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Lonnie Johnson

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  • warrington1@btinternet.com
    Hi. Just seen mention of Annette Hanshaw in one of the group s posts. Tenuous link I know but I love some of her early records, especially backed by Eddie
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 21, 2012
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      Hi. Just seen mention of Annette Hanshaw in one of the group's posts. Tenuous link I know but I love some of her early records, especially backed by Eddie Lang. Just discovered last week that there is film of Mr Lang accompanying Bing Crosby on Youtube. Great stuff! Anyway, from Eddie Lang to Lonnie Johnson (not quite such a tenuous link this time, via Blue Guitars): I've been listening to the McKinney Cotton Pickers/Chocolate Dandies this morning playing Stardust and when Lonnie Johnson takes off on his solo it really takes off. Can anyone in the group direct me to a relatively easy way to find out anywhere else he guested in such a way? I know the Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington sides. The MCP sides are quite new to me and came as a lovely surprise when I discovered them recently. Are there any more lovely surprises waiting for me?
      Thanks, Phil
    • Patrice Champarou
      Hi Phil Lonnie Johnson backed several female vocalists, but if you are looking for a jazz context I think the remaining consists in two tracks on which Blind
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 21, 2012
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        Hi Phil

        Lonnie Johnson backed several female vocalists, but if you are looking for a
        jazz context I think the remaining consists in two tracks on which "Blind
        Willie Dunn Gin Bottle Four" are joined by King Oliver, and four more by
        Clarence Williams' Jug Band.
        They were gathered on JSP CD 335, "Playing With The Strings"
        http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Strings-Lonnie-Johnson/dp/B00005M099
        - the three 1928 Ellington sides are, by far, the best-sounding I have ever
        heard (remastered by "guess who?" JRTD), pity they did not include Misty
        Mornin' as well )

        Patrice

        -----Message d'origine-----
        De : warrington1@...
        Date : vendredi 21 septembre 2012 17:23
        À : RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        Objet : [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson

        Hi. Just seen mention of Annette Hanshaw in one of the group's posts.
        Tenuous link I know but I love some of her early records, especially backed
        by Eddie Lang. Just discovered last week that there is film of Mr Lang
        accompanying Bing Crosby on Youtube. Great stuff! Anyway, from Eddie Lang to
        Lonnie Johnson (not quite such a tenuous link this time, via Blue Guitars):
        I've been listening to the McKinney Cotton Pickers/Chocolate Dandies this
        morning playing Stardust and when Lonnie Johnson takes off on his solo it
        really takes off. Can anyone in the group direct me to a relatively easy way
        to find out anywhere else he guested in such a way? I know the Louis
        Armstrong and Duke Ellington sides. The MCP sides are quite new to me and
        came as a lovely surprise when I discovered them recently. Are there any
        more lovely surprises waiting for me?
        Thanks, Phil
      • Patrice Champarou
        ... De : Patrice Champarou Date : vendredi 21 septembre 2012 19:16 À : RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com Objet : Re : [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson ... Oops! only two.
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 21, 2012
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          -----Message d'origine-----
          De : Patrice Champarou
          Date : vendredi 21 septembre 2012 19:16
          À : RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
          Objet : Re : [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson

          > and four more by Clarence Williams' Jug Band.

          Oops! only two. The way these early JSP mentioned the band's names was quite
          deceiving.

          P.
        • Peter Abrahams
          For a truly gorgeous solo by Lonnie Johnson, although recorded 40 years later, find Stompin At The Penny, with Jim McHarg, recorded in 1965. They do a
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 22, 2012
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            For a truly gorgeous solo by Lonnie Johnson, although recorded 40
            years later, find
            Stompin' At The Penny, with Jim McHarg, recorded in 1965. They do a
            version of 'West End Blues' with a long guitar solo that makes me
            think, "_that's_ how 'West End Blues' was meant to be
            played". McHarg is a Canadian trumpet player, a little loud here,
            but his band sure provides a platform for Lonnie to be at his best.
            And an equally gorgeous vocal by Lonnie is his very spare and clean
            version of 'My Mother's Eyes'; I can't recall which album this is on.
            Peter Abrahams
          • bsdfl
            Just for the record. Jim McHarg was a bass player (and leader of the Metro Stompers) and the cornet or trumpet player alluded to was probably Charlie Gall.
            Message 5 of 10 , Sep 22, 2012
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              Just for the record. Jim McHarg was a bass player (and leader of the Metro
              Stompers) and the cornet or trumpet player alluded to was probably Charlie
              Gall. Both subbed for my band The Rainbow Gardens Jazz Orchestra.
              Cheers,
              Ric Giorgi

              _____

              From: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com [mailto:RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com] On
              Behalf Of Peter Abrahams
              Sent: September-22-12 12:46 PM
              To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson




              For a truly gorgeous solo by Lonnie Johnson, although recorded 40
              years later, find
              Stompin' At The Penny, with Jim McHarg, recorded in 1965. They do a
              version of 'West End Blues' with a long guitar solo that makes me
              think, "_that's_ how 'West End Blues' was meant to be
              played". McHarg is a Canadian trumpet player, a little loud here,
              but his band sure provides a platform for Lonnie to be at his best.
              And an equally gorgeous vocal by Lonnie is his very spare and clean
              version of 'My Mother's Eyes'; I can't recall which album this is on.
              Peter Abrahams




              _____

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              Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Patrice Champarou
              ... De : Peter Abrahams Date : samedi 22 septembre 2012 18:46 À : RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com Objet : [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson ... The Complete Folkways
              Message 6 of 10 , Sep 22, 2012
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                -----Message d'origine-----
                De : Peter Abrahams
                Date : samedi 22 septembre 2012 18:46
                À : RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
                Objet : [RedHotJazz] Lonnie Johnson

                > And an equally gorgeous vocal by Lonnie is his very spare and clean
                > version of 'My Mother's Eyes'; I can't recall which album this is on.
                > Peter Abrahams

                The Complete Folkways Recordings
                http://www.folkways.si.edu/lonnie-johnson/the-complete-folkways-recordings/blues/music/album/smithsonian

                P.
              • ROBERT R. CALDER
                The recordings by Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden on one of the Prestige labels are pretty terrific, especially Snowden in duets which sound just like the two
                Message 7 of 10 , Sep 23, 2012
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                  The recordings by Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden on one of the Prestige labels are pretty terrific, especially Snowden in duets which sound just like the two of them were jamming together. "You know this one?" Snowden asks, and off they go.
                  Incidentally and coincidentally, two days ago a friend sent me an mp3 of Lonnie's TOMORROW NIGHT, I'm not sure from when,  and can't be bothered looking it up. The intriguing thing is the occurrence of some Eddie Langisms in the guitar part, which sound rather Django-esque.
                  Of course the best recordings were his solos and the duets with Lang recorded at the same time.
                  The oddest, under an ensemble name which slips my mind just now, are on a Document label CD of recordings made in St. Louis in the 1920s, when Lonnie was prevailed upon to record a couple of numbers in the hope of picking up on a vogue for Hawaiian guitar music. When not sliding he sounds like himself
                  There is also the Lang-Johnson duet which has not in the past been included in selections, the one where they accompany the mournful melodious unmetronomic Texas blues singer Texas Alexander, who also recorded with simply Lonnie, and as I recall also with Lang and King Oliver.
                  He started so early,  Lonnie had a lot of the sentimental non-jazz singer in his repertoire of performing styles. Something of a one-man history of jazz and pop styles, not the most talented of extended improvisers but a remarkably creative musician whose influence on blues guitar was certainly considerable, whether as taken up by the master Robert Johnson, or the more nearly imitative Clifford Gibson.
                  The best anecdote comes from a visitor who delivered it in an article about Lonnie ages ago, of how he knocked on the door and Lonnie shouted come in, and when the writer got in Lonnie was just lifting his head, dripping with water and red streaks, from a bucket.
                  "Oh, my God, the poor old fellow's been mugged!" he thought.
                  Lonnie immediately explained that he'd taken the time before his guest arrived to refresh the dying of his hair. The red was Henna ...
                  The worst tale of him concerns his alleged shortcomings as a husband,
                  de-delebrated by an ex-wife in (my capitalisation) "Mary Johnson Blues", on which I needn't say he didn't play.
                  He did make a lot of dull recordings, but some brilliant ones and some very good ones at intervals -- in the early days on fiddle, banjo and even piano, though various piano/ vocal recordings have the same piano part, as on "Sam, You're a Rat!",  a title worth a prize. More than a decade after he sat in with Louis, he recorded some vocal numbers with Lil Armstrong the session pianist.
                  The Proper Records CDs of early Lonnie -- pre-listened" -- joined my collection at startlingly modest cost. I used to have to pay as much for blank cassettes.

                  Lonnie Johnson lives!

                  Robert

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                • warrington1@btinternet.com
                  Thanks for your help with Lonnie Johnson. I shall follow up the leads you have supplied. I have enjoyed his guitar playing since being introduced to it by Mike
                  Message 8 of 10 , Sep 24, 2012
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                    Thanks for your help with Lonnie Johnson. I shall follow up the leads you have supplied. I have enjoyed his guitar playing since being introduced to it by Mike Raven back in the 1960s. His singing voice tends to grate after a while and the blues he recorded are a bit "samey" after a while (neither of these criticisms are his fault - he must have been pressured into recording blues because of its popularity and his voice is not meant to be listened to song after song). I have therefore sought his accompaniments and guest appearances. Now you have cleared up the guestings for me, I will continue to look for instances when he has accompanied other singers. The Victoria Spivey records are favourites of mine. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to construct or find a comprehensive list of records he made with other artists though. But thanks again for more useful feedback.
                    Phil 

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                  • Andrew Taylor
                    Hi Phil, Wanted to share with you a youtube video from the American blues tours of Europe of an older Johnson from: The American Folk Blues Festival
                    Message 9 of 10 , Sep 25, 2012
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                      Hi Phil,
                      Wanted to share with you a youtube video from the American blues tours
                      of Europe of an older Johnson
                      "from: The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966, Vol. 1 (1962)"
                      <http://youtu.be/n8fyb9vpIc0>
                      Comes across here as quite the gentleman with sweet singing (similar to
                      Leroy Carr). He's introduced by Sonny Boy Williamson (the second and
                      more famous one, real name Alec "Rice" Miller), arguably the greatest
                      and most unique of all the bluesmen. You can really see and hear the
                      immense regard he has for Johnson (and how funky Sonny Boy was).
                      3 other bits of Johnson trivia I put on Facebook a while back, not sure
                      of all the sources.

                      * B. B. King says, "There's only been a few guys that if I could play
                      just like them I would. T-Bone Walker was one, Lonnie Johnson was
                      another." Another big fan was Robert Johnson."He often talked about
                      Lonnie Johnson," fellow bluesman Johnny Shines remembers. "He
                      admired his music so much that he would tell people that ... he was
                      related to Lonnie Johnson." [in fact Johnson wasn't Robert's real
                      surname, it was his stepfather's] Like McTell, Robert Johnson put
                      out several sides, among them "Malted Milk" and "Drunken Hearted
                      Man," that sound eerily like Lonnie himself.
                      * Living Blues Magazine: One of the players you and Robert both
                      admired was Lonnie Johnson. Was he one of the top guitar players in
                      those days?

                      Johnny Shines: Him? Was he one of the top ones? He was the top. I
                      remember one record of his was strictly jazz, and boy, he was so
                      goddamned fast -- whoo! With a straight pick. See, he use a straight
                      pick like another man uses three fingers. I've seen guitar players
                      use three fingers wasn't as fast as him.
                      1989,
                      http://jasobrecht.com/johnny-shines-complete-living-blues-interview/

                      Regards, Andrew Taylor
                      ps,
                      There's a neat eddielang.com flash website, nice design work.
                      I expect you know about the sides with Johnson where Lang is listed as
                      Blind Willie Dunn, maybe used that pseudonym with others.


                      On 9/21/2012 10:23 AM, warrington1@... wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi. Just seen mention of Annette Hanshaw in one of the group's posts.
                      > Tenuous link I know but I love some of her early records, especially
                      > backed by Eddie Lang. Just discovered last week that there is film of
                      > Mr Lang accompanying Bing Crosby on Youtube. Great stuff! Anyway, from
                      > Eddie Lang to Lonnie Johnson (not quite such a tenuous link this time,
                      > via Blue Guitars): I've been listening to the McKinney Cotton
                      > Pickers/Chocolate Dandies this morning playing Stardust and when
                      > Lonnie Johnson takes off on his solo it really takes off. Can anyone
                      > in the group direct me to a relatively easy way to find out anywhere
                      > else he guested in such a way? I know the Louis Armstrong and Duke
                      > Ellington sides. The MCP sides are quite new to me and came as a
                      > lovely surprise when I discovered them recently. Are there any more
                      > lovely surprises waiting for me?
                      > Thanks, Phil
                      >
                      >


                      --
                      Andrew Taylor, MLS
                      Co-Curator, Visual Resources
                      Department of Art History, Rice University
                      713-348-4836



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                    • Andrew Taylor
                      Read an anecdote somewhere about Django listening to Armstrong s Savoy Blues recording for the first time, saying mon frere or the like and flipping out -
                      Message 10 of 10 , Sep 25, 2012
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                        Read an anecdote somewhere about Django listening to Armstrong's Savoy
                        Blues recording for the first time, saying "mon frere" or the like and
                        flipping out - partially because in his view Lonnie Johnson's guitar was
                        out of tune (I think Johnson's solo is excellent, maybe the annoyance
                        was really St. Cyr's banjo which sounds a bit off to me listening to it
                        right now). To me it's a great solo, just eclipsed by Armstrong on an
                        exceptionally good day.
                        Andrew

                        --
                        Andrew Taylor, MLS
                        Co-Curator, Visual Resources
                        Department of Art History, Rice University
                        713-348-4836
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