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And he told me... I didn't know nothing about how to play no guitar at all. He said "Hey, go home. Take my advice. You go home. You get that.. straight. You know what I'm talking about? Put that pick down. You think I'm scolding you? You a grown man, Hubert - listen to me!" I went home, man. I went to my basement. And I'm going to tell you something... I was thinking about what Wolf said. He said "Hey, put the pick down." I put the pick down, man. I put the pick down and started using... fingers, you know what I mean? - Hubert Sumlin, on how Howlin' Wolf introduced him to fingerpicking. From Moanin' At Midnight by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman

Author Topic: Willie B. James  (Read 1108 times)

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Offline dj

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Willie B. James
« on: June 30, 2006, 03:59:33 AM »
After Willie B. James came up in the discussion of Juke changes and additions yesterday, I went home last night and pulled a bunch of CDs that he appears on as an accompanist.  It was an interesting experience.  James is someone that I've heard a lot (he appears backing Tampa Red, John Henry Barbee, and Monkey Joe Coleman, to name a few), but never really listened to, if you know what I mean.  James recorded two songs for Decca in 1935 which were never issued.  All his other recorded appearances were, as far as I can discover, as a sideman.  He seems to have been, along with Bill Broonzy and the young George Barnes, among the Chicago guitarists who pioneered a flat-picked single string style of accompaniment.  (An aside: Hmmm... were they all influenced by Lonnie Johnson?)  I was unable to find anything other than discographical information on Willie B. James in my small collection of blues books.  Does anyone know any biographical information concerning him?

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Willie B. James
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2006, 09:52:43 AM »
I was unable to find anything other than discographical information on Willie B. James in my small collection of blues books.  Does anyone know any biographical information concerning him?
Funny you should ask. It fell to my unhappy lot to contribute his entry for the 1993 Guinness Who's Who of Blues (which metamorphed a decade later as The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Blues!). After enquiring of the great and good in blues research and drawing a blank I had to resort to writing about who he accompanied and when. :(

My entry was just a fraction longer than that in Panassie & Gautier's 1955 Dictionary of Jazz (Bee, Willie) which gave he was born in Yazoo City, Miss c.1900 and died (who knows where) c.1942. I think this information originally came via somebody interviewed by Yannick Bruynoghe.

That said, blues research has come a long way since 1993 so perhaps online census records etc have come good with information. Over to the Weenie brains trust.

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