Background Info: Viola Lee Blues back to "Viola Lee Blues" Cover Page



Viola Lee Blues

(Background Info)

Jeff (DrJibe) posted:

The Grateful Dead recorded "Viola Lee Blues" for their self titled first album released in 1967.

Summarizing Blair Jackson's Golden Road Issue 1:

"Viola Lee Blues" is a classic prison blues song from Noah Lewis of Cannon's Jug Stompers. It most likely filtered down to the Grateful Dead through Jim Kweskin Jug Band's version on their See Reverse Side for Title album on Vanguard in the early 60's. Kweskin band member Geoff Muldaur was familiar with the song from rare 78s. Two fairly different takes appear on Herwin Records collection of Cannon's Jug Stompers complete works.

"Minglewood Blues" is also by Noah Lewis from Cannon's Jug Stompers 1928: This was a popular black jug band from the South (probably Memphis). Inlcuded Noah Lewis on harmonica, Gus Cannon on banjo and jug, and Ashley Thompson on guitar. The same session produced "Big Railroad Blues," another song covered by the Grateful Dead.

New Minglewood Blues from Noah Lewis Jug Band 1930: This song is dissimilar to its predecessor.

Art Cohen posted:

Ry Cooder recorded it for the "Crossroads" soundtrack.

There's also a killer, killer version, sung by Ralph McTell, on the album Saturday Rolling Around by the GP's. The GP's were Ralph, Richard Thompson and Dave Pegg & Dave Mattacks (from Fairport Convention). They title the tune "Penitentiary Bound" and sing slightly different lyrics, but it's obviously from the same roots.

That GP's album is a smoker from start to finish, with highlights including Thompson singing (and soloing) on "Baby Don't Do It" (the Band's arrangement) and an incredible version of "Going Going Gone."




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