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Cousin Joe

The tellin' "How Come My Dog Don't Bark at You No More," off the Gospel-Wailing, Jazz-Playing, Rock N' Rollin' Soul-Shouting, Tap-Dancing Bluesman from New Orleans album released in 1974 on Big Bear Records, epitomizes Cousin Joe's classic piano blues style. Joe's a pioneering blues singer born December 20, 1907 in Wallace, LA, 30 miles from New Orleans. His family moved to New Orleans when Joe was 12; he had a religious upbringing (Baptist) but soon hung around and absorbed himself in the jazz played in clubs. Joe took up guitar and ukulele, and made a living playing on the riverboats in the 30's. By 1941, he'd moved to St. Louis to play in Sidney Bechet's band, before shuffling to New York three years later. This was Joe's most fruitful recording period, he waxed many memorable songs during this era under countless names: Smiling Joe, Pleasant Joe, Brother Joshua, and Cousin Joe. The blues man recorded for a myriad of labels too, including King, Gotham, Philo, Savoy, and Decca. In NY, he worked with stars like Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Earl Bostic, Clark Terry, Lightnin' Hopkins, and others. He returned to New Orleans in 1947 and found employment in the clubs and joints in the '50s and '60s with an occasional European tour thrown in to break the monotony. He spent the '70s in semi-retirement. Joe's first singing gig was at the ripe old age of seven, hustling offerings in church. He would do his little thing and the pastor would ask for another offering for Joe. The gig ended a year later when Joe refused to join the church. As 17-year-old Smiling Joe, he played the fish fries held in peoples' backyards on Saturday nights; they served other food, but call them fish fries because the catfish cake was the most popular dish. He stayed Smiling Joe for 37 years, a woman named him that because he always smiled. At 21, he hustled the streets with two dancers as Hats, Coats, & Greens, Hats & Coats hoofed their tails off while Smiling Joe picked his ukulele; the people went crazy and threw money at their feet. Louis Prima liked the act and wanted to take them to New York, but Joe's mother squashed that. Joe eventually made it to New York and stayed three or four years. He almost landed a gig with the Ink Spots as Deek Watson's replacement, but their manager didn't think he fit the image. He got the name Cousin Joe from Danny Barker who played in Cab Calloway's band. Barker introduced Joe to Clarke Monroe as "Cos" -- short for cousin. Monroe was the only Black to own a club on 52nd St. -- the Spotlight -- the name stuck longer than Smiling Joe. He put his guitar and ukulele down for good in New York and pawned them both; he felt he couldn't compete with the great blues guitarist. Returning to New Orleans he performed steadily until 1973, when he retired to collect his social security checks. Evidently, the Social Security Administration didn't know about his juke gigs and European tours, because Joe kept that activity on the down low and under the table. Prior to B.B. King's crossover success, many regarded Cousin Joe as the greatest blues singer. He died at the ripe old age of 82, on October 2, 1989. ~ Andrew Hamilton
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: From New Orleans

Disc 1

1. Broken Man Blues

3. Levee Blues

5. Bad, Bad Baby Blues

10. Just Another Woman

19. Little Eva

20. Baby, You Don't Know It All

21. The Barefoot Boy

22. If I Just Keep Still

23. When Your Mother's Gone

26. My Tight Woman

Disc 2

1. Lightning Struck The Poorhouse

2. Just As Soon As I Go Home

4. Little Woman Blues

8. Too Tight To Walk Loose

12. Don't Pay Me No Mind

14. Bad Luck Blues

15. Box Car Shorty And Peter Blue

16. Beggin' Woman

17. Sadie Brown

18. Evolution Blues

19. Box Car Shorty's Confession

20. Looking For My Baby

22. Chicken A La Blues

24. Living On Borrowed Time

25. Lovesick Soul

26. Second Hand Soul

27. Dinah

28. Won't Settle Down

Disc 3

1. Misery

5. Sleep Walking Woman

6. Easy Rockin'

7. Hole In The Ground

8. You'll Never Get Nothing Without Trying

9. Ramblin' Woman

11. Old Man's Sweetheart

Disc 4
x

Track List: New Orleans Blues (1940-1953)

x

Track List: The History Of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Vol. 1 1921-1949

Disc 1

1. When The Saints Go Marching In

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Tiger Rag

4. A Handful Of Riffs

5. Perdido Street Blues

8. Sweet Mumtaz

10. Root Hog Or Die

13. Dear Old Southland

14. Sous Les Palmiers

16. King Porter Stomp

17. Besame Mucho

21. Eh La Bas

Disc 2

1. St James Infirmary

3. James Alley Blues

4. Crazy Cryin' Blues

5. New Orleans Joys

6. Old New Orleans Blues

8. Black Snake Blues

10. Funny Feathers

11. Louisiana Bound

12. Bread And Water Blues

13. Allons A Lafayette

16. Cabbage Greens No. 1

19. New Low Down Dog

20. I'm Cuttin' Out

21. Sidney's Blues

22. Just As Soon As I Go Home

23. Hackberry Hop

25. Junker Blues

26. Box Car Shorty And Peter Blue

Comments

Report as inappropriate
That's Huey Smith singing DONT YOU JUST KNOW IT not Cousin Joe
Report as inappropriate
mjw503
why no bio ?
Report as inappropriate
Cousin Joe ROCKS
Report as inappropriate
I agree Cousin Joe SOUNDS VERY VERY MUCH LIKE HUEY SMITH AND THE CLOWNS!!!!!
Report as inappropriate
Cousin Joe has the Huey Smith sound
Report as inappropriate
Even Putin is cuttin' the rug on that one
Report as inappropriate
isn't that Huey Smith

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