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Author Topic: Eli Green  (Read 972 times)

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Offline btasoundsradio

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Eli Green
« on: June 02, 2018, 03:26:33 PM »
I don't know if anyone has posted here about Eli Green before (I did a search and I didn't find anything) but I seem to remember that maybe there was a post in the past. Either way I wanted to bring him up again. The 2 known recordings of him and Fred McDowell are among the most devastating raw country blues I've ever heard. The few bits of information on him point to a connection with Charlie Patton and his influence on Fred McDowell (which is obvious, as "Write Me A Few Lines is said to have come from him) and Junior Kimbrough. He was also rumored to be a conjuror, gambler and a dangerous man as well as a country blues master. Here are some quotes from the only writings I could dig up about Eli:
from the Perfect Sound Forever piece on Junior Kimbrough:
"He once told a story about Eli Green, a local blues musician who had a profound influence on Kimbrough. Green was a firm believer in voodoo and allegedly could throw a pack of cards in the air so that they all stuck on the ceiling. Once the cards were in place, Green could call out the name of a card, and that card would fall to the ground."

Ernest Boosie Taylor from Goin' Back To Sweet Memphis: Conversations With The Blues
Eli Green? Is he still alive?

No, he's dead, I think he's dead?I think he's dead.

With McDowell's help, Chris Strachwitz located Eli Green near Holly Springs, MS, in 1965. He was able to records two songs, "Brooks Run Into The Ocean and "Bull Dog Blues", by Green with backing from McDowell?and are "all that remains for posterity of the remarkable Eli Green who in turn had apparently learned a great deal from Charlie Patton.
Sylvester Oliver states that Green was born in the first years of the twentieth century, making him a contemporary of both McDowell and Boose Taylor. McDowell remembered, "we did a lot of playing all around the Delta together - in Cleveland and Rosedale, towns like that" In the 1920's, McDowell sharecropped on a farm east of Hudsonville, MS. It was there that he met Eli Green...
Junior Kimbrough, as a boy, learned guitar from McDowell and Green. The two musicians used to come on Sundays to get haircuts from Kimrough's father. Kimbrough remembered Eli Green as "a bad guy" who "had a lil' man he kept in his pocket. He take that lil' man out and he dance around in his palm. If Eli git locked up in jail, that lil' man steal the keys for him". Kimbrough said that Green kept a magic bone that he had obtained by boiling a live cat. This bone allowed Green to walk through walls. Kimbrough also said that Green would "throw a deck of cards and they'd all stick in the ceiling. He'd name one and it would come down"
Oliver interviewed older residents of the area who remembered Green as a "bad and dangerous man" who had special hypnotic magic powers. One informant recounted the story of Green going into a cafe and hypnotizing all the women, and apparently men also, making all of the women dance around with their dresses above their heads." Another of Oliver's informants told of how Green could change into an animal (like the Haitians' feared loupe garou), eat light bulbs, and disappear at will.
Green was described as a gambler and a dandy dresser "in-well tailored black suits" and "white spats with his highly polished black shoes." He is rumored to have gotten drunk and lost his amulet of power.
When Strachwitz found him in 1965, Green was living in a remote shack without electricity and a long ways from the road?Green is buried in the Greenwood Baptist Church Cemetery near Lamar in Benton County, Mississippi. Elsewhere Oliver states that Green was from the McIntyre community near Chulahoma in Marshall County.


A quote from Luther Dickinson:
"And it was this guy, Eli Green! He grew up with Charlie Patton and Son House, but then he moved up to the hills. And he taught Fred McDowell a lot of stuff and he taught Burnside and Kimbrough. Kenny Kimbrough remembers him and says that he was a magician, that he had a briefcase that nobody but one person could look at if you opened it and looked in it, it would blind you. He plays like Son House, that primitive, really rockin' stuff."

and from the absurd notes to John Fahey's "Death Chants, Break Downs and Military Waltzes" 1964

"...and Charlie Patton's guitar had been passed on to Ely Green by Bertha Lee."
 
That's all I got, if anyone else has more to add, feel free. A bummer that Strachwitz' battery went out...


« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 03:29:13 PM by btasoundsradio »
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline harriet

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2018, 05:50:50 PM »
Thanks for your post, interesting - at least to me - that he had all that "magic" stuff associated with him, I'm familiar with his 2 recordings and that he was a reputed teacher of Fred McDowell but not more than that...

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2018, 09:06:36 AM »
Wow, did not know that this much info was out there.

I spent years and years looking for more recordings, because the two tracks on that treasured CD with Fred McDowell really touched me. Raw blues of two greats together, recorded on a lo-fi recorder, in my personal hit list these rank right up there.

Thanks again!
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 11:50:55 AM »
Love these brief stories about Eli Green.
Now, I feel a little foolish wishing for such things when I should be grateful for what we have, but I'll just add: I sure wish Eli would have picked up the guitar himself for a recording or two.
Jeff

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 01:51:57 AM »
Fascinating stuff, thanks. You can hear the connection with Son House and consequently with Muddy.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 01:16:34 PM »
Love these brief stories about Eli Green.
Now, I feel a little foolish wishing for such things when I should be grateful for what we have, but I'll just add: I sure wish Eli would have picked up the guitar himself for a recording or two.
The recording or two are in the post. Eli is the lead singer and guitar and Fred is backing him.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2018, 01:59:31 PM »
The recording or two are in the post. Eli is the lead singer and guitar and Fred is backing him.

My ears may not be the best at this, but I hear only Fred on guitar.
Jeff

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2018, 03:21:19 PM »
You can really hear a second guitar, also playing slide, at about 1:05 in Brooks Run Into the Ocean. It's definitely further from the microphone.
I think there are two guitars on Bulldog Blues also, especially audible at 1:47. Again, one is much further back.

Dave

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2018, 08:09:32 PM »
The further back guitar is Fred. Perhaps Eli's playing sounds so much like Fred's because he really took a lot from Eli's style.
Brooks Run Into The Ocean is definitely an original take on the Son House "Walkin' Blues"/Muddy's "Country Blues" theme, which lead's me to RL Burnside's version in which the riff's sound even closer to Eli's version, perhaps via Fred.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2018, 05:59:06 PM »
The dissertation of Sylvester Oliver under David Evans has a biographical sketch of Green
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline btasoundsradio

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Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2018, 08:14:04 AM »
I live right here. I know about Oliver's transgressions, but his dissertation still contains info on Green nevertheless.
T. DeWayne Moore
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Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2018, 10:29:25 AM »
i was just googling the dissertation you mentioned and that popped up. I couldn't find it. Is there anywhere online or in print where I could read it?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 11:01:59 AM by btasoundsradio »
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline mtzionmemorialfund

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2018, 10:22:03 PM »
It might be available through inter-library loan at Univ. of Memphis.

It looks like this.
T. DeWayne Moore
Executive Director, Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

Offline Stuart

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2018, 09:19:44 AM »
Here's the WorldCat link:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/african-american-music-traditions-in-northeast-mississippi/oclc/43350654

And the ProQuest info:

African-American music traditions in Northeast Mississippi
by Oliver, Sylvester Walker, Jr., The University of Memphis, 1995, 668 pages; 9705703

https://dissexpress.proquest.com/search.html

There are ten copies in book form at various libraries in the CONUS, so hopefully ILL will work for you.

Also:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/hidden-chronicles-published-ads-for-buying-selling-and-recapturing-enslaved-africans-in-marshall-county-mississippi/oclc/277118305






Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Eli Green
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2018, 10:35:46 AM »
My original quote was taken from the writing of Sylvester Oliver, but quoted in the book, "Goin' Back To Sweet Memphis: Conversations With The Blues". Ernest "Boose" Taylor only says the first line that I quoted, the rest is from Oliver.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

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