Mississippi Mud Steppers
"Sam Hill" From Louisville
with contrinbutions by; Alec Johnson, vocal; Bo Carter, violin, guitar, vocal; Charlie McCoy, mandolin, banjo; Joe McCoy, guitar, Walter Vincson, vocal guitar; "Sam Hill", vocal, guitar; and others…
Genre: Mississippi Country Blues.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
This CD contains some of the recorded fruits of the relationship between the McCoy and the Chatmon families of Mississippi, beginning with the one session made by Alec Johnson, who was backed by Bo Carter on violin, and the McCoy brothers; guitar (Joe) and mandolin (Charlie), with possibly an under recorded piano. Johnson was evidently, judging by both his voice and repertoire, an older singer than his accompanists, and probably a veteran of the medicine shows. His repertoire favours the humorous, from the black joke of Miss Meal Cramp Blues and the saga of the Mysterious Coon, to the gently risque Toodle Oo, later recorded by Hamone Willie Newbern. Sundown Blues is an affecting 8-bar number, not much marred by Joe’s duff chord at the end.
By December 1930, when Walter Vinson and Charley McCoy recorded as the Mississippi Mud Steppers, Vinson was a hit-maker as a member of the Mississippi Sheiks with Lonnie Chatmon, having cut ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ the previous February. With McCoy, he cut a series of instrumentals; the two stomps probably come from their repertoire for black audiences (Jackson Stomp is a driving version of ‘Cow Cow Blues’), while waltzes reflect their frequent work for white audiences (which the Chatmons preferred, because of them having more money and being less rowdy).
The following month, a fresh combination took its place before the studio microphones, this time for Brunswick. The Mississippi Blacksnakes seem to have been Bo Carter and Charlie McCoy. Blue Sky Blues and Grind So Fine, with Bo taking the vocals. Charlie sings on some titles; It Still Ain’t No Good, to the tune of ‘Beedle Um Bum’, is a remake of his 1929 ‘It Ain’t No Good’, which seems to have been sold well. On Farewell Baby Blues (another version of ‘Cow Cow Blues’), Charlie displays his guitar mastery, effortlessly switching to "Hillbilly Hawaiian" in the break.
At the end of the first two days of the Blacksnakes’ sessions, four titles were cut by "Sam Hill" from Louisville. The inverted commas are Brunswick’s, making it likely that Sam Hill is a pseudonym (and "from Louisville" just a convenient rhyme, as with "Joe Dean from Bowling Green", who was a St Louisan). The second guitar and mandolin seem clearly to be by Charlie McCoy again; "Sam Hill" sounds very like Walter Vinson, perhaps evading a contract with Okeh. He even sings Things ’bout To Come My Way, which Walter recorded in October 1931 as a Mississippi sheik, and again in 1961. Just to complicate matters, there was a Sammy Hill playing guitar in the revived Mississippi Sheiks on that occasion.