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Washboard Sam

A popular hokum blues artist, Washboard Sam recorded hundreds of records in the late '30s and '40s, usually with singer/guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. Out of all the washboard players of the era, Sam was the most popular, which was due not only to his to his washboard talent, but also to his skills as a songwriter, as well as his strong voice. As an accompanist, Sam not only played with Broonzy, but also with bluesmen like Bukka White, Memphis Slim, Willie Lacey, and Jazz Gillum.

Washboard Sam (born Robert Brown) was the illegitimate son of Frank Broonzy, who also fathered Big Bill Broonzy. Sam was raised in Arkansas and worked on a farm. He moved to Memphis in the early '20s to play the blues. While in Memphis, he met Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon and the trio played street corners, collecting tips from passers-by. In 1932, Sam moved to Chicago. Initially he played for tips, but soon he began performing regularly with Big Bill Broonzy. Within a few years, Sam was supporting Broonzy on the guitarist's Bluebird recordings, and he began supporting a number of different musicians on their recording sessions, including pianist Memphis Slim, bassist Ransom Knowlin, and a handful of saxophone players, who all recorded for Bluebird.

In 1935, Washboard Sam began recording for both Bluebird and Vocalion Records, often supported by Big Bill Broonzy. Throughout the rest of the '30s and the '40s, Sam was one of the most popular Chicago bluesmen, selling numerous records and playing to packed audiences. After World War II, his audience began to shrink, largely because he had difficulty adapting to the new electric blues. In 1953, Washboard Sam recorded a session for Chess Records and then retired. In the early '60s, Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim tried to persuade Sam to return to the stage to capitalize on the blues revival. Initially, he refused, but in 1963, he began performing concerts in clubs and ccoffee housesin Chicago; he even played a handful of dates in Europe in early 1964. Washboard Sam made his final recordings for the small, Chicago-based Spivey label in 1964. The following year, his health quickly declined and he stopped recording and playing shows. In November of 1966, he died of heart disease. ~ Cub Koda
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Very Best Of

1. Digging My Potatoes - No. 2

2. Washboard Swing

3. River Hip Mama

4. Jumpin' Rooster

5. Walkin' In My Sleep

6. Good Old Easy Street

7. I'm A Prowlin' Groundhog

8. Morning Dove Blues

9. I Believe I'll Make A Change

10. Don't Have To Sing The Blues

11. Good Luck Blues

12. So Early In The Morning

13. Mixed Up Blues

14. Yellow, Black And Brown

15. You Can't Have None Of That

16. Ain't You Comin' Out Tonight

17. Dissatisfied Blues

18. That Will Get It

19. Don't Fool With Me

20. The Big Boat

21. Jersey Cow Blues

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 6 1941-1942

1. Life Is Just A Book

2. I'm Not The Lad

3. My Feet Jumped Salty

4. Flying Crow Blues

5. Levee Camp Moan

6. I'm Feeling Low Down

7. Brown And Yellow Woman Blues

8. She Belongs To The Devil

9. Let Me Play Your Vendor

10. Broadcast Blues

11. Gonna Hit The Highway

12. I've Been Treated Wrong

13. Evil Blues

14. Get Down Brother

15. Lover's Lane Blues

16. You Stole My Love

17. Rockin' My Blues Away

18. Good Old Cabbage Greens

19. River Hip Mama

20. Do That Shake Dance

21. How Can You Love Me

22. Stop And Fix It

23. Don't Have To Sing The Blues

24. Red River Dam Blues

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 1 (1935-1936)

1. Mama Don't Allow No. 1

2. Jesse James Blues

3. Who Pumped The Wind In My Doughnut?

4. Mama Don't Allow No. 2

5. You Done Tore Your Playhouse Down

6. Don't 'Low

7. Don't Tear My Clothes

8. I'm A Prowlin' Groundhog

9. Give Me Lovin'

10. Crazy About Nancy Jane

11. Cherry Hill Blues

12. Levee Blues

13. Dirty Mother For You

14. Good Liquor

15. Mixed Up Blues (Take 1)

16. Mixed Up Blues (Take 2)

17. Pains In My Heart

18. I Love All My Woman

19. Out With The Wrong Woman

20. Come On In

21. Big Woman

22. Nashville, Tennessee

23. Razor Cuttin' Man

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 2 (1937-1938)

1. Easy Ridin' Mama

2. The Big Boat

3. Back Door

4. We Gonna Move

5. Low Down Woman

6. I Drink Good Whiskey

7. Lowland Blues

8. I'm On My Way Blues

9. Washboard's Barrel House Song

10. Want To Woogie Some More

11. Ladies' Man

12. You Got To Take It

13. Beer Garden Blues

14. Where Were You Last Night?

15. Somebody's GotTo Go

16. Gonna Be Some Walkin' Done

17. Second Story Man

18. Don't Leave Me Here

19. My Woman's A Sender

20. Towboat Blues

21. Mountain Blues

22. Phantom Black Snake

23. Yellow, Black And Brown

x

Track List: Washboard Sam: Vol. 7 (1942-1949)

1. Down South Woman Blues

2. Ain't That A Shame?

3. Laid My Cards On The Table

4. I Get The Blues At Bedtime

5. You Can't Make The Grade

6. You Can't Have None Of That

7. I Just Couldn't Help It

8. Soap And Water Blues

9. Facing Life

10. No Special Rider

11. Ramblin' With That Woman

12. Love Me Or Let Me Be

13. She's Just My Size

14. You Know How I Feel

15. Fool About That Woman

16. Dollar Is Your Best Friend

17. No. 1 Drunkard

18. I'm Just Tired

19. Maybe You Love Me

20. Nothing In Rambling

21. You Said You Loved Me

22. Market Street Swing

23. Motherless Child Blues

24. Gamblin' Man

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 3 (1938)

1. It's Too Late Now

2. Barbecue

3. Down At The Old Village Store

4. The Gal I Love

5. Bucket's Got A Hole In It

6. Save It For Me

7. Serve It Right

8. Cruel Treatment

9. Jumpin' Rooster

10. I'm Gonna Keep My Hair Parted

11. Sophisticated Mama

12. Policy Writer's Blues

13. I'm Gonna Pay

14. When My Love Changed

15. You Waited Too Long

16. Gonna Kill My Baby

17. Suspicious Blues

18. Walkin' In My Sleep

19. Washboard Swing

20. Hand Reader Blues

21. Rack 'Em Back

22. I'll Be Up Someday

23. Warehouse Blues

24. CCC Blues

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 4 1939-1940

1. This Time Is My Time

2. Booker T Blues

3. Good Old Easy Street

4. I Believe I'll Make A Change

5. Wasn't He Bad

6. Diggin' My Potatoes

7. I Love My Baby

8. That Will Get It

9. Has My Gal Been By Here?

10. Somebody Changed That Lock On My Door

11. Don't Fool With Me

12. Jersey Cow Blues

13. So Early In The Morning

14. Beauty Spot

15. We Gonna Do Some Rug Cuttin'

16. Block And Tackle

17. Going Back To Arkansas

18. Louise

19. I Won't Be Sober Long

20. Oh Babe

21. How Can I Play Fair?

22. She Fooled Me

23. Sun Gonna Shine In My Door

24. Beale Street Sheik

x

Track List: Washboard Sam Vol. 5 1940-1941

1. Why Did You Do That To Me?

2. Digging My Potatoes No. 2

3. Chiselin' Blues

4. Morning Dove Blues

5. Good Time Tonight

6. Dissatisfied Blues

7. I'm Going To St. Louis

8. Greyhound Bus

9. Oh Joe

10. Just Got To Hold You

11. Yes I Got Your Woman

12. Good Luck Blues

13. Ain't You Comin' Out Tonight

14. Come On Back

15. Just To Prove I Love You

16. Every Tub Stands On Its Own Bottom

17. She's Makin' A Fool Out Of Me

18. She's A Bad Luck Woman

19. Little Leg Woman

20. She's All In My Life

21. He's A Creepin' Man

22. I Can Beat You Playing That Hand

23. Down At The Bad Man's Hall

24. Traveling Man

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