Ragtime Blues Guitar Complete (1927 – 1930)
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Ragtime Blues Guitar
Complete Recorded Works plus Blind Blake Unissued Take
Featuring the recordings of:
Blind Blake, guitar / speech; unknown, rattle-bones. William (Bill) Moore, vocal / speech / guitar. Stephen Tarter, vocal / guitar; Harry Gay, guitar. George Chicken Wilson, guitar / kazoo on 13, 16, 17; Jimmy Skeeter Hinton, harmonica on 14, 15, 16, 17 / bellboard, washboard on 12, 13, 16, 17. Bayless Rose, vocal on 19, 20 / guitar. Willie Walker, vocal / guitar; Sam Brooks, vocal on 22/ guitar.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Country Blues Guitar, Ragtime Guitar, Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica, Georgia Blues, Virginia Blues, Carolina Blues, Piedmont Blues,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. The syncopated music that its black originators called ragtime was developed as a piano music in the last decade of the 19th Century, about the same time that the blues were also taking shape as a musical genre. Ragtime was a coming to terms between African cross-rhythms and the formalised syncopation of European art music and thus served equally as a vehicle for Scott Joplin’s doomed ambition to be taken seriously and as a safely exotic craze for whites. Pop fashion moved on, to take up and dilute other black musical creations but ragtime entered the American folk consciousness, both white and black; in the Eastern states, particularly, it became a vital component in the sound of black blues, its lilting dance rhythms permeating, sometimes dominating, the ideas of the musicians of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Of Florida too if, as seems probable, that was Blind Blake‘s home state. Blake’s complete works were thought to have been included on Document albums DOCD-5024 to DOCD-50277, but an alternate take of Dry Bone Shuffle has been found, and is included here to complete the reissue of this great musician’s output. Less extensively recorded, but better documented, is Virginia’s William Moore. Moore recorded 16 titles for Paramount, but only eight were issued. They include blues, minstrel numbers like Tillie Lee, and novelties like Ragtime Millionaire. Also Virginia-based were Steve Tarter and Harry Gay. Tarter played fiddle, piano and banjo as well as guitar, which makes it a matter for regret that they only cut two numbers. Of George “Chicken” Wilson and Jimmy “Skeeter” Hinton, we know only their music, a selection of energetic dance instrumentals interspersed with more reflective blues. Wilson plays guitar and kazoo, while his partner switches between harmonica and two makeshift percussion instruments, a “bellboard” and the more familiar washboard. Also a biographical unknown is Bayless Rose, If not a native of Virginia, he was familiar with that state; the title of his Jamestown Exhibition refers to the 1907 celebrations of the foundation of the Old Dominion, held in Jamestown, at which Rose may have played his raggy, music for visitors. Willie Walker, who closes this album, was remembered by Josh White as “the best guitarist I’ve ever heard. . . Blind Blake was fast but Walker was like Art Tatum.” His 1930 recordings have second guitar from Sam Brooks, whose considerable talent has tended to be overshadowed by Walker’s awe inspiring playing, unsurpassed for speed, clarity and invention even by Gary Davis, who was reluctant to play tunes he regarded as Willie Walker‘s. It’s a tragedy that Walker only recorded two numbers, mitigated a little by the existence of a second take of South Carolina Rag. Decide for yourself if Josh White‘s judgement was correct.Chris Smith Copyright 1991 Document Records.