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It is from the blues that all that may be called American music derives its most distinctive characteristics - James Weldon Johnson

Author Topic: Country Blues and the Ukulele  (Read 2675 times)

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Offline Lignite

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2014, 09:25:17 PM »
The first ukulele craze during the last century seemed to last during the 1920s until the Depression. Martin supposedly produced more ukes during this decade than guitars and ukulele chords were featured in most pieces of popular sheet music at this time. During the 1930s the uke really lost out in popularity and folks seemed to prefer a tougher sound that seemed to reflect the times. I think the artists who most influenced the popularity of mainland uke playing were Wendell Hall who hit with It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo' in 1923 and Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) who reigned uke king and was emulated by most others including a semblance of his his scat vocal breaks. Ukulele Bob Williams seems the bluesiest of the black uke players on the Document Hokum Blues collection. Danny Small and Ukulele Mays seem more influenced by vaudeville and the crooners while The Pebbles seem to be nearly jazz. I would consider Big Boy Teddy Edwards to be a blues uke player as the tiple is tuned and played like a uke but has a different sound as it has a chorus of 10 metal strings.

Offline hms

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2014, 07:37:52 AM »
Searching around the Weenie Forum, 'cos I'm sure I saw it here, but didn't Ukulele Bob Williams give lessons to Ukulele Ike? Or am I totally confuddled!

Found the thread, it was on the Four sting Farmhouse forum, here:
http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/reply/1652430/Re-Bob-Williams-First-Great-American-Uke-Player

h
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 07:47:56 AM by hms »

Offline Mike Billo

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    • Mike Billo
Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2014, 05:48:45 PM »

  Bob Williams has been credited in other places as being the guy who, Ukulele Ike, supposedly said, taught him to play, but there doesn't seem to be any source other than people say it's so. If somebody could produce a good source for that quote I'd be eager to see it.

   I don't believe there is was any connection between Williams and Smeck, as referenced at the Martin Forum link, but I could certainly find myself standing corrected if some evidence were presented.

Offline hms

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2014, 06:05:37 AM »
I don't think we will ever know.
But we will have fun trying to find out. I like the serendipity of finding out other unrelated stuff that often surprises, amazes or just make us question!
h

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2014, 08:15:13 AM »
When I look at the Lester Levy sheet music collection ( http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/) there is a LOT of music which have uke chords...  Of course, this isn't blues music, but it does show that the uke was a well used instrument at the time.  (late teens, early 20s)
SSG, USA, Ret

She looked like a horse eating an apple through a wire fence.

Offline Mike Billo

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2014, 07:57:09 PM »

 Right you are, Ross. Most sheet music of the '20's will have Uke chords. During that period, Martin Ukes outsold Martin guitars, according to martin

Offline phil_doleman

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2015, 12:52:20 PM »
Hi hms, fancy seeing you here!
Currently listening to Lemon Nash and popped over here for some lyric confirmations, and spotted this thread. Hal is a friend, and I've be lucky enough to do some gigs with him (I also play blues/ early jazz uke). Interesting stuff regarding blues musicians possibly using the uke. The thing that was pointed out to me was that, like the idea that  all of these guys played National guitars (most didn't, they were expensive!), we only really see the players that made it big enough to be recorded, photographed and filmed. It's quite likely that among the many, many players who we're completely unaware of there were a few who could only afford a uke!

Offline hms

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2015, 07:54:35 AM »
Hi Phil,
fancy meeting you here also! Adam Franklin is also spotted around these parts.
Winnin boy, on hold with that at the moment, probably one for next month, 3 different pickin' sections, a bit too much for this month, so working up Four Until Late for this month. A picking intro and all first position stuff, nothing too complicated!
Hal's post Verplayers workshop session, along with yours and Del Rey's can be found on the Verplayers website, here:
http://www.verplayers.org.uk/ver-players/
(Use the Workshop drop down menu to show all options.)

Oh happy days!
h
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 07:56:17 AM by hms »

Offline Blind Boy Joe

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2015, 05:37:29 PM »
I'd love to hear ukes and dulcimers played at a high level on country blues music.

Offline hms

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Re: Country Blues and the Ukulele
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2015, 07:26:13 AM »
Here's another player, found in a post by Mr Mando on this forum, and is a quote from Ishmon Bracey, in Chasin, That Devil Music by Gayle Dean Wardlow, about Geeshie Wiley

Quote
The four tunes (actually six) that Wiley recorded solo and with Elvie Thomas for Paramount in 1930 and 1931 establish her as one of the greatest female blues artists. According to Ishman Bracey, she hailed from the vicinity of Natchez. In the 1920s she spent three months in Jackson as a resident of John Hart Street; while there, she played in a medicine show. 'She could play a guitar, but she had a guitar player with her,' Bracey said. 'She'd play a guitar, and a ukulele too.' While in Jackson, she took up with Charlie McCoy.
Unquote.

As it seems she only recorded 6 sides with Elvie Thomas, so it seems we will be unable to hear her play the uke..

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