Tag Archives: Tommy Johnson

365 Days of Album Recommendations – Aug 6

Legends of Country Blues

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If you’ve been following along at all, you’ll have noted that I favor JSP remasters.

In case you don’t want to buy 5 CDs worth of any one artist, I’m recommending this lil’ package for ya. It’s as advertised, Legends of Country Blues. All done up in a JSP bow.

This is pretty much the textbook if you want to study the prewar recordings of some of the most important figures ever to be recorded. A vast amount of early Skip James, and all far better sonically than the Yazoo versions we used to have to rely on. (Don’t get me wrong, I am SO grateful to Yazoo for keeping me alive for so long! But, JSP has straight up outdone ’em here …).

Plus, pre-war Son House (which, in my opinion, isn’t actually as mesmerizing as his later recordings, but still, it’s fucking Son House!), pre-war Bukka White (ditto vis-à-vis mesmerizing, ditto vis-à-vis it’s fucking Bukka White!), the eerie, eerie, eerie magic of Tommy Johnson, and even a slew of Ishman Bracey.

In short, legends of country blues, indeed.


365 Days of Album Recommendations – July 10

Tommy Johnson – 1928-1929 Complete Recorded Works

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Next to Sleepy John Estes, Tommy Johnson has what I consider to be the most eerily, heartbreakingly, mesmerizingly compelling voice in the country blues canon.

Imagine a hoarse ghost yodeling.

Was he a particularly adept guitarist? Definitely not.

Was he an original lyricist? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Did he record a significant body of work? Nope. Something like 17 songs, over a two year period. That’s all.

Will his music haunt your dreams? Yes.


Live Recording! Country Blues w/ Virgil Thrasher

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I had the great pleasure of bein’ joined on stage last night at Aptos St. BBQ w/ blues harmonica legend Virgil Thrasher (you may recall him from decades of mojo-laden music w/ country blues icon Robert Lowery). We did about 2 hours straight, and amongst other things, hit on some lovely ol’ country blues songs that have been real close to my heart for a real long time … Here’s some raw, guerrilla audio of two of those tracks (recorded last night); hope you dig:

Maggie Campbell

Motherless Children

The first is a tune by Delta man Tommy Johnson, and it’s worth noting that it opens with what I think is one of the great haiku-spirit blues couplets of all time:

Who’s that yonder, comin’ down the road?
Lord, it look like Maggie, but she walkin’ slow

That’s a whole lot of pathos right there … so simple, but I get chills even typin’ it out … so much meaning writ into those few words …

The next song is a staple of a kind, and this arrangement is a bit of a modge podge worth of versions, drawin’ mainly on a cocktail of Blind Willie Johnson, Mance Lipscomb, and Dave Van Ronk …

Anyhow, hope you dig, and thanks as always fer listenin’…

~Preach


Blues Under The Moonlight: The Setlist From Tonight

If every picture is a poem, this is a haiku:

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What song to sing when
the moon’s white eye shines? Which tu-
ning, and how open?

~

In alphabetical order, these are the songs I chose:

  1. 99 Bottles (PB)
  2. A Little More Evil (PB)
  3. Baby, Please Don’t Go (Bukka White)
  4. Big Road Blues (Tommy Johnson)
  5. Catfish Blues (Willie Doss)
  6. Comin’ Up Aces (PB)
  7. Cornbread (PB)
  8. Dead, Boy (PB)
  9. Death Letter Blues (Son House)
  10. Down & Out In This Town (PB)
  11. Down South Blues (Sleepy John Estes)
  12. Down The Drain (PB)
  13. I Shall Not Be Moved (Mississippi John Hurt)
  14. If I Had Possession Over My Judgement Day (Robert Johnson)
  15. Jesus, Make Up My Dying Bed (Blind Willie Johnson)
  16. Livin’ On A Bad Dream (PB)
  17. My Car Walks On Water (PB)
  18. Seven’s In The Middle, Son (PB)
  19. That’s No Way To Get Along (Rev. Robert Wilkins)
  20. There Go John (PB)

PB_#SauceAndASideOfSlide

 

 

 


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