Sleepy John Estes, vocal and guitar. (With Yank Rachel, mandolin)
Brownie McGhee: vocal and guitar.
Mississippi John Hurt, vocal and guitar.
Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), vocal and harmonica.
John Jackson, vocal and guitar.
Sippie Wallace, vocal with piano accompaniment.
Big Walter Horton aka “Shakey” Horton
Sonny Terry, vocal, harmonica.
Informative 16 page booklet by Gary Atkinson.
The blues revival of the late 1950s and into the 1960s was marked by the rediscovery of some of the musicians that had made some of the finest recordings from the pre-war era. Musicians such as Skip James, Son House, Bukka White, Robert Wilkins, Sleepy John Estes and Mississippi John Hurt were just a few. It also encouraged blues fans and researchers to discover musicians that had never recorded before, including Mance Lispcomb, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Snooks Eaglin, Robert Pete Williams and John Jackson. Some were already active and were known to audiences both in the black urban clubs of cities such as Chicago in the north and Houston in the south, such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters and Little Walter. The emerging “coffee house” and college circuits had already begun to see the appearances of musicians like Lead Belly, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Josh White
As these musicians travelled from city to city and then on from country to country the hospitality that they received from their new fans, who’s admiration and great respect was often equal to that of rock stars, was warm and welcoming with many new found friends made in the process. With the Blues revival came opportunities for artists and their fans to engage and socialise unlike before and with that came informal, impromptu, performances at parties, often organised by fans and patrons of the venues where concerts were performed. On rare occasions these performances were captured; recorded, using little more than a home, reel-to-reel tape recorder and a single microphone. The results of the sound recordings were often, of a very amateur quality, with the clunking of microphones being moved during the recording, tapes running out half way through the performances. The hiss and heavy bass hum created by the recording machines is also a common feature of the “home made tape”. An artist, under no pressure from the studio, its engineer or producer, sometimes stops and starts the performance, tuning a string or momentarily forgetting the words. Fluctuation in volume can also be a menace as the person manning the machine has decided to fiddle with the simple volume, bass or treble controls during the performance. All of these problems were encountered in the preparation of this album. Hopefully, the listener has been spared these nightmares as the result of discerned editing and sound restoration.
On both sides of the Atlantic “live” concert recordings were recorded where the performer has been at the mercy of the “sound engineer”, who, one would hope, would have a sympathetic ear to acoustic instruments and blues vocals from the folk end of the spectrum. The other hope being that the engineer’s regular job was not catering for heavy rock bands, with little empathy for anything else. Sometimes, particularly on their visits to Europe, the artists were invited into radio and TV studios with much less precarious results.
The over-all result has been the making of a rich and diverse collection of recordings, often revealing the artists as he or she was, relaxed and in private company, behind the scenes after the ticket paying audience had left, or in the vibrant and atmospheric setting of a concert or festival, or in the informal setting of a TV or radio studio. For many, several of the names appearing on this album represent gems made in the commercial recording studio which were then released on 78rpm recordings from the pre-war and post-war era carrying such labels as Okeh, Victor, Decca, Bluebird, Cobra,Trumpet and Checker. The recordings presented here, made beyond the formal recordings studio, were made possible as the result of the interest and enthusiasm gained by the public from the Blues Revival of the 1960s.