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Author Topic: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations  (Read 769 times)

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Offline tinpanallygurl

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Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« on: December 03, 2016, 06:37:45 PM »
What were some of the other forms of entertainment other than musicians that would come onto plantations in the south?  Was music all there was or were there other people who would come through  blues country?

Online Rivers

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2016, 06:33:56 AM »
To pick the low hanging fruit, as it were...

I guess traveling medicine shows would count, since they included other forms of entertainment. If you were to attempt a Venn diagram of their careers Pink Anderson, Frank Stokes, Jimmie Rodgers circles all overlapped with traveling medicine shows on the rural south circuit. Rodgers, if I recall correctly, ran away from home after winning a talent contest at age 13 while still in Meridian MS to join a tent show. Where he joined it I don't recall. The tent shows were segregated but not entirely. See Nolan Porterfield's bio of Rodgers.

Friday- and Saturday-night fish fries could be other forms of R&R that might fit your inquiry.

Music was part of, if not the whole of the deal, of both these types of events. Have a trawl through Wardlow & Calt's Patton bio for more ideas.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2016, 04:13:34 PM »
Perhaps another way to think about this issue is to think, not so much in terms of entertainment, as in terms of various forms of release from the pressures of everyday life and work.  These would certainly include gambling, pitching horseshoes, church socials or dinners, drinking, fishing, dancing, fish fries or barbecues as Rivers noted, hunting, singing in church, sex and many other such activities.

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2016, 04:39:48 PM »
Was there any form of storytelling tradition, as we know it today?  If so was it just in the home or would small crowds come and listen?

Offline oddenda

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2016, 05:14:27 PM »
From the outside looking in/back: There were local musicians who played for their geographically immediate community [e.g. - Son Foster, Savannah "Dip" Weaver] which had its own repertoire [e.g - "Atlanta Favorite Rag"]; there were musicians who started locally and slowly expanded their material [e.g. - Robert Hicks, Charlie Hicks] playing in a local style; then there were those who moved to urban situations and who altered their repertoire to suit their new, expanded audience [Curley Weaver - "No No Blues" to ""Some Cold, Rainy Day"] and cohorts [Blind Willie McTell, Buddy Moss]. According to Glenn Hinson, this is a normal occurrence - local to regional to urban to national.
Ray Birdwhistell said that there is no such thing as AN example, just many possibles. Curley demonstrated the passage of time and locale rather nicely on record, so I stick with him!

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Online Rivers

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2016, 05:33:47 PM »
You ask good questions tinpan. I agree with Johnm, you get your entertainment where you find it, and it's a cultural thing dependent on time and place.

Re. storytelling tradition, the preacher and the bear story comes to mind. John Jackson told the story from the main stage at Port Townsend one year, and I've heard a couple of tellings of it since.

Mance Lipscomb's recordings released on Arhoolie contain spoken tales between songs that seem, to me anyway, to draw from archetypal storytelling traditions. It maybe well worth going through Glyn Alyn's bio of Mance "I Say Me For a Parable" for more leads. Probably revisiting Alan Lomax's work would throw some more light.

You could probably call The Dozens a form of entertainment, also joke telling.

Offline TenBrook

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2016, 08:35:31 AM »
Another good source of information on the subject is the wonderful 'Sinful Tunes and Spirituals' by Dena Epstein, a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in early American music.

It covers years much earlier than the 1920s but presumably many of the forms of entertainment discussed were carried over into the '20s. She goes into a lot of detail about the various types of dances (though most of those did involve musicians so might not quite cover the 'other forms' topic) and other social activities.

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/77gne3kd9780252071508.html
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 08:41:12 AM by TenBrook »

Offline eric

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 10:56:43 AM »
Maybe slightly off topic, but there is a fascinating book that may throw some light on your question, called Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy by Hans Nathan.  I believe it's out of print now, but any good library should have it.  It will probably be no surprise to readers of this forum that many tunes that are considered traditional, particularly old time tunes, came out out of minstrelsy, and that many minstrel tunes were derived, borrowed or whatever from contemporaneous African-American (plantation) music.
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Offline jphauser

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2016, 12:51:49 PM »

Mance Lipscomb's recordings released on Arhoolie contain spoken tales between songs that seem, to me anyway, to draw from archetypal storytelling traditions. It maybe well worth going through Glyn Alyn's bio of Mance "I Say Me For a Parable" for more leads. Probably revisiting Alan Lomax's work would throw some more light.

You could probably call The Dozens a form of entertainment, also joke telling.

Mississippi John Hurt engaged in some storytelling also.   Back in the mid-sixties, Bruce Jackson wrote an article containing several stories about Stagolee told to him by Hurt.

Also, Zora Neale Hurston's book Mules and Men contains stories she collected in Florida during the twenties.  The great thing about the book is that it's not just a collection of one story after another.  Instead, the stories are presented in the context of the lives of the storytellers as Hurston writes about her time spent living among the people from whom she collected the material for her book.   So she presents these great storytelling sessions with each storyteller trying to outdo the previous one.  Invaluable stuff.


Offline Chezztone

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Re: Other forms of entertainment 1920s-1945 on plantations
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2016, 08:33:52 PM »
And records!

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