Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Getty Duff - "Vomit on the Blacktop" - 2008?

The third record in our Getty Duff series would appear to be an earlier effort - there's still no official year or label info, but the copyright date is listed as 2008. This one is all originals, and while they're not blues exactly, there's definitely a blues-ish influence throughout, and many of the tunes fall roughly into a 12-bar format. The presentation as a whole is a tad more polished than his other records - it sounds like it might actually have been recorded in a studio this time and Mr. Duff might even have been mostly sober. However, don't assume things are too cleaned up here (the cover photo should give you at least fair warning).

1. Seventeen
2. Bones
3. Gold
4. 99 Blues
5. Train Wreck Blues
6. Good News Never Knocks at Midnight
7. Turn Me Over
8. Boy
9. Escape Artist (Blues for Eddie)
10. Let's Drag Her Down The Sidewalk


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getty Duff - "Hungry Man" - ????

Finally tracked down another by the mysterious Mr. Duff. Sound quality isn't much improved from the previous effort, although there are a few more instruments in the mix on a few tracks. This one sticks pretty closely to straight blues - one original and an eclectic assortment of covers. No liner notes or any label/recording info, so this was likely a self-produced effort.

1. Vagabond Shoes (Gallup/Saxon)
2. Soul of a Man (Johnson)
3. Shotgun Blues (Traditional)
4. Country Clown (Ross)
5. That Ain't It (Lane)
6. Hungry Man (Duff)
7. Sloppy Drunk (Williamson)
8. Tombstone (Vega)
9. Hard Time Getting Started (Boyd)
10. Talco Girl (James)
11. St. Louis Blues (Handy)
12. Going Down That Road (interrupted) (Traditional)


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getty Duff - "Songs With Shitty Sound Quality" - 2011?

Came across this oddity recently. Can't find any info at all on this guy online for some reason, but it's an interesting collection of ragged blues and country covers, a couple Tom Waits tunes, and a few originals, all recorded in sound quality that certainly lives up to the title. Something I like about this one...

1. Broke Down Engine (McTell)
2. Cold Cold Morning Light (Taylor/Thomas)
3. Six Feet In The Grave (Traditional)
4. Sop My Gravy (Mathus)
5. Bronx Lullaby (Waits)
6. Local Man (Duff)
7. James Alley Blues (Brown)
8. Tell Me Something (Allison)
9. Overtime Blues (Vincson)
10. Goin Away Baby (Lane)
11. Gin-Soaked Boy (Waits)
12. Honeydripper Blues (Turner)
13. Rolling & Tumbling (Traditional)
14. Sugar Daddy Blues (Duff)
15. 3220 Blues (Johnson)
16. To Be (Duff)
17. Silver Stallion (Clayton)


Friday, April 1, 2011

Houston Boines - Complete Recordings, 1952-53

Houston Boines is one of those mysterious figures of the blues who cut a few sides in the 50s and then more or less disappeared. This post contains his entire recorded legacy and, including alternate takes, it's barely enough to make up a single LP. It's doubtful that such an LP will ever be officially complied, and Boines' tunes will likely remain scattered across various compilations that go in and out of print. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of collecting all the Houston Boines tunes in existence, in the hopes that it might introduce some folks to his music who might otherwise have overlooked him.

I encountered the first two songs on this compilation years ago on a Sun Records sampler, and painstakingly hunted down the rest over the years. It's sometimes hard to explain what it is about a particular bluesman that grabs me so hard. This music is certainly lacking the cohesive, almost pop arrangements of the more famous Chicago Blues tunes, and, although it has its origins in Mississippi, it isn't what most think of as "Mississippi blues" with all the acoustic/rural qualities that phrase tends to evoke.

Basically, this is what I think of as "Memphis music." Memphis in the 40s and early 50s was a fascinating hodgepodge of transplanted country bluesmen who were in the process of updating their sound to include electric instruments, particularly guitar and harmonica. Memphis during this time period frequently served as a sort of pit stop in a bluesman's career, a logical training ground to hone one's skills along the inevitable journey from the deep South to Chicago. As such, the music that came out of Memphis then was a good deal wilder, rougher and less sophisticated than much of what was coming out of the larger city to the North.

Houston Boines cut 8 complete tunes. They are crude and disjointed and sloppy, and I love them all. In addition to some fascinating lyrics that were entirely unique to him, there's just something about the quality of this man's voice that ties the haphazard timing and questionable intonation together into something that sounds like it couldn't have been played or recorded any other way.

There's not much known about Houston Boines and there are no existing photos of him. He was born in Hazlehurst, MS, he played harmonica in Eddie Cusic's combo, The Rhythm Aces, he played some with Charley Booker and Jesse "Cleanhead" Love, he roomed with Little Milton in Leland, MS, and, backed by Milton, Ike Turner and others, he recorded these sides in Clarksdale and at Sun Records in Memphis before everyone lost track of him. There were rumors he spent time in Florida, but history catches up with him only once more, on his deathbed in a hospital in Jackson, MS in 1970.


Houston Boines - Clarksdale MS, 1952 and Memphis, TN, 1953

1. Carry My Business On
2. Crying In The Courthouse (take 2)
3. Relation Blues
4. G Man
5. Operator Blues (take 3)
6. Going Home
7. Monkey Motion
8. Superintendent Blues
*9. Operator Blues (take 1, false start)
*10. Operator Blues (take 2)
*11. Crying In The Courthouse (take 1)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Fred Sanders with the Cadillac Blues Band - 1991

Fred Sanders (1940-2011)

Fred Sanders died a couple months ago. Most of you have probably never heard of Fred, but for anyone involved with the Memphis blues scene, he was a major figure for a very long time. He was also a major figure in my young life, although I don't claim the reverse was true - if we were to run into each other now he would likely need a minute to even remember my name, assuming he recognized me at all (it's been almost 20 years, after all).

For a brief time as a young man I was around Fred quite a bit. We traveled together, played together, even lived together. I spent countless hours watching him play in a variety of settings, but mostly in Handy Park on Beale Street, playing for nickels and dimes. He was a man of immense talents, and this post was inspired by my frustration at how little of his talent has been adequately documented.

Brad Webb has gone a long way toward rectifying that situation. A stalwart supporter of the Memphis Blues scene and its citizens, he is responsible for the lovingly assembled record Long Time Comin', which is currently the only commercially available recording featuring Fred.

As valuable as that record is, and as grateful as I am that it exists, it also came too late in many respects. Fred's guitar skills never left him; even at the end, when his health was very poor, he was still a riveting instrumentalist. His voice, however, had deteriorated dramatically over the years. There are now several youtube videos available that show Fred, in his last days, still performing for tips in Handy Park, and it pains me to see the rich, supple vocals of my memory reduced by illness, age and hard living to a shadow of their former greatness.

So, I wanted to put something up that shows folks a little of what I remember of Fred, and why he was so respected throughout the Memphis music community. There are lots of stories to tell about Fred. He was truly gifted, very charismatic, and capable of moving audiences in a way that I've seldom seen before or since. He was also a complex guy, with his share of problems and difficulties. He made such an impression on me in my younger days that I used him as the model for one of the main characters in my first novel, A Darker World (available for download on my website).

The four songs in this post come from a 1991 recording of the Cadillac Blues Band I got from Brad Webb (one more big thanks to the much-appreciated Brad). I don't believe this CD has ever been officially released, but it provides an excellent snapshot of the Fred Sanders I remember so well. I have only included the 4 cuts that feature Fred, and on each of them, he is singing and playing his heart out.

Fred was, in many ways, the last remaining member of a crucial generation for Memphis blues. Most of his contemporaries (some of them chronicled in other posts on this blog) have passed away. The Beale Street Cadillac Blues Band name was used by a variety of musicians who rotated in and out over the years. I witnessed several incarnations of the band in the few brief years I was in Memphis. But most of the older black artists who were the foundation of those motley street bands, who had served as mentors, teachers and examples to the younger generation of players, are now gone. Sadly, few of them left behind much in the way of a recorded legacy. These four cuts aren't the career-spanning body of work I wish Fred had left us, but they'll have to do for now.

The Beale Street Cadillac Blues Band - recorded 1991:

Fred Sanders - vocal and guitar
Jimmy Ellis - vocals and drums
David Dunn - bass
Dan Charette - guitar

1. Everybody Wants To Win
2. Let The Good Times Roll
3. Possum In My Tree
4. Reconsider Baby