Happy 100th Birthday Johnny Shines JB Hutto & Ma Rainey
” Ma Rainey wasn’t the first blues singer to make records, but by all rights she probably should have been. In an era when women were the marquee names in blues, Rainey was once the most celebrated of all; the “Mother of the Blues” had been singing the music for more than 20 years before she made her recording debut (Paramount, 1923). With the advent of blues records, she became even more influential, immortalizing such songs as “See See Rider,” “Bo-Weavil Blues,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Like the other classic blues divas, she had a repertoire of pop and minstrel songs as well as blues, but she maintained a heavier, tougher vocal delivery than the cabaret blues singers who followed.Rainey‘s records featured her with jug bands, guitar duos, and bluesmen such as Tampa Red and Blind Blake, in addition to the more customary horns-and-piano jazz-band accompaniment (occasionally including such luminaries as Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, and Fletcher Henderson).
Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Ma Rainey (born Gertrude Pridgett) began singing professionally when she was a teenager, performing with a number of minstrel and medicine shows. In 1904, she married William “Pa” Rainey and she changed her name to “Ma” Rainey. The couple performed as “Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues” and toured throughout the south, performing with several minstrel shows, circuses, and tent shows. According to legend, she gave a young Bessie Smith vocal lessons during this time. By the early ’20s, Rainey had become a featured performer on the Theater Owners’ Booking Association circuit.” Continue reading
J B Hutto
” J.B. Hutto — along with Hound Dog Taylor — was one of the last great slide guitar disciples of Elmore James to make it into the modern age. Hutto‘s huge voice, largely incomprehensible diction, and slash-and-burn playing was Chicago blues with a fierce, raw edge all its own. He entered the world of music back home in Augusta, GA, singing in the family-oriented group the Golden Crowns Gospel Singers. He came north to Chicago in the mid-’40s, teaching himself guitar and eventually landing his first paying job as a member of Johnny Ferguson & His Twisters. His recording career started in 1954 with two sessions for the Chance label supported by his original combo the Hawks (featuring George Mayweather on harmonica, Porkchop Hines on washboard traps, and Joe Custom on rhythm guitar), resulting in six of the nine songs recorded being issued as singles to scant acclaim. After breaking up the original band, Hutto worked outside of music for a good decade, part of it spent sweeping out a funeral parlor! He resurfaced around 1964 with a stripped-down version of the Hawks with two guitars and drums but no bass, working regularly at Turner’s Blue Lounge and recording blistering new sides for the first time in as many years.” Continue reading
” 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. Shines eventually made his way north to Chicago, and made the transition to electrified urban blues with ease, helped in part by his robust, impassioned vocals. He was vastly under-recorded during his prime years, even quitting the music business for a time, but was rediscovered in the late ’60s and recorded and toured steadily for quite some time. A 1980 stroke robbed him of some of his dexterity on guitar, but his voice remained a powerfully emotive instrument, and he performed up until his death in 1992.
John Ned Shines was born April 26, 1915, in Frayser, TN, and grew up in Memphis from the age of six. Part of a musical family, he learned guitar from his mother, and as a youth he played for tips on the streets of Memphis with several friends, inspired by the likes of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and the young Howlin’ Wolf. In 1932, he moved to Hughes, AR, to work as a sharecropper, keeping up his musical activities on the side; in 1935, he decided to try and make it as a professional musician. Shines had first met Robert Johnson in Memphis in 1934, and he began accompanying Johnson on his wanderings around the Southern juke-joint circuit, playing wherever they could find gigs; the two made their way as far north as Windsor, Ontario, where they appeared on a radio program. After around three years on the road together — which made Shines one of Johnson‘s most intimate associates, along with Johnson‘s stepson Robert Jr. Lockwood — the two split up in Arkansas in 1937, and never saw each other again before Johnson‘s death in 1938.” Continue reading