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And that low-down dirty Deacon done stole my gal and gone - Luke Jordan, Church Bell Blues

Author Topic: Cecil Barfield  (Read 11460 times)

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Offline btasoundsradio

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Cecil Barfield
« on: January 13, 2007, 02:21:56 PM »
I heard the one track by him on the Art Rosenbaum cd which is great, and I know he has something on Fat Possum. Anyone else have any info on him? He sounds very hypno/hill country, his voice struck me as sounding a lot like George Torey who is becoming one of my alltime favorite blues artists, even though I've only heard 2 songs of his.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 09:18:37 PM »
Hi powerline,

I don't have any info, but his Fat Possum CD is discussed briefly in another thread here. Click on his name in the tags at the bottom of this thread.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 11:53:10 PM »
When he made those recordings in the 70s (http://www.wirz.de/music/barfifrm.htm) he was known as William Robertson, he wanted to remain anonymous and refused to allow his photo to be taken or perform in public for fear that he would be recognised and killed. I think he told Mitchell that he believed letting people have his right name would enable them to work magic or put spells on him! Robert Springer reviewing the Georgia Grass Roots Music Festival which Mitchell organised in Atlanta (Blues Unlimited 131/32, Dec 1978) notes:

"The most important country performer recently discovered in Georgia was not present at the festival. He has an album out on Southland Records (not yet reviewed in BU) under the name of William Robertson. An extremely superstitious [person] of fifty-five who lives near Plains, Ga., he is afraid of being harmed if his real name appears in print or if his photograph is published. His song-style is odd, to say the least, his guitar playing is excellent and his music is not unlike that of Robert Pete Williams. It is unfortunate that we may never see him on a stage."

The question is can we really upon the fact that his name is Barfield?
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 11:59:17 PM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2007, 12:19:25 AM »
I've unearthed Robert Springer's lengthy review of the original LP (Blues Unlimited 133, Jan/Feb 1979)

SOUTH GEORGIA BLUES
William Robertson
Southland (US) SLP-5

Frolicking Blues/Lucy Mae Blues/ Hooks In The Water/Baby, Please Don't Go/Five Long Years/Big Legged Woman/William Robertson Blues/Lucky Mama Blues/Talk To Your Daughter/The Root Blues/ True Love

This is an unusual LP in many ways. It appears on a label whose distribution is pretty much limited to the Southern US, to put it optimistically. Southland have a few other blues albums out by Drink Small Furry Lewis. Roosevelt Svkes and Robert Pete Williams, but otherwise it is mainly a Dixieland jazz label.

The artiste featured here is a recent discovery of Jim Pettigrew's and was recorded for this LP by George Mitchell. In his mid-fifties, he lives near Plains, Ga, in a small country shack with no running water or electricity. As Mitchell's notes tell us, he and his wife survive on 'the tiny disability check he receives each month' for a serious back injury he suffered a few years ago. He is very superstitious and would not let a picture of him appear on the record cover for fear that someone might turn it face down and kill him. And William Robertson is a nom-de-disque used for similar reasons.

He is an excellent acoustic guitarist, but his voice will surprise you and may even put you off. On 'Frolicking' it is high-pitched and almost reedy, but he can play on low-pitched effects all of a sudden: it may sound weird, although I'm quite sure that it is not random. The song itself is reminiscent of Henry Thomas's' Don't Leave Me Here' with words that seem to come also from 'Big Leg Woman' (whether he's heard John Hurt's version or another is anybody's guess). 'Lucy Mae' must have been taken from Frankie Lee Sims, although it is brought down to basics and I can hear overtones of Charley Patton, Furry Lewis and Tommy Johnson. The excellent ending displays his talents as a guitarist.

'Hooks' is sung in a strangled voice: whether it is a style he has inherited or developed is hard to tell but it reminds one of field hollers. 'Baby Please' sounds a lot like Robert Pete Williams, but the resemblance is certainly fortuitous: actually the best way to describe William Robertson would be to mention this name, the only reference mark of any possible value for this artiste.

'Big Legged' is close to Bukka White's 'Shake 'Em On Down'. 'William Robertson's Blues', an original, displays rather wild singing, painful at times, moaning, a cross between cawing and bleating. Again, the general format of the piece is close to Robert Pete Williams. 'Lucky Mama' is an extremely low-pitched version of 'It's Alright Mama 'and comes closest to classic blues tradition. 'Talk' is rather tedious and the least interesting track on the record. 'Root', another original, is basically a talking blues about 'root curest and will take a few plays before you can grasp every word of it. 'True Love' is less interesting lyrically and a bit monotonous rhythmically, the latter remark holds true for most of the numbers to some extent: binary rhythms rule supreme.

All in all, Robertson's music mainly because of his vocal inflexions - which may be deemed African, Afro-American or simply idiosyncratic - will never be more than an acquired taste. His guitar playing, on the other hand needs no getting used to: it is excellent throughout, controlled and steeped in tradition. And Robertson is also a mine of traditional verse doublets, even if his style of delivery distorts words and rushes syllables close together for effect. While it cannot be recommended unreservedly for obvious reasons it is worth a listen if you are a student of folk music and can get hold of it. Just in case, Southland Records' address is 3008 Wadsworth Hill Place, Atlanta Ga, 30032, USA.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2007, 12:21:14 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2007, 10:01:43 AM »
hmm Maybe he is George Torey?????
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline oddenda

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2008, 08:37:04 PM »
Cecil Barfield was Cecil Barfield. Originally located by my friend Jim Pettigrew for an article he researched and wrote for Brown's Guide to Georgia, sort of a local equivalent magazine to Yankee. Cecil was upset when he got a copy because of the use of his photograph... for the reason enumerated above. I recorded him myself in 1972 and 1977... enough material for one album, I'd say. He was himself and sounded like nobody you've heard - his version of Lazy Lester's "Sugar Coated Love" allows one to compare at least his repertoirial approach. His living situation was rough, although not as rough as Guitar Shorty (shallow well covered in pond scum), or an individual that Glenn Hinson met in Durham; a blind amputee living in a two room shack in the city with a dirt floor. Being poor and Black ain't romantic, folks... I've been there, but haven't had to do that. Fortunately.

Offline btasoundsradio

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2008, 01:09:07 PM »
i finally got all his stuff from fat possum, 2 discs worth, absolutely a genius. one of my favorites his version of "my babe"is my new favorite. everything he did was different and unique, never repetitive, "Paparia, open your big fat thighs" pretty out there.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2008, 02:29:24 PM »
i finally got all his stuff from fat possum, 2 discs worth, absolutely a genius. one of my favorites his version of "my babe"is my new favorite. everything he did was different and unique, never repetitive, "Paparia, open your big fat thighs" pretty out there.

Is there/was there a 2-CD set of Barfield's recordings on Fat Possum? I see it listed as such in Stefan Wirz's illustrated discography, but I can't find any evidence of a double-CD collection anywhere else. Does it exist? If so, where can it be found?
Jeff

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2008, 04:39:49 PM »
Jeff, as I recall, Fat Possum's single CDs (and double or two CDs) of George Mitchell recordings were in limited release to certain sellers. At least that's what I recall reading in the Roots and Rhythm newsletter. I've seen some in my local indie shop. You may find some on Amazon, dunno, but I would check with Roots and Rhythm. They may not be listed on their website (http://www.rootsandrhythm.com) but I do recall seeing them in their print catalog, so an email may be in order. Frank Scott and company there are always good to deal with, in my experience. These specific Fat Possum/Mitchell CDs are bare bones releases, I think, no notes to speak of, CDs with black covers.

Offline jharris

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 05:20:11 PM »
Available as digital download (43 songs):

http://tinyurl.com/3l3e5r

http://tinyurl.com/3zdwep

-Jeff

Offline oddenda

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2008, 01:36:12 AM »
Folks -

          How would I go about putting Cecil's version of "Sugar Coated Love" here for y'all? I made a stab, but it didn't "take". Also, powerline, the song you quote is "Let Papa Ride" (ergo, "open your thighs") a wonderfully salacious number!

yrs,
     Peter B.

Offline Slack

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2008, 06:50:24 AM »
Quote
How would I go about putting Cecil's version of "Sugar Coated Love" here for y'all? I made a stab, but it didn't "take".

Hi Peter,

You probably need to reduce the size to 1 meg or under... so you'll need software to re-encode the song to 32kbps, mono (which usually does it). 

We do this for the purpose of keeping posted music low quality and educational.  :)  (e.g. we don't want the site used for indiscriminate file swapping)

Thanks,
slack

Offline jharris

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2008, 04:57:06 PM »
Here's "Sugar Coated Love" with permission from Peter:

Sugar Coated Love

-Jeff

Offline oddenda

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2008, 07:23:49 PM »
Thanks, Jeff... everybody enjoy!!

Peter B.

Offline Slack

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Re: Cecil Barfield
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2008, 08:54:33 PM »
Wow!  Doesn't take Cecil very long to get warmed up.

Thanks Peter and Jeff, much appreciated.

 


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