Monday, May 31, 2010

Recording Registry Blues

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1Memorial Day is for remembering, and last week on the show we honored two seminal blues people that have featured prominently in my own public radio work: singer Mamie Smith, born May 26, 1886, and guitarist Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, who centennial was Friday. T-Bone may be the more recognizable of the two, being more or less the wellspring of all modern electric blues guitar, the first one to make his mark playing single-note lead lines -- and making a show of it. Mamie Smith, on the other hand, was not even principally a blues singer; but her 1920 recording of Crazy Blues is generally acknowledged as the first commercially successful vocal blues record. In 2005 that recording was selected to be preserved for all time in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress; the following year it was the subject of one of the five features we produced for NPR's "All Things Considered." In 2007 T-Bone's Walker's Call It Stormy Monday was selected for the Registry, and was also the subject of one of our pieces the following year. Needless to say, those NPR features made for the obvious on-air tributes, since the voices telling the story of
The Complete Imperial Recordings: 1950-1954each of those recordings were far richer than mine. If you missed the show you can check them out, along with our first three years of Registry features, at this NPR website (the most recent suite of Registry pieces aired on PRI's "Studio 360" and can be heard at their website)

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