Don't get your 2012 calendar by waiting until mid-January to buy a crappy one at half price. Get a cool calendar that comes with a CD of classic and rare old-school acoustic blues and hokum songs from (mostly) the 1920s and '30s. In other words, get volume 9 of the Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920's calendar (and pardon that incorrect apostrophe and inaccurate title).
Almost a decade ago, a cache of Paramount material -- blues 78s, ad art for promoting them, etc. -- was discovered, and Blues Images has been putting out these great calendars since 2004.
The CDs alone are worth the $19.95 to any serious blues fan; long-lost tracks are "re-debuted" on Blues Images CDs, and this year's has some especially interesting surprises.
The first 12 tracks correspond to the art for the 12 months:
1. "Mama Don’t Allow No Easy Riders Here" by Tampa Red and Georgia Tom (version 1)/Tampa Red and His Hokum Jug Band with vocals by Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon (version 2)
2. "Big Chief Blues" by Furry Lewis
3. "Jinx Blues" by Ora Brown
4. "Jesus Is a Dying Bed Maker" by Charley Patton
5. "Rope Stretchin’ Blues" Parts I & II by Blind Blake
6. "Fence Breakin’ Yellin’ Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson
7. "Fogyism" by Ida Cox
8. "Come On In (Ain’t Nobody Here)" by Harum Scarum
9. "Evil Woman Spell" by Charley Spand
10. "Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues" by Teddy Darby
11. "Papa, Don’t Tear Your Pants" by Papa Charlie Jackson
12. "In That Pearly White City Above" by Blind Joel Taggart
Most of these artists are fairly well known to serious blues fans. Of those that are a bit more obscure, Harum Scarum is a group consisting of Big Bill Broonzy, Georgia Tom Dorsey, and Mozelle Alderson, while the Teddy Darby record apparently influenced Robert Johnson's melody for "Traveling Riverside Blues." Obscure but known to sub-genre aficionados are Charley Spand -- fans of blues piano are most likely to have heard him -- and Blind Joel Taggart, a blues-gospel singer/guitarist whose photo is published here for the first time
Then come seven bonus tracks, rarities for which no ads exist:
Personally, I see nothing obviously offensive in any of the art, which is mostly black-and-white drawings. Sure, they're often cartoonish, but that's their artistic genre, no more offensive than, say, Sanford and Son.
Some stores may carry this calendar/CD, but the easiest way to get it is directly from the Blues Images website. Calendars from past years are still available, along with snappy T-shirts, posters, and CDs. - Steve Holtje
Mr. Holtje is a Brooklyn-based editor, poet, and composer whose song cycle setting tanka by Fumiko Nakajo is finally complete at twelve songs.