Memphis Jug Band
Complete Recorded Works 24 February 1927 – 28 November 1930
Vol. 3: 12 May l930 to 28 November 1930
Featuring the recordings of:
Will Shade, guitar; Ben Ramey, kazoo / probably speech; Charlie Burse, mandolin; Hambone Lewis, jug; unknown, banjo; Charlie Nickerson, vocal. Will Shade, harmonica on 3 / guitar on 2 / vocal on 2; Ben Ramey, kazoo / vocal on 3; Charlie Burse, guitar; Hambone Lewis, jug; Hattie Hart, vocal; one of the band, harmony vocal on 3. Will Shade, guitar / vocal on 4, 7; Ben Ramey, kazoo on 4, 6, 7; Milton Robie, violin on 5; Charlie Burse, mandolin on 6 / guitar on 5, 7; Hambone Lewis, jug; Charlie Nickerson, vocal on 5, 6, 7; two of the band, harmony vocal on 6; one of the band, speech on 5, 7; unknown, piano on 4. Will Shade, harmonica; Charlie Burse, guitar; Memphis Minnie, vocal / guitar; Hambone Lewis, jug. Will Shade, guitar / vocal; Ben Ramey, kazoo; Charlie Burse, guitar / poss. speech on 10; Hambone Lewis, jug. Will Shade, harmonica on 13 / guitar on 12, 14 / vocal on 13; Ben Ramey, kazoo; Charlie Burse, guitar; Hambone Lewis, jug; Hattie Hart, vocal on 12, 13; Charlie Nickerson, vocal on 14; group vocal on 14. Memphis Sheiks: Will Shade, harmonica; Vol Stevens, banjo-mandolin; Charlie Burse, guitar / possibly harmony vocal; Jab Jones, jug; Charlie Nickerson, vocal. Carolina Peanut Boys / Memphis Sheiks: Will Shade, harmonica; Charlie Burse, guitar on 16,18, 19, 20; poss. Will Weldon or probably Vol Stevens, mandolin on 17, 18, 19, 20; Ben Ramey, kazoo on 16, 17 / harmony vocal on 17, 18, 19, 20; unknown, jug; Charlie Nickerson, vocal / speech on 19,20; unknown, 2nd vocal / speech on 16.
Genres: Blues, Memphis Blues, Tennessee Blues, Country Blues, Jug Band, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Guitar Blues Harmonica, Blues Mandolin, Blues Violin, Female Blues
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Everybodys Talking About Sadie Green, proclaimed the Memphis Jug Band‘s new singer, Charlie Nickerson, on the first song of fourteen that were to be recorded on six days between 12th May and 5th June 1930. Besides the addition of Nickerson’s ingratiating vocals, perfect for hokum and dance tunes, Hambone Lewis had been brought in to play powerful jug, replacing Jab Jones, who’d left after a row with Will Shade over his drinking habits. The great Hattie Hart turned up again, duetting with Shade on the mildly obscene Oh Ambulance Man, with the jug providing a lewd commentary. Cocaine Habit is probably Hart’s greatest performance; the song dates from the turn of the century, when cocaine was both legal and endemic in Memphis, with Lehman’s Drugstore on Union the main source. Also telling of real life events was Jim Strainer Blues, about a murder that took place, according to Johnny Shines, in Raleigh, Tennessee. Cave Man Blues, another bawdy piece, makes an uneasy joke about Floyd Collins, a potholer whose death in 1925, trapped by a rock fall, was exploited by newspaper press journalism that relied little on the facts. Fourth Street Mess Around is given a strange, melancholy treatment, with unusual minor chords, but It Won’t Act Right is more conventionally cheerful, and marks the first appearance on record of Charlie Burse’s lunatic scat singing. On 28th May, Memphis Minnie, who occasionally worked with the band in Handy’s Park, joined them to record versions of her big hit and her most personal number. Bumble Bee is notable for superb guitar duetting possibly with Tewee Blackman, who is referred to by name on Cave Man Blues, and is probably on other performances from these sessions also. Will Shade also cut a remake; Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues was “Newport News Blues” from 1927 renamed. Stonewall Blues, being about prison, should properly be “Stone Wall Blues“. The 5th June session saw Hattie Hart‘s final appearances with the Memphis Jug Band, and Charlie Nickerson cut the delightful Going Back To Memphis, issued under his own name. It was Nickerson who sang lead at the Memphis Jug Bands last Victor session, in November 1930, at which the musicians concentrated on cheerful dance tunes. Jab Jones had been reinstated, and Vol Stevens was back with his banjo-mandolin, and surely he, not Will Weldon, is the masterly mandolinist on the last four songs. Their version of the medicine show standby He’s In The Jailhouse Now, was adapted for white consumption, as shown by the line about voting being white folks’ business. Less distasteful to us is the witty “If he have a political friend, judge sentence he will suspend”. For most of these songs, however, the accent is on musical brilliance, the band’s pleasure in their perfectly integrated playing very evident from the spoken comments.
Chris Smith Copyright 1991 Document Records.