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Blues Southside Chicago

  "So many days, darling I had to steal away and cry
I was most too blue to live, and too mean to die
Lula Mae you have been so mean to me
But I'll get even with you Lula Mae
, darling just hang around and see "

Nighthawk recorded two sessions in 1964 and 1965 under interesting circumstances. In 1964 he recorded for Willie Dixon to interest UK promoters with touring lesser-known Chicago artists. These sides were issued on UK Decca in 1966 and issued on the album Blues Southside Chicago album. Nighthawk cut two songs for this session: "Merry Christmas" and "Lula Mae." The latter was a 1944 Tampa Red cover and shows that even at this late session the influence of Tampa Red still loomed large. Mike Leadbitter discusses the aim of the record in his liner notes: "This album was recorded In Chicago's Southside by Willie Dixon with one aim in mind-to provide the English enthusiast with blues played as they are played in the clubs, without gimmicks and without interfering A & R men. This album is not intended to be commercial in any way and by using top artists and top session men an LP has been produced that doesn't sound as cold as studio recordings usually do."36 In a 1977 interview pianist Henry Gray recalled this session: "I remember, in 1964, Willie Dixon was asked by an English company to produce a couple of so-called Southside Chicago sessions. [Dixon was a very close friend of Howlin' Wolf and they talked together about that;] Wolf was not personally interested but he induced me to go and support some of the artists chosen by Dixon...Poor Bob Woodfork, Robert Nighthawk, Shakey Horton. That was issued on British Decca label. Yeah, I think it was representative of the kind of music we were playing in the Southside clubs at that time."35 In the liner notes Mike Leadbitter describes the record this way: "Though the artists in Chicago are extremely individual in their approach to the blues, that certain sound, based upon a driving rhythm section with emphasis on the drumming to set off the style of the "name" artist, is always there. Though the piano blues seems to be a dying art these days, judging by the hundreds of guitarists and harmonica blowers, we have included two pianists here, and a mandolinist, as well as guitarists and a harp man so as to try and provide a good cross-section of what can be heard in the clubs today, played by the men who rely on their club reputations, rather than record sales, to provide their income. All the sides are new and this is their first airing, representing in all probability the best work by these artists so far to have been put on wax."36

 Blues Soutside Chicago (Flyright)

Nighthawk made an appearance at the First Floor Club in Toronto in 1965. John Norris, writing for Coda magazine, caught the show and had this to report: "The most impressive aspect of the whole engagement was Nighthawk's magnificent guitar work. He is a virtuoso blues guitarist. There can be no other word for it."10 During this trip he 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." 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." When asked if Bob Pitchforth could be Poor Bob Woodfork he agreed that was the name. Also when asked if the drummer could be Clifton James or Jimmy Collins he recalled that it was Collins. Collins backs Nighthawk on some of the Maxwell Street Recordings. Woodfork has two tracks on the above mentioned Blues Southside Chicago album.

*Robert Nighthawk, Lula Mae

All Clips in RealAudio. Click the link to download the free player. Visit the RealAudio page to get your free copy.

  1. Merry Christmas
  2. Lula Mae
  3. Kansas City
  4. Nighthawk Boogie
  5. I'm Gonna Murder My Baby
  6. You Missed A Good Man
  7. Back Water Blues

Tracks 1-2:
Robert Nighthawk- Guitar, Vocals
Johnny Young
- Guitar
Walter Horton- Harmonica
Willie Mabon- Piano
Andrew Stephens- Bass
Clifton James- Drums

1964

Tracks 1-2 are not available on  CD but can be found on the LP Blues Southside Chicago (Flyright  FLY 521) Originally Issued on Decca LK 4748

Track 2 also appears on World of Blues Power Vol. 2 (Decca PA 63) and the 2-LP The World of Blues Power (Decca PA-R14/SPA63)

Tracks 3-7:
Robert Nighthawk- Guitar, Vocals
Bob Woodfork- Guitar, Possibly Bass
Jimmy Collins- Drummer

1965

Track 3 can be found on 30 Years of Stony Plain (SPCD 1317)

Track 4-7 can be found on 35 Years of Stony Plain (SPCD 1354)

Tampa Red: Lula Mae


World of Blues Power Vol. 2

 

Bob Woodfork
Bob Woodfork