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We can hardly get our breath, taxed and schooled and preached to death. Tell me how can a poor man stand such times and live? - Blind Alfred Reed, 1929

Author Topic: Our friend Jerry Ricks  (Read 7669 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Our friend Jerry Ricks
« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2007, 04:37:10 PM »
The third one is great, Jerry practising what he preached:

Don't rush it, don't attack it. Just lay in it. And it's so easy to lay in it, it's just when you start fighting with yourself it'll come out like... (plays speeded up version of Turn Your Money Green)... Just lay there. It ain't goin' no place and you ain't goin' no place 'til you finish it -  Jerry Ricks, Port Townsend 97

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: Our friend Jerry Ricks
« Reply #46 on: December 12, 2007, 08:26:21 PM »
Since hearing the sad news of Jerry's passing, I have been ruminating over my many remembrances from his two appearances at Port Townsend. Sadly, Jerry was not very well known, but he holds a special place with many PTCBW attendees who had the pleasure of attending his classes. As part of my remembrance, I plan to listen to the set of tapes I still have from his first year there in 1997. I clearly remember a Friday morning "tour de force" with Jerry roaring through and flawlessly reproducing numerous blues "styles" - it went on for nearly 2.5 hours, with a midmorning wine break (bottle of CA plonk supplied by some thoughtful guy from NZ who later relocated to TX 8)). Every once in a while, he'd throw in something odd (e.g. change the beat around to 1 and 3, or start strumming chords). Then he would stop cold with a comment something like "Now I'm sounding pretty folky - we can't have that!" He filled his classes with a philosophical outlook that was captured quite well in the quote from Mike Miller in the obit article appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Quote
"Jerry was not just a wonderful musician - and he was a terrific guitarist - but he was basically a folklorist and a scholar," said the folk singer Mike Miller. "He just became involved in the history of the music and the people who made it."
I am certainly grateful to Jerry for what rubbed off on me, and I will remember him fondly. Songs like "Empty Bottle Blues" and a very heartfelt "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" drip with Jerry's personality. In his classes, he brought the "old guys" to life, and even though I never had a chance to see or meet (for example) Mississippi John Hurt, Jerry gave me a glimpse of what they were like as a persons - respectful of both to their playing styles, and their essence as human beings.
Rest in peace Jerry.
Cheers,
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Our friend Jerry Ricks
« Reply #47 on: December 19, 2007, 08:02:11 PM »
From: "N. Klein"
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 06:01:36 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Funeral Announcement for Jerry Ricks

With a sorrowful heart I announce the funeral for my beloved Jerry will
take place on Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 15:00 in Kastav Cemetery,
Kastav, Croatia.

With Love,
Nancy Klein

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Our friend Jerry Ricks
« Reply #48 on: December 19, 2007, 08:34:02 PM »
From: "N. Klein"
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 06:01:36 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Funeral Announcement for Jerry Ricks

With a sorrowful heart I announce the funeral for my beloved Jerry will
take place on Thursday, 20 December 2007 at 15:00 in Kastav Cemetery,
Kastav, Croatia.

With Love,
Nancy Klein

 :(
« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 08:35:12 PM by andrew »

Offline Chezztone

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Re: Our friend Jerry Ricks
« Reply #49 on: December 31, 2007, 01:19:56 AM »
Hey Folks -- Happy New Year. I'm back in the Pacific Northwest, after a long trip through the Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas and a bit of West Tennessee, doing research for a third edition of my book Blues Traveling. I was in the Delta, a very special place to Jerry Ricks and the place where I met him, when I heard about his death. It affected me terribly; sorry I'm late to weigh in the subject here. 
I was already scheduled to visit Hirsberg's Drug Store in Friar's Point, Miss., a few days after Ricks' death. The occasion was the dedication of one of the new big series of Mississippi blues markers -- state-sponsored signs, sort of like historic markers, but blue instead of green, and with magazine-page-like back sides full of small print and images. The one in front of Hirsberg's honors Robert Nighthawk. Nighthawk was born in Helena, Ark., and also died there, and lived much of his life there, except for a lengthy period in Chicago. But since the state of Mississippi is not about to put one of those expensive new signs in another state,  it went up in Friar's Point, which was where you caught the ferry to Helena to many years, and where Nighthawk hung out quite a bit and may have had a home for awhile.
The spot right in front of Hirsberg's already is renowned inn blues circles, even on T-shirts you can buy in Hirsberg's (which is an still-existing-if-not-thriving business, owned by the founder's son) as a place that Robert Johnson used to sit and play. The current owner is too young to remember Robert Johnson playing there, in fact he doesn't remember ever hearing any bluesmen playing outside the store. But for some reason everyone accepts that Robert Johnson used to play in front of Hirsberg's. I don't doubt it. Robert Johnson used to play in a lot of places, and if it was a busy store, and a place where people hung out while waiting for the ferry, I'm sure he would have been there playing, especially if he was waiting for the ferry himself, which he would have done a lot, since one of his main girlfriends (Robert Lockwood's mom Estella) lived in Helena. There's even an orange-painted bench in front of the store that you can sit on. Although I doubt it's the same bench that was there in the 1930s, there probably was a similar bench there then that Robert did sit and play on.
And in the late 1990s, when Jerry Ricks was living in the Delta, he liked to sit on that bench and play. He liked to go around and play in various spots where he figured the early bluesmen used to play. It's pretty easy to figure out -- by depots, ferry stops, other busy places. So Hirsberg's was one where Jerry used to like to sit and play. I told that to people at the dedication ceremony, which was a nice event. RJ, Nighthawk and Jerry Ricks all hung out at that spot.
Also a few days later I was a guest on the "Delta Sounds" program on historic KFFA radio in Helena, and I brought a Jerry Ricks CD on and the hosts Terry Buckalew and Sonny Payne played a few cuts on the air, and I talked about Ricks and his connections to the Delta and the music. They enjoyed the recordings, although unfortunately they hadn't met Ricks or heard him live.
I encourage all of you to listen to his recordings. And something that might not come through on the recordings is that Jerry Ricks was a fabulous performer. Besides being a great musician, that is. He had this rock-solid presence when he sat on a chair onstage. He smiled and spoke softly and played and sang and held the audience's attention in a way that many solo acts cannot. He used dynamics, sometimes taking his guitar down very soft (you can catch some of that effect on the records), and the audience would stay right with him. When he asked the audience to clap they would clap! Jerry may have learned some of this incredible presence and audience control from watching all the great elderly performers he saw at the coffeehouse in Philadelphia. He undoubtedly learned a lot about music from them too. But note that he was an excellent student. Many other people also got to see and hear those performers in many coffeehouses and other places. But not many took those lessons to heart and learned to play and perform the way Jerry did, combining and distilling while not losing the individual influences of Lightnin' Hopkins, Brownie McGee, Furry Lewis, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton, Doc Watson and others.
So sorry to see him go. Jerry Ricks was the youngster who heard and learned and reinterpreted all those sounds. And now he's gone too.

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