November 4, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 154 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 4th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Last December we presented a special on Nashville Rhythm & Blues, Gospel and Soul recordings. This week we take a close look at Nashville R&B between 1946 and 1955. Nashville was like a lot of U.S. cities in that it produced and supported a local rhythm & blues scene. It was different because it also developed a local independent  record industry and this several years before the city became Music City, U.S.A. and the establishment of recording studios by major labels. The local blues and R&B scene drew from the surrounding region, both from Tennessee and Kentucky, especially, but also, like Memphis, it attracted some musicians who came from Mississippi, and some came from other southern states. Although there was little documentation, Nashville was supposed to be a strong city for African-American jazz in the thirties and forties, so it’s not difficult to imagine the development of an an indigenous  R&B musical community. What we know suggests that the live R&B in the city was richer and more diverse than what we are able to hear on record because so many recordings were made using the same session musicians over and over.  This would tend to be true even in a major recording center like New York but more pronounced in a smaller place like Nashville where the same small group  of musicians could appear on most sessions. The local labels, especially the Bullet label, did not restrict their recording to the local scene. Bullet recorded such acts as Wynonie Harris and the Big Three Trio and it bought masters from places like Detroit or Dallas. Our feature special will stick mostly to artists who were based in Nashville, whether they were natives of the city or resident there for a year or two.

Few of the artists in our special are well-known names but you wonder if some of them might have been had they been recording somewhere other than Nashville. The fact that gifted performers made only one, two or three singles may have something to do with the size and distribution reach of the labels that recorded them. All things considered, Nashville produced some great rhythm & blues. As with any edition of this program, this one involved research and it was a learning experience for us. Much, if not most, of the information we gleaned came from Martin Hawkins whose research into Nashville R&B was supposed to be published in a book. It was but the book is not available without the Bear Family set Nashville Jumps: A Shot In the Dark. It’s a hard-bound book that serves as the liner notes to accompany the multi-CD set.

On the Show:

Cecil Gant – Sherman Williams – Tom “Shy Guy” Douglas – Don Q. Pullen – Tucker Coles – Billie McAllister – Christine Kittrell – Gay Crosse – Kid King – Louis Brooks – Good Rockin’ Sam

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 3rd.

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 (November 11th)

No special theme next week but a lot of good blues, R&B, gospel and soul.


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