sweartotellthetruth

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)

TBA.

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

 

cmc

February 11, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 118 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, February 11, 2014 (1:00-2:30 pm)

This week, we devote the entire 90 minutes to Bob Geddins‘ Oakland-based record labels and the artists Geddins recorded. Since the “blues revival” of the sixties there has been great interest in records that very few people heard when they were first issued, records issued by operators like Bob Geddins that never had wide circulation. Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records befriended Geddins and issued an Oakland Blues LP on Blues Classics that first made us aware of the Oakland blues scene of the forties and fifties over forty years ago.

It’s not that Geddins never produced hits but, over the years he was in the record business, for all the effort he put into his businesses and the outside jobs he held to support his family and sustain his companies, he was rarely in a position to take advantage of a hit record and reap the benefit either personally or for his companies. Artists used his labels as a stepping stone to better-run and -financed companies.

Somehow Bob Geddins outlasted many others in the business and, if he did not achieve the financial comfort he sought, he did leave an important  legacy of recorded blues, gospel and R&B and there can be little doubt that he advanced the careers of a great many artists, even if they found their greatest success with other labels.

We’ll look at recordings made for Bob Geddins over a sixteen year period, 1945-1961.

On the Show:

Rising Star Gospel Singers – Pilgrim Travelers – Lowell Fulson – Bob Geddins’ Cavaliers – Jimmy McCracklin – Roy Hawkins – Jimmy Wilson – Big Mama Thornton – Sugar Pie De Santo – King Solomon

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 March 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 (February 18th)

We’re unsure about next week. Fundraising is coming up. That will be March 4th for this program. That’s also Fat Tuesday, so we will not be able to present a Mardi Gras program this year. We may present our IWD show on March 11th, three days after International Women’s Day. Still working on our railroad special.

cmc

October 21, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 102 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

This week, we have a feature devoted to piano blues of the 1930s, 1929-1941, to be precise. The end of the 1920s saw a recording trend towards piano-guitar duos but, by the end of the thirties, larger combos prevailed and, though several of the leading figures on records were piano players, the piano may seem to have been less important as a lead or solo instrument in blues than at the beginning of the decade.  At the same time, the piano was prominent as part of an ensemble of  accompanying instruments on records by Big Bill, Memphis Minnie, Bumble Bee Slim, Tampa Red and many others in the second half of the 1930s.

Most blues recording in this era was controlled by a handful of individuals employed by or contracted to record companies, who among themselves determined who made blues records and what combination of instruments would be used on recordings. Lester Melrose controlled blues recording at both at Victor-Bluebird and at Columbia’s various subsidiaries. We don’t know to what extent the combos who made records reflected the way music was heard live. We do know that the Harlem Hamfats are said to have been a studio group who performed together rarely, if ever, live. In twenty years, the phenomenon of live music recreating recordings would be well under way. That development was in its infancy in the 1930s but the men controlling the studios for the three big companies were already utilizing certain performers, including piano players,  over and over, as studio musicians. This practice produced a certain sameness and predictability to recording sessions but the system was overturned after the war by the rise of the many independent labels recording blues and R&B–even though some of these companies would adopt a similar approach to the majors.

Our feature will look at some of the piano players who appeared most often as solo artists or leaders as well as at some players who were usually employed as accompanists to other artists.

We’ll also play a couple of numbers by preachers who made records, some West Coast bluesmen who are not household names, and a few minutes of soul out of Memphis.

On the Show:

Elder Solomon Lightfoot Michaux – King Solomon –  Al King – Lee Green – Lucille Bogan – Lil Johnson – Curtis Jones – Barbara and the Browns – Rita Chiarelli

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 19th.

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 29th)

Undetermined as of today. We’ll update.

 cmc

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