This month on Way Out Radio we will be celebrating the early Blues recordings of America in the 1930’s by releasing a record from a different artist each day.
I recently was gifted an amazing book entitled ‘R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country’ with an introduction by Terry Zwigoff. This book displays numerous portraits of musicians all drawn by Crumb in the early days of popular music. It’s worth checking out if you can get your hands on it!
To kick us off, here is William Moore, Peg Leg Howell and Clifford Gibson with their raw, powerful guitar playing and gritty, honest lyrics.
A barber by trade, William was born in Georgia in 1893 and spent most of his life in Tappahannock, Virginia. He recorded 8 songs in a single Paramount recording session in 1928. He was one of the few instrumentally orientated performers of the era. Here is probably his best known song “Millionaire Ragtime” which echoes a happy and upbeat ragtime feel, popular before blues and gives us a feel for the atmosphere of William Moore’s barber shop.
Peg Leg Howell
In 1909 Joshua Barnes “Peg Leg” Howell began teaching himself guitar at age 21. He was a native of Eatonton, Georgia and worked as a street singer in Atlanta. He was one of the earliest country and blues singers to be recorded and made 28 sides. Many of his songs had string band accompaniment between 1926 and 1929. He had a diverse repertoire including blues and up-tempo ragtime songs.
In 1901, Clifford was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He became a musician in St Louis, practicing and performing. Between 1929 and 1931 be recorded 24 sides for two different labels. He was one of the first purely urban performers whose playing had no pronounced rural influences. Clifford’s single string, vibrato approach resembled that of the sophisticated jazz blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson but placed more emphasis on improvisation.
Here is a modern cover of the Peg Leg Howell song Low Down Rounder Blues’
I hope you enjoyed learning about these fantastic blues musicians. Check back ever day this month for more amazing artists!