Washboard Sam Vol 1 1935-1936
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Complete Recorded Works (20 June 1935 – 27 October 1949)
Vol. 1: 20th June 1935 to 21st December 1936
Featuring the recordings of:
Washboard Sam (as Ham Gravy), vocal / washboard; accompanied by Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; Louis Lasky, 2nd guitar. Washboard Sam (as Ham Gravy), vocal / washboard; accompanied by Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar. Washboard Sam’s Band: Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Arnett Nelson, clarinet on 7; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Black Bob piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar / vocal on 10. Shufflin’ Sam And His Rhythm: Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Black Bob, piano; probably Big Bill Broonzy, guitar on 14; unknown, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; probably John Lindsay, stand-up bass. Washboard Sam And His Washboard Band: Washboard Sam, vocal / washboard; accompanied by Black Bob, piano; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar; unknown, stand-up bass.
Genres; Blues, Country Blues, Arkansas Blues, Early Chicago Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Piano, Urban Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. As an unappreciated, influential artist, Washboard Sam probably ranks right up there. Certainly, he must have been very popular with his contemporary record-buying public, having over eighty 78s issued with the familiar “Washboard Sam and His Washboard Band” credit in the fourteen year period covered by this series of seven albums. His influence on music is undeniable; his use of the washboard as a percussive instrument in a band setting of varying sizes (up to five pieces) is the linkage between Country Blues, Skiffle and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Robert Brown was born in Arkansas in 1910, dying in Chicago in 1966. He apparently worked his way North in the classic blues musician’s manner, stopping in Memphis in the 1920s before arriving in Chicago in 1931 or 1932. Big Bill Broonzy may or may not have actually been Sam’s half-brother (as Bill claimed), but he almost assuredly introduced him to Lester Melrose at Bluebird (after a brief association with Vocalion) and played guitar on all of Sam’s recordings (with the exception of the final eight songs on Vol. 7, recorded at two sessions in 1949). Sam was as prolific a songwriter as he was a recording artist, writing the vast majority of his own records as well as material for others like Jazz Gillum. Mama Don’t Allow, was credited to “Ham Gravy“. It was enough of a success to produce a Mama Don’t Allow No. 2 at Sam’s next session, with the critical addition of piano accompaniment (in this case by Black Bob). The reverse side was Who Pumped The Wind In My Doughnut, a hokum blues style which was seldom recorded by Sam. He was still searching for his “sound” on his next session, ten months later, when the piano was dropped in favour of a string bass and almost three months after that when a clarinet (played by Arnett Nelson) was introduced on Don’t Tear My Clothes. It wasn’t until the session of August 5, 1936 that Black Bob returned permanently to Sam’s recording dates. His sales must have been improving because four songs were recorded on this date for the first time. Big Bill Broonzy‘s violin provided some variety on Crazy About Nancy Jane, but the overall sound is still rather “country” on the majority of the sessions on this album. Dirty Mother For You and Good Liquor from his next session of September 16, 1936 were issued as by “Shufflin’ Sam“. The 78 rpm releases from Sam’s final session of 1936 (and his largest to date with six songs recorded) were the first to be released as by “Washboard Sam and His Washboard Band“. This credit would appear on all his subsequent records. Sam’s bouncy style of up-tempo blues is showcased on Out With The Wrong Woman and others from this session. With the move to Bluebird’s new recording studio in Aurora, III, in 1937 and the increasing use of a brass or reed instrument at the sessions there, Sam’s sound would become decidedly more “citified”, as we shall see in Vol. 2. Sam would soon have a hit giving the public the sound they wanted.Victor Pearlin Copyright 1993: Document Records