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. 

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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 

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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

December 8, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 207 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, December 8th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

This week, we carry on with our survey of blues hits from the R&B charts of the 1950s. We left off our first installment in this series, somewhere in 1954.  In this week’s program we resume our survey of 1954 and move to the year 1955. 1955 was the year that rock and roll emerged as a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, a development that would have a large impact upon blues and R&B. 1955, however, was a year in which there were a significant number of blues hit records within the R&B charts. What we can observe is that down home blues records largely disappeared from the charts  in 1953 and ’54 and what remained, with some notable exceptions, was the electric blues of Chicago, the “urban” blues style of Memphis and Houston, and, from the Coast, the former Memphis Blues Boy,  B.B. King’s recordings. Of course, this is partly a matter of definitions. Was Johnny “Guitar” Watson a figure in blues or R&B? We place him on the R&B side, as we do Earl King, who, for a time, filled engagements for Guitar Slim, whom we have placed in the blues category. We think most people would agree that the artists we will be featuring are “blues” artists. Some may quibble with some of the exclusions.

Product Details                                                            ARTHUR GUNTER - BLUES AFTER HOURS  (BLUE HORIZON LP)                           

Whatever else it meant, rock and roll ushered in a new era of youth-oriented music for a youthful audience. Blues and R&B were adult-oriented and came to be seen as something from the past by the new youth audience. But we think there were larger cultural forces at work at the same time. 1954 was the year of the Brown versus Board of Education decision, the legal case that is said to have paved the way to integration and certainly was a catalyst and inspiration for the Civil Rights movement Blues continued to appeal to a segment of the adult population but to an ever smaller demographic.  The rise of Soul music also pushed blues further to the margin in the sixties. There’s a longer argument to be made but we won’t make it tonight.

J.B. Lenoir

Whatever the future of blues in 1955, blues continued to have a strong appeal in the cities of the Midwest, and in the South and blues records could still occasionally attain the upper reaches of the R&B charts. 

On the Show:

Guitar Slim – Howlin’ Wolf– B.B. King – Lowell Fulson – Arthur Gunter – Billy Boy Arnold – Little Junior Parker – Louis Brooks and the Hi-Toppers – J.B. Lenoir– Little George Smith – Little Walter – and others

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 January 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 (December 15th)

TBA

cmc

 

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October 27, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 202 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, October 27th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

We were looking for an angle for this week’s program when we realized we’d never done a program examining the blues of the 1950s as we had earlier decades. The fifties are often viewed as a golden age of blues, especially in Chicago, but blues were one strain of a broader musical category of rhythm & blues, which in the fifties also encompassed African-American rock and roll, doo wop and more gospel-derived vocal group music as well, as the jazz-influenced R&B that emerged from the 1940s. We thought it would be interesting to separate straight blues–traditional and down-home styles–from the rest of the larger R&B scene. Our idea was to extract the straight blues hits from R&B hits as they appeared in Billboard Magazine rankings and to do this we used Big Al Pavlov’s The R&B Book: A Disc History of Rhythm & Blues, a book that ranks the top Billboard R&B hits each year up to 1959 and includes an additional list of recordings that were regional hits and/or jukebox hits in each year.

Even in the twenties and thirties blues was the music of a minority of the minority but we found that there were fewer blues records among the hits on the R&B charts for the fifties than we might have guessed. A great many blues records were issued, however, so long as there was a stable and reliable customer base. It’s simply that the great majority of records  and most blues artists, including many who are famous today, didn’t sell well enough to appear in the R&B charts. Many of the blues artists who did reach the charts are the biggest names of post-war blues while there were some whose names are much less well-recognized today.

Our survey will spread over two programs. This week we cover the years 1950 to 1954. We’ve tried to maintain a representative balance of blues styles, geographical locations and labels, as far as possible and we’ve organized the material, so far as possible in the sequence it was released. For reasons of space, we had to leave some important figures out but many other names are missing because the artists never reached the charts during the years 1950-1954.

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At some point we may come back and survey the entire field of recorded blues singles from the 1950s but we thought it would be interesting to concentrate on the national and subnational hits for this particular series of programs. After we have covered the fifties, we may at some point go back in time to the forties and look at the blues hits within the R&B charts for the immediate post-war years.

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No women on this week’s program. The only female blues artist to have even a regional market hit between 1950 and 1954 was Memphis Minnie and that particular record wasn’t judged as meriting airplay on this program, nor as good as several non-hits by Minnie from the same period. We don’t quarrel with the popular taste of past a era but we don’t regard it as infallible either.

On the Show:

Lowell Fulson – Smokey Hogg – Stick McGhee & His Buddies – Jimmy Rogers – Memphis Slim – Elmore James – Lightnin’ Hopkins – Little Walter – Willie Mabon – Mercy Dee – Guitar Slim

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 23rd.

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 3rd)

TBA

cmc

July 22, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 139 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

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

This week’s program started as something else but we wound up with a program devoted to blues from the West Coast, including records from Oakland, Los Angeles, and one from Fresno. These recordings from the post-World War 2 era, beginning in 1945 and extending well into the album era, to 1989. The Coast, and L.A. in particular, was the source of much of the R&B that filled jukeboxes and radio airwaves in the forties and fifties but migration from all over the south produced a demand for downhome versions of blues.

On the Show:

HowellDevine – Lowell Fulson – Mercy Dee Walton – Lafayette Thomas – Don “Sugarcane” Harris – Ace Holder – Al King – Big Mama Thornton – Sonny Rhodes – Tony Mathews – King Louis Narcisse

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 17th.

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 29th)

B.B. King special is planned.

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

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