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Author Topic: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues  (Read 575 times)

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Offline banjochris

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SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« on: July 30, 2017, 08:37:34 PM »
Just in time for July is the Song of the Month, "Skin Game Blues." This isn't so much one song but a bunch of songs about the same subject, the game Georgia Skin. We've had some threads about the game on here, but basically it's a version of Faro, which is sort of a card version of craps, where you're trying to pair your card before the banker's card is paired.

There are some rules here: https://www.pagat.com/banking/lansquenet.html#skin
but I'm sure there are many variations we'll never know about. I didn't include "Jack of Diamonds" here because we have a whole thread about that, and it may be a different game.

A couple of previous discussions about the song and the cards involved are here:
Georgia Skin thread
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=5669.msg45762#msg45762
Jack of Diamonds discussion
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=5267.msg40803#msg40803

The game has produced some very entertaining songs, the best known of which and the real classic, of course, is Peg Leg Howell's song, which is really more like an old-time ballad than a blues, but what a song.

Lyrics here: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=437.msg9945#msg9945

Peg Leg Howell Skin Game Blues



None of the other versions here are versions of the Peg Leg Howell, but Paul Geremia has done an excellent cover of it in recent years, and (sorry for the plug) I play it on minstrel banjo; it works really well as a banjo song.


Next up we have the Sylvester Weaver and Walter Beasley song "Georgia Skin":


Lyrics can be found here:
http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2788.msg21962#msg21962


Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe seem to have heard the Weaver and Beasley version, because it's the basis for their version, which is much bluesier and to which Minnie has added the female perspective. Interesting to me is her line that the women can play it as well as men -- I'm not sure why this wouldn't be true of any gambling game, but perhaps women were more welcome to play it at the time than to play craps or poker? Who knows, but I think it's interesting.

Two versions of Minnie and Joe, different musically and a bit lyrically. Musically, I prefer the Victor version.

Memphis Minnie Georgia Skin
version 1 (Victor)


version 2 (Vocalion)


Victor version
The reason I like the game, the game they call Georgia Skin,
The reason I like the game, the game they call Georgia Skin,
Because when you fall, you can really pick out again.

When you lose your money, please don't lose your mind,
When you lose your money, please don't lose your mind,
Because each and every gambler, gets in hard luck sometime.

I had a man, he gambles all the time,
I had a man, he gambles all the time,
He played the dice so in vain, until he like to lost his mind.

Oooooh, give me Georgia Skin,
Oooooh, give me Georgia Skin,
Because the womens can play, well so as the men.

(solo)

spoken: Georgia Skin is the best game that I know. Georgia Skin is the game I ... bet all of my money.

(solo)


Vocalion version
The reason I like the game, the game they call Georgia Skin,
The reason I like the game, the game they call Georgia Skin,
Because when you fall, you can really pick out again.

When you lose your money, please don't lose your mind,
When you lose your money, please don't lose your mind,
Because each and every gambler, gets in hard luck sometime.

I had a man, he gambles all the time,
I had a man, he gambles all the time,
He played the dice so in vain, until he like to lost his mind.

Outta all the games I know, give me Georgia Skin,
Of all the games I know, give me Georgia Skin,
Because the womens can play, well so as the men.

I picked out jack o'diamonds, I played him on down to the end,
I picked out jack o'diamonds, I played him on down to the end,
That's why I say, I like the game called Georgia Skin.

Mmmmm, give me Georgia Skin,
Mmmmm, give me Georgia Skin,
Because the womens can play, well so as the men.

(solo)


For completeness sake, I'm adding the moderately unpleasant Barbecue Bob/Charlie Lincoln skit from their "Darktown Gamblin'" record. Not exactly a laugh riot.



The last pre-war recording I'm including is Lucille Bogan's "Skin Game Blues," with Walter Roland. Can't go wrong with Lucille, and this one is interesting because she's not gambling, merely providing the money. Would appreciate someone filling in one line I was having trouble with.

Lucille Bogan Skin Game Blues


Good mornin' skin game, hollerin' skin game, please last,
Good mornin' skin game, hollerin' skin game, please last,
I done staked my man to win, and I hope my money will pass.

He done pawned my house, he got my life at stake,
He done pawned my house, got my life at stake,
And I got to get it back, with that money he gambled and made.

He never lost no money, until he drawed that black queen of spades,
Oooh, lost his money, on that black queen of spades,
And my man was neither nor beggin', he was in hard luck that very day.

When he come back to me, got a dollar or two,
Come back to me, got a dollar or two,
I want him to go back to that skin game, and see what he can do.

If my man, he could only win my money back,
If my man, could only win my money back,
I would take a walk downtown, buy me a brand new pair of shoes and hat.



And lastly, a couple of postwar recordings, the first one is Jesse Fuller and it has very little skin game content, but it's a nice song and to my ears shares the melody with the country/folk song "Gotta Travel On," which I thought was interesting:

Hanging Around a Skin Game


And finally, Booker White's epic "Georgia Skin Game" from the Sky Songs album. Probably my favorite song off this album, supposedly produced when he was asked if he knew any gambling songs like Peg Leg Howell's "Skin Game." The opening verse of this sounds like something he had ready, with the rest mostly improvised. There are some bracketed bits I could use help with, and any corrections are welcome!

Booker White (Bukka White) Georgia Skin Game



I just want to show all you gamblin' men, how you make a fool out of your happy life,
I just want to meet some of you gamblin' men, let you know how you make a fool out of your gamblin' life,
I been playin' that old Georgia Skin all of my life, I could take a jack, I swear, run your ace all night.

You know it's a cryin' old shame,
Workin' man works every day,
Meet up one of them good old Georgia Skin men,
Let him make a fool outta him,
He won't have nothin' to take to his wife and child,
Ain't no ways for you to catch that acey-deuce.

Let you know I ain't tellin' you no lie,
Tell you what I did late one night,
I had lose two hundred and five,
Got so blue and lonesome,
I pawned my wife,
I asked a friend of mine would he give me a hundred dollars on my wife,
He said, "No, Booker, I ain't gonna touch your wife, I'll tell what I'll do, I'll cut [catch?] your card and let you bet all night."

I'll never forget what Walter caught on me,
I had the trey and he had the deuce,
He said, "Now when I catch you if I catch you,
I ain't gon' turn your wife a-loose" and I said,
"That's a bet."
I mean I mean I told Walter that was a bet.

Only last card I won't never forget longest day I live,
He pulled a trey, he dropped dead with the deuce.

My baby said, "Daddy, now since I found out,
That's all the care you have for me,
You gonna make me a dice-shooter and a cardplayer,
Think I'm gonna be through with you." I said,
"Baby, I caught that man so strong,
I caught him so strong baby, he dead and gone."
She said, "Yes, here you're used to this old Georgia Skin,
Mississippi and Georgia Skin you know the game."

I eased in the deck the second game,
I know just as well what I was playin',
I eased and got me an eight that he thought I wasn't gonna catch,
Laid it right in my gate,
What you reckon next mornin',
All the kings and deuces were pilin' up on me,
Then the people round my home town went to singin',
That I was a hoodoo man.

Well, I'll never forget on the third game,
We started shufflin' them [?] around,
Old Walter told me, "This time, Booker,
I believe I'm gon' beat this game." I said, "I 'xpect you will,
I know you will if you can get your card."
But he got a ten and I got the queen,
When I knowed anything I did swear it was the end.

We wasn't bettin' no tens and fives,
Was bettin' up to a hundred and ten,
He reached in there and got that ten, and I got a queen,
The second [rock] he was off on the floor, he said,
"Booker, you win,"
He said, "I declare, I don't understand, Booker you win."
He said, "This ace of diamonds and ten, supposed to been layin' dead on the floor."

Spoken: Supposed to been but you didn't catch a right hold of it, see I shuffled them deck behind you.

When he picked up the deck and started shufflin',
You know you got to read the factory mark,
Old Walter thought he had me dead on the [curve],
I reached in and got nine of spades, what you reckon happened?
When the deal was over, he didn't have a nine.

Spoken: What you mean by nine?

He didn't have but nine more dollars,
I told Walter he oughta take that and go back home.

Well, he had one of them old fast mules,
Went to one of them old farmers stayed out in the woods,
He said, "Now listen mister, would you give me fifty dollars
On a three hundred dollar mule." He said,
"Yes I will take that fool,"
He said, "Yes, fool, I will take that bet."
He taken that mule for fifty dollars,
Felt so sorry for Walter I went in my wallet, give him a bet.

Spoken: Well, how did you gamble with him?

I knowed Walter's mother and father,
I knowed his wife and child,
I set right down and let Walter take me [lead?], till his made his money back,
Now I said, "You better go 'head on,
Better go 'head on to your wife and child."
I just wanted to show him he wasn't playin' no fool,
I put a trey and a deuce down on the floor,

Spoken: How did you play it then?

I had the deuce, and he had the trey,
But now what you reckon would happen with the deuce,
Say it was on the bottom and the deuce was on the top,
The first knock comin' off,
First knock here he come tumblin' off,
I said, "Now little Walter, you gonna have to owe me,
'Cause I ain't gonna play no more Georgia Skin with you."

Spoken: He struck out.

Chris

PS I forgot to add SOTM to the tags, I went back and tried to add but it didn't take. Perhaps an admin can do it? Thanks!


Edited 8/20 with correction from Johnm
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 03:16:59 PM by banjochris »

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 03:13:43 AM »
Great topic, Chris. Had a look at the rules of the game, but I don't think I'll be playing any time soon! Sadly some of the video links don't work in Europe, so I've added ones that do below:






The Bukka White track doesn't seem to be available to viewers in Europe.

Offline banjochris

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2017, 10:21:29 AM »
Great topic, Chris. Had a look at the rules of the game, but I don't think I'll be playing any time soon! Sadly some of the video links don't work in Europe, so I've added ones that do below:

Thanks! Is there an easy way to tell which ones are/aren't viewable in Europe?
Chris

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 10:40:20 AM »
Don't know. I think Johnm knows how to tell, Chris.

Offline Rivers

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 08:57:04 PM »
Thanks Chris, I'm looking forward to exploring those songs soon.

Re youtube availability region checking,  try this one: https://polsy.org.uk/stuff/ytrestrict.cgi

You need either the full url of the youtube page or the embed link code. A map will come up showing where it's not available (red countries), allowed countries are in grey. If it's unrestricted you get a message to that effect with no map. It seems to work.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2017, 08:59:36 PM by Rivers »

Offline banjochris

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 08:38:11 AM »
Thanks Chris, I'm looking forward to exploring those songs soon.

Re youtube availability region checking,  try this one: https://polsy.org.uk/stuff/ytrestrict.cgi

You need either the full url of the youtube page or the embed link code. A map will come up showing where it's not available (red countries), allowed countries are in grey. If it's unrestricted you get a message to that effect with no map. It seems to work.

Thanks, I'll give it a try!
Chris

Offline Stuart

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 09:01:37 AM »
... Sadly some of the video links don't work in Europe...
...The Bukka White track doesn't seem to be available to viewers in Europe...

You can try these:

https://unblockvideos.com/

https://www.proxfree.com/youtube-proxy.php

https://proxtube.com/
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 09:43:54 AM by Stuart »

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2017, 06:08:10 AM »
Thanks for posting the interesting Song of the Month choice, Chris!  I look forward to familiarizing myself with the versions currently unfamiliar to me and will try to see if I can hear some of those tough places in the lyrics.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 10:04:41 AM »
Hi Chris,
I think the mystery line in Lucille Bogan's "Skin Game Blues" might be:

   And my man was NEITHER NOR beggin', he was in hard luck that very day

Give it a listen and see what you think.
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 03:17:30 PM »
Hi Chris,
I think the mystery line in Lucille Bogan's "Skin Game Blues" might be:

   And my man was NEITHER NOR beggin', he was in hard luck that very day

Sounds reasonable to me John, I made the change. Thanks!
Chris

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 08:12:51 AM »
Jelly Roll Morton in his Library of Congress recordings told of a time he learned to cheat at Georgia Game, failed to pull it off, lost all his winnings and watched his teacher win it all again. There's a great sense of the atmosphere of the game, but Jelly's explanations are impossible to follow.
If you can get hold of the Rounder box set, it's on CD 6:

OK, I've discovered how to convert and download files.
There will be three...

Well, only two attached to this posting. The combined size of three files is too great.
   
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 07:23:19 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline DavidCrosbie

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 05:17:12 AM »
On a record discussed by Johnm here http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=10966.msg96429#msg96429
(on the thread Great Solo Harmonica Performances)
Ollis Martin sings

Quote from: Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down
Hangin' around the skin game will sure get you down
If you hang around the skin game too long

Let me try and post Part 3  of
   Jelly Roll Morton's story of cheating at Georgia Skin...
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 05:18:21 AM by DavidCrosbie »

Offline banjochris

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Re: SOTM July 2017 - Skin Game Blues
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2017, 08:45:54 AM »
Thanks for sharing! I've been meaning to buy that box set for years! Probably too late now; I have the 4 CD set of all the music at least.
Chris

 


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