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The St. James Sessions

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  • The St. James studio was housed in the broadcast studio of WNOX.
  • “THE BLUES IS ALL WRONG”: Knoxville gospel-blues singer Leola Manning has been one of the most popular St. James artists since her songs began appearing on CD compilations in the 1990s.
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  • LONG GONE BLUES: The only trace of folk singer Bess Pennington that researchers have been able to track down is her photo in this ad for Bristol radio station WEHC from around the same time as the St. James sessions.
  • STILL PICKING: Banjo player Cal Davenport recorded four songs at the St. James sessions in 1929. The famous collector Joe Bussard picked up his copy of a Davenport record when the Vocalion vaults were cleared out.
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  • Gus Nennstiel acted as go-between for the Sterchi Brothers Furniture and the Brunswick company. Bradley Reeves calls him the “unsung hero” of the St. James session.

In 1929 and 1930, a series of blues/jazz/country music sessions were recorded for Brunswick at the St. James Hotel in downtown Knoxville. They will be collected for a box set on Bear Family Records.

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