February 16, 2016

Blues and Rhythm Show 217 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, February 16th (1:00 to 2:30pm)

As of last Wednesday we had some ideas but nothing like a plan for this week’s program but we received an inquiry about a program we did two years ago and we found that we couldn’t furnish a copy of the show to the individual who contacted us.  So, we decided to rework and revise that original show and present the revised program on the air this week.

 Subject of that program was the Oakland record man, label owner, producer, songwriter, Bob Geddins. Bob Geddins was an African American from Marlin, Texas. He developed an early interest in blues and learned to play piano and some chords on guitar but didn’t pursue a career as a musician. Geddins hopped a freight with a friend, found his way went to L.A. in 1933 and later moved to Oakland where, alongside various other jobs  he operated a radio repair shop and a record store. He saw that there was a lot of African-American musical talent and activity in the Bay Area and the surrounding communities but no record companies or studios. Beginnng in 1945 and for twenty years or so, Bob Geddins produced, engineered recordings by local gozpel, blues and R&B acts. He even for a time pressed records himself on steam-driven equipment he designed.  Many of the records he produced appeared on a series of labels he owned and operated. Still more were leased or sold to larger independent labels, like Modern and Aladdin. In 1970, his enormous contribution to blues recording began to be recognized when Chris Strachwitz issued the album Oakland Blues on his Arhoolie label.  Earlier, when he was establishing the Arhoolie label, Strachwitz had sought out Bob Geddins for advice about the process of making records. 

                                        Product Details                                       

Cava-tone, Downtown, Big Town, Irma, Veltone, Bay-Tone, Art-Tone, Carter and Wax are the names of labels operated by Bob Geddins over the years. Hw would shut down one label and start another when relationships with suppliers, distributors and lother labels became problematic. Other records produced by Bob Geddins were leased or sold to bigger labels. He produced a great many records, a and range of music much larger than what we can present in a 90 minute program. There are some recordeings that were never issued, as well, but it appears that he lost track of them after he wound down the business for the most part in the mid 1960s. 

It’s hard to imagine what blues on record from Caifornia, and the Bay area, in particular, would look like without Bob Geddins. So many artists began their recording career or advanced it because of his efforts in the business. At the same time, operating a record company and staying in business was a constant struggle for Geddins who never managed to adequately capitalize his successive ventures in the record industry and was taken advantage of on more than one occasion. His successes in the record business were undermined by the deals he made and he was forced to make deals to get successful recordings he’d produced pressed and distributed. 

Detailed information isn’t easy to come by. The discographical information is fairly complete although details are missing for many sessions and recording dates and release dates appear to be jumbled because records are missing. Not too much has been written about Geddins. We went back to  Tom Mazzolini’s Living Blues interview with geddins from 1977 and the section about Oakland Blues in the book California Soul, but the best source of information is a fairly detailed article about Bob Geddins from 1997 by Opal Louis Nations. (Look for it in the website under his name holding his articles about secular music..)

As well as reworking our notes for the show, we’ve added some tracks, including a couple more of the hits Bob Geddins produced, and subtracted others 

Product Details

On the Show

King Solomon – Pilgrim Travelers – Lowell Fulson – Bob Geddins’ Cavaliers – Jimmy McCracklin – Roy Hawkins – Jimmy Wilson – Willie B. Huff – Big Mama Thornton – Sugar Pie De Santo – Tiny Powell

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until March 14th.

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 (February 23rd)


CFMU’s Fundraising Week is coming up! Our fundraising program will be February 1st.



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