Rambler Magazine
  • 12.25.13

    A Headstone for Mamie Smith, Blues and Jazz Singer

    It goes without saying how much we revere early to mid century pioneering artists in many genres. We came across a fundraising campaign for one of the most important blues recordings artists. Her name was Mammie Smith. She desreves to be honored and remembered. This is your chance to help with that.

    Here is the link to fundraising campaign.

    We’ve copied in a short bio on her life:

    Mamie Smith was the first to record blues songs in 1920 with her versions of Perry Bradford’s “Crazy Blues”, and “It’ s Right Here for You” on Okeh Records. The record was a wild success, selling over a million copies in less than a year, and finally ending up selling over two million copies. After this it dawned on record companies that there was a lot of money to be made selling what was then called “race records” to various minority groups in big cities.

    The success of “Crazy Blues” prompted other record companies to also try to find other female blues singers that could match the sales of “Crazy Blues”. It was a very important record, because it opened the doors of the recording industry to African-Americans, whether they were Blues, Jazz or popular singers or musicians. Smith herself really wasn’t that much of a Blues singer. She was more of a vaudeville performer, although she included Blues and Jazz numbers as part of her act. She got her start as a dancer at age ten in the vaudeville act the Four Dancing Mitchells and later toured with them as part of the Salem Tutt Whitney and Homer Tutt’s show, “The Smart Set”. Mamie moved to New York in 1913 with “The Smart Set” and decided that she wanted to stay and quit the show. She strated performing as a singer in Harlem at venues such as Baron Wilkin’s Little Savoy Club, Leroy’s, Edmunds, Percy Brown’s and Banks’ Place. Her first recordings were made in early 1920. They were a couple of pop songs “That Thing Called Love” and “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”. They sold well enough and her manager Perry Bradford convinced Okeh Records that there was a market for earthier Blues records aimed at the large number of African-Americans who had migrated to the big cities of the north. Bradford put together a band he called the Jazz Hounds for Smith that was led at first by cornetist Johnny Dunn and then by Bubber Miley. Smith put on quite a show that included trapeze acts, dancing, comedy, lavish costumes and jewelry as well as music. While on tour in 1921 she heard a young Coleman Hawkins playing saxophone in a theatre pit orchestra. Smith asked Hawkins to joined the band, but his family refused to allow him to, because he was just sixteen years old at the time. On her next swing through town in 1922 they onced again asked permission of the family and this time they acquiesced. Hawkins was soon given billing as “Saxophone Boy” and was a popular part of the act. Smith continued to record for Okeh until 1923. In the 1930s and early 1940s Mamie Smith continued to lead a successful career singing and recording as well as appearing in several films. Mamie set the standard for female blues singers that followed in her foot steps. Nearly every other Classic Blues singer of the 1920s borrowed something from her act or styled themselves to achieve her success.

    From http://www.redhotjazz.com/mamie.html

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  • 12.25.13

    1950's Recording Artist Champ Butler

    I was out to lunch with my mother about a year ago and was talking about old school music when she nonchalantly mentions her cousins father was a well known musician in the 50’s. Wait, hold up… cue the record screaching noise. Why after all these years of knowing I am a vintage music fan did she decide to hold back? I’m glad she remembered and gave me a new hobby. I must find as much info on this man as possible. His name was Champ Butler and he has old country songs, standards, calypso, a bit of everything that was big in the 1950’s. He was once mentioned on “I Love Lucy” and even released Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” BEFORE Hank did. Woh! That is huge to an old country fan like myself.
    I am dead set on digging up as much of Champ Butler’s music as I can and sharing it with you. I even started a facebook page in his name and will be posting music and pictures as I find them. Please take a moment to find it HERE and follow it.

    Champ Butler Musician

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  • 11.18.13

    Hellbound Glory Mentions Muddy Roots In New Song

    Bad boy country group Hellbound Glory is known for blazing their own trails through the country music scene. They recently wrote this song while on tour with Kid Rock. It’s a damn good song and not just because they mention Muddy Roots.
    “Baby’s got a real hot scam. Maybe something like a bluegrass band.She’s gonna sing about LOOOOVE! Gonna go play Bonnaroo. She’s gotta settle for Muddy Roots. Her and her muddy little cowgirl boots dancing through the club! Aww hell. Oh Well. Who’s gonna save us from ourselves if we’re all beyond our help?” – Hellbound Glory (Leroy Virgil vocals)

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