Hambone Willie: The West Tennessee Connection to the American Song

Here we have an interesting point in American music history:


Hambone Willie Newbern and his version of Roll and Tumble Blues

I have been doing some reading on West TN Blues and have known this but am just know realizing how seminal many artists from West TN were on the blues at large. Exhibit number one: Roll and Tumble Blues. Though not the first to record this tune (Gus Cannon Jug Stompers whose Noah Lewis was from Henning, TN) his arrangement was used by Robert Johnson for his “Possession Over Judgement Day” and Muddy Waters’ version by a similar title. So here is where I am right now. Are the Delta Blues really just West TN Blues morphed into something else due to the artist’s own take on the originals?

Obviously there were songs floating about all over America’s South, specifically along the areas on the East and West of the Mississippi River. What I find particularly interesting is the attention paid to the more “noted” performers (Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, etc.) and the assumption that they were the seminal influence on the music’s coming of age. When in reality they were an early link in the chain with other links preceding them, if not simply in a historical context. Of course the tunes played by Hambone Willie Newbern and Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers had to have come from somewhere also. Yet is it possible that West Tennesse can lay as much a claim to being grandfather’s of “the Blues” as anyone else?


More about Hambone Willie Newbern Below.

Little is known about blues songster Hambone Willie Newbern; a mere half-dozen sides comprise the sum of his recorded legacy, but among those six is the first-ever rendition of the immortal Delta classic “Roll and Tumble Blues.” Reportedly born in 1899, he first began to make a name for himself in the Brownsville, TN area, where he played country dances and fish fries in the company of Yank Rachell; later, on the Mississippi medicine show circuit, he mentored Sleepy John Estes (from whom most of the known information about Newbern originated). While in Atlanta in 1929, Newbern cut his lone session; in addition to “Roll and Tumble,” which became an oft-covered standard, he recorded songs like “She Could Toodle-Oo” and “Hambone Willie’s Dreamy-Eyed Woman’s Blues,” which suggest an old-fashioned rag influence. By all reports an extremely ill-tempered man, Newbern’s behavior eventually led him to prison, where a brutal beating is said to have brought his life to an end around 1947. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/hambone-willie-newbern#ixzz25ywWe8dQ


Juke Joint Festival 2011

Had a great time playing at the Juke Joint Festival. Here is a recap of the great things I got to experience:
* Lunch with one of my favorite people Sunshine Sonny Payne of the King Biscuit Time radio show
* Seeing my friend Terry Buckalew and hearing his great knowledge and humor
* Seeing my old friends Tony and Charlotte Lax
* Talking with Terry Mullins who has a great presence
* Talking with Ted and Matt of the Scissormen
* Talking with KM Williams and Washboard Jackson
* Meeting Gabe Carter and seeing him perform with KM and Washboard
* Playing with the guys: Bob Bogdal, Ringo Juke, Shannon Smith, and my long time buddy Syd Hedrick
* Talking with Cedric Burnside and seeing him perform at Ground Zero
* Talking with Davis Cohen and Ray Cashman
* Seeing David Honeyboy Edwards one of the last real deal Delta Bluesmen
* Seeing David Kimbrough perform
* Seeing Chad Nordhoff perform
* Seeing the wonderful job Robin has done with the New Roxy Theater space which has to be one of the coolest places anyone could ever even think about doing a live show
* Hearing Brad Webb burn up a slide guitar with Miranda Louise
* Watching Watermelon Slim perform
* Talking with John Alex Mason
* Watching T Model Ford
* Getting to talk with RL Boyce
* Witnessing Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band
* Listening to Robert Belfour
* Talking with my good friend John Lowe
It was, and is always, a good thing to make a trip down to the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS. If not for the performance then just to meet so many great people and catch up with people you have now known for years. Roger Stolle has done a remarkable job as well as the community of Clarksdale for coming together to put on one heck of a show for anyone in attendance. If you have never made that sojourn down to the holy land of blues then this would be the best excuse in the world to avail yourself of this great place and awesome assemblage of entertainment. You will not leave disappointed as I was simply blown away as I rounded every corner only to be continually impressed by who I would run in to and see. What a great vibe and a festival unlike any other. Not many places you can watch true legends, up and comers, and legends in the making perform and then talk with them after. Great stuff