Blues Classics: Skip James – “Devil Got My Woman”

I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
Aw, nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
Was nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
~Skip James (Devil Got My Woman)

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)

Skip James (June 9, 1902 – October 3, 1969) was an American Delta blues singer. He is regarded by most blues writers as a very important artist.

He is one of 3 blues artists to featured in Wim Wenders great documentary film The Soul of a Man (2003). 

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December 9: Junior Wells was born in 1934

Junior Wells (December 9, 1934 – January 15, 1998), born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr., was an American Chicago blues vocalist, harmonica player, and recording artist. Wells, who was best known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, and Buddy Guy, also performed with Bonnie Raitt, the Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.

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Nov 30: The late great Robert Nighthawk was born in 1909

Of all the pivotal figures in blues history, certainly one of the most important was Robert Nighthawk. He bridged the gap between Delta and Chicago blues effortlessly, taking his slide cues from Tampa Red and stamping them with a Mississippi edge learned first hand from his cousin, Houston Stackhouse.
~Cub Koda (allmuisc.com)

Goin’ Down To Eli’s (Live On Maxwell Street):

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June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910

June 10: The late great Howlin Wolf was born in 1910 – 106 years ago

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” A number of songs written or popularized by Burnett—such as “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”—have become blues and blues rock standards.

Allmusic:

“A Robert Johnson may have possessed more lyrical insight, a Muddy Waters more dignity, and a B.B. King certainly more technical expertise, but no one could match him for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.”

Very fine documentary, The Howlin’ Wolf Story – The Secret History Of Rock and Roll (playlist with 8 videos):

Buddy Guy (to Rolling Stone Magazine):

“And he used to put on such a show. He would get down on the floor, crawl like a wolf and sing in that voice: “I’m a tail dragger.” He would do this boogie-woogie thing, around and around — like the kids used to do with the hula hoops, where you had to go around and around at your waist, to keep the hoop going. That was the kind of shit he was doing. I’d see that and think, “Man, there goes the Wolf.“”

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March 15: The Legend Lightnin Hopkins was born in 1912

Sam John Hopkins (March 15, 1912 – January 30, 1982), better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, fromHouston, Texas. Rolling Stone magazine included Hopkins at number 71 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Musicologist Robert “Mack” McCormick opined that Hopkins “is the embodiment of the jazz-and-poetry spirit, representing its ancient form in the single creator whose words and music are one act”

I came to Lightnin’ Hopkins through Townes Van Zandt and Justin Townes Earle (I guess he discovered him through Townes as well…). I was expecting something ancient, something old, but Hopkins sounds modern and his guitar playing is just out of this world!

Sometimes music hit you so hard you simply do not know what happened, Justin Townes Earle did just that when he covered the relatively unknown song, hell, he  ripped through a rousing version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ My starter won’t start (I been burnin bad gasoline). And suddenly I understood what/why Hopkins was held in as high a regard as he does! It was pure magic! (see own post)

Lightnin’ Hopkins – Baby Please Don’t go:

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Feb 21: Nina Simone was born in 1933

Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music.
~Nina Simone

Once I understood Bach’s music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world.
~Nina Simone

Nina Simone was one of the most gifted vocalists of her generation, and also one of the most eclectic.
~Mark Deming (allmusic.com)

Ain’t Got No…I’ve Got Life:

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