Peter Scott (February 14, 1947 - December 30, 2013) worked in the Systems Department of the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Canada) Libraries from 1976 to 2005. One of the early library weblog writers, Peter is most well known for HyTelnet, an interface for Telnet services he developed from 1990. In his 1991 video, Peter demonstrates a later version of HyTelnet, while an archive lists the resources available through the service. [more inside]
Let yourself be carried along, floating nice and easy down that slow, lazy river of American collective unconscious, when you hear Jack Owens singing Jack Ain't Had No Water.
Legendary Mississippi Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson is finally getting a headstone on his grave, more than a half century after his death. Recommended celebratory listening, then, is this 9-song YouTube playlist, which starts out with "Cool Drink of Water Blues" (a shining example of Johnson's quavering falsetto - "looooooord, lordy looooord") and continuing with pre-war blues classics like his "Big Road Blues", "Big Fat Mama Blues", "Canned Heat Blues" and more.
Guitarist Etta Baker worked in a textile mill, raised nine children, and didn’t take her music to the stage until she was 60 years old. Fortunately for all of us, she continued to play and record right up until her death in 2006 at the age of 93.
Happy birthday John Lee Hooker! Let's celebrate by listening to some of your older tunes! "Gonna take you down by the riverside, gonna tie your hands, gonna tie your feet, got the mad man blues" ... "Now the war is over, and I'm broke and I ain't got a dime" ... "You know I'm a crawling king snake, baby, and I rule my nest" ... "Gonna get up in the mornin', goin' down highway 51" ... "Well I rolled and I tumbled, babe, I cried the whole night long" ... "I feel so good, let me do the boogaloo"
Born in Big Sandy, Texas in 1874, Henry Thomas was one of the oldest black musician who ever recorded for the phonograph companies of the 1920′s and his music represents a rare opportunity to hear what American black folk music must have sounded like in the last decade of the 19th century. [more inside]
Aurora "Rory" Block has staked her claim to be one of America's top acoustic blues women, an interpreter of the great Delta blues singers, a slide guitarist par excellence, and also a talented songwriter on her own account. - AllMusic
Though Bessie Smith is regarded as the queen of the early blues singers, Martha Copeland was singing the blues and its variants (and doing a fine job of it) back in the 20s as well. Head over to Internet Archive to hear Martha sing her versions of two of the tunes that made Bessie so famous: I Ain't Got Nobody and St. Louis Blues, the latter with backing vocal chorus from the Hall Johnson Choir. Check out her Dying Crap Shooter's Blues and Sorrow Valley Blues. And there's plenty of Martha Copeland goodness for your ears (RealPlayer) here and here. [more inside]
Those familiar with the plaintive falsetto of Delta blues great Skip James will surely hear Skip's influence in the much lesser-known Johnny Temple's Evil Devil Blues, recorded in 1935, which features some delightfully unexpected melodic twists. And though Johnny Temple "never achieved stardom", he does have a Wikipedia page. [more inside]
One fine old day in old LA, in the year of nineteen and sixty, one Frederick Usher met Eddie "One String" Jones, heard him lay down some deep blues on his diddley bow, and was so taken with Jones' monochord masterpieces that he ran home, grabbed his tape recorder and recorded Jones in the alley. One other recording session ensued soon thereafter, which was released as an LP in 1964. By that time, however, the mysterious Eddie Jones (if that was even his real name) was long gone, and was never heard from again. [NOTE: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
A little over 30 years ago singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell had her limo driver conduct her to the humble home of bluesman Furry Lewis. Joni was out to cop a little inspiration, which she apparently did, as she subsequently named a song after him. At that point, the name of Furry Lewis was suddenly made known to millions of people who'd never heard of him before. Perhaps a few of those folks even sought out Lewis' recordings. Course, back then there were no CD reissues, no YouTube, no mp3s floating around in the ether. But you can check out Mister Furry Lewis now: no need to have your limousine take you to the ghetto! Oh, but as far as Joni's tune, well, Furry wasn't all that pleased about it.
Somewhere along your musical journeys you might've heard something by Mr. Josh White (1914-1969). He was a bluesman, but one with the kind of smooth and polished delivery (and some charming novelty tunes) that made him a favorite on the wider, national pop/folk scene. He was pretty sexy, too. He didn't shy away from political/racial themes, either. Unsurprisingly, he ran afoul of the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare years, and his name was placed on their Commie blacklist. Some few decades later his image graced a US postage stamp. Thanks for the music, Josh White.
There's a whole lotta Mefiers interested in the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion, and it got me to thinking, let's pay a little visit to the Poet Laureate of the blues, Mr. Willie Dixon. After all, without him, there wouldn't have been a Whole Lotta Love, or a Bring It On Home, or... hell, there might not have been any Zep at all... His music has been interpreted and reinterpreted by an astonishing number of musicians. The man wrote a whole lotta songs. Oh, and, he played a little bit of bass, too. He was a whole lotta great.
Son of a Bluesman The legend was that if you touched Robert Johnson you could feel the talent running through him, like heat, put there by the devil on a dark Delta crossroad in exchange for his soul. It is why Claud Johnson's grandparents would not let him out of the house that day in 1937 when Robert Johnson, his father, strolled into the yard. "They told my daddy they didn't want no part of him. They said he was working for the devil. I stood in the door, and he stood on the ground, and that is as close as I ever got to him. He wandered off, and I never saw him again." Today, in the working-class neighborhood where he raised his children, Claud Johnson, a rich man, lives in a grand house on 47 acres of property. (After Claud won his court battle in 1998 and was recognized as the son of the blues legend, his lawyer handed him a six-figure cashier's check and begged him to quit hauling gravel. Claud kept hauling gravel for five months. "After 29 years, it just gets in your blood"). His victory stands out in the annals of Mississippi probate law. It took 10 years, two trips to the State Supreme Court and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not to mention, most of the first two or three generations of blues musicians died without securing rights to their composition. Explains Thomas Freeland, a Mississippi attorney and blues historian: when the San Francisco-based band the Grateful Dead recorded songs by the North Carolina blues musician Elizabeth Cotten, Freeland said, "the story is, [she] bought a dishwasher with the royalties." (more inside)