October 20, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 201 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, October 20th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

It’s election day in Canuckistan. Not a lot of time on election night to put this blogpost together of the program itself, for that matter.  At the heart of the program this week, a brief and not entirely representative survey of Roosevelt Sykes‘ recording career.  The Southern Piano Ace was a star of the 1929-1942 era of blues and still an important name in blues and R&B in the post-war era, known as “The Honeydripper” after his 1936 recording with that title. He was also part of the Blues Revival (We don’t like the term but we don’t have a better one) of the 1960s and later. No piano player in the blues made more commercial singles.  He also contributed some memorable songs to the blues songbook including “Driving Wheel” and “The Night Time Is the Right Time”.  He worked solo and in duos, trios and quartets in the thirties, then adapted his style to approximate what the R&B jump combos were doing in the post-war era.  On this program we’re touching on a few points in Sykes’ career and we are likely underemphasizing his early recordings from the period when he was most popular but we’ll return to that period in a future program. Sykes could fairly have expected more recognition in the later years and he possibly deserves more recognition even today when almost all of his early music is available.

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Also on this week’s program, a bit of African-American rock and roll, a pair of tracks collected by Art Rosenbaum, first recordings of a couple of songs whose origins interested us and some latter-day soul.

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On the Show: Eunice Davis – Willie Egan – Leon Bridges – Hokum Boys – Scrapper Blackwell – Lee Green – Roosevelt Sykes – Johnny Rawls & Otis Clay – et al.

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 November 16th.

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 27th)



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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.


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