John Tefteller Finds Another "Lost" Paramount Blues 78rpm Record!!
Legendary Blues singer J.D. Short record turns up in Tennessee!
Grants Pass, Oregon:
Eighty-four years after it was recorded and originally released, J.D. Short (incorrectly identified on the label as Jaydee Short), Paramount 13091, "Tar Road Blues"/"Flagin' [sic] It To Georgia" has been found for the very first time. Long considered lost to the ages, the record, of which there was previously no known surviving copy, surfaced recently in Tennessee.
"It turned up shoved into the back of an old Victrola record player cabinet along with a stack of other Blues records from the same time period," said long time Blues collector John Tefteller who purchased the record from "a local picker." Tefteller will make the songs available to the world again next year as part of his "Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920's" series of calendars which come with a free CD.
"The record is in decent shape with the only serious flaw being a small chip on the edge. It has seen its share of play on that old windup but still sounds great and it is an absolute two sided masterpiece," says Tefteller, who, since the mid-1970's, has been at the forefront of seeking out long missing Blues 78's and making them available to the public once again.
As he has been known to do when records of this caliber are found, Tefteller flew to Tennessee to meet with the picker who found the record and negotiate a deal to buy it. Hand carrying it back on the plane to his archives in Grants Pass, Oregon, Tefteller said "I don't trust any mailing service with something as rare, valuable and fragile as this record is."
In the world of collecting rare phonograph records, the early Blues from the late 1920's and early 1930's are some of the world's rarest and most expensive records, coveted by collectors worldwide. These early Blues 78 rpm records, especially those on the Paramount label, were made in very small quantities and sold to a mostly African American audience. Historians agree that many of the very best Blues songs ever recorded come from the period before World War II.
In addition to years of play and abuse, 80% or more were destroyed in the "scrap drives" of World War II, where the public was encouraged to turn in their old records to the government to be recycled as scrap for the war effort. (Masters of these recordings were also destroyed in the scrap drives.) To find any of them now is quite a challenge as many of them only exist in quantities of one to five copies. Some have yet to found at all. Eighty years later, the only way to hear these classic performances is to seek out a copy of the released RECORD and use modern technology to restore the sound to as listenable as possible.
J.D. Short was a hardcore Delta Blues musician born in Port Gibson, Mississippi in 1902. He made four two-sided 78's for the legendary Paramount record label of Port Washington, Wisconsin on June 1st, 1930. Until this discovery, only one of those four records was known to still exist - and only a single copy of that one exists as well -- also residing in Tefteller's collection. Short made another classic Blues record for Vocalion label, under the name of Jelly Jaw Short, as well as a few others for various labels in the 78 era. Short then briefly participated in the 1960's Blues Revival with songs released by Delmark Records of Chicago and Prestige/Bluesville of New Jersey, before his death in 1962 at the age of 60.
Tefteller has played the newly discovered record for other Blues experts and historians where the accolades for it just don't stop. Yazoo Records owner Richard Nevins put it this way: "One side is incredible and the other side is just awesome....Blues fans will have to decide for themselves which side they prefer."
Peter Whelan, now retired former publisher of 78 Quarterly and a collector since the 1940's says it is "J.D. Short's best record! Tar Road Blues is intense and filled with unrelieved tension. Flagin' It To Georgia sneaks up on you, in the same way as Mattie Delaney's 'Tallahatchie River Blues,' which is considered by many to be the best female Blues record ever recorded."
Gayle Dean Wardlow, longtime Blues historian and author says, "This is best St. Louis record ever! Even though Short was born in Mississippi, he spent much of his life in the St. Louis area. He traveled to Paramount in Wisconsin to record and took fellow St. Louis Blues legend Henry Townsend with him. Paramount was the best place in the world to record because they were so casual and unhurried about it. You could relax, have a sip of whiskey and record at your leisure, without some New York producer telling you what to do and to get it done fast because a Country act is coming in to record next and they are waiting in the halls. I liked the Flagin' It To Georgia side best because it is so slow and intense. It doesn't matter what other labels any of these guys recorded on, they always did their very best when recording at Paramount."
Paul Vernon, who heads up the Real Blues Forum on the Internet exclaims, "It is everything you would expect (from Short) and just fantastic. I am thrilled that it finally has been found after all these years. It proves the theory that great stuff like this is still out there, hiding....waiting to be discovered."
Tefteller has been collecting super rare early Blues 78's for many years and is responsible for unearthing never before heard recordings by such Blues legends as Son House, Tommy Johnson, King Solomon Hill, Blind Joe Reynolds, Blind Blake and many more. He travels the back roads of America hunting everywhere - in barns, garages, attics, basements, junk shops and flea markets - searching for super rare Blues 78 rpm records. His collection is regarded as the world's best when it comes to the combined period of Pre-War and Post-War Blues.
Tefteller made headlines again last fall when he purchased a super rare 78 rpm Blues recordby Delta Blues legend Tommy Johnson for the world record price for a 78 rpm recording of $37,100.00. The newly found J.D. Short record set him back close to that amount. "It would have been just as expensive as the Tommy Johnson, were it not for the chip on the edge of the record, which does devalue it a bit....but the performances are right up there with the very best Pre-War Delta Blues ever recorded," reveals Tefteller.
Tefteller is hoping that all the publicity from finding and purchasing these records will result in the last remaining unfound Blues records being discovered. "I encourage everyone to get out there and find them. There are still two more J.D. Short records on Paramount to find and, of course, there are still my most wanted items, the last two missing Willie Brown Paramount 78's," Tefteller pleaded.
"I have a standing offer of $25,000.00 each for any playable copy of any of those, even cracked, as long as they play - more if they are in great shape. This most recent find confirms that there are still some great Blues records hiding out there and, for history's sake and for the enjoyment of Blues fans worldwide, they must be found. Please keep looking--everywhere!"
Tefteller has been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other print media as well as in countless radio interviews and public forums. He can be reached at 541-659-7175 as well as though his two websites, www.tefteller.com and www.bluesimages.com.
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