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Mandolin is an Italian word meaning "out of tune" - Tim O'Brien

Author Topic: Hoax stories  (Read 1038 times)

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Offline wreid75

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Hoax stories
« on: June 23, 2014, 01:39:13 PM »
Okay here is the story.  A few weeks ago I found out about this gentleman who lives in Baltimore but was from the Clarksdale.  He is living in an assisted living/nursing facility.  I was told that he is 106 years old and remembers Charley Patton and others.  At this point the details were spot on and little questions meant to throw off an ill informed hoaxter were answered perfectly.  At this point I was very enthused.  After talking with his family for a while I actually spoke with the old man very briefly and things seemed a little off.  I had suspicions arise with parts of the family's behavior, request for money, and insisting that they get to help fill in gaps in his story.  Though their "great grandfather is of sound mind he is forgetful at his age" I was told.  With a little help from friends I found out that the gentleman in question wasn't quite as old as advertised and soon the entire thing fell apart. 

Has anyone else had any experiences like this?

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 01:53:51 PM »
No but if people are getting hip to scamming researchers about the Blues it seems to me that someone is bound to turn up some nugget of truth admixed  with the scams eventually.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 02:38:12 PM »
Asking about specific players when talking to a potential oral source would definitely seem to be tipping one's hand, it seems to me, and serve as an invitation to scamming.  Once you've indicated a particular area of interest that you have, I think the attitude may be, "So this guy wants to hear about Charlie Patton, huh.  All right, here goes!".  I think you have a much better chance of getting bona fide information and recollections  if you just ask in a general way if the person remembers any people from his or her area who played music out in the 1920s or 1930s or 1940s.  They may not name names you're familiar with, but at least you'll know that they came up with the names on their own, without your prompting.  If they come up with names you're interested in on their own, you may have something.
All best,
Johnm

Offline oddenda

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2014, 01:29:27 AM »
John -

          Spot on - as a practicing folklorist I understand this well. Well meaning folks will often "give" you what you ask for. Hell, Muddy never met RJ, for example, and had vague remembrances of hearing on record "Terraplane Blues" in earliest interviews; later on, after being asked to death, he expanded some just to shut people up!

pbl

Offline wreid75

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2014, 05:24:45 AM »
How this all got started was because I was talking to an acquaintance in Asheville a few weeks ago about hoping to find some centenarians and supercentenarians that lived in the Mississippi delta way back when.  She called me back a short time later and said that a gentleman that lives near her moved from the greater Clarksdale area in 1943 when he sold his fathers filling station.  She kinda knew some of the family members.  I gave her a list of names to ask him about (kind of a test) and told her to ask about Howlin' Wolf, McKinley Morganfield, Robert Johnson, Ike Turner, Muddy Waters, and Charley Patton.  From what I was told he immediately said Charley Patton use to play inside his filling station and would drive a Model T in from time to time and have his mechanic work on it.  Then he said McKinley Morganfield is Muddy Waters.  He then went on  to say something about Water's losing his tip money to Alex Miller when he went to pee, came back and that harp player was gone.   I was jacked up when I first  heard about some of the details but tempered my expectations. 

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2014, 11:06:44 AM »
I have never done anything like this but I suck at poker.  What does my sucking at poker have to do with anything?  Glad you asked.  Well when ever I play as soon as I get a good hand the look on my face tells everyone to fold.  Once you had the "they know who these blues players are" look on your face it was on.  I get that look on my face anytime I find someone who lives within two time zones of me. 

Offline crawlinkingsnake

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 05:40:52 AM »
John -

          Spot on - as a practicing folklorist I understand this well. Well meaning folks will often "give" you what you ask for. Hell, Muddy never met RJ, for example, and had vague remembrances of hearing on record "Terraplane Blues" in earliest interviews; later on, after being asked to death, he expanded some just to shut people up!

pbl
I always assumed Muddy Waters never actually met Robert Johnson... but actually saw him perform out front Hirsberg's Store in Friars Point, MS. Is there no truth to this story?

Offline StoogeKebab

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Re: Hoax stories
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 03:52:13 AM »
In trying to get some interviewees for my documentary on Son House, the main point to push with the older people and their families is the notion of trying to get information on the period itself vs. actual bluesmen. This appeared to pan out in one case where a man said to my scout he remembers men who worked on Dockery's playing, mentioned sneaking out on a Saturday to see them, musicians he mentioned (written down, don't remember off the top of my head) no one well known, but did mention his favourite records as a teenager being Pattons. He then preceded so sing, but I don't know what he was singing the scout was someone I know in film, not a blues fan himself so he wasn't able to identify the song, and another specific piece of information he mentioned that even at the time, hearing Patton live, it was sometimes difficult to understand him, which I always figured now was simply the poor quality of records at the present time, but definitely is something interesting.

If looking for specific people, and related information, I wouldn't imagine it impossible, yet seriously unlikely that you would be able to find people remembering specific artists we now know of prominently. Though, as I said, not impossible, we have examples of Robert Johnson's former playing parter Honeyboy Edwards and Edwards' cousin and Johnson's former girlfriend, Willie Mae Powell both passed away in 2011, so there is the definite possibility that there are some out there who will know or know of.

Best of luck,
James
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