It seems wrong that this place called “Old Time Blues” has featured staggeringly few blues records thus far, and after that previous incursion of popular music, I think it’s high time to work some actual old time blues into the schedule. Here’s a classic record by Bertha “Chippie” Hill featuring the work of a very familiar trumpeter.
Bertha Hill was born in 1905 in Charleston, South Carolina, she entered vaudeville in the 1910s, working with “Ma” Rainey and Ethel Waters in the TOBA circuit and the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Hill was given the nickname “Chippie” at age 14, referring to her young age at the time. She entered the recording industry in 1925 and only recorded until 1929, making 23 sides total. After retiring from music in the 1930s to raise her children, Hill made a comeback in the late 1940s. Tragically, she was struck and killed by a hit and run driver in New York City in 1950.
On Okeh 8312, a laminated “TrueTone” recorded February 23, 1926 in Chicago, Bertha “Chippie” Hill sings “Trouble In Mind” and “Georgia Man”, accompanied by Richard M. Jones on piano and the incomparable Louis Armstrong on trumpet.
Richard M. Jones’ “Trouble In Mind” is an excellent (albeit melancholy) song, delivered wonderfully by Hill. The label on this side looks pretty darn bad, but fortunately what actually matters, the playing surface that is, is not too bad at all.
“Georgia Man” is a much lighter-hearted piece, trading the dreary theme of laying one’s head on a railroad line for a more raunchy one involving “jelly roll”. The label’s a lot prettier on this side, and it might play just a little bit better, too.