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Josh White's guitar?? History Detective

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WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Feb 09 - 05:03 PM
Stringsinger 23 Feb 09 - 05:45 PM
GUEST 23 Feb 09 - 10:37 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Feb 09 - 11:02 PM
GUEST,Con Woodall-Fort Collins, CO 24 Feb 09 - 12:35 AM
Neil D 24 Feb 09 - 02:18 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 09 - 11:17 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 Feb 09 - 11:31 AM
Jayto 24 Feb 09 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 09 - 11:40 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 Feb 09 - 11:48 AM
Wesley S 24 Feb 09 - 12:02 PM
katlaughing 24 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 Feb 09 - 12:20 PM
Jayto 24 Feb 09 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,HARRYMTUFT 24 Feb 09 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 24 Feb 09 - 12:53 PM
Wesley S 24 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM
Art Thieme 24 Feb 09 - 09:22 PM
katlaughing 24 Feb 09 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Feb 09 - 12:25 PM
Art Thieme 25 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM
Art Thieme 25 Feb 09 - 06:58 PM
GUEST 26 Feb 09 - 01:28 PM
Art Thieme 26 Feb 09 - 06:56 PM
Stringsinger 26 Feb 09 - 07:07 PM
Desert Dancer 28 Feb 09 - 05:51 PM
Desert Dancer 05 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,big elk 05 Nov 09 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,Big Elk 05 Nov 09 - 06:43 PM
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Subject: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 05:03 PM

Tonight (2/23) the PBS series "History Detective" will do a story on what may be Josh White's guitar. They will visit the Mandolin Brothers store in Staten Island, speak with Josh White Jr., and share some rare clips.   The episode will also feature a story on an historic slave songbook as well as a visit to a building that may be the birthplace of Hip Hop.

Here in the NYC area the show can be seen at 10pm on WNET. Check your local PBS station for broadcast times.

Here is the PBS website description of the Josh White Guitar segment:

"A Michigan man owns a Guild brand acoustic guitar that he says once belonged to legendary African-American folksinger Josh White, who is credited with introducing black folk, gospel and blues music to a world audience in the 1940s.

Our contributor met White after a concert when he was a kid, and the guitar reminds him of a confidence White had shared with him: the Guild Company was talking to White about making a signature guitar built to his specifications and to be marketed under his name.

If this is the guitar White had spoken of, it would be the first signature guitar ever created for an African American musician in the United States.

History Detectives explores the crossover appeal of Josh White's music and his ability to win over a racially polarized music industry. "


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 05:45 PM

Josh originally played a black and white Gibson which was stolen. He later played
Martin 0021's (twelve fret model with a channeled head).

He had a kind of bursitis from playing extra ordinarily hard with his right hand grasping the strings so much so that at an end of many a concert, his fingers would be bleeding.

He is the only performer I knew of that could change a string (if it broke) in the middle of a song performance without missing a beat.

He never used a guitar strap much but planted his right foot on a chair and leaned toward
the audience in an intimate way.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 10:37 PM

Frank,

Steve Goodman could do the same trick, changing a string without losing a beat. I fact he could improvise a song while he was changing the strings and then come back to his original tune right on the beat.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 11:02 PM

I hate to sound cynical, but I would suspect that Goodman picked up the trick from Josh White, and I'm fairly certain that it was not "improvised" but a rather well rehearsed - and effective - part of the show.

I hope some of you had a chance to watch the show. Really well done!


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,Con Woodall-Fort Collins, CO
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:35 AM

The string bit was usually done with "Summertime." If he had a bass player, he'd sing with the bass and tune the string up at the end.

He told me the fingernail problem was actually a kind of psoriasis (white man's disease, he'd say) and that he periodically had the nails removed surgically.

I saw him first in 1959 performing with Odetta at Champaign, Illinois. I was never the same, He was THE blues performer.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Neil D
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 02:18 AM

I've been a fan of History Detectives since it first came on. I like the way they take an historic mystery that is of particular interest to one person and use it as a vehicle to examine a person or place in time to the interest and edification of the the rest of us. It was great seeing the old clips of Josh White and learning more about him. Funny thing is, when the guy said that even though he was huge in his day, nowadays almost know one knows about him, I thought well, almost everyone on Mudcat does. It's because of Mudcat that I was familiar with him, one more reason to love this site.
   I also enjoyed the later segment about the Bronx origins of Hip-hop in the early 70's.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:17 AM

I dunno. Like so much other PBS Black History Month stuff, I didn't find most the program very compelling.

As I watched the bit on the guitar, I kept thinking "why didn't the guy contact Jr & track down the Guild guy on his own?"

It just didn't seem like much of a mystery & we didn't even get to learn anything about the first African American signature guitar, which was supposed to be the point of the bit, wasn't it?

So-when do we get to learn about the actual first African American signature guitar? Never?

As to the "place of birth of hip hop" segment: yawn. Origins of myths are boring to me, and like this segment, was an exercise in tail chasing.

The segment on the slave songs, on the other hand, was genuinely fascinating, and made me wish the whole program had been focused on it!


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:31 AM

"So-when do we get to learn about the actual first African American signature guitar? Never?"

They did discuss this. The answer was Josh White, but it was not with Guild.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Jayto
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:37 AM

I have always heard Tony Rice has the Martin. I am not claiming that he does or anything only that I have heard that several times.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:40 AM

My point exactly. And we didn't get to learn a thing about the actual first, which was an Ovation.

So it was kind of false advertising wasn't it? The "mystery solved" told us it was once Josh White's guitar (that ownership never seemed in question, from the provenance given by the owner), and MAYBE was ALMOST the first AfAm sig guitar.

But the piece on slave songs was very good, like I said. The Josh White guitar bit, a disappointment to me.

Your mileage may vary.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:48 AM

What more did you want to learn about the Ovation? They discussed the fact that it was created by Ovation and when it was issued.

I do not consider it "false advertising" at all. Read the description from PBS. The title of the segment was "Josh White's Guitar", which it was. The question was whether it was the first signature guitar, and it wasn't - they asked a question and did not make the claim.

If you watch the show you will see that they are sort of like "Mythbusters" - they tackle an item and prove or disprove the questions being asked. I feel that delivered 100%.

Of course, everyone has different tastes and expectations. A show like this reached an audience that probably had not heard of Josh White before - it was not geared to hardcore folkies who were looking for minutae of information about a specific guitar - though they did give a lesson in that as well.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:02 PM

I know that Tony Rice owns Clarence White's old Martin D-18. Is that the one you are thinking of Jayto? Not Josh White - Clarence White.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM

NeilD, that's what I thought, too...was "Mudcat does!" I also enjoyed the Slave Songs segment, esp.

I got a little frustrated because it seemed sort of plodding/simplistic, but I recognise they were trying to reach folks who may not have heard about White, the songbook, etc. Mudcat has spoiled me.:-)


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:20 PM

Nope, not a problem. Different strokes, etc. We simply disagree.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Jayto
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:23 PM

LOL That's right Clarence White not Josh. I knew something didn't seem right when I wrote that lol. I think I need more coffee before I post anymore :)
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,HARRYMTUFT
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:31 PM

I, too watched the show and was interested that Josh White did, in fact, have and play a guild at one time, as evidenced by the video clip. I've been a Guild dealer since the mid-60's and have another Josh White guitar story. I can't tell if this one pre-dates the one featured in the story. It was my habit to visit the Hoboken factory when I was in the East visiting my folks. I would always look in the "seconds" rack to see if there were any salvageable instruments. This one time there was a guitar, clearly a hybrid, based on a Mark V classic neck and body, with steel string bracing. Inside it said "Josh White Model". It had a few cracks, a bit neglected. I asked about it and was told that it was made for Josh White, that he used it, but sent it back because the heel was so sharply pronounced that when he would do his signature slide up the neck, he would run into the heel. Then, while it was still at the factory, Josh made a deal with Ovation, making the model a dead issue. I bought the guitar, brought it back to Denver, repaired it in our shop, and sold it. I presume that it is still floating around Denver to this day. Later that year Josh came to Denver and I had the pleasure of seeing my first Ovation, not having experienced a fiberglas back. I do have a photo of my surprise after Josh had "thwacked" the back of the instrument. I did get to see him one more time in Denver, at which time he was back playing the Martin 00-21 which he usually traveled with. I've not seen Josh White Jr. in decades, but I look forward to a re-meet some day. Harry Tuft, Denver Folklore Center


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:53 PM

Nitpicking I'm afraid, but the Tony Rice ex Clarence White guitar is a Martin D-28 NOt D-18.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Wesley S
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM

Correct - it's a 28 not an 18. Serial number 58957.

I own a D-18. That's what I was thinking of. My fingers were on autopilot.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:22 PM

Harry, hello. Frank Hamilton is in this thread too. He is Stringsinger here at Mudcat.

I saw Josh do the string changing thing in the middle of John Henry. I think he went to the 2nd string to play an approximation of the melody solos while he worked on the repair. That was at the Gate Of Horn in Chicago---1959---my senior year in high-school.

I'm gonna e-mail old friend Guy Gilbert in L.A. to look in here. Guy played bass for Josh White in the 60s & 70s.

Harry: A great job on She'll Never Be Mine on the Utah tribute CD set!


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 10:50 PM

It boggles my mind to think of how in the world a person could do that string-changing thing. Couldn't do it on a fiddle!:-)

Harry, thanks for telling us more and, Art, I hope your friend comes in here. It was an interesting show and I'd love to hear more.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 12:25 PM

For what it's worth, I saw Josh do the string change at the Royal Albert Hall in London back around 1959/60. I have always believed this to be a well rehearsed "accidental break" a regular part of the act.
Josh's bass player on this occasion was Canadian Jack Fallon a long time British resident, session bass man and booking agent. He used to saw out a mean Orange Blossom Special on the fiddle at times too.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 03:24 PM

refresh so Guy Guilbert (with an "i") can find it easier!!! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:58 PM

again


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 01:28 PM

It my very foggy memory, I believe I saw Paul Pretipino (?) change strings as Chad Mithcell Trio was singing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." It was live TV, probably the show Hootennany.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 06:56 PM

Mr. Guilbert posted, but it never came through.

Such is life.

Art


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 07:07 PM

Martin 0021. That was Josh's guitar later in his career. Bess Hawes showed me the
guitar he owned.

He may have borrowed a Guild but it was not his main guitar.

I have a 0021 thanks to playing Bess's (formerly Josh's).

Frank


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Subject: History Detectives: music episode
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Feb 09 - 05:51 PM

The latest episode of PBS's "History Detectives" (Season 6, Episode 11) had investigations with concerning Slave Songs of the United States (William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware, Lucy McKim Garrison), singer Josh White, and the folklore of the origins of hip hop. It was a pretty fun collection of stories.

There are full transcripts of each episode, and some video and other stuff.

I noticed a link to another episode where they looked for the history of an old (slave?) banjo: here.

I find this show kind of fun, though I don't watch it regularly.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM

Elderly Music is selling the guitar featured on History Detectives as Josh White's: GUILD® F-30NT SPECIAL "JOSH WHITE" (1965)

Their description:
G-VGC+ with repaired pickguard crack and one small top crack. This is the guitar featured on the PBS television show "History Detectives" and is a one-of-a-kind prototype for what was hoped to be a signature model for blues/folk singer Josh White. Had it gone into production this would have been the first signature model guitar honoring an African-American musician from a major guitar manufacturer and is historically important for that reason as well as that Josh played it. See the show on YouTube for more information: www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2dXwZ5beQ0&feature=PlayList&p=0FAE126DC59271B0&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=68. Brazilian rosewood back and sides, 12 fret mahogany neck, 19 fret ebony fingerboard with fancy floral inlays, rosewood bridge, slotted headstock with 3-in-a-line tuners (replacements), ebony peghead overlay with pearloid "Guild®" logo, tortoise plastic pickguard, white-bound body, b-w-b-w-b-w top purfling, b-w back purfling, ~25-1/2" scale, 2" nut width, with brown alligator Lifton OHSC (purple interior), price reduced (SN:40150)
#20U-12559 .. $16,095.00

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,big elk
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 06:21 PM

Late in life Josh had a custom made 2 in wide neck, 12 fret, slotted head ovation.

This guitar is for sale at Dream Guitars, google and look and guitarists drool.

His fingernails also fell apart in later life and Ovation made him overlays in glass fibre which he had replaced on a monthly basis.


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Subject: RE: Josh White's guitar?? History Detective
From: GUEST,Big Elk
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 06:43 PM

Link to Josh Whites Ovation @ Dream Guitars



http://www.dreamguitars.com/preowned/ovation/ovation_josh_white_custom_291/ovation_josh_white_291.php


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