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KPLU All Blues host John Kessler has expanded "The Blues Time Machine," which has been a popular segment on his weekend blues shows. The weekly series tracks one great blues song through history - from its earliest recording to its latest and sometimes, with some surprising interpretations. "The Blues Time Machine" airs on KPLU on Fridays at 12:10 p.m. during the "Blue Plate Special," and on All Blues Saturdays and Sundays at 8 and 11 p.m.

Waters' 'Trouble No More' came out of Estes' 'Someday Baby Blues'


Sleepy John Estes was a master of country blues with a “down-home” feeling. A little rough around the edges, but loaded with emotion. Though his music wasn’t complex, his songs have lasted through the years, and have been sung by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.

In his 1935 recording of “Someday Baby Blues”, the guitar is barely heard, the mix dominated by Hammie Nixon’s harmonica and Estes’ plaintive voice.

Films of Estes are rare—this is from the late 60’s with Nixon and John Henry Barbee, the real country blues:

20 years later in 1955, Muddy Waters re-created the song as “Trouble No More”. As he did with many other songs, he took a country blues and turned it into a Chicago blues.  Recorded at the height of his career, the track features Little Walter on amplified harmonica. This video clip from 1981 features Muddy Waters performing “Trouble No More”:

The Allman Brothers Band pretty much defined the genre of Southern Rock, but their music was heavily based on blues. On virtually every release they have included a classic blues tune. “Trouble No More” appeared on their 1969 debut. In those days it was Duane Allman and Dickey Betts on guitars, but this video from 2011, and features Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes on guitars:

Carrying on some of the same southern-rock tradition, The North Mississippi All Stars are known for their modern treatment of traditional blues. Luther and Cody Dickinson are sons of influential R & B producer Jim Dickinson, who worked with Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones. Their 2000 recording of “Someday Baby” brings a lot of rock attitude to country blues.

Here are the complete versions of “Someday Baby” and “Trouble No More”:

Sleepy John Estes “Someday Baby Blues”  1935

Muddy Waters   “Trouble No More”  1955

The Allman Brothers “Trouble No More”  1969

North Mississippi All Stars  “Someday Baby” 2000

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.