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And if anybody asks you who's singin' so straight, just tell 'em it's a quartet called the Golden Gate - Golden Gate Quartet, Every Time That I Feel The Spirit

Author Topic: Peetie Wheatstraw  (Read 3635 times)

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Offline dj

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2008, 03:23:24 PM »
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How's this book?

It's short - 116 pages in my edition - but then all the hard facts we know about Peetie Wheatstraw's life would fit on about 3 pages.  There's a lot of information on what St. Louis and East St. Louis were like in Wheatstraw's day, and a lot of lyric transcription and analysis.  I'm not sure I agree with all the biographical conclusions Garon draws from Wheatstraw's lyrics, but the book is well written, easy to read, and when you get done you'll know all there is to know about Peetie Wheatstraw. 

It's illustrated and indexed, with a bibliography and discography.  And it comes with a CD of Wheatstraw's music.  At least it did in 2003 when I bought my copy.
   

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2008, 06:47:09 PM »
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It's kind of tough to penalize the artists too much when you realize that all the record companies wanted to do was to keep re-mining whatever musical vein had recently yielded a hit record.

At least some of the artists felt frustrated by what they perceived as the record companies' straight jackets.  To quote Jerry Zolten's notes to Volume 8 in Document's Bumble Bee Slim series, Slim "walked out on his Chicago recording base because he was tired of the same old approach to production...  'Each time I go to the studio I have a piano player and a guitar player.Piano and guitar, piano and guitar, you hear one number, you hear them all'".   

There's a chapter in Sam Charters' The Country Blues that talks about this issue. The chapter title is The Bluebird Beat and talks about the sound and bands being somewhat interchangeable at Bluebird, with a few exceptions like solo players such as Tommy McClennan. I find stuff like Tampa Red or Washboard Sam from this period quite enjoyable, but there's no question that this is music moving closer to the assembly line and best taken in small doses. I would imagine this is what Nick Perls would have been joking about.

Who knows what Charley Patton's entire output would be like if he'd survived or been successful enough to fill up 15 volumes on Document.


Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2008, 12:20:33 AM »
It's short - 116 pages in my edition - but then all the hard facts we know about Peetie Wheatstraw's life would fit on about 3 pages.  There's a lot of information on what St. Louis and East St. Louis were like in Wheatstraw's day, and a lot of lyric transcription and analysis. I'm not sure I agree with all the biographical conclusions Garon draws from Wheatstraw's lyrics, but the book is well written, easy to read, and when you get done you'll know all there is to know about Peetie Wheatstraw. 

It's illustrated and indexed, with a bibliography and discography.  And it comes with a CD of Wheatstraw's music.  At least it did in 2003 when I bought my copy.
I think that's a fair appraisal but perhaps it should be born in mind that when first published in 1970 it told us more than we ever knew at the then, having only Paul Oliver's five page appreciation in a 1959 Jazz Monthly as a oint of reference! The CD contains a previously unknown Harmon Ray track which, I guess, has probably now found its way on to other releases.

I've only own the cloth edition which has gold leaf lettering and similar gold leaf reproduction of Bluebird B545. Having seen the cover of the paperback I'm pleased I do. Chacun a son gout.  ;D

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2008, 03:28:51 AM »
I have to admit that this isn't nearly as eye catching as the paperback, even taking into account the deficiencies of my ancient scanning software.
(click image to zoom)


« Last Edit: March 29, 2008, 03:30:03 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline dj

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2008, 04:28:59 AM »
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perhaps it should be born in mind that when first published in 1970 it told us more than we ever knew at the time

Absolutely.  I didn't mean to belittle the book at all.  It's well worth reading, and it's a minor miracle that it's been republished and is still in print.
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2008, 01:52:27 PM »
There's a chapter in Sam Charters' The Country Blues that talks about this issue. The chapter title is The Bluebird Beat and talks about the sound and bands being somewhat interchangeable at Bluebird, with a few exceptions like solo players such as Tommy McClennan. I find stuff like Tampa Red or Washboard Sam from this period quite enjoyable, but there's no question that this is music moving closer to the assembly line and best taken in small doses.
Quite so and all down to a Lester Melrose formula which he was proud of. This has been a topic of discussion here previously. See Music Scouts tag.

Offline dj

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2008, 04:04:16 PM »
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There's a chapter in Sam Charters' The Country Blues that talks about this issue. The chapter title is The Bluebird Beat...

I've alluded to this in other posts, but since it's been mentioned here, I'll go on record as saying that the more I listen to the music that Charters was referring to, the more I think that that was one of the most unfortunate chapters in the history of blues scholarship as it kept foolish people (namely me) from listening to and appreciating some very good music for far too many years.

Online Johnm

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Re: Peetie Wheatstraw
« Reply #22 on: March 30, 2008, 10:10:06 AM »
Hi all,
At the instigation of this thread, I've been going back and listening to individual performances by Peetie Wheatstraw in the context of anthologies where he is one of many musicians featured, and . . . he comes off really well in these settings.  On an old Origin Jazz Library St. Louis anthology, he does "Sleepless Night Blues", accompanying himself on guitar, and it is sensational, in a class with the early Henry Townsend and J.D. Short titles.  Peetie was also a strong pianist, though not in a class with people like Roosevelt Sykes, Henry Brown and Wesley Wallace in terms of sheer technique.  Wheatstraw's accompaniment of Teddy Darby on Darby's "Pokino Blues", discussed in detail in the Teddy Darby Lyrics thread, is unforgettable. 

I think that to the extent that people get sick of Peetie Wheatstraw, they just get sick of him singing, "Oooo well, well" halfway through his taglines.  As vocal mannerisms go, I don't find it nearly as objectionable as Bob Wills' incessant simpering "Ah, hah", plastered all over every Texas Playboys recording.  It's bad enough on records, but can you imagine being in the band and hearing that all night long at every gig?  Yecch.
All best,
Johnm

 


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