Ramblin’ Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers – Complete Recorded Works (1928-1932)
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Ramblin Thomas & The Dallas Blues Singers
Complete Recorded Works 1928 – 1932
Featuring The Recordings Of:
Willard Ramblin Thomas, vocal / guitar. Jesse Babyface Thomas, vocal / guitar. Troy Ferguson, vocal / whistling; Jesse Babyface Thomas, humming / guitar. Sammy Hill, vocal / guitar; probably McKeno, 2nd guitar. Otis Harris, vocal / guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Texas, Dallas, Texas Blues, Bottleneck-slide Guitar,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Willard Thomas and his younger brother Jesse were born in Logansport, Louisiana, Willard probably in 1902, Jesse in 1911. Both brothers became accomplished guitarists but Jesse consciously adopted a different style, avoiding the bottleneck technique favoured by Willard. Thirty miles to the north of Logansport is the city of Shreveport, stamping ground of the young Leadbelly and, later, slide guitarist Oscar Woods, The Lone Wolf. Both Thomas brothers gravitated towards this musical centre. Willard was probably there around the end of World War I and his frequent travels between Shreveport and Dallas, earned him the nickname Ramblin Thomas. In Dallas Willard met up with Blind Lemon Jefferson and they played together down in Deep Ellum. Evidence of this association can be heard in Thomass No Baby Blues which has a Jefferson-like guitar line. It was probably through Jefferson who started a very successful recording career in 1925, that he came to the attention of talent scout R. T. Ashford, who had a record shop in Dallas, and was recommended to the Paramount label which brought him up to Chicago to record 8 sides early in 1928. A further session later that year produced 6 titles but by the time his records were being issued, through 1929/30, record sales were slowing as the Depression tightened its grip on the nation. Fortunately copies of all his Paramount records have survived. Another recording opportunity came his way when the Victor company visited Dallas in February, 1932 and cut four sides by Thomas, two of which were versions of his Ground Hog Blues. The rarity of the 2 resulting records (only one has so far been recovered) suggests very modest sales. A few weeks after Willards second session, Otis Harris was making his only record in Dallas. Such an excellent coupling suggests a regular performer who may well have played with Thomas in that city. Ramblin Thomas grows in stature the more one listens to him and he must be rated one of the best bluesmen of his generation. Through Ashford, brother Jesse secured an audition for Paramount around 1928 but he wasnt recorded. His only pre-war recording session (as Jesse Babyface Thomas) was for Victor in Dallas in 1929. In addition to his own four sides Victor list him as backing singer Troy Ferguson on Good Night, although Jesse himself denies the identification. He does, however, confirm his presence on two Bessie Tucker titles, Better Boot That Thing and Katy Blues (DOCD-5070). His early sides reflect influences from Blind Blake and Lonnie Johnson, as Jesse himself readily admits. Blue Goose Blues is a catchy and skillful performance but neither this or the other record seem to have sold very well and he had to wait twenty years to be recorded again.Bob Groom Copyright 1992 & 2008 Document Records.