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




January 6, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 163 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, January 6th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Not so long ago we read a book by Amanda Petrusich called Do Not Sell at Any Price, about the culture of 78 collecting and small and weird world of serious collectors. That book shed light on the history of 78 collectors, especially collectors of race and country 78s,  but probably didn’t go far enough back in time, since collecting appears to have begun almost with the appearance of the first commercial records.

There was another story embedded in Petrusich’s narrative and that was the story of reissues of vintage race and country music beginning with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) and that part of the book caused us to reflect again on the nature of vintage music reissues in the 21st century, after Europe’s Document Records had pretty well completed the reissue of blues and gospel records from the pre-World War 2 era and Old Time country has been systematically reissued by different labels. Once everything has been made available compilers or producers of reissues have to find new criteria for selection and presentation.

There are still less thoroughly exposed and researched areas of vintage music to discover and repackage–78s from Africa, South East Asia and Central Europe have been the subject of recent reissue projects, as well as ethnic musics of the U.S, but we still see new compilations of blues, gospel and Old Time country, such as a recent set repackaging field recordings from Parchman Farm Penitentiary, with an accompanying hard bound book. Some collections have been organized thematically, such as People Take Warning from Tompkins Square, presenting songs of disaster or Baby, How Can it Be: Songs of Love Lust and Contempt from Dust to Digital. With everything more or less available, these collections seek to provide music with context. Sometimes they are said to be “curated” rather than simply edited, compiled or produced.

On this week’s program, we take a look at the first Dust to Digital release–the collection of old time spiritual and gospel music, called Goodbye Babylon, issued in 2003. This segment of pre- and post-war traditional music was a perfect slice of Americana for a reissue project of 6 CDs and this set is satisfactory in almost every way, with a generous booklet that contextualizes the music very well without being over-ambitious.

On the Show:

Willie Lofton – Dave Van Ronk – Midnighters – Dinwiddie Colored Quartet – A.A. Gray and Seven Foot Dilly – Elder Curry – Alfred G. Karnes – Maddox Brothers & Rose – Jimmy Hughes – Frazey Ford – 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 February 4th

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 (January 13th)

We have some different material lined up for broadcast. Next week will likely be a magazine-survey kind of show. We haven’t planned in detail.


July 7, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 87 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

It was in January that we presented a full-length feature on the the Victor label’s Bluebird subsidiary, the brand logo that included so much excellent blues, country music and jazz in the 1930s. Bluebird was a budget label, created in 1932 to sell music while the Depression was on and abandoned in 1944. We promised in January to present a feature on the Victor label’s full-price blues catalogue before the Bluebird logo was created and that will be the subject of this week’s program–Victor blues recordings between 1926 and 1931. Victor was a late entry to blues recording and the catalogue was not vast but it had quality. In addition, the venture into “race” recording came about the same time as Victor introduced a new electric recording system so Victor’s blues records were fine technically as well as artistically.  One factor that inhibited the development of an extensive blues catalogue is that few records were made in Victor’s home base of Camden, New Jersey, or in New York or Chicago. Most Victor blues recordings in the twenties were the result of “field trips” to locations like Memphis and Atlanta.

On the show: 

Dinwiddie Colored Quartet (1902) –  Mamie Smith  –  Julius Daniels – Bobby Leecan’s Need-More Band – Ishman Bracey – Jim Jackson – Cannon’s Jug Stompers – Sippie Wallace – Luke Jordan – 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 August 6th.

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 (July 16th)

No plan for next week beyond the promise of some kind of eclectic mix with blues, soul and gospel. We may present our Louisiana Music special  on July 30th and we are considering a repeat of the Alan Lomax Southern Journey special for August 6th.



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