Nothing but ......

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Nothing But The Blues XXX

With disc 30 we turn to Big Joe Williams. Big Joe, born as John Lee Turner in 1903 in Mississippi, always has been a roamer. He was the eldest of 15 brothers and sister. At what age his father 'disappeared' I don't know, but it is said that his brutal stepfather was the reason he left home at an early age. This is also said to be the reason he could never really settle some where.
The oldest recordings with Big Joe are from 1930. However it would take him until 1935 before he would record under his own name. In that year Lestor Melrose, a famous scout, took him to Chicago to record for the Bluebird label. The second recording session that year delivered them Big Joe's first, a probably greatest, hit: Baby, Please don't go. In the years folowing Big Joe came to work and play with people Sonny Boy Williamson (Nothing But The Blues discs 5 & 6
)and Peetie Wheatstraw. Big Joe was a multi intrumentalist. Appart from his accordeon playing, his skills with the harmonica and kazoo, his most remarkable musical feature was his 9-string (!) guitar.
Big Joe is considered to be one of the greatest representatives of the Delta Blues. This is partly because of his background and his obvious talents, but also partly because of the fact that he is the only one who 'survived'. I already wrote earlier that a lot of musisians gave it up during the 40's to never return to the scene of to resurface somewhere in the mid 60's. For unkown reasons this is particulary through for the representatives of the Delta Blues. But not for Big Joe. Big Joe was around for the complete ride. When Joe died in 1982, in his beloved Mississippi, he was remembered as the man that kept the Blues from the South alive.
The tracks 2,5,10 and 16 date from Big Joe's first recording session under his own name (Chicago, February 1935). Tracks 3,12 and 17 date from October 1935 (Chicago). On these 3 tracks you can also hear Old Tracy on a 1-string fiddle! Tracks 4,13,18, and 19 are recorded in Aurora in 1937 (together with Sonny Boy Williamson). Tracks 1,6,8 and 20 take us back to Chicago (1941). Tracks 5,7,15 and 21 are recorded with Sonny Boy again in December 1941 in Chicago. Track 7 is a re-recording of Baby, Please don't go, called Please don't go. This version, only recorded 6 years later show both the enormous development of Big Joe, as the influence of Sonny Boy. Track 9 is also recorded in Chicago, but in 1945. The other tracks (14 and 22) are also from 1945, Chicago, but with Sonny Boy again.


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