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Boy, everybody's bin asking me one damn thing or another. I'll sing you something from that record when I get out there. You're here to hear me sing, ain't ya? - Lightnin' Hopkins responds to a young Alan Balfour's request to sign an album sleeve

Author Topic: Wille Walker and Friend  (Read 2755 times)

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Offline RobBob

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Wille Walker and Friend
« on: September 04, 2007, 03:37:22 PM »
Who is the second guitarist on the Willie Walker sides like Dupree Blues/South Carolina Rag?  Doesn't Walker play flat pick guitar?

I am having a touch of amnesia.

Bob

Offline dj

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2007, 03:53:17 PM »
The 2nd guitar is by Sam Brooks. 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2007, 11:19:27 PM »
From memory there's a lengthy discussion in Bruce Bastin's Red River Blues about the Brooks family.

Offline RobBob

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 06:35:42 AM »
Thanks,

I have no memory but I have the book.

Bob

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2007, 07:45:18 AM »
Which of the two guitarists plays the lightning fast flat picked (presumably) runs?

Offline dj

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 08:00:52 AM »
That would be Willie Walker.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2007, 10:05:54 AM »
I have no memory but I have the book.
pages 176-77 and in fact rather interesting so have scanned relevant portion for the benefit of those not owning this wonderful work:

A tightly knit group of musicians surrounded Willie Walker. Once he was teamed with Sam Brooks, Walker used no other accompanist. Small wonder that by 1930 they played so well together and that Brooks's dreamy vocal part to "Dupree Blues" sounds in some way an extension of Walker's own delivery. The high, almost falsetto "Oh babe" refrain was usual: local musicians recalled that Brooks could sing like a woman. A fine guitarist in his own right by all accounts, Sam Brooks was first cousin to the man he led. Oddly he is listed in the Columbia files as David Brooks. He survived Walker by many years: one story has him visiting his daughter in the small university town of Clemson, just west of Greenville, and dying there in 1964. Another story had him living into the 1970s, although it appears he is now deceased. In the 1970s, Sam Brooks's nephew "Baby" Brooks was playing with rather more verve and enthusiasm than skill, having given up playing in the mid-1960s. While his uncle played second guitar to Willie Walker, Roosevelt Brooks was the regular second guitarist to Willie's brother, Joe?yet another blind professional musician, listed like his brother as a musician in the city directory in 1931 and 1933 and resident there from 1926 to 1938 at least Joe Walker was the major influence on the young Josh White, and once Josh ceased to lead him, he teamed up with Baby Brooks, who had been born in the city on June 2, 1905, neatly halfway between the birth dates of older musicians like Gary Davis and Willie Walker and the younger men like Josh White and Baby Tate. Brooks recalled Man Arnold and ArchieJackson but spent most of his early years teamed with Joe Walker, occasionally joined by brother Tommy Walker on jug. Joe Walker was alive in Bucknerstown as late as 1969, although by 1972 everyone agreed that he was dead. Baby Tate called Brooks a "C-man" and warned, "Don't ever jump him in C now or he'll run all over you." Tate, who knew Willie Walker and played with Joe Walker and Pink Anderson in their primes, clearly held a respect for Brooks's past playing.

One phase of the Greenville blues scene could be said to be ended by 1933, with the death of Willie Walker and Josh White's departure for New York. The remainder of the Walker-Brooks groups stayed, and Charles Henry "Baby'' Tate joined them. He had lived in town since 1926, had seen Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson before he had left Georgia, and remembered a six-to-eight-piece string band still playing in Greenville when he arrived. He soon became a proficient guitarist and entertainer, a member of the first black group to broadcast over the city's first radio station, WFBC, located on the second floor of the Poinsett (nowJack Tar) Hotel in 1932. He had a Friday spot with the Carolina Blackbirds, which featured Tate's guitar and harp, the ukulele and tenor-steel guitar of McKinley Ellis, and Washboard Willie Young. Sometimes they were joined by Ellis's brother on upright bass. Playing to a substantially white audience they can rarely have featured blues, but the white audiences would have appreciated country instrumentals and probably not all of the music broadcast was of the variety which best suited Ellis, whose use of ukulele and pleasure in singing "Besame Mucho" and "Sheik of Araby" suggests a good deal of "blackface" music. By utter coincidence, Tate and Ellis met again in 1970 after many years apart and they were recorded, with Ellis playing a fine second guitar to Tate's lead.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 10:07:09 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2008, 03:03:08 AM »
Willie Walker discography online !

Anyone knows other interpretations of 'South Carolina Rag' than the ones I already listed ?!?

Stefan

Offline jostber

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2012, 01:33:52 PM »
Just listened to "Dupree Blues" now. Brilliant song.

Offline RobBob

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2012, 02:57:32 PM »
Ironically, the blues in Greenville are mostly played by some very good white musicians and you cannot busk here anymore.  The city father's past an ordinance without going public that made it illegal to take tips while playing on the street.  They said they were not in business of providing anyone with a living.  You used to be able to register with the city and get a bucket for tips.  It added to the ambiance of the city but no more.  So it goes for the arts in South Carolina.  Still a feudal state.

Offline Gerry Clarke

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2012, 08:56:20 AM »
I hear WW finger-picking with finger picks, not flat picking, and the fast runs are executed by alternating thumb and first finger IMHO.

Gerry

Offline oddenda

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2012, 05:13:50 PM »
Gerry -

          Right you are. As Baby Tate said to myself and Bruce Bastin, Willie Played in all the keys with all his fingers!

Peter B.

Offline doctorpep

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2012, 06:42:45 PM »
Elijah Wald quotes Josh White as saying the same about Willie Walker and his unbelievable talent in the Josh White biography, free and equal lose. So, both baby Tate and Josh White said that Willie Walker could play with all fingers in all keys!

I wonder if crying for the Carolinas mentions why Willie Walker was not further recorded.

Please excuse spelling and grammar errors due to speech recognition program.
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

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Offline banjochris

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2012, 06:59:47 PM »
I wonder if crying for the Carolinas mentions why Willie Walker was not further recorded.

That's an easy one: the Depression. Plus he was dead three years after he recorded.

Offline Gerry Clarke

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2012, 09:04:26 PM »
Yes, that's exactly right - unfortunate timing.  Columbia 14578 is down in Mahony's monograph as being 750 pressings, including a supplement, in February 1931.  Blues recordings were taking a big depression hit by then.  Bo Carter and the Shieks last pressings in the 14000 series would only make 400 copies in October of '32.  Records from this period are (were) the toughest to find - late Columbias and Paramounts in the 13000s or high 12s etc.  I was really lucky to get my copy of the WW for $14 back when an advanced collector was discarding his second copy.  Got lucky with the take too for my preferences anyway.

Gerry

Offline dj

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2012, 04:41:06 AM »
Quote
That's an easy one: the Depression.

I'll say.  I've got my music sorted into smart playlists by year.  While my collection is obviously very incomplete, I have the following song count in the playlists, which illustrates the precipitous drop off in blues and gospel recording activity:

1929:   1048
1930:    840
1931:    367
1932:    216

And remember, that's songs.  Divide by 2 to get numbers for records.  Even a major artist like Leroy Carr had to take a 2 year hiatus from the recording studio, from March 1932 to February 1934. 
 

Offline jharris

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2012, 12:17:57 PM »
I have an ongoing theme where I spotlight different blues years on my show. I'm up to 1933 which I'll be airing tomorrow. Here's some information I've extracted from the book Recording the Blues  (reprinted in Yonder Come the Blues):

By 1931 race records were selling about a tenth as well as they had four years previously. For example, Paramount went from waxing over a hundred blues and gospel items in 1930 but only about three dozen in 1931, Columbia had no new artists and its releases were cut by over a third and Victor also cut their releases by a third. In 1932 they were half that. Things hit rock bottom in 1932 with less than 150 new issues ? the lowest level since 1922.

Offline oddenda

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2012, 05:23:55 PM »
In an interview by Paul Oliver back in the day that was published in BLUES UNLIMITED, Josh White referred to Willie Walker as "the Art Tatum of blues guitar". Not too shabby. Baby Tate would not play his tunes no matter how hard I tried to get him to do so (I was especially interested in the two unissued and other tunes) before he died. He played "South Carolina Rag" w. Larry Johnson backing him at a concert in '72 at the college I taught at in New Paltz, NY. Besides those two, i also got Eddie Kirkland to come up!

Peter B.

Offline dj

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2012, 07:24:10 AM »
Baby Tate played at New Paltz in 1972 and I missed it?  Peter, it's 40 years later, and I truly feel devastated by that news.  I was probably down at the Thesis drinking and playing pinball.  I want a do-over!

At least I saw Larry Johnson and Eddie Kirkland at other times, in other venues. 

Offline oddenda

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2012, 06:57:00 PM »
dj -

          It was May 6 and the headliners were The Persuasions, I do believe. The blues guys were even advertised in the school paper with a lay-out (by the late Raoul Vezina) on the suggestion of one of my students involved in the show - one of the things I initiated from my position of faculty member of little power (Biology!). The show was taped by me off the PA board, but the tapes are (of course) in storage in NJ, with safety copies at The L of C's Folklife Archives. Lots of wind noise on the mics, too.

          Larry said after meeting and playing with Tate that he'd go South with me that summer and record with him... someone who actually knew Willie Walker! The Nick Perls effect!! Sadly, he backed out at the time, the enthusiasm waned (and probably rethinking going South with the likes of myself) - I should have taken them both to my apartment to record the and there, but Tate had to head off to the Albany area with Kip Lornell for a coffee house gig. By then Tate was  willing to attempt to record Walker's tunes - sadly he died that summer before those could be done properly, including unreleased material by Willie and new, original songs from Tate.

pbl

p.s. - pubbery is its own reward!
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 07:57:42 PM by oddenda »

Offline RobBob

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2012, 06:39:58 AM »
While the blues resides with a few white players in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, a Black man walked into the 5th String in Greenville two weeks ago an ordered a resonator guitar.  I asked him what inspired him to buy the guitar and learn to play blues, he said the movie, "Honeydripper".  Let's hope things are changing here.

RB

Offline RobBob

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2012, 08:26:29 AM »
So, this guy call me up and is talking about South Carolina Rag and says there are two takes of this tune.  Is that true?  Where is the second one available?

Offline RobBob

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Re: Wille Walker and Friend
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2012, 08:52:59 AM »
Never mind, I found it on DOCD-5062 Ragtime Guitar. Will have to get a copy of that CD now.

 


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