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He could preach too... But he was blind... and a woman leads him around... - James Truesdale on Blind Willie Johnson

Author Topic: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill  (Read 793 times)

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Offline wreid75

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Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« on: September 14, 2013, 08:50:29 PM »
I was in Chapel Hill today and wondered up on this old man playing on the street.  He looked to be about 80, but could be younger and the mileage of life has made him look older.  I was admiring at a distance eating a slice of pizza talking with some friends when he started playing Poor Me.  I flipped my lid, I have never heard someone playing that tune on the street.  He did say a few things differently and sang someone else's name in place of Bertha Lee.  So once he was done I walked over and talked with him for a few minuets.  He said his name was Elijah Bond but everyone called him Slick and gave a rather amusing story of how he got his name.  I asked if he knew any other songs by Charley Patton.  He said he has been asked that question many times but that he didn't, and that he didn't know that song from Charley Patton.  His grandfather taught him the song.  He said most of the songs he knew he learned from his grandfather a long time ago.  He wasn't in the mood to talk much so I dropped a twenty in his bucket and listened for about 20 more minuets.  I left all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that there were still some more gems out there carrying that torch these cats lit so long ago.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2013, 12:10:34 AM »
I googled his name, and it turns out one Elijah Bond invented and patented the ouija board. Could it be the same guy? :P

Seriously though, nice story. It's a shame he wasn't more into talking and I hope you get the opportunity to bump into him again. Try to have a recording device handy as you unfurl your twenty.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2013, 09:36:32 AM »
he conjured up a really good Patton so who know about his ouija board >:D

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2013, 12:14:40 PM »
Pretty exciting discovery. Sounds like the style of his Poor Me was pretty Pattonesque. What about the other tunes you heard him play? Did he sound like you'd expect someone you bumped into in Chapel Hill--an East Coast type of sound, or was he more homogenized? Did you find out whether his grandfather was from that area originally?

Offline wreid75

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2013, 06:40:29 PM »
no eastern north carolina picking style at all, very mississippi both delta and hill country.  his family is apparently from there but he has only been to mississippi twice he said and has always lived in NC.

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2013, 07:05:21 PM »
Very interesting. You wouldn't expect an African-American from Mississippi to move to NC in the 20s or 30s. The usual route would be due north--to Memphis, or further north to Chicago or Detroit or another Midwestern city. Maybe Rochester, like Son House. But Chapel Hill? That's odd.

Maybe they liked the barbecue. Great hogs in NC, and they know how to cook 'em.

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 01:56:03 PM »
I think I remember Patton was taught by a guy named Bonds.  Is there any chance that this Bonds guy is the same person that the street musician talked about?

Offline jrn

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 03:21:58 PM »
I've always heard the name Henry Sloan as Patton's teacher.
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 07:12:33 PM »
"The role of the guitar in the string band music that the Chatmons played was largely restricted to playing chorded rhythm and bass runs. Charley?s sister stated that he didn?t really learn to pick a guitar until he moved to Dockery?s. There he came under the influence of older musicians living on the plantation who were already developing a blues style of guitar playing: a Mr. Toby, a man named Bonds whose daughter Charley married, and most importantly a man named Henry Sloan."

"Charley received some direct instruction, observed and imitated the playing of the older men, and played behind Sloan?s field hollers. Sloan and Bonds stayed on Dockery?s a number of years, and Charley had a lengthy opportunity to absorb their music."

"Finally Uncle Charley went to work on it.? That?s when he got my cousin [i.e., China Lou], by one of the Bonds daughters.? "

Source below

http://www.paramountshome.org/index.php?view=article&catid=45:new-york-recording-laboratoriesartist&id=76:charley-patton-biography-part-1-dr-david-evans&option=com_content&Itemid=5

Offline wreid75

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2013, 05:54:14 PM »
I went to Raleigh this weekend and looked for the singer to ask some of the questions that have come up but he was no where that I looked.  I will look around some more this weekend.

Offline crookedtune

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2013, 07:12:04 PM »
I live in Raleigh.  Never heard of him.

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2013, 07:37:43 AM »
If either of you do manage to locate him, it would be good to find a way to record him, both video and audio, the higher the quality the better. If there's only an opportunity to do one format, I would say audio's more important. Sounds like he's no spring chicken, and rural blues players with a connection to the prewar era are a disappearing breed.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Poor me played on the streets of Chapel Hill
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2013, 07:42:12 AM »
You might check with the local precinct. They may have spotted him somewhere.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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