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Wasn't no use for anybody else to come up talkin' about playin' against him, 'cause they couldn't even do what he was doin' -- all they could do was look and wonder how in the hell he done it - Tom Shaw, speaking of Blind Lemon Jefferson

Author Topic: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio  (Read 6866 times)

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Offline outfidel

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Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« on: January 03, 2008, 11:58:39 AM »
The photo below was posted on shorpy.com with this caption: ""May 1941. Music-making in the convict camp at Greene County, Georgia."

When I posted this over on The Woodshed, Stefan Grossman identified the guitar player as Buddy Moss. Here's blurb from a bio of Moss:

Quote
This first recording session consisted of eleven tunes, and by mid-September 1933 he was recording another twelve songs. This time, however, Curley Weaver and Blind Willie McTell were accompanying him. The summer of 1934 saw Moss outselling everyone in the industry and continued to do that when he teamed up with Josh White in 1935. Moss was arrested that year however for either murdering his wife or fighting to the death with one of his rivals, depending on which source you read. He was released from the Georgia prison system six years later due to good behavior and a good word from James Baxter Long, Blind Boy Fuller's "manager." This may have been due to the fact that Blind Boy Fuller was dying and Long needed another star.

So it seems the photo was taken near the end of his prison term. I wonder if the photographer knew (or cared) that it was Buddy Moss?



« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 12:01:50 PM by outfidel »
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Cooljack

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2008, 04:27:36 PM »
This is a serious De-Ja-Vu for me as I was listening to the Georgia Cotton Pickers recordings earlier, ran over the name buddy moss and thought it was some obscure harmonica player who recorded a couple of sides. I was pleasantly surprised to find this picture though earlier today and discover document have three volumes of his work. Thats a brilliant picture, I love all the little details in it, such as the guard peering through the grate in the background and the hat on the wall and the questions raised. Im a big fan of black and white photography
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 04:33:43 PM by Cooljack »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2008, 09:55:51 PM »
Fabulous shot that Michael. I had seen something similar before but not in such majesty. Yazoo put a frame that must have been taken within seconds of that one on the cover of now out-of-print comp #1013 East Coast Blues. The dancer has his right arm in the air on the Yazoo. Your shot is a better one, the guy looks like he's playing air guitar and probably was.

I had no idea that was Mr Moss on guitar, and the liner notes don't mention it. I guess at the time Yazoo didn't know it either since there are no BM tracks on the album. Thanks for posting.

PS credit for the cover photo on the Yazoo is 'Courtesy Jack Delano'. I have no idea who that is, perhaps one of our readers can chip in here. The frame used on the Yazoo comp can be seen on Stefan Wirz's Yazoo page, http://www.wirz.de/music/yazoofrm.htm, search for '1013'
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 10:14:44 PM by Rivers »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2008, 10:34:12 PM »
 Really spectacular photo. Thanks.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 01:01:34 AM »
there are TWO other photos I know of from that 1936 'session'; can be found on my BM page at http://www.wirz.de/music/moss.htm (go to bottom of page).
Stefan

Offline dj

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 04:57:22 AM »
Isn't there another one taken with the photographer standing in front of the stove, looking at Buddy sitting on the bunk?  It might be in Larry Cohn's Story of the Blues, but I don't have the book nearby to check.

Cooljack

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2008, 06:20:50 AM »
theres a somewhat comprehensive wikipedia article on the photographer who was a musician himself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Delano

and found another picture:

http://guitarvideos.com/assets/archivaldownload/prisondancer.jpg
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 06:37:33 AM by Cooljack »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2008, 07:39:53 AM »
Thanks for the tip on the Jack Delano bio. A very interesting life it seems, and judging by the Buddy Moss photos and the one on the wikipedia page, a superb photographer. Makes you wonder what other hidden treasures there are in the WPA archives. I have a sneaking suspicion, based on no evidence whatsoever, that some early home movie buff, or their decedents, around Atlanta must be sitting on a reel of Blind Willie McTell playing out on the street. I actually contacted the Atlanta Historical society to see if they had a film archive. They don't but made some suggestions as to where to look. I haven't had the time to follow up. Any Atlantans out there?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline outfidel

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2008, 08:40:00 AM »
Makes you wonder what other hidden treasures there are in the WPA archives.

In case you haven't seen it, check out the Library of Congress's online American Memory collection

I did a search on "guitar prison" and found this in the collection - I think it's the pic that dj had in mind:

« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 08:41:56 AM by outfidel »
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2008, 11:19:47 AM »
Isn't there another one taken with the photographer standing in front of the stove, looking at Buddy sitting on the bunk?  It might be in Larry Cohn's Story of the Blues, but I don't have the book nearby to check.
DJ, you are getting your book titles confused! ;D

Nothing But The Blues facing page 265 where John Cowley's chapter Non-commercial Blues: The field trips, 1924-60 commences. Yet a slightly different pose to those shown here and on 1968 Yazoo LP sleeve. 

Offline dj

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2008, 11:48:37 AM »
Quote
DJ, you are getting your book titles confused!

Oops!   :o

According to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog, these pictures were taken at a "convict camp" in Greene County, Georgia, in May or June of 1941.  There are 29 photographs taken by Delano at this time and place in the collection.  The summary description is: 

Quote
Photographs show Negro prisoners in the jail, sitting on their cots and eating. Working on the roadway in Oglethorpe County, with a guard. Prisoner tap-dancing to the music of a guitar. Group of convicts attending burial service of their warden, who had been killed in an automobile accident. Prisoners' hands through cell block lattice work.


Unfortunately, none of the photographs in this group are available online.

Offline harry

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2011, 02:49:25 AM »
I came across this photo which has such astonishing quality I thought I'd post it.

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline LB

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2011, 05:33:51 AM »
Yep Green County Ga early 1940s (41?), there are actually two of these photos taken moments apart. One of my faves too. I think it's called Prison Dancer.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2011, 06:13:42 AM »
Go to http://www.wirz.de/music/mossfrm.htm and scroll to bottom.

The other first used in 1968 on Yazoo LP cover.

Click on the tag below and you will find a list of Moss discussions one of which concerns these photos.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 06:15:26 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline harry

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2011, 07:06:02 AM »
Thanks Bunker Hill. Now noticed outfidel already posted the photo 3 years ago. Well than for the ones who missed it first time around can look at this piece of history.

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