The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 265

Legends Mix

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And welcome back, my dear listeners, to the program that brings you the best music from the roaring twenties to the rocking fifties, when times were hard but the music was better than ever. A whole lotta Rhythm & Blues again, blues and old-time jazz that should never have been forgotten.

And the next for sure is a forgotten gem - it had the potential to get covered and make it to a jazz classic, but somehow it didn't. On Youtube I found one, a modern little band named the Unknown Quartet, and the members apparently were caught - like I was - by the exotic adventurous atmosphere of this song, and they did a nice version of it.

Here is the original from 1944, released on the Savoy label, the band of Hot Lips Page with the Dance of the Tambourine.

1. Hot Lips Page - Dance Of The Tambourine
2. Johnny Moore's Three Blazers feat. Charles Brown - B&O Blues

On the Swing Time label Johnny Moore's Three Blazers fronted by Charles Brown with the B&O Blues - one of the many train blues around. Pianist and singer Charles Brown was the star of the trio, and by 1948 he found so little reward and recognition while the group in fact relied on him, that he left and started his own trio.

Both were modeled after the success of Nat King Cole, but they stayed much closer to the blues and Brown's style was much more troublesome and bluesy than Cole's. While Ray Charles always said in his early years he wanted to sound like Nat King Cole, in fact his sound was much closer to Charles Brown's.

Next the band of Jay McShann with their featured singer, Jimmy Witherspoon. He joined McShann's outfit in '45 when Walter Brown left. The band of McShann was trimmed down to a jump blues combo and they proved to be a succesful combination, and their biggest hit was their version of Ain't Nobody's Business, a classic that has its origins in the early twenties.

Here they are with a recording for the Mercury label from 1946, Gone With The Blues.

3. Jay McShann feat. Jimmy Witherspoon - Gone With The Blues
4. John Hardee - Right Foot, Then Left Foot


5. Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis - Huckle Boogie
6. Sunny James & Wilson 'Thunder' Smith - Excuse Me Baby

Excuse Me Baby - that were Sunny James and Wilson 'Thunder' Smith in a recording from 1948 on the Houston based Down Town label. Wilson Smith got his nickname together with Lightnin' Hopkins when they recorded together for the Aladdin label and an executive of the label wanted to spice up the names to Lightning and Thunder. Smith made recordings under his own name and together with Andy Thomas and Sunny James on the Downtown and Gold Star labels, both small local record companies from Houston.

It was the last of four-in-a-row and I have to account for two more. Before Sunny James you got from 1949 the Huckle Boogie, an apparent attempt of Eddie Lockjaw Davis to cash some of the success of Paul Williams Hucklebuck - next to this Huckle Boogie he also recorded the Huckle Bug.

And then before the jingle, that was Right Foot Left Foot of John Hardee.

Next a blues of Sonny Boy Williamson titled Better Cut That Out and then we're talking Sonny Boy Williamson the First, and not Aleck Rice Miller, who used the same name.

This was recorded in 1947 for RCA Victor, a year before his violent death. On Chicago's south side Williamson was killed in a robbery while walking home. In the fifties, the second Sonny Boy Williamson settled in Chicago and recorded for the Checker label - causing a lot of confusion initially.

Well here is the one and only real Sonny Boy with Better Cut That Out.

7. Sonny Boy Williamson - Better Cut That Out
8. Beverley White & her Blues Chasers - Hot Bread

Hot Bread of Beverley White and her Blues Chasers recorded for the Beacon label in 1943, and the lyrics are a nice combination of a bit risque and adressing the wartime problems. These Blues Chasers were a few musicians already in the circle of label owner Joe Davis and had Al Casey on guitar and Willie 'The Lion' Smith on the 88s - the bass player remains unidentified.

Next from 1938 on Decca, a train blues of Johnny Temple, Gonna Ride the 74 and that 74 is a freight train that's gonna bring him home to Chicago to his woman. Hopping a freight train was the cheap way to get somewhere, in most cases the only way because most African Americans could not afford the fare for a passenger line. Millions of people have used freight trains to escape the South and find a better living in Northern cities. Of course, you were subject to being sent off the train when you were found, and the long distance travel was far from comfortable. In this blues Johnnie Temple refers to both.

Here is Gonna Ride the 74.

9. Johnnie Temple - Gonna Ride 74
10. Georgia White - Mail Plane Blues

From 1941 on Decca the Mail Plane Blues - Georgia white singing about her love for the mail plane pilot, because he carries the love letters from her other lover to her.

And infidelity is a often used subject in the blues, just as heartbreak for a lost lover, but just not sentimental. In the next one blues singer Mandy Lee is seriously wondering if her man is doing allright, if he gets enough to eat, if he's got a job, and what woman he's sleeping with, and she's gonna scratch the eyes out of his head if she catches him with that other woman.

From 1926 on the Perfect label, here is Mandy Lee with the Wandering Papa Blues.

11. Mandy Lee - Wandering Papa Blues
12. Sippie Wallace - Walkin' Talkin' Blues

And with Sippie Wallace we make an excursion to the acoustic era. This Walkin' Talkin' Blues is from 1924 recorded for the Okeh label. Wallace recorded some forty sides between 1923 and '27, and from 1930 she quit the blues to play the organ in church and direct the choir. In the sixties, she made a comeback with the help of her long-time friend Victoria Spivey. She died in 1986 on her 88th birthday, just a few months after she'd appeared on a jazz festival in Germany where a stroke ended her career.

And we stay in the roaring twenties with the Nut House Stomp credited to King Mutt and his Tennessee Thumpers. This group recorded ten sides at one session in the studio of Gennett in february of 1929. Now who they were was never written down - a few have been identified by ear, some others were likely in the group because they'd been recording in sessions before or after this one. No-one knows who called himself King Mutt - if ever someone did. The music sounds like a nice jam session without any rules but that the piece could not take longer than three minutes and a bit.

Here is the Nut House Stomp.

13. King Mutt and his Tennesee Thumpers - Nut House Stomp
14. Sweet Papa Tadpole - Black Spider Blues

From 1930 on On Vocalion that was the Black Spider blues of Sweet Papa Tadpole, probably a pseudonym for Bob Coleman, one of the brothers who led the Cincinnatti Jug Band. This band was popular in Cincinnatti's George Street, the red light district in town. Here he's backed by Tampa Red and perhaps also Georgia Tom, the two leaders of the Hokum Boys.

And what would the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman be without the ultimate legend in the blues - Robert Johnson. Now the story that he sold his soul to the devil on a crossroads to master the guitar, it's most likely he fabricated that himself and helped it spread around after some time of absence when he practiced his guitar playing - it's known where and when and who most likely has taught him the tricks, a bluesman named Ike Zimmerman in Hazelhurst, MS.

From 1935 on the Vocalion label, here is Robert Johnson with the 32-20 blues.

15. Robert Johnson - 32-20 Blues
16. Dusky Dailey - Take Me Back Baby - Vocalion 1939 (Dallas)

And also from the Vocalion label that was Take Me Back Baby of Dusky Dailey. It was recorded in 1939 in Dallas, and the obscure singer and pianist was part of the small blues scene of San Antonio.

There's time for one more, and for that I chose a blues that Peetie Wheatstraw recorded for Vocalion - it also got releases on the Conqueror label, that was - like Vocalion - part of the ARC label family. Peetie Wheatstraw named himself the Devil's Son In Law, but his blues were by far not as demonic as Robert Johnson's. Well listen for yourself, here he is with the Truthful Blues.

17. Peetie Wheatstraw - Truthful Blues

And Peetie Wheatstraw ends the mixed bag of goodies that I brought you. I hope you enjoyed it - and of course you can let me know and send e-mail to And like most of my shows - and for more than a year all of the shows that I bring under the title of Legends Mix - they have music from the twenties up to the fifties. In the five years that I've been doing this show I hardly changed the format, but slowly I started digging deeper and deeper into the origins of all of today's popular music. I said it before - if it wasn't for the blues and the jazz, we'd probably still be dancing the menuet - be it on electronic music.

It's a mysterious paradox that a segregated, discriminated minority of the American people, in those days regarded by many as inferior, could so dominantly influence a cultural outing, that is probably closest to people's emotions - music. American culture is dominant over the world, and everywhere - be it in China, Russia, Europe, and America itself of course, the traces of the blues and the jazz are to be heard.

I'll continue to bring that important roots music to you, listeners, and tell about its history. Just in case you missed something of today's story - it's all to be found on my website, and easiest way to get there is to search Google for the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman and it will pop up first in the results. This was show number 265 in that ever growing list of episodes that I made. It will help you to find this particular show if you memorize that number 265.

For now I'm done, and next week there will be a new show. I hope to see you then, here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!