An enigmatic wisp of an entertainer, Arthur "Sam" Jackson, a.k.a. Peg Leg
Sam, was an old time medicine show performer and harmonica virtuoso who
worked and traveled across the US, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Bahamas
before finally being recorded in the early seventies. Born December 18,
1911 in Jonesville, S.C., he taught himself how to play the harmonica and
ventured out on the road at the age of twelve. Over the years he learned to
play a wide range of music and became a versatile entertainer who danced,
told bawdy stories, and performed tricks by playing several harmonicas at
once. While traveling in the multitude of medicine shows that employed him
for much of his life, Peg played with the likes of Pink Anderson and Elmon
"Shorty." During later tours of the festivals and blues clubs circuit, he
played with Rufe Johnson, Sugar Blue and Louisiana Red when he wasn't
performing solo. He returned to Jonesville near the end of his life and
passed away on October 27, 1977.
"Early In The Morning," is Labor Records re-release of Peg Leg Sam's last
recording. Consisting mainly of traditional blues and gospel, this is the
classic, laid back, "front porch blues."
Louisiana Red, (Iverson Minter) provides guitar accompaniment on seven of
the ten songs and lends his powerful voice to "Going Train Blues." His
restrained guitar playing gives Peg Leg Sam the space to proceed with his
old-fashioned, country brand of delivery wherein his harmonica and voice
answer and play off each other. "Dog Chase," (recorded elsewhere as "Peg's
Fox Chase") is a prime example of this interplay. A highlight of the CD is
"Strollin," where Sam's vocal inflection is reminiscent of Joe Callicott.
Other traditional blues songs in this set list are "John Henry," "Mr. Ditty
Wa Ditty," "Poor Boy," and the title track, "Early In the Morning."
The variety of his influences is evident by the inclusion to his set of a
"western" song titled, "Navaho Trail." A regular part of his repertoire, his
personality assumes ownership of this and all the songs he plays. Also
included are the gospel songs, "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," and "I
Got a Home," his mother, a church organist, would've no doubt been happy
The coda of a long lifetime of travel, "Early In The Morning" is a prime
example of the type of music one might have encountered at a traveling
medicine show. Containing a variety of music from piedmont blues to gospel,
delta blues to western, the versatile Peg plays it all. The sound quality
is great and the mix is good. Red plays the consummate sideman and allows
Peg to take the reins and entertain us the old fashioned way. His
performance may not be quite as energetic as earlier recordings but his
individual personality still shines brightly and this CD is very enjoyable.
Originally recorded in 1975 at Minot Sound Studios, White Plains, N.Y.,
"Early In The Morning" was engineered by Ron Carran and produced by Kent
Cooper and Heiner Stadler.
Labor Records, Box 1601 Canal Street Station New York, N.Y. 10013-0879
Telephone: 718-833-4430, Fax: 718-833-7165, E-mail: LaborRec@aol.com
Distributed by: Qualiton www.Qualiton.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Stephen T Davidson, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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