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You'd better take this away from me before I hurt myself - Mose Scarlett, handing off soloing duties to Ken Whitely in concert

Author Topic: Buddy Moss  (Read 12706 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Buddy Moss
« on: August 06, 2003, 08:43:55 PM »
Hi All,
Buddy is a guy I had been intending to check out for some time.  An East Coast player originally from Georgia, he had a period of recording activity in the mid-30s cut short by a five year prison term.  He got out of prison in time to run smack dab into the World War II Era recording ban.  From that point onward his career in music was dogged by hard luck.  I actually saw him perform in Philadelphia in the mid-60s.  He was not sharp, but you could tell he knew a lot.  At the time I found his vocals a little too smooth for my taste.  He also did an album for Biograph, which I used to own but lost somewhere along the way.  I have always been curious about him because musicians of his era and region almost always rated him very highly (including Rev. Davis, who could be notoriously persnickety in rating the work of other musicians).
Anyhow, I picked up all three volumes of his complete early recordings on Document at Port Townsend last week and have been having a great time listening to them.  The first volume is almost exclusively duets with either Fred McMullen or Curley Weaver, in that spiffy, well-worked-out duet format at which that circle of musicians excelled (another great PT class possibility).  At the time of these recordings, Buddy was 19 years old (born 1914), and awesomely precocious in terms of developing his own instrumental and vocal styles.  Vol. 2 is the killer.  It opens with five duets with Curley Weaver, including two great takes of "Broke Down Engine", and then launches into 17 solo performances by Buddy, all recorded between July 30 and August 11, 1944.  These cuts are tremendous and quite varied, with an 8-bar blues in dropped-D tuned a whole step low, and numbers in E, A, G, and C standard.  He abounds with great original ideas and sings really well.  Vol. 3 is back to the duet format, primarily, with the high points being some really stellar duets with Josh White on gospel numbers where Josh is playing in Open D, where he particularly excelled.
I have really been impressed by the music on these CDs and have found several tunes which I intend to figure out.  I feel like I now understand the high esteem in which Buddy Moss was held by his peers.
All Best,
John  

Offline frankie

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2003, 03:34:34 PM »
I have the first of the Document volumes and while I liked what I heard, it didn't exactly set me on fire and I never got motivated to pick up the other two volumes.  I think I'll reconsider, though...  I confess to liking his solo material more than the duet stuff, which is probably why the first volume didn't really do it for me (although there are cuts that I like a lot).

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2003, 04:02:13 PM »
Hi Frank,
Great to hear from you!  Clifftop sounds like fun, I have to go sometime (provided it doesn't run simultaneously with Port Townsend).  Those East Coast duets are great, but I could use a little more wildness, too.  It's not exactly like Joe Williams and Henry Townsend, but then, nothing else is like those guys playing together, either!
All best,
John

Offline Slack

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2003, 10:50:44 AM »
Hi John, as I think I told you, I bought all the Buddy M documents too -- but have only been able to listen to Vol 2 so far - which I really like, you can certainly understand the comparison to BB Fuller.   These are pretty clear recordings to boot!

cheers,

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2003, 01:14:37 PM »
In our Buddy Moss discussion last week at the workshop, I seem to have conflated two Moss cd's I have into one. One is actually on Travelin' Man, Buddy Moss 1930-1941, and it's a compilation of stuff that includes the Georgia Cotton Pickers stuff, some of the Georgia Browns material, solo tunes, duets with McMullen,  Weaver, and Josh White, plus some things with Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. It's odd listening, as I can hear Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie, Josh White, Barbecue Bob - a whole mix of east coast styles. Who's influencing who. I'd like to hear Document vol 2.

The second CD I have is the reissue of the Biograph LP JohnM referred to losing. The CD issue is "Buddy Moss: Atlanta Blues Legend" and has extra material not on the LP. Playing here is mighty fine, with slightly more postwar sophistication (and some repetitiveness) happening harmonically - recording took place in 1966. You can really hear Fuller on some of the tunes here. There is a sameness to some of the stuff, and too much reverb, but overall a strong disc. I can't find songwriting credits anywhere on the cd but the notes refer to Moss's "own song" Chesterfield, which I know only from John Jackson. Buddy's version has some fun playing.

I'm not sure this cd is still available from Biograph. I see it on occasion in used cd shops, where I picked it up.

Uncle Bud

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2003, 11:28:19 AM »
Hi all,
For interested parties, the next e-lesson is in progress.  I started working out Buddy Moss's "New Lovin' Blues", an 8-bar blues in Dropped D tuned a whole step low.  Boy, is it great.  I figured out and transcribed the intro this morning, hope to get the verse accompaniment and solo this afternoon and tomorrow.  ThenI'll record the lesson and get it off to John D.  I hope to have it real soon.
All Best,
John

Offline Slack

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2003, 11:43:04 AM »
Hi John, that's great news!  

That was the tune that forced me to buy the 2 documents. ;D  Looking forward to it.

cheers,

poney_boy

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2004, 07:51:36 AM »
Do you have any stuff by Curley Weaver?? Buddy Moss told Cora Mae Bryant, daughter of Moss' long-time playing partner Curley Weaver, that he was playing with Fuller, Brownie, and Gary Davis up in the Carolina's but, "When I heard Curley I heard the best."? Apparently Moss moved backed to Georgia to learn from Weaver.? That is why you hear a lot of Fuller and east coast piedmont influence in his early recordings, but the late Biograph CD that you once had has TONS of Weaver songs and licks.

Brownie, a long time friend of Cora Mae Bryant, once called and expressed his amazement at Weaver's playing style.? Bryant said Brownie played Weaver's Sometime Mama on the original 78 for her over the phone!!!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2005, 10:14:05 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2004, 08:54:11 AM »
Hi poney boy,
Welcome to the group!? Interesting that you should mention Curley Weaver.? Just last night I was selecting a couple of cuts on which he plays for a workshop I will be doing at Port Townsend concentrating on the second guitar part in great Country Blues duets.? Curley seems kind of a mystery man to me.? He was so adroit at "seconding" that he seems most often to have been cast in that role in the recording studio, whether behind Buddy Moss, Fred McMullen, Blind Willie McTell, or someone else.? I like his solo cuts that I have heard, particularly "No, No Blues" and "Ticket Agent", from the '50s, but on the basis of what I've heard, it's hard to see how he could be rated above Rev. Davis as a solo guitarist, or Buddy Moss, for that matter.? Maybe Buddy was responding to Curley's accompaniment skills, an area of talent that is especially appreciated by fellow musicians.
All best,
Johnm?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2005, 09:26:55 AM by Johnm »

poney_boy

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2004, 09:20:54 AM »
Which two songs are you working on?

I used to listen to a lot of Blind Willie McTell and never even considered purchasing one of Weaver's CDs because he seemed like just an ordinary back up guitarist. But after talking with Cora Mae and hearing some of Weaver's solo stuff, I started collecting and really getting into it.  Unlike many of the blues artists of his era, just about every one of his solo songs are different.  You can't get by with learning three or four of his songs and think you can get his whole reportoire or style down.  Ticket Agent is different from Tricks Ain't Workin' No More which is different from No No Blues which is different from My Baby's Gone, etc.

I do not think Moss was referring to Weaver's accompaniment skills because once you have studied and learned Weaver's styles and then go back and listen to Moss' last recording on the Biograph label you know that he does Cold Rainy Day, Oh Lawdy Mama, Come on Around to My House, and Wee Midnight Hours, all original Weaver tunes, very similar to the way Weaver did them.

By the way, Ticket Agent can't be found on a CD, how did you hear that song? 

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2004, 10:47:23 AM »
Hi,
I heard "Ticket Agent" on an old Blues Classic album, put out by Arhoolie, which I do not believe survived into the CD era.  It is It is "Country Blues Classics, Vol. 1", Blues Classics #5. 
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2004, 01:53:30 PM »
Hi poney_boy - welcome to the weenie line!

Unlike many of the blues artists of his era, just about every one of his solo songs are different.? You can't get by with learning three or four of his songs and think you can get his whole reportoire or style down.

I wonder what musicians you would say fit this description...
« Last Edit: April 11, 2005, 10:15:49 PM by Johnm »

Offline Blue Poodle

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2004, 07:32:12 AM »
I would have a lot of interest in seeing more lesson materials, tablature on the playing of Moss and Weaver.  I very much enjoyed the lesson that John Miller did this summer at Port Townsend on guitar duets, where he used a Moss/Weaver duet as an interesting example.
All the world loves a lover, but a lover doesn't always love love.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2005, 03:34:12 AM »
An aquaintance in Memphis requested a scan of a 70s Buddy Moss interview (Melody Maker July 15, 1972). As it's a fairly good insight into the personality behind the man I thought I'd pass it on here.
 
Buddy Moss
talks to
Valerie Wilmer
"BUDDY MOSS? Oh he's really a mean guy?you ought to stay clear of him!" That was one of several warnings I received on making it known that l intended to visit the Atlanta bluesman who had shared one of Josh White's first record dates.
I'd been told Moss was moody and mean and knew he'd served a jail term stiff enough to put paid to his successful recording career back in the mid-thirties, so naturally I approached his house with some trepidation.
Moss had rather barked down the telephone when I'd mumbled something about an interview and the man who thrust his head round the door looked like the voice sounded.
Sturdy and well-muscled for a man of 58, his broad shoulders and close-cropped, pugnacious head represented much more than the arrogance that stems from insecurity.
Moss is tough because he's had a lot to contend with in his life; he's also a man of great personal charm?something I not only experienced myself but observed from the warmth with which he was greeted later that afternoon.
They'd also told me Buddy Moss was "difficult." What people who'd tried to exploit his talent did not?or did? realise is that Buddy Moss is not about to get talked over by anyone
"People been coming round here asking me to record things," said the guitarist. "Well, you have to give something every once in a while? but to a worthy cause. There's no sense in making one per son richer when you are getting poorer."
Flattery carries very little weight with Moss who was shrewd enough thirty years ago to guide his old friend Brownie McGhee, to royalties that were due to him.
"Lots of the rock bands, they're trying to go over to the blues?or at least to do their things in a bluesy way," said Moss
"This English guy called me?he does lots of stuff that B. B. King does. He talked to me once, said he wanted me to do just a session, but you know most of those guys, when they want you to do 'just a session,' then there's something in there that they want. They'll do it and then they say to themselves 'Yeah, man, we really did this thing right!'
"Next time, next thing you hear is what you did with them and you hear it some other place! You get Paid for the session but they collect the royalties. In fact, every song that I write I copyright it. Then, if things do change, I'm the owner."
Between January 1933 and August 1935, Moss recorded 59 titles under his own name He also backed Blind Willie McTell and played harmonica behind his old running partner, Curley Weaver, on sessions from the same period
His best songs financially he recalls, were "When I'm Dead and Gone" and "V-8 Ford," but his period of incarceration put an end to his recording career until 1965 when he played the Atlanta Blues Festival and Cut a date for Columbia The session has never been released, and Moss is understandably bitter.
"They'll leave it on the shelf for 4 or 5 years and tie you up so you can't record for no-one else, then release it and it's a hit. They'll push something else as long as they can, and then when it starts going down, they'll reach for you or anyone else they can "But yet and still blues always had a little spot here with me "?Moss touched his heart?" And it doesn't make no difference if there's no words to the music, as long as it's a blues, I just love it." Moss came originally from ''a little old country town," Jewell, Georgia, and moved through Augusta to the state's capital as a child. He started playing the harmonica at the age of 12 or 13 but did not pick up the guitar till around
He taught himself to play by listening to records by Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson, ant through personal contact with Barbecue Bob. He met Josh White, who came from Greenville, South Carolina, on his second record date.
"We never worked together as a team," he said. "Sometimes, if I was going to record, he would be there also, so we'd get together and maybe do a few things together. He'd think of this thing, and maybe I'd think of that thing, and finally we'd do something.
"We spent a lot of time together, and I also worked with Barbecue Bob and Curley Weaver, but practically all the old guys are dead. I was more or less a Ioner after they died, in fact I've been a loner for practically all my life."
Moss has done very little playing since he appeared at the Newport Festival a couple of years ago, because his wife became ill and he decided to take a day job for security reasons.
"Some places in Atlanta there's interest in blues, but some like sentimental, some like Country and Western. I'm going to stick with blues?I can do other things, but I just don't like anything except blues.
"See, I've lived the blues and I love the blues. You take a little of what we call heritage?some people say you forget it, but you never do forget that. It doesn't make any difference?unless you're very young, you understand? that's something you can't forget,"
There is a possibility that Buddy Moss may be headed for Europe some time this year. Should the tour materialise, there's no doubt that he still can play judging from the little I heard of his gentle guitar and wistful way of singing which is so dramatically opposed to the hard headed, tough-guy image he projects for self-preservation.
"No" he smiled, " I don't think it?s strange that people in Europe should be interested In the blues?Europe or anyplace else?because you can take the blues and do anything you want with it.
You can't take a sentimental song or jazz?and I'd say jazz was originated from blues, anyway?and make a blues out of it. Maybe some people could, but it'd be very hard to do because if you never had the blues, you don't know 'em.
"You don't have to have lived a hard life yourself, you have to see the other people lead a hard life and know blues. I'd say that round in the 'thirties it was grand for me but it was tough on other peoples?you see my point?
"You know I couldn't say that because I see you live a hard life and I don't, that I have to do it in order to sing the blues, but I?ve seen so much of how people did live though it was grand for me; Musicians, in a way?they had a good time. The only thing is, sometimes a guy trusts people too much, which I had the misfortune of doing with two or three bad business ventures.
"If you can't trust a human, you're in bad condition, but now it's getting to be dog-eat-dog, you know."
Moss shook his head sadly. Wisely, he changed the subject
"Would you like to hear an old country blues?" he asked, reaching for his venerable dark brown Gibson.
"I don't like it, but you might." I certainly did.

Offline dj

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Re: Buddy Moss
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2005, 11:58:36 AM »
Thanks for posting this, Bunker Hill.  Buddy Moss has always been one of my favorites. 

Does anyone know if Moss's 1965 Columbia sessions have ever been released?  Has any post-war recording of Buddy Moss been released other than the 1966 Folklore Society of Greater Washington concert that came out on Biograph as Atlanta Blues Legend?

 


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