Week beginning: ... Friday 24th May 2024

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Back to where it all began ... It all started in a small town bar in Louisiana; it was like travelling back in time, dusty, rickety tables, chairs, and a bare wooden floor. Sat on a little platform was a lady and a guy with a guitar, and then the lady began to sing the blues. I could have closed my eyes, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I could have been listening to Ma Rainey or Bessie Smith. Quietly listening, and with encouragement from others we joined with the ‘Tell us your story’...

We knew and felt the songs were telling us of a deep sadness, borne of a deprivation beyond our comprehension. I was listening to the 'Blues' long before that, but never really understood, until then, what was meant by 'Feeling the Blues' ... Each time I produce ‘Backtracking’ I try to show my love and respect for the people and the lives these songs are about, this deprivation, sadness and misery. We are honouring them by keeping their presence and their simple music alive and well.

Each time, we are taking a journey back in time to the abomination of slavery, the depth of the spirituals and of course the expressive blues from all those years ago. Our research and journey since that day has been a discovery of the ‘Blues’ that never ends, of a culture and history that has faded in the mists of time, but remains for us to find. We're honoured and privileged to share with you this great music and its history, back a hundred years and beyond, a genre so rich, so vast so diverse and so real.

Now based in Somerset (UK) What started all those years ago with a handful of blues tracks, a few faded photographs and books has grown exponentially with the help of our good friends, Alan, Terry and Graham, the ‘Doc’ even my dear late cousin Len (Houston) the never ending patience of Pam and so many people from around the world, far too many to mention, Backtracking has become a library of music and resources so vast it’s often difficult to keep track of it all, as it continues to grow.

Thank you for listening to ‘Backtracking’ from here in the UK. At PD Productions, we extend our best wishes to you all.
David – PD Productions (UK)

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Backtracking, to where it all began ... At PD Productions, our research and journey of discovery never ends, simply because the culture of the blues never ends. We're honoured and privileged to share the music within the genre of the Blues back in time a hundred years and beyond, a genre so vast and so diverse.

So many people from around the world have contributed to our research, and indeed, our library of music, far too many to mention by name. Released every Friday, we invite you to join Backtracking, the blue time machine as we go back to the Roots of the Blues, back, to where it all began.
Featured on Backtracking ..
  • The lady sings the blues.
  • Blues on the Bayou.
  • Gospel blues train.
  • Featured artist of the week.
  • Spirituals – The blues connection.
  • Prison work songs.
  • Myths and Legends of the blues.
1   Download the latest Backtracking
1   Backtracking archive (Download)
1   Blues Research resources (Links / articles)

Featured artist of the week .... Washington Phillips

Washington Phillips - (1880 – 1954) - An awful lot of years ago, a peddler, a part-time preacher and gospel blues artist arrived at a makeshift recording studio in Dallas (The back room of a private residence) carrying a strange instrument that the producer described as a novelty. A photograph dated 1928, shows Washington holding two fretless zither-like instruments. The date lies between the second and third of his five recording sessions. The instrument in his right hand has been identified as a celestaphone, in both cases with the hammer attachment missing the instruments were sold as a type of hammered dulcimer.

A producer at Columbia Records apparently liked Washington Phillips and his songs enough to record him five times between 1927-1929, in sessions that produced some of the era’s most beautiful and melodic gospel / blues music.

Washington’s sold in excess of 8,000 copies, of a number for 'race records,' as they were called at the time. “Washington Phillips tells that Old Time Religion,” Even though his lyrics castigated many of the established churches, a rarity for gospel records. The songs Washington sang and played on his lyre-like instrument were described as prophetic condemnations, quote: A soapbox preacher standing next to a carousel ride.

After recording 18 songs (two are missing), Phillips faded into obscurity. It was thought that he died insane, paranoid and haunted by divine revelations. He was ‘gospel’s great disappearing act. If ever there was a shining example of the ‘Myths and Legends’ of the blues it’s this fine gentleman. Little is known of him that can be truly verified and yet his music, such as it was lives on. Our featured track by Washington is Paul and Silas in Jail a gospel blues song (vocals and zither) recorded in 1927.

    Washington Phillips - Paul and Silas in Jail
    Download featured artist track of the week
    Next time ... Dock Boggs
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