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During his visit, Fahey succeeded in greatly impressing me by picking out an old blues by Little Hat Jones, and demonstrating Charley Patton's masterpiece, 'Down the Dirt Road', which I subsequently set about copying. In my 19-year-old neophyte's eyes, any guitarist who could approximate a vintage blues accompaniment was a virtuoso; only six or seven players in the entire country applied themselves to such pieces - Stephen Calt on the state of blues guitar in the early 1960s, from A Fahey Memoir (unpublished)

Author Topic: David Wylie  (Read 3698 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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David Wylie
« on: September 25, 2008, 03:38:08 AM »
Now that we have Pete Lowry on board I've gained his consent to post the following from Blues Unlimited 102, June 1973, p 10-11 (less photo) which I scanned a decade back for another purpose. Wylie gets little more than passing mentions in Red River Blues so this will fill in a few gaps and maybe a few more will be forthcoming from Oddenda.

David Wylie
Peter Lowry

While a great number of blues artists that have been found in the Atlanta area are of one generation, and are usually in their 60s or so, there are some of lesser years who perform in the Piedmont style of that city. They are generally more eclectic than earlier musicians with regard to those who were influences via phonograph record, etc. but they will generally work within the regional style. Among these artists around Atlanta is David Wylie, known from one record issued about 1950 by Regal Records that used the nom du disque of Little David ("Shackles round my body/You gonna weep and moan" ..Regal 3271). The record, as well as two unissued sides of Biograph, show some John Lee Hooker in them, but are finger-picked on a National and owe even greater allegiance to the Piedmont.

David Wylie was born in Washington, Ga. - located in Wilkes County - the first of July 1926 and began to play the guitar in the vicinity of 14 after seeing a man play in the streets...he liked the attention he was getting! Starting in open tuning (Sebastopol) he began with old reliable "John Henry", learning first from one Ollie (or Arnie) Brown in Washington. Using a pocket knife, he perfected other songs..."Lost John", "Baby please don't go" ('When it came out' ie: on record), "Key to the highway", and "Stranger Blues" (probably Tampa Red's song). Among the other guitar pickers in his area was a Lee Mays, also a "'Vassapool" man. It was this open tuning he used for all songs until coming to Atlanta about 1940 when one Wade (full name forgotten) taught him how to tune into standard ('C Natural') tuning. His talent as a guitarist grew in the fertile atmosphere of Atlanta, what with meeting such people as Curley Weaver and Willie McTell, and later Buddy Moss ("after his troubles"). As he says of his early ability on his first $6 guitar, "I would just bang on got to work with a guitar five days and five nights a least." He eventually became proficient enough to go and play at the 81 Theatre on Decatur Street, as one of the local, introductory acts to the stage show...for this he got $6. After the show, the man who booked locals for the 81, known as "Snake", took him to the 410 Club on Central Avenue...there he played from 11 pm to 2 am, making another $5-$6 on top of what he got from the theatre. Seemed pretty good, then!

In August of 1949 he was brought to a recording session by Curley Weaver...this being the fine set of sessions Fred McMullen did for his own Regal label, that also included Frank Edwards and McTell (on Savoy/ Realm and the Biograph reissues). After a test he went to a studio at 441 Edgewood Avenue to record - there he put down four songs for the label. It becomes a bit confusing after that...David says he went to New York later that same year to make records, in the company of Curley, Harry Slick Johnson and Atlanta's own Washboard Sam. When interviewed, he claims it was for the same company as before (ie: Regal, but there is nothing to back this up that can be ascertained at the moment. It also seems unlikely it was for SIW, the label for whom Curley did his last sessions, as there is nothing else Piedmont on the label issued, other than Terry/McGhee (unless Wylie is the mysterious "Sugar Man"). To make matters worse, "Slick" Johnson's sole released item was on the Peacock label' David and Curley preferred to work solo, but there was a bass on this session, at least on his sides...David also claims he dubbed a second guitar part to the original (was this possible in 1949?). Anyway, they all travelled together that November to New York for the sessions, where they were put up in a hotel on 54th Street. They played one night in "a Jewish (owned?) club" and were recorded there as well as in the studio - could this be the infamous Moe Asch?. Alec Seward said this is how he and Hayes were done)..two songs by Wylie in the club, and a total of three in the studio.

Taken directly from his job in Stone Mountain, David was away a total of a month...they returned through Tennessee, playing as they traveled. (Since there is no trace of this session, it is open to question - David does remember he used the "Key to the Highway" motif and melody for one of his songs). Upon return to Atlanta, he was of course, now jobless, and this soured him a bit on music, though he never ceased playing. It seems that Buddy Moss may have asked him to play second on a session (either the abortive Delmark attempt of 1963, or the Columbia in 1966), but he wasn't interested. David can be elusive and all, but it is understandable...he got no pay for past sessions, and it seems Curley was the only one to get any money out of the New York jaunt (?). He is a fine, slightly eclectic player who can still put down convincing blues...if one can catch up with him' It is hoped that he will one day sit still long enough to to properly recorded. He is rather reluctant at the moment, but one never knows.    copyright 1973   peter b lowry


Here's his discography, such as it is

V/g.        Atlanta, c. August 1949
1260      Baby you don?t mean me no good    Biograph BLP 12009
1261      Baby you?re gonna change my mind   Biograph BLP 12009
1262      Shackles round my body            Regal 3271
1263      You?re gonna weep and moan     Regal 3271
(Matrices applied in May 1950.)
« Last Edit: September 25, 2008, 05:12:49 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline oddenda

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Re: David Wylie
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2008, 08:26:15 AM »
Dear Y'all -

          Greetings from "Down Under". David Wylie was one of the many who got away (so was Buddy Moss, or Herman Jordan [friend of Curley Weaver who I could never get in one place and sober to record]! I THINK I may have seen him one more time, but he had gotten "god" by then and had no interest in worldly music; I certainly would have taped him, but it was not to be. Such is the life of a field worker - one must be content with what one could "capture" and leave it at that. The Wylie piece was one of a selection of pieces that I wrote for Blues Unlimited on Piedmont matters and/or artists back in the day. Those were the days!!

          The work (and it WAS work) was often frustrating and stressful, which is why I did not live in the SE, but headed back North to Ulster Co., NY to chill out. After about a decade, I burned out and had to stop, or go nuts. I ended up working with Alan Lomax for a year at the (then) Archive of Folksong at the US Library of Congress (now the Folklife Archive, I think). Then to The University of Pennsylvania to tackle a PhD in Folklore/Folklife - I still at ABD Status (all but dissertation) and will probably stay there until I cark it! Such is life, as Ned Kelly said before he was hanged.

          May the farce be with you all.

yrs, Peter B.

Offline oddenda

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Re: David Wylie
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2008, 06:40:45 AM »
I happened upon my old address book - David Wylie died in 1985, according to what I have written there. When I met him, he lived at 682 East Avenue - NE in Atlanta

Peter B.

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