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Author Topic: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser  (Read 7692 times)

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Offline Johnm

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The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« on: April 13, 2008, 10:02:32 AM »
Hi all,
I've been thinking about a topic for a while, only peripherally music-related, but that some of you might find fun.  Who would you nominate as the Blues' sharpest dresser?  In the '60s, it became commonplace for musicians to affect a more down-home, relaxed look in their performance attire, but historically, blues players and musicians in general were as natty in their attire as they could afford to be.
I'll start the ball rolling by nominating Yank Rachell, who even in the '60s and '70s, performing in the heat of outdoor summer festivals, usually dressed really sharp, though casually, with a great hat and even spiffy glasses, which is really going some.  In earlier photos, he is almost invariably seen in a swell suit and hat.  On the female side, Bessie Jackson is wearing a great outfit with a kind of a turban and feather boa in the one picture I've seen of her.  Any other nominees?
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Rivers

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2008, 10:42:25 AM »
Barbecue Bob's pinstripe suit and chef's outfit...

Actually I've never seen a picture of Mance Lipscombe looking anything less than way cool so I nominate Mance in the 'smart casual' category. Great line in sweaters, shirts and hats, if he were still with us he could have his own designer label.

Offline daddystovepipe

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2008, 11:18:01 AM »
Wit sophistication and class, that's how Lonnie Johnson always dressed and played...
 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2008, 11:43:34 AM »
Here's a pretty sharp dude 1931 style.  Click image to zoom for full effect. :)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2008, 12:28:57 PM »
Coolest looking & best dressed may be two categories in the former its...Lightin' Hopkins  hands down the defining image of cool no matter when you catch him. Best dressed could be Leroy Carr or Big Bill.
Junior Wells gets my nod for most adventurous fashion attempts.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Cooljack

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2008, 02:01:33 PM »
yeah Im with you on Leroy Carr, those shoes don't polish themselves


Offline waxwing

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2008, 04:10:43 PM »
Pretty funny that shined shoes are something that seem odd today. Why when I was a kid..... well, yeah, we shined our shoes. Didn't make anyone a snappy dresser.

I think we should make a distinction between the urban players and the guys who actually spent most of their time in rural communities. Like I always thought Son House's tie was spiffy, but those Chicago city slickers, like Big Bill and Washboard Sam, woulda laughed him outa the  room for it.

Hmmm, notice Scrapper has the capo on the 4th fret? Wonder what key Leroy was playing in before the shot?

All for now.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2008, 07:11:44 PM »
Another vote for Lightnin' in the relaxed but tasteful designer weekend wear category. Man the creases on Washboard Sam's (assuming that's who it is) pants are preternatural. Who's his tailor? Not that I ever wear a suit or anything.

Here's Bob making an effort to sell product to the city slickers:

Offline doctorpep

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2008, 07:13:46 PM »
I'd go with Lightnin' Hopkins for the cool, bad-ass look, and Lonnie Johnson for the suave, urbane gentleman look.
"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 unezrider

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2008, 10:04:06 PM »
not to sound like a band wagoner, but yeah, lightnin' is the epitome of cool!
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2008, 10:06:49 PM »

[/quote]

Just look at the drape on that lapel! Thats some expensive suit I'm tellin' yuz!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline banjochris

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2008, 10:23:39 PM »
Charlie Patton -- for wearing spats, if nothing else
Gus Cannon for 19th-century style
and Booker White should get an honorable mention for being tuned in to the times in the late '60s early '70s -- serapes and this little ensemble:



Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2008, 01:34:19 AM »
I understand that when Fred McDowell first came to the UK he was wearing dungarees and carrying an acoustic guitar.  When I saw him perform in 1968 (I think) he had a shiny red electric guitar and was wearing sparkly clothing plus patent leather shoes.

In the early 70s I met Professor Longhair in the street in London (actually in the famous Carnaby Street, just around the corner from where I was working) with Parker Dinkins (of Ahura Mazda label fame).  Fess had on a sparkly turban, plus non-matching suit and shirt - I forget the colours now, but it was reported in Blues Unlimited at the time. (Bunker Hill can probably access the report in seconds with his amazing system... My copy must be somewhere amongst all those old copies of blues magazines).
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2008, 05:16:25 AM »
I understand that when Fred McDowell first came to the UK he was wearing dungarees and carrying an acoustic guitar.  When I saw him perform in 1968 (I think) he had a shiny red electric guitar and was wearing sparkly clothing plus patent leather shoes.

In the early 70s I met Professor Longhair in the street in London (actually in the famous Carnaby Street, just around the corner from where I was working) with Parker Dinkins (of Ahura Mazda label fame).  Fess had on a sparkly turban, plus non-matching suit and shirt - I forget the colours now, but it was reported in Blues Unlimited at the time. (Bunker Hill can probably access the report in seconds with his amazing system... My copy must be somewhere amongst all those old copies of blues magazines).
I can see in my mind's eye a photo of Fess leaning against a lamp post just outside the 100 club in Oxford Street but can't for the life of me visualise what apparel he was wearing.

I'm not too sure of FMcD in dungarees in 1965 but when I saw him that year he was wearing the obligatory suit!

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2008, 06:18:28 AM »


This here dude is hard to beat! Even his goddamn socks are neat!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2008, 06:22:24 AM »
And then there's this...Junior "One man hat crusade" Wells!








My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2008, 07:00:33 AM »
Daddy Stovepipe was pretty snappy:


Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2008, 12:41:35 PM »
Robert Johnson... of course...  Didn't Johnny Shines say Johnson always looked sharp, even when Johnny was "lookin' like a dog"?  Of course Johnny himself had interesting fashion sense with his polyester suits...

I'll second Mr O'muck's nomination of Big Bill as well.

I remember Johnnie Otis's grandson saying on the radio that Lowell Fulson was always dressed sharply.

Personally, I always liked Robert Pete Williams western get-up...  "Cows like music..."  Charley Patton was also said to have worn fancy western wear.

What about the shabbiest dressers (another thread perhaps)?  RL Burnside comes to mind...

And for the nomination for the most "conservatively" dressed I'd vote for Tampa "dresses like a banker" Red.
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Offline Chezztone

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2008, 01:49:40 PM »
Going by the photographic evidence -- Lonnie Johnson or Georgia Tom Dorsey. That's in the male category. Is that all that y'all are interested in? Or are you just neglecting the women? Ma Rainey gets my vote.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2008, 04:16:20 PM »
If we're doing Women I'll take Bessie Smith in full feathered regalia. If we're extending things into R&B then Tina Turner's "Proud Mary " mini, would have to be the livin' end!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline doctorpep

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2008, 06:18:31 PM »
"If we're doing women..."? I know I am! Ha-ha -_-
"There ain't no Heaven, ain't no burning Hell. Where I go when I die, can't nobody tell."

http://www.hardluckchild.blogspot.com/

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2008, 06:33:44 PM »
Memphis Minnie!!!
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2008, 07:36:00 PM »
Memphis Minnie over Tina Turner?@#$%^&*!!??
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2008, 03:38:52 AM »
I always did like Blind Willie McTell's suit.
And his cute little hat too.  :D



And dig that chain!

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2008, 03:42:21 AM »
And Carl Martin, of course.





I also enjoy Martin's less conservative look.  ;D
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 03:46:10 AM by mississippijohnhurt1928 »

Offline blueshome

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2008, 04:44:12 AM »
Tampa Red - tie & tails.

Offline Richard

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2008, 07:51:40 AM »
You have to have a hat, no question.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2008, 08:00:11 AM »
I've been trying my best to resist this thread, but it's finally gotten to me.  My winners are:

Sophisticated Urban Division:  Lonnie Johnson.  In virtually every picture I've seen of him he could go head to head with Fred Astaire.

Rustic Department:  Ishmon Bracey.  In two of the 3 Bracey photos I've seen, he looks like he just spent a year's salary on clothes.

Meritorious Fashion Service Award:  Gus Cannon, for that picture of him as a young man where he's wearing what looks like a Bavarian hunter's jacket and is apparently on his way back from playing at the Munich Oktoberfest.     

Offline lindy

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2008, 08:04:57 AM »


No one beats Eddie Cusic in making sartorial statements on-stage.

Lindy

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2008, 12:55:34 PM »
I do like Funny Papa Smith's suit and bowtie. (Or is it The Black Ace??)


Offline Rivers

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2008, 05:55:19 PM »
...

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2008, 08:10:56 PM »
Pretty Sharp!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Johnm

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2008, 04:36:25 PM »
Hi all,
It's been great to see the responses this thread has generated, and I've got a few more to nominate, St. Louis pianists all:  Roosevelt Sykes, Lee Green and Walter Davis.  I realize not posting photos hardly helps my case, but I can tell you where to find some good ones:  The photo of Roosevelt Sykes on his old Yazoo album made him look like a bank president or captain of industry (in a good way).  Walter Davis has a couple of good photos on the back of the old Yazoo "Cripple Clarence Lofton and Walter Davis" album, and appears to have been a very spiffy, conservative sort of dresser.  Lee Green had an altogether different thing going.  In the only photo I've seen of him which comes in the booklet for the still-available Yazoo CD, "The Way I Feel", a review of which can be found at:  http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=441.0 , he is wearing a swallowtail coat that looks as though it would have had a hard time negotiating a piano bench.  Not a conservative dresser at all, Lee Green.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2008, 06:48:20 PM »
Memphis Minnie over Tina Turner?@#$%^&*!!??

I'm not thinking of Tina as a blueswoman...  Yeah, she's got great legs for an old lady, but ah...  I'm a sucker for whiskey-drinkin', guitar-playin' women... even if she could be my grandmother...

Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2008, 07:55:56 PM »
Memphis Minnie over Tina Turner?@#$%^&*!!??

I'm not thinking of Tina as a blueswoman...  Yeah, she's got great legs for an old lady, but ah...  I'm a sucker for whiskey-drinkin', guitar-playin' women... even if she could be my grandmother...



Yeah...whats not to like.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: The Blues' Sharpest Dresser
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2008, 10:46:28 AM »
and what about the Grey Ghost ...


 


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