Robert Hicks, AKA Barbecue Bob
11 September 1902 – 21 October 1931
Archive for the Blues Category
John Lee Hooker
22 August 1917 – 21 June 2001
Here at Tigerloaf HQ we listen to a lot of blues, but we are not in general great fans of post-war electric styles, whether slicked-up and sophisticated like T-Bone Walker or roughed up and raucous like Muddy Waters. Naturally there are some exceptions. We find those great modern primitives, John Lee Hooker and Mississippi Fred McDowell, completely irresistible, and we are also very partial to Mr. Robert Nighthawk. With his stinging electric slide style and mellow baritone, he brought some down-home soul to the urban rhythm and blues sound of the forties and fifties. One of those great and individual bluesmen who fell through the cracks, Nighthawk was once considered among Muddy’s chief rivals but he never enjoyed the latter’s commercial success and died in obscurity. Sadly he is still little known outside the ranks of blues fanatics.
Robert Lee McCollum
30 November 1909 – 5 November 1967
—Secret History by Steve Krakow
The legendary Paramount Records (no relation to the famous film studio) began business as an offshoot of, of all things, a chair manufacturer. The label operated at a loss until it began to tap into the burgeoning African-American market for popular music, launching its series of “race” records in the early 1920’s with recordings of some of the biggest black stars of the era including Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Though the sound quality of these cheaply produced records is notoriously poor the Paramount catalogue forms an indispensable archive of early blues and jazz and is currently the subject of a comprehensive re-release project by the late John Fahey’s Revenant Records. Dangerous Minds has the story.
I can’t get enough of the blues of Fred McDowell, that master of rhythm. A single chord and a simple, insistent guitar figure were the essential elements that Fred forged into a dark, droning throb that drives into the soul and carries it away. The motion is irresistible, every song a segment of an endless train ride. As with all the greatest blues artists it is as if the feeling and the pulse of his music was always around, like cosmic rays, and with each performance he tuned in the frequencies for a little while. Or so it seems to me!