October 13, 2019

Blues and Rhythm Show 260 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, October 8th (10:00 to 12:00 noon)

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Feature on this week’s program is a long one covering the Victor label’s blues and country catalogues in the early years. Victor did not enter the roots field when many other labels did but hire the leading figure in race and hillbilly music, Ralph Peer, when he left the OKeh label. Beginning in 1926, Victor quickly became one of the big three labels in the roots field. Early success included the famous Bristol Sessions of 1927 where the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers made their recording debuts on Victor. Aside from any commercial success, Peer and Victor arranged some historically famous sessions, including the Tommy Johnson-Ishman Bracey 1928 session in Memphis. As with everyone in the industry, the Depression and its effect on record sales put the program Peer ran into question but by 1934 Victor had established its budget Bluebird line and continued to record and sell blues and country records.

Our feature covers the years 1927 to 1935. To put together the feature we drew from three generations of RCA Victor reissues–the Vintage series of LPs issued between 1964 and 1972, the Bluebird CDs of the early 1990s and the excellent series of CDs When the Sun Goes Down produced by Colin Escott from the early 2000s. Obviously, what’s important is the quality of music contained by these albums and they were very good collections. It’s unlikely that we will see similar reissue programs today beyond special releases like the American Epic set but much of what we played this week is still obtainable.

Also on the program, a few recordings reflecting the growing awareness of Chicago blues from the Blues Revival era–from Storyville, Prestige and Vanguard–and a bit of Hi label Soul.

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On the Show:

Otis Spann –  Billy Boy Arnold – James Cotton – Elmore James – Big Sugar – Dinwiddie Colored Quartet – Jim & Andrew Baxter – Jim Jackson – Cannon’s Jug Stompers – Allen Brothers – Lone Star Cowboys – Daddy Stovepipe & Mississippi Sarah – Ann Peebles Johnson – Al Green – and others

Listen to the program each week at FM 93.3 in Hamilton, live on Cogeco Cable 288 or on CFMU online at the CFMU website. The program will be available to stream or download until December 2nd. CFMU podcasts now available for 8 weeks. Just go the website, bring up the playlist and stream or download the show.

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 9, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 159 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, December 9th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Part of the show will be devoted to a feature on Classic-Vaudeville Blues of the 1920s. The artists we chosen are not the performers whose names are usually cited when we talk about this music. A quick survey suggested there may have been 200 or more singers who performed this style of blues. Some were basically vaudeville performers who had little feel for the blues. Some, and they were probably a minority among those who made records, were well-experienced in singing blues. On both sides, the singers had performed on the vaudeville stage in theatres or in travelling shows, where the programs took place under a tent. By the end of the twenties, a different kind of singer was emerging, women who had sung in barrelhouses and saloons. Meanwhile, the Theatre Owners’ Booking Association (T.O.B.A.) circuit that was the livelihood of the theatre singers was a victim of the economic decline that gripped the American economy and the record companies, responding to the decline in consumer purchasing power, and to some extent to the competition from radio, wound down their activity, after reaching an early peak in 1925 and 1926. The singers in our feature were not major recording artists. Arguably, some of them should have been but recorded performance was not as important in the twenties for establishing one’s name or promoting one’s appearances as it would be later in the century. It’s possible that some artists were simply not interested enough in making records. Apart from that, bad timing, not being close to the major recording centers, life circumstance, or simply being on the wrong label meant that these performers were not recorded more than they were. Whatever the reason for their obscurity as recording artists, we think we have found some excellent blues performances.

Also on the show, the very recently deceased Curley Bridges and soul recordings from the Hi label, several featuring Mabon “Teenie” Hodges.

On the Show:

Lester Williams – Peetie Wheatstraw – Frank Motley with Curley Bridges – Frazey Ford – Dorothy Dodd – Edmonia Henderson – Hattie McDaniel – Bertha Idaho – Ora Alexander – Ann Peebles – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until January 7th.

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 16th)

On the last show before our Christmas special we’ll mix things up, maybe focus on a few significant CD releases from the past year. We’re not certain at this point.


April 15, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 75 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, April 16, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

We mentioned a feature on Hi Records for this week and, as we prepared the program, that feature became the entire show.  We’re going to look at the Hi label over the company’s twenty-two year history from its early days representing Memphis rockabilly and R&B instrumentals to its emergence as an important source of southern soul music and its tenure as one of the last bastions of the style. Under Willie Mitchell’s direction, Hi came to develop a unique variant of southern soul, rooted in Memphis rhythm & blues. Contrary to the suggestion you’ll encounter in some commentaries, Hi managed to struggle through the disco era and lasted almost to the arrival of rap.

We’ll survey the better part of Hi’s twenty-two year history. We can’t cover every significant record, trend or artist in 90 minutes but we can fill in any significant gaps with future segments

On the show: 

Willie Mitchell – Bill Black Combo – Big Lucky Carter –  O.V. Wright – Ann Peebles – Al Green – Syl Johnson – Erma Coffee – and others

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 May 13th.

We are advised that the station is working towards the introduction of a CFMU app, which make it possible to listen to this and other CFMU programs on a smartphone.

“Clog Dance”

A note about the track that opened last week’s program “Clog Dance” or “Stomping Blues” by Champion Jack Dupree, from 1944. We mentioned that the Dupree’s piano playing seemed to approximate the style on records by Arizona Dranes, but, like us, you may have wondered about the percussion, especially in light of the song’s two titles. It could have been someone, even Dupree himself, stomping on a board, or, what sounds more likely, someone beating on a box or some other object. We don’t know but we meant to say something about it last week. 



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