St. Louis Country Blues (1929-1937)
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Henry Spalding, vocal / guitar. Henry Townsend, vocal / guitar. Henry Townsend (as Jesse Townsend), vocal; accompanied. Possibly by own or probably Clifford Gibson, guitar; Roosevelt Sykes, piano added on 8. Henry Townsend (as Henry Thomas), vocal / guitar on 11; Roosevelt Sykes, piano on 9, 10. Henry Townsend, vocal / guitar. Henry Townsend, vocal / guitar; unknown, piano; Robert Lee McCoy, guitar; Sonny Boy Williamson, harmonica. Jaydee Short, vocal / guitar. Jaydee Short (as Jelly Jaw Short), vocal / guitar. Joe Stone (almost certainly a pseudonym for J. D. Short), vocal / guitar.
Genres: Blues, St. Louis Blues, Country Blues, Blues Piano, Country Blues Guitar, Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica, Mississippi Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. Famous in the early years of the century for its associations with ragtime St. Louis always had a strong complement of piano players in residence or passing through, along with a flow of guitarists and singers that ensured that although there was always music in the city its cosmopolitan make up denied any “St. Louis style”. Henry Townsend was born in Shelby, Mississippi but spent his early years in Cairo, Illinois, before his family relocated in St. Louis. J. D. Short‘s origins were similar, being born in Port Gibson, Mississippi and raised around Clarksdale. Both were active around Biddle Street, the centre of black activity in the city and a sort of northern Beale Street. Henry Spaulding‘s only two recordings are named for Cairo and Biddle Street and his percussive, ringing guitar style gives evidence of a similar rural background. J. D.’s way with a guitar was such that in the early days of reissues his work usually appeared on compilations of blues from Mississippi. Short only recorded under his own name on two occasions. In 1930 he was the Jaydee Short who recorded six sides for the Paramount label in Grafton. All of these recordings have issue numbers but only Pm 13043 is known to exist today. Of his session for Vocalion, as “Jelly Jaw” Short, cut in New York in 1932, only three tracks survive. J. D. Short (there were no names to fit the initials) may have been the artist who recorded for Victor in 1931 as R. T. Hanen (The Complete Clifford Gibson). Certainly Hanen’s supporters on that recording date known to Henry Townsend who was also present using the name Jesse Townsend. His own two tracks from this session almost certainly feature the same guitar work of Clifford Gibson with Willie Kelly (Roosevelt Sykes) joining in on Take A Chance. There is a possibility that Short was also the “Neckbones”, who recorded with Peetie Wheatstraw and it is generally accepted that he was the Joe Stone who recorded for Bluebird, this time using the name Henry Thomas and working, once again, with Sykes. Just what the reason for all these pseudonyms may have been is open to speculation. They may have been adopted to avoid contractual restrictions or it could be that, like Son Brimmer, Robert Spencer, Tim Wilkins and Alex Ford they were known by different names to different people at different times. J. D. Short was recorded again just before his death in 1962, while Henry Townsend was to enjoy an extended “second career” playing the folk clubs and concert halls for a new, white, audience.Keith Briggs Copyright 1993 Document Records