November 25, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 107 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

When we were considering how this week’s program might take shape, we had several albums in mind to start from. One of these was a recent Arhoolie CD called Jumps Boogies & Wobbles on Arhoolie by HowellDevine. It turns out that this is the first new “blues” CD Arhoolie has issued in twenty five years. We’d never have guessed that was the case but it appears that it’s true. Arhoolie has repackaged much of its blues catalogue on CD and added to the original LP playlists material from the sessions that didn’t make it to LP, but Chris Strachwitz’ label hasn’t been recording new blues for years. This revelation inspired us to devote most of this program to the Arhoolie label. The occasion of the HowellDevine album seemed like a good time to take a look at one of the great traditional and roots music labels.

Arhoolie Records has been active in its 50-plus years documenting blues, old time and bluegrass music, cajun and zydeco, Mexican and norteno, and, in recent years, indigenous music from various countries in the world. We can’t go too far into the Arhoolie catalogue in a single program and we’ll be looking mostly at the blues Arhoolie recorded and most of that from the label’s first decade. From the documentation of earlier blues styles, Chris Strachwitz moved to urban electric music from Chicago, Texas, and the West Coast. Arhoolie captured a good deal of essential blues music in the early years (as well as reissuing older recordings from 78s and 45s on  Blues Classics and Arhoolie compilations) but Strachwitz may have judged that it was safe to leave the blues field to others and concentrate his label’s resources on other forms of traditional music. In the mean time, Arhoolie’s blues catalogue remains essential listening, and much, if not most, of it is available on CD, while Arhoolie has also held on to and kept available diminishing stocks of many of its LPs.

On the Show:

HowellDevine – Blind James Campbell – Big Joe Williams – Sam Chatmon  – Elizabeth Cotten – Johnny Young – Bee Houston – Sonny Treadway – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until December 24th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (December 3rd)

Undetermined as of today. We might devote the program to our long-threatened survey of Nashville blues, R&B and soul. We’ll update in this space.

Errors and Omissions

We mixed up a couple of CDs when we were preparing last week’s program (BRS 106). We intended to play a jubilee style piece, the Deep River Boys’ “Im Tramping”, from 1945, off disc A of one 4 CD set but the CD in the case was disc A from another 4 CD set and the track we played was the obscure Silvertone Quintet’s “Stand By Me”, from 1958. We couldn’t identify the track properly on the air.


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