Here Lie Secrets of the Secret American Past: Smilin' Horatio Nutwhiler

Smilin' Horatio Nutwhiler had little to smile about. Abandoned shortly after his birth (speculated to be in the autumn or winter ca. 1878-79 based on a lyric from his eponymous Nutwhilin' Blues: _O Lord I been slithered and slathered / O Lord by these a-gathered salamanders / O Lord but it didn't much matter / No, no; no: no, not since I been born'd--_the winter of these years seeing a massive uptick in the breeding patterns of freshwater newts in his native Onohokonogan County) it was not until his discovery in 1914 that his songs of hardship and amphibian hijinks came to reach a wider, and less finned, audience. His later friendships with Big Joe Jo and Sha'bunck cemented his status in the upper echelons of blues royalty.

Our sole Smilin' Horatio Nutwhiler LP, "Smilin' Horation Nutwheeler [sic]: Fast But Hard Times Blues,' was recently discovered in the WHRB collection by my roommate Grievs. FBHTB captures Nutwhiler in the early stages of his and the genre's evolutions, willing to experiment with metric and lyrical conventions. Up-tempo numbers such as "Mercy Mercy Mama Mama" feature precise picking and irregular modalities, while the lolling "Horse 'n' Buggy Blues" bemoans the state of transportation infrastructure in early twentieth century America, even including the prescient lyrics: O Lord, that pothole did make me a-fell down from the buggy / No now I will never recapture my bride / O Lord, I hope a Model T does be invented / And I hope that that day does soon will arrive. The title track, a breezy two-and-a-half-minute number, best summarizes Nutwhiler's oft-conflicted emotions toward the complex interplay of roads and carriages: Sweet Lord, I do wish for salvation / And I do wish to be free / But sweet Lord, sweet Lord, some sweet pretty thing's charabanc / Always seem to be on the road ahead of me.


In “Here Lie The Secrets Of The Secret American Past: blues ephemera curated with care Felix Christoffer Whelm '18” DJ aesop imagines and reviews LPs by blues artists who should have been and perhaps someday shall be.