Tommie Bradley – James Cole Groups 1928 – 1932
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The Tommie Bradley James Cole Groups
Complete Recorded Works (1928 1932)
Featuring the recordings of:
James Cole String Band: James Cole, violin; others unknown (poss. white musicians). Alura Mack, vocal; accompanied by unknown, piano; James Cole guitar. Clara Burston, vocal; accompanied by James Robinson, violin; Ralph Miller, piano; Bayless Rose, guitar. (Godrich-Dixon “B&G Records” suggests probably James Cole, violin; probably Sam Soward, piano; possibly Walter Cole or Tommie Bradley, guitar on 7, 8. Walter Cole, vocal; accompanied by James Robinson, violin; Ralph Miller, piano; Bayless Rose, guitar. (Godrich- Dixon “B&G Records” suggests probably James Cole, violin; probably Sam Soward, piano; probably own guitar.) Tommie Bradley, vocal; accompanied by unknown, as on 11, 12; James Cole, violin on 11, 12 / vocal on 11; Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin on 11, 12; own guitar; Roosevelt Pursley, jug on 11. James Cole’s Washboard Four: James Cole, violin; Tommie Bradley, guitar; Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; unknown, washboard / kazoo on 14. Tommie Bradley, vocal / guitar; poss. Eddie Dimmitt or Walter Cole, guitar. Tommie Bradley, vocal / guitar; Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin. James Cole, vocal / violin; Tommie Bradley, guitar; Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; Roosevelt Pursley, jug. Tommie Bradley, vocal / guitar; James Cole, violin; Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; Roosevelt Pursley, jug. Buster Johnson, vocal; accompanied by James Cole, violin; Tommie Bradley, guitar; probably own guitar; prob. Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; unknown, washboard. James Cole, vocal / violin; poss. Sam Soward, piano; probably Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; Tommie Bradley or Buster Johnson, guitar; unknown, washboard. Tommie Bradley, vocal / guitar; James Cole, violin on 23; probably Eddie Dimmitt, mandolin; unknown, washboard.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Rural Blues, String Bands, Blues Violin, Female Blues, Blues Mandolin, Blues Piano, Blue Guitar, Country Blues Guitar, Virginia Blues, Tennessee Blues, Hokum, Ragtime,
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. They don’t come much more obscure than James Cole and Tommie Bradley. Is the James Cole who primitively fiddles his way through Bill Cheatum (normally “Cheatham”) and I Got A Gal in 1928 the same man who plays on the 1930-32 recordings? I think there are stylistic links, though the later sides show a less exotic technique. Who is Tommie Bradley? The voice on the 1930 Pack Up Her Trunk Blues is not the same as that on the 1931-32 offerings, which are by a singer whose delivery resembles that of Georgia Tom Dorsey. For that matter, the voice on Window Pane Blues resembles the one credited to Buster Johnson on Undertaker Blues. And where were they from? No one can say for sure. I feel there is some reason to suggest that they may have been from central / western Kentucky, where, even by the 1920’s, black and white string band styles and repertoire were still quite close. Are you confused? Wait, there’s more! Though the Gennett ledgers confirm that a James Cole did play guitar on the Alura Mack sides, either he or his colleagues worked on the Walter Cole (presumably no relation) or the Clara Burston selections. On these, as well as two unissued cuts by one Jack O’Diamonds, the musicians are identified as James Robinson – violin, Ralph Miller – piano, and Bayless Rose – guitar. Intermixed with these matrices are others by the (white) Johnson Brothers (Charles and Paul) from the Bristol, VA / TN area, which suggests that at least some of the others were from around there too. At any rate, our friends Cole and Bradley were not involved. The musical eclecticism which makes James Cole and Tommie Bradley so hard to pin down is also one source of their fascination and excellence. Tin Pan Alley (Runnin’ Wild, Sweet Sue-Just You, i.e. Sweet Lizzie!), black vaudeville (Adam And Eve), (Nobody Knows You) When You’re Down And Out, Nobody’s Business If I Do), hillbilly style (Where You Been So Long?, the unissued Over The Mountains To Virginia) and of course straight, hard-core southern blues reflect a surprising mixture of artistic choices, especially for black musicians, who normally were encouraged to stick close to the blues for record- making purposes. The discographies identify sidemen as Sam Soward – piano, Eddie Dimmitt – mandolin, and Roosevelt Pursley – jug. Only Soward’s name appears in the Gennett files, with no instrument attributed; where the other names were learned is not clear. A tipple player is also cited on I Love My Mary; I suspect he may also back up the guitar on Pack Up Her Trunk and Nobody’s Business If I Do.Dick Spottswood June, 1993 Copyright 1993: Document Records.