|Photo courtesy John Tefteller/Blues Images
The ridiculously-rare slab o’ shellac popped up in Tennessee, where it was discovered shoved up into the back of an antique Victrola record player cabinet along with a bunch of other blues records from the same era. Tefteller bought the record from what he calls “a local picker,” and plans to include the two sides – unheard for decades – as part of the free CD that comes with his annual Blues Images calendar, a cool lil’ page-turner which features classic blues artwork from the 1920s that was originally used by the Wisconsin-based Paramount Records labels as advertisements for their records.
“The record is in decent shape with the only serious flaw being a small chip on the edge,” Tefteller states in a press release about his find. “It has seen its share of play on that old windup but still sounds great and it is an absolute two sided masterpiece.” Tefteller has been collecting rare and hard-to-find blues 78s for years and is responsible for discovering an impressive list of never-before-heard blues recordings by artists like Son House, Tommy Johnson, Skip James, Blind Blake, and many others.
J.D. Short is one of the lesser-known, but not lesser-talented Delta blues musicians, perhaps because of the extreme rarity of many of his recordings – few people in the modern era have ever heard him perform! Born in Port Gibson, Mississippi in 1902, Short recorded four double-sided 78s for Paramount Records in 1930, only one of which was previously known to exist, and only a single copy of it which sits…no surprise…in Tefteller’s collection. Short went on to record for the Vocalion label under the name of Jelly Jaw Short and would later release singles for the Delmark Records and Prestige/Bluesville labels before his death in 1962.
Tefteller is constantly on the prowl for rare, undiscovered pre-war blues recordings, and he made headlines last year when he bought a rare 78rpm record by Delta blues legend Tommy Johnson on eBay for a record price of $37,100. As he states in his press release, he’s hoping that publicity from his purchases will help fuel the discovery of more unfound records.
“I encourage everyone to get out there and find them,” he says. “There are still two more J.D. Short records on Paramount to find and, of course, there are still my most wanted items, the last two missing Willie Brown Paramount 78s.” If you love old-school pre-war blues – and who doesn’t? – check out Tefteller’s Blues Images website, where you can find copies of the calendar, cool posters, t-shirts and, if you want to hear some blues, there are samples of John's record collection you can listen to!