"Memphis Minnie"
(Blues) guitar, b. Algiers, LA, USA.
Big Bill Broonzy once called her the best woman guitarist he had ever heard, and recalled her beating both him and Tampa Red in a guitar contest. Her good taste in music was matched by her good taste in husbands with guitarists Casey Bill Weldon, Joe McCoy, and Ernest Lawlers. Even though her guitar duets with those men spanned the spectrum of African-American folk and popular music, including old-time dance pieces, comic dialogs, and spirituals, still "Memphis Minnie's" best work consisted of deep Blues vocals.
Over her four decades of recording for the Columbia, Vocalion, Bluebird, Okeh, Regal, Checker, and JOB labels, her solid musicianship earned her the respect of her peers. This wonderful female Blues guitarist and singer more than held her own against the best Blues artists of her time, and is still admired by todays guitarists. She was quite an anomaly. The early women Blues singers seldom recorded playing a guitar, and those women who could play a good Blues guitar (such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Sister O.M. Terrell) recorded only as singers, --not as guitarists. "Memphis Minnie" was the most notable exception to this pattern. She was a very talented guitarist and vocalist.
~by Barry Lee Pearson 
Tracking down the ultimate woman blues guitar hero is problematic because woman blues singers seldom recorded as guitar players and woman guitar players (such as Rosetta Tharpe and Sister O.M. Terrell) were seldom recorded playing blues. Excluding contemporary artists, the most notable exception to this pattern was Memphis Minnie. The most popular and prolific blueswoman outside the vaudeville tradition, she earned the respect of critics, the support of record-buying fans, and the unqualified praise of the blues artists she worked with throughout her long career. 
Despite her Southern roots and popularity, she was as much a Chicago blues artist as anyone in her day.
Big Bill Broonzy recalls her beating both him and Tampa Red in a guitar contest and claims she was the best woman guitarist he had ever heard. Tough enough to endure in a hard business, she earned the respect of her peers with her solid musicianship and recorded good blues over four decades for Columbia, Vocalion, Bluebird, Okeh, Regal, Checker, and JOB. She also proved to have as good taste in musical husbands as music and sustained working marriages with guitarists Casey Bill Weldon, Joe McCoy, and Ernest Lawlars. Their guitar duets span the spectrum of African-American folk and popular music, including spirituals, comic dialogs, and old-time dance pieces, but Memphis Minnie's best work consisted of deep blues like "Moaning the Blues." More than a good woman blues guitarist and singer, Memphis Minnie holds her own against the best blues artists of her time, and her work has special resonance for today's aspiring guitarists.

Josephine Baker
dancer/singer/Parisian night club owner
b. St. Lous, MO, USA.
d. April 12, 1975, Paris, France.
(Cerebral hemorrhage).
né: Frida Josephine McDonald.
Called the 'Black Venus' by an adoring French public, Josephine was the daughter of laundress Carrie McDonald and musician Eddie Carson. As a child, she would dance on the streets of St. Louis for whatever nickels and dimes the passersby would throw her. In 1921, at just age 15, she was both working as a chorus girl on the St. Louis stage, and married to a Pullman porter named Baker. In 1923, at age 17, feeling the extreme racial discrimation of St. Louis, she ran away from both St. Louis and Baker. She ran fairly far.
Her first job in Paris was in La Revue Negre, following which, she was accepted as a chorine at the famed Folies Bergere, as a member of their all-black revue. In 1925, at the Folies Bergere, she first performed her famous banana dance. The Folies Bergere patrons loved it and her fame grew. Later, Janet Flanner, a "New Yorker" magazine correspondent would write: "Her magnificent dark body, a new model to the French, proved for the first time that black was beautiful." And, Pablo Picasso (writing of her work in the Folies-Bergere would write: "Tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles."

Unbelievably, during U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy's communist "witch hunt" era, she became persona non grata in the United States. Renouncing her American citizenship, in 1937, she became a citizen of France. In 1961, France awarded her their highest civilian award, making her a member of 'The Legion of Honor'. Her life was a full one. She refused to perform in clubs that practiced racial segregation. 
During her lifetime, she adopted 11 children of different races, religions, and nationalities, all of whom lived in her home (she was very protective of them) and all of whom loved her. 
She once had a rejected (and dejected) suitor kill himself at her feet. In 1928, her husband/manager 'Count' Pepito di Abatino dueled Andrew Czolovodi, a Hungarian calvary officer, over Josephine in St. Stephen's cemetery in Budapest. The duel lasted only 10 minutes, ending when di Abatino was scratched by Czolovodi's blade.
During World War II, she worked as a spy for the French resistance. In the late 1960's, aging, and with a changing world, financial difficulties became troubling. 
In 1968, she stopped performing. She accepted a home in Monaco from Princess Grace (Kelly) who had learned of her financial distress. All told, Josephine was married five times; First to 'Willie Baker' (1920), 'Count' Pepito di Abatino' (? ca 1926), then to 'Jean Lion' (1937), next to 'Joe Bouillon' (1947) whom she divorced, and finally to 'Robert Brady' (1973) also ending in divorce.
In 1974, Josephine performed once more, at Monaco's summer ball, to great acclaim. That same year, she traveled to New York City for a week long stage performances in the show 'An Evening with Josephine Baker On April 10, 1975, Josephine was in a Paris revue celebrating her half-century on the stage, when she suffered a severe stroke and went into a coma. She never regained consciousness. Her funeral was held in Paris, and she was buried in Monaco. Her haunting theme song "Two Loves Have I (both of them are you)", remains popular to music lovers the world around.

Tom Brown in the early 1910s
Tom Brown, bass/Trombone
b. New Orleans, LA, USA, d. 1958.
Accompanied Blues singer Ma Rainey.

Tom Brown (June 3, 1888 – March 25, 1958), sometimes known by the nickname Red Brown, was an early New Orleans dixieland jazz trombonist. He also played string bass professionally.
Tom P. Brown was born in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. His younger brother Steve Brown also became a prominent professional musician. He played trombone with the bands of Papa Jack Laine and Frank Christian; by 1910 usually worked leading bands under his own name. The band played in a style then locally known as "hot ragtime" or "ratty music". In early 1915, his band was heard by Vaudeville dancer Joe Frisco who then arranged a job for Brown's band in Chicago, Illinois.
On May 15, 1915, Tom Brown's Band from Dixieland opened up at Lamb's Cafe at Clark & Randolph Streets in Chicago, with Ray Lopez, cornet and manager; Tom Brown, trombone and leader; Gussie Mueller clarinet, Arnold Loyacano piano and string bass; and Billy Lambert on drums. In Chicago Gussie Mueller was hired by bandleader Bert Kelly, and his place was taken by young New Orleans clarinetist Larry Shields.

This band seems to be the first to be popularly referred to as playing "Jazz", or, as it was spelled early on, "Jass". According to Brown, once his band started enjoying popularity the local Chicago musicians union began picketing his band of non-union out-of-towners. One picketer's placards intended to link Brown's band with the Storyville prostitution district of New Orleans and the implied disreputable low life status; the signs read "Don't Patronize This Jass Music".
The term "jass" at that time had a sexual connotation. The signs had the opposite of the intended effect; more people came to hear the band out of curiosity as to what "Jass Music" might be and how it could be performed in public. Brown realized the publicity potential and started calling his group "Brown's Jass Band". Some recently rediscovered Chicago newspaper advertisements list it as "Brown's Jab Band" or "Jad Band", confirming the reminiscences of Ray Lopez that the bandmembers assumed that "Jass" was too rude a word to be printed in the newspapers so they looked in a dictionary for printable words close to it, like "jade".

Years later, Brown would frequently brag that he led "the first white jazz band" to go up north. Brown's careful wording implies that he was aware that the Original Creole Orchestra preceded him and that they played jazz.
Tom Brown's Band enjoyed over four months of success in Chicago before moving to New York City, where it played for four months more before returning to New Orleans in February 1916. Upon arriving home Brown immediately started rounding up another band to go back to Chicago with him. The group again included Larry Shields; at the end of October, Brown agreed to switch clarinetists with the Original Dixieland Jass Band bringing Alcide Nunez into his band. Brown, Nunez and New Orleans drummer Ragbaby Stevens then went to work for Bert Kelly, who brought them to New York where they temporarily replaced the Original Dixieland Jass Band at Reisenweber's in 1918. Brown started doing freelance recording work with New York dance and novelty bands, then joined the band of Harry Yerkes. At the start of 1920 he was joined in the Yerkes Band by Alcide Nunez.
Tom Brown also played on Vaudeville in the acts of Joe Frisco and Ed Wynn.
About late 1921 Brown returned to Chicago and joined Ray Miller's Black & White Melody Boys, with whom he made more recordings. During this period he also co-lead a dance band with his brother Steve.


In the mid 1920s he returned home to New Orleans where he played with Johnny Bayersdorffer and Norman Brownlee's bands, making a few excellent recordings.
During the Great Depression he supplemented his income from music by repairing radios. He opened up a music shop and a junk shop on Magazine Street. He played string bass in local swing and dance bands. With the revival of interest in traditional jazz he played in various Dixieland bands in the 1950s, notably that of Johnny Wiggs. A local television station thought it would be a good idea to invite Brown and Nick LaRocca to talk about how jazz first spread north from New Orleans, but the show had scaresly started before the two old men got into an argument that turned into a fist-fight.
Tom Brown made his last recording just weeks before his death, his trombone playing apparently not suffering from the fact that he had neither teeth nor dentures at the time. Brown died in New Orleans.

Louise Elian, Harpist/Scores
b. St. Joseph, MO. USA,
d. July 7, 2002, West Palm Beach, FL, USA.
née: Louise Klos Steiner Elian. As a harpist, she was heard in such films as the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals, 'Gone With The Wind', 'Casablanca', and even 'King Kong'.
Louise Elian, 96; Harpist With Studio, Broadway Orchestras

Roland Hayes, vocals
b. Curryville, GA, USA
Roland Hayes, the renowned African American tenor, earned international acclaim by singing classical and operatic music on the concert stage. Initially compelled to arrange and promote his own concerts, Hayes eventually became the highest-paid tenor in the world, despite the racial barriers that often excluded African Americans from careers in classical music.
Roland Hayes - Wikipedia

Tommy Leffew
C&W; mandolin
Member group: "The Fruit Jar Drinkers", consisted of "Grandpappy" George Wilkerson, Claude Lampley, Tommy Leffew and Howard Ragsdale.

Tex Looney
C&W; guitar/vocals. 

"Cowboy" Loye
C&W; singer/songwriter/guitarist b. Nashville, TN, USA. né: Loye Donald Pack.

Edwin "Buster" Pickens, (Blues) piano
b. Hempsted, Texas, USA.
d. Nov. 24, 1964, Houston, Texas, USA.
Pickens developed his down home Blues piano style working as an itinerant musician playing various 'barrelhouse' venues across the Southern USA. After military service in the World War II, he returned to Houston, and made his first record (with guitarist Leon Benton). He also played regularly with Lightnin' Hopkins, and in the early 1960s appeared with him on some Prestige/Bluesville records. He also made a solo album in 1960, however, his career ended tragically when he was murdered a few years later.

Carl Pruitt, Bass
b. Birmingham, AL, USA.
Carl worked with Lucky Millinder's band, 

and with 'Andy Kirk & His 12 Clouds of Joy Orchestra'.

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

Frank Sinatra recorded
"Birth of the Blues",
for Columbia Records.

Bandleader Ozzie Nelson died.
Age: 68.
He, and his famous singer wife Harriet Hilliard, 
were the parents of Pop star Ricky Nelson.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra


Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra - Smiles
  • Rose Room Introducing: "My Oriental Rosebud")


Paul Biese Trio - Idol Eyes
  • Bells Of Monterey
  • That Moaning Melody


The Little Ramblers - Arkansas Blues
Ray Miller's Orchestra - Mama's Gone, Goodbye

The California Ramblers
  • You Know Me, Alabam'


Virginia Liston - I Ain't Got Nobody (Nobody Cares For Me)

Eddie Peabody
  • Yes Sir! That's My Baby

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra
  • Let Me Linger Longer In Your Arms


Waring's Pennsylvanians

Ted Lewis and his Band - The New St. Louis Blues

Missourians - Missouri Moan


Wilton Crawley and the Washboard Rhythm Kings - New Crawley Blues
  • I’m Her Papa, She’s My Mama

Ethel Waters - My Kind Of Man

Eubie Blake and his Orchestra - Little Girl - Vocal refrain by Dick Robertson
Lee Morse and her Bluegrass Boys - Let's Get Friendly

Annette Hanshaw - I Cover The Waterfront

Annette Hanshaw - I Think You'll Like It
  • Sweetheart Darlin'


Fletcher Henderson Orchestra - Chris And His Gang


Alberta Hunter - My Castle's Rockin'
~Hayes Carll

Well I hide behind my guitar like a sparrow in the night
Hopin’ I might fly away anew
Cause they’ll love you when you’re wrong
And then leave you when you’re right
Tell me baby, what’s a boy to do?

Well I came to town a stranger, not knowin’ how to act
Figured I’d hang out and just get found.
Made me some new friends
They climbed way up on my back
Been gone so long they ain’t comin’ down

You can kiss the sky good morning
You can say your prayers at night
Hide your soul way down in your shoes,
But it’s the same old scene
Borrowed love and faded dreams
And you just can’t hide from those Arkansas Blues.

Well time is playin’ tricks on me
Makes me thing I’m movin’ fast
I don’t think I’m movin’ at all
And every stranger’s face I see reminds me of the past
Come on big and leave you feelin’ small

So I took to drinkin’ liquor on the other side of town
Way up in those woods beside the moon
Where every graceful dream I had got lost without a sound
Tell you what, I can’t leave this place too soon.

And it don’t take no rhyme or reason
It don’t make no sense at all
Just one of those things that you don’t choose
It’s the same old thing
Broken hearts and busted strings
And you just can’t run from those Arkansas Blues.

Everybody’s asking questions about whose side are you on
I don’t see how it matters much to me
And all these midnight celebrations
That are ended by the dawn
Leave you feelin’ low as you can be

So I’m leaving town this morning, gonna lighten up my load
See if I can’t lose what I have found
And it’s one drink for the memories
And one kiss for the road
Look out, I believe I’m Texas bound
California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Tennessee
I been all around this land to pay my dues
High, low, and right behind me
Wherever I go they find me
And I just can’t run from the Arkansas Blues.

~Words, Gus Kahn. Music, Herbert Stothart.
~New York: Robbins Music Corp., 1933
My father was Irish. My mother was English,
But the Irish has the upper hand in me.
Speakin' of Irish people an' things,
How'd you like an Irish melody?
There's a light in your eyes, sweetheart darlin',
And it makes all the world fair and bright,
Like a light in the skies, sweetheart darlin',
When the mornin' steals out of the night.
Is love light a-shinin' for someone?
Sure I'm wond'rin' just who it could be, my darlin'.
There's a light in your eyes, sweetheart darlin'.
Tell me, darlin', it's shinin' for me.
You're wonderful, you're glorious, and so my heart I bare.
Sure Ireland must be heaven because you came from there.

brought to you by..
Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow,

and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

No comments: