Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blues Moon Radio's Women in History Month - March 8, 2011

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, and again we will be featuring women artists throughout Women's History Month.

Tonight we also feature Mardi Gras with an extra hour, so please stay tuned until 9 p.m.

The show starts at 6, and you can tune in (I recommend you set it up early so you don't miss anything while the system gets ready) via http://www.wusc.sc.edu/, follow the prompts to stream/listen.

Tonight I'm including the short bios of the artists featured:


March 8, 2011 – companion to the Second Blues week about Women in Blues

Ada Brown – Evil Mama Blues
This song is considered the first recording of Kansas City Jazz; Brown was trained to sing in theater; this song was recorded with the Bennie Moten Band. Brown was an original founder of the Negro Actors Guild of America and performed at the London Palladium in the late 1930s. She retired in the 40s.

Lucille Hegamin – Mississippi Blues
One of the earliest Classic Blues Women to record in the 20s, she retired from music to become a nurse in 1938, but reemerged on the music scene to perform and record again in the 1960s. She recorded 77 titles in her musical career.

Adelaide Hall – The Blues I Love to Sing
Best known for her performance in Blackbirds, in 1928, Hall performed often in night clubs, vaudeville and musicals. She continued to perform through the late 1950s, but had a spike in popularity after the 1980s film “Cotton Club” reenergized interest in singers from that era. She appeared in the film “The Thief of Baghdad,” playing the nurse of the princess and performed a lullabye in the film.

Louise Johnson – All Night Long Blues
Louise Johnson’s only known tracks are the four she cut on a trip to Grafton, Wisconsin she made with Charley Patton, Son House and Willie Brown to record for Paramount Records in 1930. Despite Clarence Lofton’s claim that he played piano on the tracks, Son House contends it was Johnson. In a bit of a Blues Peyton Place, on the trip up, Johnson was Charley Patton’s girlfriend; by the return trip, Son House had the pleasure of her company. Patton wrote a song about it: “Joe Kirby Blues” (about the plantation Johnson lived on at the time).

Billie Holiday – Long Gone Blues
Baltimore born singer better known as Lady Day, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Her 1956 autobiography detailing her struggles with heroin, opium and alcohol abuse and romance, entitled Lady Sings the Blues, was made into a movie in 1972 starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.

Mama Yancey – Make Me a Pallet on the Floor
Best known for her partnership with her husband, Jimmy “Papa” Yancey, Estelle “Mama” Yancey was a singer and vaudeville dancer. She was nominated four times for Blues Music Awards as Traditional Blues Female Artist and died in 1986 at the age of 90.

Lil Green – Romance in the Dark
This cut by Lil Green was a Billboard hit in 1940; recorded during a partnership with Big Bill Broonzy. She worked taverns, graduating to theaters and clubs. She died at the age of 35 and some said she was no stranger to trouble, having served time in jail for her part in a juke-joint killing, but Big Bill remembered her for her warm-heartedness and her deep religious convictions, as well as not smoking or drinking.

Blue Lu Barker – I Feel Like Laying in Another Woman’s Husband’s Arms
Cited by Billie Holiday as her biggest influence, Blue Lu Barker grew up in New Orleans and worked with Cab Calloway and Jelly Roll Morton. At 13, she married musician Danny Barker and her most famous cut was “Don’t You Feel My Leg.” The Barkers performed together until his death; she continued until she died, with a recording from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1998.

Geeshie Wiley – Eagles on a Half
This song was the other side of Pick Poor Robin Clean – recorded for Paramount in Wisconsin in 1931, after which, both Elvie Thomas, who provided guitar and backing vocals, and Wiley disappeared from the music scene.

Kansas City Kitty – Leave My Man Alone
Possibly Mozelle Alderson, who recorded with Judson Brown, a pianist, and as “Jane Lucas” on some of the Hokum Boys’ recordings in 1930. Other possible monikers were Hannah May, Thelma Holmes and Mae Belle Lee, although there is no certainty about this possibility.

Lottie Kimbrough – Rolling Log Blues
Another Kansas City singer, Kimbrough has the distinction of sharing her first recording session for Paramount Records with Ma Rainey. She was nicknamed the Kansas City ButterBall for her large size. Her manager, Winston Holmes, substituted a picture of Lottie’s more attractive sister, Estella for her publicity photos; her talent was as sizeable as she was, but she has few recordings to show for it.

Rosie Mae Moore – Stranger Blues
Along with Staggering Blues, the rough-hewn Stranger Blues by Jackson Mississippi’s Rose Mae Moore was recorded in the late 1920s with accompaniment by the legendary Charlie McCoy (later one of Memphis Minnie’s many husbands) and Ishmon Bracey, who wavered between sacred and secular music.

Mae Glover – I Ain’t Givin’ Nobody None

Memphis Minnie – Don’t Want No Woman
Born Lizzie Douglas, she is one of the most accomplished female musicians of the 1920s and 30s. The scene was dominated by men, and very few women accompanied themselves, much less on guitar. She is considered the most significant female country Blues singer to emerge during the era. She preceded Muddy Waters by a year in using an electric guitar; she won a talent contest featuring some of the best Bluesmen, including Big Bill Broonzy, who said she was one of the best guitarists he had ever known. She married three times, to a Blues musician each time: Casey Bill Weldon (divorced); Kansas Joe McCoy (divorced); Little Son Joe

Rosetta Howard – Let Your Linen Hang Low
Chicago born, she learned to sing along with the jukebox and worked in Blues in the 30s and 40s, a little behind the era of the Classic Blues Women. She made a number of recordings with Harlem Hamfats, including her famous marijuana ode, “If You’re a Viper,” and the racy, double-entendre “Let Your Linen Hang Low.” She recorded with Willie Dixon’s Big Three Trio, but the recordings were not successful, and they served as her last entries. She continued to sing in church, but did not record again.

St. Louis Bessie – Meat Cutter Blues
A ribald double-entendre Blues number, Meat Cutter Blues is one entry into recorded history for St. Louis Bessie, which was the stage name for Bessie Mae Smith, a St. Louis blues singer of the 1930s who also recorded as Blue Belle, and later on as possibly Streamline Mae and Mae Belle Miller. Sometimes confused with Bessie Smith, because Smith starred in St. Louis Blues, this singer was thought to have sung with pianist Roosevelt Sykes. It is also thought that she was in a relationship with bluesman Big Joe Williams.

Wee Bea Booze – Don’t Tell Me Nothin’ ‘Bout My Man
Baltimore’s Wee Bea Booze, who was born Muriel Nichols, began recording in 1942; influenced heavily by Lil Green. Obscure to the Blues world, her talent went largely undiscovered despite the fact that she was also her own guitarist. She moved more toward Jazz and Swing later in her career and is considered to have been an influence on Rock and Roll and Elvis Presley.

Nellie Florence – Midnight Weeping Blues
Nellie Florence is featured here with Midnight Weeping Blues. Her only other known recording is Jacksonville Blues. An interesting aspect of this for those of us in Columbia SC is that her accompanists traveled from Columbia to Atlanta for the 1929 recording session, brothers Bobby and Charles Hicks… better known as Charlie Hicks and Barbecue Bob. Some of the session commentary contains references to Nellie being Bob’s “gal-pal” so perhaps that explains the short-lived career and the scant information about her life.

Mary Johnson – Dawn of Day Blues
This Yazoo City native was born Mary Williams, and moved to St. Louis at age 10 in 1915. She worked with many of that area’s urban Blues artists, indeed marrying one of its leading stars, Lonnie Johnson, a pairing that lasted seven years. She partnered musically with Tampa Red, Judson Brown and Henry Brown. In the 1950s she left Blues for religion.

Ada Brown – Break O’Day Blues (see bio on cut 1)

Vivian Greene – Red Light

Ann Cole and the Suburbans - Got My Mo-Jo Working, (But it Just Don’t Work on You)
This was the original version in 1956; covered in 1957 by Muddy Waters. Her top charting single was an answer tune to Etta James’ “Stop the Wedding” called “Don’t Stop the Wedding.” The flip side, “Have Fun” was ironically, her last song to hit the charts.

Zilla Mays – (Seems Like) You Just Don’t Care
Atlanta native Zilla Florine Mays, known as “The Dream Girl,” who recorded several sides for various labels through her career, part of which was spent as a DJ for WAOK radio with the air name, “The Mystery Lady.” She won a Pioneer Award from the NAACP in 1986 and died in September of 1995.

Mildred Anderson – Doin’ the Boogie Woogie
This song, recorded April 8, 1946, was made with Albert Ammons and His Rhythm Kings. She later went on to work with Bill Doggett and Hot Lips Page. Her career petered out after the early 60s.

Christine Wood – Cool One-Groove Two
One of the few females included in the Honkers and Bar Walkers series featuring swinging sax based jazzy Blues.

Our Mardi Gras celebration will begin with the late Roy Carrier, whom we lost about a year ago. Mardi Gras is not the same without him...

Roy Carrier - The Zydeco Beat b/w Back Bone Zydeco
Professor Longhair - Go the the Mardi Gras
Hawketts - Mardi Gras Mambo
Clifton Chenier - The Big Wheel
White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians - Sew Sew Sew

Now, for music from in and about Louisiana:
Lead Belly - In New Orleans
Roosevelt Sykes - New Orleans Jump
Lou Ann Barton - Down South in New Orleans
Shrimp City Slim - Go Back to New Orleans
Henry Butler - Orleans Inspiration
Beau Jocque - Alle Parti Pout Voi Beau Jocque b/w Kinder 2-Step

Have a happy Mardi Gras and I'll see you all back here next week for more women in Blues... with a special guest, Jazz Singer Jean Calvert, who will be sharing some history about the women in Blues that she admires.

Whatever you do, don't give up Blues Moon for Lent! :)
Clair DeLune

No comments: