The Rhyme Report 5th May 2017
With each edition of Nothin’ But The Blues, I am repeatedly reminded of how patriarchal the history of the Blues can usually appear. The very idea of the Blues evokes the image of a desolate soul, walking along a dirt road on the way out of town. Solitary. Encumbered by only the most meagre of possessions – and invariably, a well-worn acoustic guitar. Coat-collar turned up against the sharp sting from a chill morning breeze. Ambling with slow determination towards an unclear destination. Another aspect, always typical of this image is that the soul in question is always that of a man. My intention, in saying this, is not to further stoke the flames in the unevenly contested gender wars but rather, to spotlight the often under acknowledged contribution that women have made in this otherwise heavily male-dominated arena.
In terms of the music’s more recent history, we might look no further than Bonnie Raitt to appreciate the size of the stone against which a woman must push in order to find acceptance and be taken seriously as a Blues musician. From her 1971 debut, Bonnie’s talent was obvious. She could interpret the Blues with convincing authenticity and from the outset, paid homage to the past, recording two songs by an all-but forgotten singer named Sippie Wallace: “(I’m A) Mighty Tight Woman” and “Women Be Wise”. In spite of here talent, however, it would take another 18 years of touring, recording, occasional wrong-turns – and sheer persistence – before Bonnie Raitt found the wider acceptance she deserved.
Looking further back (or rather, much further back), we find a vaudeville chanteuse named Mamie Smith whose name is forever etched in Blues history as being the person who recorded what is widely accepted as being the first real Blues record. It’s success sparked the era of classic blues, a period dominated – not by men (at least, not at first) – but by women. And in this edition of Nothin’ But The Blues, we present our own homage to the women of Blues.
Also in this edition, we look at language and some of the ways it can be put to use. You’ll hear Junior Wells attest to his ability to rap strong and rap long, Lula Reed claiming she doesn’t to talk too much – in spite of her being a woman. And Sydney’s Luke Escombe, waxing cleverly about the art of punctuation – correct and proper.
Also in this edition we’ll be packin’ heat, with some classic Blues on the subject of handguns, and finding that, between a 44 – a 38 – or a 32-20 – it’s really, just a numbers game.
And yeah, I understand… you want to know how we can possibly fit all those extremely talented women, thesauruses and dictionaries – along with a sizeable cache of ballistic weaponry – and ammunition – into a single hour of explosively articulate feminine Blues radio?
Bring along your own favourite fast-talkin’ pistol-packin’ mama this Saturday at noon (CST) – and I promise, we’ll fire off the right answers to all of these questions.
However, if you’re unable to join us then, check-in for the special ‘Encore Edition’, during it’s re-transmission on Wednesday evening at 7pm (CST).
And as always, thanks for listening.
Gideon Rhyme – Cultural Detective
“Sliding” – Ellen McIlwaine
“A Man Of Many Words” – Buddy Guy And Junior Wells
“I’m A Woman (But I Don’t Talk Too Much)” – Lula Reed
“Punctuation Blues” – Luke Escombe
“Crazy Blues” – Mamie Smith And Her Jazz Hounds
“Mighty Tight Woman” – Bonnie Raitt
“In My Girlish Ways” – Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women
“Me And My Chauffeur Blues” – Memphis Minnie
“Forty-Four” – Howlin’ Wolf
“38 Special” – Charlie Musselwhite
“32-20 Blues” – Chain
“I Got What It Takes” – Koko Taylor
“Maybelle’s Blues” – Big Maybelle