Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Document Records
Backwoods Blues 1926 - 1935

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Available as a download on eMusic


Bobby Grant
Lane Hardin
King Solomon Hill
Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler)


Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler)
01 - Pistol blues Listen
02 - Some scream high yellow Listen
03 - You can`t keep no brown Listen
04 - When the saints come marching home Listen
05 - I`m on my way to the kingdom land Listen
06 - Why do you moan? Listen

Sam Butler
07 - Devil and my brown blues Listen
08 - Poor boy blues Listen
09 - Jefferson County blues Listen
10 - Jefferson County blues (alt. take) Listen
11 - You can`t keep no brown Listen
12 - Christians fight on, your time ain`t long Listen
13 - Heaven is my view Listen

Bobby Grant
14 - Nappy head blues Listen
15 - Lonesome Atlanta blues Listen

King Solomon Hill
16 - Whoopee blues (take l) Listen
17 - Whoopee blues (take 2) Listen
18 - Down on my bended knee (take 1) Listen
19 - Down on my bended knee (take 2) Listen
20 - The gone dead train Listen
21 - Tell me baby Listen

Lane Hardin
22 - Hard time blues Listen
23 - California desert blues Listen


Bo Weavil Jackson (Sam Butler), vocal guitar.

Bobby Grant, vocal, guitar.

King Solomon Hill, vocal guitar,

Lane Hardin, vocal, guitar


Genres: Country Blues; Alabama, Mississippi, Texas Blues Guitar including Bottleneck Slide Guitar.

Informative booklet notes by Paul Oliver.

Includes detailed discography.


Beyond the few metalled highways in the South of six decades ago the dirt roads wound through the country, linking the settlements and farm communities of the backwoods. Some farms were literally in the woods, established in the untidily cleared forest. But the term "backwoods" was loosely applied to any isolated settlement where few people had any experience of the larger world of the Southern cities. In most communities though, there were musicians who played for dances or at the roadside jukes, and a number of them gained a more than local reputation. Some, more adventurous than their companions, went "down the dirt road" to try their luck in town.

Sam Butler's Paramount recordings were released as by "Bo Weavil". His first title, Pistol Blues sung in his rather high, somewhat strident voice, was partly based on the "Crow Jane" theme. Jackson's vocal style was that of a singer accustomed to Street singing and it's very likely that he would have sung spirituals to people coming back from Church. He chose a couple for this session, including an early recorded version of When the Saints Come Marching In.

A week or two later Jackson was in New York, recording for the Vocalion company who issued his records as by Sam Butler. He made a heartfelt version of one of the oldest blues Poor Boy ... "long ways from home", with his bottleneck slide whispering on the strings. Clearly, his mind was on Alabama as Jefferson County Blues confirms. We are able to eavesdrop on his creative process as he reworked it with a second take. It seems that he took the train back South, and the dirt road to his backwoods home and obscurity.

Bobby Grant too, was recorded in Chicago - but he was thinking of Atlanta, Georgia, in his Lonesome Atlanta Blues with its perfectly placed, hanging notes. Grant's words on Nappy Head were full of backwoods references as he sang "you' like a turkey, comin' through the mamlish corn."

A little more is known of King Solomon Hill. He had a style of his own, using impeccable falsettos, as on the second take of Whoopee Blues. His masterly account of trying to hobo a ride on The Gone Dead Train is haunting in the matching of guitar and vocal.

It was the "hard times" of the Depression about which Lane Hardin sang in his calling voice. Perhaps he succeeded in taking the train across the California Desert to the land of his dreams, Los Angeles. But it's more than likely that he stayed at home in, we may assume from his guitar style, Mississippi.

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