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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 Houston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Houston. Show all posts

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'll Tell It Wherever I Go - Willmur Lttle Axe

Willmer "Little Ax" M. Broadnax, (December 28, 1916[1] – 1994) also known as "Little Axe," "Wilbur," "Willie," and "Wilmer," was an African-American hard gospel quartet singer. A tiny man with glasses and a high, powerful tenor voice, he worked and recorded with many of the most famous and influential groups of his day. Broadnax was born in Houston in 1916. After moving to Southern California in the mid-40s, he and his brother, William, joined the Southern Gospel Singers, a group which performed primarily on weekends. The Broadnax brothers soon formed their own quartet, the Golden Echoes. William eventually left for Atlanta, where he joined the Five Trumpets, but Willmer stayed on as lead singer. In 1949 the group, augmented by future Soul Stirrer Paul Foster, recorded a single of "When the Saints Go Marching In" for Specialty Records. Label chief Art Rupe decided to drop them before they could record a follow-up, and shortly thereafter the Golden Echoes disbanded.[1] In 1950, Broadnax joined the Spirit of Memphis Quartet. Along with Broadnax, the group featured two other leads -- Jethro "Jet" Bledsoe, a bluesy crooner, and Silas Steele, an overpowering baritone. This was one of the most impressive line-ups in quartet history. The Spirit of Memphis Quartet recorded for King Records, and Broadnax appeared on their releases at least until 1952. Shortly after that, however, he moved on, working with the Fairfield Four, and, in the beginning of the 60s, as one of the replacements for Archie Brownlee in the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Until 1965 he headed a quartet called "Little Axe and the Golden Echoes," which released some singles on Peacock Records. By then, quartet singing was fading as a commercial phenomenon, and Broadnax retired from touring, though he did continue to record occasionally with the Blind Boys into the 70s and 80s. Upon his death in 1994, it was discovered that Broadnax was female assigned at birth. 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!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Bukka White

Booker T. Washington White (November 12, 1909 – February 26, 1977), better known as Bukka White, was an American Delta blues guitarist and singer. "Bukka" was not a nickname, but a phonetic misspelling of White's given name Booker, by his second (1937) record label (Vocalion). Born between Aberdeen and Houston, Mississippi, White was a first cousin of B.B. King's mother (White's mother and King's grandmother were sisters)., White himself is remembered as a player of National steel guitars. He also played, but was less adept at, the piano. White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He claims to have met Charlie Patton early on, although some doubt has been cast upon this; Regardless, Patton was a large influence on White. White typically played slide guitar, in an open tuning. He was one of the few, along with Skip James, to use a crossnote tuning in E minor, which he may have learned, as James did, from Henry Stuckey. He first recorded for the Victor Records label in 1930. His recordings for Victor, like those of many other bluesmen, fluctuated between country blues and gospel numbers. Victor published his photograph in 1930. His gospel songs were done in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, with a female singer accentuating the last phrase of each line. Nine years later, while serving time for assault, he recorded for folklorist John Lomax. The few songs he recorded around this time became his most well-known: "Shake 'Em on Down," and "Po' Boy." Bob Dylan covered his song "Fixin' to Die Blues", which aided a "rediscovery" of White in 1963 by guitarist John Fahey and ED Denson, which propelled him onto the folk revival scene of the 1960s. White had recorded the song simply because his other songs had not particularly impressed the Victor record producer. It was a studio composition of which White had thought little until it re-emerged thirty years later. White was at one time managed by experienced blues manager Arne Brogger. Fahey and Denson found White easily enough: Fahey wrote a letter to "Bukka White (Old Blues Singer), c/o General Delivery, Aberdeen, Mississippi." Fahey had assumed, given White's song, "Aberdeen, Mississippi", that White still lived there, or nearby. The postcard was forwarded to Memphis, Tennessee, where White worked in a tank factory. Fahey and Denson soon traveled to meet White, and White and Fahey remained friends through the remainder of White's life. He recorded a new album for Denson and Fahey's Takoma Records, whilst Denson became his manager. White was, later in life, also friends with fellow musician Furry Lewis. The two recorded, mostly in Lewis' Memphis apartment, an album together, Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! At Home. "Parchman Farm Blues" was about the Mississippi State Penitentiary One of his most famous songs, "Parchman Farm Blues", about the Mississippi State Penitentiary (also known as Parchman Farm) in Sunflower County, Mississippi, was released on Harry Smith's fourth volume of the Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 4. The song was covered by The Traits/aka Roy Head and the Traits with Johnny Winter in the late 1960s. His 1937 version of the oft-recorded song, "Shake 'Em On Down," is considered definitive, and became a hit while White was serving time in Parchman. White died in February 1977 from cancer, at the age of 67, in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1990 he was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame (along with Blind Blake and Lonnie Johnson). On November 21, 2011, The Recording Academy announced that "Fixin' to Die Blues" was to be added to its 2012 list of Grammy Hall of Fame Award recipients 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 favorites band!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Clarence Hollimon

Birthplace: Houston Birthdate: 10/24/1937 Deathdate: 4/23/2000 A product of Houston's Fifth Ward, Hollimon got his first break in 1954 when, at age 17, he toured with a top show band, the Bill Harvey Orchestra. After an influential stint with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Hollimon joined the Duke-Peacock hit factory in the late 1950s. In 1964, he took hi sophisticated jazzy blues technique to New York City, where he played on records by Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson and toured with Nancy Wilson. Hollimon and his wife Carol Fran, who started performing together in 1982, specialized in a Gulf Coast blues style that incorporated the swamp pop sounds of Fran's Louisiana roots. Together they released "Soul Sensation" in 1992 and "See There!" in 1994 on the Black Top label. They also served as cultural ambassadors, teaching African American folk songs to grade-school students and performing weeklong residencies at out-of-the-way places such as Clarksville and Fort Bend on behalf of the Texas Folklife Resources (excerpted from Michael Corcoran's article, Austin-American Statesman Wednesday, April 26, 2000). “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson 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 favorites band! ”LIKE”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Things That I Used To Do - Joe Guitar Hughes

Joe "Guitar" Hughes (September 29, 1937 – May 20, 2003) was an American blues musician, from Houston, Texas, United States. An inventive and versatile performer, Hughes was equally happy with slow blues, Texas shuffles and old R&B hits. Hughes was inspired by local musicians such as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Johnny "Guitar" Watson - "anyone who had fire in their playing and a good shuffle". His first band was the Dukes Of Rhythm in the 1950s, which also included his friend, Johnny Copeland. In the 1960s he worked for Little Richard's old group the Upsetters, and next as a member of Bobby "Blue" Bland's band in the 1960s. Like Johnny Copeland he could not see much of a future for the blues in Houston, but unlike him Hughes stayed there. A long dry spell followed, but Hughes finally came back to the spotlight with a set for Black Top Records in 1989 with If You Want to See These Blues (by that time, he had inserted a "Guitar" as his middle name, much like his old pal Watson). From the early 1980s he toured Europe and recorded for Double Trouble Records of Holland. They issued Texas Guitar Master in 1986, which included a live "Battle of the Guitars" with fellow Texan bluesman Pete Mayes, that testified to the abiding influence on both men by T-Bone Walker. After half a century of playing the blues, Joe "Guitar" Hughes died on May 20, 2003, in Houston, after suffering a heart attack. If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Longin´ For Home - Addie Spivey

This blues vocalist from the late '20s and '30s worked under the pseudonym of Sweet Peas, giving shop owners the option of filing her product amongst the frozen foods. With the classic blues style's emphasis on different types of food as a metaphor for sexual encounters, it only seems natural that a performer in the genre would provide themselves with an edible name, although the practice hasn't spread much beyond Addie Spivey. She is often confused with her sister, the more famous Victoria Spivey, both of whom grew up around music, as their father had his own string band. Sister Victoria's fatter discography of recordings under her own name was certainly enriched by her starting up one of the first musician-owned blues labels. Not so for Sweet Peas, whose few recordings and alternate takes are shrouded in obscurity, the backgrounds of some of her backup players unknown. It is also worth mentioning slight variations in the use of her pseudonym. She did her first recordings for Victor in 1929 as Sweet Peas, and of all her material this is often considered best due to classy backing by trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen. She recorded for Decca seven years later as Sweet Pease Spivey and cut for Bluebird as Sweet Peas Spivey the following year. Becoming the owner of this material, as her sister did, was hardly the case; in fact, these recordings seem to have entered the copyright zone known as "anything goes," resulting in her music being anthologized on blues compilations in several different countries. As a female blues performer, Addie Spivey is often in the good company of artists such as Sippie Wallace and Lizzie Miles on these sets.
Her obscurity also lends her certain status among would-be hipsters, such as a rock musician who, when asked to name some of his current listening faves for his own publicity hype, "admits little has impressed him aside from his Chet Baker, Lil Green, Addie Spivey, and Big Bill Broonzy records." If that hypothetical musician were so smart, he would have known to use the name she recorded under, in turn allowing him to run together several names into the quite appropriate "lil' green sweet peas." Oh well.
Victoria Spivey had another blues performing sister as well, Elton Spivey, who worked under the stage name of the Za Zu Girl, the "girl" probably there in case anyone got confused about the "Elton" part of her name. One would think that with Elton, Addie, and Victoria present and accounted for that life would be simple, but this is not the case. Further recordings by Addie Spivey and perhaps her sister Elton Spivey might be lurking, hidden under mysterious pseudonyms such as Jane Lucas and Hannah May. In the discussion amongst blues scholars over just who these latter two artists really are, some voice an opinion that it was Addie Spivey, although there are others who believe it was really Mozelle Alderson. Researchers agree that at one point singers recording under the names of Jane Lucas and Hannah May were actually the same person, with the same voice also responsible for some 1930 tracks under the name of Kansas City Kitty. Digging into the CBS files for "dead artists," information on the Vocalion material acquired by the corporation indicates that this so-called Jane Lucas was a Spivey, but Victoria, not Addie; something that was denied vehemently by Victoria Spivey, who was usually more inclined to take credit for things than decline, no matter what her participation was. (Her grandest achievement was "discovering" Bob Dylan.) The same records indicate that the Hannah May that recorded on Vocalion right around the same time was "Victoria Spivey's sister," which might mean an additional credit for the Sweet Peas girl, although it requires scotching the theory of Hannah and Jane being the same person. Unless the Vocalion files are confused, and the tracks are both done by the same sister. But which one? One blues expert testifies: "aurally she sounds like the Za Zu Girl...," meaning perhaps Elton Spivey should get the credit. The Blues Who's Who does very little to clear up this dilemma, claiming authoritatively that Hannah May was Addie Spivey. Other pundits have threatened to burn their copy of this tome in outrage, claiming that it was Victoria Spivey. One way of studying the dilemma is to hear them sing together, possible on the recording entitled "I Can't Last Long," which Victoria Spivey wrote and recorded in 1936, perhaps to describe her own participation in the ongoing debate about blueswomen's identities. The number was recorded under the name of Jane Lucas and the State Street Four with Sweet Peas coming in on the final verse.
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Suitcase Blues - Hersal Thomas

Hersal Thomas (c. 1909 – July 3, 1926) was an American blues pianist and composer. He recorded a number of sides for Okeh Records in 1925 and 1926.

Thomas was born in Houston, Texas, and displayed an early talent for blues playing and composition. He was one of several musicians in his family. His brother George W. Thomas was also a skilled piano player, while his sister Sippie Wallace and niece Hociel Thomas were singers of note.

Though he died at a young age, Thomas was nonetheless an influence on the Chicago boogie woogie school of pianists. Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis both cited him as an influence. His most famous track was "Suitcase Blues" (8958-A Okeh 8227), which was issued on CD in 1992 as part of the box set, Roots 'N Blues: The Retrospective. The Thomas brothers also co-wrote "The Fives", which Ammons and Lewis cited as an essential boogie-woogie number.[citation needed]

Thomas recorded under his own name, and as an accompanist to Hociel Thomas, Sippie Wallace, Lilian Miller and Sodarisa Miller. In 1926, he recorded a session with Hociel Thomas and Louis Armstrong. The songs recorded on that occasion were "Deep Water Blues" (9519-A Okeh 8297), "Lonesome Hours" (9522-A Okeh 8297), "Listen To Ma (9521-A Okeh 8346), and "G'wan, I Told You" (9520-A Okeh 8346). The first three are listed as having been composed by "Thomas", though it is not clear if this refers to Hersal or his brother. He also worked in session with King Oliver.

Sippie Wallace recorded seven of his compositions: "A Jealous Woman Like Me", "A Man For Every Day Of The Week", "Dead Drunk Blues", "Have You Ever Been Down?", "I Feel Good", "Shorty George Blues" and "Trouble Everywhere I Roam".

Thomas died of food poisoning while working at Penny's Pleasure Inn in Detroit, Michigan. The circumstances of his death have never been clarified.
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer- Amos Milburn

Amos Milburn (April 1, 1927 – January 3, 1980) was an African American rhythm and blues singer and pianist, popular during the 1940s and 1950s. He was born and died in Houston, Texas.

One commentator noted, "Milburn excelled at good-natured, upbeat romps about booze and partying, imbued with a vibrant sense of humour and double entendre, as well as vivid, down-home imagery in his lyrics."
Born in Houston, one of thirteen children, by the age of five years Milburn was playing tunes by piano. He enlisted in the United States Navy when he was fifteen and earned thirteen battle stars in the Philippines, before returning to Houston and organizing a sixteen-piece band playing in Houston clubs, and participating with the Houston jazz and blues musicians. He was a polished pianist and performer and during 1946 attracted the attention of a woman who arranged a recording session with Aladdin Records in Los Angeles, California. Milburn's relationship with Aladdin lasted eight years during which he produced more than seventy-five sides. His cover version of "Down the Road a Piece" (1946) was a blues song with a Texas boogie beat that was similar in many respects to rock music. However, none became popular until 1949 when seven of his singles got the attention of the R&B audience. "Hold Me Baby" and "Chicken Shack Boogie" landed numbers eight and nine on Billboard's survey of 1949's R&B Bestsellers. He became one of the main performers associated with Central Avenue of Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood. He was also a popular touring artist, and won awards from both Down Beat magazine (Best Blues and Jazz Star) and Billboard magazine (Top R&B Artist). Among his best known songs was "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer". During 1950 Milburn's "Bad, Bad, Whiskey" scored the top of the R&B record chart and began a series of drinking songs (none written by Milburn, but several composed by Rudy Toombs). However, there is not any evidence that Milburn had an alcohol problem.

Milburn continued his successful drinking songs through 1952 {"Thinking and Drinking", "Trouble in Mind"} and was by now touring the country playing clubs. While touring the Midwest that summer, he announced that he would disband his combo team and continue as a solo act and that autumn he joined Charles Brown for a Southern concert tour. For the next few years each of his tours was composed of a series of one-nighters. After three years of solo performing he returned to Houston during 1956 to reform his band. During 1957 Milburn's releases with Aladdin Records did not sell well, and the record label, having its own problems, terminated. He tried to regain commercial success with a few more releases with Ace Records but his time had passed. Radio airplay was emphasizing on the teenage market.

Milburn contributed to the R&B Yuletide canon during 1960 with his swinging "Christmas (Comes but Once a Year)" for King. The song appeared as the b-side of Brown's holiday classic "Please Come Home for Christmas". Berry Gordy gave him a comeback forum during 1962, issuing an album on Motown predominated by remakes of his old successes that is difficult to find today (Little Stevie Wonder played harmonica for the sessions).

Milburn's final recording was for an album by Johnny Otis. This was during 1972 after he had been incapacitated by a stroke, so much so that Otis had to play the left-hand piano parts for his enfeebled old friend. His second stroke resulted in amputation of a leg because of circulatory problems. He died soon after at the age of 52 years from a third stroke.
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Boogie The Joint - Hubert Robinson

Hubert Robinson had a two-year span as a blues vocalist on the Houston recording scene. His first record was released on Eddie's in 1949 under the name of Hubert Roberson and Orchestra. He moved to the Macy's label the next year and cut several sides for the label (two were unissued) up until the early part of 1951. His last record was waxed for the Jade label under the name Hubert Robinson and his Yardbirds. (Nope, not to be confused with the 1960's British Invasion group). In case you're wondering what exactly Hubert was answering to, please see the video on my channel of "Wintertime Blues" by Lester Williams, recorded in 1949. Robinson disappeared from the Houston blues scene after his last recordings.
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