CD 546 Also available on LP!
Recorded between 1956 and 1961 by both New Orleans jazz archivist Richard B Allen and FolkLyric Records founder Dr Harry Oster, this collection of songs and interview material is truly extraordinary stuff. Having first picked up the ukulele around 1915 during the Hawaiian music craze, Nash hit the road with a medicine show in the early 1920s, hawking Royalist Blood Tonic for an Indian Chief and a legless cowboy(!) and travelled with various circuses.
With the exception of two stints on the railroad, an eight-year stretch with the merchant marine, and some time spent work-ing out of Nashville with a nine piece band, Papa Lemon spent the better part of 50 years playing blues, jazz, ballads, popular tunes or whatever else it took to earn a tip the streets and barrooms of New Orleans.
While much of the material is familiar — Sweet Georgia Brown, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Stagolee, Big Rock Candy Mountain, the performances are anything but as Nash's idiosyncratic, good-natured vocal delivery, phenomenal uke play-ing and the placing of each piece in context render every performance fresh and exciting.
With extensive biographical notes by Adam Machado and some terrific period photographs, this is an absolute must-have for any ukulele players interested in the blues and further proof that pretty much nobody covers "the old, weird America," as consistently well as Arhoolie Records.
Steve Hunt — fRoots May 2014
1. Bourbon Street Parade
2. Papa Lemon's Blues
3. Serenading with Frank Wagner
4. Grave Digger's Blues
5. Trouble With the Man
6. What Was a Medicine Show Like?
7. Bowleg Rooster, Duckleg Hen / Sweet Georgia Brown
8. $25 a Night
9. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
10. Anybody Seen My Kitty?
11. Please Give Me Black and Brown
13. Let the Good Times Roll
14. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
15. Way in the Hee Hi Hoo
16. We Played Anywhere
17. I'm Blue Every Monday
19. The Battlefield
20. Rabbit Brown
21. If You Could Fight Like You Can Love
22. Those Drafting Blues
23. Spano's and Fox
24. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
25. Big Rock Candy Mountain
26. The Jiggler Vein and the Raincoat
27. Brownskin, Come and Go With Me
Absolutely Charming New Orleans Music, February 25, 2014
Jazz Man (Madison, Wisconsin)
Recorded in the late 50s and early 60s, this CD captures Lemon playing his ukulele and telling fascinating stories from his days in the red-light district of New Orleans. Papa Lemon was born at the end of the 19th Century and had seen it all. He played around the halls and streets of New Orleans and traveled the South in medicine shows. He heard all the great early jazzmen play and was a performer at Larry Borenstein's art gallery (before it turned into Preservation Hall).
Lemon playing his ukulele and singing is simply infectious. I spent a delightful afternoon listening to this CD and marveling at his odd versions of songs. 'Sunday' becomes 'I'm Blue Every Monday' and he performs a version of 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' that I don't think even Harry McClintock would recognize. Wonderful! And the stories are amazing too. The CD is worthwhile if only for the story of how clever songster Rabbit Brown gets back into town after playing a far out gig.
I can absolutely guarantee you've never heard anything quite like this. This is pure New Orleans music, the kind you might have found fifty or a hundred years ago around the city. And it is every bit a product of the city just like the more famous New Orleans jazz and bluesmen who may already be in your collection.
The well-written booklet mentions that there is much more Lemon Nash sitting in the vaults. I would encourage you to check out this unique CD and hope Arhoolie is able to release more. Recommended with enthusiasm!!