Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blind Blake Higgs - Bahamian Songs

Blind Blake Higgs - John B. Sail (buy) (1952)

Blind Blake Higgs - JP Morgan (buy) (1951)

E.T. Mensah - John B. Calypso (buy) (1958)

One of the great discoveries I made while exploring the music of the fifties.
Alphonso "Blind Blake" Higgs, not to be confused with the great Piedmont bluesman and guitar virtuoso, was a singer-guitarist from Nassau who was very popular there from the 1930s to the sixties.

Elijah Wald in anarticle says that the similarity between his name and the bluesman's may have been a coincidence, but I seriously doubt that. Just listen to the intro of the first song I posted and you'll hear a typical Blind Blake intro on the guitar, with his signature ragtime chord progression.

Just like the island it comes from, this music is a bridge, a doorway between the Southern United States and the West Indies, between the blues, jazz and American pop on onehand and calypso, mento, and other carribean styles on the other. The songs originate from the island tradition ("John B."), but also from Trinidad (the famous "love love alone")or Afro American numbers ("the Yas Yas Yas").

And of course there is the John B. song, made famous by the Beach Boys on Pet Sounds.

Like a lot of carribean songs, that one crossed the Atlantic in the 1950s and eventually ended up in Ghana, as the E.T. Mensah instrumental that I added especially for you, attests.

Go here to get the whole compilation


Baldy said...

Ramone666 said...

Wonderful songs. Nice find!

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