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I don't mind no men friends but I'm scared they might cramp my style - Blind Lemon Jefferson, Saturday Night Spender Blues

Author Topic: Gabriel Brown  (Read 5886 times)

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coffewatkins

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Gabriel Brown
« on: September 11, 2006, 10:48:22 AM »
Would like to hear some Gabriel Brown if you can find it - -he was a quirky raw player from the 30's 40's

Funny stuff - - "hurry baby before it gets soft" - drinking, gambling etc etc

http://www.mmguide.musicmatch.com/artist/artist.cgi?ARTISTID=705384&TMPL=LONG#bio

Used to see it more in the North East record stores - - Out here in California have not seen it around.

Anybody familiar with him

Neal

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2006, 11:06:07 AM »
The Weenie Juke has only one track from Gabriel Brown right now, The Jinx is on Me, on the Play My Juke-Box disc. I notice that JSP has come out with a set here
called Shake That Thing: East Coast Blues 1935-1953, which includes many Gabriel Brown recordings as well as Dan Pickett and Ralph Willis.

I think we may have a resident Gabriel Brown discographer who'd know more than me!

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2006, 11:08:39 AM »
I think the Flyright CD (of Joe Davis recordings) might still be around but don't know the current situation with the LoC recordings.

He's been the subject of quite a few pieces of writing over the years. Here's his entry from Robert Ford's 1999 Blues Bibliography, which also covers LP/CD notes:

Bastin, Bruce. Gabriel Brown, 1943-1945. UK: Flyright FLY 591, 1981.

Bastin, Bruce. Gabriel Brown, 1944-53. UK: Krazy Kat KK 785, 1987.

Groom, Bob. ?The Library of Congress Blues and Gospel Recordings. 3: Gabriel Brown, John French, Rochelle French.? Blues World no. 41 (Winter 1971): 3-4.

Harris, Sheldon. ?Brown, Gabriel.?, in Blues Who?s Who. 5th ed., p. 79.

Harrison, David. ?Brown, Gabriel.?, in Encyclopedia of the Blues. Vol. 1: A-J, ed. E. Komara, pp. 157-158 (Item E162).

Hoffman, Lawrence. Gabriel Brown: Mean Old Blues, 1943-1949. UK: Flyright CD 59, 1996.

Larkin, Colin (ed). ?Brown, Gabriel.?, in The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, p. 341 (E165). Reprinted in The Guinness Who?s Who of Blues. 2nd ed., p. 57 (E166). Reprinted in The Virgin Encyclopedia of the Blues, p. 53 (E169).

Oliver, Paul. ?Screening the Blues.? Jazz Monthly 5, no. 9 (Nov 1959): 27-28.

Stewart-Baxter, Derrick. ?Blues & Views.? Jazz Journal 28, no. 6 (Jun 1975): 14-15.

Travers, Tony. Gabriel Brown and His Guitar. UK: Policy Wheel PW 4592, c1976.



Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2006, 11:12:58 AM »
I think we may have a resident Gabriel Brown discographer who'd know more than me.
Well, until he or she surfaces here's his postwar output as listed in Blues Records 1943-70. Hope it's understandable once posted

V/g.            New York City,      1943

A      I get evil when my love comes down   Ge 5003, Bea 5003,  JD 5003
B      You ain?t no good   Ge 5003,Bea 5003, JD 5003
A      Black jack blues   Ge 5004, Bea 5004,  JD 5004, BC LP 14
B      Going my way   Ge 5004,Bea 5004, JD 5004

V/g.            New York City, 26 Aug 1943

A      Down in the bottom   JD 5006, LoC LP 6
B      Bad love   JD 5006
A      I?ve got to stop drinkin?   Ge 5008, JD 5008
B      Cold love   Ge 5008, JD 5008

V/g.            New York City, 13 Sep 1944

A      Not now, I?ll tell you when   Ge 5015, JD 5015,  Davis 5015
B      I?m gonna take it easy   Ge 5015, JD 5015,  Davis 5015, LoC LP 7
A      I don?t feel so good   Ge 5016,  JD 5016
B      Stop jivin? me   Ge 5016, JD 5016
        That?s alright   JD 5018

V/g.            New York City, 26 Oct 1944

A      Stick with me   JD 5017
B      I?ve done stopped gambling   JD 5017
      Good-time papa   JD 5019
      Baby, boy, baby   JD 5019
      Doing my best   JD 5018

V/g.            New York City, 2 May 1945

A      It?s getting soft   Ge 5020,  JD 5020
B      Don?t worry about it   Ge 5020, JD 5020
A      Boogie woogie guitar   Bea 5021, JD 5021
B      Hold that train   Bea 5021, JD 5021
B      Mean old blues   JD 5022, LP 5
A      You have to be different   Ge 5023,  JD 5023,  LP 5
B      The jinx is on me   Ge 5023, JD 5023, LP 5
      The jinx is on me [alt tk]   Flyr(E) CD 45
B      It?s time to move   JD 5024, LP 5

V/g.            New York City, 27 Jun 1945

A      Pleading   JD 5022, LP 5
A      I?ll be seeing you one of these days   JD 5024, L P  5
A      Wrap me up tight   Ge 5025,  J D 5025, LP 5
B      I want a little fun   Ge 5025, JD 5025, LP 5
(NOTE: Joe Davis LP 5 is actually a boxed set of 78 rpm records.)

V/g.            New York City, 3 Aug 1949

             Hold me baby   Jay-Dee 779,  KK(E)LP 785
             Nobody loves like my little girl   Jay-Dee 779,  KK(E)LP 785
75291   I can?t last long   Coral 65019
75292   Suffer   Coral 65019
(NOTE: Jay-Dee 779 was cancelled.)

V/g.            New York City, 30 Oct 1952

DA 188, 52-5-453 I?m just crazy   MGM 11407 
DA 189, 52-4-454 Cold mama   MGM 11407
DA 190, 52-5-455 Youngster?s blues   KK(E) LP 785

V/g.            New York City, 15 Dec 1952

DA 213, 52-5-548 I am playing the game   KK(E) LP 785
DA 214, 52-5-549 I am just hard luck   KK(E) LP 785
DA 215, 52-5-550 Got no money blues   KK(E) LP 785
DA 216, 52-5-551 It ain?t like that   unissued
DA 217, 52-5-552 I had my hands on it   KK(E) LP 785

Offline dj

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2006, 12:18:31 PM »
I'd like to meet that discographer, too!

Here's Brown's pre-war output, all recorded for the Lobrary of Congress in Eatonville, FL, in June of 1935, and all available on the JSP set that Uncle Bud mentions above:

Gabriel Brown, vocal (-1), guitar (-2), Rochelle French, guitar (-3)

John Henry -1, -2
John Henry -2
Blues -2, -3
Tone The Bell Easy -1, -2
The Motherless Child -1, -2
A Dream Of Mine -2
Education Blues -1, -2, -3
Talking In Sebastopol -1, -2, -3
Careless Love -1, -2

Information from Blues And Gospel Records, 1890 - 1943, Fourth Edition.
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2006, 12:37:32 PM »
Here's Brown's pre-war output, all recorded for the Lobrary of Congress in Eatonville, FL, in June of 1935, and all available on the JSP set that Uncle Bud mentions above
Bruce Bastin in his super book "Never Sell A Copyright: Joe Davis and His Role in the New York Music Scene 1916-178" (Storyville 1990) says of the LoC recordings

Gabriel Brown had most probably been known to Zora Neale Hurston, the eminent black writer, when she was in Florida collecting material both for her folklore and anthropological studies, and her own novels. In 1935 she was accompanied by Alan Lomax, then with the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress, when they visited south Georgia to collect black songs. At Hurston's instigation, they moved further south to Florida, where she had undertaken fieldwork as a student. There they located and recorded Gabriel Brown for the Library of Congress. Some of his recorded pieces show a marked degree of sophistication, although he also recorded some excellent blues. Nearly a decade later he appeared on some of Joe Davis's records but no-one could explain what had happened in the intervening years. Mack McCormick, in the late 1960s, researching in Florida, came across evidence that Gabriel Brown had drowned in a boating accident while fishing. It seemed we were never to know any more. Material on file among Joe Davis's effects not only fills in the enormous gaps in the known career of a fascinating bluesman but fills them with startling detail.

Alan Lomax, trying to recall how Gabriel Brown came to be in New York, thought that Hurston had "used him in her earlier shows in Harlem as a singer and an actor [in]... a ballad opera based in a turpentine camp and brought the singers up to New York." He'd certainly pointed in the right direction but in fact Brown was already in the North by the time Hurston used him for this show. Presumably it was 'Polk County', a 'musical comedy' set in a saw mill, but she only began work on this early in 1944. By that time he had recorded for Davis; perhaps, as one coupling was on sale by April 1944 he once again came to her notice. (page 115)

[The business about him being in a show in Harlem is interesting because sometime in the early 1930s Harlem photographer Carl Van Vechen took several studio shots of him with his guitar. Somewhere I have copies of a couple of them, which I don't believe I've ever seen reproduced, but I guess by now they must be dispalyed somewhere on the internet! BH]

Offline Buzz

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2006, 10:06:17 PM »
Fascinating!  8)

Love it,

Buzz
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline dj

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2006, 03:01:36 AM »
Quote
Somewhere I have copies of a couple of them, which I don't believe I've ever seen reproduced, but I guess by now they must be dispalyed somewhere on the internet!

Indeed they are.  The originals are apparently held by the Library of Congress.  You can see them here: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/vv:@field(SUBJ+@band(Brown,+Gabriel+)) 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2006, 10:34:31 AM »
Thanks DJ that's saved me posting the prints I've just scanned which I eventually located tucked inside the 1981 Flyright LP (591), along with a note from Bastin which says "One hell of a cool dude, yes? Photographed by Vechten 10 years before these recordings".

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2006, 02:55:57 AM »
With Flyright-Matchbox Library of Congress Series Vols 3 & 4 (SDM 257 and SDM - 1974) Bruce Bastin wrote an additional accompanying 3,000 word tribute to Zora Neale Hurston. This excellent tribute freely quotes from Hurston's writings and those writing about her. What follows is the extract regarding Gabriel Brown:

She entered the tough jook joints where 'the guitars cried out "Polk County" and "Red River" and just instrumental hits with no name, that still are played by all good box pickers. The dancing was hilarious to put it mildly. Babe, Lucy, East Coast Mary and many other of the well-known women were there. The men swung them lustily...'

'Polk County! Ah! Where the water tastes like cherry wine. Where they fell great trees with axe and muscle.... Sweating black bodies ... working to feed the hunger of the great tooth. Polk County! ... Black men from tree to tree among the lordly pines, a swift, slanting stroke to bleed the trees for gum. Paint, explosives, marine stores, flavours, perfumes, tone for a violin bow, and many other things which the black men who bleed the trees never heard about ... the clang of nine-pound hammers on railway steel. The world must ride.... Black men scrambling up ladders into orange trees. Singing, laughing, cursing, boasting of last night's love, and looking forward to the darkness again . . . Polk County. After dark, the jooks. Songs are born out of feeling with an old beat-up piano, or a guitar for a midwife.'

'The jook was in full play when we walked in. The piano was throbbing like a stringed drum and the couples slow-dragging about the floor were urging the player on to new lows. "Jook Johnnie ... Jook it Johnnie! Throw it in the alley!"... Somebody had squeezed the alcohol out of several cans of Sterno and added sugar, water and boiled-off spirits of nitre and called it wine ... the pay-night rocks on with music and gambling and laughter and dancing and fights. The big pile of cross-ties burning out in front simmers down to low ashes before sun-up; so then it is time to throw up all the likker you can't keep down and go somewhere and sleep the rest off, whether your knife has blood on it or not.'

In 1935 some of Hurston's informants were recorded in Eatonville, including Gabriel Brown, who was probably the Babe Brown to whom she makes reference in Mules And Men, and John French, one of her more important sources of tales. A further session was held south of Lake Okeechobee, at Belle Glade, centre of the area's seasonal crop picking. Some of the artists, Booker T. Sapps and his friends, were from nearby Pahokee. 'Itinerant pickers, both white and Negro, known as "travelling hands," swarm into this region at harvest time, as into other fruit- and vegetable-growing districts of the State, occupying tents, rows of tumble-down cottages, and ramshackle boarding houses. In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Zora Neale Hurston vividly describes the scene: "Day by day now the hoards of workers poured in. Some came limping in with their shoes and sore feet from walking.... They came in wagons from way up in Georgia and they came in truck loads from east, west, north, and south. Permanent transients with no attachments and tired looking men with their families and dog flivvers. All night, all day hurrying to pick beans. Skillets, beds, patched-up spare inner-tubes, all hanging and dangling from ancient cars on the outside, and hopeful humanity, herded and hovering on the inside, chugging on to the muck. People ugly from ignorance and broken from being poor.

' "All night now the jooks clanged and clamoured. Pianos living three lifetimes in one. Blues made and used on the spot. Dancing, fighting, singing, crying, laughing, winning and losing love every hour. Work all day for money, fight all night for love." '

Offline dj

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2006, 04:59:25 AM »
As Bunker Hill stated at the start of his post, the text above concerning Polk County FL "jooks" and Gabriel Brown was part of a longer piece that was a tribute to Zora Neale Hurston, a fascinating woman who is too little known today.  Hurston was a black woman, born in a "Negro town" in Florida, who eventually attended Morgan College and Howard University and graduated from Barnard College in New York City.  She wrote several novels, an autobiography, and edited collections of black folk tales.  She discovered and recorded Gabriel Brown while on a research trip with Alan Lomax in Florida in 1935.

Bunker Hill kindly shared a scan of the complete essay quoted above with me.  If Hurston's descriptive writing has at all piqued your interest, the essay is well annotated, pointing to the sources of the Hurston quotes for further reading.  I'm sure BH would be glad to make his scan available to interested readers who send him a personal message.

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2010, 01:27:38 PM »
Photo from the Library of Congress website, dated 1935 and taken from the Lomax collection. There are four other Gabriel Brown photos, as well. You can see the guitars he was playing (presumably for the Lomax recordings). The website is:
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/pphome.html



Jeff

Online Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 08:05:26 AM »
Thanks very much for posting the photo of Gabriel Brown, Jeff.  It's always nice to have a picture of the artist being discussed, an image to match with the voice and playing.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 10:51:53 AM »
Thanks very much for posting the photo of Gabriel Brown, Jeff.  It's always nice to have a picture of the artist being discussed, an image to match with the voice and playing
Yeah Harlem Renaissance photographer Carl Van Vechten is usually associated with photographing 1930's glitterati rather than GB.

Online Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2010, 11:04:21 AM »
Maybe the photo shoot was set up by Zora Neale Hurston?  According to the notes to the JSP set "Shake That Thing", she knew Brown from growing up in Florida and first recommended him for recording.  Just a thought.
All best,
Johnm

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2010, 11:09:36 AM »
I hadn't noticed the photographer credits, Bunker Hill. Interesting, too, is the fact that four of the photos are dated June, 1935, and attributed to Lomax. Two others (including the one posted above) are dated November, 1935, some five months later, and attributed to Carl Van Vechten. Brown may have been in New York at the time of these later photos -- perhaps due to his recordings for Lomax? Just a thought. For the curious, I'm posting one of the earlier photos that Lomax took during his field recording of Brown.
Jeff

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2010, 11:36:18 AM »
You can usually identify a Van Vechten by the background. I've got a series of postcards I bought 20 years ago which featured some of his photos. Here's two Lizzie Miles (1947) and vaudeville act, Bubbles (1935)

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2010, 12:14:36 PM »
Very interesting, Bunker Hill. I like that photographer's style. And his choice of wallpaper.

Lomax seemed to know his way around a camera, too, as evidenced by his snapshots of Gabriel Brown. But for the photographically-oriented among us, we are left to wonder: where did Lomax leave his camera when he recorded Son House, Willie Brown, et al.? Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled thread...
Jeff

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2010, 12:55:17 PM »
In Robert Hemenway's exhaustive 1977 biography of Zora Neale Hurston there's a photograph showing her with Brown and Rochelle French and bears the caption "Zora Neale Hurston collecting from Rochelle French and Gabriel Brown". Hemenway writes, "Alan Lomax was well aware of how crucial Zora was to his 1935 expedition. He wrote Oliver Strunk of the Library of Congress that she was 'probably the best informed person today on Western Negro folklore'". Speaking of Brown Lomax commented "Miss Hurston introduced us there to the finest Negro guitarist I have heard so far, better ever than Leadbelly, although of a slightly different breed".

As usual  I seem to have gone off on a tangent.... apologies.

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2010, 01:54:47 PM »
Tangentially speaking, Bunker Hill, I believe this is the photo of which you speak...
Jeff

Online Johnm

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2010, 03:22:57 PM »
Hi all,
Since there was already a topic devoted to Gabriel Brown in the general sense, I thought to put the photos there.
All best,
Johnm

Offline onewent

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2010, 03:46:52 PM »
..thanks for the photo and the link.  Gabriel Brown is the first blues/guitarist from those days playing a Dobro..looks like a Model 27..that I'm aware of.  Good stuff..Tom

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Gabriel Brown
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2014, 07:04:08 AM »
Found this blog entry which links Brown to Orson Welles via a theatre project in Harlem

http://1f2frfbf.blogspot.ie/2009/02/gabriel-brown-is-one-of-those-great.html

 


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