Alabama Country Blues
Complete Recorded Works 1924 1949
Featuring the recordings of:
Daddy Stovepipe (Johnny Watson), vocal / harmonica / guitar Whistlin Pete And Daddy Stovepipe: Johnny Watson (Daddy Stovepipe), vocal / harmonica / guitar; unknown, humming / possibly. jug on 4; Whistlin Pete, whistling. Bogus Ben Covington (probably Ben Curry), vocal / banjo; Joe Holmes (King Solomon Hill), harmonica. Ben Curry, vocal / banjo-mandolin; Joe Holmes, harmonica. Mississippi Sarah And Daddy Stovepipe: Johnny Watson (Daddy Stovepipe), Sarah Watson, vocal duet; accompanied by Johnny Watson, harmonica / guitar; Sarah Watson, jug (13); or: Sarah Watson, vocal / jug; Johnny Watson, harmonica / guitar (15, 16); or: Johnny Watson, vocal / harmonica / guitar; Sarah Watson, jug (14). Daddy Stovepipe And Mississippi Sarah: Johnny Watson, vocal on 18, 20 / harmonica / guitar; Sarah Watson, vocal / jug. Mobile Strugglers: James Fields, vocal on 21; Lee Warren, vocal on 22; acc. 2 unknowns, violin; unknown, mandolin; unknown, imitation bass or stand-up bass on 21; unknown, guitar on 22.
Genres: Country Blues, Alabama Blues, String Band, Blues Harmonica, Songster, String Band, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Guitar, Blues Mandolin, Female Blues, Jug Band, Blues Violin,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Alabama is the “deep” south. Along with the Mississippi Delta it was an area where blacks often lived in the cultural isolation of small, often all-black, rural communities where the African influence remained strong. It had its own blues tradition but this never saw the wide commercial exposure that was accorded to certain other strains before it became more-or-less submerged in the flood of recordings that took place with the economic revival and the attendant migrations to the cities which occurred as the century progressed. Covington is a county in central south Alabama and it may well be the source of the name used by Bogus Ben Covington. It is reported that Covington was actually born in Mississippi, probably in the area of Columbus, around 1900. He had his background in the world of the medicine show, where he was well-known for his rendition of the gospel parody I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop, and the half-world of the streets, where, according to Big Joe Williams he earned the sobriquet “Bogus” by pretending to be blind while he begged for handouts. It is probable that Covington was also the mysterious Memphis Ben who recorded for Paramount in November 1928 without either of his two titles being issued. These titles were Adam And Eve, and Hot Dog. Adam And Eve was the flip-side of Covington’s first recording, Pork Chop, while a track titled Hot Dog was recorded by Ben Curry in 1932 and issued on Pm 13122 – but no copy of the disc has turned up as yet. The longer career, and life, of Johnny Watson, aka Daddy Stovepipe, makes him a much easier man to account for. Like Covington he found a niche for himself on the medicine show circuit where he appeared as a one-man band playing guitar, harmonica, jug and kazoo. He also worked the streets as he wandered around the south from city to city. Calculated from the above dates his age would have been around 57 by the time he came to record, with his wife Mississippi Sarah, for Gennett in 1924. In 1927 he recorded for them again, this time in the company of one “Whistling Pete“, and saw the name Sunny Jim used on the Champion record label. In his later years he was to be found busking at the famous Maxwell Street market in Chicago, (see Document DOCD-5692) sometimes working as a religious singer under the name Rev. Alfred Pitts. The almost under-ground continuation of the string band tradition in Alabama was underlined by the final two recordings appearing on this disc. The Mobile Strugglers were recorded in 1949 and their work was issued on the obscure American Music label.
Keith Briggs Copyright 1993: Document Records