Skip James: “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues”

Nehemiah Curtis James was born on June 9, 1902 in in Bentonia, Mississippi.  But he became famous as a blues guitarist-singer-songwriter named Skip James.

James first recorded “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and other songs in 1931. The recordings, however, did not sell well record buyers lacked disposable income during The Great Depression.  So, James gave up performing for awhile.

In the early 1960s, though, blues fans rediscovered James. And he began recording and performing again until he died in Philadelphia on October 3, 1969

Below, Skip James performs “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” American Folk and Blues Festival in Cologne, Germany on October 9, 1967.

In the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, singer and actor Chris Thomas King sang “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” around a campfire.

Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Steve Earle Sings the Blues at KEXP

    Singer-songwriter Steve Earle has been singing the blues as of late to promote his latest album Terraplane. Recently, he appeared on KEXP and played several songs from the album, including “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now,” “You’re the Best Lover That I Ever Had,” and “King of the Blues.”

    In the video of his performance, in between songs he also talks about his blues influences. Check it out.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Blues Legend Johnny Winter Live in Copenhagen

    Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter has passed away in Switzerland at the age of 70. During his lifetime, he made some great music, including this wonderful full show from Copenhagen in 1970. Check it out.

    For more on Winter, check out this story on NPR. RIP.

    What is your favorite Johnny Winter performance? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Dion’s Tank Full of Blues (CD Review)

    With Tank Full of Blues (2012), Dion completes a trilogy of outstanding blues albums along with Bronx in Blue (2006) and Son of Skip James (2007). While Bronx in Blues focused on covering traditional blues standards from Robert Johnson and others, and Son of Skip James followed that formula with a few more originals, in Tank Full of Blues Dion wrote or co-wrote all but two of the songs, taking his blues to another level. The new album adds more percussion and electric guitar into the mix without overdoing it on these new classics. Here is the title track:

    Dion worked to build his blues cred with the previous two albums, paying homage to the kings with a little bit of Bronx street swagger thrown in. I have previously written about the two earlier CDs and how when Bronx in Blues came out it was a great discovery for me. On Tank Full of Blues, though, Dion uses his blues credibility to show a little more of his own wings, as Dion’s originals on this album transition smoothly next to ones by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Just as the album makes you wonder what else Dion can do, he closes with a spoken word rap on “Bronx Poem.” While he is not a hip-hop artist, one might root for him to try a rap album next as he shows here that his rhyming skills and bravado dating back to “Runaround Sue” are still there.

    Dion Dimucci is one of the great rock n’ rollers, and these albums have shown he is also a great blues man. These albums are not an artist’s self-absorbed dabbling in another genre, but music that has the great Dion’s heart. As AllMusic wrote about Tank Full of Blues, “it is the album he’s been waiting an entire career to make.” For the artist behind such hits as “I Wonder Why,” “The Wanderer,” “A Teenager in Love,” “Donna the Prima Donna,” and “Abraham, Martin, and John,” that is high praise. Check out this great album by a music legend.

    {In the above video, Dion plays “I Read It (in the Rolling Stone)” off the album during a Blues Cruise in January.}

    What do you think of Dion’s blues? Should he write a new song called “Runaround Blues”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Pres. Obama Sings With B.B. King

    One advantage to being a sitting president is that you do not have to go through the party debates. Instead of standing on stage with people attacking you, you get to do cool things like sing with B.B. King. This clip is from an tribute to the blues yesterday at the White House, which included Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, and Booker T. Jones. At the end, Pres. Barack Obama gave in to the requests to sing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago,” his follow-up single to his cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”


    White House press secretary Jay Carney commented on Pres. Obama’s impromptu songs by noting that the president has “a hidden talent that we’re just getting to hear.”

    Which former president would you like to hear sing? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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