Monday, August 24, 2009

Fishin' For Blues

"Rooster" Rick and the "Amazing" Annalee took advantage of a day off and the super high tide caused by Hurricane Bill today and headed down to their fishin' hole, the Long Island Sound. We dug up two old fishing rods, sharpened some hooks, and took the short walk down to the beach. ("Went to the hardware got me a hook, cinched that hook right on that line . . . I'm a goin" fishin' yes I'm goin' fishin' . . . ") I thought we might catch some bluefish, but we each caught a sea robin, which many people consider garbage fish. But I discovered years ago that it is well worth the effort it takes to clean and de-bone these strange creatures. Between the two fish we got a little less than a pound of meat, enough to make four delicious fish cakes.
   While we were walking down to the beach the song "Fishing Blues" popped into my head. Most people know the great Taj Mahal version from "De Old Folks at Home" album, but the tune was originally recorded in the 1920s by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas. Thomas, a black man born in the late nineteenth century, was equally adept at country two steps and dance tunes as he was at the blues. His lively dance music gives us a glimpse of the type of music that might have been heard at a nineteenth century African American house party. Dead Heads may be interested to know that Thomas also made the first recording of the Grateful Dead standby "Don't Ease Me In."
  Check out "Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929" on YaZoo Records. My personal favorite version of "Fishing Blues" is Bruce Molsky's rendition from his Rounder Records release "poor man's troubles." On this tune Bruce shows that not only is he world class fiddler he can also do some pretty fancy pickin' on the acoustic guitar.

Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues CD

Henry Thomas Texas Worried Blues Mp3

Bruce Molsky Poor Man's Troubles CD

Bruce Molsky Poor Man's Troubles Mp3


  1. Good blog, Rick. It's good to be able to keep up with news of the HGSB.

  2. I was taught that when the waters are rough, fish usually don't eat. Fish lore. Glad you and the best jaw harp playa both sides of the Mississippi had a good time.