FEATURED ARTIST / S
Lonnie Johnson, vocal, guitar, violin.
Includes two titles by "Keghouse", vocal.
With contribtuions by: John Erby, piano; Jimmy Blythe, piano; Nap Hayes, guitar; Mathew Prater, mandolin.
Genres: Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Violin, String Band, New Orleans Blues.
Informative booklet notes by Chris Smith.
From this CDs booklet notes.
When Lonnie Johnson returned to Okeh’s New York studio in October 1927, he began with an account of the cyclone that had just struck St. Louis, where he had until recently been living. Elzadie Robinson recorded the same song that November, but Lonnie’s version was made a mere four days after the storm, which took 84 lives in five minutes, and caused immense damage. In a very different mood was Bedbug Blues Part 2, a sequel to the popular “Mean Old Bed Bug Blues” that he’d cut in August (see DOCD-5064). October and November found Johnson cutting more of his elegant instrumentals, and Okeh still reluctant to issue them, apparently preferring his imaginative stories in song like Life Saver Blues and Blue Ghost Blues (and, in Bitin’ Fleas Blues, yet another attempt to exploit the craze for blues about parasites).
It may have been frustration with Okeh that led Johnson to make extra contractual recordings for Gennett in December, with the pianist Jimmy Blythe. He was careful to do deep disguise; the record labels credited him as Bud Wilson or George Jefferson (and Blythe as Duke Owens or Willie Woods), while the company files noted that Wilson/Jefferson was one James O’Brien! The masquerade is transparent, though, as Lonnie spans his range; from blues, both homiletic and narrative, to hot instrumental, to sentimental ballad. Less than a week after the Gennett sessions, Johnson was back on Okeh, guesting with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, and furthering his campaign to define the role of the guitar as a soloing instrument in jazz.