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Lemon Nash – Papa Lemon

Review:

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
  12. Barrelhouse
  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
  18. Stagolee
  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

 

Published inArhoolie Jazz