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In a typical program he would introduce 'an extinguished guest'... then play the blues of Bobby Rush or the gospel of the Mighty Sons of Glory, then rhapsodize about Dip's Drive-in Laundromat. Community news - for instance, who was about to be 'funeralized' - might follow - Early Wright, obituary to the DJ, WROX Clarksdale

Author Topic: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings  (Read 6389 times)

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Offline oddenda

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2011, 05:53:26 PM »
Chezz -

          You jump to 21st Century politically correct conclusions way too fast, without knowing the relationship verities if the South in those days. Willie Trice always referred to me as "Mr. Pete" (and Bastin as "Mr. Bruce"). This was the loosest he could go with White people - and we were friends to the end. We tried to "break" him of that, but to no avail - I knew him for almost a decade. You had to have been there, mate!

pbl

Offline TonyGilroy

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2011, 02:17:12 AM »

Fast forward a year or so.

I have a John Hurt CD on Edsel (CD446) where Pete Seeger interviews Hurt. I haven't played it in a while so I could be wrong but I think Seeger says "Call me Pete" but I don't think Hurt does.

Throughout Seeger attempts friendliness (I'm sure quite genuinely) but Hurt is clearly uneasy.

That's what 70 years of Southern living no doubt did.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #32 on: November 04, 2011, 03:46:38 AM »
I think Tom Rushen has it spot on. 

It is of its time, and with that hindsight some of it is embarrassing and uncomfortable to hear.  I agree that it creates a certain discomfort and tension in listening to the recording.

Very hard to blame those involved though, as the way in which they conducted themselves was also very much a product of the time and place.

One has to look at it as a fascinating historical document, a musical treasure trove, and a nagging reminder of just how recently things were very different.

Offline alyoung

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #33 on: November 04, 2011, 04:40:41 AM »
Chezz -

          You jump to 21st Century politically correct conclusions way too fast, without knowing the relationship verities if the South in those days. Willie Trice always referred to me as "Mr. Pete" (and Bastin as "Mr. Bruce"). This was the loosest he could go with White people - and we were friends to the end. We tried to "break" him of that, but to no avail - I knew him for almost a decade. You had to have been there, mate!

pbl
I had a similar experience doing my book on the Pilgrim Jubilees. I interviewed all members of the group many times over several weeks, but the one I had the most contact with was lead singer and manager Clay Graham, and we built up quite a close rapport. Yet he almost always called me "Mr Alan" ... even when we were having a beer. I finally made some progress by telling him that every time he called me "Mr Alan" I'd call him "Mr Clay" ... and then doing it. But he didn't ever completely drop it.   

PS: Gidday Pete, fancy seeing you here....

Al Y 

Offline Blind Arthur

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #34 on: November 04, 2011, 05:23:03 AM »
Well, downloading the entire album at once is only 8 or 9 Euro on amazon.de, the CD itself being something like 21 or 22 here. It?s not bad at all. I?m looking forward to doing it when I?m off from work.
You canīt trust your baby when the ice man comes hanging around :D

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #35 on: November 04, 2011, 07:40:32 AM »
I, too, was uncomfortable, back in the mid 1960s, talking to southern African-Americans, such as Mississippi John, Mance Lipscomb, and Elizabeth Cotten. I tried to get them to call me by my first name, but to no avail -- I was "Mr. Lofgren" and Liz was "Miz Lofgren." Since then, I've realized that it was a protective mechanism -- they were continuing a practice that they HAD to follow in the South, and if you change your behavior during a weekend spent in the North, you run the risk of forgetting your "manners" when you get back home.

Musicians who lived outside of the south, such as Rev. Gary Davis and Jesse Fuller, were much less likely to use the "Mr." appellation.

I may have posted this before, but there's some sonic mementos that I find interesting from Hurt, Davis and Cotten at http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/BrnSnift/SonicAlbum.html .

Lyle

Offline Richard

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #36 on: November 05, 2011, 11:51:23 AM »
Just ordered it on Amazon uk for ?9.35.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline pkeane

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #37 on: November 05, 2011, 09:25:41 PM »
That Mississippi John Hurt w/ Bessie Jones & Georgia Sea Island Singers is fabulous!!

--Peter



I may have posted this before, but there's some sonic mementos that I find interesting from Hurt, Davis and Cotten at http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/BrnSnift/SonicAlbum.html .

Lyle

Offline alyoung

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2011, 03:13:56 AM »
 
I had a similar experience doing my book on the Pilgrim Jubilees. I interviewed all members of the group many times over several weeks, but the one I had the most contact with was lead singer and manager Clay Graham, and we built up quite a close rapport. Yet he almost always called me "Mr Alan" ... even when we were having a beer. I finally made some progress by telling him that every time he called me "Mr Alan" I'd call him "Mr Clay" ... and then doing it. But he didn't ever completely drop it.   


I left out what was probably the main point I was going to make ... that this didn't happened in the 1960s; it was only 11 years ago. 

Al Y

Offline Cleoma

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2011, 10:42:23 AM »
This is slightly off-topic but -- I remember, about 30 years ago, we were in southwest Louisiana and we took the fiddler Lionel Leleux over to near Lake Charles to visit his friend Varise Conner.  Both men were in their 80s.  Even though they had known each other for at least 60 years, they still referred to each other as "Mr. Conner" and "Mr. Leleux."  And just a few weeks ago, in that part of the country again, we visited "Mr. Milton",  the 93 year old fiddler Milton Vanicor -- who played on many of Iry LeJeune's historic recordings.  It's the closest thing we have to a time machine, to hang out with people who were witnesses and participants in this amazing regional music of a time that's gone forever (as every time is, I suppose.) He brought out a ladderback chair upon which rested the backsides of Iry LeJeune and Amede Ardoin (not at the same time) and I got to play music in it too!!!

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2011, 07:22:50 PM »
So, Suzy -- did sitting in that chair affect your music in any way?  If so, how? Were you playing fiddle or accordion? I need to know these things.

Lyle

Offline Cleoma

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2011, 07:45:33 PM »
I don't know yet - I was playing accordion.  I'm hoping that some of the Iry LeJeune/Amede Ardoin juju seeped in.
Here's a photo of Mr. Milton, also one of a replica of his first fiddle (with the Prince Albert can) and his most recent fiddle, which he constructed and it sounds fantastic plugged into his little amp, really sounds like a fiddle (NOT like an electric fiddle). 

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline bnemerov

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #42 on: November 07, 2011, 11:00:18 AM »
Just got home today to see Chezz' comments.

On the tape (but not the CD, unfortunately) there are long sections of MJH tuning and "noodling." Tom suggests John take the capo off but John, by his response, clearly wants it there. He's not being deferential to the White Man---it's a musical decision.

I also recall (Phil can verify this; check the biography. I think it's in there) that Tom left his guitar with John the night before the taping. I'm sure he put the Gibson through its paces in privacy.

As for the cold/capo thing: If you listen to MJH hacking and coughing (the few places we didn't/couldn't edit it out), it's pretty clear he's got bad chest congestion. Much harder to sing down in one's range without triggering a spasm. Had John a head-cold, Chezz, I'd agree with you, but his speaking voice is normal and he ain't sniffling.

The black/white thing in the South is very complicated....I can't add anything to Al and Lyle and Peter B.
best,
Bruce

Offline uncle bud

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2011, 06:53:20 PM »
In the Pete Seeger interview referred to by Tony above, Seeger says something like "John -- can I call you John? You can call me Pete." The words sound innocent enough, but in the context others have already described in detail, it seems clear to me Seeger's words are deliberate and political. The subtext is "we are equal and should treat each other as such" but all of Hurt's 70-plus years would resist slipping into that kind of discourse. It's an interesting moment, and I agree with Tony that Hurt never sounds entirely comfortable.

I think to expect the same kind awareness and calm sensitivity that the veteran activist Seeger demonstrates from a 22-year-old dreamer who has found himself in Avalon, Mississippi, a town that doesn't appear on contemporary maps, and has just rediscovered a bluesman who until that point has been only a legend and a distant voice on some 78s, is probably asking too much. If he was a civil rights activist going down south with another agenda, that would be rather different. I can only imagine the experience in Avalon being surreal and overwhelming. Being called Sir or Mister would likely be low on his list of things to process from that encounter.

There are other examples of uncomfortable interview recordings of blues musicians. Seems to me those where the interview subject sounds comfortable are rare! Leadbelly is relaxed and using given names on the Last Sessions recordings, but he's still a little cautious about what he says at times -- maybe that's for Martha's benefit. There's even awkward interaction found in northern whites interviewing southern whites.

Offline TonyGilroy

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Re: New 1963 Mississippi John Hurt recordings
« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2011, 12:10:01 AM »

I've had the CD for a few weeks but only got round to playing it last night. I somehow didn't really want to.

Having done so, part of me wishes it didn't exist - I certainly won't play it often.

Musically Hurt is obviously unprepared and unpracticed. The encounter must have been strange on both sides and the impression I get is of Hoskins trying (too?) hard and Hurt being as uncommunicative as he could get away with without upsetting Hoskins. His wife is much more willing to engage. At times things loosen up but I'm guessing that's when Hurt gets back into a groove of playing with his family and forgets the strange white presence that's manifested itself at his door.

The encounter had a happy ending certainly for us and hopefully for Hurt but his discomfort is palpable and Hoskins seems like an alien from another world whose apparent benign intent could, for Hurt, be hiding something much more sinister.

 


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