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Said when I die, don't bury me at all. Just pickle my body... up in alcohol - John Byrd, 1930

Author Topic: "Big Boy"--exciting discovery  (Read 297 times)

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Offline Johnm

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"Big Boy"--exciting discovery
« on: November 03, 2020, 12:13:16 PM »
Hi all,
In the course of doing the Miller's Breakdown thread, I discovered early on a performance called simply "Blues", by "Big Boy", which was a field recording made at a prison in Virginia. Big Boy was a spectacular musician and his "Blues" is one of the finest train blues with a narrative that I've ever heard. Here is "Blues", by Big Boy:

Some time later, I found another track by Big Boy, on which he backed an un-named singer on a version of "John Henry", in the middle of which Big Boy had a coughing fit but never stopped playing. Here it is:

I was resigned to those two titles being the only recordings of Big Boy that I would ever hear. Last night, though, browsing through the fourth edition of D,G & R, in the back under the heading "Late Additions", I found that he has seven more tunes at the Library of Congress:
   * Hobo Song
   * Careless Love
   * Shine On Me
   * Everybody Living Gotta Die
   * Train Song
   * John Henry Hammer Song
   * When The Saints Go Marching In
This list is followed by this note: "These recordings were made by Roscoe Lewis and purchase by the Library of Congress from the Hampton Institute. It is not known which of them is the title Blues issued by BRI Records (see p. 69)"

My guess would be that "Blues" would be either "Hobo Song" or "Train Song" from the list above, and suspect the take of "John Henry Hammer Song" is the same one posted above. I'm going to try to purchase a CD of the tracks from the Library of Congress, if they offer such a service, and if I'm able, I will post .mp3s of Big Boy's other tracks on this site.

All best,
« Last Edit: November 03, 2020, 06:09:09 PM by Johnm »

Offline btasoundsradio

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  • the artist formerly known as powerlinehorizon
    • BTA Sounds Radio: Podcast of Obscure Musics
Re: "Big Boy"--exciting discovery
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2020, 12:34:54 PM »
that's awesome. some good old vastapol picking.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline Johnm

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Re: "Big Boy"--exciting discovery
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2020, 12:43:34 PM »
You aren't kidding--and a great singer, too! Vocally, he reminds me a little bit of Smith Casey.

Offline eric

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Re: "Big Boy"--exciting discovery
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2020, 03:19:13 PM »
John, You're getting your money's worth out of DGR!

Great stuff, thanks for sharing it.

Offline jostber

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Re: "Big Boy"--exciting discovery
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2020, 12:06:53 PM »
That's a great song, thanks for posting. There is a lot of gold in these Field Recordings volumes from Document Records (17 in total?). I just ordered a couple of these the other day that I was missing.

Tags: Big Boy 

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