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You know, I want to write a book about my life... I don't want to tell you too much until I've got a chance to have it printed. Apart from my music, my main interests are fishing and making bicycle rides - Tampa Red's excuse to Jacques Demetre and Marcel Chauvard for not wanting to talk to them in any great detail, October 1959

Author Topic: Ishmon Bracey  (Read 2992 times)

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downthedirtroad

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Ishmon Bracey
« on: December 30, 2006, 09:14:28 PM »
i was just curious as to why ishmon bracey usually gets the shift when it comes to delta discographies?  i do like many of his songs (woman woman blues, saturday blues); i was just wondering what his story was, etc.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 01:59:28 PM by Johnm »

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007, 07:03:53 PM »
Hi downthedirtroad,
I think that one reason Ishmon Bracey has not been accorded the recognition he deserves is that he recorded so few solo sides:  two takes of "Trouble Hearted Blues", two takes of "Four Day Blues" (which should have been called "'Fore Day Blues"), "Woman Woman Blues" and Suitcase Full Of Blues".  Everything else he recorded had either Charlie McCoy seconding him on mandolin or guitar, or Charley Taylor on piano with Kid Ernest Michaux on clarinet.  I think the vast majority of present-day Country Blues listeners are so guitar-centric in their tastes that it operates to the detriment of musicians who either recorded very few solo guitar sides, like Bracey, or played an instrument other than guitar, like any number of terrific pianists.  If you like Ishmon Bracey, though, there is a thread in the Country Blues Lyrics section of the site in which just about all of his lyrics have been transcribed.  Also, Uncle Bud has recorded a very nice version of his "Suitcase Full Of Blues" that is posted on the Back Porch.
All best,
John
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 12:20:36 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 05:31:46 AM »
I think Johnm has pretty much covered all the bases, but to add just a bit... 

Bracey's reputation suffers a bit, I think, because some of his best work survives in very poor shape.  "Suitcase Full Of Blues" is a case in point.  It's a great performance, but it survives on a single copy that's so worn that 99% of modern listeners wouldn't be able to get past the surface noise to hear the music.  If Robert Johnson's recorded works survived in copies that sounded as bad as "Suitcase Full Of Blues", he'd be much less well-known today.   

Also, it's true, as John pointed out, that modern country blues fans are overwhelmingly guitar-centric, and Kid Ernest played clarinet in a style that's particularly unfashionable today, a fact that puts about 50% of Bracey's repertoire out of reach for the casual fan.

(In a total aside, often I'll throw some old recording on for a friend and they'll focus on the surface noise and not on the music.  Being able to filter out the surface noise to get to the recorded music is a skill that has to be learned with a bit of practice, I guess.)   

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 10:09:02 AM »
Also, it's true, as John pointed out, that modern country blues fans are overwhelmingly guitar-centric, and Kid Ernest played clarinet in a style that's particularly unfashionable today, a fact that puts about 50% of Bracey's repertoire out of reach for the casual fan.
Karl Gert zur Heide wrote what I recall being a fascinating lengthy feature on Kid Ernest for Blues Unlimited in the early 80s. I'll look it out and see if there's anything that might be of interest to folk here.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2007, 10:56:53 AM »
I'll second Spikedriver's recommendation of Wardlow's book. There is a substantial amount of Bracey material in there, worthwhile reading for any fan.

I'll also agree with the other posts.  Bracey's records are generally whupped. Add to that an unusual singing style and a kind of uncompromising weirdness to his overall sound. I think he's fantastic, but I will admit it took me awhile to come to that opinion for the very reasons that JohnM and dj note.

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 05:56:28 PM »
Hi Bunker Hill,
If you can dig up the article on Kid Ernest without too much trouble, I would be very interested in it.  I remember from the Wardlow book that Bracey held the musicianship of both Charley Taylor and Kid Ernest in the highest esteem, and remarked on audiences' love for Kid Ernest's "laughing clarinet" trick.  Thanks for remembering all you do--it's amazing!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2007, 11:42:18 PM »
If you can dig up the article on Kid Ernest without too much trouble, I would be very interested in it.  I remember from the Wardlow book that Bracey held the musicianship of both Charley Taylor and Kid Ernest in the highest esteem, and remarked on audiences' love for Kid Ernest's "laughing clarinet" trick.  Thanks for remembering all you do--it's amazing!
It was in Blues Unlimited 145 (Kid Ernest: The Nehi Boy From New Orleans, Winter 1984) and was prompted by Warlow's Bracey feature in BU 142 Summer 1982 (republished in "Chasing"). Karl's article, too long to reproduce on Weenie, brings together all the known research about Ernest up Wardlow's feature as well as supplying all recollections of those he questioned since 1967 about Kid Ernest. The footnotes and bibliography are voluminous!

This coming weekend I'll OCR and send it to you and anybody else who cares to PM me with an email address I can attached the text file to.

Offline banjochris

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 05:45:48 PM »
Thought I'd resurrect this old thread rather than start a new one -- just listening to an album I hadn't visited in a while -- John Lee Hooker "Jack O'Diamonds" -- there's a track on there called "Six Little Puppies and Twelve Shaggy Hounds" that to my ears sounds like a cover of Bracey's "Suitcase Full of Blues." It's not far off of Furry Lewis' "I Will Turn Your Money Green" either, but Hooker's title of course recalls Bracey, albeit a different song. Does anyone know if they ever met or is it just something they both pulled from the pool of Mississippi blues?
Chris

Offline Dom Boggs

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2008, 07:43:55 PM »

Offline Rivers

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2008, 07:53:13 PM »
Astounding, Bracey's got a myspaz page, he must be still alive...  :-\

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2008, 08:35:49 PM »
Trouble Hearted Blues is one of my all time faves. Incredible singing on that one. Anyone see a Lemon influence on this one?
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Offline jostber

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2008, 07:56:42 AM »
Some pictures of the man:

http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=138555634&albumId=607401

Another side of Ishman Bracey is that he was equipped with a great memory of the early days, and the ones who he met and played with. He seemed to be a reliable source for a lot of recollections on Tommy Johnson and other great bluesmen when he was interviewed in the 50-60's.


Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: ishmon bracey
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2008, 10:17:16 AM »
The Ishmon Bracey "Rap" in Fahey's book is hilarious.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline tenderfoot84

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Re: Ishmon Bracey
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2016, 06:52:21 AM »
Isn't it odd that for all tommy johnson's local celebrity and undoubted ingenuity that humble tag-along (as it is often suggested) ishmon bracey offers so much? I would take ishmon bracey at his word when he says that when he met tommy johnson tommy was better but that in time he became the better performer. Ishmon bracey's trouble-hearted blues is an exercise in irreproducible simplicity.

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Offline wreid75

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Re: Ishmon Bracey
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2016, 01:57:57 PM »
Stephen Calts assessment of Ishmon Bracey didn't help promote this talented musician and may have tainted potential listeners

 


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