Ace’s fifth compilation of recordings from prolific Texas bluesman Andrew “Smokey” Hogg, best known for his version of ‘Good Mornin’ Little School Girl’. All tracks are new to CD and four are previously unissued.
This is Ace’s fifth Smokey Hogg CD, following on from “Angels In Harlem” (CDCHD 419), “Deep Ellum Rambler” (CDCHD 780); “Serve It To The Right” (CDCHD 866) and “Midnight Blues” (CDCHD 1019). “The Texas Blues Of Smokey Hogg” is issued as a tie-in with my book of the same title (Agram Blues Books). The book features his biography, transcriptions and analysis of the lyrics of his 256 recordings, a discussion of his use of songs by other artists, and musical analysis. Hogg’s blues are highly personal, and a chronological study of his lyrics allows us to follow significant events in his life quite closely.
Andrew Hogg was born on a farm in Glenfawn, Rusk County, Texas on 27 January 1914, and learned guitar from his father when very young. In 1927 he fell in love with his “little schoolgirl”, Bertha Blanton. They married in 1932, when he was 18 and she 15. A son was born in 1933, but they split up the following year.
He made his first recordings in 1937 for Decca in Dallas, the city where he met his second wife, Doris Louise McMillan, who gave birth to his second son and last child in 1944. Between 1947 and 1957 Hogg recorded prolifically for a host of labels, mostly West Coast, such as Combo, Ebb, Exclusive, Fidelity, Imperial, Jade, Meteor, Ray’s, Recorded in Hollywood, Show Time and Specialty, but also Bullet in Nashville and Macy’s, Mercury and Sittin’ In With in Houston. The company which recorded him most heavily was Los Angeles-based Modern Records, which meant that he had to spend long periods on the West Coast, leaving his wife and son in Dallas. The stresses of this way of life probably contributed to the failure of his second marriage around 1951.
By his own account, Hogg had a girlfriend in all the major cities that he frequented, but nevertheless considered himself unlucky in love, no doubt because of the failure of his two marriages. He became an alcoholic and died on 1 May 1960, aged only 46.
Hogg recorded a good many songs by blues singers who were popular in his and their day. Big Bill Broonzy and Peetie Wheatstraw were clearly the artists he most admired, but most of his recordings were his own compositions, with lyrics that often appear to be created spontaneously. “The Texas Blues of Smokey Hogg” – both book and CD – explores the paradox that he was very popular among African Americans despite his limited and sometimes flawed musical skills.
As far as possible, this collection has been compiled to avoid duplication with previous legitimate CD releases. Of the 24 recordings, 13 come from 78s and 45s that have not been reissued before, seven are from LPs and are making their first appearance on CD, and four are previously unissued in any form.
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