collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

William Grant, [born in 1908], was born near Pittsview, Alabama...He was given a harmonica one Christmas, and he says he learned how to play it while sitting on a plow in the fields. 'I played at parties in the countries,' he said. 'I used to pick guitar, but I come to religion and I put the guitar down. I promised the Lord I wouldn't fool with a guitar no more, but I didn't promise Him I wouldn't fool with a harp. I always keep a harp' - George Mitchell, from In Celebration of a Legacy: The Traditional Arts of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley http://southernspaces.org/2004/blues-lower-chattahoochee-valley

Author Topic: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances  (Read 834 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline wreid75

  • Member
  • Posts: 251
Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« on: January 05, 2016, 08:59:12 AM »
Was looking at a study, prompted by rising numbers of centenarians, found more than 600 supercentenarians (110+ years old) internationally.

Researchers estimated there were more than 400 supercentenarians in the U.S., and found 78 in Japan.  6 in Mississippi.

As with the centenarian bracket, women far outnumbered men, with women accounting for 9 in 10 of the U.S. supercentenarians."

The number of American centenarians in 2010 was 53,364!!! 542 of them lived in Mississippi!  That number is undoubtedly higher now since this demographic is the fastest growing demographic in the United States, having grown 37%since 1980.  Now if only 5% of those ever visited juke joints and country balls that still means that 27 people are out there that might have seen someone like Son House or Willie Brown (any of them).  If only 1% ever saw Charley Patton play that means that there are still 5 alive.
The study, prompted by rising numbers of centenarians, found more than 600 supercentenarians internationally.


More Demographic Info
    83% are women
    50% have dementia
    30% live at home
    20%-25% are cognitively intact
    12% African-American

This means that there are still quite a few who might be able to broaden what it is we know about this period of time that is quickly erasing.  Once they are gone any knowledge is gone.

With today's technology tracking down someone would have to be easier now than ever before.  It isn't the needle in a haystack it use to be to look for any demographic much less this one. 

My second question is.....................................does anyone want to look?  The sad reality is that most fans don't live in Mississippi so organizing this kind of effort would be problematic but not impossible.  Anyone have any thoughts.

So my question is........................has anyone been searching for them in Mississippi?  With today's technology tracking down someone would have to be easier now than ever before.  It isn't the needle in a haystack it use to be to look for any demographic much less this one. 

My second question is.....................................does anyone want to look?  The sad reality is that most fans don't live in Mississippi so organizing this kind of effort would be problematic but not impossible.

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/reports/c2010sr-03.pdf

http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Number-of-centenarians-grows-in-U-S-4264852.php   

« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 09:02:13 AM by wreid75 »

Offline StoogeKebab

  • Member
  • Posts: 116
  • Howdy!
    • LAW Records
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2016, 03:48:13 AM »
Never a supercentenarian but when I was working hard on my Son House documentary I spoke with a granddaughter or great-granddaughter of the Elder Roma Wilson as I believe him to be a wonderful source on the Church in the 30s in Mississippi, as House was a preacher shortly before that time and as we know, maintained that Religious element in his performance, whether or not he was 'Churchified' (as he called it) himself. I believe, unless he has passed away without an update on Wikipedia, which is possible, Elder Wilson turned 105 on the 22nd of December. Elder Wilson lives in Detroit and the latest I saw of him was a March 2013 article with an accompanying video including some wonderful performance footage of which I believe there is more (though not published online). Last I heard of Charley Patton's daughter there was reference of her alive in I think 2013, though she'd be 98 by now so perhaps that's a stretch, and I believe the source may have been shaky.

Perhaps searching for the oldest people isn't the only way to go. At that age, a few years can mean the difference between intact faculties and the unfortunate alternative, and time period details can be dependent on the individual. When doing family tree research I spoke with various elderly relatives and in one particular case, my great uncle, a mere 66 years old, was a better source than my then 79 year old grandfather for information about the place they lived as he was around the old people for longer, my grandfather having moved away.

This is of course a little different as we're looking for the thirties in Mississippi, not 1950s Resen Macedonia, but I guess the way that this would pan out would be that, for example, a teenager aware of their times, such as someone in their late eighties/early nineties could be of more use for historical information than a young adult of the time in their hundreds, aside from this statistically speaking, there are more of them.

Sadly it's unlikely I'll ever make my way out to Detroit to see Elder Wilson, and I hate that there is, or at least a year and a half ago when I spoke with his relative, was, the potential to spend time at length with him and interview and record him, but I am thankful that the reporter I mentioned before took the time to visit him in 2013. In that particular instance, he's one of the last 1930s active musicians from Mississippi, and definitely the last one notable enough for a Wikipedia page (that's how I came to learn about him), but I'm sure if we looked there would be many an old person willing to share their stories. I've done work in nursing homes, and the saddest realisation was definitely everyone there without visitors. There are some people well into dementia or Alzheimer's, or stroke patients, but there were many who were merely that little bit too high maintenance for home and just so glad for a chat, I met an Australian of The Year and heard her story.

That's how easy it can be. A little piece of history, a stub on a government website or Wikipedia now expanded to a page of notes and a longer story in my mind (if I consult said notes). The woman was overjoyed to be able to share her story with someone, and I'm sure there are some in Mississippi, over 90 as she was that would want the same.

And don't underestimate the knowledge early-mid Alzheimer's patients can hold. As Richard Gardner and Mark Simpson showed with Son House, directing a conversation the right way can shake free a few loose memories here and there. Working with my Grandmother I was able to articulate places and people (then correspond with others to work out if said people are still alive) and I've got a pretty decent map of where to take her should I ever get her back to Macedonia.

Anyway. This was a bit of a wall of text but I hope somewhere there's something worthwhile for anyone interested  :)

Edit: That would be Mark Sampson, not Simpson
« Last Edit: January 06, 2016, 03:58:32 AM by StoogeKebab »
Confident that I'm probably almost definitely the youngest record label owner in my street

Live Acoustic Wollongong - LAW Records

https://www.facebook.com/law.nkjc/

https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/james-r-cooper/id992309035

Offline wreid75

  • Member
  • Posts: 251
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2016, 07:47:20 AM »
You can be forgiven for not being able to make the trek from Australia. 

Offline harry

  • Member
  • Posts: 820
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2016, 05:10:32 AM »
I saw a Blind Willie McTell video on YouTube ahwhile back. Some guy said in the comment section that his grandmother (who was still alive) attended the same school/class as Willie.

Offline poymando

  • Member
  • Posts: 73
  • Howdy!
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 07:35:09 AM »
Oral histories are interesting but also have lots of flaws and limitations especially considering the advanced age of the people you're looking for. I wonder if time is better spent looking for photographs, manuscripts, home movies, researching in local newspapers etc.

Offline wreid75

  • Member
  • Posts: 251
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2016, 09:25:38 AM »
"I wonder if time is better spent looking for photographs, manuscripts, home movies, researching in local newspapers etc."

Well both are worth while endeavors and talking to people can lead to finding the others.  One lead for someone wanting to find such items.  Charley Pattons sister Viola married a very special black fella on Dockery plantation named John Cannon.  His mother, the Dockery's family cook was murdered by her husband.  The Dockery's moved him into their home and raised him as one of their own.  Their wedding was a huge family event in 1904.  If family and friends were at the wedding and played music there is a chance of a photo of a young Charley Patton, since he was already a musician.  Even more so, this is the time when he was playing with Henry Sloan.  The Dockery's would have had a photographer there like the other childrens weddings.  This isn't all.

When Violas daughter got married Mr Dockery paid for the wedding that included thirty six cakes.  Uncle Charley played at the reception proving that Patton did play for Dockery events.  This is a period of time when Charley was performing with Willie!  An event needing 36 cakes would have needed a lot of music.  Charley likely had back up.  Her father John Cannon played harmonica and sax and likely played at the wedding.  I can't imagine there are not pictures of such an event.

To highlight the relationship that Charley's brother in law had with the Dockery's listen to this.  When John Coannon died, Will Dockery paid for the funeral, had an antique wheel of fortune to be brought from Memphis, placed on his grave and it went a whole week playing "Nearer my god to thee' for a whole week.  There were as many white people at that funeral as black.  I doubt any other black resident of Mississippi got that treatment when they died.  Will Dockery proceeded to gave Viola multiple payments, each in excess of $3000.

Given this info I can't imagine that there isn't any footage of Charley from that time period that are in the Dockery's possession.

Offline tinpanallygurl

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • Howdy!
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2016, 01:36:29 PM »
Well think of it like this. $3000 in 1930 equals $42,635.21 today so those were nice payouts.  Anyone know of any any of Dockery's descendants to contact?  Email?

Online eric

  • Member
  • Posts: 614
--
Eric

Offline poymando

  • Member
  • Posts: 73
  • Howdy!
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2016, 08:30:42 PM »
"I wonder if time is better spent looking for photographs, manuscripts, home movies, researching in local newspapers etc."

Well both are worth while endeavors and talking to people can lead to finding the others.  One lead for someone wanting to find such items.  Charley Pattons sister Viola married a very special black fella on Dockery plantation named John Cannon.  His mother, the Dockery's family cook was murdered by her husband.  The Dockery's moved him into their home and raised him as one of their own.  Their wedding was a huge family event in 1904.  If family and friends were at the wedding and played music there is a chance of a photo of a young Charley Patton, since he was already a musician.  Even more so, this is the time when he was playing with Henry Sloan.  The Dockery's would have had a photographer there like the other childrens weddings.  This isn't all.

When Violas daughter got married Mr Dockery paid for the wedding that included thirty six cakes.  Uncle Charley played at the reception proving that Patton did play for Dockery events.  This is a period of time when Charley was performing with Willie!  An event needing 36 cakes would have needed a lot of music.  Charley likely had back up.  Her father John Cannon played harmonica and sax and likely played at the wedding.  I can't imagine there are not pictures of such an event.

To highlight the relationship that Charley's brother in law had with the Dockery's listen to this.  When John Coannon died, Will Dockery paid for the funeral, had an antique wheel of fortune to be brought from Memphis, placed on his grave and it went a whole week playing "Nearer my god to thee' for a whole week.  There were as many white people at that funeral as black.  I doubt any other black resident of Mississippi got that treatment when they died.  Will Dockery proceeded to gave Viola multiple payments, each in excess of $3000.

Given this info I can't imagine that there isn't any footage of Charley from that time period that are in the Dockery's possession.


Interesting...what is your source for that story?

Offline wreid75

  • Member
  • Posts: 251
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016, 05:59:12 AM »
Quote
Interesting...what is your source for that story?
 

There are several sources that allow this story to come together but the main source is as follows.
The Voice of the Delta Blues: Charley Patton
Charley Patton and the Mississippi blues traditions, influences and comparisons : an international symposium
Presses Universitaires Li?ge, 1987 - Music - 347 pages
pgs 130-140

This is hell to find in a library.  Took months to find and get through inter-library loan.  Without boots on the ground I don't know who much will turn up on this.  This is why I scour the books that have already been written since hidden gems can be found and followed up on.  Unfortunately the following up can be problematic.  We shall see.

Offline wreid75

  • Member
  • Posts: 251
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2016, 06:15:03 AM »
Oddly enough I have just received an email from Dockery Farms, Bill Lester.  Does anyone have Robert Sacre's and/or Mike Rowe's contact info?  I am trying to give him as much source information so that he can try to help arrange doing some digging?  Can email it to me at wreid75@live.com. 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 06:22:15 AM by wreid75 »

Offline tinpanallygurl

  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • Howdy!
Re: Finding witnesses to country blues players/performances
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 12:34:05 PM »
one of the colleges up there have the Dockery papers, books/bibles, and photos from around the 1930s.  Most of the best researchers now consider themselves retired, and rightfully so with everything they have contributed and advancing age.  We have been losing these gems at an alarming rate, most of these men who have gone largely unappreciated with what they accomplished.  Guess its time for younger fans to step up.  Not too many people on Weenie living around Mississippi though, makes it tough.  Here is to hoping some stuff can be found at dockerys and that you get some volunteers to find some remaining witnesses.

Tags:
 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal