Lucille Hegamin – Complete Recorded Works 1920 – 1932 Vol. 1 (1920-1922)
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One of the first of the classic female blues singers to record, Lucille Hegamin’s material was mostly drawn from the kind of blues that would have been performed on the vaudeville stage, at the time. A talented singer, who was reasonably versatile, Hegamin’s entire output in the ’20s has been reissued on three Document CDs. The initial volume covers her first seventeen months of visiting the recording studios. Highlights include The Jazz Me Blues (from November, 1920), Arkansas Blues, Wang Wang Blues, Wabash Blues, and two versions of a future standard that Hegamin first introduced, He May Be Your Man But He Comes to See Me Sometimes. A special bonus is a pair of instrumentals, Strut Miss Lizzie and Sweet Mama, Papa’s Getting Mad, from May, 1921. In most cases, Hegamin is backed by her Blue Flame Syncopators, a combo of mostly obscure players that includes her husband Bill Hegamin on piano, Ralph Escudero on tuba, and drummer Kaiser Marshall, along with four horns.
Following closely at the heels of Mamie Smith, Lucille Hegamin first recorded as early as October, 1920 for Victor but her ‘Dallas Blues’ was rejected and her recording career proper, initially for the East Coast Arto label, began the following month. Her first record, coupling The Jazz Me Blues and Everybody’s Blues, sold well and her second, Arkansas Blues / I’ll Be Good But I’ll Be Lonesome, was a big hit.
By the time her recording career stalled, late in 1926, she had made over seventy-five sides. A single record for OKeh in 1932 was her pre-war swan-song and it was to be thirty years before she recorded again (for Prestige Bluesville). Lucille had been a regular on the vaudeville circuit since before World War One and her clear diction and smart presentation were marks of her professionalism. Her material was usually fairly strong, although saccharin sentiment did sometimes creep in on numbers like Mississippi Blues and ‘Land of Cotton Blues’. However, her approach was usually upbeat and light, in complete contrast to the deep, sombre blues of an Ida Cox.
She tended to avoid bawdy material and Mamma Whip! Mamma Spank! (If Her Daddy Don’t Come Home)is about as naughty as she gets, preferring the novelty value of I’ve Got The Wonder Where He Went (And When He’s Coming Back) Blues and I Had Someone Before I Had You (And I’ll Have Someone After You’re Gone’). Her strongest number in this vein being her very successful He May Be Your Man But He Comes To See Me Sometimes, one of six sides Lucille made for Paramount in 1922.
That year she started to record regularly for the Cameo label, producing persistently good couplings like ‘Beale Street Mama’/ ‘Aggravatin’ Papa’ and Sam Jones Blues’/ ‘St. Louis Gal’. Other outstanding Cameo sides Included ‘Syncopatin’ Mama’, and two titles that appeared to cover Ida Cox songs but were in fact quite different, ‘Chattanooga Man’ and ‘Rampart Street Blues’
If you’d like to sample a lighter shade of blue, why not try listening to the ‘Cameo Girl’, as Lucille was known at this time, and discover why this spirited performer was so popular in her day.