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Will Shade: “Evergreen Money Blues” and “Field Mouse Stomp”

Guitarist and harmonica player Will Shade was one of the main players of the very important Memphis Jug Band. (Check it out, it’s great stuff).

Shade’s guitar playing seems very refined and even delicate on “Evergreen Money Blues.” He takes a backseat to Minnie Wallace on “Field Mouse Stomp.” It’s a great record. Here is more on Shade:

Apparently almost as important a part of the Memphis scene as the Mississippi river, Will Shade was born near the end of the 19th century and was one of the founders of a particularly 20th century music combo, the Memphis Jug Band. The original lineup of this important group consisted of Shade on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, plus Ben Ramey, Will Weldon, and a man simply known as Roundhouse in some accounts and Lionhouse in others. Either way, he sounds like he would be an asset to any band when the going gets rough. Shade was also known as Son Brimmer, a nickname he had gotten from his grandmother, Annie Brimmer, who had raised him. The name stuck after it became apparent that bright sunlight bothered the lad; the brim of a hat kept the sun out. Perhaps the fear of sunlight was a warning of the musicians’ lifestyle that was to come, complete with many a late night.Shade first heard what would eventually be known as jug band music on records by a Louisville group called the Dixieland Jug Blowers in 1925. (Continue Reading…)

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The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.