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.


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