Friday, April 9, 2010

More Lead Belly - Last Sessions 4 Disc Set

Sorry,I've been busy trying to earn a living and trying to
also find this 4 disc set online.Well it took a while but I
finally found it,and purchased a copy to share. This is
just what it says, Lead Belly's last sessions ever, from 1948,
a year before his death. He was a remarkable talent, and he
had a large repertoire of folk songs and popular songs either
he made up or songs he learned from others and kept the
song alive,by playing it live or recording it.It's a little like
he absorbed the songs from other musicians,and added his
songs,wrote his own songs as well. A great interpreter!
This series of discs will show a wide range of songs he did.
These songs were also his first tracks recorded on magnetic
tape,which was a brand new technology at the time!
The new audio tape recording process will also give better
dynamics to his voice and guitar playing,since those older
field recordings were not up to snuff.
Lead Belly was a great interpreter of songs,these 4 discs give
you,dear music fanatic,almost his entire repertoire of music.
These recordings were done over a three night "recording session".
These recordings are also significant as,they were made
quite simply, as if he is just sitting around the house.
Not just anyone;'s house either, at Frederic Ramsey Jr's house,
who was and became the co-author/editor of Jazzman,The Jazz
Record Book,Jazzways.And editor of the Folkways Jazz
Series.He was also the 1953 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship
for studies in Afro-American music. These recordings are not
professionally made,but recorded like a music interview. He talks
about the music,how it relates to his own life, and these
recordings are not edited in any way! When these sessions
were finally committed to vinyl,they were not separated by
song bands, they were put out exactly as they were recorded.
The only company that would agree to do this was
Moses Asch's Folkways Records. Which was a label
dedicated to documenting folk music,old and new.
Lead Belly did a record for Folkways Records in 1941.
This project, was also incomplete,as Lead Belly died before,
the full recordings of his repertoire were captured.
There was still more music in him!
Lead Belly died of the same disease that killed Lou Gehrig,
and it wasn't caught in time,he was at the latter stages of
chronic poliomyelitis when he died on December 6th,1949.
Lead Belly aka Huddy Ledbetter 1888? -1949.
I sure hope fans of Mojo Repair Shop like this!

Last Sessions 1

Last Sessions 2

Last Sessions 3

Last Sessions 4

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lead Belly - Absolutely The Best

Lead Belly is the theme of our exploration of music in
this rather large post! I just want to shine a light on him
and his music,and hopefully my readers and listeners
here will love this music, like me,which is largely unknown!
There's a lot of amazing early blues sounds adapted
into today's rock and roll,folk & blues artists. Enjoy!
Lead Belly Absolutely The Best

John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax and the story of Lead Belly

Top photo of the pardon Lead Belly received by Pat Neff
Lead Belly's ticket to get out of jail,and the next picture is
Alan Lomax as a young folk singer,third photo
is John Lomax the one who "discovered" Lead Belly.
The fourth photo shows John Lomax's trunk of his car
outfitted with the latest live recording gear as he travels
throughout the south searching for music from folk and
blues artists for the Library of Congress in Washington,DC.

Lead Belly - Shout On

More of the fabulous and underrated Lead Belly!
Shout On! With songs about Governor Pat Neff, the man
responsible for pardoning Lead Belly. Great songs like
Midnight Special, unusual songs about Jean Harlow,
National Defense Blues, Birmingham Jail,
Skip to My Lou, Green Corn, John Henry,
Take This Hammer, Pick A Bale of Cotton,
Little Children's Blues, and many more!
Music that inspired the folkies and rockers of
Lead Belly Shout On

Lead Belly - Bourgeois Blues

Again,the rich music of Lead Belly -which if you listen
carefully has inspired more modern music.In the song:
"In New Orleans" we hear the beginnings of the classic
"House of The Rising Sun"(made famous by The Animals).
The Bourgeois Blues picks at how life really is, in
Washington,and becomes one of the first heard folk protest
songs ever, recorded in the 1930's! Looky Looky Yonder,
becomes the beginning to the song Black Betty...which
is covered by a lot of people. One that comes to mind
who keeps his covers real is Nick Cave(and the Bad Seeds)
Who does a fine job of Black Betty keeping the Looky Looky
Yonder part in the song.
Gallis Pole loosely becomes Gallows Pole (Led Zeppelin)
And the list goes on. Lots of great music here,if you just
plain love the blues in an original form. The "originator"
Lead Belly. It's blues and it's folksong.
Lead Belly Bourgeois Blues

Lead Belly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night

I know I've been off of blogging for a while. I was busy
trying to get my new computer in shape,and change my
internet service provider who wasn't all that great-the
service I had to the web was on and off. More off than on!
Well, I was busy listening to Lead Belly,King of the 12- string
guitar, and reading this excellent book that's pictured below.
I'm still not finished reading it, and know I don't know everything
about Lead Belly,but I'm gathering some knowledge little by little.
It seems the old story is true,Lead Belly aka Huddie Leadbetter,
did commit a crime that landed him in jail,and yes he sang
for the warden and Texas Governor Pat Neff ,and was
pardoned.And if it wasn't for John & Alan Lomax the father
and son folk music historians we'd never know about Lead Belly.
John Lomax,the father went through the south and many
other states recording the music in the field,he was
a collector and always used the music and knowledge
of his subjects strictly for educational purposes.
Why is Lead Belly so important to Mojo Repair Shop?
Well, I'm always on a mission to know where music came
from,and I often stumble over the fact that so much music,
by unknown and well known musicians is often exploited.
It seems in order to be known,there's no way around it,
musicians are going to be exploited. Whether they
get their music recorded and played on the radio,or
someone like John Lomax had to bring the music to the
people in order to hear the real thing. And while reading,
it seemed like Lead Belly was exploited. But then again,
we'd never know about the music...the rich songs he
recorded like Midnight Special, Black Betty, and making
Goodnight Irene into a genuine folk song that was covered
by hundreds of other artists. And these are but a few songs.
Don't forget Where Did You Sleep Last Night,an incredibly
haunting song...and that's just a small portion of the songs
he made.
Huddie Leadbetter was born just outside of Mooringsport
Louisiana on January 20, 1888 or possibly January 29th 1889.
So he's one of the oldest blues folk-artists I've ever heard.
Huddie started playing the guitar,a typical Stella model
that was fairly easy to buy through the Sears Catalog.
(Thank you Sears for making guitars available cheap for
young people to buy and learn to play!) Huddie started
playing the guitar at 13 years old,and like most farm raised
African-Americans from the south,playing the guitar for a
few pennies or working on a farm from sun-up to sun-down for
the same few pennies-which one would you prefer?
Well, the guitar! Well it was obvious which direction he'd rather
take. The blues really hadn't been found or invented yet,so
Huddie learned and played from other musicians he saw.
Records were available but only to people who had money.
(You could buy a table top player for about 20 dollars)
And at that time that was a lot of money.
So, he had in fact learned how to play strictly from other
musicians and singers in the delta. Music that is passed down
in person, not from a radio or a record. As Huddie grew older,
he busked the streets of Shreveport,and Dallas with
Blind Lemon Jefferson. All he knew was farming and
playing the guitar.
He played guitar on and off, but mostly did a lot of farming
in the meantime. Lead Belly's temper got the best of him
around 1917 when he killed a man, and was sentenced
to the state pen in Huntsville for 30 years. Music became
his salvation, and he was pardoned in 1925. 5 years later,
Huddie found himself in more trouble with the law,
and was convicted of assault with intent to murder,
the incorrigible Huddie served his time in the Louisiana
State Penitentiary. Meanwhile legendary musicologist John
Lomax and his son,Alan were driving all over the south,with
their trunk weighed down with primitive recording equipment,
searching for music for the Library of Congress.
The pair made "field recordings" anywhere, that was quiet,
and recorded musicians on the spot. At a prison farm or
literally in a field. John Lomax entered
Lead Belly's life in 1933, when they came to Angola in search
of musicians to record some folk songs. When they heard
Lead Belly sing and play they hit the mother-load.
The Lomaxes asked Louisiana Governor O.K Allen to
pardon Huddie ,and he was freed and the rest is history.
Well... sort of.
John and Alan Lomax brought Lead Belly's music to
record and radio. And they took Lead Belly to New York
to perform, and show people his talent. Lead Belly played
everywhere, mostly on the college circuit for very little money.
It seems John Lomax didn't really want Huddie to go off by
himself much, and get into trouble, so he kept him near
and paid him very little money-and pretty much exploited
his talents.
It helped Leadbelly's music be known, on one hand,but on
the other hand, he was close to a circus act. Often billed
and filmed as the ex-con in comic exaggeration in prison garb,
serenading John Lomax and his fellow prison inmates.
Does this sound anything like a Hollywood movie?
Just replace Huddie Ledbetter with King Kong! Huddie
performed, wrote, and played all the songs he knew,or songs
passed on to him through listening. He was also cleaver about
making up songs on the spot. His talent lies in hearing the
rich past of folk songs, and blues, and making them into
his own songs. Instead you see a film footage scene of
John Lomax,busy typing away,while Huddie lumbers
through the door,wearing farmer coveralls,his faithful guitar
around his neck,and announces:
"Boss, here I is! I came here to play and to be your man.
I've got to work for you the rest of my life.You got me out
of that Louisiana pen". The crusty Lomax replies"You
can't work for me.You're a mean boy.You killed two men".
But Lead Belly beseeches him "Please Boss,take me with you!"
Won over by such a magnanimous display,Lomax acquiesces.
"Thank you sir boss,Thank you! I'll drive you all over the
United States and I'll be your man".
Well, it helped and didn't help the African American race.
That's what I struggle with. It just stinks of stupid.
You know, if John Lomax didn't hear Huddie sing, we'd
never know about him,and on the other hand, it was great
to at least promote him and his music so, he could have a
career, because he -Huddie was able to latter record for
ARC and Banner Records,as well as The Library of Congress.
But the way it was all done?! It just seems like whites
exploiting black. This would be a common thing as time
goes on in the music business...but then again, any and all
musicians were exploited by their labels...what's changed?
Practically nothing.
Well, Huddie's music is there to listen to, and it inspired a
great bunch of people who made folk music as it is today
(Woody Guthrie) and at least inspired Sonny Terry &
Brownie McGhee,and maybe paved the way for other
black performers to get their due.
So I guess we have to sometimes regard the past as the
past,and reap what you can from the music. So now I gather,
all of my Lead Belly music for you here...Hope you dig it as
much as I did!
Lead Belly Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Monday, February 8, 2010

Skip James - Studio Sessions -Rare And Unreleased

Excellent blues! Excellent songs!
No one can sing and play like
Skip James.This
is from a previously
unreleased 1967 recording
session, and Skip only had
a couple more years
left on this planet. So even
though this music
is what we would call his last
efforts,it sounds
as fresh and sincere as any of
his earlier records.
Some people just "got it",you know?

No matter where they are, they can
just sing it right from their soul.

This music reminds me,
of Honeyboy Edwards,
and the recent "music awards
show on TV" just finally awarded this soldier of the
blues,one of the last of his kind...they finally awarded the
genius Honeyboy Edwards a lifetime "achievement like"
award. (I didn't look this up,I just saw him in the
crowd on this show,and they put the spotlight on him,
and it made me weep!) Well,sometimes they do get
things right,and it's hard to believe it!
Well, back to Skip James...this disc has yet another
variety of tracks not on anything else,making it essential!
1. Backwater Blues 2.Everybody Ought To Live Right
3.I Want To Be More Like Jesus 4.Jack Of Diamonds
5.My Last Boogie 6.Lazy Bones 7.Let My Jesus Lead You
8.My Own Blues 9.Oh,Mary Don't You Weep
10.Omaha Blues 11.Bumble Bee
12.One Dime Was All I Had
13.Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning
14.Somebody Gonna Wish They had Religion
15.Somebody Loves You 16.Sorry For To Leave You
17.Sporting Life Blues 18.They Are Waiting For Me
19.Walking The Sea
Thanks for liking the music,as always.
Studio Sessions

Skip James - The Very Best Of - Heroes Of The Blues

The blues starts here the label reads...
yet another
Skip James release. And why
did you do that Mojo?
Well, every time you
buy another CD or album, they all
have different
tracks on 'em.
The record companies are just
toying with me,and making me buy more

and more music.
But I'm fine with that.
Just give
me enough varied tracks so it's worth
it to buy...I
want more undiscovered gems,or
songs I never heard before.This release has a
slightly different track listing,and therefore worth
getting. In fact,this label Shout Factory! released
some others in this series: you also must own them all!
Furry Lewis,Rev. Gary Davis, Ma Rainey, Son House,
and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Ooh, I'm all
over these,they're great!
You must first listen to "Crow Jane".
Here's the tracks:
1.22-20 Blues 2.Little Cow,Little Calf Is Gonna Die
3.Special Rider Blues 4.Vicksburg Blues 5. 61 Highway
6.How Long Blues 7.Sick Bed Blues
8. I Don't Want A Woman To Stay Up All Night Long
9.Hard Time Killing Floor Blues 10.Skip's Worried Blues
11.Illinois Blues 12.Cypress Grove Blues
13.Cherry Ball Blues 14.Crow Jane
15.Everybody's Leaving Here 16.I'm So Glad.
Enjoy the music while you can
Heroes Of The Blues

Skip James - Devil Got My Woman "Sickbed Blues"

Alright,I'm back. I can think better,my brain is working
better,and finally my hand can type,and I can post some
music to
sample here. I will occasionally type things
backwards and forwards.
I think I am developing some
kind of dyslexia. So I hope it's only
here's something to sink your teeth into.

Skip James!

God, I love this man...this is soulful blues...the best
kind too.
When I wasn't feeling so good,my best
buddy gave me music to
listen to,and enjoy. Music
heals the brain,you know.
And I already had some
Skip James,but apparently
I just forgot how great
he was.So Thanks H,for reminding me
sheer beauty of all things Skip James.
His voice is haunting,
and his music is unlike no
one else.Please sample these three
(if I can get them up here on this site) I'm only
doing it, so you develop a habit,a habit so
you see any Skip James CD or album,that you
buy it.

Trust me,you'll need to have your own copy
to read,
and enjoy his history. Not enough is
said about how amazing
Skip James really is.
His high-pitched voice, almost a falsetto,
and how he plays
the guitar along with it.
It's spare, simple and beautiful.

Here's the lowdown:
1. Good Road Camp Blues 2. Little Cow,Little Calf Blues
3. Devil Got My Woman 4.Look At The People Standing
At The Judgement 5.Worried Blues 6. 22-20 Blues
7. Mistreating Child Blues 8. Sickbed Blues
9. Catfish Blues 10. Lorenzo Blues 11. Careless Love
12. Illinois Blues
Snatch it, grab it. Tell me it's the best
Devil Got My Woman