~Post-War Session Work~

 


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Nighthawk, Stackhouse, Curtis

Robert Nighthawk, Houston Stackhouse, Peck Curtis, Powell, MS, April, 1967
(photo by George Mitchell)

While Nighthawk recorded prolifically as a session musician before the war his postwar period finds him mostly as a leader. His session work is confined to some work in 1964 and some in 1967 the year he died. There is speculation that nighthawk appears as session guitarist on four tracks from Roosevelt Sykes' July 12, 1951 session for United Records as well. Blues Discography 1943-1970 lists Nighthawk as the guitarist but this can not be totally confirmed so I will list this session as probable. During the Roosevelt Sykes Regal session he recorded two numbers backing vocalist Essie Sykes.

Robert Nighthawk 1967
Robert Nighthawk, Dundee, MS, 1967. Photo by George Mitchell.

1964 was a busy year with several recording opportunities including the renewal of his association with Chess Records who he last cut sides for in 1950. It appears that Nighthawk reunited with Willie Dixon who first produced him in 1948 and that Dixon offered him the opportunity to perform again. He waxed "Someday" and "Sorry My Angel" under his own name (see Chess page) and was used as a session guitarist on three tracks all cut at one session. He backed Koko Taylor on "What Kind Of Man Is This?" and "I Got What It Takes". He also backed Buddy Guy on the instrumental "Night Flight". These are the last sides he would cut for Chess.

Peck Curtis
Peck Curtis

Nighthawk was to do one more stint as a session musician that year under interesting circumstances. In 1964 Olle Helander and Lars Westman of Swedish Radio were on a trip to the US to document blues and jazz in Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans and San Francisco. They reached Chicago May 23rd and recorded Johnny Young accompanied by Slim Willis, Otis Spann and Robert Whitehead. In the afternoon they recorded Walter Horton with Robert Nighthawk. Nighthawk plays purely backup on these songs while Horton sings and lays down some great harp. It's unclear when these first aired on Swedish Radio but they were apparently aired in 1968, 1971 and 1983. These recordings were aired in the context of radio documentaries with interviews of the artists. Unfortunately Nighthawk and Horton were not interviewed. Most of this material has recently been released in excellent sound on the double disc sets I Blueskvarter: Chicago 1964, Vol. 1 and I Blueskvarter: Chicago 1964, Vol. 3 which is the first authorized release of these recordings. This material was first released on Walter Horton: An Offer You Can't Refuse/ Walter Horton and Paul Butterfield on Red Lighnin' Records. One side contains Paul Butterfield recordings from 1963. This material has been issued domestically under the same title from Castle Classics Records. It should be noted that these recordings are unauthorized and the sound quality is substandard.

Houston Stackhouse

After 1964 Nighthawk would only record once more for a session in August of 1967 and another session the middle of the following month. George Mitchell, who produced these field recordings, said "at the first session, as I recall, Nighthawk kind of backed up [Houston] Stackhouse, but he did some lead things at at Crystal Springs." Nighthawk was apparently sick during these sessions and Mitchell was surprised Nighthawk was up to taking lead. "Everbody was jammin', taking turns, doing this and that in Crystal Springs, and Nighthawk did take the lead." Mitchell states that "Blues Before Midnight" (Arhoolie CD 401) was the last song Nighthawk ever recorded.12 Nighthawk died less than two months after these recordings. The band consisted of Houston Stackhouse and Peck Curtis with Carey Mason taking the vocal on one track. The music harks back to Nighthawk and Stackhouse's early delta days and the music is beautifully played. Tommy Johnson's influence looms large with five of his songs being covered. In a way Nighthawk's life had come circle: He was once again playing with Stackhouse who taught how to play guitar (Johnson's "Big Road Blues", "Cool Water Blues" and Big Fat Mama were the first songs he taught Nighthawk) Stackhouse in turn learned directly from Tommy Johnson and here were the two old friends performing the songs of Johnson together one final time. The material from this session can be found on Arhoolie's Mississippi Delta Blues- Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1 & 2. Six additional songs from the session can be found on Testament's Masters of Modern Blues Vol. 4/Houston Stackhouse & Robert Nighthawk.

 

All Clips In MP3 Format


Roosevelt Sykes
- Vocals, Piano
Robert Nighthawk- Possibly Guitar
Oett "Sax" Mallard- Alto Sax
Sax Crowder- Tenor Sax
Ransom Knowling- Bass
Jump Jackson- Drums
July 12, 1951
United Records

Fine And Brown
Lucky Blues
Raining In My Heart
Heavy Heart

Roosevelt Sykes: Raining In My Heart (Delmark 642)


Essie Sykes-Vocal
Robert Nighthawk- Guitar
Roosevelt Sykes- Piano
unknown drums
Chicago 1951
Regal Records

Easy Walkin' Papa        
Please Don't Say Goodbye 

Down Home Blues Classics Chicago 1946-1954
(Boulevard Vintage BVBCD1014Z)


Big Walter Horton- Vocal, Harmonica
Robert Nighthawk- Guitar
May 23, 1964
Recorded for Swedish Broadcasting Company

Let's Have a Good Time *
Mean Mistreater *
I'm In the Mood *
Louise, Louise *
You Don't Mistreat Me *
Trouble in Mind *
West Side Blues **
Tin Pan Alley **
Easy ***
Walter's Boogie ***
This Is It **

I Blueskvarter: Chicago 1964, Vol. 1 (Jefferson Records SBACD 2653/4) *

I Blueskvarter: Chicago 1964, Vol. 3 (Jefferson Records SBACD 12658/9) **

Walter Horton: An Offer you Can't Refuse/ Walter Horton and Paul Butterfield (Red Lighnin' RL 0008) ***


Koko Taylor- Vocals
Robert Nighthawk and Buddy Guy- Guitar
Walter Horton- Harmonica
Lafayette Leake- Piano
Jack Meyers- Bass
Clifton James- Drums
June 30, 1964
Chess Records

I Got What It Takes
What Kind Of Man Is This?

Koko Taylor: What it Takes: The Chess Years (MCA/Chess CHD-9328)
(I Got What it Takes)
The Chess Box Set (MCA/Chess CHD 4-9340)
(What Kind of Man is This?)


Buddy Guy- Guitar
Robert Nighthawk- Guitar
Leonard Caston- Piano
Jack Meyers- Bass
Clifton James- Drums
June 30, 1964
Chess Records

Night Flight

Buddy Guy: The Complete Chess Studio Recordings
(MCA/Chess CHD2-9337)


Robert Nighthawk and the Blues Rhythm Boys
(Nighthawk Boogie, You Call Yourself a Cadillac, Blues Before Midnight)

Peck Curtis and the Blues Rhythm Boys
(The Death of Sonny Boy Williamson)
Robert Nighthawk-  Bass, Guitar -1
Houston Stackhouse- Guitar -2 , Harmonica -3
Peck Curtis- Vocal -4, Drums
Carey Mason- Vocal -5
August 28, 1967


Nighthawk Boogie 
You Call Yourself A Cadillac -5, -1
Blues Before Midnight
Big Road Blues -2
Canned Heat -2
The Death Of Sonny Boy Williamson -4
Right Around The Corner -4
Country Shack -4 (unissued)
Stuttering Blues -4 (unissued)
Untitled Instrumental (unissued)
Big Road Blues *
+
Cool Water Blues *
+
Big Fat Mama Blues * +

Take A Little Walk With Me * +

Bye Bye Blues *
Mean Old World *
The Wrong Man *

Kansas City Blues
* -3
Down By The Woodshed +
+

Mississippi Delta Blues- Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1 (Arhoolie CD-401)
Mississippi Delta Blues- Blow My Blues Away Vol. 2 (Arhoolie CD-402)

Masters Of Modern Blues: Robert Nighthawk/Houston Stackhouse 
(TCD 5010)
*

Houston Stackhouse: The George Mitchell Collection Vol. 4 (BLM1042) +

Robert Nighthawk: The George Mitchell Collection Vol. 44 (BLM1103) ++

 George Mitchell Talks About Robert Nighthawk


The George Mitchell Collection



Raining In My Heart

Lucky Blues

 

I Blueskvarter Vol. 1

 

 

Blow My Blues Away Vol. 1

 

 

Blow My Blues Away Vol. 2

 

 

Houston Stackhouse - George Mitchell CoverRobert Nighthawk - George Mitchell Cover