New York City Blues

Life in New York

Lead Belly and John Lomax spent the entirety of 1934 driving around the Depression-Era American South working together to collect and archive priceless samples of American folk music. In 1935 Lead Belly ended up in New York.
He settled down at the East Village apartment with his wife, Martha, and quickly developed an intimate connection with the budding folk scene in the city. He hung out with the likes of Pete Seeger, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee. Lead Belly became something of a local celebrity after scoring two radio shows.
By 1936 Lead Belly found himself playing twice a night at the famous Apollo Theatre during the Harlem Renaissance, being recorded for TIME newsreels, having a bunch of awesome article written about him in the People’s Daily and getting his songs recorded by Columbia Records.  At one point Lead Belly sings his classic song, “Goodnight, Irene.”

An excerpt from a 1935 March of Time newsreel.
Lead Belly playing Goodnight Irene.

“He helped introduce New York audiences to the music of the Deep South, to cowboy ballads, labor songs, songs about race and politics”

– Petrus


These seven songs are the fruit of Lead Belly’s first visit to New York in 1935, but the record company’s financial downfall prevented all but two— Pigmeat and Black Snake Moan from reaching the market. This album reverses that misfortune of unavailability, and the notes provide vignettes of the bluesman’s experiences.
A1. Good Morning Blues
A2. Black Snake
A3. Roberta, Part 1
A4. Roberta, Part 2
B1. Daddy I’m Coming Back To You
B2. See See Rider
B3. Pigmeat

“Lead Belly Wasn’t A Native New Yorker But He Sure Became One In The Late 1930s, 1940s”

– Stephen Petrus