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For decades, practically every big circus on the road had a black band and minstrel company attached to its sideshow, performing on the streets and inside the sideshow tent before people of all races, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the southern reaches of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. During the 1910s, these companies constituted a significant pathway for the dissemination of ragtime, blues, and jazz." - Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff, Ragged But Right: Black Traveling Shows, "Coon Songs", And The Dark Pathway To Blues And Jazz

Author Topic: Lesser known players?  (Read 14164 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2004, 09:14:48 PM »
Hi all,
One really interesting player who I think fits in this category is the Indianapolis bluesman Pete Franklin.  I believe he only ever had one album released, on Prestige Bluesville in the '60s.  It is available on CD currently from www.fantasyjazz.com.  He was a very strong and inventive player, did some tremendous E blues, as well as blues in A or D in a style we tend to attribute to Scrapper Blackwell but which may have been more of a shared regional style in Indianapolis.  Like Scrapper, he also played piano.  The last tune on his CD, as I remember, was in the seldom-used "high G string" tuning used by Miles Pruett behind Lottie Beamon on the original recording of "Rolling Log Blues".
Nick Perls recorded Pete Franklin in around 1972, on a trip to Indianapolis with Steven Calt, Michael Stewart and possibly Woody Mann that resulted in the Shirley Griffith and Yank Rachel Blue Goose albums.  I remember Nick playing me a couple of Pete's cuts.  They never made it onto a record, perhaps because he did not end up recording enough material for a solo album.  They were great cuts, though.  At that point, I think Pete was pretty far gone in drink, but I know Nick and Steven really liked him and thought he was great.  He was a really intelligent guy with interesting observations about the blues.  If any of you own or have access to the Country Blues Songbook by Stefan Grossman that Steven Calt did the intro for, there are some priceless quotes by Pete in that intro.  I'm afraid he may have been a guy who was good at what he did at the wrong time.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2004, 09:05:55 AM »
The last tune on his CD, as I remember, was in the seldom-used "high G string" tuning used by Miles Pruett behind Lottie Beamon on the original recording of "Rolling Log Blues".

Hi John,

What is the high G string tuning on Rolling Log? Speaking of Lesser Knowns, Lottie Beamon/Kimbrough is one of my favorite lesser knowns. Some great material of which Rolling Log is probably the best. I think she is a tremendous singer. Also, can you remind me of the tuning you use for your own great version of Rolling Log?

cheers,
Andrew
« Last Edit: August 24, 2004, 09:08:03 AM by uncle bud »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2004, 12:40:42 PM »
Hi Andrew,
The tuning that Miles Pruett used for "Rolling Log" involves substituting a very light string for the normal G string and then tuning it an octave high, so that it matches the pitch of the first string at the third fret.  The tune is otherwise played in standard tuning, E position, though I reckon he is capoed up a few frets.  One of the amazing things about this tuning is you can finger the most standard sort of E turn-arounds, like the walk-down from the 4th fret of the first and third strings, and it sounds completely different; you really sound like an ace.  The tuning I use for "Rolling Log" is DGDFAD. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2004, 07:11:17 PM »
Thanks John. Couldn't remember what you told me at PT. Must have been the liquor.  :-[  THis is one of my favorite tunes.

Was listening to Pete Franklin today - what little I have of him on a couple of the Fantasy and Bluesville compilations - and can definitely hear what you say about the similarities to Scrapper Blackwell. Even in the touch (those snappy treble strings) there are similarities, but also some of the chordal movements and harmonies.

Offline outfidel

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2004, 02:21:43 PM »
I'd like to hear more from Bill Williams, Blind Blake's sidekick who finally recorded a bit in the early 1970s. Check out the sound clips of Williams on Stefan Wirz's excellent page
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Offline Cambio

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2004, 08:58:59 AM »
Speaking of Miles Pruitt, I have to say that he is one of my favorite guitar players and I had a very hard time trying to decipher what he was doing before I had read some Yazoo liner notes.  In addition to playing with Lottie Kimbrough, he also played with Ma Rainey.  On 'Farewell Blues' the record lists "the Pruitt twins" on banjo and guitar, but I have always been convinced that it was just Miles on a twelve string.  Now my ears have deceived me before, but can anyone clarify this.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2004, 10:56:23 AM »
Hi Todd,
I'm sure the Pruett Twins were for real, as Phil Thorne was just talking to me about them at the EBA Blues Week in England a couple of weeks ago.  I will send him a message and ask him to post more info, since I know next to nothing about them.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline blueshome

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2004, 07:35:00 AM »
 :-\  The Pruitt Twins - they were Miles and Milas - some room for confusion in that house I bet!
Both are listed as playing guitar and banjo respectively.
As well as Lottie Beaman and Ma Rainey they played behind Ida Cox and Winston Holmes. According to B&G Records, they played together at one session in March 1924 with consequetive masters from Lottie, Ida and Ma. The Winston Holmes entry lists Miles as "poss. gtr." at a 1929 session. That's all I know.

Phil

Offline waxwing

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2004, 08:54:32 AM »
I just saw Craig Ventresco play his monthly Saturday aft. gig at the Ace Cafe a few blocks from my apt. and he mentioned the Pruitt twins playing behind a Pearl something(sorry, can't remember the last name but if it was Bailley I think I would have remembered<G>), so I told him about this site and that the Pruitt twins were currently under discussion. He was pretty impressed, but has no computer. He may get to us via his Girl friend Meredith's computer. She has a beautiful voice for old dance hall numbers and seconds him very well on guitar. Every time I see him play I am more impressed. As another guitarist I know said on Saturday, " the piano playingest guitarist around. He's also a 78 collector so I thought he and Richard might have a thing or two to go on about. Hope he stops in. He may actually come by my place to play and check out guitars (lives in the neighb) so I'll try to get him on the computer. Anyway, there's another Pruitt twin recording to look up.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2004, 09:04:01 AM »
Pearl Dickson perhaps...

Offline frankie

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2004, 09:08:58 AM »
If so, maybe he's got the Pruitt twins mixed up with the Harney bros. - Pet and Can.  Which one of those two is Richard (Hacksaw)?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2004, 09:25:40 AM »
I know I've read about Pet and Can recently and it talked about which was Hacksaw. Maybe in Calt's Patton Bio? What else have I read lately? Wald's Escaping the Delta and Bastin's Red River Blues. Doubt it's Bastin. There was also a link on some board to actual footage of Hacksaw in the '70s, I think. That might have had it. I'll look later today. Craig was pretty clear. He was talking about having seen and heard the 78 from the collection of a woman in the audience. Which was about maybe 20 people, BTW. A quarter of which were guitarists I knew. Sheesh!
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2004, 09:41:51 AM »
There was also a link on some board to actual footage of Hacksaw in the '70s, I think.

From Adelphi, available here.

Offline frankie

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2004, 10:00:06 AM »
Beat me to it, UB - that clip has been on the Adelphi site for a couple years, now...

Never noticed it before, but there's a clip available of Rev. Robert Wilkins.  Don't have time to check it out now, but definitely will, later.  I'm not sure he qualifies as "lesser known" for this thread, but I wish he'd recorded more...
« Last Edit: August 30, 2004, 10:07:29 AM by frankie »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Lesser known players?
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2004, 10:42:54 AM »
Hi all,
One musician who definitely falls into this category is the early Texas player, Gene Campbell.  He played a lot in C, but in a way unlike anyone else I have heard, and was obviously strongly influenced by Lonnie Johnson.  He seems to have been a guy who could have functioned in Jazz ensemble contexts of his era, with an "uptown" chordal sound, use of 6th chords, etc.  He is one Country Blues player whose songs I have never heard performed by a present-day player.  He's also kind of unusual in that, based purely on sound, there is at least an even chance, or perhaps better than even, that he played with a flat-pick in the right hand and didn't play fingerstyle at all.  Kind of a mystery guy.
All best,
Johnm

 


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