“While Peg Leg Howell and His Gang tended to sound countrified, Barbecue Bob, his brother Laughing Charley, and Curley Weaver pushed Atlanta blues in new directions. The three had grown up together in the cottonfield country around Walnut Grove, Georgia. Charlie Hicks, often identified as “Laughing Charley” on records, was born in 1900. His brother Robert was 18 months his junior. They were sons of sharecroppers, as was their neighbor Curley James Weaver, four years younger than Robert. Curley’s mother, Savannah “Dip” Weaver, played guitar and piano in church. Old neighbors told researcher Pete Lowry that Dip taught the boys some guitar, showing them the frailing techniques and open-G tuning used by the area’s banjo players. They may have been introduced to slide guitar from unrecorded local guitarists Robert Lee “Sun” Foster and George White, who were known to have tutored Weaver.
By 1918, the Hicks brothers were performing on 6-strings at fish fries and country balls, playing songs like “John Henry” and “Poor Boy.” In the early 1960s, their sister, Willie Mae Jackson, told George Mitchell that Robert was the better guitarist, while Charlie had a stronger voice. Around 1923 Charlie moved to Atlanta, got married, found work, and acquired a 12-string guitar with money he’d earned picking cotton. Robert followed him there about a year later. He worked various jobs – as a yardman, at the Biltmore Hotel, as a car hop – before becoming a barbecue chef.”
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