keb Mo and Stefan Grossman
This is a performance of the famous blues song ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’ at The 2010 Crossroads Festival performed by Keb Mo and Stefan Grossman.
“Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (or “Roll and Tumble Blues”) is a blues song first recorded by American singer/guitarist Hambone Willie Newbern in 1929. Called a “great Delta blues classic”, it has been interpreted by hundreds of Delta and Chicago blues artists, including well-known recordings by Muddy Waters. “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” has also been refashioned by a variety of rock-oriented artists.
Hambone Willie Newbern recorded “Roll and Tumble Blues” on March 14, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia for Okeh Records. It shares several elements of “Minglewood Blues”, first recorded in 1928 by Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers. Newbern’s “Roll and Tumble Blues” is a solo piece with his vocal and slide-guitar accompaniment.
“Roll and Tumble Blues” is one of six songs Newbern recorded during his only recording session. It was released before the advent of race records charts, however, it soon became “an oft-covered standard” and Newbern’s best-known song.
Other bluesmen recorded their own versions — such as “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day” by Robert Johnson in 1936, “Brownsville Blues” and “The Girl I Love, She Got Long Curly Hair” by Sleepy John Estes, “Goin’ Back to Memphis” by Sunnyland Slim, “Banty Blues” by Charley Patton, and “Rollin’ Blues” by John Lee Hooker.
The best-known version is Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”, with Ernest “Big” Crawford on bass, for the Chess brothers’ Aristocrat label in 1950. Leonard Chess insisted that Waters record the song less than a month after Waters had recorded a version for the rival Parkway label, featuring his band mates Little Walter and Baby Face Leroy Foster. The Parkway label credits the Baby Face Leroy Trio, with vocals by Leroy, and Muddy Waters as the songwriter. Elmore James recorded a different arrangement of the song in 1960, with himself credited as author.
In 1961, Howlin’ Wolf recorded “Down in the Bottom”, which employed a new set of lyrics and is credited to Willie Dixon. Delta bluesman Johnny Shines recorded a version called “Red Sun” (1975), with the traditional music but different, prison-themed lyrics. R. L. Burnside recorded what he titled “Rollin’ Tumblin’” on several occasions, first on August 1967 for George Mitchell.
In 2010, Cyndi Lauper recorded “Rollin’ and Tumblin” with Ann Peebles for her blues album Memphis Blues.