The Kingfish Files

By host on 9/25/2010 3:00 AM
  When a song continues to be recorded for 100 years, you know it must be good. And "Chinatown, My Chinatown" is one of the best. Of course the tune is infectious, but the lyrics are also special in their expression of affection for "Chinatown": Chinatown, my Chinatown, Where the lights are low, Hearts that know no other land, Drifting to and fro, Dreamy, dreamy Chinatown, Almond eyes of brown, Hearts seem light and life seems bright In dreamy Chinatown.Neither condescending nor offensive, the writers convey the "otherness" of Chinatown as a dreamlike place that held as much fascination to westerners then as it does today. The American fascination with China in the 1910s and 1920s was not limited to Chinatown -- I remember well my grandmother's...
By host on 9/19/2010 3:00 AM
  In the 1920s, collaboration between black and white musicians had to be done behind the scenes. One of the most famous instances of this was the collaboration between guitarists Eddie Lang (white) and Lonnie Johnson (black). They recorded a number of memorable sides with Eddie adopting the pseudonym "Blind Willie Dunn". "Blue Blood Blues" is a particularly significant recording not only for the great playing of Lonnie and Eddie, but for the fact that Joe "King" Oliver appears as a sideman and Hoagy Carmichael provides rhythm and scat vocals. What a scene that must have been. ...
By host on 9/12/2010 3:00 AM
  Alberta Hunter started recording in the 1920s but had one of her biggest hits in 1940 with "My Castle's Rockin'". Alberta is known for her earthy style and the often earthier lyrics of her recordings. But she always carried it off with class. This tune features the piano playing of Eddie Haywood. Eddie was one of the early masters of the boogie woogie style, but here's a really interesting item. Eddie also wrote the standard "Canadian Sunset" which, if you listen to it carefully, is really a slowed-down boogie woogie tune. In fact, you can hear the bass riff of "Canadian Sunset" in Eddie's solo on this recording. ...

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