People who love to explore blues records made during the first half of the 20th century are usually as captivated by the colorful handles used by certain players as they are by the music itself. Examples of creative nicknaming include Peetie Wheatstraw, Little Hat Jones, Daddy Stovepipe, Papa Egg Shell, Bullet Williams, Blues Birdhead, Funny Paper Smith, Six Cylinder Smith, and a man with a similar surname and automotive moniker, the mysterious Spark Plug Smith. This last individual cut 20 sides for the American Record Company in New York City during a three-day stint that began on January 5, 1933. Unfortunately for posterity, fully half of these were not released to the public and have since disappeared. Ten titles deemed worthy of commercial distribution were marketed on 78 rpm platters bearing the Banner, Romeo, Perfect, Melotone, and Oriole labels. Smith sang folksy blues and popular tunes in a warm and friendly voice, gently scatting and occasionally laying his own humorous lyrics over well-known melodies. The only known photograph of Spark Plug Smith shows him smiling broadly in rolled-up shirtsleeves, buttoned vest, and necktie with a Martin 2-17 guitar in his arms. Smith's recordings have been reissued among those by various artists on Yazoo's compilation Mama Let Me Lay It on You, on the Story of the Blues anthology, Country Blues Collector Items, Vol. 2, and in tandem with the works of Tallahassee Tight on Document.
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