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As far as singing goes, I wanted to do something new and have a style that wasn't too common. I was inspired by the records of Jimmie Rodgers, a white singer of that time. He was called the 'yodeling singer' because he would sing some parts in a head voice, like the Swiss yodelers. I took that idea and adapted it to my own abilities. I couln't do no yodelin' so I turned to howlin'. And it's done me just fine - Howlin' Wolf

Author Topic: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival  (Read 2697 times)

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Offline Harry

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Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« on: February 07, 2011, 08:06:12 AM »
From Wikipedia; In 1938 Arnold left the music industry and began to work in a Chicago factory. Rediscovered by blues researchers in 1962, he showed no enthusiasm for returning to music to take advantage of the new explosion of interest in the blues among young white audiences.

Why was Kokomo not interested in a comeback? Anyone?


Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2011, 08:51:31 AM »
All areas of the music biz from Classical to Jazz and everything in between have a high dropout rate. Far more people don't find it rewarding enough to hang in, than do.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 09:19:01 AM »
Hope this answers the question.

This was the experience of Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard when they attempted to interview him in 1959. Others who followed were treated to much the same:


Our journey was reaching its end. Taking advantage of
our last Sunday in town, we thought back on what had
happened over the past few weeks.

Despite the large number of singers we had heard and
interviewed, we were still unhappy that we had not met legendary
guitarist Kokomo Arnold.

He might well be home today, since he's working during
the week. Why don't we try to go to his place? You're right, let's hurry.

We set off immediately and rode the "El" to 4413 South
Calumet Avenue, but once again his landlady dashed our hopes:

<<Kokomo left at five o'clock this morning on a fishing trip, but he
should be back before noon. Why don't you wait for him? >>

It was only ten in the morning, so we decided to have a
look around the neighborhood.

It was obviously Sunday, for the people, dressed in their
best clothes, were strolling through the streets while little girls in
colored frocks and ribbons were going to church. Less religious
men were either playing cards or dice on the sidewalks.

<< No, he hasn't come back yet >>, said his landlady every time we returned to Kokomo's apartment building.

 << You'll know when he is home, because he has a car with a red roof. >>

Around one thirty, we tried our luck one last time, without much hope. Just as we were leaving, a car with a red roof pulled up outside.

<< That's him >>, the landlady shouted.

As we went to meet him, the little wiry man who was getting out of the car eyed us suspiciously. Our introduction didn't seem to cheer him up, but he invited us in nevertheless. Like the other old blues singers we had met, he lived in a room which was untidy and full of junk.

<<Don't ask me to make records, he warned us, because I gave up music twenty years ago. You won't even find a guitar here.>>

<<You really want to know why? I've had too much trouble and worries in the music business. I'm much more happy now that I work in the steel mill at Bellwood. I'm through with music and that crazy way of life. I don't even want to talk about it any more.?>>

He lit his pipe, spat into an ashtray and proceeded to ask us lots of questions about Paris, obviously trying to change the subject.

<< Why are you interested in when and where I was born? he asked eventually. That's all in the past, and the past doesn't matter any more. It's the future that counts. >>

He kept repeating the phrase:

<< The past is dead and gone. You can't bring it back. >>

We tried a final question:

<< Kokomo, we're going to hear Muddy Waters tonight, will you come with us?

<< No, he replied curtly, before he added more softly: But come and see me tomorrow evening. I want to sleep now. Tomorrow I'll be in a better frame of mind and I'll tell you what you want to know.>>

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2011, 09:33:11 AM »
Wonderful. Is there more?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Harry

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 09:41:31 AM »
Amazing! Thank you. Did they go back the next evening?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 10:48:45 AM »
They did return and the ending is so priceless that I thought it deserved a new screen:

0n the way to Arnold's house, we decided to visit
drummer Armand "Jump" Jackson, who recorded
with a number of singers during the 1940's and was at
present leading a rhythm & blues band which consisted of Johnny
Morton (trumpet) John Cameron (tenor sax), Jimmy Robinson
(piano) Guitar Gus (guitar), and himself on drums.

Originally from New Orleans, he had the bearing of a
sophisticated Creole. He lived in a colonial-looking house on La
Salle Street, and spoke a creole dialect that made us feel almost
at home.

<< Would you like to meet Johnny Morton? He's Jelly Roll
Morton's nephew. He should have bags of information about his
uncle. >>

Due to lack of time, we had to refuse his offer, so we
weren't able to bring back exciting documents to our friend
Martine Morel this time.

It was exactly six o' clock when we arrived at Kokomo
Arnold's house. << I've been waiting for you, he said in a
surprisingly nice way. I've found an old photograph of myself
taken in 1945. If it's no good to you, I'll throw it away. >> Throw it
away! We grabbed at it and put it carefully in our wallet.

<<I was born in Georgia, he began. I was born February 15,
1905 in Lovejoy, a little town south of Atlanta. I was a farmer and
in my spare time played the guitar with my cousin John Wigges
who gave me my inspiration. >>

He handed us old contracts for Decca, as if to prove that he
wasn't an impostor.

<<I never wanted to make records. The first time, they had to
almost carry me into the studio by force. I've always wanted to live
a simple life, far from the futile excitement of this world. I'm happy
now. The less ambitious one is, the happier one is! If I was still a
musician, I'd be worrying at this moment about where I'm playing
tonight. The way I live now, I don't have to worry about tomorrow
and I can forget the past. >>

As he seemed ready to talk, we interviewed Kokomo at
length, although he told us regularly that we were wasting our
time.

<< The past is dead and gone, he repeated. What's the use of
recalling it all again? I spend my time now playing with the kids in
the neighborhood. >>

And true enough, within minutes a group of children came up.

<< Kokomo, do you have a pencil sharpener? >>

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 10:52:13 AM »
The following was posted in one of the Weenie quote drives a couple years ago. Kokomo sure didn't sound impressed with the music business.

When they took me to the studio first - that was Joe McCoy and Mayo Williams - they let me wait about for hours because the studio wasn't free. So I said to myself "What the hell's the use of this; I better go home to see to my customers and give them that moonshine." - Kokomo Arnold, in Paul Oliver's Blues Off the Record

You know I was never interested in making records and I always preferred to live a quiet life; just unknown in my basement. - Kokomo Arnold, in Paul Oliver's Blues Off the Record

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 10:56:52 AM »
Here's that photo KA refers to. Click on it to zoom.

 The 1994 book this all comes from, Land Of The Blues, is still available from Soul Bag at their website.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 12:05:16 PM »
Quote
<<I never wanted to make records. The first time, they had to
almost carry me into the studio by force. I've always wanted to live
a simple life, far from the futile excitement of this world. I'm happy
now. The less ambitious one is, the happier one is! If I was still a
musician, I'd be worrying at this moment about where I'm playing
tonight. The way I live now, I don't have to worry about tomorrow
and I can forget the past. >>

So sayeth the Buddha, the enlightened one.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline JohnLeePimp

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2011, 12:07:53 PM »
I remember reading that he still played at clubs and such in the early 60s, I think it's a real shame he didn't record again but you can tell from that interview he clearly weren't keen

... Y'know there's something about these bluesmen and the way they spoke that really fascinates me  

I especially like Arnold since his sense of humour in his songs is right up my street
...so blue I shade a part of this town.

Offline oddenda

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 02:41:12 PM »
Apparently Willie Dixon tried to get him near a tape recorder or go to Europe (Folk Blues festivals), and he flat-out refused. Gotta honor his stance, even though W.E. find it disappointing (and often completely NOT understood). It's how he experienced/saw things, and only he would know what's best for himself. It's frustrating for us, though, innit?!

Peter B.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2011, 03:29:21 PM »
Thanks for that fascinating interview transcript.
Fantastic  8)

Offline doctorpep

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2011, 07:01:29 PM »
Kokomo was incredibly articulate. Does anyone know about his educational background?

(I know that guys like McTell and a few others were lucky enough to get an actual education during their youth. Back then, the general population often didn't get through high school, and it was much worse for southern blacks. I hope I don't seem self-righteous or patronizing when I say that it makes me happy to hear a Josh White, Lonnie Johnson, or Johnny Shines speak in a way that destroys the stereotype of the uneducated (black) Bluesman.)
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline jostber

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2011, 10:15:00 AM »
The first image at the Wirz discography site on Kokomo Arnold seems to be from the interview by Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard. At the end of the page a picture from Arnold a blues club in 1978 shows that he was enjoying live music again later in life.

http://www.wirz.de/music/arnold.htm




Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Kokomo Arnold during blues revival
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2011, 10:43:19 AM »
The first image at the Wirz discography site on Kokomo Arnold seems to be from the interview by Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard. At the end of the page a picture from Arnold a blues club in 1978 shows that he was enjoying live music again later in life.

http://www.wirz.de/music/arnold.htm
Errr Arnold died in 1968. From memory the photo was actually taken by Paul Oliver when he was in Chicago in summer 1960. The 1978 date is that of the book it was published in.

 


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