Odds & Ends, Vol.1


I’m sorry to have been away so long. Life’s been busy. No excuse, just an explanation.

Looking back over my more recent posts, I’ve realized that there are a few things I wish I’d mentioned in a few of them. So, assuming that this will happen again, I give you…

Odds & Ends, Vol.1.

As Alan and Elizabeth Lomax continued their song collecting journey through Kentucky in 1937, they recorded two more versions of “Rising Sun Blues” after they met Georgia Turner on September 15. 

On October 9, they stopped in Horse Creek and recorded a man named Bert Martin (not Morton). Bert’s version, with banjo accompaniment, is about “many a poor boy” and includes three verses not in the Turner version: “If I’d a listened to what Mama said,” “Fills his glasses to the brim” and “I’m goin’ back to New Orleans, my race is almost run.” Lomax elected to include these three verses in the “Our Singing Country” songbook transcription of Georgia’s version as “other stanzas” credited to Bert.

On October 13, in a corner of Clay County known as Billy’s Branch, the Lomaxs met Daw Henson and recorded his four verse version of the song. Daw’s four verses were nearly identical to the ones in Georgia Turner’s version.

Before all of this, but after the first commercial recording of “Rising Sun Blues” by Ashley & Foster in 1933, the North Carolina duo known as the Callahan Brothers did a recording session for the American Record Corporation in their New York City studios in January, 1934. The song that brother Homer sang and brother Walter played guitar on they called “House of the Rising Sun.” But for some reason, and without asking the performers, ARC records released the song under the title “Rounder’s Luck.” 

As far as I know, you have to go to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to be able to hear the Bert Martin and Daw Henson recordings. The Callahan Brothers recording is available on CD from Old Homestead Records in Brighton, Michigan. (The CD is called The Callahan Brothers and is labeled OHCD-4031.)

September 15 (see the post: On This Day In Music History: “Rising Sun Blues” Again)was also the anniversary of the first recordings by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. 

On that date in 1926, composer Morton assembled a seven piece band: George Mitchell, cornet; Kid Ory, trombone; Omer Simeon, clarinet; Johnny St. Cyr, banjo; John Lindsay, upright bass; Andrew Hilaire, drums; and Morton himself on piano. The recording session was held in the Webster Hotel in Chicago, IL for Victor Records. Three tunes were cut, with three takes made of each tune, all recorded in a four hour session.

“Black Bottom Stomp” was the first and my, oh my, does this tune swing. From the first notes to the last, it’s easy to hear why these three minutes and ten seconds of red hot Jazz are considered to be among “the finest performances in the New Orleans ensemble style.” (From Lawrence Gushee’s liner notes to the RCA/Bluebird CD Jelly Roll Morton: Birth of the Hot.) If you’ve never heard early New Orleans Jazz, this is the place to start. Jelly Roll Morton’s compositions and arrangements are brilliant, the playing is spectacular and the recordings on this compilation are superb. You wouldn’t know they were from 1926-1927. Highly recommended.

And finally, I have to add another recording to my choice for Bruce Springsteen favorite. This one is both an excellent song and a haunting and gorgeous recording. It is also on my top 10 list of most-memorable concert performances ever.

The song: “Racing In The Streets.”     

So, there you are. Odds & Ends, Vol.1.

I’m back.

“Lost time is not found again.”

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