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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Brownie McGhee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brownie McGhee. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Wienerworld Presentation: Down Home Blues - New York, Cincinnati & The North Eastern States - Tough Enough - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Down Home Blues - New York, Cincinnati & The Northeastern States - Tough Enough from Wienerworld Presentations and it's really terrific. This 4 cd sent is accompanied by a 80 page cd sized book that has extensive bios, photographs and really nice record labels making this an incredible package. Opening is Alabama born, Wilbert Thirkield or Big Chief Ellis who taught himself to play piano at his aunt's house. His offerings here include Big Chief's Blues and I Love You Baby with authentic blues roots sounds, solid piano and vocals. North Carolina born, Seth Richard, known as Skoodle Dum Doo and Sheffield contributes strong country blues in Tampa Blues and Gas Ration Blues with great vocals, yelps, harp and guitar. In essential Piedmont style, guitarist Gabriel Brown is smooth and creamy delivering some of the best roots blues that you've never heard. Excellent! Chicago born, Bob Camp and His Buddies really gets the boogie woogie going on Gonna Pitch a Boogie with rolling piano and super lead guitar. Irene Wiley's Boa Hog Blues is classic female blues vocals from the time with the seductive play and strong vocals and in this case backed by strong piano and guitar accompaniment. Digging into the low down blues with Big Chief on Poor Man's Blues and Mr. Radio Announcer, Big Chief with the fancy finger work of Brownie McGhee on guitar. Hot piano boogie, Fred's Boogie Woogie is great track with Louisiana born Fred Dunn on vocal and piano. Rosita Chicken Lockhart has a different kind of polish backed by Andy Johnson and his trio. With real country styling, Allen Bunn (Tarhill Slim) sings Somebody Changed The Lock and You're A Little Too Slow accompanying himself with tight guitar riffs. Very fine. Brownie McGhee, accompanied by Big Chief on piano plays How Can I Love You and My Bulldog Blues followed by Sonny Terry's classic harp sounds and vocals on Telephone Blues and Tell Me Tell Me. This is a really terrific assemblage of artists and music and my descriptions only an abbreviated description of one of 4 discs. Each disc includes additional artists and each disc is as good as the first. This really is an amazing package. Other artists include, John Tinsley and Fred Holland, Gabriel Brown, Hank Kilroy, Alonzo Scales, Sunny Jones, Doug Quattlebaum, Otis Hinton, Jimmy Newsome, Robert Henry, Doctor Gaddy and his Orchestra, Square Walton, Cousin Leroy, Jack Dupree, Eddie Riff, Mojo Watson, Jesse and Buzzy, Little Red Walter, Emright and Mattie, Kine Morgan, Little Boyd and the Blues Bees, Guitar Luther, Guitar Nubbit, Guitar Crusher, and Curley Mays. 

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Morning Blues - Brownie McGhee

Walter Brown ("Brownie") McGhee (November 30, 1915 - February 16, 1996) was a Piedmont blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaborations with the harmonica player Sonny Terry Brownie McGhee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. As a child he had polio, which incapacitated his leg. His brother Granville "Sticks" or "Stick" McGhee was nicknamed for pushing young Brownie around in a cart. His father, George McGhee, was a factory worker known around University Avenue for playing guitar and singing. Brownie's uncle made him a guitar from a tin marshmallow box and a piece of board. McGhee spent much of his youth immersed in music, singing with local harmony group the Golden Voices Gospel Quartet and teaching himself to play guitar. A March of Dimes-funded leg operation enabled McGhee to walk. At age 22, Brownie McGhee became a traveling musician, working in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and befriending Blind Boy Fuller, whose guitar playing influenced him greatly. After Fuller's death in 1941, J. B. Long of Columbia Records had McGhee adopt his mentor's name, branding him "Blind Boy Fuller No. 2." By that time, McGhee was recording for Columbia's subsidiary Okeh Records in Chicago, but his real success came after he moved to New York in 1942, when he teamed up with Sonny Terry, whom he had known since 1939 when Sonny was Blind Boy Fuller's harmonica player. The pairing was an overnight success; as well as recording, they toured together until around 1980. As a duo, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee did most of their work from 1958 until 1980, spending 11 months of each year touring, and recording dozens of albums. Despite their later fame as "pure" folk artists playing for white audiences, in the 1940s Terry and McGhee also attempted to be successful black recording performers, fronting a jump blues combo with honking saxophone and rolling piano, variously calling themselves "Brownie McGhee and his Jook House Rockers" or "Sonny Terry and his Buckshot Five," often with Champion Jack Dupree and Big Chief Ellis. They also appeared in the original Broadway productions of Finian's Rainbow and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. During the blues revival of the 1960s, Terry and McGhee were very popular on the concert and music festival circuits, occasionally adding new material but usually remaining faithful to their roots and their audience. With Sonny Terry, he appeared in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy The Jerk. In 1987, McGhee gave a small but memorable performance as ill-fated blues singer Toots Sweet in the supernatural thriller movie, Angel Heart. He appeared in a 1988 episode of "Family Ties" titled "The Blues Brother" in which he played fictional blues musician Eddie Dupre, as well as a 1989 episode of Matlock entitled "The Blues Singer." Happy Traum, a former guitar student of Brownie's, edited a blues guitar instruction guide and songbook for him. Using a tape recorder, Traum had McGhee instruct and, between lessons, talk about his life and the blues. Guitar Styles of Brownie McGhee was published in New York in 1971. The autobiographical section features Brownie talking about growing up, his musical beginnings, and a history of the early blues period (1930s onward). One of McGhee's final concert appearances was at the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival.[3] McGhee died from stomach cancer in February 1996 in Oakland, California at age 80; he missed his planned return trip to Australia If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Born and Livin' With The Blues - Brownie McGhee


Walter Brown ("Brownie") McGhee (November 30, 1915 - February 16, 1996) was a Piedmont blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaborations with the harmonica player Sonny Terry
Brownie McGhee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. As a child he had polio, which incapacitated his leg. His brother Granville "Sticks" or "Stick" McGhee was nicknamed for pushing young Brownie around in a cart. His father, George McGhee, was a factory worker known around University Avenue for playing guitar and singing. Brownie's uncle made him a guitar from a tin marshmallow box and a piece of board. McGhee spent much of his youth immersed in music, singing with local harmony group the Golden Voices Gospel Quartet and teaching himself to play guitar. A March of Dimes-funded leg operation enabled McGhee to walk.

At age 22, Brownie McGhee became a traveling musician, working in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and befriending Blind Boy Fuller, whose guitar playing influenced him greatly. After Fuller's death in 1941, J. B. Long of Columbia Records had McGhee adopt his mentor's name, branding him "Blind Boy Fuller No. 2." By that time, McGhee was recording for Columbia's subsidiary Okeh Records in Chicago, but his real success came after he moved to New York in 1942, when he teamed up with Sonny Terry, whom he had known since 1939 when Sonny was Blind Boy Fuller's harmonica player. The pairing was an overnight success; as well as recording, they toured together until around 1980. As a duo, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee did most of their work from 1958 until 1980, spending 11 months of each year touring, and recording dozens of albums.

Despite their later fame as "pure" folk artists playing for white audiences, in the 1940s Terry and McGhee also attempted to be successful black recording performers, fronting a jump blues combo with honking saxophone and rolling piano, variously calling themselves "Brownie McGhee and his Jook House Rockers" or "Sonny Terry and his Buckshot Five," often with Champion Jack Dupree and Big Chief Ellis. They also appeared in the original Broadway productions of Finian's Rainbow and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

During the blues revival of the 1960s, Terry and McGhee were very popular on the concert and music festival circuits, occasionally adding new material but usually remaining faithful to their roots and their audience. With Sonny Terry, he appeared in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy The Jerk. In 1987, McGhee gave a small but memorable performance as ill-fated blues singer Toots Sweet in the supernatural thriller movie, Angel Heart. He appeared in a 1988 episode of "Family Ties" titled "The Blues Brother" in which he played fictional blues musician Eddie Dupre, as well as a 1989 episode of "Matlock" entitled "The Blues Singer."

Happy Traum, a former guitar student of Brownie's, edited a blues guitar instruction guide and songbook for him. Using a tape recorder, Traum had McGhee instruct and, between lessons, talk about his life and the blues. Guitar Styles of Brownie McGhee was published in New York in 1971. The autobiographical section features Brownie talking about growing up, his musical beginnings, and a history of the early blues period (1930s onward).

One of McGhee's final concert appearances was at the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival.

McGhee died from stomach cancer in February 1996 in Oakland, California at age 80; he missed his planned return trip to Australia.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Key To The Highway - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

Saunders Terrell, better known as Sonny Terry (24 October 1911 - 11 March 1986) was a blind blues musician. He was widely known for his energetic blues harmonica style, which frequently included vocal whoops and hollers, and imitations of trains and fox hunts.Walter Brown ("Brownie") McGhee (November 30, 1915 - February 16, 1996) was a blues singer and guitarist best known for his collaborations with the harmonica player Sonny Terry.

Terry was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. His father, a farmer, taught him to play basic blues harp as a youth. He sustained injuries to his eyes and lost his sight by the time he was 16, which prevented him from doing farm work himself. In order to earn a living Terry was forced to play music. He began playing in Shelby, North Carolina. After his father died he began playing in the trio of Piedmont blues-style guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. When Fuller died in 1941, he established a long-standing musical relationship with Brownie McGhee, and the pair recorded numerous songs together. The duo became well-known among white audiences, as they joined the growing folk movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This included collaborations with Styve Homnick, Woody Guthrie and Moses Asch, producing Folkways Records (now Smithsonian/Folkways) classic recordings.

In 1938 Terry was invited to play at Carnegie Hall for the first From Spirituals to Swing concert, and later that year he recorded for the Library of Congress. In 1940 Terry recorded his first commercial sides. Some of his most famous works include "Old Jabo" a song about a man bitten by a snake and "Lost John" in this he demonstrates his amazing breath control combined with overblows and bends.

Despite their fame as "pure" folk artists, in the 1940s, Terry and McGhee fronted a jump blues combo with honking saxophone and rolling piano that was variously called Brownie McGhee and his Jook House Rockers or Sonny Terry and his Buckshot Five.

Brownie McGhee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee. As a child he had polio, which incapacitated his leg. His brother Granville "Sticks" or "Stick" McGhee was nicknamed for pushing young Brownie around in a cart. His father, George McGhee, was a factory worker known around University Avenue for playing guitar and singing. Brownie's uncle made him a guitar from a tin marshmallow box and a piece of board. McGhee spent much of his youth immersed in music, singing with local harmony group the Golden Voices Gospel Quartet and teaching himself to play guitar. A March of Dimes-funded leg operation enabled McGhee to walk.

At age 22, Brownie McGhee became a traveling musician, working in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and befriending Blind Boy Fuller, whose guitar playing influenced him greatly. After Fuller's death in 1941, J. B. Long of Columbia Records had McGhee adopt his mentor's name, branding him "Blind Boy Fuller No. 2." By that time, McGhee was recording for Columbia's subsidiary Okeh Records in Chicago, but his real success came after he moved to New York in 1942, when he teamed up with Sonny Terry, whom he had known since 1939 when Sonny was Blind Boy Fuller's harmonica player. The pairing was an overnight success; as well as recording, they toured together until around 1980. As a duo, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee did most of their work from 1958 until 1980, spending 11 months of each year touring, and recording dozens of albums.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Blues Aint' Nothin' But a Woman - Helen Humes


This is a top notch lineup with Helen Humes : vocal,Sonny Terry : harmonica,Brownie 'Kazoo' McGhee : vocal, guitar,Willie Dixon :vocal, bass,T-Bone Walker : vocal, guitar,Memphis Slim : vocal, piano and Jump Jackson : drums.

Helen Humes (June 23, 1913 - September 9, 1981) was an American jazz and blues singer.

Humes was successively a teenaged blues singer, band vocalist with Count Basie, saucy R&B diva and a mature interpreter of the classy popular song.

Humes was born in Louisville, Kentucky, was spotted by the guitarist Sylvester Weaver and made her first recordings in 1927, her true young voice consorting oddly with bizarre material like "Garlic Blues"

She moved to New York City in 1937 and became a recording vocalist with Harry James' big band. Her swing recordings with James included "Jubilee", "I Can Dream Can't I", Jimmy Dorsey's composition "It's The Dreamer In Me", and "Song of the Wanderer".

Humes became one of the vocalists with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1938, replacing Billie Holliday as lead female vocalist. Her vocals with Basie's band included "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "Moonlight Serenade".

During the 1940s and 1950s, Humes became a solo performer and worked with different bands and other vocalists including Nat King Cole. She sounded very sprightly on the jump blues Be-Baba-Leba (Philo, 1945) and Million Dollar Secret (Modern, 1950).

In 1950 Humes recorded Benny Carter's "Rock Me to Sleep". She managed to bridge the gap between big band jazz swing and rhythm and blues. She appeared on the bill at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1960.

She moved to Hawaii and then to Australia in 1964, returning to the US in 1967 to take care of her ailing mother. Humes was out of the music industry for several years but made a full comeback in 1973 at the Newport Jazz Festival,[citation needed] and stayed busy up until her death, performing all over Europe, for instance, including at the prestigious Nice Jazz Festival in the mid-70s. She received the Music Industry of France Award in 1973, and the key to the city of Louisville in 1975.

Helen Humes died of cancer at the age of 68 in Santa Monica, California. She is buried at the Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walk On


If you watched the movie "the Jerk" and wondered who the musicians were when all the family was sitting around singing ... that Was Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Here's a short little song by them that shows their ongoing talents at their instruments in the traditional blues style.
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