Archive for the Bukka WHITE Category

Bukka WHITE – Memphis Hot Spots 1968

Posted in BLUES, Bukka WHITE on December 10, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Bukka WHITE – Memphis Hot Spots 1968
1969 Issue. S 7-63229

Blues

This album is, in a way,experiment.
For some time now,Bukka has expressed the wishto record with an electric group.
having Bill Barth and his friends on hand in Memphis in july 1968 gave me the wish
to make Bukka´s  wish come true.
whether the results are entirely successful only the listeners can decide.
we all certainly had a ball in the studio..
By Seymur Stein.
**
Bukka White- Vocal, Guitar
Bill Barth- Second Guitar
Harmonica Boy- Harmonica
Trevor Koehler- Piano
Anchor- Bass
Jim Crosthwait- Wasboard
Joe Gray- Drums
**
A1. Bed Spring Blues
A2. Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues
A3. Drifting Blues
A4. (Brand New) Decoration Day
A5. Baby Please Don’t Go
A6. Give Me an Old, Old Lady
B1. Got Sick and Tired
B2. World Boogie
B3. School Learning
B4. Old Man Tom
B5. Gibson Town
**

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Bukka WHITE – Mississippi Blues Giant, The Complete 1930-1940 Recordings 2003

Posted in BLUES, Bukka WHITE on November 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Bukka WHITE – Mississippi Blues Giant, The Complete 1930-1940 Recordings 2003

Blues

On his first two cuts, “The New Frisco Train” and “The Panama Limited” he is shown as being joined by Napoleon Harrison on second guitar, and “speech” on “The New Frisco Train”.  Whether Harrsion played on these cuts or not is hard to say–in any event he is inaudible if he did.  Listening to the two cuts, though, it becomes apparent that it was Harrison doing the singing on “The New Frisco Train” and Bukka doing the vocal asides (they sometimes overlap), and Bukka handling all the vocal chores, including the amazing recitation on “The Panama Limited”.  Bukka plays both of them with a slide in Vastapol, not yet having converted to cross-note tuning at this stage of his playing.  His slide sound here is somewhat reminiscent of Sam Collins, in that he allows the melody to take the harmony along for the ride occasionally.  The rhythmic engine that Bukka keeps chugging along behind his recitation on “Panama Limited” is remarkable for its power.

For Bukka’s next two cuts, “I Am In The Heavenly Way” and “The Promise True And Grand”, he is joined by “Miss Minnie”, who may very well have been Memphis Minnie, on backing vocals.

After the two religious numbers, Bukka did not get back into the studio for seven years, at which time he recorded two titles with an unknown second guitarist, immediately prior to a stint in Parchman Farm.  “Pinebluff Arkansas” seems very Robert Johnson-influenced (or vice versa).  It is in Spanish and opens with a lick similar to Johnson’s “Crossroads”, which it is eerily in tune with.  “Shake “Em On Down”, played in E standard, is sung right at the top of Bukka’s vocal range, really excitingly, and shares a lot of melodic material with Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago”.

Bukka’s next two titles were recorded for the Library of Congress while he was an inmate at Parchman Farms, and signal an entirely different musical direction than his most recently recorded titles, which seemed right in tune with the recorded blues mainstream of the time.  “Sic “Em Dogs On”, played in cross-note, shows a much rawer, more country sound, and the way Bukka lives on the open fifth string, droning an A note against a song in the key of D is really strong.  The whole feel of this tune seems more specific to Bukka and his personal take on the music.  “Po Boy”, played with a slide in Spanish, has a beautiful melody that would not sound out of place on an Old Time record of the era.

The remaining twelve titles on the CD all come from a 2-day session Bukka did in 1940 with Washboard Sam joining him for every number.  The range on these numbers is terrific.  Bukka opens with the “Black Train Blues”, in A standard, followed by “Strange Place Blues”, in G standard, to which Bukka adds Peetie Wheatstraw’s “ooo well, well” vocal mannerism.  The next number, “When Can I Change My Clothes”, in E standard, returns to a territory that feels all Bukka’s own, like “Sic”Em Dogs On”.  It is a powerhouse chorus blues and the fervor that Bukka sings the refrain with really stays with you.  “Sleepy Man Blues” is Bukka’s version of the song melody of Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain” and like “Love In Vain”, it is played in G standard.  Unlike Robert Johnson’s vocal phrasing, Bukka’s is usually short, not only on “Sleepy Man Blues”, but throughout all of the twelve songs recorded at these sessions.  “Parchman Farm Blues”, in cross-note, seems to supply the archetype for Bukka’s hit “Aberdeen Mississippi Blues”, but does not employ the flashing rhythmic damping that some of you may have seen Bukka do in person or on videos.  “Good Gin Blues” is done in Spanish, and the excellent “High Fever Blues” is played in C standard, a key I never expected to hear Bukka use.  “District Attorney Blues” is played in E standard, somewhat in the mold of “When Can I Change My Clothes”–Bukka alternates between the open A and D string against an insistent bend at the third fret of the first string (over an E chord!), and the effect is electrifying.  “Fixin’ to Die”, in Spanish, is perfectly amazing.  Where did it come from?  Bukka apparently had completely forgotten it upon rediscovery and was never able to get it back.  For “Aberdeen Mississippi” and “Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing”, he has made the conversion from Vastapol to cross-note, and is employing a new form in which the songs have no V chords, only I and IV.  “Special Streamline”, another train blues, is similarly in cross-note tuning.

Throughout the music on this CD, Bukka is never less than very good, and on the best numbers, “Panama Limited”, “Sic ‘Em Dogs On”, “When Can I Change My Clothes”, “District Attorney Blues”, “Fixin’ To Die” and “Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing”, Bukka takes the music somewhere it had not been before.  It is really great music.
By John Miller.
**
Anyone who wants to learn Delta blues must one day come to grips with the idea that the guitar is a drum as well as a melody-producing instrument. A continuous, African-derived musical tradition emphasizing percussive techniques on stringed instruments from the banjo to the guitar can be heard in the music of Delta stalwarts Charley Patton, Fred McDowell, and Bukka White. Each employed decidedly percussive techniques, beating on his box, knocking on the neck, snapping the strings, or adding buzzing or sizzling effects to augment the instrument’s percussive potential.
Bukka White (true name: Booker T. Washington White) was born in Houston, Mississippi in 1906. He got his initial start in music learning fiddle tunes from his father. Guitar instruction soon followed, but White’s grandmother objected to anyone playing “that Devil music” in the household; nonetheless, his father eventually bought him a guitar. When Bukka White was 14 he spent some time with an uncle in Clarksdale, Mississippi and passed himself off as a 21-year-old, using his guitar playing as a way to attract women.
Somewhere along the line, White came in contact with Delta blues legend Charley Patton, who no doubt was able to give Bukka White instruction on how to improve his skills in both areas of endeavor.
In 1930 Bukka traveled to Memphis where he made his first recordings, singing a mixture of blues and gospel material under the name of Washington White. Victor only saw fit to release four of the 14 songs Bukka White recorded that day. As the Depression set in, opportunity to record didn’t knock again for Bukka White until 1937, when Big Bill Broonzy asked him to come to Chicago and record for Lester Melrose. By this time, Bukka White had gotten into some trouble he later claimed he and a friend had been “ambushed” by a man along a highway, and White shot the man in the thigh in self defense. While awaiting trial, White jumped bail and headed for Chicago, making two sides before being apprehended and sent back to Mississippi to do a three-year stretch at Parchman Farm. While he was serving time, White’s record “Shake ‘Em on Down” became a hit.
Bukka White proved a model prisoner, popular with inmates and prison guards alike and earning the nickname “Barrelhouse.” It was as “Washington Barrelhouse White” that White recorded two numbers for John and Alan Lomax at Parchman Farm in 1939. After earning his release in 1940, he returned to Chicago with 12 newly minted songs to record for Lester Melrose. These became the backbone of his lifelong repertoire, and the Melrose session today is regarded as the pinnacle of Bukka White’s achievements on record. Among the songs he recorded on that occasion were “Parchman Farm Blues” (not to be confused with “Parchman Farm” written by Mose Allison and covered by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Blue Cheer, among others), “Good Gin Blues,” “Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing,” “Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues,” and “Fixin’ to Die Blues,” all timeless classics of the Delta blues.
Then, Bukka disappeared not into the depths of some Mississippi Delta mystery, but into factory work in Memphis during World War II.
Bob Dylan recorded “Fixin’ to Die Blues” on his 1961 debut Columbia album, and at the time no one in the music business knew who Bukka White was most figured a fellow who’d written a song like “Fixin’ to Die” had to be dead already. Two California-based blues enthusiasts, John Fahey and Ed Denson, were more skeptical about this assumption, and in 1963 addressed a letter to “Bukka White (Old Blues Singer), c/o General Delivery, Aberdeen, Mississippi.” By chance, one of White’s relatives was working in the Post Office in Aberdeen, and forwarded the letter to White in Memphis.
Things moved quickly from the time Bukka White met up with Fahey and Denson; by the end of 1963 Bukka White was already recording on contract with Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie. White wrote a new song celebrating his good fortune entitled “1963 Isn’t 1962 Blues” and swiftly recorded three albums of material for Strachwitz which the latter entitled Sky Songs, referring to White’s habit of “reaching up and pulling songs out of the sky.” Nonetheless, even White knew he couldn’t get away with making up all his material regularly in performance, so he also studied his 78s and relearned all the songs he’d written for Lester Melrose. Although Bukka White was practically the same age as other survivors of the Delta and Memphis blues scenes of the 1920s and ’30s, he didn’t look like someone who belonged in a nursing home. White was a sharp dresser, in the prime of health, was a compelling entertainer and raconteur, and clearly enjoyed being the center of attention. He thrived on the folk festival and coffeehouse circuit of the 1960s.
By the ’70s, however, Bukka White couldn’t help getting a little bored with his celebrity status as an acoustic bluesman. White’s tastes had grown with the times, and he would have loved to have played an electric guitar and fronted a band, as his old acquaintance Chester Burnett (aka Howlin’ Wolf) and Bukka’s own cousin, B. B. King, had been already doing successfully for years. But he only needed to look at what happened to his friend Bob Dylan’s career for a lesson on what happens to folk blues artists who try and “go electric.” So, Bukka White stayed on the festival circuit to the end of his days, beating the hell out of his National steel guitar, and sometimes his monologues would go on a little long, and sometimes his playing was a little more willfully eccentric than at others. Patrons would wait patiently to hear Bukka play “Parchman Farm Blues,” although some of them were under the mistaken impression that they had paid their money to hear an artist who had originated a number that Eric Clapton made famous.
Blues purists will tell you that nothing Bukka White recorded after 1940 is ultimately worth listening to. This isn’t accurate, nor fair. White was an incredibly compelling performer who gave up of more of himself in his work than many artists in any musical discipline. The Sky Songs albums for Arhoolie are an eminently rewarding document of Bukka’s charm and candor, particularly in the long monologue “Mixed Water.” “Big Daddy,” recorded in 1974 for Arnold S. Caplin’s Biograph label, likewise is a classic of its kind and should not be neglected.
**
Bukka White- (tracks: 5, 6, 9 to 20) ,
Washington (Barrelhouse) White- Guitar, Vocals- (tracks:1 to 4, 7, 8)
Washboard- Washboard Sam- (tracks: 9 to 20)
Vocals- Memphis Minnie
Guitar, Speaker- Napoleon Hairiston
Written By- Booker White (tracks: 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 to 20)
**
1 to 4: Memphis, TN (26 May 1930)
5, 6: Chicago, IL (2 Sept. 1937)
7, 8: Camp No. 10, State Penitentiary, Parchman, MS (23 May 1939)
9 to 20: Chicago, IL (March 1940)
**
01. Washington White  –  The New ‘Frisco Train  3:00
02. Washington White  –  The Panama Limited  3:09
03. Washington White  –  I Am In The Heavenly Way  3:03
04. Washington White  –  Promise True And Grand  3:03
05. Bukka White  –  Shake ‘Em On Down  3:02
06. Bukka White  –  Pinebluff Arkansas  2:52
07. Bukka White  –  Po’ Boy  2:55
08. Bukka White  –  Sic ‘Em Dogs On  2:25
09. Bukka White  –  Black Train Blues  2:58
10. Bukka White  –  Parchman Farm Blues  2:40
11. Bukka White  –  Strange Place Blues  2:54
12. Bukka White  –  Fixin’ To Die Blues  2:50
13. Bukka White  –  Aberdeen Mississippi Blues  2:37
14. Bukka White  –  Sleepy Man Blues  2:53
15. Bukka White  –  Good Gin Blues  2:24
16. Bukka White  –  Special Stream Line  2:52
17. Bukka White  –  District Attorney Blues  2:42
18. Bukka White  –  When Can I Change My Clothes  3:01
19. Bukka White  –  Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing  2:40
20. Bukka White  –  High Fever Blues  2:52
**

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