True Story Of Abner Jay by Abner Jay on Mississippi Records (the album cover is a borderless black and white, poorly-lit photograph of Abner Jay sat on a car bonnet holding a banjo with a bass drum and hi-hat at his feet; the album title is hand-written in white atop the right-hand side of the image)

Abner Jay - The True Story Of Abner Jay


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Abner Jay described himself as "last working Southern black minstrel" and the "world's worse business man." He was also a pioneer of independent music and the DIY ethos, and a uniquely honest and soulful blues and folk artist.

This essential collection of some of the best of Abner Jay's recordings are taken from his self-produced albums recorded in the 1960's and 70's, all of which were pressed in very short runs and are now incredibly rare.

Born in Georgia in 1921, Jay learned a repertoire of folk-songs from his formerly-enslaved grandfather, and began performing at the age of five. In 1932 he joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, a popular travelling troupe that had also fostered the careers of Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and Ma Rainy. After World War II, during which he had formed the Jay Brothers Band and played special service tours, he managed and performed with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, became a booking agent for Little Richard and James Brown, had his own radio show in Georgia and, for a brief period, his own band, Big Abner Jay, which included a young Otis Redding as backup singer.

Following a failed attempt to restart his career as a professional Broadway singer in the 1960's, and continuing to perform folk and blues as a one-man band, in 1968, the first Abner Jay album, Terrible Comedy Blues (named after, and including some of, his between-song digressions and anecdotes that had become a trademark of his live performances) was released on Georgia label Poison Apple Records. Finding some local success, Jay started his own label Brandi Records in 1974 to record and release his music, and took his one-man band on the college circuit, accompanying himself on banjo, harmonica and bass drum/percussion.

Several albums followed, each adorned with his hand written sleeve notes and track lists, which Jay sold at out of a travelling wagon at his performances at flea markets, folk festivals and fairs. Once these were out of print, he began selling self-dubbed cassette compilations of these albums.

Continuing to travel and perform throughout his life, up until his death in 1993, the legacy of his recorded work only began to reach a wider audience in 2003 with the release of a CD compilation of some of his best recordings, One Man Band, on Swedish label Subliminal Sounds, followed in 2009 with this vinyl compilation on Portland, Oregon's Mississippi Records. 

Showcasing both the artist’s pure raw talent and his strikingly unaffected and idiosyncratic aesthetic, The True Story Of Abner Jay is a landmark collection of one of the great under-recognised performers of our time.

“A good musician is ten cents a dozen. Entertainers are born. Musicians are made. I’m a born entertainer” - Abner Jay


  1. I'm So Depressed
  2. Cocaine
  3. Vietnam
  4. St. James Infirmary Blues
  5. Cleo
  6. Woke Up This Morning
  7. My Mule
  8. Ol' Man River
  9. Don't Mess With My Baby
  10. I Am Georgia Bound
  11. The Reason Young People Use Drugs


US import 



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