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It takes a man that have the blues to sing the blues - Huddie Lead Belly Ledbitter, to Alan Lomax

Author Topic: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart  (Read 7230 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2004, 06:46:15 AM »
Thanks Rivers. I've added this to my list. Seen it in stores before and never knew what it was.

I've always felt Leadbelly was another player Alvin nods to.  Seems to go out of his way to do LB tunes, which -- I could be wrong, just talkin' off the top of my head here -- is a bit uncommon among contemporary country blues folks. Just as a completely random afterthought.

Offline lindy

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Re: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2004, 07:31:21 AM »
Thanks Rivers. I've added this to my list. Seen it in stores before and never knew what it was.

I've always felt Leadbelly was another player Alvin nods to.  Seems to go out of his way to do LB tunes, which -- I could be wrong, just talkin' off the top of my head here -- is a bit uncommon among contemporary country blues folks. Just as a completely random afterthought.

The couple of times I was around Alvin he gave me the impression that he knew some history--about the civil rights movement, etc.--on top of knowing about older players and older tunes. Leadbelly was a major hero in the black community in his heyday because he was the only one addressing civil rights issues in his songs. "Yellow Gal" is the first one that comes to mind, but there are plenty of others. Leadbelly was as over-the-top about it as the people in control would allow at that time; he made a lot of strong comments to mostly white audiences while touring and playing with Woody Guthrie.  That may be part of Alvin's nod to Leadbelly, but that's speculation on my part, too.

Lindy

Offline FrontPage

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Re: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2004, 10:22:52 AM »
Re: civil rights themes, IMO Leadbelly's most 'in-your-face' song on this issue was 'Bourgouis Blues'. Then there's Big Bill's 'Black, Brown, and White' (I believe release held back for years after it was recorded - presumably, this song was part of his performanc repertoire if the venue was 'friendly'). And then we come to Josh White, who was perhaps the most outspoke of all.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2004, 10:25:37 AM by FrontPage »
Cheers,
FrontPage

Offline lindy

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Re: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2004, 10:39:39 AM »
Re: civil rights themes, IMO Leadbelly's most 'in-your-face' song on this issue was 'Bourgouis Blues'. Then there's Big Bill's 'Black, Brown, and White' (I believe release held back for years after it was recorded - presumably, this song was part of his performanc repertoire if the venue was 'friendly'). And then we come to Josh White, who was perhaps the most outspoke of all.

FP,

Yeah, after I re-read my post I thought "Uh-oh, someone's gonna pounce on that 'the only' comment." 

On top of the more direct songs that you mentioned, there's also a bunch of songs that had hidden meanings and subtle lyrics that black listeners understood right away. 

I guess a more accurate comment would've been that Leadbelly was one of the very first to write and sing lyrics that were overtly about civil rights, in a way that everyone could understand.

Backtracking,
Lindy

Offline waxwing

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Re: Down in the Alley - Alvin Youngblood Hart
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2004, 11:38:13 AM »
One reason why Alvin my have a good awareness of civil rights history is that he grew up in Oakland and no doubt was influenced by the Black Panther party, which was seen much more as a community service organization here, as opposed to the polarized national view. Not that they didn't deserve some of that reputation, but there were two sides to that coin. I was going to mention Josh White also. A childhood friend of Gre's (my Partner), from NJ, now also living here in SF, recently called me up and asked if I was interested in a bunch of 78s from her mom's attic. Turns out her dad was a folk guitar player at the outbreak of the Folk Scare (note to JohnM - while at Cornell - another Karass member?) and had a whole slew of Josh White and Woodie Guthrie 78s. I ve got an old player so I'm hopin' to eventually be able to transfer to digital. Some are in books of several discs with quite a bit of text. Very interesting. I'll ask Alvin about it at the Freight. BTW, I and others have communicated with Alvin over at the IGS forum. I could email him and invite him to post over here if you all think that would be cool. He's very outgoing about his music and his equipment (as Reso1 knows). Good guy.
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