Tampa Red, Tampa Red Vol. 11 1939-1940

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
One-half of the team that brought the good-time blues style known as “hokum.”

A little Tampa Red goes a long way, but no blues collection is complete without him. Red and Georgia Tom were a 1930s guitar-and-piano team that more or less created the risqué, good-timing blues style known as "hokum" with hits like "It's Tight Like That." Red, who played a slick, simmering slide guitar and sang in a thin, reedy voice, continued working with other pianists after his first partner quit secular music to become the father of modern gospel music under his real name of Thomas A. Dorsey. Red never deserted hokum — witness the slap-happy "The Way to Get the Low Down" — and gave purists other reasons (such as his infatuation with kazoo) to scorn him as a commercial novelty. But the purists conveniently overlook the fact that he's also responsible for such blues perennials as "Don't You Lie to Me" and "It Hurts Me Too."