Complete Recorded Works 1929 1940
Vol. 1 (6th September 1929 to 13th November 1933)
Featuring the recordings of:
Carver Boys: Warner Carver, harmonica; Noble “Uncle Bozo” Carver, Robert V. Carver, guitar; probably Josh White, guitar. Joshua White, vocal / guitar. Joshua White (as Pinewood Tom), vocal / guitar. Joshua White, vocal / guitar; unknown, piano. Joshua White, vocal / guitar. Joshua White (as The Singing Christian on 24), vocal / guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, South Carolina Blues, Carolina Blues, Piedmont Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Rural Blues, Ragtime Guitar, Gospel, Country Gospel, Carolina Gospel, Blues Harmonica,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Although best known as a suave folk artist and night-club performer in his later years, this album will reveal Josh White to have been an important blues and gospel innovator, as well as a major influence on other East Coast artists such as Blind Boy Fuller. Joshua Daniel White was born in Greenville, South Carolina to the Reverend Dennis and Daisy White, in 1914. After a strict religious upbringing, Josh left home at the age of eight to travel as lead boy with the blind local street singer John Henry “Big Man” Arnold, who paid Josh’s mother $ 4.00 a week for this service. Josh later led other blind singers, such as Columbus Williams, Archie Jackson, Joe Taggart and Joe Walker, the brother of Willie Walker. Josh also met Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson around this time, but it was Willie Walker he remembered as “the best guitarist I’ve ever heard… this man played so much guitar it wasn’t even funny.” (See Document DOCD-5062.) (Another fine guitarist associated with the Greenville scene was Gary Davis, although he had left town in the early 1920s.) Josh White absorbed the guitar styles of his masters, although, having no guitar of his own, he did not play at this time. By the late nineteen-twenties, however, Josh was playing guitar, and accompanied Blind Joe Taggart on a session for Paramount in Chicago, around October 1928. It’s an accomplished performance by Josh, despite his young age (he was only 14), as indicated by the highness of his voice. (Josh’s recordings with Taggart can all be heard on Document DOCD-5153 & DOCD-5154.) When he first began to play guitar, Josh says that he placed his left hand over the front of the finger board, rather than behind and under, as is the usual case, although he later changed to the more customary fingering position. In between sessions with Joe Taggart, Josh also recorded with the white group, The Carver Boys, in a September 1929 date for Paramount, in Richmond, Indiana. Josh played the guitar solo on Wang Wang Harmonica Blues, and may also be present on the following recording, Sisco Harmonica Blues. It wasn’t long before Josh White was discovered in Greenville by the A&R men for ARC, W. R. Calaway and Art Satherley, and in April 1932, the 18-year-old artist travelled to New York to make his first recordings under his own name. Josh recalled recording some twenty-eight songs (including alternate takes) at these first sessions, for which his mother received the sum of $ 100. On these early recordings, Josh White already displays a high level of vocal and instrumental skill, all within the tradition of the Carolina blues. There are hints of Blind Blake‘s guitar style, particularly in Crying Blues and High Brown Cheater. This last song is reminiscent of Willie Walker‘s Dupree Blues, and has similarities with Robert Johnson‘s 1937 recording of From Four Until Late. Bad Depression Blues also contains guitar work similar to Willie Walker‘s. Good Gal is a version of Charlie Spand‘s 1929 recording, on which Josh may be the guitarist. On his solo version, Josh plays in open E tuning. Also included in the first session was Josh’s rendition of J. T. “Funny Paper” Smith‘s Howling Wolf Blues. The records from these sessions sold well, and Josh was recalled to New York for more recordings in August 1933. At this date he remade several titles unissued from his first sessions, including the well-known Blood Red River and Low Cotton. Josh’s recordings from these years were highly influential. Both Buddy Moss and Blind Boy Fuller listened to them and learned from them, and Fuller is recalled sitting in front of a phonograph, playing Josh’s Low Cotton over and over. Josh’s So Sweet, So Sweet also became the basis of a theme much used by Fuller. And Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed, under the title of In My Time of Dyin’, appeared in 1961 on the first album by a certain Robert Zimmerman.
Dave Moore Copyright 1993: Document Records