Little Brother Montgomery

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Little Brother Montgomery
Birth name Eurreal Wilford Montgomery
Also known as Little Brother Montgomery
Born (1906-04-18)April 18, 1906
Origin Kentwood, Louisiana, United States
Died September 6, 1985(1985-09-06) (aged 79)
Genres Jazz
Blues
Boogie-woogie[1]
Occupation(s) Pianist
Vocalist
Instruments Vocals
Piano
Labels Earwig Music
Associated acts Lil Hardin Armstrong
Buddy Petit
Skip James
Spanky and Our Gang

Eurreal Wilford "Little Brother" Montgomery (April 18, 1906 – September 6, 1985)[2] was an American jazz, boogie-woogie and blues pianist and singer.[1]

Largely self-taught, Montgomery was an important blues pianist with an original style. He was also versatile, working in jazz bands, including larger ensembles that used written arrangements. He did not read music but learned band routines by ear; once through an arrangement and he had it memorized.

Career[edit]

Montgomery was born in Kentwood, Louisiana, a sawmill town near the Mississippi border, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood. As a child he looked like his father, Harper Montgomery, and was called Little Brother Harper. The name evolved into Little Brother Montgomery, and the nickname stuck. He started playing piano at the age of 4, and by age 11 he was playing at barrelhouses in Louisiana. His musical influence was Jelly Roll Morton, who used to visit the Montgomery household.

Early in his career he performed at African-American lumber and turpentine camps in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. He then played with the bands of Clarence Desdunes and Buddy Petit. He lived in Chicago from 1928 to 1931, where he made his first recordings. From 1931 through 1938 he led a band in Jackson, Mississippi.

In 1942 Montgomery moved back to Chicago, which would be his base for the rest of his life, with various tours to other cities in the US and Europe.[2] In the late 1950s he was discovered by wider white audiences. He toured briefly with Otis Rush in 1956.[3] His fame grew in the 1960s, and he continued to make many recordings, including on his own record label, FM Records, which he formed in 1969[2] (FM stood for Floberg [the maiden name of his wife] and Montgomery).

Montgomery toured Europe several times in the 1960s and recorded some of his albums there.[4] He appeared at many blues and folk festivals during the following decade and was considered a living legend, a link to the early days of blues and New Orleans.[3]

Among his original compositions are "Shreveport Farewell", "Farrish Street Jive", and "Vicksburg Blues". His instrumental "Crescent City Blues" served as the basis for a song of the same name by Gordon Jenkins, which in turn was adapted by Johnny Cash as "Folsom Prison Blues."[5]

In 1968, Montgomery contributed to two albums by Spanky and Our Gang, Like to Get to Know You and Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme or Reason.

Montgomery died on September 6, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery.

In 2013, Montgomery was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.[6]

The R&B musician and producer Paul Gayten was Montgomery's nephew.

See also[edit]

Further information[edit]

  • The Story of Little Brother Montgomery, by Karl Gert zur Heide (London: Studio Vista, 1970), provides an overview of his life and early career.
  • The October 1985 issue of The Mississippi Rag contains an article on Montgomery by Paige Van Vorst. The article was revised and updated and included in the liner notes of the 1990 album At Home (posthumously issued as Earwig 4918). These articles provide an overview of his life and musical career.
  • The two-LP set Crescent City Blues (AXM2-5522), released by RCA in 1975, which includes many of his recordings for Bluebird Records in the mid-1930s, has comprehensive liner notes giving an overview of his musical career, written by Jim O'Neal, the editor of Living Blues magazine.
  • Conversation with the Blues, by Paul Oliver,[7] published in 1965 and reissued by Cambridge University Press in 1997, includes interviews with Montgomery.

Discography[edit]

Year of Release Album Title Label
1960 Tasty Blues Bluesville
1961 Blues Folkways Records
1965 Music Down Home: An Introduction to Negro Folk Music: U.S.A. Folkways
1966 Piano Blues Folkways
1968 Farro Street Live Folkways
1968 No Special Rider Here Genes/Adelphi
1972 Blues Piano Orgy Delmark
1975 Church Songs: Sung and Played on the Piano by Little Brother Montgomery Folkways
2003 Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways Smithsonian Folkways
2003 Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways, Vol. 2 Smithsonian Folkways
2008 Classic Piano Blues from Smithsonian Folkways Smithsonian Folkways
2008 Classic African American Gospel from Smithsonian Folkways Smithsonian Folkways

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 
  2. ^ a b c Bill Dahl. "Little Brother Montgomery | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b [1] Archived April 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 146. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  5. ^ Silverman, Jonathan (September 30, 2010). Nine Choices: Johnny Cash and American Culture. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 92. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ "2013 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Announced". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  7. ^ Oliver, Paul (1965). Conversation with the Blues. London: Cassell. ISBN 3-85445-065-6. 

External links[edit]