An Enduring Partnership
Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell spearheaded an urban form of blues in the late 1920s. Urbanization of the rural form resulted from the migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities. Many settled in the Midwest, some in Indianapolis, which was where Leroy Carr and his partner Scrapper Blackwell ended up. By the 1920s it had a thriving blues scene. Indianapolis was a railroad hub which served the expansion of flour mills, meat packers, and breweries, and provided skilled and unskilled work. Carr owed many of his songs to the railroads. Ironically the L & N, mentioned in the beautiful and poignant Alabama Women Blues, was not one of them. One of Leroy Carr finest recorded numbers - Naptown Blues - referred to the city - 'Naptown' was its nickname. Early on, Carr joined a circus - and this theme occurs occasionally in his work - see his Carried Water For The Elephant. As to influences - we know Carr drew on earlier records - his most famous song, How Long, How Long Blues has roots in Ida Cox's How Long, Daddy, How Long. Another theme recurred - alcohol. This reflected his own heavy drinking, which accelerated his death. Scrapper Blackwell, a part time bootlegger, shared his boozing proclivities. Drink must have inspired Straight Alky Blues which Carr recorded in 1929. The instrumental break features delicious slow-paced boogie piano, laced with Blackwell's guitar. Carr also covered Lucille Bogan's Sloppy Drunk Blues which he cut six months after the original. Another piece of booze-inspired magic was Corn Licker Blues. Hoodoo featured in one or two Carr numbers. Baby You Done Put That Thing On Me might be one - it's love or hoodoo. In Papa's Got Your Water On, however, Carr invokes a Southern belief that a mojo's power will act as a check on his lover. Whatever the theme, Carr and Blackwell were one of the most enduring musical partnerships of the blues in the 1920s and 30s.
Label: JSP Records
Release Date: 05/13/08
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