The Ram Series continues with a fine collection of blues and R&B recordings, highlighted by the complete sessions of the late Jeff (Sonny Boy) Williamson - the only known recording of this Louisiana harp player.
The tiny Shreveport Ram label was the brainchild of the late Myra Smith who, in the mid-50s, recorded country rockabilly and blues at her tiny handbuilt studio. Myra was also a brilliant guitarist who played old-time Carlton family-style guitar and loved downhome blues. On many of her sessions she would turn the tape machine on and then step out into the studio and play on the sessions.
Strapped for money, she was not able to release all her masters on singles and in the 60s she gave up the Ram label to concentrate on publishing and songwriting with her partner, Margaret Lewis. The pair set up operation in Nashville making demos, including the big hit Reconsider Me for Shelby Singleton.
This latest volume of the Ram story, Red River Blues, concentrates on the blues and R&B sessions that she produced in the late 50s and early 60s with artists such as Jeff (Sonny Boy) Williamson, TV Slim, Elgie Brown and Vincent Williams. These masters were the fruits of my research at Shreveport several years ago. They add to our knowledge of Shreveport blues, whose history goes back to the early days of blues recording, when the city produced such greats as Leadbelly, the Shreveport Homewreckers and Black Ivory King.
Forthcoming CDs in this series will deal with rockabilly and hillbilly, and the rocking girls at Ram who performed at the world famous Louisiana Hay Ride which broadcast out of Shreveport. Through the 50s the Hay Ride helped to establish the careers of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Horton.
The Myra Smith Ram legacy rolls on and her part in the indie story is assured.
By Ray Topping