Music

JACK’S NEW ALBUM – BUSKER’S BLUES

Jack’s new solo album of hokum blues, ragtime, vaudeville folk and lost gems from the 1920s and 1930s. The songs on this album are a throwback to Jack’s days as a “busker”, singing for tips on the streets of Toronto and Detroit. Recorded with two vintage microphones on tape in a small cabin in rural Manitoba, Canada. Truly a solo album, Jack is the only musician on this release – scatting, yodeling and crooning his way through the tunes while playing guitar, ukulele, mouth trumpet and stomp box. The sparse production, raw recording and vintage hiss of the reel-to-reel tape deck make for a refreshing and relaxing stroll down memory lane. Beatnik jive and vaudevillian hokum make this album strikingly original and honest. For track listing and more info, click here.

“I’ll Kill Your Soul And Dare Your Spirit To Move” started out as an old plantation field holler, in Mississippi in the early 1800s. The only recording of it was made in 1934 by blues singer Tampa Red.

“Cocaine Blues” was most likely written by the traveling carnival musician Porter Irving, in 1905. Jack’s version of the tune is very influenced by Irving’s original lyrics and recordings by Dick Justice (1929), Charlie Poole (1927) and Rev. Gary Davis (1965).

“Saint James Infirmary” was most likely based on a traditional Irish folk tune called “The Fortunate Rake”. Porter Grainger recorded a version in 1927 and Louis Armstrong followed in 1928. Songwriter Irving Mills (who wrote Emmett Miller’s “Lovesick Blues”) claimed to be the writer in 1929. In 1940 bluesman Blind Willie McTell said he wrote the tune in 1929. Jack’s version is based on dozens of recordings by jazz and blues greats over the years.

Jack’s version of “The Reefer Song” is based on recordings by Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys (1936), Rosetta Howard (1937) and Fats Waller (1943). The spoken word introduction was influenced by Jack’s former guitar teacher Dave Van Ronk, whom Jack toured with as an opening act for several years.

This interesting tune comes from a 1928 poem written by a lawyer named William Myer. He ran an indie label called The Lonesome Ace and asked Avalon, Mississippi bluesman Mississippi John Hurt to set his lyrics to music. Hurt accepted the gig…and stole the melody from Jimmie Rodgers hit song “Waiting For A Train”.


THE ARCHIVES SERIES

Jack’s record label (Brizo Media Group) is currently releasing “The Archives Series” – new albums made from old out-of-print releases, bootlegs, demo sessions, live recordings and previously unreleased tracks from Jack’s long career in the music industry. Below are a few selections from various albums in “The Archives Series”. To listen or purchase more, please visit Jack’s page on Bandcamp.

“The Sheik Of Araby” was recorded from Jack’s live performance on the KFAI show “Harold’s House Party”.  This Tin Pan Alley song was a hit in 1921, and Jack’s performance is based on Fats Waller’s 1939 recording.

“Natchez, Mississippi” was recorded by Jack in a chicken coop near Lanesboro, Minnesota. This is a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s 1956 song, “The Natchez Burning”.

“Jimmie Rodgers” was originally recorded by The Singing Brakeman in 1932 as “Gambling Barroom Blues”. Jack recorded this version on a farm near Jackson, Mississippi.

“My Baby Caught The Train” is a classic Delta blues song. Jack recorded this version in Iowa City with folk legend Dave Moore on harmonica and David Zollo on piano.