Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Story of Robert Nighthawk by MIke Leadbitter

By Mike Leadbitter - 1968

[Editor's Note: As most readers realized, Mike Leadbitter was fascinated with the Delta blues scene after World War II, and he had been chasing as many leads as he could in an attempt to discover more before it was too late. A major difficulty has been the fact that it is almost too late for proper research; as most of the important figures have died, one must rely on second-hand information. The mid-1960s research efforts of James La Rocca, John Broven, Bill Ferris David Evans, and Gayle Wardlow were a tremendous help for this article.]

Our only real knowledge concerning Robert Nighthawk was provided by Don Kent, back in March 1967. George Mitchell was the last collector to see him alive, and his recently published book provides no details of their meeting. I know of nobody who interviewed Nighthawk in depth during his brief 'rediscovery' in 1964 [Mike Bloomfield interviewed him for the production of And This is Maxwell Street see below] and, considering how important Robert's memories were, this oversight is hard to understand. I started my research with Don's article to guide me.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lattie "The Wolf" Murrell by Bengt Olsson

It was early September, the year was 1971, the cotton fields were starting to turn white and it was cooling off after yet another paralyzingly hot West Tennessee summer. The kind of summer that had tempted you to lay in front of the air conditioner, drink beer and watch trash on TV instead of devoting your precious time to going out exploring, trying to find previously unheard of blues singers. This particular Sunday afternoon we - Bill Barth and I - were driving around Fayette County, aimlessly - choosing roads at random - but with a purpose; the purpose being to dig old-style blues players out of their holes...bring them out into the light. few of them were still out there, no doubt about that, but they did not reveal themselves easily. They might still have their old battered guitars and occasionally play and sing around the house, but their communities rarely thought of them as singers or musicians and there were few, if any, occasions that called for their kind of music. Time had moved on. 

The Death Certificates of the Memphis Jug Band - Will Shade & Charlie Burse

Found by Bill Pichette on September 26 & 27, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Blind Willie Johnson: Revelations In the Dark

by Michael Corcoran - January 8, 2016 

Folks have been looking for Blind Willie Johnson since his “John The Revelator” jumped out of Harry Smith’s monumental Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 like a Pentecostal preacher. “Well, who’s that writin’?,” Blind Willie called out in a fog-cutter bass, with his amen queen Willie B. Harris responding, “John The Revelator.” The repetition of those dissimilar, tent revival voices created a rhythm of dignified hardship, a struggle redeemed by faith. Thumb-picked guitar lines danced around the rough/smooth tension as the devil slid into the back pew.

This 1930 gospel recording about the Apostle who wrote the Book of Revelation was as lowdown dirty and hoppin’ as any blues or hillbilly number on Smith’s six-disc collection. Blind Willie didn’t even have to play any bottleneck guitar, which would become his signature on later reissues featuring “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” “Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time,” “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning,” “God Moves On The Water” and others.