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”
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)