Nothin’ But The Blues: Ep.19

HEAR HERE:

PLAYLIST:

“Highway 49” –  Howlin’ Wolf

“Further On Up The Road” –  Eric Clapton

“51 Phantom”  –  North Mississippi Allstars

“Highway 51”  –  Curtis Jones

“Out On The Road”  –  Jimmy Rogers

“61 Highway”  –  Mississippi Fred McDowell

“The Highway Is Like A Woman”  –  Percy Mayfield

“Highway 99”  –  Lowell Fulson

“Route 90”  –  Johnny Winter

“Down The Highway”  –  George Thorogood

“Highway 13”  –  John Lee Hooker

“Walking The Blues”  –  Willie Dixon And The Allstars

 

This time on Nothin’ But The Blues we’ve got the key to the highway.

We’ve devoted the entire edition to the Big Road Blues.

Drinking coffee, in a booth at the ‘Trés Le Parque Blues Lounge & Grill’, we were talking about the chunk of ageing bitumen from Route 66 which a friend had brought back for me from a road trip. Who knows who might have travelled over that piece of tarmac.

Eventually, we began discussing an edition of Nothin’ But The Blues paying tribute to all those great Highways employed by Blues itinerants across the decades, on the route of their journey to the next gig. The next juke joint. The next house party or levee camp.

Those roads also provided the means for a large chunk of the population mostly, from the rural south, to move to a land of opportunity in the north. (And sometimes, to move back again, if things didn’t work out.)

As well, The Blues is littered with tales of transients living out on the road through some personal misfortune – or as a freewheelin’ alternative to being rooted to one city or town.

We decided an edition about Highways was a worthy case to pursue – but we didn’t want to chase down the usual suspects. So, the obvious remains absent. We eschewed any idea of defaulting to songs like “Key To The Highway” (as much as we love Big Bill), “Route 66” (as much as we love Chuck) or “Highway 61 Revisited” (as much as we love Bob.)

Instead, we took the road less travelled approach, which led us to cats like Curtis Jones, Percy Mayfield, Willie Dixon – along with a new release from George Thorogood (sans The Destroyers).

But yeah, I get what you mean, how could we possibly fit all those Highways, Roads, bitumen, gypsies and vagabonds – and walking shoes – into a single hour of hard travellin’ Blues radio?

Press the Play button above for the answers.

As always, thanks for listening.

Gideon Rhyme  –  Cultural Detective

Nothin’ But The Blues: Ep.18

HEAR HERE:

PLAYLIST:

“Black Coffee” –  Peggy Lee

“Cigarettes”  –  Slim Harpo

“Cigarette Blues”  –  Little Toby Walker

“Ashes In My Ashtray”  –  Michael Burks

“Down In Louisiana”  –  Bobby Rush

“Louisiana Blues”  –  Muddy Waters

“Louisiana Blues”  –  Clifton Chenier

“Sun Risin’ Blues”  –  Big Joe Turner

“When The Sun Comes Out”  –  Charles Brown

“Time For The Sun To Rise”  –  Earl King

“Forty Cups Of Coffee”  –  Danny Overbea

“Burnt Toast And Black Coffee”  –  Mike Pedicin

“Coffee House Blues” –  Lightnin’ Hopkins

“Black Coffee”  –  Guy Davis (with Fabrizio Poggi)

 

Black coffee and cigarettes. For someone under the influence of the Blues, those things can often be considered as a suitable substitute for food.

Fair enough, I’ll agree, cigarettes are a bane of modern society – and a habit best to be discouraged. But without a consistent supply of black coffee, this Cultural Detective Agency, for a start, would struggle to maintain it’s enviable standard of professional efficiency. When it comes to Java, I drink a lot of it. Black. No sugar. And always strong.

It seemed like coffee would make a logical thread to follow. We soon found that coffee and cigarettes – are the typical default for someone with the Blues – even for a woman left lonely, amidst a jungle of suburban sprawl.

And yeah, there’s bound to be someone who’ll argue that a singer like Peggy Lee has no place in a Blues show. But honestly, can you listen to a song like “Black Coffee” and say that it isn’t a Blues? There are many versions of that song, including those by Bobby Darin and Julie London. Bobby’s take of the song was good, but it takes on an entirely different shape when sung by a woman. (If we’d chosen Julie London over Peggy Lee, however, then there would be a valid point of contention.)

Likewise, there’s bound to be someone who’ll suggest that we’re actively promoting a deadly habit simply by touching on the subject of cigarettes. But that would be wrong, too. History doesn’t change when someone finds it unsavoury.

I’m a detective. Evidence and facts are the currencies I deal in. And in the Blues, the evidence is not always pretty. Life is just the same.

In future editions, we’ll look at subjects like drugs and slavery. Just like coffee, cigarettes, drunkenness and cruelty, these things too, are integral in the history of the Blues.

Also in this edition, we’ll dip into the rich cultural diversity of Louisiana Blues. And we’ll take time to appreciate another sunrise, no matter what it may signify for the day ahead.

And yeah, I understand the confusion. How can we possibly fit all those cups ’n’ coffee beans, cigarettes and smokers, the dawning of a new day – and – the great state of Louisiana, into a single hour of entertaining Blues radio?

Pour yourself another cup of mud – and press the Play button above to find out.

As always, thanks for listening.

Gideon Rhyme  –  Cultural Detective

 

Nothin’ But The Blues: Ep.17

HEAR HERE:

PLAYLIST:

“Why You So Mean To Me?” –  Albert King

“Living With The Blues”  –  Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

“Shacked Up With The Blues”  –  The Tommy Shreve Band

“Living In The House Of Blues”  –  Luther Allison

“The Sky Is Crying”  –  Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble

“Cold Front Woman”  –  James Harman

“I Can’t Be Satisfied”  –  Muddy Waters

“Satisfied”  –  Guy Davis

“Trouble, Then Satisfaction”  –  Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five

“Mean Case Of The Blues”  –  Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater

“Mean Husband Blues” –  Guitar Shorty

“Mean Blues  –  Floyd Lee Band”

Have you checked out the Nothin’ But The Blues Video yet? It was fun watching it all come together as a project – and we hope you enjoy it as well.

Meanwhile, the shows keep piling up, now with the 17th edition of Nothin’ But The Blues.

If you check the comments section on any polarising story posted on the net you’ll see people exercising their right to be just, plain mean.

So it figures, that a certain number of people with the Blues – may have got them – as the direct result of someone being mean. We went looking for evidence in support of that theory – and found plenty of it.

Some people, it seems, can experience the Blues to such an extent, it feels as if they’re literally living with the Blues – like an unwelcome houseguest. Of course, depending on your perspective, the experience of living with the Blues can either be utterly debilitating or, strangely liberating.

Also in this edition, we’ll take shelter with the onset of some bad weather, with a sudden, heavy downpour, followed by an incoming cold front.

And protected from the elements, we’ll have time to reflect on the meaning of  satisfaction, in relation to the Blues. Turns out, it’s not unlike what the ‘carrot on a stick’ represents to the donkey. Satisfaction is something you hope for – but which always remains, just beyond reach. And where satisfaction is achieved, it comes at a cost.

And just how can we possibly fit all that meanness and bad weather into a single hour of satisfying Blues radio?

Press the Play button above – to find out.

As always, thanks for listening.

Gideon Rhyme  –  Cultural Detective