Ernest Lane Dies
Ernest Lane passed away on July 8, 2012. I probably first spoke with him close to ten years ago when I was writing the notes to the CD Prowling With The Nighthawk a collection of classic sides by Robert Nighthawk, a few of which featured Ernest. I talked with him several times over the years and got to hang out with him a bit when he began collaborating with my friend Steve Grills. In 2004 Ernest issued his belated debut, The Blues Is Back!, and I promptly interviewed him on my Bad Dog Blues radio show and had him back in the studio in 2008. In 2010 Steve put out the excellent After Hours featuring Ernest which I was happy to write the notes for. Last year Ernest was the cover story for a Juke Blues profile and was featured soon after in Living Blues.
Ernest has had his own bands throughout the years although he's probably best known for his work with folks like Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker and his life long pal Ike Turner. Unfortunately Ernest hasn't gotten in the studio all that often; he cut his first record under his own name for Blues & Rhythm in 1952 (an off shoot of Modern), "What's Wrong Baby" b/w "Little Girl, Little Girl", plus a pair of singles in L.A. in the early sixties, "What Kind Of Love" b/w "Sliced Apples" for M.J.C. and "What's That You Got" b/w "Need My Help" for Sony. Ernest wasn't even aware that the Blues & Rhythm sides were issued but does recall the session which was setup by Ike Turner who was acting as a talent scout for Modern. As for his session work, Ernest appears on on the July 1949 Robert Nighhawk session and it was either him or Sunnyland Slim on the September 1948 session. The titles include: "Down The Line", "Handsome Lover", "Return Mail Blues", "My Sweet Lovin' Mama", "She Knows How To Love A Man", "Black Angel Blues ( Sweet Black Angel)", "Anna Lee Blues (Anna Lee)", "Return Mail Blues" and "Sugar Papa." Ernest played for a spell with Jimmy Nolen and appears on the following 1959 session for Fidelity: "Swingin' Peter Gunn Pt. 1", Swingin' Peter Gunn Pt. 2" and "Blues After Hours." In 1961 Nolen's band, with Ernest, backed George "Harmonica" Smith on a session for Sotoplay: "Sometimes You Win When You Lose", "Come On Home", "You Can't Undo What's Been Done" and "Rope That Twist." Ernest also recalls playing on the Earl Hooker's 1969 album Sweet Black Angel even though Ike Turner is listed as the pianist. In 1969 he did some studio work with Canned Heat which can be found on The USA Sessions – Classic Recordings from 1969. 1969 was also the year he toured with the Monkees whom he backed as a member of Sam & The Goodtimers. More recently he's appeared on records by Eddie Clearwater and Ike Turner. In the early 1980's he cut a session for Rooster Records but only one 45 was issued, "Doggin' No More" b/w "Little Girl." After he cut his album debut, The Blues Is Back!, he followed it up with Born With The Blues and 72 Miles from Memphis.
Unreleased Robert Nighthawk Sides Released
During a trip to Toronto in 1965 Nighthawk recorded five songs in a small Toronto studio. One of these sides, "Kansas City", was first issued in 2006 on Canada's Stony Plain label on "30 Years of Stony Plain." In 2011 Stony Plain issued "35 Years of Stony Plain" with four more sides from this session. These sides were previously unknown an do not appear in blues discographies. Richard Flohil, one of the folks responsible for bringing Nighthawk to Canada, shared these recollections: "Beverly Lewis and I had brought Robert to Toronto to play at a now-vanished Toronto club called The First Floor Club. It was in the basement of a house, and we had already brought Sleepy John Estes with Yank Rachell and Hammie Nixon, and the Muddy Waters Band, to the venue. ...Beverly paid for the band to go into a small four-track studio in Toronto owned by a chap called Art Snider. It was a very small, very ill-equipped studio - but the place where Gordon Lightfoot made his first records. We cut half a dozen sides, with little idea of how we would use them. I can't remember who played with him - Bob Pitchforth (?) on drums, I think, and a bass player, but I really don't know. Beverly kept the tapes, and from time to time I would bug her about releasing them, but she kept them to herself, and I don't think she ever even played them. On my 70th birthday, however, she gave me the tapes as a present (in the original boxes in a plastic shopping bag) - and I passed them to Stony Plain, a label I've done work for for well over 15 years. The first thing we did was to give the tapes to Peter Moore, a wonderful miracle worker restoration engineer and producer who has helped Stony Plain on a number of occasions in the past - Peter also produced the Cowboy Junkies' first records. They were extremely damaged, as you can imagine, but he did salvage five tracks - and Stony Plain will use them assorted compilations, simply because there isn't enough for a CD."
2009 Chicago Blues Festival Pays Tribute To Robert Nighthawk
The 2009 Chicago Blues Festival paid tribute to Robert Nighthawk on his 100th Aniversary. Among those who performed were Ernest Lane who recorded with Robert Nighthawk on "Anna Lee Blues" and "Black Angel Blues" in 1949 for Aristocrat Records. Backing Lane is Steve Grills on guitar with the The Kings of Rhythm Band: Paul Smith, Mack Johnson, Seth Blumberg, Armando Cepeda, Ryan Montana, Leo Dombecki and Bill Ray.
Sam Carr Dies
From the NY Times obituary: Sam Carr, a drummer who was considered an anchor of the Delta blues scene, died Monday. He was 83. The cause was congestive heart failure, said John Andrews, director of Century Funeral Home in Clarksdale, Miss. Mr. Carr had a reputation as one of the best blues drummers in the country, but he made his living in the Mississippi Delta where he was raised. At various times, he had backed major performers like Sonny Boy Williamson II and Buddy Guy. Mr. Carr’s father was Robert Nighthawk, a 1930s blues guitarist and vocalist who made the song “Sweet Black Angel” famous. Early in his career Mr. Carr often played with his father. Mr. Carr was born Samuel Lee McCollum in 1926 near Marvell, Ark. His name was changed after he was adopted as a toddler by a Mississippi family with a farm near Dundee. He moved back to Arkansas at age 16 and collected money at the door of clubs where his father performed. He worked as a sharecropper before turning his full attention to blues music, moving to St. Louis and playing bass with the harmonica player Tree Top Slim. He returned to Mississippi in the early 1960s and formed the Jellyroll Kings. His wife, Doris, whom he married in 1946, died about a year ago; they had no children.
And This Is Free: The Life and Times of Maxwell St. Available
This DVD and CD set includes the classic 1964 documentary, AND THIS IS FREE, an intimate slice of life portrait capturing all the characters and flavor of Maxwell Street. It also includes the film, MAXWELL STREET - A LIVING MEMORY, a captivating look at the area’s early days at the start of the century. The bonus CD features Maxwell Street blues fixtures including greats like Robert Nighthawk, Baby Face Leroy, Floyd Jones, J.B. Hutto, and many more. This set also includes a 20 page companion booklet featuring strories from various people who spent years on Maxwell Street as well as many beautiful pictures. Read a review.
Robert Nighthawk Honored With Blues Trail Marker
On Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 2:00 PM, MDA Tourism Heritage Trails Program, the Mississippi Blues Commission and the Clarksdale/Coahoma Tourism Commission will honor blues legend, Robert Lee "Nighthawk"McCollum. The ceremony will take place at the Hirsberg Drug Store located at 649 2nd Street in Friars Point, MS.
During Nighthawk's time, blues musicians (including the legendary Robert Johnson) played at juke joints and house parties in Friars Point as well in front of stores, such as Hirsberg*s on Second Street. Sometimes merchants hired musicians to attract crowds of potential customers; other times performers would just set up on the sidewalks or street corners and play for tips. But, according to drug store owner Robert Hirsberg, the merchants sometimes complained when the crowds were so thick that no one could get into or out of the stores, especially in the 1940s and earlier, when Friars Point was a bustling center of river commerce and a weekend shopping mecca for residents of the countryside.