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John had recently flown for the first time and did not like it at all. Pat Sky tried to reassure him, saying it was a pretty safe means of transport and adding, "Anyway, when it's your time to go, it's your time to go." John thought a while and answered, "Yeah, but what if you're on the plane and it's the pilot's time to go?" - from Phil Ratcliffe's Biography of Mississippi John Hurt

Author Topic: Laughing Charlie....And Friends  (Read 1214 times)

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Offline GhostRider

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Laughing Charlie....And Friends
« on: November 02, 2007, 09:56:37 AM »
Greetings:

I had the great good fortune to attend a performance of Micheal Jerome Brown at the Ironwood Stage here in Calgary last night. Mr. Brown is a solo acoustic blues/roots artist from Unc..err..Andrew's neck-of-the-woods. He played a vintage National Trojan wood-bodied resonator, a fretless gourd five-string banjo, a fiddle (for Cajun fiddle tunes, sung in French), and a small-bodied Guild 12-string.

He was really good!

Whilst doing his intro to "Risin' River Blues" he intimated that that George Carter was a pseudonym for Willie Baker, which was a pseudonym for Charlie Lincoln, all of which were recording pseudonyms for Laughing Charlie Hicks, Barbecue Bob's brother. Mr. Brown said that he had noticed stylistic similarities between these four, and researched recording dates, sequences and that everything seemed to fit.

I have never heard this supposition before, and I'm not especially familiar with especially Charlie Lincoln's work. Have any of you heard this premise before? Any thoughts. I'll have to do some listening.

Alex
« Last Edit: November 02, 2007, 10:09:25 AM by GhostRider »

Offline CF

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Re: Laughing Charlie....And Friends
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2007, 10:14:21 AM »
C. Lincoln & W. Baker along with Barbecue Bob all played a very similar style guitar (Charlie & Bob were the Hicks brothers) but I would have to say that I do hear clear differences especially in Willie & Charlie's voices. I don't know their ages in relation to each other but to me Willie sounds like an older man with a different warble/vibrato & in the instances where they talk I think I can hear two different people . . . but I stand to be corrected. Certainly they sound very similar . . .

. . . I just listened to Willie's 'Bad Luck Blues' & man, he certainly sounds like Charlie on that one. I wonder if Charlie would have used Willie's name on certain recordings?
But for instance Willie's version of No No Blues sounds like a different person to me . . . Others more knowledgeable about this stuff will have to chime in.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2007, 10:15:34 AM by cheapfeet »
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Laughing Charlie....And Friends
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2007, 10:37:57 AM »
FWIW here's what Bruce Bastin has to say on page 111 of Red River Blues but that was published 21 years ago:

Although a number of Atlanta bluesmen recorded using twelve-string guitars, in itself an unusual enough feature, the highly idiomatic guitar style of the Hicks brothers was rarely to be heard elsewhere. Willie Baker and George Carter appear to be from Georgia. Baker is the greatest enigma of them all, recording in 1929 for Gennett in Richmond, Indiana. He is reported to have been a resident of Patterson (Pierce County) in the southeast of the state, to the northeast of Waycross. Both Baker and Barbecue Bob used open G tuning; the latter's "Waycross Georgia Blues" of April 1928 may offer up a clue. His sister recalled that he rarely traveled far from home?although Big Bill Broonzy claimed to have met him in Chicago?but he did make a few trips with a medicine show, one of which took him to Waycross. As Patterson is a mere seventeen miles away, Baker probably saw and heard him play, and a rival company found it convenient to have a performer who could "cover'' such a style. In fact, the second song recorded by Baker was Curley Weaver's "No No Blues" (October 1928), which was in that style, and Baker's fourth title, ''Sweet Petunia," had been the reverse of Weaver's issue. It seems that there was considerable difficulty in recording that song, for it took four session attempts before a satisfactory version was obtained in March 1929. The company also made three attempts to record "No No Blues" before it gave up and issued the first attempt. It has been suggested that because of Baker's able ragtime work on "Rag Baby," recorded at his last session, he was the originator of the style. By that date Barbecue Bob had made thirty-two sides, Charlie Lincoln all but his last two sides, and Weaver had cut " No No Blues." It does seem excessively late for the originator to enter the field.

Of George Carter, who recorded four sides for Paramount in 1929, nothing is known. He sounds to be one of the Atlanta group although his playing is less close to that of the Hicks brothers. On hearing a title by Carter, Snap Hill, who knew all three men who had learned from Dip Weaver, said, ''He's from Atlanta!" He knew nothing of him but was familiar enough with the style. No one else could hazard a guess as to whom he might have been.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Laughing Charlie....And Friends
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2007, 05:01:33 PM »
Hi Alex,
I wish I could have heard that concert.  I like everything that I've heard Michael Jerome Browne do, with his singing the best of all.  I do not believe Charley Lincoln (Hicks), George Carter and Willie Baker were the same person.  By both singing and playing, as well as the positions/tunings that each recorded in, they would appear to be three distinct people.
all best,
Johnm

Offline dj

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Re: Laughing Charlie....And Friends
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2007, 05:43:44 PM »
Looking at the recording dates for Charley Lincoln, Willie Baker, and George Carter, I assume the theory goes like this:

Lincoln recorded in Atlanta in November 1927, April 1928, October 1928, and April 1930.  His brother "Barbecue Bob" Hicks recorded at all these sessions.  But Columbia was in Atlanta in April and October/November 1929 and recorded Bob but not Charley.  Why not?  Well, if Charley Lincoln was Willie Baker and George Carter, he wasn't in Atlanta, he'd made a trip "up North".  Willie Baker recorded for Gennett in Richmond, Indiana in January of 1929, Carter recorded for Paramount in February 1929, and Baker was back in Indiana in March of 1929.  So if they were really one person, his travels would fit rather neatly into the recording chronology.   

Actually it's an ingenious argument, something I wouldn't have noticed until it was pointed out to me.  But, like Johnm, I think it's wrong.

Charley Lincoln and Willie Baker are pretty similar vocally, I'll admit.  I used to have a cassette I'd made of Atlanta 12 string players and I'd always be saying "Is that Lincoln or Baker?".  But if you listen closely, Charley Lincoln has a deeper voice than Willie Baker, and Baker has a tendency to put a bit of a break in his voice at the beginning of words that Lincoln just doesn't do.  And Carter has a pronounced vibrato on syllables that he holds for a few beats that neither Lincoln nor Baker have.

But it's a fun theory to think about, and it did get me to pull out and give a listen to the complete recorded works of the artists involved. 

 


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