Sunday, June 29, 2008

Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways



Just the mention of piano blues summons the sounds of many different styles to my mind’s ears: barrelhouse, ragtime, boogie woogie, swing, R&B... Although all of these styles owe something to the barrelhouse piano players of the bordellos and saloons of major cities, the only characteristic that they all share is that the piano is the primary musical instrument.

Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways is a wonderful introduction to the various styles of piano blues performed by many of the innovators of the genre. Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways is the latest in the Smithsonian Folkways great ‘Classic’ series, which includes Classic Old-Time Fiddle, Classic Blues (Vols. 1 & 2), Classic Bluegrass (Vols. 1 & 2), Classic Old-Time Music, and a slew of other great recordings from the archives of Folkways Recordings founder, Moses Asch.

Included in this great collection, mostly recorded at Asch’s studio between the1940s and the ‘60s, are a few rare and wonderful cuts not widely available since originally pressed. Naturally, boogie-woogie is well represented with two renditions of Pinetop Smith’s classic “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” performed by Speckled Red and Little Brother Montgomery. Two other foot tapping boogie woogie tunes, Memphis Slim’s hopin’ “Dedication to Pete Johnson” and Meade “Lux” Lewis’ “Medium Blues” will fill your urge to boogie.

During the Folk Revival, Huddie Ledbetter was a staple for Asch’s Folkways. Although mostly known as a guitar player, Lead Belly was a multi-instrumentalist. Here he accompanies his signature vocals with a great little number on the piano, “Big Fat Woman.”

Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways is worthy of its title. This collection is chock full of great, classic piano blues recordings. ‘Champion’ Jack Dupree pays homage to the archive’s founder with a song entitled “On My Way To See Moe Asch.” Memphis Slim is accompanied by bass player Willie Dixon on “Wish Me Well.” Sammy Price presents a bluesy jazz number entitled “Harlem Parlor Blues.” St. Louis style blues are beautifully presented by Henry Brown on piano and Edith North Johnson singing a soulful “Little Drops of Water.”

Smithsonian Folkways has done an outstanding job of presenting some of the gems in its vast collection. I will be looking forward to Volume 2 of this collection. In the mean time Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways will be in regular rotation on the Bus.

Artist: Various
Title: Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways
Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Release Date: June 24, 2008
Available from: purchase or download from Smithsonian Folkways or Smithsonian Global Sound
Also available from Amazon.com Purchase from Amazon or Download from Amazon.
Or purchase at your favorite local record or book store.

Memphis Slim - Dedication to Pete Johnson.mp3

Henry Townsend - All My Money's Gone.mp3

4 Comments:

Blogger 田园树 said...

A protest consisting of over 10,000 people in southwest China's Guizhou Province was quashed around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday June 29, according to the state-run media.


The unrest was sparked by the local Chinese authorities' cover up of an alleged rape and murder of a 15-year-old female student. Local residents told The Epoch Times similar incidents have happened many times in the past, but criminals were all spared because of their government background.

Angry locals swept and torched the police station, government buildings and dozens of police vehicles. The Chinese regime mobilized around 1,500 armed police from neighboring areas to quash the rioters. According to a Hong Kong media report, at least 200 people were arrested, including 30 high school students.


The report also says at least 3 people died and 150 injured in the clash.


China's state-run media classified the incident as "severe criminal offense," a challenge to "authorities of law."

July 01, 2008 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We know there are problems in China and Tibet. People are opressed by dictators, and the like, in other regions of the world, too. Child labor, slavery, genital mutilation, etc. still go on. Then, there's global warming, depletion of the rain forests, pollution and all kinds of other environmental problems. All these situations continue because of the greedy and the power hungry. That's why we need Ed and the music he shares. Thanks for the above report, but how did you like the piano? I liked it a lot. Of the styles mentioned at the beginning, I always like Rag the best.

July 02, 2008 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

You can call it blues, boogie-woogie, or barrelhouse. It really doesn't matter. This is great stuff, and truly demonstrates how the piano is a rhythm instrument. Nice one, Ed! As an aside, The idea of awarding China the Olympics is a stupid idea. It's a disaster just waiting to happen.

July 03, 2008 6:31 PM  
Blogger Shakespere said...

Really enjoyed your blog.
GRATEFUL to be in the ol' US of A as well.

July 05, 2008 12:01 PM  

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