Skip to comments.The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie (On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music...)
Posted on 04/13/2014 5:45:57 PM PDT by a fool in paradise
"On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace"
In the world of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there exist no ghosts more vexing than a couple of women identified on three ultrarare records made in 1930 and 31 as Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. There are musicians as obscure as Wiley and Thomas, and musicians as great, but in none does the Venn diagram of greatness and lostness reveal such vast and bewildering co-extent.
... Their myth was they didnt have anything you could so much as hang a myth on. The objects themselves the fewer than 10 surviving copies, total, of their three known Paramount releases, a handful of heavy, black, scratch-riven shellac platters, all in private hands these were the whole of the file on Geeshie and Elvie, and even these had come within a second thought of vanishing, within, say, a womans decision in cleaning her parents attic to go against some idle advice that she throw out a box of old records and instead to find out what the junk shop gives...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Last Kind Words
Motherless Child Blues
Come Over To My House
Skinny Leg Blues
Long article, a different kind of historical digging.
Curiously, I am just at this moment listening to a Yazoo reissue of white country blues from the 1928-38 period. They had real music back then.
Good songs....Thanks for posting them...
I liked Bessie Smith.
Very interesting. Thanks.
“Last Kind Word” is a monument. Thanks, I had no idea there were so few copies. In the documentary “Crumb”, R. Crumb pulls out a 78 and plays it, and it’s LKW, so, maybe that’s one of the ten copies. :’o
You might also enjoy this documentary from 2003 about 78 collector Joe Bussard (who’s mentioned in the article).
Desperate Man Blues
Record collector Joe Bussard parties like it’s 1929! A cultural scavenger, musician and broadcaster, he was a pioneer in the preservation of 78rpm records and the roots music produced in pure and undiluted form in the 20s and 30s. Bussard has rescued priceless shellac artefacts from attics and basements across the US for more than 50 years. He has amassed a vast collection of more than 25,000 rare discs. At 65 Bussard has the enthusiasm and energy of a 16-year-old and will happily spin 75-year-old records all day for anyone who will listen. All the while he gives a running commentary on the music and performer, reliving the day it was made and relating some crazy tale of how he came to rescue the record! (Written by gillan@ cubemedia.com .au)