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
- Bourbon Street Parade
- Papa Lemon’s Blues
- Serenading with Frank Wagner
- Grave Digger’s Blues
- Trouble With the Man
- What Was a Medicine Show Like?
- Bowleg Rooster, Duckleg Hen / Sweet Georgia Brown
- $25 a Night
- Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
- Anybody Seen My Kitty?
- Please Give Me Black and Brown
- Let the Good Times Roll
- What a Friend We Have in Jesus
- Way in the Hee Hi Hoo
- We Played Anywhere
- I’m Blue Every Monday
- The Battlefield
- Rabbit Brown
- If You Could Fight Like You Can Love
- Those Drafting Blues
- Spano’s and Fox
- Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
- Big Rock Candy Mountain
- The Jiggler Vein and the Raincoat
- Brownskin, Come and Go With Me