- Jelly Roll Kings —Frank Frost, Sam Carr / Audio CD / Released 1999
- Keep Yourself Together– Frank Frost, Sam Carr / Audio CD / Released 1996
- Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down (1979)
- Off Yonder Wall
by T.C. Hudson (SHS)
This blues man by the name of Sam Carr was born Samuel Lee McCollum on April 17, 1926, in Friar’s Point, Mississippi. About a year and half after his birth, Sam’s mother, Mary Griffin McCollum, left Sam in the care of the Carr family, who adopted him and raised him on their farm near Dundee, Mississippi. His natural father was the influential blues guitarist and vocalist Robert Lee McCollum, who recorded under the names Robert Lee McCoy and Robert Nighthawk. Sam did not meet his father until he was seven years old.
Sam Carr’s extensive and outrageous career of more than fifty years began when he earned a spot in his father’s band. Sam’s father, as Robert Nighthawk, often took Sam on his gigs. Sam actually danced in front of the band and performed during breaks as well when he was only eight or nine. Sam worked in the early forties as a doorman and a chauffeur, but he also played bass in his father’s band in the early 1940’s
In 1946, when Sam Carr was 20, he married his wife Doris and they began sharecropping in Arkansas. However, when they argued with the agent on the plantation, they decided to go to Chicago. After a short time, the Carrs moved to St. Louis to live with Carr’s mother, and Carr began playing bass with harmonica player Tree Top Slim. Sam then formed his own band, Little Sam Carr and the Blue Kings. Interestingly, Nighhawk’s wife Early Bea first played drums with this group before Sam Carr became the drummer.
In 1956 in St. Louis, Carr began working regularly with Frank Frost, who was playing both harmonica and guitar. Frost had played previously in Carr’s father’s band. The pair backed Sonny Boy Williamson II for a while, and continued to perform together after they moved to Mississippi in the early 1960s. In Helena, Arkansas they sometimes backed Williamson, Houston Stackhouse, and Robert Nighthawk. They started another band that included Little Willie Foster on harmonica, and Carr played bass and guitar. In 1959 Carr and Frost moved back to Mississippi. By now Carr was playing the drums, and the band cut two albums. They had a recording contract with the Chicago-based Earwig label, and they called themselves the Jelly Roll Kings (The Big Book of Blues).
Sam Carr and Frank Frost have spent more than forty years together playing the blues. The two of them, Sam and Frank, persist in their crazy blues. They first recorded in the sixties for Sam Phillips’ Phillips International Records but kept on recording with each other for Evidence label. When the ordinary drum set is not quite enough, they say that Sam plays walls, microphone stands, guitarists’ backs, even the seat he sits on or anything he can hit. Sam’s band had a song Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down in 1979. It was a big. This song made people get interested in their band. It was rocking in all of the Delta juke joints and concerts all over the country. Sam and Frank recorded an album with Big Jack Johnson called Off Yonder Wall with Fat Possum Records (www.bluesfestivals.com). Sam and Frank were a team until Frank Frost died in 1999. Carr then played with various regional artists. He last performed in the summer 0f 2009 at Mother’s Best Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and at a celebration honoring him (Sam Carr Day) at Hopson Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi, in August, 2009. Carr was known as a master of a drum style known as the “Mississippi shuffle.”
Sam Carr died September 21, 2009, of congestive heart failure at the age of 83 in nursing home in Clarksdale, Mississippi. In the last ten years, Carr’s talent received wide acclaim, including annual nominations for best drummer for Handy Awards (now Blues Music Awards). He was presented with the Heritage Award by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and First Lady Marsha Barbour during the 2007 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts program. He won multiple awards from Living Blues magazine.
- 1926 – Sam Carr was born in Friars Point, Mississippi, on April 17
- 1940 – He began his career playing bass in his father’s band.
- 1950 – Carr moved to St. Louis where he started a band that included Frank Frost on guitar and Willie Foster on harmonica.
- 1959 – The band stopped backing up Sonny Boy Williamson, and they moved back to Mississippi.
- 1960 – The group first recorded for Sam Phillips’ International Records.
- 1962 – Big Jack Johnson joined Sam’s band and they cut two albums.
- 1970 – Everybody was interested in the band.
- 1978 – They signed a recording contract with the Chicago-based Earwig label, now calling themselves the Jelly Roll Kings.
- 1979 – They released a song called Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down.
- 1999 -Carr is up for a Blues Instrumentalist of the Year award.
- 2009- Sam Carr dies on September 21 at the age of 83
- Mississippi folklife & folk artist directory page on Sam Carr
- Delta Blues Museum – Sam Carr, Bluesman, Dies
- Sam Carr’s obituary in the New York Times (2009)
- Article called Down Home in Helena with Frank Frost and Sam Carr.
- Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues 1993:. 81-83.
- Stripling,kurt. http://www. kingbiscuitfest.org/kbbf97/franksam.html: SamCarr,web publishing 305 spin