Never No More Blues

Never No More Blues




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Jane and Hoyle have been performing most of these songs for many years.  Some of them, Jane’s been performing since her early days as a solo performer.  We just hadn’t got around to recording our versions before.

Some of the lyrics might be heard as period pieces, relics of times gone forever by.  But in the main, the songs still tell timeless tales of human experience, all the guts and stuff of life and love and loss.  The musical language of these pieces is, to us, very much alive.

We got together with some old friends and colleagues to record this selection of songs and tunes.  We’ve all been friends and collaborators since the 1970s.  Hoyle and Tony were both members of The Arkansas Sheiks.  Eric, Suzy, and Hoyle performed as The Blue Flame Syncopators.  Jane sang with Eric and Suzy in The So-Called Band.  Stuart played bass with that group, sat in on tuba with the Syncopators, and recorded one tune with Jane on her first solo LP.  It was such a joy to once again be making music with these amazing musicians, colleagues, and friends.

We’ve all worked with master recording engineer Michael Cogan, going back to the early days of his label, Bay Records.  It’s our great fortune to have worked with such an impeccable and sympathetic engineer, once again.

This album is dedicated to the memory of Jim Rothermel, who played all the reeds on several of our albums.  Jim was a wonderful musician, friend, and collaborator. We wish he could have played on this session.

—  Jane Voss & Hoyle Osborne

Notes on the songs (mostly by Jane).
1. Farewell Daddy Blues - Ma Rainey, 1924

JV guitar / HO piano / ST fiddle / ET banjo / TM mandolin / SB tuba

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, “The Mother of the Blues,” was probably the first performer to find a way to sing the blues in the context of show business.

2. (That’s Why) I’m Going Away - Elizabeth Cotten, 1963

JV and ET guitars / HO piano / ST fiddle / TM mandolin / SB bass

I always loved hearing Libba sing this one.  I met Elizabeth Cotten very early in my singing career.  She heard me sing on stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1972, and kindly complimented my singing.  A few years later, we did a California tour together.  This one’s for you, Libba.

3. God’s River - Baskett, 1928

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET banjo / TM guitar / SB tuba

From the singing of Emmett Miller, an obscure vaudeville performer of the 1920s, who recorded with some of the hottest Jazz players of the time.  “God’s River” is just as much a mystery as Miller himself.

4. St. Louis Tickle - Barney & Seymore (Theron C. Bennett), 1904

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET banjo / TM guitar /   SB tuba

Hoyle learned this ragtime classic from the playing of our late friend, Dave Van Ronk, who fingerpicked the tune  on the guitar.

5. Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz! - Norman Anthony, Mischa Portnoff & Wesley Portnoff, 1931

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET mandolin / TM guitar / SB bass / band vocal

Eddie Cantor sang this early in the Great Depression.  An in-your-face response to the mindless optimism preached by President Hoover and others, in place of actual solutions to the disaster.  

6. Dallas Blues - music by Hart A. Wand (1912), lyrics by Lloyd Garrett (1918)

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET mandolin / TM guitar / SB tuba

One of the oldest published blues.  The sheet music is marked, “Very slowly – Tempo di blues.”

7. Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me) - Arthur N. Swanstone, Chas. R. McCarron & Carey Morgan, 1919

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET banjo / TM guitar / SB tuba

An early Jazz Age chestnut, learned from the sassy 1919 rendition of vaudeville star Esther Walker.

8. Baby Rose - music by George Christie (Ernest R. Ball), lyrics by Louis Weslyn, 1911

HO piano, vocal / ST vocal / ET cuatro / TM mandolin / SB bass

Our version is mostly inspired by Billy Murray’s 1911 recording, with the American Quartet.

9. Ape Man - Jimmie Blythe, 1926

HO piano / TM, JV  guitars / ST fiddle / ET mandolin / SB tuba

New Orleans clarinetist Johnny Dodds and pianist Jimmy Blythe (from Louisville) made a batch of excellent records in Chicago.

10. Downhearted Blues - Alberta Hunter & Lovie Austin, 1922

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET guitar / TM mandolin / SB bass

A truly classic early blues song, a historical marker of sorts. Written by Alberta Hunter and pianist Lovie Austin, it was the first song recorded by Bessie Smith.  We learned it from Alberta’s own original recording.

Alberta had a late revival of her career, and Hoyle and I were lucky enough to be in the audience one night at The Cookery.  I went up to speak to her at the break, told her I was a singer, too, and that I hoped I’d be trooping as long as she was.  She took my hands in hers and said, “Oh, you will, you will.  Just look out for your health.”  (Advice I’m doing my best to follow.)  This one’s for you, Alberta!

11. Leaving Home - Charlie Poole’s version of “Frankie and Johnny,” Leighton Brothers & Ren Shields, 1912

JV guitar / HO piano, vocal / ST fiddle / ET mandolin / TM banjo / SB tuba

I started performing this song back in my solo touring days, learned from Charlie Poole’s 1926 recording.  The instrumental interlude is straight from the sheet music.

12. Drunken Bar Room Blues – Jimmie Rodgers & Shelly Lee Alley, 1932

JV guitar / HO piano / ST fiddle

From the singing of Jimmie Rodgers, by way of California fiddler and singer Will Spires.  Jimmie’s original title was “Gambling Bar Room Blues,” a mystery since gambling never comes up in the song itself.  Truly a Great American Ballad.  It plays out like a movie in my mind.

13. Blue Railroad Train - Alton & Rabon Delmore, 1933

JV and HO vocals, guitars / ST fiddle, vocal / ET mandolin / TM fiddle / SB bass

From the Delmore Brothers, another song from my solo days on the road.  

There’s a story that the Delmores sent this song to Ralph Peer, who said he’d take the song to Jimmie Rodgers.  Rodgers died soon afterwards, and never recorded the song.  

14. Never No Mo’ Blues - Jimmie Rodgers & Elsie McWilliams, 1928

JV, vocal and guitar

A blue yodel, even though it isn't called that.  Elsie McWilliams was the sister of Jimmie Rodgers's wife, Carrie.  Elsie collaborated with Jimmie on nineteen songs he recorded.  

15. Roll Along, Kentucky Moon - Bill Halley (Wm. Heagney), 1932

JV and ET guitars / HO piano / ST and TM fiddles / SB bass

Another from Jimmie Rodgers.  A song of love lost, and a hymn to the moon.

16. Panama (A Characteristic Novelty) - William H. Tyers, 1911

JV guitar / HO piano / ST fiddle / ET cuatro / TM mandolin / SB bass

Hoyle’s arrangement, and our band’s realization of it, brings out all the tune’s  sweetness.  Will Tyers was one of the key people in the Clef Club, the pioneering organization for black musicians.

17. I’ve Got What It Takes (But It Breaks My Heart to Give It Away) - Clarence Williams & Hezekiah Jenkins, 1929

HO piano / ST fiddle / ET banjo / TM guitar / SB tuba

Hezekiah Jenkins was a vaudeville and medicine-show singer who made just a handful of records. Bessie Smith recorded this song with a group led by Clarence Williams in the same session that produced “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

Recorded at Megasonic Sound, Oakland, California

February and October 2014

Michael Cogan, recording engineer

Illustrations by Murray Callahan

Scans and montage by Tracy Cunningham, Graphica Design

Folder design by Charlene Anderson,

Photo by Gabriel Montes, Bosque Photography

Ripple Recordings –

©(p) 2015 Jane Voss & Hoyle Osborne

Ripple Recordings -

Jane Voss - vocals, guitar

Hoyle Osborne - piano, vocals, guitar

with The Blue Blazes

Suzy Thompson – fiddle, vocals

Eric Thompson – guitar, mandolin, banjo, cuatro

Tony Marcus – guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle

Stuart Brotman – tuba, string bass

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