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I'm so poor I have to lean up against a fence to gargle - Big Bill Broonzy, Looking Up at Down

Author Topic: Robert Petway  (Read 4441 times)

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Offline Stefan Wirz

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Robert Petway
« on: April 23, 2006, 06:27:46 AM »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2006, 08:00:29 AM »
Good stuff - keep up the excellent work.

PS I note you've under construction a page on Magpie Records.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2006, 05:24:09 PM »
Hi all,
I remember rumors from the early '70s that Robert Petway was residing on the West Side of Chicago.  Does anyone know if he was ever actually located?
All best,
Johnm

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2006, 07:06:36 PM »
I think Honeyboy found him living under a bridge or something. Check Honeyboy's book for details. Very sad.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2006, 11:44:38 PM »
All Edwards says on this topic in his autobiography (p.193) is "I heard he was living on the north side somewhere. I never did see him in Chicago, though, and nobody I know heard what became of him".

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2011, 11:25:38 PM »
I thought I'd give this a bump in light of http://www.tdblues.com/?p=1436

Food for thought?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 11:42:20 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2011, 12:24:13 AM »
Thought I'd throw this into the mix too. Extracted from Paul Oliver Petway sleeve notes Wolf LP 108, 1981

Big Bill Broonzy told me that 'Robert, he played along with Tommy. They were in there together, kids together, grew up together. But Tommy got better known."* Tommy was Tommy McClennan, who was born and raised on the J.F.Sligh farm about ten miles north of Yazoo City in 1908. It seems likely from Broonzy's recollection that Robert Petway was about the same age and raised on the same farm. Later, when McClennan moved on up the Yazoo River to Leflore County he was an influence on David Edwards, as 'Honeyboy' told Pete Welding: He lived from Greenwood over to Itta Bena, Indianola. He was playing house parties like I was, so I was learning under Tommy, practically?he was playing the same things he made, Catfish and Bullfrog, he had a different style; him and Robert Petway had the same style 'cause they played together all the time. They didn't always play together, I mean. It'd be in and out; sometimes Tommy would be by himself and then when he got something pretty large he'd go get Robert ... so they'd play together (Blues Unlimited 54, June 1968, p 7).

*Interview London, September 1951

Offline oddenda

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2011, 02:38:09 PM »
Frank Edwards met up with Tommy and Robert in his travels... probably in Mississippi. He headed with them to Chicago ca. 1941 where they were to record - Frank was recorded by OKeh at that time. Tommy and Robert introduced Frank to Melrose, who got him the session, using Washboard Sam as back-up rhythm. This from Frank.

Peter B.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2011, 07:56:49 PM »
Has that Robert Petway studio portrait been generally available for a while? Can't believe I missed it. When did it first surface, anyone know?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2011, 10:28:50 PM »
Has that Robert Petway studio portrait been generally available for a while? Can't believe I missed it. When did it first surface, anyone know?
Good question. In it's current state on the front cover of Document DOCD5671 (Mississippi Blues Vol. 3 Complete Recordings of Robert Petway, Mississippi Matilda & Sonny Boy Nelson, 1998).

The first time I can recall seeing it was in Story Of The Blues (1969, p.124), where it's cropped and very poorly reproduced in black and white - also used on the Wolf LP (1981) and CD (1991) see  http://www.wirz.de/music/petwafrm.htm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2011, 08:32:57 AM »
I thought I'd give this a bump in light of http://www.tdblues.com/?p=1436

Food for thought?

Interesting. The author states that he believes Petway died in Chicago in 1978 (!). He says there are national and state death index records attesting to this. No age at time of death given in the article though, and I wonder how he traces such records to the Robert Petway. 

Anyway, if true, talk about your missed opportunity.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 09:16:02 AM »
Interesting. The author states that he believes Petway died in Chicago in 1978 (!). He says there are national and state death index records attesting to this. No age at time of death given in the article though, and I wonder how he traces such records to the Robert Petway. 

Anyway, if true, talk about your missed opportunity.
Indeed so.

If the internet had been around when the "original" blues researchers were all at it how easier life would have been. Mind you looking at the Luke Miles the writer was obviously unaware of the three obituaries published in Cadence, Blues & Rhythm and Living Blues. I guess Google failed to flag them. I digress.....  ::)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 07:40:35 PM »
Thanks BH. What a shame he didn't record more on the back of the Catfish Blues style which we discussed at length, technique-wise, on an earlier incarnation of WC. There was much discussion on whether he used a straight pick or not, I still have no solid theories on that but he sure sounds different to everyone else. It's great to finally see a good shot of him.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2011, 07:46:24 PM by Rivers »

Offline LD50

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2011, 06:48:06 PM »
There is indeed a Social Security Death Index record indicating that one Robert Petway (SSN: 346-10-1996), born on 18 Oct 1907, died in Chicago, Illinois in May, 1978. The death records for the city of Chicago confirm this and further specify a death date of 30 May 1978. It's probably the same guy, but it's possible it's not.

There are no census hits for a Robert Petway in Mississippi, but there is one listed as living in Lake County, Tennessee in 1920.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Robert Petway
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2011, 03:29:06 AM »
Thanks BH. What a shame he didn't record more on the back of the Catfish Blues style which we discussed at length, technique-wise, on an earlier incarnation of WC. There was much discussion on whether he used a straight pick or not, I still have no solid theories on that but he sure sounds different to everyone else. It's great to finally see a good shot of him.
By straight pick, I assume you mean plectrum?
That's interesting. I'm not sure if my ears are sufficiently acute to detect that, but I'll have a listen later. There's definitely something about Petway's Catfish Blues that stands out. That immortal riff, most obviously.
Was plectrum (as distinct from thumbpick) use common amongst southern rural African American musicians?

 


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