Thursday, February 25, 2010

On The Road With Big Joe Williams and George Cummings to Muscle Shoals, Alabama for Recording Session Fall of 1978

Big Joe Williams
The Final years

- Tailor Made Woman
- Highway 49
- Back Door
- Whistling Pine Blues
- Sunny Road Blues
- A Change Gotta Be Made
- No Special Rider Blues
- Baby Please Don't Go
- I Belive I'll Make A Change
- You're Dogging Me
- New Car Blues
- Black Rat Blues
- Mama Don't Allow Me
- Down On Mr. May Stewart's Farm
- Meet Me In The Bottom
- Muscle Shoals Blues
- Big Road Blues
rec. Sept. 1978 at Muscle Shoals Studios

The video above is of Big Joe Williams filmed outside his trailer in Crawford, Mississippi around 1978.

In late August of 1978 I took a train from Alexandria, Virginia to Meridian, Mississippi to meet George Cummings(of Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show fame)to go with him to Crawford, Mississippi to meet Big Joe Williams and all go together to Muscle Shoals, Alabama for the two of them to do some music recording together.
I had first met Big Joe Williams in April of 1975 even though he had grown up on my grandfather Marion Stewart's farm outside Crawford, Mississippi. My friend George Cummings wanted to meet Big Joe and I had taken him up to Crawford in the summer of 1978 and it was decided we would come back in the fall and go to Muscle Shoals so the two of them could record together in a proper music studio.
So it was George and I arrived in Crawford and found Big Joe. There was a German blues critic music producer and photographer living in Crawford recording Big Joe also. His name was Axel Kuestner. There was also some guy who appeared who wanted us to sign some papers that no strings or anything else would be added to the music recorded by Big Joe. After we got that out of the way we took off for Muscle Shoals, Alabama in two cars. George and I in his car and Axel and Big Joe in another car. We followed them stopping only once for something to eat for lunch. It was small gas station grocery store type of place. Big Joe told Axel what he wanted to eat but Axel did not understand the request so I had to go ask Big Joe. He told me "Tell him to get me some potted meat". Axel had no idea what potted meat was so I had to show him.
On we went to Muscle Shoals.We were there two or three days while they were recording.
It was years later the recordings were released by Polydor.
I never got any money for my part in this recording adventure. I never really expected any. I think it was worth it just for the experience. However, looking back I now like the idea that I did not get any money since no one can say I ripped off an old black blues musician.
And George Cummings did pay Big Joe for his recording and Big Joe seemed satisfied with the money he got from George.

Axel also has released a CD of the recordings he made in Crawford in 1978 of Big Joe. It is called No More Whiskey. Field Recordings 1973 to 1980.