82 years ago.
On March 1, 1938, singer/guitarist Big Bill Broonzy and singer/pianist Curtis Jones entered the NBC studios in Chicago, Illinois.
Big Bill Broonzy (1903-1958) was a popular Chicago-based Blues musician and prolific recording artist who’d cut his first record in November, 1927.
Curtis Jones (1906-1971) had started his recording career in Chicago in September, 1937 and was best known for his song “Lonesome Bedroom Blues.”
On this day – according to the invaluable reference book Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943 (4th edition) by Dixon, Godrich & Rye – each of these artists recorded the same two songs in their respective sessions: “Sweetheart Land” and “It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame.”
The common denominator of these recordings was the 16-year-old NBC session guitarist who played on all four tracks: George Barnes.
The significance of these recordings is that George Barnes (1921-1977) played an electric guitar and this would be the first time an electric guitar was used on a Blues recording.
Mr Broonzy went first, laying down a lively rendition of “Sweetheart Land.”
Mr. Barnes’ solo starts at the 1:51 mark.
When it was Mr. Jones’ turn, he started off with “It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame.”
Mr. Barnes takes the opening solo and solos again at the 2:22 mark.
Both of those recordings were released in 1938.
Curtis Jones’ version of “It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame” (b/w “Little Jivin’ Woman”) was released on Vocalion Records, #04027.
George Barnes was credited on that record under the name Hobson “Hot Box” Johnson.
Big Bill Broonzy’s performance of “Sweetheart Land” (b/w “I Want You By My Side”) was released in 1938 on Vocalion Records, #04041.
Mr. Broonzy’s recording of “It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame” was not released until 1990. (Didn’t they know it was one of the first Blues records to feature an electric guitar?!)
For some unknown reason, Mr. Jones’ recording of “Sweetheart Land” has never been released.
Many thanks for this. Not just historic.
You’re most welcome, Thom. They are indeed wonderful, vibrant performances that lift them way up beyond their historic significance. Thank you for your comment. Best, Eric
Thanks Eric. I’ve learned a lot from visits to your sure. Regards Thom
Thank you, Thom. I’m so glad to know that. I take that as a real compliment coming from such an accomplished fellow blogger.
These are priceless…thanks!
You are most welcome! I agree: they are fabulous recordings of extraordinary performances. Priceless, indeed. Thanks for your comment.