Jesse Thomas & Leonard ‘Peaches’ Sterling – Another Friend Like Me
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From the CDs booklet notes: When thinking of the blues artists who recorded in the pre-war era of the 1920’s and 30s and then remained active from the 1940s onwards, there is a tendency to think of those names which became part of the popular blues revival of the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. These included Bukka White, Son House, Skip James, Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes all of whom had been “rediscovered” and brought out of obscurity by researchers, fans and enthusiasts of the music. Some, such as Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Lonnie Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes and the Reverend Gary Davis had never really gone away, remaining commercially active one way or another, either by playing in clubs, on the streets or on the small, emerging, folk music club and concert circuit. Astonishingly, one name that eluded the concert, festival and tour organisers and music agents at the time was that of Jesse “Babyface Thomas. Though not one of the most prolific recording artists he made some fine recordings both in the pre and post war period. He was a fine, Louisiana blues musician who’s pedigree included his brother Willard “Ramblin’” Thomas, who made some exceptional blues recordings in the late 1920s, and his nephew Lafayette “The Thing” Thomas who appeared on many recordings both as a session man and under his own name between 1948 and the early 1970s. It is all the more surprising that Jesse, by and large, slipped through the net of the blues revival both in the U.S. and Europe because he was only in his forties and active as a semi-professional musician at that time.
For the first time in thirty seven years Jesse Thomas, along with his music companion of at least twenty five years, arrived at the Nightwing Studios on Fairy Avenue, Shreveport. Jesse brought with him his acoustic guitar, a piano awaited “Peaches” in the studio. Monty enlisted the expertise of record producer / engineer and musician Ron Capone as the sound engineer for sessions. In the very capable hands of Ron the two veteran musicians settled do to record. As Monty Brown explained “It was fairly early days of digital recording, so instead of using expensive 2-inch tape, we used a Sony digital processor and videocassettes. This allowed us to set Jesse and “Peaches” up in the studio, turn on the recorder and let it roll. I wanted to give them the opportunity to relax and let the choices of songs flow naturally as though they were doing a gig where the audience (in this case, me, Marsha, Ron, and maybe a couple of others) could occasionally make requests. Marsha and I paid for two recording sessions at Nightwing. As far as I can recall we had only one evening with Jesse and “Peaches”. My intention was to document the work of the long-lived duo and to record some of Jesse’s originals as well as some of the blues songs that Jesse grew up with.
By way of a bonus, this album is rounded off by two “live” performances by another native of Louisiana and contemporary of Jesse and “Peaches”, James Crutchfield.