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It wasn't so much that I would ask them how to play. A lot of the stuff I knew from old records.... What they usually talked to me about was how to conduct myself as a person. They tried to keep me away from all the things they went through. They tried to keep my nose clean, and they succeeded pretty good - Jerry Ricks, on time spent with the Old Ones, interview in Blues Review No. 46, April 1999

Author Topic: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc  (Read 1217 times)

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Offline TonyGilroy

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Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« on: July 08, 2013, 06:25:13 AM »
I bought this a few weeks ago and have been waiting for someone on here to post an opinion. They haven't so.....

Extraordinary research over decades and on a subject that fascinates me but the outcome seems to me to be a total mess.

My copy is so tightly bound as to be impossible to completely open. The introductory text seems irrelevant and uninteresting.

Once you get to the "meat" it's a listing in non alphabetical order of thousands of blues singers with whatever information can be gleaned from official on line sources and of course that's what I bought the book for.

I thought I knew it all but half of the entries are of people I haven't heard of who never recorded. I suppose that could be considered a plus but I'd have sacrificed these for fuller entries of those who did.

Some entries are longer but the choice seems very random and rarely add anything of great interest. A partial listing of most famous songs of a few artists seems pointless to me but then buried away in the Sleepy John Estes entry is information gleaned from an interview with Charlie Pickett. I had no idea he'd been interviewed and would love to know more.

If the authors have that sort of unpublished research this should have been the place to get it out.

Am I being unfair? I'd be interested in views of anyone else who's bought this.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2013, 09:02:35 AM »
This sounds to me like the project which Bob started compiling in 1966 which was to be provisionally titled The Encylopedia of Blues & Gospel Records.

On 21st November 1988 he wrote to me saying he hoped to produce 8 volumes of 700 pages and asked if I would join a "review panel" of 19 others for a task of scrutinising each entry and commenting etc where appropriate. He enclosed six sample entries for me to peruse - all in strict alpa order. I had too much on my plate and didn't take up the offer.

From what Tony describes it sounds to me like a lesser version of the great magnum opus he's been working on all these decades.

Not something I can afford to purchase so well done Tony for "boldly going", as someone once said. :)


Offline Stumblin

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 10:11:45 AM »
It's a bit too pricey for my liver, maybe worth putting on my note to Santa though.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 11:37:11 AM »
I got it, and I agree that it's a total mess, so much so that I wasn't even going to mention it.  But since it's come up: 

The artists are presented by region of birth - the book is subtitled "A Regional Experience" - but the regions often aren't really anything that blues fans would consider as regions with a musical affinity.  How many of you have been wondering what blues musicians were born in the Pocahontas Formation in Kentucky?  The big problems here are

1: An artist may have been born somewhere, moved away early in life, and never have been influenced by his or her place of birth.
2: There's no index, page caption, or table of contents listing for the regions, so if you want to know who was born in the Eastern Great Lakes and Hudson Lowlands region of New York, you have to randomly page around until you hit page 251.  And if you remember that that region existed and want to look at again at some time in the future, you have to go through the random search process again.

You should at least be able to find an individual artist fairly easily, as there's an alphabetical index of names.  But that index is sadly inaccurate.  To give one example, Casey Bill Weldon supposedly appears twice in the book, on pages 61 and 218.  He is indeed on page 218, mentioned in the Will Weldon entry, which ends : "Contrast Casey Bill Weldon."  So off to page 61 where... there's no mention of Casey Bill Weldon anywhere.  I assume Casey Bill is in the book somewhere, but unless I either start at page 1 and read every page in  its entirety or randomly stumble upon him some day, I'll never find him.

There are plenty of footnotes denoting where the information in an entry came from, but only about half the entries are footnoted.  I would think that every entry should include the source of the information presented, and that such information should be included as part of the entry, not as a footnote.

In summary, there's a tremendous amount of information here, but the information is at best cumbersome to use and at worst pretty much unusable.  the book's deficiencies must rest with the publisher and the publisher's editing team, if there was one.  If the book had spent a few days with an editor familiar with putting together reference books - "Advisory Editor" Norm Cohen is apparently not such a person - the book could have been a worthwhile purchase.  as it is, had I been able to spend five minutes with the book before purchasing it, ...well, I wouldn't have purchased it.     

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 01:55:47 AM »
Good of you to post your views dj.

I've only just noticed there's a link to the work at the top of the daily Blues Dates posted to the PWB group which takes you to Amazon where there are "reader reviews" with an option to 'look inside".

http://tinyurl.com/cdydn9o

In my last post I see I've left out a vital word - "8 volumes of 700 pages" should have "read 8 volumes each of 700 pages". So Bob there must be mountains of material which didn't get published.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2013, 04:43:01 AM »
The sad thing is that with a topic this specialized and the current state of the publishing industry, I'm sure there will never be a second edition to correct the faults of the first edition.

Quote
8 volumes each of 700 pages

I know it's just a dream, but... I wish I could have that sitting on my bookshelf sometime.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2013, 07:17:39 AM »
The sad thing is that with a topic this specialized and the current state of the publishing industry, I'm sure there will never be a second edition to correct the faults of the first edition.
I guess one's got to admire the tenacity in getting published what they have. You wouldn't believe the still-born projects I've got myself involved with over the decades.  :(

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 03:51:12 PM »
I know it's just a dream, but... I wish I could have that sitting on my bookshelf sometime.
I hope it's not just a dream, but... I wish I could have a bookshelf again sometime soon.

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 04:05:18 PM »
I know it's just a dream, but... I wish I could have that sitting on my bookshelf sometime.
I hope it's not just a dream, but... I wish I could have a bookshelf again sometime soon.

you'll find one on down the old plank road ;)

Offline dj

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 09:13:23 AM »
Ok, I have to admit that I used the book three times this week to find the latest birth and death information on artists I was reading about.


Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 09:23:17 AM »
Ok, I have to admit that I used the book three times this week to find the latest birth and death information on artists I was reading about.
There you go dj, at that rate it will have paid for itself in no time. ;D

Offline volpino

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2013, 02:41:52 AM »
The ecoregions referred to in this book can be found at the Western Ecology Division of the US government's Environment Protection Agency, where there are detailed maps. This is a reference book so no doubt disappointing for those in search of some story telling, of which there is no shortage in blues literature. I personally find this approach quite refreshing and very informative...

Offline killerblues

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Re: Blues - A Regional Experience by Eagle & LeBlanc
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2013, 05:34:36 AM »
I have it and am going through it. My copy had to be broke open to get the cover completely open but once inside was amazed with the amount of information. I will be spend a lot of time on this one. It is not for the casual reader.

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