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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Robert Rush Vulcan Gas Company Handbill

Robert Rush Vulcan
Robert Rush Vulcan
Check out this handbill designed by Robert Rush to promote shows which took place from 3/1-9/68 at the Vulcan Gas Company...Featured performers included Conqueroo, Big Joe Williams, the Rubaiyat and Shiva's Headband whose founder Spencer Perskin who has also signed the handbill. Robert Rush also did the Lord August Vulcan poster with the dragon on it. I've always liked this design because it seems to capture the essence of the blues while portraying a psychedelic style.

Big Joe Williams (c. 1903-1982) epitomized the life and times of the rambunctious, roving bluesman, traveling from coast to coast and around the world playing rugged, rhythmic blues on his nine-string guitar at juke joints, house parties, and concerts. Mentor to blues legends Muddy Waters and Honeyboy Edwards, Williams was born near Crawford, where he also spent his final years. His song “Baby Please Don't Go” has been recorded by many blues and rock bands.

Joe Lee “Big Joe” Williams was born about ten miles west of Crawford on the edge of the Noxubee Swamp on October 16, 1903 (or, according to some documents, 1899). Williams came from a family of blues performers that included his grandfather, Bert Logan, and uncles Bert and Russ Logan. He crafted his first instrument, a one-string guitar, and later became known for the nine-string guitar he created by adding three strings to a standard guitar. Joe left home in his teens and made his living playing for workers at railway, turpentine, levee, and logging camps and traveling with minstrel troupes and medicine shows. He came under the influence of Charley Patton in the Mississippi Delta, where he sometimes took young bluesmen Honeyboy Edwards and Muddy Waters on the road with him. He became a staple of the vibrant blues scene in St. Louis in the 1930s and later relocated to Chicago, though he never ceased traveling.

In 1935 Williams recorded his signature song “Baby Please Don’t Go,” which was later covered by dozens of artists including Muddy Waters, Van Morrison (with the band Them), and Bob Dylan (who played harmonica on a Big Joe session in 1962). Joe sometimes gave his wife, blues singer Bessie Mae Smith, credit for writing the tune, which was much like the traditional work song “Another Man Done Gone.” Many of Williams's 1930s and '40s recordings for the Bluebird and Columbia labels featured harmonica great John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. When the trends in African American music shifted to electric blues and rhythm and blues styles after World War II, many traditional bluesmen were left behind, but the indefatigable Williams managed to keep recording singles for labels such as Trumpet (based in Jackson, Mississippi), Bullet, and Vee-Jay.  



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