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Author Topic: First Blues--notable examples  (Read 1405 times)

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Offline Willie Poor Boy

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First Blues--notable examples
« on: June 23, 2015, 07:20:33 PM »
A few players made a point in their recordings of identifying the first blues song they ever learned.  Mance Lipscomb, Sugar Babe; Mississippi John Hurt, Joe Turner; Lead Belly in the last session calls The Titanic the first song he learned on a 12 string.

Those are the three I could think of but there must be more since it is a very effective way for a performer to call attention to a song and it conveys the importance it holds.  Any other examples would be very welcome--thanks

Offline banjochris

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2015, 07:46:12 PM »
According to his friend Booker Miller, Charlie Patton's first tune was called If You Take My Woman and sounded a lot like Furry Lewis' I Will Turn Your Money Green.

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2015, 08:56:37 AM »
Willie McTell alludes to the way blues progressed and developed on his LoC recordings, but I'm not sure he cites a particular example of an "early blues" or first tune he learned.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2015, 09:15:50 AM »
To get an idea of early blues I think it's useful to look at the recorded repertoires of those singers with the earliest birth dates: Gus Cannon, Jim Jackson, Frank Stokes, Leadbelly, Charley Patton. For someone born in 1883 or 1888, it's not fanciful to assume they began building repertoire by the time they were 20 years old or so. Their repertoires probably carry some very early blues songs.

Offline bnemerov

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2015, 09:55:23 AM »
Hi Professor,
Let's add Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas (b. 1874) to the list...."Fishin' Blues," "Bull Doze Blues," etc.
best,
bruce

Offline Harry

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2015, 10:40:44 AM »
From the W.C. Handy autobiography:

?? a lean, loose-jointed Negro [who] had commenced plucking a guitar beside me while I slept. His clothes were rags; his feet peeped out of his shoes. His face had on it some of the sadness of the ages. As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar. ? The effect was unforgettable? The singer repeated the line (?Goin? where the Southern cross the Dog?) three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard.? Tutwiler train station 1903.

This was possibly Henry Sloan. As far as I know he was unrecorded. According to researcher David Evans, Sloan was born in Mississippi in 1870, and by 1900 was living in the same community as the Patton and Chatmon families near Bolton, Mississippi. He moved to the Dockery Plantation near Indianola about the same time as the Pattons, between 1901 and 1904. Patton received some direct instruction from Sloan, and played with him for several years. Two of Patton?s later accompanists, Tommy Johnson and Son House, both stated that Patton ?dogged every step? of Sloan?s.

Offline Johnm

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2015, 10:59:54 AM »
Hi all,
I don't believe Tommy Johnson was ever interviewed by a scholar--he had already died.  One of Johnson's brothers may have told David Evans that.  Gayle Dean Wardlow had completely different findings re Sloan's influence on Patton's playing, hearing that Sloan pretty much only played pre-Blues, songster sort of material and did not have a profound influence on Patton's playing, most especially his blues playing.  I would take anything Son House said about Patton with a major grain of salt.  House pretty clearly didn't like Patton (and may have had good reason not to) and never missed an opportunity to badmouth Patton or belittle what he did musically.  The notion that Willie Brown was a better player than Patton pretty much derives from Son House's recollections.  It certainly was not based on the music that Patton and Brown recorded--Patton could play rings around Willie Brown.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 11:06:23 AM by Johnm »

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2015, 01:57:24 PM »
I think Big Bill Broonzy also mentions the first few songs he learned when he switched from fiddle to guitar in an interview, either with Lomax or the long one with Studs Terkel. I'll go looking for it when I get the chance.

Offline Harry

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2015, 02:15:36 PM »
from Sam Chatmon, Mississippi Sheik: The Complete 1980 Interview

Jas Obrecht
Can you remember the first blues you ever heard?

Sam Chatmon

Well, I tell ya, the first I ever hear was: ?Run down the river / thought I?d jump and drown / I thought about my baby / then I turn around.? That?s the first piece I ever heard anybody sing. My oldest brother sang it. His name was Ferdinand.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 02:18:34 PM by harry »

Offline banjochris

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2015, 02:20:01 PM »
Also emerging from the mists of memory is Little Brother Montgomery (on the "No Special Rider" album, I believe) talking about an early number, Coonjine Baby, and demonstrating playing it a bit, saying that you just "open and close your hand" to play it.

Mance Lipscomb besides Sugar Baby talked about Take Me Back being the oldest number that he could remember playing.

And, further afield, Tommy Jarrell in an interview talked about Rueben being his first banjo tune I believe, that you only had to note one string to play it.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 02:21:59 PM by banjochris »

Offline Rivers

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2015, 05:44:32 PM »
Rev Gary Davis is on record as hearing a marching band in 1904 playing Candyman. Roy Book Binder recounts the story on Don't Start Me talkin', and I recollect Rev Gary mentions it himself on an audio recording I've heard... somewhere.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2015, 06:17:14 PM »
I'm pretty sure Broonzy called Joe Turner the first he heard or learned. He recorded it once under the title Blues from 189? if memory serves. I think Poor Boy is mentioned as one of the ur-Blues tunes by several people.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2015, 07:48:30 PM »
You're dead right O'Muck, title is 'Blues in 1890' on French label Vogue album 'Big Bill Blues', one of my favorite BBB later albums. As in all things to do with Big Bill, Joe Turner is depicted as populist hero, contrary to the villain described in all the other versions I've heard.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 07:56:53 PM by Rivers »

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2015, 05:11:23 AM »
Yes, Joe Turner was the one I was thinking of.

And, further afield, Tommy Jarrell in an interview talked about Rueben being his first banjo tune I believe, that you only had to note one string to play it.

I've heard several old time banjo players saying they learned "Shout Lulu" first for the same reason.

Offline Sixstring

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Re: First Blues--notable examples
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2015, 09:08:00 PM »
If I recall, Son House said that the first tune he learned how to play was "Hold Up Sally, Take Your Big Legs Offa Mine."

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