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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Cousin Joe born 20 December 1907

Cousin Joe Pleasant (December 20, 1907 — October 2, 1989) was an American blues and jazz singer, later famous for his 1940s recordings with clarinetist Sidney Bechet and saxophonist Mezz Mezzrow. Prior to B.B. King's crossover success, many regarded Cousin Joe as the greatest blues singer.
Born December 20, 1907 in Wallace, LA, 30 miles from New Orleans. His family moved to New Orleans when Joe was 12; he had a religious upbringing (Baptist) but soon hung around and absorbed himself in the jazz played in clubs. Joe took up guitar and ukulele, and made a living playing on the riverboats in the 30's.
Joe's first singing gig was at the ripe old age of seven, hustling offerings in church. He would do his little thing and the pastor would ask for another offering for Joe. The gig ended a year later when Joe refused to join the church. As 17-year-old Smiling Joe, he played the fish fries held in peoples' backyards on Saturday nights; they served other food, but call them fish fries because the catfish cake was the most popular dish.
He stayed Smiling Joe for 37 years, a woman named him that because he always smiled. At 21, he hustled the streets with two dancers as Hats, Coats, & Greens, Hats & Coats hoofed their tails off while Smiling Joe picked his ukulele; the people went crazy and threw money at their feet. Louis Prima liked the act and wanted to take them to New York, but Joe's mother squashed that. Joe eventually made it to New York and stayed three or four years. He almost landed a gig with the Ink Spots as Deek Watson's replacement, but their manager didn't think he fit the image.
By 1941, he'd moved to St. Louis to play in Sidney Bechet's band, before shuffling to New York three years later. This was Joe's most fruitful recording period, he waxed many memorable songs during this era under countless names: Smiling Joe, Pleasant Joe, Brother Joshua, and Cousin Joe. He recorded for King, Gotham, Philo (in 1945), Savoy, and Decca along the way, doing well on the latter logo with "Box Car Shorty and Peter Blue" in 1947.

He got the name Cousin Joe from Danny Barker who played in Cab Calloway's band. Barker introduced Joe to Clarke Monroe as "Cos" -- short for cousin. Monroe was the only Black to own a club on 52nd St. -- the Spotlight -- the name stuck longer than Smiling Joe. He put his guitar and ukulele down for good in New York and pawned them both; he felt he couldn't compete with the great blues guitarist.
In NY, he worked with stars like Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Earl Bostic, Clark Terry, Lightnin' Hopkins, and others. After returning to New Orleans in 1948, he recorded for DeLuxe and cut a two-part "ABCs" for Imperial in 1954 as Smilin' Joe under Dave Bartholomew's supervision. But by then, his recording career had faded. He entered the studio only rarely in the years to follow, focusing instead on learning the piano and rebuilding his reputation as a French Quarter club performer in the '50s and '60s with an occasional European tour thrown in to break the monotony. He spent the '70s in semi-retirement.
He cut a 1971 album for the French Black & Blue label, Bad Luck Blues, that paired him with guitarists Gatemouth Brown and Jimmy Dawkins and a Chicago rhythm section followed in 1973 by Cousin Joe from New Orleans.
Returning to New Orleans he performed steadily until 1973, when he retired to collect his social security checks. Evidently, the Social Security Administration didn't know about his juke gigs and European tours, because Joe kept that activity on the down low and under the table.

His activities were again curtailed in the years to follow, although in 1987 he published an autobiography, Cousin Joe: Blues from New Orleans.

His last appearance was at the 1989 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival just months before his peaceful passing. He died in his sleep from natural causes in New Orleans, at the age of 81 on October 2, 1989. (Info mainly edited from AMG)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Cousin Joe 1945-1955 Vol.3 go here:

01 cousin-joe-beggin-woman.mp3
02 cousin-joe-sadie-brown.mp3
03 cousin-joe-evolution-blues.mp3
04 cousin-joe-box-car-shorty-s-confession.mp3
05 cousin-joe-looking-for-my-baby.mp3
06 cousin-joe-high-powered-gal.mp3
07 cousin-joe-chicken-a-la-blues.mp3
08 cousin-joe-poor-man-blues.mp3
09 cousin-joe-living-on-borrowed-time.mp3
10 cousin-joe-lovesick-soul.mp3
11 cousin-joe-second-hand-soul.mp3
12 cousin-joe-dinah.mp3
13 cousin-joe-won-t-settle-down.mp3
14 cousin-joe-misery.mp3
15 cousin-joe-a-b-c-s-part-1.mp3
16 cousin-joe-a-b-c-s-part-2.mp3
17 cousin-joe-how-long-must-i-wait.mp3
18 cousin-joe-sleep-walking-woman.mp3
19 cousin-joe-easy-rockin.mp3
20 cousin-joe-hole-in-the-ground.mp3
21 cousin-joe-you-ll-never-get-nothing-without-trying.mp3
22 cousin-joe-ramblin-woman.mp3
23 cousin-joe-feel-like-a-million.mp3
24 cousin-joe-old-man-s-sweetheart.mp3
25 cousin joe-i-saw-mommy-kissin-santa-claus-a.mp3