Archive for the ‘Jas Obrecht’ Category

Author: Jas Obrecht.

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/blues-origins-spanish-fandango-and-sebastopol/

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“How did fanciful European parlor music influence the creation of the blues? In a more profound way than most fans realize. What follows is one of the most fascinating and least understood chapters in blues history.”

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/george-w-johnson-forgotten-black-superstar/

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“Today, most music fans have never heard of George W. Johnson. Asked to name the first black singing star, even knowledgeable collectors will typically cite Bert Williams, the 1910s Broadway star, or Mamie Smith, the diva who kicked off the 1920s blues craze with “Crazy Blues.” But Johnson was making and selling tens of thousands of records – cylinders, mostly – three decades before Miss Smith conjured her magic, making him the direct forerunner of Bert Williams, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, and other performers who’ve come to be known as “superstars.”

In Johnson’s bio, tragedy trumps triumph. Born a slave on a Virginia plantation, he was forced to work within long-standing racist stereotypes, and spent most of his career singing the same song over and over and over again.”

 

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/blind-boy-fuller-life-recording-sessions-welfare-records/

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“Decades ago, a fellow blues enthusiast sent me a package of official papers related to the life of Fulton Allen, who recorded as Blind Boy Fuller. Written during the 1930s by government officials, social workers, and physicians, these documents offer unique insight into the life of a legendary Southern bluesman. The stories they tell of poverty, ill health, and unhappiness with management and record companies are as blues-inducing as Blind Boy Fuller’s darkest recordings. To ensure their accuracy, all of the quotations in my account retain the parlance and punctuation of the original documents.

First, a few words about Fulton Allen. This extraordinarily prolific blues artist produced 130 Blind Boy Fuller records between 1935 and 1940, with songs coming out on the Vocalion, Conqueror, Perfect, Melotone, Columbia, OKeh, and Decca labels. Drawing on country blues, pop, and especially ragtime, Allen played fingerstyle and slide on a metal-bodied National Duolian guitar, sometimes using a capo. He sang with a strong, confident voice. His music came to epitomize the so-called Piedmont style, and his duets with harmonica ace Sonny Terry set the template for the later partnerships of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Bowling Green John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins, and others.”

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/mississippi-john-hurt-life-music/

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“John Hurt spent nearly all of his life in the whistle-stop farming community of Avalon, Mississippi. With his gentle, soothing voice and a beautifully syncopated fingerpicking guitar style, he created one of the most compelling country blues styles ever recorded. After making a handful of 78s, he faded from public view during the Depression and then arose phoenix-like during the 1960s, his considerable skills intact. Still fresh today, his inspiring recordings provide an aural passport to a bygone era of cakewalks and rags, ballads, and storytelling blues.

Hurt was 35 years old when he journeyed alone, a beat-up guitar and business card in hand, from the Mississippi hill country to Memphis for his first session. His first recording session took place on Valentine’s Day, 1928, and the experience was not entirely pleasant. Hurt remembered going into “a great big hall with only Mr. Rockwell, one engineer, and myself. I sat on a chair and they pushed the microphone right up close to my mouth, and told me not to move after they found the right position. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after.” Several songs were cut that day, but only a single OKeh 78 was issued from the session, “Nobody’s Dirty Business” backed by “Frankie,” one of his songs in open tuning. Hurt was paid about $20 per song, a good fee for unproven talent. The original Columbia file cards for the matrixes described them as “old time music,” but this was later changed to “race.”

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/%E2%80%9Crollin%E2%80%99-tumblin%E2%80%99%E2%80%9D-story-song/

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“Search “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” at www.youtube.com, and more than 300 versions pop up. You’ll find recent performances by Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck and Imogen Heap, Imelda May, Cyndi Lauper, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Gov’t Mule, to name just a few, as well as older readings by Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Johnny Winter, Cream, The Yardbirds, Captain Beefheart, Canned Heat, Bonnie Raitt, R.L. Burnside, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and many others. Over at www.archive.orgyou can hear 1920s renditions and an array of live covers by the Grateful Dead, Steve Kimock Band, Derek Trucks, and the North Mississippi Allstars – some recorded as recently as last month.

Seldom has one song connected so many musicians. With its mesmerizing riff, distinctive structure, and catchy melody, the song first appeared on 78s by some of the earliest bluesmen on record. Variations soon showed up in the repertoires of Mississippi-based Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. The song journeyed north to Chicago with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James. It crossed over into British blues and rock via covers by the Yardbirds and Cream. It was injected into mainstream American rock and roll by Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, and others. A century after its creation, the song still fills dance floors and provides an unsurpassed avenue for self-expression.”

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/blind-willie-mctell-life-music/

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“Among Atlanta’s early bluesmen, no one surpassed Blind Willie McTell, who had it all – a shrewd mind, insightful lyrics, astounding nimbleness on a 12-string guitar, and a sweet, plangent, and slightly nasal voice. Sensitive, confident, and hip-talking, he was a beloved figure in the various communities in which he traveled. He played sublimely, a result of both natural talent and from performing hours a day for people from all walks of life. McTell’s records reveal a phenomenal repertoire of blues, ragtime, hillbilly music, spirituals, ballads, show tunes, and original songs. His records seldom sound high-strung or harrowed, projecting instead an exuberant, upbeat personality and indomitable spirit.

Blind since infancy, Willie Samuel McTier was born in 1901 in the Georgia cottonfield country nine miles south of Thomson and 37 miles west of Augusta. His mother was Minnie Watkins, and his father has been variously identified as Eddie McTier and McTear. (Evidently Willie adapted the phonetic “McTell” spelling taught him in school.) One of McTell’s earliest remembrances was of his mother singing hymns and reading books to him. During his 1940 Library of Congress session, McTell introduced his performance of “Just As Well Get Ready, You Got to Die” by saying, “I will demonstrate how my mother and father used to wander about their work. When they used to sing those old-fashioned hymns. . . . Then you’d see ’em wanderin’ around the house, early in the mornin’, cookin’ breakfast, tryin’ to get ready to go to the fields, tryin’ to make some of the old country money. And way back in them days, I hear one my own mother singed.” Relatives described Minnie Watkins as an outstanding blues guitarist who began teaching her son 6-string guitar when he was young. McTell may have played harmonica and accordion first, and according to his first wife, Kate McTell, he was “also very good on violin, but he didn’t like it. He just loved his guitar.” When Willie was young, his father left the family.”

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Author: Jas Obrecht

Source: http://jasobrecht.com/atlanta-blues-curley-weaver/

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“Curley Weaver was one of Atlanta’s most beloved bluesmen and, for decades, Blind Willie McTell’s close friend. He was an exceptionally skilled guitar soloist, with a slide and without, and recorded many records on his own and as a sideman to Blind Willie McTell, Fred McMullen, Buddy Moss, Ruth Willis, and others.  He was also an essential part of two of the best string bands of prewar blues, the Georgia Cotton Pickers and Georgia Browns.

Born on March 25, 1906, Curley James Weaver was raised around Walnut Grove, Georgia. He was childhood friends with Robert and Charlie Hicks, who would make records as Barbecue Bob and Laughing Charlie Lincoln. Weaver’s mother, Savannah “Dip” Weaver, played guitar and taught the three youngsters frailing techniques and open-G tuning. After the Hicks brothers moved to Atlanta, Weaver played house parties and dances with Eddie Mapp, a gifted young harmonica player who excelled at everything from slow, mournful blues to rollicking train imitations. ”

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