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91
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Stuart on July 09, 2019, 10:37:15 PM »
Echoing Lindy, the Mississippi John Hurt book contains a lot of valuable material and information, so read it for content, not as a stylistic model.

And like Lindy, and probably most everyone else, I often find myself copy editing and proofreading--if only subconsciously--texts that didn't get "The Treatment" (an inside joke, echoing Fatso Judson's methods), before they went into print.

And regarding performance, we should not overlook the great intangible of individual personality. 
92
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by lindy on July 09, 2019, 09:36:10 PM »
Adding to Stuart's post about publishing disasters, the absolute worst case of (non)copyediting for me is "Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues," by Philip Ratcliffe.

Philip was a first-time author--the book is a classic example of a "labor of love." He deserves our gratitude.

The University of Mississippi Press completely botched the preparation process. My impression is that they didn't even run a spell check on the text, let alone hire or assign a copyeditor to do a thorough job.

I still recommend that you read it, it has lots of good anecdotes, but set aside any and all expectations you might have for "university press quality."

Lindy
93
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by lindy on July 09, 2019, 09:23:16 PM »
Speaking of "performance" as an aspect of performing, as it were. I think that is RJ's primary attribute. His guitar is not really all that mind bending, I've heard his voice described as that of a squirrel, but he really "brings it" in the moment. Rarely do I hear "performance" spoken about as an aspect of playing music, on this board or others. Arranging, playing clean, tone, clear voice, or raspy voice. These and other things are technical qualities, which make them easy to define and often discussed. But the quality of focusing your entire being into the moment of performing, in a way that compels engagement by the observer, is a far more etherial aspect, difficult to talk about, or even comprehend for many. Possibly, the only thing that really counts to most of the audience.

Good observation, and I agree--performance/presence was RJ's main strength.

I'm going to self-promote my earlier response -- #31 in this thread. As I stated there, I think it is highly plausible that Mr. Johnson understood not only the importance of "presence" in performance, he also understood the benefits of finding a good "sound" for both juke joints and recording sessions, and I can envision his working hard to achieve both. I see zero contradiction between this possibility and the idea of Johnson "not trying to do anything other than the best he could."

Also in the vein of Wax's comment, at the Port Townsend workshop this summer there will *two* instructors focusing a week's worth of classes (a.m. or p.m.) on the details of performance--Guy Davis will be teaching a "performance lab" and Terry Bean will be teaching "stage performance."

94
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by harriet on July 09, 2019, 08:18:06 PM »
IMHO you have some good points Stuart thanks. 
95
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Stuart on July 09, 2019, 07:42:56 PM »
It's obvious that whatever the process was, from inception to publication of the book, there were deficiencies. I do not have any knowledge with respect to what they were specifically, but my guess is that the lack of competent proofreading and copy editing were among them.

While John Hammond Jr. and Aurora Block are outstanding performers, I don't know if they have the same skill level when it comes to working on a book through its various stages. --Or if they would have time to take on a project such as this one.

Elijah Wald and Ted Gioia are published authors and my assumption is that they know what the standards are, but whether or not they participated in the various stages the book went through is another matter.

And the there's the press which bears part of the responsibility. True story: A fellow I know, who is Chinese, is an excellent scholar and teaches at one of the Ivys, submitted a pre-corrected draft of his book to Cambridge University Press for review in electronic form, which is SOP these days. This was before native speakers of English with copy-editing skills went through it. (Lindy knows what this is about.) Sometime later he submitted the manuscript in final form. Guess which version CUP published? It was a major embarrassment and CUP had to recall all the books in the print run and pulp them. The first version wasn't really bad, but I could tell something was awry. How does this kind of thing happen?

So, to make a long post longer, suffice it to say that while we do not know the specifics, it's obvious to many of us that there were problems that could have been avoided by careful proofreading and copy editing.
96
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by waxwing on July 09, 2019, 07:02:34 PM »
Did people like Rory Block and John Jammond Jr. actually read the manuscript pre-publication? I'm convinced they must had noticed the errors.

I don't see why they would? Both performers have based much of their careers on glorifying RJ (as Hammond says "the greatest...") Anything that furthers the cause is fine by them.

Not knocking either as a performer, as they are both very moving on stage, but they both played up RJ in their patter when I've seen them.

Speaking of "performance" as an aspect of performing, as it were. I think that is RJ's primary attribute. His guitar is not really all that mind bending, I've heard his voice described as that of a squirrel, but he really "brings it" in the moment. Rarely do I hear "performance" spoken about as an aspect of playing music, on this board or others. Arranging, playing clean, tone, clear voice, or raspy voice. These and other things are technical qualities, which make them easy to define and often discussed. But the quality of focusing your entire being into the moment of performing, in a way that compels engagement by the observer, is a far more etherial aspect, difficult to talk about, or even comprehend for many. Possibly, the only thing that really counts to most of the audience.

RJ had it! He brought it in both of his sessions. You feel it when you hear it.

He also had a far better recording situation, technically speaking, as microphones, recording, and record production had advanced considerably between the late '20s and the mid '30s. So when Columbia was looking for some blues to re-release in the early '60s, the sound quality of the RJ masters (metal disks) was far enough superior to most of the popular players of the pre depression era to make a difference. Coupled with RJ's depth of performance this made him Columbia's choice. Yeah, I'd imagine there was some hype at the time, grown out of the John Hammond Sr Carnegie Hall concert that went looking for him after his death, but nothing like today. Columbia did amp it up a notch as someone mentioned above.

I often think it is sad that the RJ hype has made him an anathema to many who wish to see other great players get just as much due. Myself included.

I would like to see more discussion of the performnce aspect in discussing the artists we love. It is the essence of all performed arts, music, theatre, dance: it is the person standing in front of the audience that gathers all the parts and "makes" a performance happen. And that performance can never really be repeated, even the most scripted piece will be vastly different from night to night, not by purposefully changing anything, but just by being in the moment.

Wax
97
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by harriet on July 09, 2019, 06:26:28 PM »
I don't know what the acceptable standard the community of researchers in this area adhere or subscribe to but reading the comments both here and on other forums with regard to errors, it's not one that I would have liked to have seen for the book.  It seems that the bugs are still being ironed out on this so I'll wait untill the 3rd or 4th printing, the same way I would with a new software version that's released and goes through a period of public beta testing and correction.
98
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by harry on July 09, 2019, 04:51:29 PM »
Did people like Rory Block and John Hammond Jr. actually read the manuscript pre-publication? I'm convinced they must had noticed the errors.


“This is the book the blues world has been waiting for. Authored by two uniquely qualified scholars following years of extensive interviews and exhaustive research, the result is fascinating, important, and factual, without agenda or embellished narrative. . . . It is in my view a far more moving account than many others that have been obscured by so much fantasy. It’s a can’t-put-it-down kind of book—an exciting, great read.” —Rory Block, celebrated acoustic blues guitarist/singer and five-time Blues Music Award winner


"Finally an in-depth biography of one of the greatest blues musicians ever. The clearing up of the myths and mysteries is a relief. The work of the authors is meticulous. They detail Robert Johnson's journey with facts, creating a full view of his life and times, his friends and influences, so the reader has a comprehensive understanding of how he came to be the greatest of the Delta bluesmen. I am blown away!" —John Hammond, Jr.

Edit, John Hammond Jr.
99
Books and Articles / Re: Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson
« Last post by Johnm on July 09, 2019, 12:16:11 PM »
Hi all,
Apropos of Al's comment, and Prof Scratchy's earlier comment on Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom", I re-listened to Johnson's rendition the day before yesterday, and he definitely played it out of D position in dropped-D tuning.  For Johnson to have played it in Vestapol, he would have had to finger what he played in the IV chord under his singing in the verses fretting 5-5-5-X-10-9, while rocking between the fifth and seventh fret of the fifth string, which he certainly did not do.  All of the turn-arounds that he plays holding a high I note on the first string while playing a descending bVII-VI-bVI-V line just over an octave below transfer intact from the way he played them in his A blues, if "Dust My Broom" is played in dropped-D.  To play the same turn-around in Vestapol is pointlessly complex, and would involve fretting the first and third strings at the twelfth fret, while walking down the fifth string chromatically from the fifteenth fret (!), 15-14-13-12.  Once again, he did not do that.  The turn-around he plays at the end of the next-to-last verse, from 2:24--2:27, he plays at the base of the neck, starting with a garden variety D chord in standard tuning on the first two strings, third fret of the second string and second fret of the first string.  From there, he resolves to a G7 in which he frets the bVII in the bass at the third fret of the sixth string, going from the third fret of the second string to the open first string followed by a triplet in which he goes from the first fret of the first string to the third fret of the second string followed by the open first string.  He finishes the turn-around in a standard base-of-the-neck A7 chord, X-0-2-2-2-3, the sound of which to be duplicated in Vestapol would have to be fretted X-0-2-3-4-5.  The turn-around at the end of the next-to-last verse is enough, by itself, to place "Dust My Broom" in dropped-D tuning in D position.
All best,
Johnm
100
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Barbecue Bob Lyrics
« Last post by Johnm on July 09, 2019, 09:38:04 AM »
Hi all,
Another later Barbecue Bob track is "Doin' The Scraunch", for which he returned to Spanish tuning.  He pronounces the dance name in the title "scrunch", which also makes sense with how the dance is described in the lyrics.  Whenever I hear songs speaking of a dance craze, I always wonder if there really was such a craze, or if the song was an attempt to start one.  Here is "Doin' The Scraunch":



Down in Vicksburg we have a dance that new, ain't much to it, it easy to do
REFRAIN: Called doin' that scrunch, ah, doin' that scrunch
You have to wiggle and wobble it, honey, when you do the scrunch

You wiggles and you wobble it and you move it around, ball the jack, and you go to town
REFRAIN: And do that scrunch, ah, you do that scrunch
Ah, you shake it and wiggle it, honey, when you do that scrunch

I know a gal by name of Lizzie Brown, she do that scrunch, she's the best in town
REFRAIN: When she dos that scrunch, ah, she do that scrunch
She's a high-steppin' mama, when she do that scrunch

She steps so fast and she steps so light, find her doin' that scrunch on the Saturday night
REFRAIN: When she dos that scrunch, ah, she dos that scrunch
She's a red hot mama, oh, how she do that scrunch

GUITAR INTERLUDE

My little gal don't know what scrunchin' means, showed her once, now she's the scrunchin' queen
REFRAIN: Ah, she dos that scrunch, ah, she dos that scrunch
She's a red hot mama, when she do the scrunch

Grandmama and Grandpapa, the age of eighty-three, they the best scrunchers you ever see
REFRAIN: Oh, they do a good scrunch, when they do that scrunch
Oh, it's all in, people, ah, how they do that scrunch

Down on the levee in New Orleans, find the best scrunchers the world ever seen
REFRAIN: When they do the good scrunch, ah, they do the good scrunch
In the moonlight, rollin', ah, how they do that scrunch

GUITAR INTERLUDE

Got the right step, you move it just right, you do that scrunch and it just too tight
REFRAIN: When you do that scrunch, oh, you do that scrunch
You wiggle and wobble it, when you do that scrunch

GUITAR INTERLUDE

I got a gal by name of Blind Lemon Mett, do that scrunch, it's good like that
REFRAIN: When she do that scrunch, ah, she do that scrunch
She wiggle and shake it, when she do that scrunch

OUTRO

All best,
Johnm

 
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