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I shall never forget the first sight I had of Fred in his dungarees, carrying his guitar and walking out of the woods toward us in a Mississippi night - Shirley Collins, quoted in The Southern Journey of Alan Lomax - Words, Photographs and Music, by Tom Piazza, LoC 2013

Author Topic: Another Willie/iam question  (Read 576 times)

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Offline wreid75

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Another Willie/iam question
« on: March 27, 2012, 01:11:39 PM »
Did Lomax refer in his notes to two different musicians recording Mississippi Blues and Ragged and Dirty?  Sounds like the same cat but I would love to have a reference to this, a link, whatever it this is indeed the case.

Offline dj

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Re: Another Willie/iam question
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2012, 03:45:05 PM »
It's the same William Brown doing Mississippi Blues, East St. Louis Blues, and Ragged And Dirty.  They were recorded at Sadie Beck's Plantation, Arkansas on Thursday, July 16th, 1942, Library of Congress matrix numbers 6606-A-1, 6606-A-2, and 6606-A-3, respectively.

Offline oddenda

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Re: Another Willie/iam question
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 05:37:26 PM »
...and that William Brown was a tall left-handed guitarist. This from Lomax to me en passant during our time at The Library of Congress working on what became "The Deep River of Song" collection of albums eventually issued by Rounder. He also recorded Willie "61" Blackwell (who made a few sides for Bluebird/Victor). The recordings were done there because Lomax, et al were run out of Memphis for consorting with one another - out-of-town White man and "local n*****rs... not allowed. They made an appointment to meet later in the day in across the river in Arkansas. Being recorded always a matter of serendipity, even for Alan (especially?).

     Met Stefan Grossman for the first time the other day in Sydney  - he was very interested in the fact that Brown was a lefty! Did he play a standard-strung guitar upside-down, or have one he'd re-strung? Do not know... didn't ask at the time (I plump for the former). And it's  NOT the same Willie Brown who was the Charley Patton/Son House side-kick.

Peter B.

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Another Willie/iam question
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 05:51:07 PM »
That's very interesting about Brown being a lefty. I'm not sure what telltales it leaves if you're a lefty and fingerpicking upside down. I guess there's something characteristic in Elizabeth Cotten's style, but I don't think I can quite describe it, and I don't hear that same "it" in Mississippi Blues or Ragged and Dirty. If I had to guess I'd've said I thought he was a restringer.

Maybe the Cotten thing is that because she's playing the treble with her thumb it comes out a little stronger than from us righties. I don't know.

Offline dj

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Re: Another Willie/iam question
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 05:56:07 PM »
Just to make things as confusing as possible, there were four William Browns who recorded for the Library of Congress over the course of four years:

William Brown recorded as part of an unaccompanied vocal group Thursday, May 11th and Saturday, May 13th 1939 at the State Penitentiary, Huntsville, Texas.  Songs were Great Day (matrix 2646-B-1) and When The Gates swing Open (2646-B-2) on Thursday and Ride On King Jesus (2603-B-1) on Saturday.

Willie Mae Brown recorded Turpentine Blues (3529-A-2), an unaccompanied vocal, at the Aycock & Lindsey Turpentine Camp, Cross City, Florida, on Friday, August 18, 1939.  (B&GR states "This is a male singer".)

Son House's sidekick recorded Make Me A Pallet On The Floor (4781-A-3) at Clack's Store, Lake Cormorant, Mississippi in late August, 1941.

And the William Brown cited at the top of this thread recorded in 1942.

Evidently William Brown was a popular name back then.   

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