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New ARSC article on making blues records in Mississippi


"Revisiting Ralph Lembo: Complicating Charley Patton, the 1920s Race Record Industry, and the Italian-American Experience in the Mississippi Delta" by T. DeWayne Moore

This essay examines newspaper articles, government documents, personal family collections, and secondary sources to refute and corroborate interviews about Ralph Lembo and restore the good name of the Mississippi talent scout and manager whose passionate, multi-faceted engagement with the entertainment world brought many artists to major recording companies, including Columbia, Paramount, OKeh, and Victor. Lembo drove Rocket 88 air-conditioned automobiles, wore alligator boots and Panama-brimmed hats, and he stepped up and offered his large plantation when several other potential sites had refused to support the establishment of HBCU Mississippi Valley State University. Lembo relished playing the drums in his band the Pot Lickers and operating several music stores in the mid-Delta, which brought him into contact with an immense well of talent, including such figures as Kansas City Jim Jackson, Bo Carter, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Rubin Lacy. This article also explodes the negative and ongoing bias against Lembo and argues that he discovered the ?King of the Delta Blues,? Charley Patton.

Fascinating contextual material about Ralph Lembo - and way more than I ever knew before .
Reading this at work, I'm only 2/3rd of the way through, but know that I'll reread later.
Very interesting to get a counterpoint to Wardlow/Calt in their touchstone Patton book King of the Delta Blues.
Thanks for this post .

Thanks Ham. Did you finish it?

I have a completely fleshed out biography of Lonnie Chatmon and Harry Chatmon, who also recorded on fiddle, coming out soon in a book with Harry Bolick and Tony Russell. It is packed with new evidence.  New Patton evidence and bio coming soon in documentary film.


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