sweartotellthetruth

September 3, 2019

Blues and Rhythm Show 255 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 3rd (10:00 to 12:00 noon)

After four out of five weeks absence from the studio we’re back with a new show. 

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We have a program devoted mostly to music from Chicago or influenced by Chicago blues. Main feature is a segment devoted to Chicago Blues from the years 1947 to 1960, with recordings made for small Chicago indie labels but also for Columbia and Chess. We can draw from recent box sets devoted to Chicago blues from Boulevard Varese and Wienerworld. 

Commentators have always wrestled with how to describe post-war blues style as distinguished from rhythm & blues since writers for Billboard and Cashbox developed their own shorthand in the 1940s for capsule reviews of new releases. Reissuers today appear to have settled upon the term “Down Home”. We don’t think it’s an exact fit but it emphasizes the continuity in style and themes between pre- and post-war blues as opposed to R&B. Blues in the large and mid-size cities of the midwest and west coast reflected an experience that was different from what performers and their migrant audience had lived in the south but singers didn’t abandon the older themes and their songs were still partly addressed to a southern audience. Singers in Chicago sang about life in Chicago but were still singing about Mississippi and Arkansas to former and present southerners.

On the show, we also have some later performances of Chicago blues standards on the bill and a few gospel sides from Chicago. Along the way, we also have a couple of sides from the country corner and a brief look at the music the Ace/Kent Record labels of England are selling as New Breed R&B and blues.

On the Show:

Hound Dog Taylor – Howell/Devine – Dirty Red – Memphis Minnie – Homesick James – Chuck Berry – Eddie Boyd  – Earl Wright – Stephen Berry Band – Harpdog Brown – Bobby Radcliff – Cool Papa Jarvis – Mary Love – Staple Singers – Norfleet Brothers – and others

Listen to the program each week at FM 93.3 in Hamilton, live on Cogeco Cable 288 or on CFMU online at the CFMU website. The program will be available to stream or download until October 29th. CFMU podcasts now available for 8 weeks. Just go the website, bring up the playlist and stream or download the show.

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

Detroit Special

cmc

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June 4, 2019

Blues and Rhythm Show 247 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, June 4th (10:00 to 12:00noon)

After four weeks in the Tuesday morning 10:00 slot the program becomes official in the CFMU schedule this week. We’ll be here at 10:00 Tuesday mornings in the coming weeks. We may consider a change in the schedule in the fall but we’re going to try to make this timeslot work for us.

As this will be our first show not as a fill in for Out With It, which previously occupied this place in the schedule, we’re going to use the June 4th program as a survey-showcase of what we will be doing on the show week to week.

Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Soul and Gospel on this week’s show–R&B from 1949 to 1954, Blues from 1934 to 1950, Soul from several famous studios in the south and Chicago and Gospel from the “Golden Era” and later. With the two-hour format in the morning, we will likely present more of a magazine format rather than long features but we won’t know for sure until we work with the two hour

On the Show:

Eskew Reeder – Ricky Allen – Lalo Guerrero – Five Royales – Memphis Minnie – Lonnie Johnson – Walter Davis – Sue Foley – Magic Slim – Johnnie Taylor – Erma Coffee – Brother Joe May – Inez Andrews & the Andrewettes – Sojourners – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton, live on Cogeco Cable 288 or on CFMU online at the CFMU website. The program will be available to stream or download until August 6th. CFMU podcasts now available for 8 weeks. Couldn’t be easier. Just go the website, bring up the playlist and stream or download the show.

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

Check back with this site. In two weeks, a Texas special for Juneteenth.

cmc

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January 26, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 166 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

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

We went through a few ideas for this week’s show in which we intended to devote space to a feature about rhythm & blues. We haven’t before concentrated on R&B from the Columbia label and its OKeh subsidiary in any particular show and we thought it might be time that we did.

Columbia was the label that recorded Bessie Smith, Clara Smith, Peg Leg Howell and Blind Willie Johnson to name a few blues performers in the 1920s. In the 1930s, Columbia and its subsidiaries recorded Leroy Carr, Big Bill, Bo Carter, Robert Johnson and Blind Boy Fuller, and many others. OKeh was originally a competing  label, the label that recorded what have become known as the first African American blues recordings, by Mamie Smith. It could have been another company at another time but it was OKeh’s recording of “Crazy Blues”, by Mamie Smith, recorded in August, 1920 for OKeh that alerted the industry to the idea that African Americans were an untapped potential audience and market. OKeh was also the label that began the practice of sending recording teams into the field to make records in the south where roots performers were to be found. Through the 1920s, the OKeh label recorded blues, jazz and spiritual records until 1926 when it was taken over by Columbia after developing the electrical microphone system for recording. After 1926, many important Columbia acts were assigned to OKeh but the use of the OKeh logo was not continuous. It was not used between 1935 and 1940 or between 1946 and 1951.

Our feature covers the years 1946 to 1954. Following World War 2, the major labels, including Victor, Columbia and Decca, faced intense competition from the new independent labels in the race and hillbilly markets The response of Victor and Columbia was to scale down their activity in the blues field and pare down or not restore their pre-war rosters. Columbia retained a few blues acts and made some vocal group records, as well. At the same time, popular singers like Pearl Bailey, the Charioteers vocal group, the rhythm group, the Big Three Trio,  and jazz bands, like Cab Calloway’s, able to venture into R&B, kept Columbia in the “sepia”  charts, albeit far from the top.  In Al Pavlov’s rankings, Columbia ranked 9th in 1946, 11th, in 1947, and 18th in 1948, based upon Billboard’s charts. In 1949, Columbia decided to compete more directly in the R&B and black gospel markets and began signing R&B and spiritual acts. In 1951, Columbia revived the OKeh brand.

Some of the Columbia-OKeh acts were very successful, Chuck Willis and Big Maybelle,  in particular, but it appears that Columbia-OKeh began to lose direction after 1953, as the landscape changed with the rise of rock and roll  and as classic R&B acts fell out of favour. This was also the era in which the major labels were putting resources into opening up the LP market and R&B was not a big part of that phenomenon for a number of years. (It was Columbia who pioneered the LP.)

Our feature includes a sampling of mid forties blues, R&B on Columbia-OKeh and ends with a sampling of the gospel catalogue. Columbia had some great performers on their roster, good producers and not a few successes in the market. The label also had access to the same rich pool of musicians as Atlantic and Savoy. Whether their distribution system was ideal to sell R&B and gospel in the post-war era is another question and it’s likely that Columbia, like Victor, was often outhustled by the more agile independent labels. It used to be a truism that the big labels couldn’t identify or record talent in the post-war Blues and R&B field but the record suggests otherwise.

On the Show:

Treniers – Buster Bennett – Memphis Minnie – Charioteers – Chris Powell & His Blue Flames – Mr. Google Eyes – Annie Laurie – Titus Turner – Big John & the Buzzards – Deep South Boys – Sister Myrtle Fields – 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 February 25th

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 3rd)

Week by week.

cmc

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