© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ®
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR JACK KELLY & WALTER HORTON
AT MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1952
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: MONDAY FEBRUARY 25, 1952
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR MARION KEISKER
 
Sam Phillips recorded the duo of harmonica player Walter Horton and jug band veteran Jack Kelly, who together had worked up two tunes. Marion Keisker wrote in her logbook: ''2/25/52, Session with Joe Hill, Jack Kelly and, cut several sides on tape''. (See session below). Best were with Jack Kelly doing vocal and Mumbles (Horton) on harmonica. Tentatively billed on these numbers as ''Little Walter'' with ''Jackie Boy''. Under Kelly's name, she wrote that two cuts were made that day, ''Sellin' My Stuff (Ain't Had A Drink)'', and ''Wanderin' Woman (Blues In My Condition)''.
 
01 - "BLUES IN MY CONDITION" B.M.I. 
Composer: - Jack Kelly-Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control - Promotional Copies Only
Matrix number: - None - Only Acetate - SUN 174 was never issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1952
Released: - March 1, 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm acetate SUN 174 mono
BLUES IN MY CONDITION / SELLIN' MY WHISKEY
 
Walter Horton and Jack Kelly were typical of the Delta bluesman who warmed to Sam Phillips' new recording climate. "Blues In My Condition, chosen from their various meanderings, was nominated as the first Sun single. However, due to an adverse reaction from area radio stations, the recording never made it past the promotional stage. Fortunately a fragment of the 'lower deck' survived, allowing the true beginnings of the Sun label to be represented, right at the moment of conception.
 
02 - "SELLING MY STUFF (WHISKEY)" - B.M.I. - 1:20
Composer: - Jack Kelly-Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control - Promotional Copies Only
Matrix number: - None - Only Acetate - Sun 174 was never issued
Incomplete a fragment of the "lower deck" survived
Recorded: - February 25, 1952
Released: - March 1, 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm acetate SUN 174 mono
SELLIN' MY WHISKEY / BLUES IN MY CONDITION
Reissued:  - 1996 Charly (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-2-7 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Although scheduled for release as SUN 175 (and labels printed accordingly) this never made it to the final furlong, being scrapped following a lack of positive audience reaction after an acetate dub had been aired on WHHM. Sadly, neither does a complete version of this track appear to have survived - hence its inclusion here in its (only-known) fragment ed form.
 
The song itself - with its oddly bowdlerize title - harks back to Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band, with its romping rhythm and good-time lyric. Its a shame to hear only this truncated  extract, and one can only speculate what Walter Horton might have brought to the original recording. 
 
On March 5, 1952, Sam Phillips sent dubs (acetates run off the master tape) of the tunes to Chess, inquiring whether they would be interested in releasing them. Chess said they would not. On March 8, Phillips made up a new set of dubs of "Blues In My Condition" and sent one to Memphis station WHHM, asking that it be aired as the introduction to the Sun label. The response was good enough to persuade him to ship the master for processing. "Sellin' My Stuff" was retitled "Sellin' My Whiskey" in anticipation of release, and the duo was dubbed Jackie Boy and Little Walter. By the time the stampers (the metal parts used in the manufacture of records) were shipped back from Shaw Processing, however, Sam Phillips had decided that Chess Records had been correct: the wasn't strong enough for release. The first Sun record, number SUN 174, was never issued.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jack Kelly - Vocal and Piano
Walter Horton - Vocal, Harmonica and Kazoo
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar and Drums
Probably Will Batts - Fiddle
Fiddler player Will Batts was born on January 24, 1904 in Michigan, Mississippi. A fiddler, Batts was the primary instrumentalist in Jack Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band, a popular string band whose music owed a heavy debt to the blues as well as minstrel songs, vaudeville numbers, reels and rags. Batts was working as a farm hand when he decided to pursue a career in music full-time. 
 
Batts sooned joined Kelly's band, a fixture of the Beale Street area, and in 1933 they made their first recordings, followed in 1939 by a second and final session. Batts also backed a variety of other Memphis performers, including minstrel singer Frank Stokes. This 1952 session with Walter Horton was his last known recording date.  Will Batts continued to work in Memphis, Tennessee until his death in Memphis on February 18, 1956.
 
According to Robert Henry,  owner and Beale street connoisseur,  ''Well one of the jug band players is still livin' right in the rear of my place of business here; that's Son Brimmer. His name's Will Shade but we called him Son Brimmer. It was a joke - one time I had some people out of New York come to listen to the jug men. So they tol' me, the jug band did, ''All right, but all we need now is for us to have a few drinks so we be feelin' good.''. So they did and we went along to hear the jug men start makin' records. Well, but the boys were so drunk that they wasn't able to stand. The people out of New York lauged and said, ''Well, they wanted to feel good, but they feel too good. Well we have to leave you; this ain't the people we was lookin' for''! But since then Son Brimmer has made several records of the old timers. So it is not many of them is living yet of the original jug bands. We lost one about two years ago - Willie Batts. He had one of the biggest jug bands - and they usually carry from four to five pieces in the band. Made some records with Jack Kelly once; he was a blues man come up from Mississippi. Willie Batts that was. Most of them uses the can for the bass, there's hardly nothing else left in there for them! Some of them do use a jug. There's not much left of them now, but they was mostly men play for parties, picnics and things; elections, for people won a race, and parties of the kind''.
 
''People who drink and have a good time - mostly the jug band plays for that, they don't play for dances. So that's why the jug band is made for the people, understand me, to have a good time, people who is havin' parties. At one time Batts' Jug Band used to play for conventions at Peabody Hotel. That's our biggest hotel. So we had a jubilee... to entertain the people. Most of the people - it was a hardware convention - was out of the East. So I went downstairs to send the people home in a taxi and when I got back upstairs the jug band had a hat down in the middle of the Peabody Hotel ballroom. But the money was piled in the hat, so I said, 'Well you-all ain't gettin' paid tonight for your act, I'm cuttin' in with you. Because you've got to much money in that hat there. You expect to draw ten dollars for your work'! Aw, it was fun. They played the Peabody for a night or so at a time. I used to book the jug bands on the jobs, but I'd always notify the people who they were workin' for, to be particular about them drinkin' because if they showed they'd got a bottle of whiskey they'd have a bunch of drunken people on they hands. Now they like to play but they sure like to get drunk. So you watch for the jug bands. When they don't get drunk, there's not much pep in them. But they really likes to drink that hooch''.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ®