Archivist Blog

Rare Early Blues Harp Recordings by Singers and Sidemen introduced by Joe Filisko.

You may have heard of some of these performers and groups but there will probably be others that are new to you. Joe Filisko shares his awesome knowledge of the early blues harmonica players and the techniques they developed to play the instrument. The music styles range from early jazz to country blues and popular novelties. If you like this, Part 2, you can listen to Joe on Part 1, on The Archivist web page.

Most of the recordings are from rare 78rpm shellac records, so be ready for the surface noise. In most cases there are no master recordings and for some of the performances only one or two 78s are known to have survived intact.

Over to Joe………

Rare Early Blues Harp Recordings by Singers and Sidemen introduced by Joe Filisko. by The Archivist on Mixcloud

0 Introduction , Joe Filisko , 0:00
1 Long Haired Doney , Johnny Woods , 0:20
2 Stove Pipe Blues , Daddy Stovepipe , 3:00
3 Mean Low Blues , Blues Birdhead, 7:45
4 Central Track Blues , William McCoy , 12:00
5 One Mint Julep , Peg Leg Sam , 16:00
6 Black Pine Waltz , Gwen Foster , 19:22
7 Key to the Highway , Jazz Gillum , 24:06
8 Police and High Sheriff , 0llis Martin , 27:18
9 Mouth Organ Blues , Hezekiah Jenkins , 31:03
10 You Belong To Me , Arteleus Mistric , 34:40
11 Blues , Wild Bill Phillips , 40:14
12 Sugar Blues , Salty Holmes/Mattie O’Neil , 44:01
13 Son Brimmer’s Blues , Will Shade/ Memphis Jug Band , 47:40
14 Boarding House Blues , Rhythm Willie , 51:33
15 Mistreatin’ Mama , Jaybird Coleman , 55:20
16 Step It Up and Go , Jordan Webb/Brownie McGhee , 59:50
17 St Louis Blues , Willie “Red” Herman , 63:25
18 Jack 0′ Diamonds , Percy Randolph , 66:20
19 Fourth Avenue Blues , Eddie Mapp , 68:30
20 Tampa Blues , Sheffield and Skoodle Dum Doo , 71:53
21 Troubled ’bout My Soul , Frank Palmes , 75:23
22 Wabash Blues , Johnny O’Brien , 79:54
23 Go Back Home , Hot Shot Love , 83:45
24 Beale Street Breakdown , Jed Davenport ,87:04
25 Baby Please Don’t Go , Whispering Smith , 90:50
26 Hill’s Hot Sauce , Robert Hill , 93:52
27 She’s Got Good Dry Goods , Walter Horton/Little Buddy Doyle , 97:12
28 Drink, Drink, Drink , Robert Diggs , 100:35

You can buy the original double CD without Joe’s added information from – Bluebeat Music

Joe Filisko’s web site

Ben Hewlett’s web site

Rare Early Solo Instrumental Blues Harp Recordings introduced by Joe Filisko.

Sit back and listen to Joe Filisko introducing 31 solo harmonica recordings from the 1920-30s. The recordings include many examples of train imitations, fox chases and early blues tunes. Joe mentions which harp and key he thinks is the correct one so maybe you will be inspired to play along. Part 2 is now available here – Rare Early Blues Harp Recordings by Singers and Sidemen introduced by Joe Filisko.

You may have heard of some of the performers but there will probably be others that are new to you. Most of the recordings are from rare 78rpm shellac records, so be ready for the surface noise. In most cases there are no master recordings and for some of the performances only one or two 78s are known to have survived intact.

This video is dedicated to Joe Filisko for sharing his awesome knowledge of the early blues harmonica players and the techniques they developed to play the instrument, and also to Ben Hewlett for contacting me when the recording had been taken offline and explaining how valuable this resource is for teaching blues harmonica. This is an updated version as a video with subtitles to help people with difficulties in understanding the speech.

Over to Joe…

Rare Early Solo Instrumental Blues Harp Recordings introduced by Joe Filisko.
Introduction , Joe Filisko, 0:00
1 Cracker Cops , Sonny Terry, 0:30
2 McAbee’s Railroad Piece , Palmer McAbee, 4:15
3 Fox Chase , DeFord Bailey, 8:00
4 Middling Blues , George “Bullet” Williams, 11:30
5 Fast Train , Lonnie Glosson , 15:00
6 Rain Crow Bill Blues , Henry Whitter : 19:00
7 Train , Salty Holmes , 22:40
8 Red Pig , Kyle Wooten , 22:20
9 Train Imitations and the Fox Chase , William McCoy , 28:15
10 Up Country Blues , DeFord Bailey , 32:24
11 The Fox Chase , Wayne Raney , 36:21
12 Frisco Leaving Birmingham #3 , George “Bullet” Williams , 39:15
13 Mocking the Dogs , Edward Hazelton , 42:55
14 The Fox end the Hounds , Roger Mathis , 44:30
15 The Alcoholic Blues , DeFord Bailey , 47:4616
16 Mama Blues , William McCoy , 50:30
17 Train and Model-T Race , Curly Fox , 54:45
18 The Old Time Fox Chase , Henry Whitter , 57:40
19 Riding the Blinds , Eddie Mapp , 60:40
20 Dixie Flyer Blues , DeFord Bailey , 64:40
21 C & N.W Blues , D.H Bert Bilbro , 68:25
22 Fox Chase , Salty Holmes, 72:30
23 Devil in the Woodpile , Noah Lewis, 74:20
24 Lost John , Lonnie Glosson , 77:50
25 Pan-American Blues , DeFord Bailey , 81:35
26 Lost John , Walter “Red” Parham , 85:15
27 Mocking the Train , Edward Hazelton , 87:05
28 Lost John , Oliver Sims , 88:25
29 Muscle Shoals Blues , DeFord Bailey , 92:15
30 When the Saints Go Marching In , Jesse Stroller, 95:55
31 Poor Little June Bug , Sonny Terry , 97.15

You can buy the original double CD without Joe’s added information from – Bluebeat Music

Joe Filisko’s web site

Ben Hewlett’s web site

Golden Age of the Harmonica on BBC Radio – 1950 to 1960

Imagine you are back in the 1950s. Tune your AM Radio to the BBC and listen . The harmonica was heard in many radio comedies, variety and serious music shows in the 1950s.

Here are some examples featuring Tommy Reilly, Larry Adler, Ronald Chesney, Max Geldray, The Morton Fraser Gang and The Three Monarchs. Shows mentioned include Dixon of Dock Green, The Grove Family, The Navy Lark, Educating Archie, The Goon Show, Workers’ Playtime, and Variety Bandbox.

Light Programme , Opening , 0:00
Workers Playtime , Essex , 0:16
Tommy Reilly , Medley , 0:31
Tommy Reilly , Dixon of Dock Green , 4:42
Tommy Reilly , Family Joke, The Navy Lark , 5:58
Educating Archie , Ronald Chesney , 9:25
Ronald Chesney , Blues in the Night , 12:05
Ronald Chesney , Hora Staccato , 16:35
Variety Bandbox,  , 18:07
Morton Fraser Gang , Medley , 18:15
Morton Fraser Gang , Body and Soul , 20:24
Three Monarchs , Beer Barrel Polka, 23:10
Three Monarchs , Small Talk , 25:05
Three Monarchs , Bach goes to Town , 28:52
Max Geldray , The Goon Show , 30:09
Max Geldray , Side by Side , 31:46
Max Gelday , So Rare , 32:54
Light Progamme , Larry Adler Programme 1 , 34:20
Larry Adler , Smoke gets in your Eyes , 35:10
Larry Adler , Holiday for Strings , 38:40
Larry Adler , Genevieve Film Music , 42:04
BBC Light Programme, Closedown, 48:43

Old Harmonica Favourites – Part 2 – Quartets, Trios, Duos and Soloists

More popular harmonica group favourites from the 1940s and 50s are from a large collection of recordings assembled by John Bryan (1924-2014) who built up contacts and friendships around the world who exchanged music with him. This broadcast covers tracks from many harmonica groups and soloists.  See also Part 1, Old Harmonica Favourites.

1. Dick Hayman – Saturday night in the Central Park – 2:07
2. Dick Hayman – Tootle oolie dooley – 2:41
3. W. W. Macbeth – Listen to the mocking bird – 1:03
4. W. W. Macbeth – Carry me back to the old Virginny – 1:16
5. Luciano – Esmeraida – 0:47
6. Luciano – Gipsy melody – 0:34
7. Morton Frazer Gang – Caravana – 2:45
8. Morton Frazer – Chelsea – 2:21
9. Nelson y su conjunto – De buen humor – 2:31
10. The Snapshots – Limehouse blues – 2:23
11. Cappy Barra Harmonica Gentleman – Voodoo –  2:42
12. Hotcha Trio – Saloon bar rag – 2:54
13. Ronald Chesney – Chiqui chaqui – 2:12
14. Los 5 Acordes – El jazz me entristece – 2:13
15. The Multicats – Avalon – 2:39
16. Tommy Reilly – Swiss merry go-round – 1:55
17. Trio Candido – Premier flirt – 1:49
18. The Herold’s Trio – Swing polka – 2:01
19. Roberto Abularach – Sombrero de copa – 2:49
20. Os Harmonicistas – Dinah – 1:49
21. Los Armonica Tango – El entreriano – 1:58
22. Walter Gomez & Picaros – Popurri italiano – 3:02

The Archivist’s Harmonica Archive Blog

The history of the harmonica is told by the performers and the music they recorded. Most of the major music collectors have died but this website shares some of the recordings from their collections – shellac, vinyl, cassette and reel to reel tapes, CDs, film and video tapes. It includes all music styles and harmonica types.

Old Harmonica Favourites – Part 1 – Quartets, Trios, Duos and Soloists

These popular harmonica group favourites from the 1940s and 50s are from a large collection of recordings assembled by John Bryan (1924-2014) who built up contacts and friendships around the world who exchanged music with him. This broadcast covers tracks from many groups and soloists. Some of the tunes are from the period of the musicians’ recording ban in the 1940s.  Harmonica players had not been allowed to join the Musicians’ Union and so were brought in to accompany singers.  As a result of their success harmonica players were finally admitted to the MU. See also Old Harmonica Favourites – Part 2.

1. POLKA DOTS – Intermezzo – 2:48
2. HARMONICATS – I love you – 2:34
3. PLEHAL BROTHERS – Saturday – 2:34
4. PLEHAL BROTHERS – Dalbacks – 2:27
5. DON RIPPS – Its a dew dew dewey day – 2:06
6. TOMMY REILLY – Family joke – 2:22
7. THE MULCAYS – Caravana – 2:15
8. LARRY ADLER – Sur le chein de Bahama – 2:35
9. TRIO HARMONIE – June night – 2:00
10. TRIO HARMONIE – Get up on the stairs – 2:39
11. MORTON FRAZER’S – Gang medley number one – 2:13
12. HILL BILLY’S TRIO – La danse des petite loups – V2:52
13. TOOTS THIELEMANS – The Sheik of Araby – 2:08
14. HARMONICA GENTLEMEN – In our old home town – 2:50
15. HARMONICA GENTLEMAN – Am I all of your future? – 2:30
16. HOTCHA TRIO – Goody goody – 2:47
17. CARL FREED – Ridin’ the reeds – 2:41
18. PHILARMONIC TRIO – Two o’clock boogie – 2:20
19. THE MADCAPS – Limehouse blues – 2:16
20. BORRAH MINEVITCH – Jamaican rumba – 2:34