Hard time’s is here
An ev’rywhere you go
Times are harder
Than th’ever been befo’
~Skip James – Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
Coupling an oddball guitar tuning set against eerie, falsetto vocals, James’ early recordings could make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
~Cub Koda (allmusic.com)
Nehemiah Curtis James
June 9, 1902
Bentonia, Mississippi, United States
October 3, 1969 (aged 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Musician, songwriter, preacher
Vocals, guitar, piano
Paramount, Vanguard,Biograph, Adelphi, Document, Snapper Music Group, Universe, Body & Soul, Yazoo, Genes
Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James (June 9,1902 – October 3, 1969) was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter. Born in Bentonia, Mississippi, he died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell
~Bob Dylan (“Blind Willie McTell”)
He was a songster of wide repertoire and as fine a 12-string guitarist as ever lived. The dexterity of his playing was extraordinary, and his voice was an unusually smooth tenor. The interplay between voice and guitar also brought into the equation McTell’s intelligence and wit, and it was the fusion of all these elements that led Bob Dylan to write in his 1983 tribute song that ‘no-one can sing the blues like Blind Willie McTell.’
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
Willie Samuel McTell was one of the blues’ greatest guitarists, and also one of the finest singers ever to work in blues.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)
If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that would have been shut down—that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.
— Bob Dylan
Chronicles: Volume One
“Come On in My Kitchen” is a blues song by Robert Johnson. Johnson recorded the song on November 23, 1936 at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas – his first recording session. The melody is based on the song cycle by the string band the Mississippi Sheiks, “Sitting on Top of the World” (1930)/Things About Coming My Way (1931)/I’ll Be Gone, Long Gone (1932)/Hitting The Numbers (1934).
Johnson’s arrangement on slide guitar (in open tuning, commonly thought to be open G) is based on Tampa Red’s recording of the same tune with the title “Things ‘Bout Coming My Way”. Tampa Red had recorded an instrumental version in 1936, and the song had been recorded earlier by him in 1931, and by Kokomo Arnold in 1935 (Tampa Red may in fact have been the first to use the melody with his song “You Got To Reap What You Sow” (1929) based on Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell’s version).
Johnson’s recording was released on the Vocalion label (no. 03563) as a “race record” – cheap records for the black consumer market. The song was among those compiled on the King of the Delta Blues Singers LP in the 1960s. (A slower alternate take was also later found and released on CD collections; this version also has ten extra lines of lyrics.)
That’s what I am, a Delta blues man. And now I’m considered the king of the Delta blues.
~Johnny Shines (1989 Living Blues Interview)
Best known as a traveling companion of Robert Johnson, Johnny Shines’ own contributions to the blues have often been unfairly shortchanged, simply because Johnson’s own legend casts such a long shadow. In his early days, Shines was one of the top slide guitarists in Delta blues, with his own distinctive, energized style; one that may have echoed Johnson’s spirit and influence, but was never a mere imitation.
~Steve Huey (allmusic.com)
March 21: The Late Son House was (probably) born in 1902
“Of course that was my idol, Son House. I think he did a lot for the Mississippi slide down there.”
“People keep asking me where the blues started and all I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singing in the fields. Not real singing, you know, just hollerin’, but we made up our songs about things that was happening to us at the time, and I think that’s where the blues started.”
~Son House (1965)