Dealer, collector John Tefteller shares 10 blues records he’d love to find

Unicorns. Honest politicians. Jaydee Short’s missing Paramount records. There are no guarantees that any of these exist, but John Tefteller is holding out hope. Well, for the records, anyway. (And maybe the unicorns.)

“There’s records that I’ve found over the last 10 to 15 years that would’ve been considered as rare or rarer than these,” Tefteller said. “I don’t say anything’s impossible.”

1. Willie Brown, Paramount 13001: “Grandma Blues”/“Sorry Blues.” Willie Brown recorded three records for Paramount. Unfortunately, neither Paramount 13011 or Paramount 13099 have been seen or heard since the 1930s. Only Paramount 13090, Brown’s “M&O Blues” b/w “Future Blues,” is available, but Tefteller is confident the others exist … somewhere.

2. Willie Brown, Paramount 13099. “Kickin’ In My Sleep Blues”/“Window Blues.” As reported in Goldmine earlier this year, Tefteller has put up a $25,000 bounty to anyone who could turn up either of Willie Brown’s missing Paramount records —13099 or 13011 — in playable condition. Unfortunately, he’s still got his 25 grand.

(Brush up on your blues knowledge with “Nothing But The Blues: The Magic And The Musicians.”)

3. Jaydee Short, Paramount 13012. “Steamboat Rousty”/“Gittin’ Up On The Hill.” “Jaydee Short was a really great St. Louis blues guitarist who had a nickname of Neck Bones,” Tefteller said. “He made a number of records for Paramount. I think there’s three — one of which exists; there’s a copy of it that’s in really great shape, and we’ve used that for reissue. These other two have never been found.”

4. Jaydee Short, Paramount 13091: “Flaggin’ It To Georgia”/“Tar Road Blues.” Short made a couple of records for Vocalion, one of which Tefeller owns. But he is eager to hear more of Short’s music.

“I have not heard a bad record by this guy,” he said.

5. Marshall Owens, Paramount 13131: “Texas Blues Part Two”/“Seventh Street Alley Strut.” Owens’ “Texas Blues Part 1” previously was featured in one of Tefteller’s annual Blues Images calendar and CD sets.

“It’s a great record,” Tefteller said. “But ‘Texas Blues Part 2’ has never been found. Apparently, it’s a continuation of the first one.”

Blind Blake's Miss Emma Liza

John Tefteller has found the ad for Blind Blake's "Miss Emma Liza," but so far, the record itself has eluded him. Image courtesy John Tefteller/Blues Images.

6. Blind Blake, Paramount 13115: “Miss Emma Liza”/“Dissatisfied Blues.” Blind Blake was the best-selling and most frequently recorded blues guitarist in Paramount Records’ catalog — he had at least 79 known sides to his credit, not counting the times he turned up accompanying other Paramount artists. But just because you’re a prolific artist doesn’t mean that all of your work will be preserved. Blake’s Paramount 13115 is also missing in action.

7. Blind Blake, Paramount 12888: “Diddie Wa Diddie”/“Police Dog Blues.” Unlike others on this list, five or six copies of this record are known to exist. But clean, pristine copies? Well, that’s a different story. “Every darn one of them is beat to hell and basically unlistenable,” Tefteller said. “They sold lots of those. You would think there would be a clean copy of it around.”

“Of all the ones on the list, I’m most optimistic that this one has to be out there. I can’t believe that every one of them is beat to death.”

8. Roebuck Ray, Paramount 13029: “Sweet Mama”/ title unknown. No one knows the title of this record’s B-side, let alone what instrument Roebuck Ray might’ve played, if any. “That name came from one of the pieces of paper in the Paramount files. It was on a 1931 release sheet, but it only listed one side of the record,” Tefteller said.

9. Blind Percy and His Blind Band, Paramount 12584: “Fourteenth Street Blues”/“Coal River Blues.” It’s not often someone stumps John Tefteller. But even he didn’t know about Paramount 12584 until he talked with 78 Quarterly’s Pete Whelan. Because the record was pressed before the Great Depression, Tefteller is more optimistic that a copy is out there. Based on the artist and band name, Tefteller bets it will be an interesting listen.

10. Charley Patton, Paramount 13040: “Devil Sent the Rain”/“Circle Round The Moon.” Like Paramount 12888, a single copy of this record does exist, albeit in horrific shape. But even that isn’t enough to bring a Charley Patton record down, at least in Tefteller’s eyes.

“It’s just a magnificent record,” he said. “His lyrics were incredible. ‘God sent the sunshine, devil sent the rain.’ It’s all about how the rain came, based on the Mississippi flood in the late 1920s.”  GM

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