Going back now to the music of America’s roots, I offer a classic albeit worn blues record by great bluesman “Texas” Alexander.
Alger “Texas” Alexander was born in Jewett, Texas on September 12, 1900. Playing at functions in the Brazos River bottomlands of his home state, he sometimes worked with contemporary and fellow Texas blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson. Alexander traveled to New York City to make his first recordings for Okeh Records in 1927, and made many further recordings back home in Texas. Unable to play any musical instrument, he was backed on his recordings by various sidemen and groups, including the Mississippi Sheiks for one session. Although Alexander has long been cited as serving five years in the penitentiary in Paris, Texas for the 1939 murder of his wife, modern research yields no evidence of that being true, as no records exist of Alexander serving, and in fact, no prison ever existed in Paris, Texas. More likely, Alexander served on a county work farm for publicly singing songs with lewd lyrics. Texas Alexander continued to record in the 1940s, and made his last recordings with Benton’s Busy Bees in 1953 before dying of syphilis the next year.
Okeh 8511 was recorded on August 11 and 12, 1927 and is “Texas” Alexander’s second issued record from his first recording session, and probably his best selling Okeh. Alexander is accompanied by the always excellent Lonnie Johnson on guitar. This record, as many, if not most of this type of record are, has seen better days and plays rough. Nevertheless, the music is still audible, albeit over heavy noise.
On the first side, Alexander moans his way through the classic “Long Lonesome Day Blues”.
“Corn-Bread Blues”, a little worse for wear, features that classic line, “they cook cornbread for their husband, and biscuits (or is it ‘brisket’?) for their man.”
Updated with improved audio on July 1, 2017, and again on May 3, 2023.