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Violin, Sing the Blues for Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949

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Violin, Sing the Blues for Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949

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Violin Blues
K.C. Railroad Blues
Beaver Slide Rag
Alma Waltz
Window Pane Blues
Travelin’ Railroad Man
Pig Meat Blues
Right Now Blues
East Jackson Blues
Memphis Blues
Vine Street Drag
Broken Bed Blues
Lonesome Blues
Memphis Shakedown
Adam and Eve
Tell Me Man Blues
Blue Coat Blues
Salty Dog
Baby, Please Don’t Go
Stop & Listen Blues No. 2
Stealin’ Blues
The Moore Girl
Highway No. 61 Blues
Ted’s Stomp

Performer Notes:

  • Includes liner notes by Marshall Wyatt.
  • Digitally remastered by Charlie Pilzer (AirShow, Inc.).
  • Personnel: Andrew Baxter (vocals, guitar, violin); Frank Stokes, Henry “Rubberlegs” Williams, Jack Kelly , Tommie Bradley, Walter Vinson (vocals, guitar); Henry “Son” Sims, Jim Fields, Lonnie Johnson, Bo Chatmon (vocals, violin); Joe Williams (vocals); Paul Johnson , Dan Sane, Nap Hayes, Buford Threlkeld, Roland Martin, Peg Leg Howell, Ted Bogan, Big Joe Williams, Charlie Burse, Charley Patton (guitar); Charlie McCoy , Lee Warren (banjo, mandolin); Willie Black (banjo); Matthew Prater, Eddie Dimmitt (mandolin); Jim Booker, Eddie Anthony, James Cole, Charles Jones, Howard Armstrong, Charlie Pierce, Jess Ferguson, Lonnie Chatmon, Will Batts (violin); Robert Steele (kazoo); Cow Cow Davenport (piano); Chasey Collins (washboard); Robert Burse (percussion).
  • Liner Note Author: Marshall Wyatt.
  • As Marshall Wyatt’s thorough liner notes explain in the accompanying 32-page booklet, the violin had a more prominent role in early blues than has often been supposed. Violins were far more apt to be played than guitars in the 19th century, and even when the blues began to be recorded in the 1920s, violins were still often used, although they weren’t as apt to be featured on disc as the guitar and other instruments were. This 24-track compilation (with only one cut dating from after 1935) includes some fairly recognizable blues names like Peg Leg Howell, Howard Armstrong, Cow Cow Davenport, the Mississippi Sheiks, the Memphis Jug Band, Charley Patton (accompanying Henry Sims), and Big Joe Williams (a 1935 version of his signature tune “Baby Please Don’t Go”), although many of the performers are far more obscure. The material tends toward the more good-timey and folky side of the rural blues tradition; the violins can get into a hoedown kick, as on Peg Leg Howell’s “Beaver Slide Rag,” or get into a rapid ragtime mode, as on Louie Bluie & Ted Bogan’s “Ted’s Stomp.” Because of the chronological span and wide roster of artists represented, it’s a good overview of violin-informed early blues, a subgenre that hasn’t gotten a whole of attention. And check out Frank Stokes’ “Right Now Blues” to get your head spun around when you hear a lyric that was repeated in Chuck Berry’s classic “Reelin’ and Rockin’.” ~ Richie Unterberger

Professional Reviews: CMJ (11/15/99, p.23) – “…stands as a reminder of how powerful music was when it was made only with the simplest of tools.”

JazzTimes (8/00, p.127) – “…The beautiful packaging, excellent sound, and largely unfamiliar program make it a must for the jug band [and] blues crowd. But anyone interested in hearing the forbears of jazz violin, or Lonnie Johnson on his 1st instrument, or just great good-time music, should seek this one out.”

Dirty Linen (12/99-1/00, pp.88-9) – “…another masterpiece by rescuing the 2 dozen recordings…from dusty shelves, remastering them [and] adding a thorough and informative booklet essay….it is impossible to characterize this as simply ‘fiddle’ music…”

Living Blues (1-2/00, pp.78-9) – “…this CD marvelously reminds us …of the role that the violin played in ’20s and ’30s blues….A first-class production is every respect…VIOLIN deserves some awards.”

Producer: Marshall Wyatt

Format: CD (1 Disc); Mono

Country: USA

Studio/Live: Studio

Release Date: 1 August, 1999

Label: Old Hat Ent.

Dimensions: 12.65 × 14.48 × 1.07 centimeters (0.11 kg)

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