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Peg Leg Howell

One of the first recorded products of the Atlanta blues community of the pre-war era, Peg Leg Howell bridged the gap between the early country-blues sound and the 12-bar stylings to follow, with his guitar work evolving over time to include finger-picking and slide techniques. Born Joshua Barnes Howell in Eatonton, Georgia on March 5, 1888, he was a self-taught guitarist who acquired his nickname after a 1916 run-in with an irate brother-in-law which ended in a shotgun wound to the leg and, ultimately, amputation. Unable to continue working as a farmhand, he migrated to Atlanta, where he began pursuing music full-time; in addition to playing street corners for passing change, Howell supplemented his income by bootlegging liquor, an offense which led to a one-year prison sentence in 1925. Soon after his release, he signed to Columbia; his first session for the label yielded the menacing "New Prison Blues," a song he'd learned while serving time. Having amassed a huge repertory of songs over the years, Howell recorded prolifically over the following months, his work ranging from traditional ballads ("Skin Game Blues") to dance numbers (the minor hit "Beaver Slide Rag") to even jazz ("New Jelly Roll Blues"); while some of his sides comprised solo performances, others featured the backing of his street group, the Gang (guitarist Henry Williams and fiddler Eddie Anthony). Columbia pulled the plug in 1929, at which time Howell returned to playing Atlanta's famed Decatur Street district; Williams was himself imprisoned not long after, and following Anthony's 1934 death, Howell gradually disappeared from the area blues circuit. He spent the next several decades clouded in obscurity, with diabetes claiming his other leg in 1952. Howell was 75 when the Testament label sought him out in 1963 to record his first new material in over 40 years; he died in Atlanta on August 11, 1966. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Broadcasting The Blues: Black Blues In The Segregation Era

Disc 1

1. Baby, Please Don't Go

2. Match Box Blues

3. Yonder Come The Blues

4. Yellow Dog Blues

5. Walkin' Blues

7. My Soul Is A Witness

8. Long Hot Summer Days

9. Lucky Holler

10. Penitentiary Moan

11. Old Country Stomp

12. Dry Bone Shuffle

13. Mysterious Coon

17. I Heard The Voice Of A Porkchop

18. Spike Driver Blues

20. Fare Thee Well Blues

21. Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

22. Travelin' Blues

Disc 2

1. Chocolate To The Bone

3. Tennessee Dog

5. Washboard Cut-Out

6. Flying Crows Blues

7. Rules And Regulations 'Signed Razor Jim'

8. Ground Hog Blues

10. Wednesday Evening She Left Me

11. Lonesome Day Blues

14. Black, Brown And White

15. Pratt City Blues

16. Blues Before Sunrise

17. Blues Trip Me This Morning

18. Poor Man Blues

20. My Black Mama - Part I

21. Cotton Pickin' Blues

23. Number 29

24. Jim Crow Blues

Disc 3

1. Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues

3. Policy Dream Blues

4. North Memphis Blues

6. They Ain't Walkin' No More

7. Ice Pick Blues

9. Parchman Farm Blues

10. Shelby County Workhouse Blues

11. Working On The Project

13. Let's Have A New Deal

14. Tallahatchie River Blues

15. St. Louis Cyclone Blues

17. Fire Department Blues

18. Give Me A 32-30

20. Build A Cave

21. Crying Mother Blues

23. The Dirty Dozen

24. Three Ball Blues

25. Milk Cow Blues

26. Cool Drink Of Water Blues

27. Some Summer Day

28. Make Me A Pallet On The Floor

30. Spirit Of Boogie Woogie

31. Fifty Miles Of Elbow Room

x

Track List: Rough Guide To East Coast Blues

1. Come On Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around

2. No No Blues

3. Church Bells Blues

4. South Carolina Rag (Take 1)

5. Greasy Greens

6. Skin Game Blues

7. Old Time Blues

8. Gonna Tip Out Tonight

9. One Way Gal

10. Honey You Don't Know My Mind

11. Truckin' My Blues Away No. 2 (Take 2)

12. Ninety Nine Year Blues (Take 2)

13. I Saw The Light

14. Hard Road Blues

15. She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day

16. Lord, I Want To Die Easy

17. Brownie Blues

18. O Lord, Search My Heart

19. Jealous Hearted Blues

20. DeKalb Chain Gang

21. Harmonica Stomp

22. Runaway Man Blues

23. Unfair Blues

x

Track List: Rough Guide To The Blues Songsters

1. Pick Poor Robin Clean

2. Don't Leave Me Here

3. What A Time (Take 1)

4. The Spasm

5. Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine

6. Frankie

7. Every Day In The Week Blues

8. How Long

9. John Henry (The Steel Driving Man), Pt. 1

10. Old Rock Island Blues

11. Cocaine

12. Mississippi Boweavil Blues

13. Stackalee

14. Nobody Knows (What The Good Deacon Does)

15. A Chicken Can Waltz The Gravy Around

16. How You Want Your Rollin' Done

17. Midnight Special

18. Hey! Lawdy Mama - The France Blues

19. Railroad Bill

20. Come On Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around

21. James Alley Blues

22. Going To Germany

23. Coal Man Blues

24. Nobody's Business If I Do

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Unsung Heroes Of Country Blues

1. Fishing Blues

2. Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door

3. Don't Put That Thing On Me

4. Cairo Blues

5. Keep It Clean

6. Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

7. California Desert Blues

8. Little Girl In Rome

9. Married Man Blues

10. Fare Thee Well Blues

11. Lonesome Road Blues

12. Pick Poor Robin Clean

13. My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon

14. Old Original Kokomo Blues

15. Labor Blues

16. Section Gang Blues

17. Let's Go Riding

18. Roll And Tumble Blues

19. Please Ma'am

20. Cottonfield Blues - Part 2

21. Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do - Part 2 (Take 1)

22. Rolling Log Blues

23. You Can't Keep No Brown

24. Cherry Ball

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