“Upon hearing it, I was haunted by this particular Son House song and lyrics and thought about rumination, being a trace of one’s self lost in the eroded and overgrown lands of the past.” – Video Director Robert Schober
In December we reported the news of a new Son House album of previously unreleased tracks.
Forever On My Mind, from Easy Eye Sound, the independent label operated by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, is the premiere release from Dick Waterman’s personal cache of ’60s recordings by some of the titans of Delta blues. His collection of quarter-inch tapes — which are being restored to remarkable clarity by Easy Eye Sound — have gone unreleased until now. The collection is due out March 18, 2022.
Today, Easy Eye Sound released a video of the title track, a previously not-on-record song from the pre-World War II blues originator, Son House. Directed by Robert Schober, the video combines stark images with ghostly orbs and apparitions to make for a haunting visual.
I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the song. To find out it was an unreleased song, it was a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself.
Upon hearing it, I was haunted by this particular Son House song and lyrics and thought about rumination, being a trace of one’s self lost in the eroded and overgrown lands of the past.
Edward James “Son” House Jr. (March 21, 1902 – October 19, 1988) was influenced by Charley Patton and actually preceded Robert Johnson, Skip James and Bukka White in helping define the Mississippi Delta blues.
“Forever on My Mind,” was never attempted in a recording studio, but it would be essayed from time to time in House’s concert performances. On the present album, the song, which contains snatches of his friend Willie Brown’s classic “Future Blues” and his own “Louise McGhee,” serves as a living lesson in the improvisatory Delta blues tradition.
Forever On My Mind is scheduled for release on March 18th.
‘Forever On My Mind’ by Son House was recorded in the fall of 1964 (ahead of 1965 “rediscovery” album) and never released. Features first-time-on-record title track “Forever On My Mind,” plus never-heard recordings of “Death Letter” and “Preachin’ Blues”
On the evening of June 23, 1964, a red Volkswagen Beetle bearing three blues enthusiasts arrived in Rochester, N.Y. The young men were following a trail of clues in their search of a legend, and they found Son House sitting on the steps of an apartment building at 61 Greig Street.
Born Eddie James House, Jr. in Lyon, Mississippi in 1902, Son House at that time had not played music for more than two decades. But the re-release of his early work — commercial 78s issued by Paramount Records in 1930 and two field recordings by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1941-42 — by Origin Jazz Library and Folkways Records had excited fresh interest in a growing community of blues aficionados.
Within months of his rediscovery by Dick Waterman (who became House’s manager and handler), Nick Perls and Phil Spiro, the once-obscure 62-year-old musician was thrust into the public eye by a story in Newsweek magazine and a series of performances at folk music festivals and college campuses around the country.
Forever On My Mind, the new album of previously unreleased Son House recordings from Easy Eye Sound, the independent label operated by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, is the premiere release from Waterman’s personal cache of ’60s recordings by some of the titans of Delta blues. His collection of quarter-inch tapes — which are being restored to remarkable clarity by Easy Eye Sound — have gone unreleased until now. The collection is due out March 18, 2022.
Waterman says, “I always knew that I wanted this body of tape that I had to come out together, as The Avalon Collection or The Waterman Tapes, as sort of my legacy. They were just here at my home, on a shelf. I had made a few entrees to record companies, but nothing had really come through. I thought that Dan Auerbach would treat the material with reverence and respect.”
Auerbach says, “Easy Eye Sound makes blues records, and not many people make blues records anymore. This record continues where we started off, with our artists Leo “Bud” Welch and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Robert Finley. It also is part of my history — some of the first blues music I heard was Son House. I was raised on his Columbia LP, Father of Folk Blues. My dad had that album and would play it in the house when I was a kid, so I know all those songs by heart.”
Forever On My Mind is the earliest issued full-length House solo performance recorded after his rediscovery, at an appearance captured on November 23, 1964 at Wabash College, a small men’s school in Crawfordsville, Indiana. In terms of power and intensity, it rivals, and in some cases surpasses, the Columbia album, cut five months later in a New York City studio. It also reflects a sharp musical focus that diminished in House’s later concert appearances and recordings.
“As he toured in ’65 and ’66 and ’67,” Waterman notes, “he developed stories — they were self-deprecating stories, with humor and things like that. So, he became sort of an entertainer. But these first shows in ’64 were the plain, naked, raw Son House. This was just the man and his performance. He didn’t have any stories or anything to go with it.”
In the wake of his rediscovery in Rochester, House — who had labored as a foundry worker, railroad porter and cook, among other jobs, after moving from Mississippi to New York in 1943 — decided to make a return to music at the urging of his enthusiastic young fans. Waterman explains, “He had been living in a [retirement] home with his wife, and they weren’t doing anything but living on Social Security. So, it was the opportunity to make some money that put us out on tour.”
House was outfitted with a new steel-bodied National resonator guitar, the instrument he had played on his early recordings, and musicologist Alan Wilson, later famous as the guitarist and singer of the Los Angeles blues-rock band Canned Heat, gave the sexagenarian musician a refresher course in his own music.
“Son and Al would play knee to knee with the guitar,” Waterman says. “Al would say, ‘This is what you called “My Black Mama” in 1930,’ and would play it for him. And then he would say, ‘This is what you called “My Black Woman” for Lomax 12 years later,’ and he would play that, and Son would play along with him until the two of them were really rollicking along. And Son would say, ‘I got my recollection now, I got my recollection now.’”
House, who to date had only performed before Black audiences in Southern juke houses, would now be introduced to a young and entirely new group of listeners. Waterman says, “He hadn’t played in front of white people at all.”
After some initial appearances that summer at the Unicorn coffeehouse in Cambridge, Mass., then a center of the American folk music renaissance of the ’60s, and an August 1964 set at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, House and Waterman set off on a modest tour of Midwestern campuses in November in the manager’s new Ford Mustang.
The manager recalls, “I wrote letters to [university] student activities committees, one after the other after the other. So we went out, and the first date, I remember, was at Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then Wabash was one of the first ones after that.”
The college engagements included Oberlin College in Ohio, Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, and the University of Chicago, where local blues fan Norman Dayron recorded at least part of the November 21, 1964, show; a single track later surfaced on the 1980 Takoma Records LP Rare Blues. But the Wabash College appearance two days later was caught on tape in full.
“Wabash did the taping, and then they later gave me the reel-to-reel tape,” Waterman remembers. “The show was held in kind of an assembly hall. There were a few dozen [in the audience] — there may have been up to 50 people, something like that. They were quiet and polite during the performance … There were no barriers, there were no filters between him and the audience. He was just giving them the plain, unvarnished Delta material, as he knew it and as he sang it.”
Five of the eight songs heard on Forever On My Mind were later released in studio versions on House’s Columbia LP. Another two songs that he played at Wabash College, renditions of his Delta contemporary Charley Patton’s “Pony Blues” and the gospel blues standard “Motherless Children,” were recorded by the label but went unreleased until 1992.
The first number heard on the Easy Eye Sound release, the titular “Forever On My Mind,” was never attempted in a recording studio, but it would be essayed from time to time in House’s concert performances; there is film footage of him playing it at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. On the present album, the song, which contains snatches of his friend Willie Brown’s classic “Future Blues” and his own “Louise McGhee,” serves as a living lesson in the improvisational Delta blues tradition.
“There are certain songs that he would play, go into an open G tuning,” Waterman says, “and just play things in a certain meter. And some of these songs borrowed verses from each other.”
House’s 1964-65 live appearances and his Columbia album placed him in the pantheon of such other great, recently rediscovered Delta blues musicians as Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, and Rev. Robert Wilkins. Forever On My Mind now re-introduces House at the height of his renewed powers in an essential, previously unheard document of unique force and sonic clarity.
Says Auerbach, “He sounds like he’s in a trance, and his singing is so nuanced here. He’s very playful with his phrasing, just right on the money with his singing and playing. It sounds so right to me — top form Son House.”
“The late-’64 stuff is as good as it’s going to get,” Waterman says. “I have great love and great respect for Mr. House, and I hope that this legacy stands up, for all that he meant to me and all that he meant to the music.”
Robert Finley Debuts Album Title Track, ‘Sharecropper’s Son’
American Blues Scene Staff
The video for title track, “Sharecropper’s Son,” was directed by Tim Hardiman and filmed on location in Finley’s hometown of Bernice, Louisiana.
Robert Finley debuted the title track from his Dan Auerbach produced record, Sharecropper’s Son — A soulful chronicle of Robert’s life growing up in Louisiana, where his family worked as sharecroppers during the Jim Crow era south. Robert also performed on CBS This Morning Saturday’s Saturday Session on May 1, and will be performing at this year’s Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival in September.
The career defining new album from “the greatest living soul singer” will be released via Easy Eye Sound on May 21, 2021. A soulful masterpiece written by Finley and co-written by Auerbach, it features blues veterans and studio legends who have worked with everyone from Elvis to Wilson Pickett.
The video for title track, “Sharecropper’s Son,” was directed by Tim Hardiman and filmed on location in Finley’s hometown of Bernice, Louisiana.
“I’m born to tell my story and where I come from. Even though the cotton fields weren’t a pleasant place to be, it was real and a part of my life. I came from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills, and I think it’s a story worth telling. ” Finley said, adding, “My dad was proud and full of pride growing up. He didn’t want to be seen in the welfare line, so he worked hard in the field and did things his way and would go hunting to bring home food for us.”
Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter before losing his sight in his 60s to finally pursue his musical dream. He has overcome divorce, house fires, an automobile accident and is legally blind following losing his sight due to the medical condition, glaucoma, which forced him to retire from carpentry and finally pursue his long delayed music career. Finley believes his sight was improved by the power of prayer, and his faith has also helped him focus on launching his music career in his 60’s. According to Finley, “losing my sight gave me the perspective to see my true destiny.”
The forthcoming release of Sharecropper’s Son is hotly anticipated telling his life’s story and rooted in the classic sounds of southern soul, country, rhythm and blues. With songwriting by Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood, and contributions from respected country songwriter Pat McLaughlin, Sharecropper’s Son also features an all star band including guitar expertise from Auerbach himself, Kenny Brown, Russ Pahl, and Billy Sanford. They are joined by other notables: Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, Nick Movshon, Eric Deaton, Dave Roe, and Sam Bacco.
The fire behind the conflagrant performances on Sharecropper’s Son is ignited by Finley, who has cited a range of vocal influences, including Al Green, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Elvis, James Brown and The Beatles, all inspiring his genre diverse and formidable vocal approach, which take center stage and encapsulate his remarkable life. Finley’s tales of pain and joy uplift as he shares his belief that you are never too young to dream and never too old to live.
On May 1st, Robert Finley appeared on CBS This Morning Saturday Sessions performing “Country Child.”
Sharecropper’s Son will be released on May 21 on Easy Eye Sound. There will be an exclusive sunrise yellow vinyl, available from the Easy Eye Sound store only. To pre-order and for more information please visit: https://found.ee/sharecroppersson
Produced by the Prine family and Oh Boy Records, the tribute will feature family and friends sharing memories and songs while raising money for several charitable organizations
Picture Show: A Tribute Celebrating John Prine will be premiered on June 11 at 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT/4:30pm PT across multiple platforms, including Prine’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
Produced by the Prine family and Oh Boy Records, the tribute will feature family and friends sharing memories and songs while raising money for several charitable organizations including NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Alive, whose Grief Center is providing free counseling sessions to anyone in Middle Tennessee who has had a family member die of COVID-19. JP himself died of complications related to COVID-19 on April 7th.
Guests contributing performances and memories for the roughly two-hour video include Courtney Marie Andrews, Dan Auerbach, Kevin Bacon, Brené Brown, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Dave Cobb, Stephen Colbert, Peter Cooper, Iris DeMent, John Dickerson, Mitchell Drosin, David Ferguson, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell, Jeremy Ivey, Jim James, Pat McLaughlin, Bill Murray, Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price, Fiona Whelan Prine, Jack Prine, Tommy Prine, Bonnie Raitt, The Secret Sisters, Kyra Sedgwick, Amanda Shires, Sturgill Simpson, Todd Snider, Billy Bob Thornton, Kurt Vile, Kelsey Waldon, Sara Watkins, Jody Whelan, John Paul White, Rita Wilson and Prine’s longtime band members Kenneth Blevins, David Jacques, Fats Kaplin and Jason Wilber.
A traditional memorial service was rendered impossible due to the continuing COVID-19 restrictions following Prine’s death.
Jody Whelan, Prine’s son and Director of Operations for the Oh Boy label said his father “touched a lot of different worlds,” during his 50 year career.
Produced by Dan Auerbach, El Dorado is a contemporary exploration of southern R&B, country-soul, classic rock and blues
24 year old phenom singer and songwriter, Marcus King, unveiled his latest music video for “One Day She’s Here,” off his first solo album El Dorado.
The video, directed by Nashville filmmaker Joshua Shoemaker (Alabama Shakes and Erin Rae), features reverse motion photography and nonlinear narrative and was filmed in late 2019 on the streets of Nashville’s vibrant downtown Broadway.
King described the process of creating the song, stating, “I showed up to Easy Eye Sound about 30 minutes late for a writing session. When I walk in, I hear Mackie and Dan playing this bouncy progression. I sat down and the first thing that came to mind was this story of a girl in a Coupé De Ville, just out of your reach. The song talks about the good things in life sometimes not sticking around for long.”
King also adds the type of vibe he was looking for with the video stating, “I’m so happy with the way the video turned out. I wanted to try for a David Lynch approach with this. Josh Shoemaker was just the man for the job. We had so many dear friends come and be a part of it as well. I’m excited to share with y’all.”
Produced by Dan Auerbach, El Dorado is a contemporary exploration of southern R&B, country-soul, classic rock and blues, establishing the 24 year old phenom as one of the most soulful voices of his generation. With an arresting voice that featured as lead instrument, King’s vocal took centre stage alongside a genre bending blend of subtle acoustics, bright pedal steel, raucous electric guitars and blistering solos.