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Throwback Thursdays - Blues and R&B from Shreveport, Louisiana (Hour 2)
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May 28, 2015 10:42 AM PDT
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Located in the northwest corner of Louisiana, Shreveport has had a thriving music scene for many decades. From such blues icons as Jesse Thomas and Oscar "Buddy" Woods (of the two of them, only Thomas would make records after World War II) -- to such legendary rockers as Dale Hawkins, whose big hit "Susie Q" was cut "after hours" at local radio station KWKH, Shreveport has a lot about which it can be rightfully proud. On this episode of Blues Unlimited, we focus on two of the movers and shakers in the music business in Shreveport - Mira Smith, who started up a handful of labels, including Ram, Clif, and Jo (among others) and Stan Lewis, who operated Shreveport's all-important record distributorship for many years, and finally (at the encouragement of Leonard Chess) got into the record business himself. Also on the program, some very fine country blues that were captured during the height of the post-war era, courtesy of labels like Gotham, JOB (another home-grown Shreveport label), Pacemaker (owned by country music star Webb Pierce), Imperial, and Specialty -- from an all night recording session in March 1952 that was organized by Stan Lewis for Specialty's owner Art Rupe -- that give us a spectacular cross-section of the down home blues talent that was on hand in Shreveport in the early 1950s. Don't miss this special tribute to the Blues, R&B, and Country Blues from Shreveport, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Shreveport Blues legend, Jesse "Baby Face" Thomas

Throwback Thursdays - Blues and R&B from Shreveport, Louisiana (Hour 1)
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May 28, 2015 10:28 AM PDT
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Here's one we haven't dusted off in a while. It's got all you could want and a little more: everything from killer Down Home Blues to classic R&B and even a little bit of Soul thrown in too! We don't often pull out these REALLY old ones.... so enjoy while you can! Yours in the blues --SBH

On this episode of Blues Unlimited, we aim the spotlight on Shreveport, Louisiana. Home to a thriving music scene, the "Louisiana Hayride" (a rival of the "Grand Ole Opry"), and more than a dozen record labels, join us for some fine Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Country Blues, and a little bit of Soul. Blues from Shreveport, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Map of Shreveport, c. 1920

Legends of Bluesville, Part 5: Blues from St. Louis, Hour 2
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May 28, 2015 03:37 AM PDT
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Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Legends of Bluesville." This time around, we’re going to St. Louis, to hear from Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, Daddy Hotcakes, Roosevelt Sykes, Henry Brown and more. It’s "The Legends of Bluesville," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Another classic from Bluesville, Henry Townsend's LP for the label is a super-rarity today.

Legends of Bluesville, Part 5: Blues from St. Louis, Hour 1
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May 28, 2015 03:20 AM PDT
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Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Legends of Bluesville." This time around, we’re going to St. Louis, to hear from Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, Daddy Hotcakes, Roosevelt Sykes, Henry Brown and more. It’s "The Legends of Bluesville," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Slated for release as Bluesville LP 1078, it was withdrawn and never issued; the label would only issue eight more LPs before ceasing production. It was later issued by Folkways as part two of a three-part series, "The Blues in St. Louis."

This Week on NPR - Live and On Stage: Blues Classics from the 1960s, Hour 2
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May 25, 2015 11:09 AM PDT
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From Chicago's opulent Regal Theatre, to an intimate coffee house in New York City, to the back alley ways of the legendary Maxwell Street market, and onto live festival stages at Newport and Ann Arbor, the blues — captured live in performance, anyway — doesn't get much better than this. Here, then, are a few recordings from the 1960s that frequently get picked by fans and critics alike as "the best live blues recordings of all time," and just for fun, we've thrown in a few personal favorites as well. Classics from B.B. King ("Live at the Regal"); Robert Nighthawk ("And This Is Maxwell Street"); John Lee Hooker ("Live at the Cafe Au Go-Go"); Magic Sam (Live at Ann Arbor); Muddy Waters ("At Newport"), and more.

Pictured: Another all-time Blues classic, captured live in performance: B.B. King, Live at the Regal. (Notably, he said many years later, that it was "just another night on the road," and that he had no idea that his company would pick THIS performance to put out on a record. All we can say in response is, "some night THAT was!!!")

This Week on NPR - Live and On Stage: Blues Classics from the 1960s, Hour 1
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May 25, 2015 10:56 AM PDT
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Just in case you missed our big announcement.... Blues Unlimited is now being distributed through NPR's Content Depot, with the hopes that more stations than ever will start picking it up. As a public service to our listeners everywhere, each week, we'll also post that episode here as well.... this week, another of our all-time favorites.... with too many great moments to count. Enjoy!

Join us as we explore some of the very best live blues performances of all time — B.B. King at the Regal, Muddy Waters at Newport, Robert Nighthawk on Maxwell Street, Magic Sam at Ann Arbor, and more. The blues, quite simply, doesn't get much better than this.

Pictured: An all-time classic: Muddy Waters At Newport, from 1960.

The King of Distortion: Pat Hare & His Killer Guitar (1952-1960), Hour 2
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May 07, 2015 01:58 PM PDT
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Join us as we pay tribute to a firebrand guitarist, Pat Hare. Joining up with Howlin’ Wolf when he was just a teenager, he went on to record with James Cotton, Junior Parker, and Muddy Waters, among others — leaving a distinct and influential mark on the Blues world. It’s a tribute to Pat Hare, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: James Cotton and Pat Hare (with guitar), in better times. Photo by Jacques Demêtre, 1959, Chicago.

The King of Distortion: Pat Hare & His Killer Guitar (1952-1960), Hour 1
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May 07, 2015 01:40 PM PDT
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Well folks, yeah, we're a little late for "Throwback Thursday," but thought that this time around, we'll pull a fast one on ya', and actually toss out a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW EPISODE instead of yet another recycled one. This one's been cooking on the back burner for a spell, so we thought the time was ripe to serve it up, nice and piping hot! Enjoy!!!

Join us as we pay tribute to a firebrand guitarist, Pat Hare. Joining up with Howlin’ Wolf when he was just a teenager, he went on to record with James Cotton, Junior Parker, and Muddy Waters, among others — leaving a distinct and influential mark on the Blues world. It’s a tribute to Pat Hare, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Pat Hare. Photo by George Adins, 1959, Chicago.

Preachin' the Holy Blues: Field Recordings from Dallas, Texas (1927), Hour 2
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April 16, 2015 08:05 AM PDT
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Join as we get into our time machine, and journey back to Dallas, December 1927. That was when Columbia Records became the first major label to make extensive recordings there — on Washington Phillips, Blind Willie Johnson, Coley Jones, Lillian Glinn, and more. In addition, we'll hear from two primary movers and shakers of the Dallas music scene in the late 1920s, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander (a figure that is largely overlooked today).

Closing off the program is a fascinating little footnote from the Rev. William McKinley Dawkins. Included for the sake of "historical accuracy," his performance dates to the fall of 1925, when the OKeh label became the first record company to send a field recording unit to Dallas. As far as we know, he was the only blues or gospel artist recorded during that 1925 trip. Why OKeh didn't record anything further is a puzzle that remains a mystery to this day. It would be another two years before another field recording unit came to town, which would be Columbia, in December 1927.

For the last word, it is given to Blind Willie Johnson's timeless, ethereal masterpiece, "Dark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground." It was, quite famously, chosen for inclusion on NASA's "Sounds of Earth" golden record that accompanied Voyagers 1 and 2, into outer space. We've been told -- by someone of good authority -- that when it came time for the committee to select pieces of music for the Voyager project -- that there were no arguments and no discussion when it came to "Dark Was The Night - Cold Was The Ground." The vote was unanimous by the committee.

Join us, then, as we explore some amazing blues and gospel from Dallas — including everything from the fiery and low down to the celestial and the heavenly — on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Preachin' the Holy Blues: Field Recordings from Dallas, Texas (1927), Hour 1
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April 16, 2015 07:45 AM PDT
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Join as we get into our time machine, and journey back to Dallas, December 1927. That was when Columbia Records became the first major label to make extensive recordings there — on Washington Phillips, Blind Willie Johnson, Coley Jones, Lillian Glinn, and more. It’s blues and gospel from Dallas, Texas, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Texas Alexander, largely forgotten today, was such a popular seller that he was one of the few artists to collect royalties from the sale of his records.

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