1. Oakland / Richmond Artists:
- Dee, Mercy. G.I Fever. (Crown Prince #16408) — Recordings from 1949-55 by Blues vocalist active in the Oakland/Richmond blues scene.
- Douglas, K.C. K.C.’s Blues. (Bluesville #OBCCD-533-2) — 1961 recordings of transplanted Mississippi Blues artist who moved to the Bay Area in 1945; re-issued in 1990 by Bluesville. Douglas was a frequent performer in Richmond and Oakland blues clubs from the late 1940’s to early 1960’s.
_____Mercury Blues. (Arhoolie #475) — Recordings made by East Bay record producer Chris Strachwitz in 1960 and 1974. Reworkings of material from the 1940’s and 1950’s.
- Fuller, Jesse. Jazz, Folk Songs, Spirituals & Blues. (Good Time Jazz #0BCCD-564-2) — 1958 recording of Fuller, who performed as a one-man band. Oakland resident Fuller was commonly identified as a San Francisco-based artist, based largely on the success of his song “San Francisco Bay Blues.” Fuller began performing in the late 1920’s but didn’t work steadily in music until after his success in 1954 with a recording of his “San Francisco Bay Blues.” He later became a popular figure In the Blues revival of the 1960’s.
- Fulson, Lowell. My First Recordings. (Arhoolie #CD443) — Twenty-two cuts recorded between 1946 and 1951 by influential Bay Area artist with fourteen cuts produced by Oakland record producer Bob Geddins. The Oklahoma-born Fulson was the first Bay Area Blues artist to achieve national prominence. Excellent liner notes by Mark Humphrey.
_____Everyday I Have the Blues. (Night Train #7007) — Late 1940’s and early 1950’s recordings; includes the title track written by Fulson which later became identified with Memphis-based Urban Blues artist B.B. King.
_____Hung Down Head. (Chess #408) — Mid-1950’s recordings.
_____Tramp/Soul (Flair #CDCHD 339) — 1991 U.K. reissue of mid-1960’s soul-slanted recordings of Fulson for Kent, including the Rhythm & Blues hit “Tramp.”
- Hawkins, Roy. Why Do Everything Happen to Me. (Route 66 #9) — Popular Bay Area Blues vocalist from late 1940’s to early 1950’s. Partial paralysis after a 1950 car accident limited his career. Died in the mid-1950s. First artist to record “The Thrill is Gone” which later became a standard part of B.B. King’’ repertoire.
- McCracklin, Jimmy and his Blues Blasters. Rockin’ Man. (Route 66 #KIX-12) — 1979 Swedish collection of early recordings (1945-56) by Richmond-based blues artist before he attained national success. Liner Notes by Per Notini. The St. Louis-born McCracklin was a mainstay of the East Bay Blues scene from the late 1960’s through the 1960’s. The Blues Blasters were pre-World War II Bay Area Blues artist Bob Kelton, North Richmond drummer “Little Red” (Clarence Tenpenny), and a bassist called “Pops.”
- McCracklin, Jimmy. Jimmy McCracklin and his Blues Blasters. (Ace #CDCHD 720) — Compilation of sides recorded by McCracklin for Modern Records between 1948 and 1950. Features McCracklin’s early band made up of Clarence Tenpenny and Robert Kelton with the addition of guitarist Lafayette Thomas and saxophonist Maxwell Davis on several songs.
_____Twist With Jimmy McCracklin. (Crown #CLP 5244/Custom #LP 2057—also reissued as My Rockin’ Soul on United 719) — 1960’s re-release of sides originally recorded by Modern Records in 1950-55.
_____ The Best of Jimmy McCracklin (Chess PLP #6033) — recordings of McCracklin from 1957-62. Features two vocals by Lafayette “Thing” Thomas, a mainstay of McCracklin’s band who was featured on numerous recordings of other East Bay artists by record produced Bob Geddins. Selections from this LP were released as the CD Everybody Rock (Charley RED CD10) in the U.K.
_____Jimmy McCracklin Sings. (Chess #LP 1464) — Sides recorded in 1957-58.
_____I Just Gotta Know. (Imperial LP #9219) — 1961collection of sides recorded in 1956-60, which includes the soul-tinged “I Just Gotta Know” and “Club Savoy”, and a number of Jump Blues influenced cuts.
_____The Walk: Jimmy McCracklin at His Best. (Razor Tie #RE 2124-2) — 1997 collection of recordings from 1956-1969. Liner notes by Colin Escott. Includes most of McCracklin’s hits and shows the progression of his style from mid-1950’s Rhythm and Blues to late-1960’s Soul.
- Oakland Blues. (Arhoolie #2008) — Collection of late 1940s and early 1950s recordings by Blues artists from Richmond and Oakland produced by Oakland record producer Bob Geddins. Includes cuts by Jimmy McCracklin, Sidney Maiden, Mercy De, Jimmy Wilson, L.C. Robinson, and others. Excellent liner notes by Bay Area music critic Lee Hildebrand.
- Robinson, L.C. “Good Rockin’.” Ups and Downs. (Arhoolie #1062)—1971 recording of Texas-born Robinson who was a constant fixture of the East Bay blues scene from the late 1940’s to the 1970’s. Liner note by Joel Selvin, music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Only recording of Robinson that is still in print. Robinson was one of the few Bay Area Blues artists who steadfastly retained a “country” sound.
- Wilson, Jimmy. Trouble in my House. (Diving Duck #4305) — Gospel-based blues vocalist who was an active Bay Area recording artist in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
(2) Los Angeles Artists
- Brown, Charles. Drifting Blues: The Best of Charles Brown. (Pathe Marconi # 154 661-1) — 1992 release of recordings by Texas-born blues artist. Brown moved to Los Angeles and became an influential performer of Piano Blues.
_____The Complete Aladdin Recordings of Charles Brown. (Mosaic # 153) —109 cuts Brown recorded for Philo and Aladdin in 1945-1956.
- Hunter, Ivory Joe. Since I Met You Baby: The Best of Ivory Joe Hunter. (Mercury # 830897-1) —Collection of recordings Hunter made for Atlantic and MGM in 1949-58. Hunter, a Los Angeles-based Blues pianist, was a very popular artist during the 1950 and an influence on many other artists. Hunter made frequent appearances in North Richmond and Oakland nightclubs during the early 1950’s.
- Mayfield, Percy. The Poet of the Blues. (Specialty #7001) — Los Angeles-based Blues balladeer and songwriter who was popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. His singing style and songwriting were influential in setting the style of early Rhythm & Blues, especially on the West Coast.
(3) Significant Influences
(a) The Kansas City/Territory Bands.
- Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, 1923-29. (Historical #HLP-9) — The Kansas City Big Band sound was one of the major influences on the development of Rhythm & Blues. Bennie Moten was one of the main innovators of the Kansas City Big Band sound during 1920s.
- Kansas City Jazz. (Decca #8044) — Good selection of Kansas City Jazz recordings from the 1920s and 1930s.
- Territory Bands. (EMI #7082). — The Territory Bands of the Southwest were particularly influential on a number of Texas artists, including T-Bone Walker, who were instrumental in the development of Rhythm & Blues in California. This recording features Troy Floyd and his Plaza Hotel Orchestra, which was one of the most successful Territory Bands of the 1920s.
- Territory Bands, 1929-33. (Historical #HLP-26). — This collection presents a good selection of early recordings of mostly Texas-based Territory Bands.
(b) Jump Blues
- Dixon, Floyd. Opportunity Blues. (Route 66 #KIX 1) — Re-release of 1948-61 recordings of influential Los Angeles-based Jump Blues pianist.
- Jordan, Louis. The Best of Louis Jordan. (MCA #MCAD-4079) — Jordan was responsible for pioneering and popularizing Jump Blues. He was one of the most popular recordings artists of the 1940’s and had 57 songs on the R & B charts between 1941 and 1952. He exerted a substantial influence on American popular musical styles (Black and White) during the 1940’s and 1950’s.
- Milburn, Amos. Chicken Shack Boogie. (Pathe-Marcam #156 141 )— French re-release of 1950’s recording of influential Los Angeles-based Jump Blues artist.
- Milton, Roy. Roy Milton and His Solid Senders. (Sonet #5019) — 1990 re-release of sides recorded in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Oklahoma-born Milton moved to Los Angeles in the 1940’s and became one of the most popular Jump Blues artists.
(c) Texas Blues
- Brown, Clarence “Gatemouth.” The Original Peacock Recordings. (Rounder #2039) — 1984 release of recordings Brown made for Peacock in 1949-54. Brown was an influential Texas Blues guitarist in the 1940s and 1950s who influenced numerous West Coast Blues guitarists.
- Hopkins, Sam “Lightnin’”. Early Recordings. (Arhoolie #R2007) — Early recordings from the 1930’s of one of the most influential Texas Blues artists. Hopkins further developed the Texas Blues style set by Blind Lemon Jefferson (see below). A significant influence on later Texas and West Coast Blues guitarists, including T-Bone Walker and Bay Area artist L.C. Robinson.
_____The Complete Aladdin Recordings. (Aladdin/EMI #E2-96843) — 1981 release of 43 sides Hopkins recorded in 1946-48 for Aladdin.
_____The Gold Star Sessions, Volume 1 & 2. (Arhoolie #CD-330 & 337) — Recordings from 1947-50. Liner notes by Bay Area record producer Chris Strachwitz.
- Jefferson, Blind Lemon. King of the Country Blues. (Yazoo #L-1069) — Most important recordings of the most popular Blues artist of the 1920. Set the style for Texas Blues that was later developed by Lightnin’ Hopkins and T-Bone Walker. Excellent liner notes by Stephan Calt.
- Texas Blues. (Rhino RS #71123) – 1992 release; good overview of Texas Blues. Includes significant artists from the 1920’s to the 1990’s.
- Walker, T-Bone. The Complete Imperial Recordings, 1950-1954. (Imperial #CDP-7-96737-2) — Collection of recordings by influential Los Angeles and Texas based Blues artist in his prime. Walker, whose career began in the 1930s, was instrumental in setting the style of guitar playing for the Urban Blues.
_____T-Bone Jumps Again. (Charly #CRD 1019) — U.K. collection of Jump Blues recordings from the 1940s.
Some Suggested Reading
- Boyer, Horace Clarence. How Sweet the Sound: The Golden Age of Gospel. Washington, D.C.: Elliott & Clark Publishing, 1995
- Callen, Jeffrey. Musical Community: The Blues Scene in North Richmond, California. (MA Thesis. UC Santa Barbara, Music Department. 2001).
- Callen, Jeffrey. “Gender Crossings: A Neglected History in African American Music.” In Queering the Popular Pitch, edited by Sheila Whiteley and Jennifer Rycenga, 185-98. New York and London: Routledge, 2006.
- Cohen, Leonard. Nothing but the Blues, edited by Lawrence Cohen. New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.
- DjeDje, Jacqueline Cogdell. California Soul. Music of African Americans in the West, edited by Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje and Eddie S. Meadows. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1998.
- Govenar, Alan. Meeting the Blues. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1988A
- Keil, Charles. Urban Blues. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1966.
- Otis, Johnny. Upside Your Head! Rhythm & Blues on Central Avenue. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1993.
- Palmer, Robert. Deep Blues. New York: Penguin Books, 1981.
- Rowe, Mike. Chicago Blues: The City and the Music. London: Eddison Press, 1975.
- Russell, Ross. Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest. New York: Da Capo Press (originally published by U.C. Press, Berkeley, CA), 1997/1971.
- Shaw, Arnold. Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues. New York: Macmillan, 1978.
- Trynka, Paul. Portrait of the Blues. America’s Blues Musicians in Their Own Words. New York: Da Capo Press, 199