Recordially, Lou Curtiss
  • Evolution of a Song

    I’m always curious about how songs evolve, and I guess there’s no better documentation of that than by listening to recordings. Take Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” which most of us consider a country music standard. Recorded by Hank in December of 1948, it had been a country song when cowboy crooner Rex Griffin recorded it […]

  • Birthday Spotlight: Clarence Williams

    Clarence Williams was among the Golden Age of jazzmen, who first got me turned on to old time music. A pianist, leader, composer, and vocalist, he was born on October 8, 1889, in New Orleans and died on November 6, 1965, in New York City. His brother, the equally talented Spencer Williams, was born on […]

  • Dorsey and Howard Dixon: Cotton Mill Mountain Duo

    When I went to the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, being of a left-wing bent, I was attracted to the workshops of Mine and Mill. The environment of a Carolina cotton mill was where I first heard Dorsey Dixon. I had owned an LP record called Smokey Mountain Ballads for a few years that featured […]

  • Race Records: The Birth of Black Blues and Jazz

    Black history on record started with orchestra and gospel music by groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Jim Europe Military Band and a few vaudevillians like Bert Williams, Robert Woolsey, and Laughing Jim, but black jazz started with Mamie Smith’s Okeh 4169 “Crazy Blues/It’s Right Here for You.” Both songs were described on […]

  • How I First Saw Howlin’ Wolf!

    That would be in 1963 on his home turf, Big Duke’s Club on Chicago’s West Side, and later that same year at the Newport Folk Festival. The last time I saw him was at the Palace in San Diego in the late ’60s. Wolf was a big Mississippi blues singer in the traditional of Charlie […]

  • Trains and More Trains

    I guess if you had to pick subject matter for songs, love songs and gospel songs rank right up there at the top, but at least in these United States right up there close to number three has to be songs about railroad trains. Other means of transportation get their due (i.e., cars and airplanes), […]

  • Appalachian Visionary: Blind Alfred Reed

    When it comes to topical songwriters and performers we often think of early pioneers like Woody Guthrie or, even earlier, Goebel Reeves (the Texas Drifter). Often the topical songs written were by record company house songwriters who wrote songs recorded by many artists. Unique among those who wrote and recorded their own material was the […]

  • Lou on the Air: It’ll Make You mighty Glad You Tuned In

    It was about 1960 when Jeff Clark who was an announcer at KOGO, San Diego told me that with my deep voice I ought to be in radio. Throughout the ’60s I did occasional bits—solo and with Clark Powell, Terry Huston, groups like the Red Mountain Ramblers, and others. Sometimes I’d take a bunch of […]

  • Woody Guthrie’s Letter to Fred Gerlach

    A few years ago I did a radio show that included some protest songs by the great Leadbelly that included one about the Scotsboro Boys. The next day or so Fred Gerlach came by the store with a copy of a letter he had received from Woody Guthrie back in the early 50’s. It seems […]

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