Blues americana

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A neat glimpse of some old-school, black, trans* or drag performers in Austin, TX, October 7th, 1955.

Possibly taken at Ira Littlefield’s club, the I.L Club (“the ill club”) on East 11th St.  

Photos by Neal Douglass. Source here

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Robert Johnson and His Deal with the Devil

Robert Johnson, or at least the mythical version of him, is pervasive in American pop culture. He is considered a “Faustian” character, which essentially means the story surrounding him involves making a deal with Mephistopheles (a demon) or Satan himself. Deals like these typically were said to take place at crossroads, often seen as a metaphorical or actual liminal space, a place where change happens.

The legend goes that Johnson fell distraught after his first wife died in childbirth and he turned to his love of music to cope but he was horrible at the guitar with an unpleasant voice. Johnson was said to have disappeared for a length of time and then returned with great musical skill and a wonderful, mournful singing voice. At a crossroads, marked with the three guitar statue (above), Johnson supposedly met a man who gave him these abilities–in return for his soul. People point to some of his songs like “Cross Road Blues” and “Hell Hound on My Trail” as evidence that he had made the deal with the devil and the hellhounds were there to collect.

Johnson only recorded three records and died at the age of 27 in 1938 due to “mysterious” stomach pains. Of course, the legend would have us believe that the Devil had come to collect his dues. Most people, however, believe that he was poisoned (one way or another) due to flirting with or having an affair with a married woman. Either way, he died very young after putting out only a little bit of music and had only a couple of photos ever taken of him. He’s a figure shrouded in mystery due to how little is known about him but he lives on in our collective imagination, still recognized as the King of the Delta Blues.

Source

Bushwick Blues
  • Bushwick Blues
  • Delta Spirit
  • History from Below
Play

Hold on to my hand
Never let go
Never let go
We were just two kids acting tough
Then we grew up
Me, not so much

All the other guys that you’ve seen
are nothing compared to me
Because my love is strong
And my heart is weak
After all

When we first met
We spoke so brief
When you sang a sonnet
I hummed sweet relief
Do you recall that night we took the L
Out into Bushwick
It was colder than hell

So maybe there
We should have stopped
Cause I’m left here feeling like a cop
Because my love is strong
And my heart is weak
After all

To the other side
of the state’s return
I met a young girl
Well I couldn’t manage her
Because I think of you
In every girl i meet
It’s no relief
That sounds to me just as sweet

So maybe I’m the fool for feeling used
By the way we kissed that night i though you knew
Because my love is strong
And my heart is weak
After all

Need something amazingly wonderful to listen to? Well look no further! Out of the darkness comes Randy Haddock’s triumph ‘Seven Miles’ This five track E.P has the melodic prowess not seen often in today’s music. There were times 'Seven Miles’ made me think that I was listening to the next Coen Brothers soundtrack.

So if like me you enjoy music that is reminiscent of the great Robert Johnson, pick up a copy on Band camp by clicking on the picture or clicking  on this link!

https://randyhaddock.bandcamp.com/album/seven-miles-ep

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Shotgun Blues–Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn