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Jim Jackson

Jim Jackson was a singing guitarist with a folk and blues repertoire as vast as Huddie Ledbetter's and a pre- to early-20th century minstrel-like manner similar to that of Henry Thomas. Enormously popular for a short while thanks to the competitive efforts of agents working for the Victor and Vocalion record companies, Jackson became regionally famous in Memphis and Chicago during the '20s, then went back home during the Great Depression and died in 1937. Home was the town of Hernando in northwestern Mississippi (twenty miles to the south of Memphis) where Jackson was born on a farm in 1884. Hernando's other famous son was bluesman Robert Wilkins, best known for having one of his songs covered decades later by the Rolling Stones. Guitarist Elijah Avery of Cannon's Jug Stompers lived in Hernando too, as did Frank Stokes, a rough-voiced blacksmith and minstrel who later achieved modest fame after teaming up with Dan Sane to form the Beale Street Sheiks. It was Stokes who had the greatest influence upon the young Jim Jackson, who was initially taught to handle a guitar by his father and was singing, dancing, and strumming the strings to attract crowds for peddlers of patent medicine as early as 1905. Soon young Jackson was entertaining at social gatherings throughout the area, sometimes gigging with Wilkins and a banjoist from Red Banks, MS named Gus Cannon. By 1915, Jackson was spending more and more time on the road with minstrel shows. Grown tall and weighing in at 235 lbs, he commanded attention with his booming voice, a knack for telling jokes, and his friendly, dignified way of putting a song across. He toured with the Red Rose, Silas Green, and Rabbit's Foot Minstrel companies, sometimes in the company of Cannon, guitarists Furry Lewis, and Will Shade, and pianist Speckled Red. Lewis recalled meeting him in a jug band while on tour with the Dr. Willie Lewis Show, a movable enterprise centered upon the sale and distribution of Jack Rabbit Salve. Jim Jackson was very much a creation of the minstrel and medicine show environment in which he thrived for some 15 years. During that time he performed extensively in Memphis, and traveled to Chicago in October 1927 to make his first phonograph record. "Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues," issued in two parts on flipsides of a 78 rpm platter, sold uncommonly well, so well, in fact, that Vocalion had him back a few months later to record parts 3 and 4! Jackson would revisit, retool, and retitle his most popular song on several occasions, most importantly as "I'm Gonna Move to Louisiana Pts. 1 & 2," recorded for Victor during the summer of 1928. By then he had gotten himself a nice abode on Grant Street on the north side of Memphis and was enjoying a brief but rewarding period of popularity and more than modest material reward. Jackson's discography is nicely packed with titles like his own "My Dog Blue," "He's in the Jailhouse Now," "This Ain't No Place for Me," "I'm Gonna Start Me a Graveyard of My Own," and "I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop." In 1929 he recorded with Speckled Red (these were the very first recordings the aspiring pianist ever made), Tampa Red, Georgia Tom Dorsey, and a pair of rowdy female comediennes billed as Liza Brown and Ann Johnson; one of these is believed to have actually been Leola "Coot" Grant. The recordings featuring these guest artists were made in New York City and at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis during the autumn of 1929; they were party records with lots of cutting up and showing off, particularly the two-sided promotional platter labeled "Jim Jackson's Jamboree." Jackson's final recordings were a pair of W.C. Handy tunes committed to wax in Memphis in February 1930. He then retired from the entertainment business, returned to Hernando, and passed away there during the year 1937. All of his known recordings were compiled and reissued by Document on two compact discs during the early '90s. ~ arwulf arwulf
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Anthology Of American Folk Music

Disc 1

1. Henry Lee

2. Fatal Flower Garden

3. The House Carpenter

4. Drunkard's Special

5. Old Lady And The Devil

6. The Butcher's Boy

7. The Wagoner's Lad

8. King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O

9. Old Shoes And Leggins

10. Willie Moore

11. A Lazy Farmer Boy

12. Peg And Awl

13. Ommie Wise

14. My Name Is John Johanna

Disc 2

1. Bandit Cole Younger

2. Charles Giteau

3. John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man

4. Gonna Die With My Hammer In My Hand

5. Stackalee

6. White House Blues

7. Frankie

8. When That Great Ship Went Down

9. Engine 143

10. Kassie Jones

11. Down On Penny's Farm

12. Mississippi Boweavil Blues

13. Got The Farm Land Blues

Disc 3

1. Sail Away Lady

2. The Wild Wagoner

3. Wake Up Jacob

4. La Danseuse

5. Georgia Stomp

6. Brilliancy Medley

7. Indian War Whoop

8. Old Country Stomp

9. Old Dog Blue

10. Saut Crapaud

11. Acadian One-Step

12. Home Sweet Home

13. Newport Blues

Disc 4

3. Rocky Road

4. Present Joys

5. This Song Of Love

7. He Got Better Things For You

9. John The Baptist

10. Dry Bones

11. John The Revelator

12. Little Moses

13. Shine On Me

14. Fifty Miles Of Elbow Room

Disc 5

1. The Coo Coo Bird

2. East Virginia

3. Minglewood Blues

5. James Alley Blues

7. I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground

8. Mountaineer's Courtship

9. The Spanish Merchant's Daughter

10. Bob Lee Junior Blues

11. Single Girl, Married Girl

12. La Vieux Soulard Et Sa Femme

13. Rabbit Foot Blues

14. Expressman Blues

Disc 6

1. Poor Boy Blues

2. Feather Bed

3. Country Blues

5. Prison Cell Blues

6. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

8. Way Down The Old Plank Road

9. Buddy Won't You Roll Down The Line

10. Spike Driver Blues

11. K.C. Moan

12. Train On The Island

13. The Lone Star Trail

14. Fishing Blues

x

Track List: Broadcasting The Blues: Black Blues In The Segregation Era

Disc 1

1. Baby, Please Don't Go

2. Match Box Blues

3. Yonder Come The Blues

4. Yellow Dog Blues

5. Walkin' Blues

7. My Soul Is A Witness

8. Long Hot Summer Days

9. Lucky Holler

10. Penitentiary Moan

11. Old Country Stomp

12. Dry Bone Shuffle

13. Mysterious Coon

17. I Heard The Voice Of A Porkchop

18. Spike Driver Blues

20. Fare Thee Well Blues

21. Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

22. Travelin' Blues

Disc 2

1. Chocolate To The Bone

3. Tennessee Dog

5. Washboard Cut-Out

6. Flying Crows Blues

7. Rules And Regulations 'Signed Razor Jim'

8. Ground Hog Blues

10. Wednesday Evening She Left Me

11. Lonesome Day Blues

14. Black, Brown And White

15. Pratt City Blues

16. Blues Before Sunrise

17. Blues Trip Me This Morning

18. Poor Man Blues

20. My Black Mama - Part I

21. Cotton Pickin' Blues

23. Number 29

24. Jim Crow Blues

Disc 3

1. Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues

3. Policy Dream Blues

4. North Memphis Blues

6. They Ain't Walkin' No More

7. Ice Pick Blues

9. Parchman Farm Blues

10. Shelby County Workhouse Blues

11. Working On The Project

13. Let's Have A New Deal

14. Tallahatchie River Blues

15. St. Louis Cyclone Blues

17. Fire Department Blues

18. Give Me A 32-30

20. Build A Cave

21. Crying Mother Blues

23. The Dirty Dozen

24. Three Ball Blues

25. Milk Cow Blues

26. Cool Drink Of Water Blues

27. Some Summer Day

28. Make Me A Pallet On The Floor

30. Spirit Of Boogie Woogie

31. Fifty Miles Of Elbow Room

x

Track List: Penitentiary Blues: Songs To Do Hard Time By

1. Penitentiary Blues

2. He's In The Jailhouse Now

3. Midnight Special

4. Parchman Farm Blues

5. Chain Gang Blues

6. Christmas In Jail, Ain't That A Pain

7. Ball & Chain For Me

8. Alabama Prison Blues

9. Doin' A Stretch

10. Prison Blues Come Down On Me

11. Bad Luck Soul

12. County Jail Special

13. Your Funeral & My Trial (Live)

14. Chain Gang Blues (Live)

15. Violent Love

16. Prison Bars All Around Me

x

Track List: Rough Guide To The Blues Songsters

1. Pick Poor Robin Clean

2. Don't Leave Me Here

3. What A Time (Take 1)

4. The Spasm

5. Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine

6. Frankie

7. Every Day In The Week Blues

8. How Long

9. John Henry (The Steel Driving Man), Pt. 1

10. Old Rock Island Blues

11. Cocaine

12. Mississippi Boweavil Blues

13. Stackalee

14. Nobody Knows (What The Good Deacon Does)

15. A Chicken Can Waltz The Gravy Around

16. How You Want Your Rollin' Done

17. Midnight Special

18. Hey! Lawdy Mama - The France Blues

19. Railroad Bill

20. Come On Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around

21. James Alley Blues

22. Going To Germany

23. Coal Man Blues

24. Nobody's Business If I Do

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Unsung Heroes Of Country Blues, Vol. 2

1. Bothering That Thing

2. She's A Fool Gal

3. Niagra Fall Blues

4. The Cat's Got The Measles

5. Lonesome Man Blues

6. This Will Bring You Back

7. Mississippi Bottom Blues

8. Snatch It And Grab It

9. Guitar Rag

10. Lonesome Atlanta Blues

11. Ragtime Millionaire

12. Man Trouble Blues

13. Grand Daddy Blues

14. Religion Is Something Within You

15. Rag Baby

16. Hey Mama - It's Nice Like That, Pt. 2

17. Poor Boy Blues

18. Shake Me Like A Dog

19. Down The Big Road Blues

20. Woman Woman Blues

21. Dupree Blues

22. Mama Don't Rush Me

23. Alabama Blues, Pt. 1

24. Bye Bye Baby Blues

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