My Last Blues : Smokey Hogg©2004JCMarion

Andrew "Smokey" Hogg was born in Cushing, Texas, in January of 1914. An itinerant blues musicians in Texas in the early forties, he often appeared with guitarist Black Ace at dances and small clubs. There are reports that he made one record for Decca in 1937, but the validity of this is in doubt. In post war Los Angeles he made his first record for Leon Rene's Exclusive label billed as Andrew Hogg. The tunes were "He Knows How Much We Can Bear" and "I Don't Want Nobody's Bloodstains On My Hands" on # 89. His next release in 1947 for Exclusive was "Restless Bed Blues" and "My Last Blues" on # 95. Hogg returned to his native state of Texas soon after and recorded next in Dallas. First came a single release for the Bullet label - "Hard Times" and "Going Back Home" on # 285.

In mid 1948 Hogg began a long string of recordings for the Modern Records (originally named Modern Music) with "Too Many Drivers" and "Country Gal" on # 532 and "Big Leg Woman" and "Unemployment Blues" on # 556, both of which were masters recorded for Blue Bonnet Records of Dallas. "Anytime Is The Right Time" and "Where Did My Boogie Go?" on # 563, "Long Tall Mama" and "I Feel Good" on # 574, and "Jiving Little Woman" and "Worrying Over You" on # 596 followed. In early 1949 Modern had Smokey Hogg record with Hadda Brooks on piano, Bill Davis on bass, and Al Wichard on drums for a session that produced "By My So And So" and "My Baby's Worrying Me" on #615, "Little Schoolgirl" and "Suitcase Blues" on # 704, "Everybody's Got A Racket" and "What More Can A Woman Do" on # 735, and "The Way You Treat Me" and the interestingly titled tune "You're Gonna Look Like A Monkey When You Get Old" on Modern # 758.

For a few months in late 1949 Smokey Hogg appeared on Specialty Records for five sides (probably previously unreleased masters from the Dallas sessions) and one side for Macy's - "Leaving You Baby" and "You Gotta Go" on # 50003, and for Independent # 300 - "Misery Blues" and "Worried Blues". Now at the start of the year 1950, Hogg was back in Los Angeles and hooked up with Modern Records again, and fronting the Hadda Brooks trio. In the early months of the year there seemed to be dueling releases by Smokey on Modern and Dallas based Macy's. "Classification Blues" and "You Brought It On Yourself" on Modern # 770 and "Possum Hunt" and "Lets Get Together And Drink Some Gin" on # 783 are released during the spring. In July there is more recording diversity - "I Love You Baby (parts 1 and 2)" on Sittin In # 535 recorded with the Joe Fritz Combo is a good seller in the New Orleans area, while the previously recorded "You're Gonna Look Like A Monkey" is a big seller in Los Angeles. The Sittin In With release is from a session in Houston in mid 1950 that also produced "Why Should I Love You" / "You Won't Stay Home" on SIW # 555, and "Go Home With Me" and "Back To The Country" with Joe Fritz on # 575.

In October of 1950 Modern Records announces plans for a R & B LP album featuring Smokey Hogg and other Modern stars. In October "Change Your Ways" ("Baby Baby" on the flip side) is a top seller in Houston, while "Look Like A Monkey" is still selling big in Texas. Late in the year, Smokey heads up a new seven piece combo and takes the act out on the road for a tour of West Coast locations. An older release for Modern "Possum Hunt" starts to sell in the Bay area of California. In early 1951 "Possum Hunt" makes the blues charts in Atlanta. In February Mercury Records announces the signing of Smokey Hogg to their label. In March "She's Always On My Mind" / "I'm Looking For Baby" on # Mercury 8228 is released which also features tenor sax man Ed Wiley. That release is followed by "Dirty Mistreater" / "Miss Georgia" on # 8235 in June. "She's The Girl I Love" and "Lovin' Money Blues" on Sittin In With # 615 with Joe Fritz is released in September. In October blues king Smokey Hogg appears on still another record label - this time on Recorded In Hollywood with "Penitentiary Blues parts 1 and 2" on RIH # 170. At year's end "Patrol Wagon Blues" and "You've Been Gone Too Long" is released on Modern # 844.

Two releases on the Jade label with Joe Fritz on tenor and Goree Carter on guitar are issued - "What In The World" / "Coming Out Blues" on # 210, and "I Have Often Wondered" / "I Love Her Everyday" on # 212. In March of 1952 Hogg is on another label with the tunes "Crawdad" and "Born On The 13th" released on Fidelity # 3006. Starting in the summer of the year Modern Records comes back with "Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes" and "Highway 51" on # 884, and "Can't Do Nothing" / "I Just Can't Help It" on # 924. Late in 1952 Smokey continues his array of labels featuring his recordings with a side for Federal Records with the songs "Keep A-Walking" and "Do It No More" on # 12100.

In January of 1953 Smokey records "River Hip Mama" and "Too Late Old man" on Modern Records # 896. The following month sees another release for Federal on # 12117 with the blues tunes "Your Little Wagon" and "Penny Pinching Mama". In May of 1953 "I Ain't Got Over It Yet" and Gone Gone Gone" are released on Federal # 12127. In the spring of 1954 the recording odyssey of Smokey Hogg continues. As Imperial Records announces an upcoming record by the blues man ("Train Whistle" and "My Baby's Gone" on # 5290), the newly formed Show Time Records in L.A. releases "No Mo' Whiskey" and "I Ain't Playing Second Fiddle No More" on # 1101. In August Smokey records under the name "Andrew H." for Crown Records in their release of "Dark Clouds" and "I Declare" on # 122. In September of 1955 Hogg was still at it with a recording for Memphis based Meteor Records on the tunes "Dark Clouds" and "I declare" on # 5021. In June of 1957 Pasadena, California's Ray's Records label releases their version of "Penitentiary Blues parts 1 and 2" by Smokey on # 33 (originally from Recorded In Hollywood masters). Smokey's last single release was for the Ebb label in 1958 on the songs "Sure Nuff" and "Good Morning Baby" on # 127.

Smokey Hogg performed and recorded original American blues for twenty years, but never really got through to the audience that many other blues musicians were rewarded with. His "old school" Texas based blues tunes however must have made an impression on listeners and blues fans because of the wide exposure his music received and the great number of labels that recorded his work. There are many compilation CDs that feature his work, but there are some that feature him exclusively. The best of these are : "Angels In Harlem" on Specialty from 1992; "Penitentiary Blues" from Collectables in 1995; and three CDs on the British Ace label - "Save It To The Right", "Midnight Blues", and "Deep Ellum Rambler". Any one of these collections will be a good representation of the music of Smokey Hogg, an American blues original.

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