sweartotellthetruth

September 13, 2016

Blues and Rhythm Show 240 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 13th (1:00 to 2:30pm)

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We’ve tried to cover the classic R&B of the forties and early fifties on this radio program as much as, or even more than, other periods in blues history. For us, R&B was the important blues of its era even as other forms of blues persisted and evolved alongside the new amalgam of blues and jazz music. On this week’s feature we will try to trace the direction of the music from the pre-war years, through the wartime period when two particular circumstances–the musicians strike of 1942-1944 and the wartime shortage of shellac needed for pressing 78 discs–combined to limit  the amount of recording that took place;  then, with the resumption of recording activity, through to the end of 1946.  On the program some of the biggest names in R&B, some recognized during the years 1939-1946, others not established as stars of the music until 1947 or later The end of  1946 is an appropriate time to stop. 1947 was something of a breakout year for R&B music and for the independent labels marketing it, even if the end of the year turned out to be another stopping point for the recording industry as James Petrillo’s American Federation of Musicians attempted to impose a second ban on recording, in defence of live music, commencing on January 1st, 1948.

On the Show:

Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers – Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra – Joe Turner – Saunders King – Four Vagabonds – Hot Lips Page – Julia Lee – Wynonie Harris – Ivory Joe Hunter – Jack McVea’s All Stars -Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers  – and others

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Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton, live on Cogeco Cable 288 or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or download until October 11th.

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.

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Next week (September 13th)

TBA

cmc.

February 2, 2016

Blues and Rhythm Show 215 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

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

The history of classic Rhythm & Blues has been written around the narratives of the various record labels that featured the music, especially the great R&B independents.  Of course, the music existed and thrived apart from the recorded product and the studios that produced the records but few places received the kind of attention that the city of Newark did in the book Swing City, so we don’t have a broad picture of classic Rhythm & Blues apart from what took place in the recording studios. Specialist magazines have provided detailed bios of some of the performers but there are full-length biographies of only a few figures–Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington,  Wynonie Harris. 

Product Details                              Early R&B Divas- Volume Two                              Product Details

The stories of the record labels depend a great deal upon the company accounts kept by the label-owners, upon session details , correspondence and, where available the acetates and tapes that have survived.  They depend as well on the availability of the label operators and other principals, producers, arrangers, sales-people. Art Rupe provided information about his Specialty label and Ace Records gleaned information about Modern-RPM-Kent when they leased and later purchased the catalogue and assets of the label. In the case of Aladdin Records, we have the details in the blues and gospel discographies but we looked in different places for further information and came up empty.

Our survey covers the years 1945 to 1951, years in which the Aladdin flourished as an independent specializing in R&B.  We know that the label owners, Eddie, Leo and Ira Mesner, operated a record store, The Philharmonic Music store in Los Angeles. They had money to begin with and the label reported 1.5 million dollars in sales for 1945, according to John Broven. One artist described the Mesners as “gamblers” but we don’t know how to evaluate that observation. The label was originally called Philo but the Philco Company threatened legal action and the name was changed to Aladdin. The label did well into the through to 1950 but there was a slowdown at the beginning of the new decade. How well the label adapted toe changes in the record market after the early fifties is something we we can’t say at this point but Aladdin is supposed to have been the leading R&B label between the years 1948 and 1952. 

Something that was noticeable to us in putting this show together was the large role of Maxwell Davis. Davis was present as a player on many of the records we selected for the program, identified as bandleader on several, and likely the arranger and, effectively, if not in name,  the producer on much of what was produced in Aladdin’s studio.  According to Dave Penny, in 1948 he signed a contract with Aladdin that gave him the title of session musician/arranger/musical/director, roles he’d been filling informally up to then free-lancing at what looked to be every Coast  independent R&Blabel. His influence on R&B recording on the West Coast was huge because he played a similar role with just about every label, including large independents Specialty and Modern-RPM-Kent. A three-CD survey of his work, entitled Wailin’ Daddy is part of series called Architects of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maxwell, Davis, Architect of Rhythm & Blues might be right.                     

 On the Show:

Jay McShann’s Kansas City Stompers – Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Helen Humes – Jo Jo Adams – Effie Smith – Jimmy “Baby Face” Lewis – The Rockets – Joe Turner – Little Miss Cornshucks – Robins – Amos Milburn – a.o.

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 February 28th.

Image result for driftin' blues philo label photos                                 

 The Aladdin Records Story

 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 9th)

Mardi Gras

November 11, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 155 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 11th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

As we began working on this weeks show, it dawned on us that we were broadcasting on Remembrance Day and we decided that we should pursue a theme that links to November 11th, especially as the date is so much in the news this year after the recent murder of the soldier in Quebec and the shooting of a reserve soldier at the Cenotaph in Ottawa. What we decided to do this week is to look at some blues and gospel recordings made before, during, and immediately after World War 2 on the conflicts in Europe and Asia and the American experience. It seems incomprehensible now but it is a fact that the American Federation of Musicians were waging a strike for the better part of the war years in the U.S., a ban on recording with instruments that began August 1st, 1942 and lasted until, at various times around 1944, the different record labels settled with the A.F.M. This meant that no blues records were made in the first two years of the U.S. engagement in World War 2. It also happened that shellac was largely unavailable because of the needs of the war industries, so far fewer records would have been pressed in any case. Still, there were records made with wartime themes and we’re looking at those recordings that we do have from the era of the second world war. Not many of the available records deal with the soldier’s experience of war but they do shed light on attitudes towards the war and armed service.

Anyone who is interested in this subject should check out a book by Guido van Rijn called Roosevelt’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR, which reminded us of some songs we might have missed from our survey. As with many topics in blues song, there are several clusters of song to do with the war in which the themes and lyrics of songs are very similar, even versions of the same song. We’ve tried to avoid a lot of repetition of ideas and lyrics, so far as we were able.

On the Show:

Nat King Cole Trio – Jessie Mae Hemphill – The Florida Kid – Doctor Clayton – Southern Sons – Golden Gate Quartet – Joe Turner – Cousin Joe – Quincette Singers – Chuck Berry

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 10th.

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 18th)

Yet to be determined.

cmc

October 7, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 150 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, October 7th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Conclusion of our three week survey of rhythm & blues before 1950. The records we will be featuring today were issued in 1949. As in the previous two weeks of our survey, the records include hits and misses. For the recording industry, the return to making records meant a return to regular business. As in the case of the previous “Petrillo Ban” of 1942-1944 and the dip in recording activity in the early 1930s, there was a certain amount of turnover in company artist rosters but, in the case of the 1948 strike, which lasted 11 1/2 months, the companies relied first on established artists, whose stockpiled recordings they had been releasing throughout the recording ban. 1949 saw certain trends in the R&B charts–the honking tenor came to the fore and instrumentals were big in the charts; a few gospel recordings, by artists like Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight sold well enough to appear as regional or juke box hits; down home blues by artists like L.C. Williams and Mercy Dee also showed up as national or regional hits. The charts were dominated by records by male artists. Our show will take us part of the way through 1949’s significant artists and recordings. We’ll leave this series for a while and return to it in a few weeks.

On the Show:

Paul Williams Sextet – Andrew Tibbs – Ivory Joe Hunter – Piney Brown – Big Jay McNeely – Ray Charles – Joe Turner – The Five Scamps – Marion Abernathy – Jimmy Preston – Little Miss Cornshucks

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 November 5th.

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 (October 14th)

We’ll take a break from three weeks of concentrating on R&B and mix things up on the show.

cmc

 

September 28, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 148 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

 

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 23rd, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Last week’s program began as what was intended to be a representative survey of rhythm & blues from the beginning to about the mid-fifties. The i.d. “rhythm & blues” has been misapplied over the decades and we’re sure there are people who aren’t sure exactly what we are referring to when we use the term. The idea was for last week’s program to let the playlist describe the scope of classic rhythm & blues. “Rhythm & Blues” is first an industry term, used for marketing purposes, but it aptly captures the phenomenon of blues music blended with elements of jazz. Of course, it was used as a blanket term to describe all the records on the African-American charts, formerly known as “race” or, later, as “sepia”. The best-seller chart was known for a while as the Harlem Hit Parade. Thus the term embraced popular jazz records, down-home blues and popular ballads sold to African Americans, as documented by the industry publication, Billboard Magazine. The term was invented by Jerry Wexler while he was a writer for Billboard and applied retroactively to records issued in the post-World war 2 era and to a few records issued in the war years.

When we assembled the program, we wound up taking a different track from the one we had started with. We wound up concentrating on the early years of R&B, starting with a few records from the war era and proceeding barely into 1947. We’ll resume this survey with next week’s program, taking us further into the R&B era.

On the Show:

Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra – Cecil Gant – Erskine Hawkins – Joe Turner – Gatemouth Moore – Helen Humes – Roy Milton – Wynonie Harris – Julia Lee – Amos Milburn

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 October 21st..

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 (September 30th)

We continue into the late 1940s with our R&B survey.

cmc

April 15, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 127 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, April 15, 2014 (1:00-2:30 pm)

This week’s program is about the years preceding the so-called “Blues Revival”. The term was based upon the idea that the blues had been lost and needed to be rediscovered or revived. The Blues Revival was about artists and styles from the past history of the blues. It was about Son House, Bessie Smith, and Bukka White, rather than contemporary stars like B.B. King, Bobby Bland and Junior Parker. Our first idea was to devote a single program to the phenomenon of the Blues Revival but we decided to expand our coverage to include the prehistory of the revival, starting in the 1930s. This week’s program tracks the changes in mainstream attention to and interest in the blues and we conclude that what the Blues Revival really describes is the new and rapidly expanding folk audience’s discovery of music most of America didn’t know anything about. The revival began with interest in the blues of the twenties and thirties and was partly inspired and given impetus by the 78 collector culture and interest in the artists who made the records twenty to forty years earlier. Interest soon extended to classic Chicago blues, music only a decade past at the time. By the end of the sixties, writers like Paul Oliver had begun the task of writing the history of blues in close detail. 

A byproduct of the Blues Revival is the huge amount of research and study that has been devoted to this corner of American musical and cultural history since the sixties. Today’s program tracks the stages in mainstream America’s interest in and exposure to blues from the late 1930s to the late fifties and early sixties.

On the Show:

Leadbelly – Joe Turner – Sonny Terry – Pink Anderson – Furry Lewis – Scrapper Blackwell – Memphis Slim – Alberta Hunter – Dave Van Ronk – Reverend Robert Wilkins

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 May 12th.

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 (April 22nd)

Don’t yet have a plan but we’ll mix things up on next week’s program. Check the blogsite closer to the date.

cmc

August 12, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 92 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

No feature this week, but we do have a couple of rare boogie tracks and a brief set of blues from the thirties. Later in the program, soul from Quinn Ivy’s Broadway Sound Studios of Sheffield, Alabama and a couple of tacks from Memphis. There’ll be some golden era gospel along the way , as well

On the show: 

Joe Turner –  Robert Johnson  –  Big Bill – Rosetta Howard – Downchild Blues Band – Tony Borders –  Bill Brandon – Timmy Thomas – Dixie Hummingbirds – Montreal Jubilation Choir – Booker T. Jones – 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 September 10th.

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 (August 20th)

Another general program next week. No feature. We have more loose ends to tie. We have decided to postpone our repeat of the John Lomax Southern Journey feature and reschedule for August 27th, last Tuesday of the summer.

Zydeco

For anyone interested in Zydeco music after our special on Cajun and Zydeco, two weeks ago, there is a pretty comprehensive full-length study of the music by Michael Tisserand–The Kingdom of Zydeco (Avon, 1998).

cmc

 

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