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Author Topic: william harris and buddy boy hawkins  (Read 5362 times)

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downthedirtroad

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william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« on: January 24, 2007, 11:07:33 AM »
i just got my mitts on the document album "william harris and  buddy boy hawkins" and i must say that i am quite impressed with the two artists.  i had heard william harris on other compilations before (american primitive II and mississippi masters) however some of buddy boy hawkins material is top rate as well, as his guitar technique sounds quite original.  anyways, i was wondering what a) everyone else thought of these two early artists and b) if there is a better sounding copy of electric chair blues (william harris) sitting around somewhere (!).

Offline GhostRider

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2007, 12:02:42 PM »
Hey DtDR:

I'm a big fan of BB Hawkins. His bluesy tunes (all played out of Spanish tuning, variously capoed) are great, unique and fun to play. His rag/ragtime tunes are a bit frenetic/weird for my taste.

Although his records are noisy/badly recorded, I really like his voice which is sort of high-pitched, with a comical edge. His vocal seem to be "winking" at the listener.

My favorite is "Awful Fix Blues".

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Alex

Offline banjochris

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 01:48:06 PM »
On one Document's "Too Late" Vol. 3, there is a much superior copy of "Electric Chair Blues" and another Harris title, "Bad Treated Blues." There was a story in 78 Quarterly about how someone found the record in a little store in Kentucky with a lot of other stuff, but the "Bad Treated" had never been found before (it's a version of "Crow Jane" IIRC). Anyway, that's the album to get. I think there are still at least a couple of undiscovered Harris titles. There's at least one and l seem to remember a few Buddy Boy Hawkins alternate takes scattered around on those "Too Late" discs.
Chris

Offline MTJ3

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2007, 04:44:29 PM »
IMHO, William Harris is another artist whose work is sadly neglected.  I think that may be, in part, due to the general lack of availability of his work other than, during what you might call the early years of the resurgence of interest in this music, "Bull Frog Blues," which is not really representative of most of his other work.  There is a good article on him in an issue of 78 Quarterly.

Hawkins, about whom Speir had some not flattering things to say, to put it mildly, produced some stunningly beautiful playing, which seems at odds with Speir's description of him.  Interestingly, Hawkins's influence can be found in the repertoire of the Peter Green-Danny Kirwen incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in "Feel Like Crying," which song appears on "Pious Bird of Good Omen" and "And Then Play On" (I think that's the name of the song--or it could be two versions of the same song--and that those are the names of the albums--it's only been about 35 years, so I deserve some slack).   

downthedirtroad

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2007, 06:26:04 PM »
thanks so much everybody for all your information.
i checked out the clips for bad feeling blues and electric chair blues on itunes (YES, itunes carries documents now!!!)
but anyways, my main curiosity, and the reason for this reply, is that i would like to know what Speir said about BB hawkins?  i have read the write up in the GDW book, but i dont remember seeing anything about him...  what exactly was said? i know that not much is known about these guys, so it's sort of neat to learn these things, as i do not know much about harris besides the american primitive and document liner notes.

oh yes, before i forget.  i got a good listen to that "electric chair blues" song (on the Too Late, Too Late), and realized that it was a cover (?) of blind lemon's "'Lectric Chair Blues"...  it's pretty good though, shame about the condition.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 06:35:14 PM by downthedirtroad »

Offline banjochris

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2007, 07:08:53 PM »
To be fair, it wasn't H.C. Speir but Harry Charles who had the disparaging things to say about Hawkins, and he's quoted in the Calt/Wardlow Patton bio. I'm not getting the quote exactly right, but it was along the lines of "he didn't have a speck of sense" "he'd look up at you just like a monkey" -- Charles says he had to give Hawkins headphones and shout at him to stay still and not back away from the microphone. There is more than a soupcon of contempt (and racism, in this case) from Charles in all the things he says about his time in the music business.
Chris

Offline waxwing

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2007, 07:10:43 PM »
Hey, downthedirtroad, where did you pick up that (I assume?) CD? I've been tryin' to get ahold of itt for some time and it's been out of stock. Did Document issue it as a CD-R?Thanks.

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downthedirtroad

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2007, 08:44:02 PM »
it's availible on the document records website as a download, and also on itunes (as i found out when i was looking for the too late, too late series), if you're inclined to that sort of thing.  I myself, found it luckily at a second hand store...  but yeah, dont hesitate to check it out

Offline banjochris

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2007, 11:35:29 PM »
Did they use headphones when recording in the 1920's?

I doubt very highly whether the artist would have, although I would assume that the engineers might have an earphone. But that's what the book says, for what it's worth.
Chris

Offline natterjack

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2007, 04:40:56 AM »
Hey, downthedirtroad, where did you pick up that (I assume?) CD? I've been tryin' to get ahold of itt for some time and it's been out of stock. Did Document issue it as a CD-R?Thanks.

I picked it up direct from Document just before Christmas. Don't think it's CD-R.

Offline MTJ3

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2007, 08:45:52 AM »
To be fair, it wasn't H.C. Speir but Harry Charles who had the disparaging things to say about Hawkins, and he's quoted in the Calt/Wardlow Patton bio. I'm not getting the quote exactly right, but it was along the lines of "he didn't have a speck of sense" "he'd look up at you just like a monkey" -- Charles says he had to give Hawkins headphones and shout at him to stay still and not back away from the microphone. There is more than a soupcon of contempt (and racism, in this case) from Charles in all the things he says about his time in the music business. Chris

Doh!  Paramount scouts--H.C. Speir of Jackson, Harry Charles of Birmingham and R.T. Ashford of Dallas.  BBH:  "These is my blues, I brought them all the way from Birmingham," or such like.  Thanks for the correction, Chris! 

I think Charles goes on to say something to the effect that he had to show BBH how to get to the station or on the train.  It would probably be worthwhile posting the whole quotation, which I'll do when I return home.  There's no question that he expressed contempt for BBH, but I don't seem to recall reading any other particularly caustic or unpleasant utterances from Charles. 

Offline banjochris

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2007, 02:36:23 PM »
Now that I think about it, I might be confusing other statements I thought Charles made with Earl Montgomery, who worked for the Paramount distributor. Charles definitely was the one talking about BBH, but the other comments I was thinking of were the "couldn't tell one f---ing note from another" etc. That was Montgomery, I think.
Chris

Offline MTJ3

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2007, 02:58:32 PM »
Now that I think about it, I might be confusing other statements I thought Charles made with Earl Montgomery, who worked for the Paramount distributor. Charles definitely was the one talking about BBH, but the other comments I was thinking of were the "couldn't tell one f---ing note from another" etc. That was Montgomery, I think. Chris

My recollection was that Charles got on fairly well with his "talent," such as Bogan and Ezell, and had an appreciation for the music (e.g., he claimed Bessie Smith's "Downhearted Blues" was the best song ever recorded).

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2007, 06:01:02 PM »
I Love Buddy Boy's "Voice Throwin' Blues"

And I Dig Most Every Song Recorded By The Elusive William Harris.

Offline CF

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Re: william harris and buddy boy hawkins
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2007, 07:44:35 AM »
I have been enjoying both of these artists works on the JSP Mississippi box set . . . In particular, BB Hawkins' wild voice & the little slides/glissandos(?) he does on his guitar (Number Three Blues esp.). . . very pretty playing . . . & I'm learning William Harris' 'Leavin Here Blues' . . . I've figured that he's playing it in a G position, capoed up to an 'A' pitch, anybody know if i'm on the right track?
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