Thursday, June 15, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Rabon Tarrant

Rabon Tarrant -- Opus Boogie
Rabon Tarrant -- Love Will Get You Down
I had a dream about Rabon Tarrant last night. Yes, Rabon Tarrant. I have no fucking idea how he got into my dream. Maybe he has such a weird name that it stuck in my mind. He's so obscure he doesn't even merit a bio in allmusic. He shouldn't be, though. Tarrant was a terrific blues singer, drummer and composer in the LA rhythm-and-blues scene in the 1940s. He recorded a lot of songs with Jack McVea, which is how I know him because he's featured on the McVea reissue album, McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues. (McVoutie was a nickname given to McVea by, who else, Slim Gaillard.)

In my dream, I was reading a newspaper article that quoted somebody named Bill Tarrant who turned out to be Rabon's son. (Don't ask.) I woke up this morning and googled the name Bill Tarrant but only found an author who wrote a bunch of books like How to Hunt Birds With Gun Dogs. So much for dreams. But it felt like someone was telling me to go back and listen to Rabon Tarrant's songs and write this post. Here are two of my favorites.

Bonus Track
: Rabon is given writing credit for Opus Boogie, but you'll recognize some of the lyrics from Big Joe Turner's classic Roll 'Em Pete, which he originally recorded with the great pianist Pete Johnson back in 1938 when they introduced boogie-woogie to New York audiences at John Hammond's Spirituals to Swing concert in Carnegie Hall. It was his first record and he re-recorded it many times over the years; I have no idea which version this is. You can pick it up cheap on emusic.
Big Joe Turner with Pete Johnson -- Roll 'Em Pete

[McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues]
That's a wonderful find. I love the mood of the tracks--spare and sensible, saying just enough to get the point across and not a bit more.

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