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Document Records
Vintage Blues, Boogie-woogie, Gospel, Jazz, Old-Time Country
Category: Music
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November 27, 2013 08:52 AM PST

Jeff Harris, presenter of the weekly radio programme Big Road Blues on WGMC Jazz 90.1., in conjunction with Document Records, presents a “Blues, Blues, Christmas”.

Document Records’ ‘Blues, Blues Christmas’ series of double albums presents over 120 tracks of vintage blues, gospel, jazz, do-wop, boogie, old-time country and rockabilly recordings spanning the 1920's through the 1960's, many songs which have not been anthologized before providing hours and hours of music for that next Christmas party, enough music until the eggnog runs out!

In this Document Podcast, using selections from all three of the current volumes of the series, Jeff focuses in on some of the recordings which, throughout four decades, were performed by and listened to by black Americans during the Yuletide period. It is an interesting thought that many of these records, some of which have since become rare, prized collector’s items, came into homes across the country, as Christmas presents courtesy of Santa Claus.

Hooray for Christmas!
Christmas comes but once a year, and to me it brings good cheer,
And to everyone, who likes wine and beer
Happy New Year is after that, happy I'll be that is a fact
That is why I like to hear, folks I say that Christmas is here

Those lines were Sung by Bessie Smith when she recorded “At The Christmas Ball” in November 1925 for Columbia which not only kicked off a tradition of Christmas blues songs, hundreds of which have been recorded through the years, but looked back to an older tradition. Perhaps more than any other music, the blues is deeply enmeshed in a particular culture, entangled in the era of segregation, the era of Jim Crow and the era of slavery. In his classic book ‘Screening The Blues’ Paul Oliver wrote “for the Negro, Christmas has a deep-rooted significance beyond that of the religious meaning of the celebration itself; a more worldly one of which has none the less firmly established itself in his folkways. Since far back in slavery Christmas has signified a rest, a break in the year's routine which no other festival affords, proving an opportunity for a man to be with his family and, for a brief period at any rate, from the rigorous monotony of rural labor.” The annual Christmas Ball was something looked forward to all year and as Oliver astutely notes “there may have been a change of venue--a Harlem cellar dive for the 'quarters' and a jazz band instead of the fiddles, but there was probably little difference in kind and certainly in spirit at the Christmas Ball described by Bessie Smith...”

November 27, 2013 04:18 AM PST

In 1995 I asked the editor of the Fanzine publication “The Lead Belly Letter”, Sean Kileen, if he had considered interviewing Lonnie Dongan. Sean replied that indeed he had but after several attempts had failed to track the musician down.
Hailed by many as the being the man that put “Skiffle” music on the international map and kick starting rock and roll in at least the U.K., Lonnie Donegan made no secret of the influences of black American folk and blues music upon his own musical style and repertoire. His major influences were the recordings of the Texas songster Huddie Leadbetter, known to his fans on both sides of the Atlantic as “Lead Belly”.
Not long after Lead Belly’s death in 1949, following a short, pioneering, concert tour of France, Lead Belly’s name was brought to the attention of thousands of record buyers and listeners to the radio with the release of “Goodnight Irene”. The record was performed by the American folk group The Weavers and was released in 1950. It stayed in the Billboard chart for twenty-five weeks, peaking at No. 1. Lead Belly’s lasting legacy was assured and made all the more so shortly after by the recordings of Lonnie Donegan who not only performed Lead Belly’s songs extensively “live” in folk, blues and jazz clubs up and down the U.K. and beyond but also educated his audiences as to how he had come across these songs, making them aware of the significance of Lead Belly’s in the history of American folk song.
Having put my question to Sean in New York, I felt that I had to provide a solution for him, saying that I would try and find out where Donegan was and see if I could arrange an interview with him for “The Lead Belly Letter”. Eventually I tracked Donegan down to his home in Malaga in Southern Spain. What followed was at times a precarious interview, revealing more about him as a person and as a musician than I had expected. At the same time it revealed more about me as a novice interviewer than I cared to admit. Nevertheless, on a poor telephone line from Southern Scotland to Southern Spain an interview was finally conducted and it could be said that “The Lead Belly Letter” finally got its man.
As stated in the introduction to this interview, this recording was never made with intention of being broadcast in any way. Instead, it would be transcribed and reproduced in print only. Yet, digging out the eighteen year old tape, made before Skype and the general proliferation of home computers, blowing the dust off it and listening to it again, reveals an interesting, aural document, telling how what had once been obscure black American music began to take a firm hold in the development of what has since become known as Rock and Roll.
Gary Atkinson 2013.

November 20, 2013 10:21 AM PST

Originally made in 2006, Document Records is pleased to make this Podcast available to visitors of PodOmatic.

“James Booker: Manchester '77"
An interview with musician Dave Lunt, organiser of the only North of England concert performed by the legendary New Orleans pianist and singer James Booker.

In 2006 David Lunt was interviewed by Document Records during which he described how he had become a fan of James Booker and then, later, embraced the opportunity to bring this remarkable musician to Manchester in the north west of England to perform his music for an enthralled and enthusiastic audience.

During 1977, The Manchester Evening news music journalist Chris Lee put out the call (possibly on behalf of a London music agent) to anyone who might want to put on a gig by the New Orleans R & B pianist James Booker. Though it must be said that the purveyors of punk did have a great admiration for black blues artists at the time and were indebted, in particular, to Bo Didley for his infectious rhythms, the idea of putting on such an artist as Booker was not at the top of the list for the city’s promoters.

It was down to Dave Lunt, one of the city’s main blues and jazz musicians, who, with his band mate, guitarist and lead singer Norman Beaker rose to the call.

After being turned down by several venues, the gig was finally arranged just in time to have Booker make the two hundred mile trip up from London and be put on at the local entertainment venue Bell Vue. In among the fun rides, parks and a zoo was cited The Lake Hotel. The city was leafleted with flyers announcing the gig, which would have the British bluesman Victor Brox, and his band as support.

As could be expected, the organiser’s spirits went up and down like the venues roller coaster rides as excitement was followed by anxiety and trepidation, followed by determination and finally a “what the Hell, we want to see him” attitude.

Dave Lunt remembers arriving at the Hotel on the night having persuaded himself that they would be lucky if only a few punters had turned out on that October evening. In fact the place was packed. Booker was not only known to blues and jazz aficionados but he had appeared on albums by Billie Preston Aretha Franklin, Maria Maldaur, Dr John, King Kurtis and on solo albums by Ringo Starr and John Lennon. His single “Gonzo” was a favourite of the Northern Soul fans. All of this, coupled with a fine preview in the previous night’s Manchester Evening News, set the stage for a large, enthusiastic and appreciative crowd.

As can be heard on the CD “James Booker: Manchester ‘77” (Document DOCD-32-20-13) Booker brought to Manchester all of what was great in New Orleans jazz and R & B. The styles of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Champion Jack Dupree, Professor Longhair and of course the brilliance of James Carroll Booker.

November 19, 2013 09:12 AM PST

With the release of Document Records’ CD “Mr Edison’s Christmas” (Document DOCD-1112) Larry Tedder of The American Sound Archives, in conjunction with Document Records, presents “Holiday Greetings from the Bunch at Orange!” In this captivating documentary Larry discusses the varied and fascinating recordings made by the Edison record company during the early years of what has since become the lucrative, seasonal, Christmas record market.

Of all things Christmas, nothing is more traditional than the singing of carols and songs. Songs that capture in lyrics and in music the many traditions that we have at this joyous Season: the birth of the Christ child, the Christmas tree, the opening of gifts, sleigh rides, and holiday get-togethers with family and friends.

On October 30, 1889 banjoist Will Lyle made history by recording "Jingle Bells" – the very first Christmas record. Although no known copies of this recording survive, one of the earliest vocal examples of "Jingle Bells" does survive on an Edison brown wax cylinder entitled, "The Sleigh Ride Party". It was made a decade after Lyle’s recording, and remained in the Edison Catalog for a number of years. The songs and monologues featured in Document’s “Mr. Edison’s Christmas” are taken from the original Edison test pressings, and capture the essence of the Christmas spirit as it was in the opening two decades of the 20th Century.

This Podcast’s playlist:

Edison Male Quartet The Sleighride Party Edison Gold Moulded 2218 December 1900
The Carol Singers Joy to the World Diamond Disc 50380-R October 3, 1916
The Carol Singers The First Noel Diamond Disc 50380-L August 22, 1916
Harry E. Humphrey Santa Claus Hides in
Your Phonograph Diamond Disc 50999-R October 4, 1921
The Yuletide Ensemble Mr. Edison’s Christmas
Selections NR (6905-A) & (6906-A) August 7, 1919
Murray Kellner’s Dinner
Ensemble March of the Toys Diamond Disc 52092-L August 1, 1927
Edison Male Quartet Silent Night Edison Gold Moulded 9168 December 1905
Bransby Williams The Awakening of
Scrooge Edison Blue Amberol 23139 August 9, 1913
Oratorio Chorus Hallelujah Chorus from
“Messiah” Diamond Disc 80292-R February 3, 1916
The Carol Singers It Came Upon a
Midnight Clear Diamond Disc 50303-R October 16, 1915
Edison Mixed Chorus Hark The Herald
Angels Sing Edison Blue Amberol 2482 September 26, 1914
London Regimental
Band Selections from
“The Nutcracker” Unknown Brown Wax Cylinder Circa 1892
Harry E. Humphrey The Night Before
Christmas Edison Blue Amberol 2464 July 12, 1914

November 12, 2013 12:19 PM PST

Jeff Harris, presenter of the weekly radio programme Big Road Blues on WGMC Jazz 90.1., in conjunction with Document Records, presents the first of a two part documentary on the early recordings of Texas Blues piano. The geographical map of the blues is often flagged by styles and instruments synonymous with particular regions. The guitar and in particular bottleneck-slide guitar with heavy bass rhythms, is often connected to the Mississippi region. Twelve-string guitars will bring to mind the blues styles of Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1920s. Ragtime and fluid intricate guitar playing can be connected to the East Coast states of North, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida.
Texas has provided many exceptional blues artists; guitarists, string bands and notably, piano players.

In this second part of the documentary Jeff Harris continues his fascinating journey through the development of blues piano in Texas, focusing on its development from the 1920s through to the early 1960s. Along the way, to illustrate his presentation, he uses some of the finest examples of blues recordings made during that time.

Playlist

Black Boy Shine – ‘Brown House Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5278 ‘Black Boy Shine & Black Ivory King 1936-1937’

Andy Boy – ‘Church Street Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5394 ‘Joe Pullum Vol. 2 (1935-1951) inc. Andy Boy’

Rob Cooper – ‘West Dallas Drag’
Document Records – DOCD-5393 ‘Joe Pullum Vol.1 (1934-1935) inc. Andy Boy’

Big Boy Knox – ‘Blue Man Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5232 ‘San Antonio Blues 1937’

Son Becky – ‘Midnight Trouble Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5232 ‘San Antonio Blues 1937’

Pinetop Burks – ‘Jack of All Trades Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-1110 ‘Country Music Pioneers on Edison Records Volume Two’

Thunder Smith – ‘Santa Fe Blues’

Leroy Ervin – ‘Rock Island Blues’

Lee Hunter – ‘Back To Santa Fe’

Sonny Boy Davis – ‘I Don't Live Here No More’

Dr. Hepcat – ‘Hattie Green’

Alex Moore – ‘Neglected Woman'’
Document Records – DOCD-5178 ‘Whistlin' Alex Moore (1929-1951)’

Buster Pickens - Santa Fe Train
Document Records – 5698 ‘Edwin "Buster" Pickens - The 1959 to 1961 Sessions’

Robert Shaw – ‘The Ma Grinder’

Grey Ghost – ‘Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out’

November 12, 2013 01:22 AM PST

Jeff Harris, presenter of the weekly radio programme Big Road Blues on WGMC Jazz 90.1., in conjunction with Document Records, presents the first of a two part documentary on the early recordings of Texas Blues piano. The geographical map of the blues is often flagged by styles and instruments synonymous with particular regions. The guitar and in particular bottleneck-slide guitar with heavy bass rhythms, is often connected to the Mississippi region. Twelve-string guitars will bring to mind the blues styles of Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1920s. Ragtime and fluid intricate guitar playing can be connected to the East Coast states of North, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida.
Texas has provided many exceptional blues artists; guitarists, string bands and notably, piano players.

In this documentary Jeff Harris takes the listener on a fascinating journey through the development of blues piano in Texas. To illustrate his presentation he uses some of the finest examples of blues recordings made during the 1920s and 30s.

PLAYLIST
Hersal Thomas – ‘Hersal Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5224 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 1 (1923-1935)’

Hociel Thomas & Hersal Thomas – ‘Worried Down With The Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5224 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 1 (1923-1935)’

George Thomas – ‘Fast Stuff Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5224 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 1 (1923-1935)’

Moanin' Bernice Edwards – ‘Long Tall Mama’
Document Records – DOCD-5224 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 1 (1923-1935)’

Bert Mays – ‘You Can't Come In’
Document Records – DOCD-5662 ‘Jazz & Blues Piano Vol. 2 (1924-1947)’

Fred Adams & Billikin Johnson w/ Willie Tyson p. – ‘Frisco Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5226 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 2 1927 – 1938’

Texas Bill Day & Bilikin Johnson – ‘Elm Street Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5226 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 2 1927 – 1938’

Hattie Hudson w/ Willie Tyson p. - ‘Doggone My Good Luck Soul’
Document Records – DOCD-5163 ‘Texas Girls (1926-1929)’

Jack Ranger – ‘Thieving Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5226 ‘Texas Piano Vol. 2 1927 – 1938’

Bessie Tucker w/ K.D Johnson- ‘The Katy’
Document Records – DOCD-5070 ‘Bessie Tucker (1928-1929)’

Ida May Mack w/ K.D Johnson – ‘Elm Street Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5163 ‘Texas Girls (1926-1929)’

Whistlin Alex Moore - ‘Heart Wrecked Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5178 ‘Whistlin' Alex Moore (1929-1951)’

Whistlin Alex Moore - ‘Blue Bloomer Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5178 ‘Whistlin' Alex Moore (1929-1951)’

Black Ivory King – ‘The Flying Crow’
Document Records – DOCD-5278 ‘Black Boy Shine & Black Ivory King 1936-1937’

Duskey Dailey - ‘The Flying Crow’
Document Records – DOCD-5391 ‘Rare 1930s Blues Vol. 2 (1936-1940)’

Frank Tannehill –‘ Rolling Stone Blues’
Document Records – DOCD-5643 ‘Rare Country Blues Vol. 4 (1929-c.1953)’

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