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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Bumble Bee Slim

Amos Easton, b. May 7, 1905 in Brunswick, GA, d. 1968 in Los Angeles, CA. Bumble Bee Slim was a blues guitarist, although he seldom played on record; it was as a singer that he recorded prolifically from 1931-37. Leaving home around 1920, he led a itinerant life for eight years before settling in Indianapolis, and later Chicago. As a singer, he was influenced by Naptown's Leroy Carr, and his songs convey a modified version of Carr's bittersweet aesthetic. Easton appears friendly, confiding and philosophical, sometimes bruised by life's adversities, but never crushed by its tragedies. In part, no doubt, this is a reflection of his own personality, but it also typifies the switch from personal expression to performance art of recorded blues in the 30s. His records were very popular; songs such as 'B&O Blues' and 'Sail On, Little Girl, Sail On' fed back into folk tradition, and several were big enough hits to be remade with fresh lyrics, and have 'New' prefixed to their titles. Slim's pleasant personality, the distinguished calibre of many of his accompanists, and the way his blues mirrored black life in the 30s all contributed to his star status. Nevertheless, lack of reward seems to have prompted him temporarily to stop recording in 1937, and to move to Los Angeles, where he had three records issued for black consumption, and released an unsuccessful album aimed at the new white audience, accompanied by cool jazz musicians.


Bumble Bee Slim Biography by Cub Koda

Popular and prolific, Bumble Bee Slim parlayed a familiar but rudimentary style into one of the earliest flowerings of the Chicago style. Much of what he performed he adapted from the groundbreaking duo Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell -- Slim built on Carr's laconic, relaxed vocal style and Blackwell's guitar technique. During the mid-'30s, Bumble Bee Slim recorded a number of sides for a variety of labels, including Bluebird, Vocalion, and Decca, becoming one of the most-recorded bluesmen of the decade.

Born in Georgia, Bumble Bee Slim left his home when he was a teenager. He joined a circus and travelled thorughout the south and the Midwest for much of his adolescence and early adulthood. Eventually, he made a home in Indianapolis, where he played local parties and dance halls.

Bumble Bee Slim moved to Chicago in the early '30s. After a few years in the city, he began a recording career; his first singles appeared on Bluebird. Slim wrote and recorded frequently during the mid-'30s, selling more records than most of his contemporaries. In addition to cutting his own sides, he played on records by Big Bill Broonzy and Cripple Clarence Lofton, among others.

Bumble Bee Slim moved back to Georgia in the late '30s. After a few years, he left the state once again, relocating to Los Angeles in the early '40s. During the '50s, Slim cut some West Coast blues for Specialty and Pacific Jazz, which failed to gain much interest. For the rest of his career, he kept a low profile, playing various Californian clubs. Bumble Bee Slim died in 1968.