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Showing posts with label Sleepy John Estes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sleepy John Estes. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Omnivore Recordings: Beale Street Saturday Night - Various Artists

I just received the newest release, Beale Street Saturday Night, from Omnivore Recordings and it is raw and pure. Opening with Walkin' Down Beale Street by Sid Selvidge, the listener hears a blend of soul, jazz, blues and gospel with piano, slide guitar and horns. Fred Ford is up next with Hernando Horn, an exceptional old style blues track featuring exceptionally rich sax work. Grandma Dixie Davis, accompanied by piano is freewheelin and loose. No...this isn't Joe Bonamassa. Sleepy John Estes hits the ground running with Big Fat Mama/Liquor Store. Taking a breather in the track to tell the stories. Prince Gabe has a much more polished vocal presentation and again with story telling dialog. Furry Lewis is easily distinguished on Furry's Blues. A classic with Furry accompanying himself on guitar. Teenie Hodges lays down Rock Me Baby, raw and uncompromised. A more primitive version of the track by Alex with whistling and hammer claps like an old work song is exceptional. Thomas Pinkston tells the story Ben Griffin was killed in the Monarch accompanied by piano. Quite cool. Johnny Woods plays the Frisco Blow, a real authentic train blues on harp. Primitive and excellent! Mud Boy And The Neutrons plays a Dixieland style On The Road Again with every sort of instrument imaginable. Very cool! Thomas Pinkston tells the story of Mr Handy Told Me 50 Years Ago with guitar accompaniment. Unique. Furry Lewis is back with Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird. There is hardly a blues player that is half a story teller like Lewis so this is a particularly cool track. Grandma Dixie Davis wraps the release with Roll On Mississippi. Now I do need to say, I've never heard anyone sing like Grandma Dixie Davis. This is an unusual set of tracks put together by James Luther Dickinson is a cool and historical documentation.
Along with the cd you get 5 pages of liner commentary by Stanley Booth, additional descriptives by Jim Lancaster and a number of wonderful photographs.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Delmark artist: Sleepy John Estes with Hammie Nixon - Live In Japan - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Live In Japan, from Sleepy John Estes with Hammie Nixon. If you like primitive blues/country blues, this is tough to beat. The release is comprised of music previously released in Japan only in the late 70's on LP just shortly before Estes death on 1978. The releases, earlier titled Blues Live! Sleepy & Hammie Meet Japanese People and Blues Is A-Live. This is an extensive 21 track set and I won't even attempt to describe it track by track but will attempt to give you a flavor. The release opens with Corrina Corrina, with Estes singing lead and playing guitar and Nixon on vocal and kazoo. Broke and Hungry, an original track is a perfect for illustrating the gripping qualities of Estes unique vocal style. Always a crowd favorite, I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You, finds the duo trading lead vocals, again with Estes on guitar and Nixon on kazoo. This is of course one of many "fun" songs on the release and showing the life in these performances. Stop That Thing has always been on of my personal favorites by Estes and Nixon does a real nice job on harp as well. A track that has been played by a number of contemporary players is Divin' Duck Blues. Here as Estes wrote it, accompanying himself on guitar and Nixon on harp, it certainly has a personality of it's own. Nixon takes a larger role in When Your Mother Is Gone, a traditional track showing his absolute strength as a vocalist. A super blues track, Rats In My Kitchen, again relies heavily on the super vocals of Estes. Nixon has a harp style that is well matched to Estes' voice and that is very apparent on this track. Another deeper blues track, Potato Diggin' Man falls back to tghe strength of Nixon on vocals and harp. Very nice. The last 4 tracks include backing by the Japanese band, Yu Ka Dan. Sleepy John's Twist has almost a rock blues feel but still remaining with the primitive style. It's a good chance to see Sleepy John with a slightly different but still true style. Love Grows In Your Heart is more of a gospel oriented ballad along the lines of Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning.  Another Estes original, Brownsville Blues, is gritty and wailing. Estes definitely had his own sound, never to be duplicated. This is a very cool track again with all of the bite of Estes at his best. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Jesus Is On The Mainline, features Nixon on lead with Estes on chorus and harmony. This is a super wrap for a very cool release. Wether you have all of Sleepy John's stuff, or you are just looking for an intro, this is a very cool set which captures Estes in a great live setting.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Everybody's Ought To Change Sometime - Son 'Brownsville' Bond with Sleep John Estes

Son Bonds (March 16, 1909 – August 31, 1947) was an American country blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a working associate of both Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, and was similar in his guitar playing style. According to Allmusic journalist, Jim O'Neal, "the music to one of Bonds's songs, "Back and Side Blues" (1934), became a standard blues melody when Sonny Boy Williamson I from nearby Jackson, Tennessee, used it in his classic "Good Morning, School Girl"." The best known of Bonds's other works are "A Hard Pill To Swallow" and "Come Back Home Born in Brownsville, Tennessee, Bonds was also billed on record as "Brownsville" Son Bonds, and Brother Son Bonds. Sleepy John Estes earlier recorded work had used backing from Yank Rachell (mandolin) or Hammie Nixon (harmonica), but by the late 1930s he was accompanied in the recording studio by either Bonds or Charlie Pickett (guitar). Bonds also backed Estes at a couple of later recording sessions in 1941. In reverse, either Estes or Nixon played on every one of Bonds's own recordings. In the latter stages of his career, Bonds played kazoo as well as the guitar on several of his tracks. According to Nixon's later accounts of the event, Bonds suffered an accidental death in August 1947. While sitting on his own front porch late one evening in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bonds was shot to death by his short-sighted neighbor, who mistook Bonds for another man with whom his neighbor was having a protracted disagreement  

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

John Henry Barbee, Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon

John Henry Barbee (vocal & guitar), Sleepy John Estes (guitar) and Hammie Nixon (jug) John Henry Barbee (November 14, 1905 – November 3, 1964) was an American blues singer and guitarist. He was born William George Tucker in Henning, Tennessee, United States, and changed his name with the commencement of his recording career to reflect his favorite folk song, "The Ballad of John Henry". Barbee toured in the 1930s throughout the American South singing and playing slide guitar. He teamed up with Big Joe Williams, and later on, with Sunnyland Slim in Memphis, Tennessee. Travelling down to Mississippi he also came across Sonny Boy Williamson I, and played with him off and on for several years. He released two sides on the Vocalion label in 1939 ("Six Weeks Old Blues" / "God Knows I Can't Help It"). The record sold well enough to cause Vocalion to call on Barbee again, but by that time he had left his last known whereabouts in Arkansas. Barbee explained that this sudden move was due to his evading the law for shooting and killing his girlfriend's lover. He later found out that he had only injured the man, but by the time this was discovered, Barbee had moved on from making a career out of playing music. Barbee did not show up again in the music industry until the early 1960s, whereby this time the blues revival was in full swing. Willie Dixon searched out for Barbee, and found him working as an ice cream server in Chicago, Illinois. In 1964 he joined the American Folk Blues Festival on an European tour with fellow blues players, including Lightnin' Hopkins and Howlin' Wolf. In a case of tragic circumstances, Barbee returned to the United States and used the money from the tour to purchase his first automobile. Only ten days after purchasing the car, he accidentally ran over and killed a man. He was locked up in a Chicago jail, and died there of a heart attack a few days later, November 3, 1964, 11 days before his 59th birthday. He is interred in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. On May 11, 2010 the third annual White Lake Blues Festival took place at the Howmet Playhouse Theater in Whitehall, Michigan. The concert was organized by executive producer, Steve Salter, of the nonprofit organization Killer Blues in order to raise monies to honor Barbee's unmarked grave with a headstone. The event was a success, and a stone was placed in June, 2010. 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! Discography

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mailman Blues - Sleepy John Estes


John Adam Estes (January 25, 1899 – June 5, 1977), best known as Sleepy John Estes or Sleepy John, was a American blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee
In 1915, Estes' father, a sharecropper who also played some guitar, moved the family to Brownsville, Tennessee. Not long after, Estes lost the sight of his right eye when a friend threw a rock at him during a baseball game. At the age of 19, while working as a field hand, he began to perform professionally. The venues were mostly local parties and picnics, with the accompaniment of Hammie Nixon, a harmonica player, and James "Yank" Rachell, a guitarist and mandolin player. He would continue to work on and off with both musicians for more than fifty years.

Estes made his debut as a recording artist in Memphis, Tennessee in 1929, at a session organized by Ralph Peer for Victor Records. His partnership with Nixon was first documented on songs such as "Drop Down Mama" and "Someday Baby Blues" in 1935; later sides replaced the harmonica player with the guitarists Son Bonds or Charlie Pickett. He later recorded for the Decca and Bluebird labels, with his last pre-war recording session taking place in 1941. He made a brief return to recording at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1952, recording "Runnin' Around" and "Rats in My Kitchen", but otherwise was largely out of the public eye for two decades.

Estes was a fine singer, with a distinctive "crying" vocal style. He frequently teamed with more capable musicians, like "Yank" Rachell, Hammie Nixon, and the piano player Jab Jones. Estes sounded so much like an old man, even on his early records, that blues revivalists reportedly delayed looking for him because they assumed he would have to be long dead, and because fellow musician Big Bill Broonzy had written that Estes had died. By the time he was tracked down, by Bob Koester and Samuel Charters in 1962, he had become completely blind and was living in poverty. He resumed touring and recording, reunited with Nixon and toured Europe several times and Japan, with a clutch of albums released on the Delmark Records label. His later records are generally considered less interesting than his pre-war output. Nevertheless, Estes, Nixon and Rachell also made a successful appearance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.

Bob Dylan mentions Estes in the sleevenotes to Bringing It All Back Home (1965).

Many of Estes' original songs were based on events in his own life or on people he knew from his home town of Brownsville, Tennessee, such as the local lawyer ("Lawyer Clark Blues"), local auto mechanic ("Vassie Williams' Blues"), or an amorously inclined teenage girl ("Little Laura Blues"). "Lawyer Clark Blues" referenced the lawyer, and later judge and senator, Hugh L. Clarke. Clarke and his family lived in Brownsville, and according to the song let Estes 'off the hook' for an offense.

He also dispensed advice on agricultural matters ("Working Man Blues") and chronicled his own attempt to reach a recording studio for a session by hopping a freight train ("Special Agent (Railroad Police Blues)"). His lyrics combined keen observation with an ability to turn an effective phrase.

Some accounts attribute his nickname "Sleepy" to a blood pressure disorder and/or narcolepsy. Others, such as blues historian Bob Koester, claim he simply had a "tendency to withdraw from his surroundings into drowsiness whenever life was too cruel or too boring to warrant full attention"
Estes suffered a stroke while preparing for a European tour, and died on June 5, 1977, at his home of 17 years in Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee.Estes is buried at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery in Durhamville, Lauderdale County, Tennessee.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mailman Blues - Sleepy John Estes


John Adam Estes (January 25, 1899 or 1904 – June 5, 1977), best known as Sleepy John Estes or Sleepy John, was a American blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee.
In 1915, Estes' father, a sharecropper who also played some guitar, moved the family to Brownsville, Tennessee. Not long after, Estes lost the sight of his right eye when a friend threw a rock at him during a baseball game. At the age of 19, while working as a field hand, he began to perform professionally. The venues were mostly local parties and picnics, with the accompaniment of Hammie Nixon, a harmonica player, and James "Yank" Rachell, a guitarist and mandolin player. He would continue to work, on and off, with both musicians for more than fifty years.

Estes made his debut as a recording artist in Memphis, Tennessee in 1929, at a session organized by Ralph Peer for Victor Records. His partnership with Nixon was first documented on songs such as "Drop Down Mama" and "Someday Baby Blues" in 1935; later sides replaced the harmonica player with the guitarists Son Bonds or Charlie Pickett. He later recorded for the Decca and Bluebird labels, with his last pre-war recording session taking place in 1941. He made a brief return to recording at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1952, recording "Runnin' Around" and "Rats in My Kitchen", but otherwise was largely out of the public eye for two decades.

Estes was a fine singer, with a distinctive "crying" vocal style. He frequently teamed with more capable musicians, like "Yank" Rachell, Hammie Nixon, and the piano player Jab Jones. Estes sounded so much like an old man, even on his early records, that blues revivalists reportedly delayed looking for him because they assumed he would have to be long dead, and because fellow musician Big Bill Broonzy had written that Estes had died. By the time he was tracked down, by Bob Koester and Samuel Charters in 1962, he had become completely blind and was living in poverty. He resumed touring and recording, reunited with Nixon and toured Europe several times and Japan, with a clutch of albums released on the Delmark Records label. His later records are generally considered less interesting than his pre-war output. Nevertheless, Estes, Nixon and Rachell also made a successful appearance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.

Bob Dylan mentions Estes in the sleevenotes to Bringing It All Back Home (1965).

Many of Estes' original songs were based on events in his own life or on people he knew from his home town of Brownsville, Tennessee, such as the local lawyer ("Lawyer Clark Blues"), local auto mechanic ("Vassie Williams' Blues"), or an amorously inclined teenage girl ("Little Laura Blues"). "Lawyer Clark Blues" referenced the lawyer, and later judge and senator, Hugh L. Clarke. Clarke and his family lived in Brownsville, and according to the song let Estes 'off the hook' for an offense.

He also dispensed advice on agricultural matters ("Working Man Blues") and chronicled his own attempt to reach a recording studio for a session by hopping a freight train ("Special Agent (Railroad Police Blues)"). His lyrics combined keen observation with an ability to turn an effective phrase.

Some accounts attribute his nickname "Sleepy" to a blood pressure disorder and/or narcolepsy. Others, such as blues historian Bob Koester, claim he simply had a "tendency to withdraw from his surroundings into drowsiness whenever life was too cruel or too boring to warrant full attention"
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Corrine Corrine - Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon


Hammie Nixon (January 22, 1908 – August 17, 1984) was an American harmonica player.
Born Hammie Nickerson in Brownsville, Tennessee, he began his music career with jug bands in the 1920s and is best known as a country blues harmonica player, but also played the kazoo, guitar and jug. He played with guitarist Sleepy John Estes for half a century, first recording with Estes in 1929 for the Victor Records label. He also recorded with Little Buddy Doyle, Lee Green, Clayton T. Driver, Charlie Pickett and Son Bonds.

During the 1920s Nixon helped to pioneer the use of the harmonica as a rhythm instrument in a band setting, rather than as a novelty solo instrument. After Estes died in 1979, Nixon played with the Beale Street Jug Band (also called the Memphis Jug Band). Nixon's last recording, "Tappin' That Thing" (Hmg Records), was recorded shortly before his death in 1984, in Jackson, Tennessee
John Adam Estes (January 25, 1899 or 1904 – June 5, 1977), best known as Sleepy John Estes or Sleepy John, was a American blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, born in Ripley, Lauderdale County, Tennessee
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