collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

RL, did you shoot him in self defense? No, I shot him in the leg and he jumped the fence - R.L. Burnside

Author Topic: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet  (Read 3971 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Stumblin

  • Member
  • Posts: 521
  • Got the Blues, can't be satisfied
Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« on: May 04, 2010, 07:32:05 AM »
More on the Gullah/Geechee connection, I'm afraid.
A sentence on the wikipedia page for Blind Blake has got me very intrigued:
"On one recording he slipped into a Geechee dialect, prompting speculation that he was from the Georgia coastal region."
Now, I'm in the midst of all this work and simply don't have time to listen to every single known extant Blind Blake recording in time to write up & hand in.
Can some kindly soul amongst our congregation find it within themselves to let me know to which recording this wiki entry refers?
Also, any other pointers in re Gullah/Geechee blues, other music and any other distinctive cultural traits would be very greatly appreciated. Ta  8)

Offline 143TallBoy

  • Member
  • Posts: 11
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2010, 07:52:07 AM »
Southern Rag is the one I believe they are referring to.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2010, 09:18:47 AM »
Southern Rag is the one I believe they are referring to.
Indeed so. The note writer of the second volume of the Document Blake (DOCD 5025, 1991) makes the following observation. Make of it what you will:

"It is Blake's guitar playing abilities though that gives him his place in the development of a style that commentators now classify as "ragtime guitar". A dazzling display of this technique can be heard on "Southern Rag", a number which hints at his background and perhaps his influences. He begins a spoken commentary which suddenly moves into the vernacular of the Gullah and Geechie peoples of the Georgia Sea Island, underpinned by a demonstration of an African rhythm on his guitar ("I'm goin' to give you some music they call the Geechie music now"), finally lapsing back into his usual speech patterns. An intriguing insight and one which to this day has never been fully explored, despite Sam Charters's tantalizing suggestion that "he seems so natural with it (Gullah accent) that it could be that it's his other accent that's not natural to him"".

So it would seem that Sam Charters first pointed this out. Where? Probably one of his books The Blues Men or Sweet As Showers Of Rain?

Offline Prof Scratchy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1637
  • Howdy!
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2010, 10:05:29 AM »
My theory? Blake had a brilliant ear for music. I bet he had an equally brilliant ear for accents. In his travels as a working musician he would have travelled widely in the South and would have encountered geechie or gullah speakers. Maybe he heard someone say "Hey maan, I want a maatch from you to light my pipe"! It certainly seems to be a phrase that stuck with him and he incorporated it into the spoken backdrop to Southern Rag. I bet if he'd travelled in New England he'd have come up with a Northern Rag with a line "Man I need some gasoline to fill up my cah"....just a theory:)

Offline lindy

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1082
  • I'm a llama!
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2010, 10:12:01 AM »

The second or third-hand story I heard was that Blake spent his early years in or near Jacksonville, Florida--set me straight if new evidence shows that to be wrong. If true, that's close enough to the Georgia Sea Islands to think that perhaps his family migrated from the islands, or that Blake lived in a community with a lot of Sea Island migrants.

For your listening pleasure, here's an NPR piece that has a few snippets of Gullah dialect. At the very end is the Lord's Prayer in Gullah.

http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=5283230&m=5283231

Lindy

Offline Stumblin

  • Member
  • Posts: 521
  • Got the Blues, can't be satisfied
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2010, 10:39:14 AM »
Thanks to you all for your helpful responses. I have several "free" hours tomorrow afternoon, I'll listen to that NPR piece then. And, of course, I have the JSP complete Blind Blake box on my shelf, Southern Rag will be given a damn good listening to.

Offline lindy

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 1082
  • I'm a llama!
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2010, 07:45:07 PM »

Wax:

I think the one point I would disagree with in your posting is the description of the Sea Islands as a "paradise". True, the residents there had it better in some regards than slaves and ex-slaves on the mainland, but they were still basically working as tenant farmers and laborers for miniscule wages and under primitive conditions. As far as human migration is concerned, there's that grass-must-be-greener-over-there thing that is the story of America, families and individuals making decisions to move based on rumors about better conditions over yonder. Whether any Sea Islander migrants showed up in an area where a young lad named Arthur Blake might have heard them conversing is anyone's guess. If he really was somewhat fluent in Gullah, he must have spent some quality time hearing and using it. If he just threw in a couple of phrases here and there on a recording or when joking with friends, he could've picked those up in a lot of places.

There's an interesting connection between the Sea Islands and West Africa, with Sea Island land holders specifically requesting slaves from that part of the world because of their rice growing skills. The pidgin English that emerged in West Africa shows remarkable similarities with Gullah in terms of syntax/grammar, despite the lack of interchange once the original slaves were taken away to North America.

Lindy

Offline LD50

  • Member
  • Posts: 159
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2010, 10:15:02 PM »
A few of my own thoughts...

I think Blake once said on a record that he was from Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is the nearest big city to the Georgia Sea Islands. I've always suspected he was born in the Georgia Sea Islands and moved to Jacksonville when he was a child, as Lindy suggests. The Georgia Sea Islands are very isolated, and were even more so 90-100 years ago. I think it's likelier he heard Gullah as a child from relatives who were from there than that he just accidentally bumped into someone who spoke it in his travels.

Tho again, this is totally hypothetical, and will forever stay that way unless someone uncovers Blake's paper trail some day.

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2083
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2010, 12:40:06 AM »
For what it's worth, the source for Blake being from Jacksonville is the Paramount "Book of the Blues." There doesn't appear to be a scanned copy of Blake's page on the net, but I've seen it reproduced in a book somewhere.
Chris

Offline oddenda

  • Member
  • Posts: 597
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 02:17:18 AM »
There were guitars in the Sea Islands of GA in the mid-thirties when Alan Lomax and Zora Neale Hurston stopped by!

Peter B.

Offline Prof Scratchy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1637
  • Howdy!
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2010, 03:44:26 AM »
On the question of Jacksonville - I must have picked up that piece of information many years ago from an LP sleeve. Other LP sleeves said Tampa. Other LP sleeves suggested Blake's name had been Arthur Phelps. I can't remember any statement of documented sources for any of this information. Yet it's all passed into the realms of what we know - or rather, think we know- about someone of whom we actually know nothing! Which is a mystery, given how active and popular he was. I imagine that somewhere there'll be a birth certificate, a death certifciate, and maybe a census record? What's Michael Gray up to these days?

Offline LD50

  • Member
  • Posts: 159
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2010, 07:07:33 AM »
I read something about a year or so ago that indicated that Gayle Wardlow intended to go to Florida to do research on Blake. Tho at this late date, I can't imagine that anyone who knew him survives, so it'd all have to be archival work.

A pity no one did it 45 years ago, they might have found friends and relatives of his back then.

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2010, 07:13:01 AM »
Gayle Dean Wardlow's lead(s) on Blake in Florida didn't pan out, as I recall.

I like the Perfesser's theory. Blake drops a mimicked line into a song, and it leads to a wild blue goose chase.

Offline Bunker Hill

  • Member
  • Posts: 2832
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2010, 10:52:09 AM »
On the question of Jacksonville - I must have picked up that piece of information many years ago from an LP sleeve. Other LP sleeves said Tampa. Other LP sleeves suggested Blake's name had been Arthur Phelps. I can't remember any statement of documented sources for any of this information. Yet it's all passed into the realms of what we know - or rather, think we know- about someone of whom we actually know nothing! 
Dear Prof, these few sentences of yours had me rushing to my 1991 Document Blind Blake CDs again and in the booklet to volume four is the following:

Arthur Phelps has long been considered to be the real name of Blind Blake. Where this information originated has been lost, to this writer anyway, in the mists of time most likely having been eked out from the memory of a fellow artist. This lack of anything concrete concerning his name left researchers looking to his recordings for evidence. The microgroove reissue in the seventies of "Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About it" conveniently provided such:

Jackson: Say Blake!
Blake: What is it boy, what you want?
Jackson: What is your right name?
Blake: My name is Arthur Blake!

Not necessarily proof positive, granted, but in the last decade, while researching their book on Chicago Music's copyright submissions, John Cowley and Howard Rye discovered that at least nineteen of Blake's recordings were copyrighted to Arthur Blake.


The most recent "commentator" on Blake's life and work has been Jas Obrecht and even he's been unable to unravel it.

Offline Prof Scratchy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1637
  • Howdy!
Re: Intriguing Blind Blake Wiki Snippet
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2010, 11:12:57 AM »
Thanks BH as always - you've put your finger on the closest we'll ever know. You -like me- probably remember the LP sleeve that first revealed the Phelps theory, going on to say that 'blake' was a colloquialism meaning 'travelling musician', or somesuch. Now if only I could put my hands on that LP....!

 


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal