boogie woogie while Big Will Haney’s club goes crazy.

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