An interpretation of Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" lyrics from his 1967 album "John Wesley Harding"

This song is likely about the deception of blues recording artist Frankie Lee Sims (born 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana) by Johnny Vincent who founded Ace Records in 1955 in Jackson, Mississippi, 165 miles away from New Orleans Vincent probably gave him a nice cash advance,  girl and weed equipped lodging, and then shifted his label's focus away from the local blues musicians he set up shop to lure and branched out into New Orleans Rythm & Blues and Rock 'n' Roll consistent with a pattern of driving the Mississippi blues men into obscurity  Lee lived another 3 years after Dylan wrote the song though

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Alan Lomax and the death of Jelly Roll Morton

    It would seem Jelly Roll's account of Aaron Haris, Sheepbite, Madame Papa Luce and Robert Charles was coached by Lomax meaning he told Jelly before the recording of the 1938 session what he wanted him to say Here we find the only controversial remarks of all the Jelly Roll Morton Library of Congress Recordings neatly condensed into a single session First he says what's known as Voodoo in the South we call it Hoodoo in New Orleans Actually, Voodoo and Hoodoo are different from each other and Voodoo would have been practiced more in New Orleans than in the South where Hoodoo would have been practiced more in the South than New Orleans, just the opposite of what Morton said Hoodoo is conjuring or root work which formed the basis of our pharmaceutical industry today, where Voodoo is a subculture of Christianity although they both have their origins in the slave trade so  they may have blended with each other Then he says Robert Charles was arrested in a domestic dispute with his wife who called the police on him and he and shot and killed a policeman because he wouldn't let him have his hat Actually Robert Charles had been involved in an ongoing dispute over the lyching death of Sam Hose which was the reason he was sitting armed on his front porch when approached by the police  The shooting death of the polceman caused the 1900 riot Additionally he made a foolish remark about "Sheep Bite" Morton would be stabbed in the same Washington, DC bar, The Music Box, where Lomax had met him, not long after they had met there Morton's health steadily declined after the stabbing and he died in Los Angeles in 1941

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The Identification Ban

Why did BB King have a different facial expression for every note he played? Why does Buddy Guy always play the clown on stage? Why does Toronzo Cannon have a somewhat clownish style? Why did Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme sing scat? To prevent strong singular identification There's a ban on identification in music The call and response three line verse format of blues is the most identifying type of music and undesirable in the hands of a capable male musician singer Therefore at the inception of the recording business blues would be most intentionally marginalized by the selection of black female minstrel show performers as the dedicated vocalist stars singing to a backdrop of horns and they told listeners "the blues ain't nothing but (so and so) Get the idea? Ma Rainey's first ensemble was named Assassinators of the Blues just like John Mayal's Blues Breakers four decades later Where she assassinated the blues they broke it, both on her majesty's satanic request a Rolling Stones album title also referring to the same theme You may already know the role of the British in the American recording business but did you know Minstrelsy was created by the British as well? They say Minstrelsy was succeeded by Vaudeville as the nations top form of entertainment but actually it was also succeeded by the phonograph which brought music to non musicians

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An interpretation of Robert Johnson - Me and the Devil Blues (or Robert Johnson's Deal with the Devil)

It would seem early in the morning someone knocked upon Robert Johnson's door and the two went for a walk in which was planned for Johnson to murder Caletta Craft as he had Vergie Mae Smith who like Craft was also said to have died in child birth You don't see why that she would dog me 'round "She" is Estelle Coleman, Craft's romantic rival That evil spirit so  deep down in the ground would be Vergie Mae Smith Statistically it's improbable that they both died post partum 

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Robert Johnson - They're Red Hot

This recording actually sounds like a duet with Willie Brown 

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Real film of Robert Johnson, Hayes McMullan, Robert Petway, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Tommy McClennan

This film shows Robert Johnson singing and playing banjo  with Hayes McMullan, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Petway and Tommy McClennan The identifications were made by the publisher of the blues music news service Johnson sings McDowell's verse then stops and covers his mouth laughing and a voice behind the camera says "finish the song" Petway gives McDowell a consolling look over his shoulder  The laughter scene at the end probably refers to Johnson guzzling a bottle of whiskey nearby

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Guitar blues

There was a time, in the 1890's when guitar blues was purely instrumental and very advanced and there were many significant styles specific to their practitioners including St. Louis and Kansas City style blues The source of this information is Jelly Roll Morton's  'Guitar Blues' recording from the Complete Congress Recordings which were made sometime around 1938 Morton was born Ferdinand LeMoth in 1884 and began playing piano personally sometime around 1896 and professionally around 1898 Before that, he had played guitar, and in the recording Morton plays guitar blues as he played it in the 1890's and informs us that there were countless blues guitarists playing their own styles including New Orleans blues, Kansas City blues and St Louis blues 

Before the civil war, John Brown (no known relation to delta blues singer Willie Brown) had struck his first blow against slavery in Kansas which was a free state, bordering Missouri, a slave state and in 1872 Frerick Douglas called on freedmen to move to Kansas and later during the Exodusters migration which included St Louis as a destination as well, blacks would try to move to Kansas That meant a ride on a river boat up the Mississippii river to St. Louis and then they would have needed to board a second river boat to travel further northwest up the river to Kansas Many couldn't and would have to remain in St. Louis This is why there was New Orleans blues, Kansas City blues and St. Louis blues So what happened to St Louis, New Orleans, Kansas City acoustic guitar blues? It would be eclipsed by the migration of ragtime to the piano and ragtime piano would become the super money making genre beginning with the premise that the dance halls of New Orleans needed pianists to entertain their patrons all night long and ragtime piano would give rise to a huge sheet music publishing industry Towards the end of the ragtime era, WC Handy would publish some ragtime blues sheet music 

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Robert Johnson: Demystifying the Legend

    What made Robert Johnson so great? Is it some kind of mystery? Johnson was the first Honkey Tonk guitarist Nearly all of the Johnson recordings are very strong representations of Honkey Tonk guitar and and he's playing them with a thumb pick giving it that super strong rythym Nobody's done it since He was also the first and only acoustic blues guitarist to combine 7th chord rythms with slide guitar If you listen to other acoustic slide guitarists of the day like Charlie Patton, you'll notice they're not playing any 7th chord rythms, they're just playing basic chords Here's a video of Robert Johnson singing and playing banjo with Robert Petway, Mississippi Ferd McDowell, Hayes McMullan and someone else unidentified 


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What is blues?

What is Blues?
The pre-ragtime piano and guitar 7th chord music of the Southern and Gulf Coast regions of the United States