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Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas

Peter T. 12 Apr 14 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 12 Apr 14 - 06:17 PM
12-stringer 12 Apr 14 - 06:27 PM
12-stringer 12 Apr 14 - 06:28 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 13 Apr 14 - 05:41 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 13 Apr 14 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 13 Apr 14 - 06:41 AM
Janie 13 Apr 14 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 14 Apr 14 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 14 Apr 14 - 05:54 AM
Desert Dancer 14 Apr 14 - 11:08 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 15 Apr 14 - 03:42 AM
Desert Dancer 30 Nov 15 - 10:21 AM
The Sandman 30 Nov 15 - 02:11 PM
The Sandman 30 Nov 15 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Guest RS 01 Dec 15 - 05:54 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 01 Dec 15 - 06:36 AM
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Subject: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 05:12 PM

Mudcatters with an interest in old blues should pick up a copy of April 13th New York Times magazine, or (if you have a subscription go online). There is an astonishing full length article on recent discoveries concerning Geeshie and Elvie ("Last Kind Words Blues" and the tiny number of others). And possible future revelations.....

yours ever,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 06:17 PM

Is it possible for anyone to post this article or a link to it? Two of the best female country blues performers of whom little is (or should I now say was?) known.
I would very keen to this.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: 12-stringer
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 06:27 PM

Duplicates this thread, which has a less specific title but does have a hot link to the story:


Search for singers' history


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: 12-stringer
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 06:28 PM

PS: Absolutely riveting story, too!


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 05:41 AM

You can access it through Longform (first story), which even gives an audio link so you can actually listen to the music too:

http://longform.org/

# ilovetheinternet


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 05:45 AM

12-stringer's related thread is:

A++ story of search for singers' history

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=154269&messages=2


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 06:41 AM

Great stuff. Unfortunately McCormack has been frustrating fellow blues researchers and collectors for years. Looks like things will never change.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Janie
Date: 13 Apr 14 - 08:28 AM

I just finished reading, and am still listening. Quite long and quite worth the time.


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 05:07 AM

Come off it Hoot! McCormack has done sterling work over the years when it comes to blues research. When you consider how many really "difficult" people there are who profess to be "experts" on the blues, then I am not surprised that McCormack has kept a lot of his findings close to his chest.
As to the article (and thanks Hoot for sending me the details via email!) I find it a fascinating read. Mention is made of a book by Amanda Petrusich on the people who collect early blues 78's (many quite mad!). According to Google, this should be out in July. Certainly one to read.


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 05:54 AM

Mike, what concerns me is that like may of Mac is getting up in years and it is believed that he has a vast quantity of research material stashed away. What is going to happen to it?
If my memory is correct he and Paul Oliver were collaborating on a book back in the 1960's but it seems that Paul gave up because of lack of co-operation.

It still amazes me how much can material can be dug up by dilligent researchers after only the slightest hint of what might be.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 11:08 PM

An online sidebar to the story:
Under Cover: In Pursuit of an Unearthly Record, about the guy who owns the copy of "Last Kind Word Blues" that the NYT Magazine used for their cover photo.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 03:42 AM

Hoot.I quite agree that McCormack is probably sitting on a vast ammount of blues related information. You mention a book with Paul Oliver. There was, of course, another planned about Robert Johnson (complete with unseen photograph)and this has not appeared. But, there is no law to say that privately researched material has to be made available to other people. Of course, most researchers are only too willing to share their findings. Here I'm thinking of you and all the articles that you have researched and written about the blues and old-timey music. I have also tried to share material that I have found. Surprisingly, I have often found that professional academic researchers are often the people who will not share their findings. I agree that it is a pity that Mack McCormack has retained so much material. But that is, after all, his choice and there may be reasons why he has acted in the manner that he has.


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Nov 15 - 10:21 AM

Mack McCormick, Student of Texas Blues, Dies at 85

By William Grimes
Nov. 25, 2015

Mack McCormick, a folklorist who spent a lifetime searching out forgotten or unrecorded blues singers all over Texas, helped revive the career of Lightning Hopkins and unearthed a trove of historical material on hundreds of blues singers, including Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly, died on Nov. 18 at his home in Houston. He was 85.

The cause was complications of cancer of the esophagus, Susannah Nix, his daughter, said.

Mr. McCormick found his calling as a music researcher in 1946 on a trip to New Orleans, where he fell into conversation with Orin Blackstone, a record store owner who was compiling a four-volume discography, "Index to Jazz." On the spot, Mr. Blackstone recruited his young visitor to be the Texas editor of the index's final two volumes, and sent him forth to hunt down old records.

As a teenager in Ohio, Mack had haunted carnivals and local burlesque shows, taking notes on comedy skits. His interest in vernacular culture in all forms easily transferred to music. As his focus turned to the blues in the 1950s, he talked to people on the street, followed leads, made shrewd guesses and, traveling countless miles on local roads, crisscrossing nearly 900 counties across the country, made discovery after discovery, accumulating material that grew into an archive he called the "monster."

He found and interviewed relatives of Blind Lemon Jefferson, talked to acquaintances who knew Lead Belly before he came to New York in the 1930s and tracked down two of Robert Johnson's half-sisters, who gave him previously unknown photographs of the most celebrated and mysterious Delta blues singer of all time.

He located Mance Lipscomb, a blues singer from the 1920s working as a sharecropper in Navasota, Tex., and persuaded Chris Strachwitz, who had just founded Arhoolie records, to record him for the first time.

After seeking out Mr. Hopkins in Houston in 1959, he brought him to the recording studio to make "Autobiography in Blues," an album that put him at the center of the folk music revival.

"Mack set out to live his life on his own terms with all the passion of someone who has made a vocation of his avocation," the music historian Peter Guralnick told Texas Monthly in 2002. "He pursued it in territories where there were no maps and no rules."

Robert Burton McCormick was born on Aug. 3, 1930, in Pittsburgh. Both his parents, who divorced soon after he was born, were X-ray technicians. He grew up in Alabama, Colorado, West Virginia and Texas, as his mother, who raised him, traveled looking for work.

A jazz buff, he worked as a teenager in a ballroom in Cedar Point, Ohio, running errands for Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton and other musicians in town to play a local radio show that was broadcast nationally.

Over the years, Mr. McCormick, who did not finish high school, worked a variety of jobs: electrician on a barge, short-order cook, carnival worker, taxi driver. In 1949, living in Houston, he became Down Beat magazine's Texas correspondent. Along the way he kept his ears open and took notes on local customs and rituals, games, tall tales, dances, songs.

"In each job, I found myself intrigued by the virtually unknown, unexplored body of lore that characterizes a working group," he told Texas Monthly.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a granddaughter.

In 1960 Mr. McCormick signed on with the Census Bureau, asking to be assigned to Houston's Fourth Ward, a black neighborhood. With a foot in every door, he found his way to an entire population of professional pianists who played "Santa Fe style," a local variant of the roadhouse style known as "fast western piano." The name came from the Santa Fe Railroad, whose tracks cut through the ward.

All of them, he found, could trace their musical roots to Peg Leg Will, a New Orleans native who used to play on the porch of Passante's Italian grocery store in the early 1900s. He later recorded one of his finds on the album "Robert Shaw: Texas Barrelhouse Piano," the first and only release from Almanac records, which he founded in 1965.

The folklorist Alan Lomax invited Mr. McCormick to bring a group of prison singers from Texas to the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, a creative idea vetoed by the attorney general of Texas. Mr. McCormick assembled a group of former convicts and, because they had never performed together, tried to get them on stage for a run-through. Bob Dylan, rehearsing with members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, refused to yield the stage.

"I was trying to tell Dylan, 'We need the stage'," Mr. McCormick told Texas Monthly. "He continued to ignore me. So I went over to the junction box and pulled out the cords. Then he listened."

Some music historians theorize that this episode gave rise to the apocryphal tale that Pete Seeger, incensed at Mr. Dylan's use of electric guitars, attacked the cables with a fire ax.

In the early 1970s, Mr. McCormick became obsessed with an obscure artist from the 1920s, Henry Thomas, known as Ragtime Texas, whose music straddled the boundaries between the blues and older forms like reels, ragtime and gospel.

By visiting the towns mentioned in a railroad song of Thomas's, "Railroadin' Some," and analyzing his accent, Mr. McCormick found his way to Upshur County, Thomas's birthplace, and, interviewing people who had known him, put together a rich, evocative history of his life and times. It was included as the liner notes for "Henry Thomas: 'Ragtime Texas," a collection of Thomas's 23 known recordings, released by Herwin records in 1974.

Mr. McCormick, who had bipolar disorder, often threw himself into projects with ferocious energy, only to abandon them. For years he collaborated with the British blues scholar Paul Oliver on an encyclopedic work, "The Texas Blues," which was abandoned when the two had a falling-out. He tried his hand at playwriting, with little success.

Over time, the archive became a burden. "In 1958 when I began serious documentary recording and field research it was not my plan to acquire such a mountain," he wrote in an open letter to the magazine "Blues Unlimited" in 1976.

For years, he followed the trail of Robert Johnson, planning to write a definitive account of his life, tentatively titled "The Biography of a Phantom." He began to have doubts about his own evidence. The book never materialized.

"Da Vinci never finished his paintings," he told The Houston Press in 2008. "He got bored by the time he got to the corners."

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 15 - 02:11 PM

In the early 1970s, Mr. McCormick became obsessed with an obscure artist from the 1920s, Henry Thomas, known as Ragtime Texas, whose music straddled the boundaries between the blues and older forms like reels, ragtime and gospel.
would this be the same artist who also recorded as rambling thomas, on an EP which also had two tracks by Blind Blake.
THE RECORDING IS KNOWN AS THE MALE BLUES VOL3 on jel4 jazz collectors, it says his real name was willard thomas it states that his biographical details are obscure but was born in dallas, although he was apparantly a contemporary of blind lemon jefferson


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 15 - 02:15 PM

ramblin thomas two tracks were so lonesome and lock and key blues , i have the record in mint condition


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Guest RS
Date: 01 Dec 15 - 05:54 AM

Henry Thomas' & Ramblin' Thomas recordings are distinctly different, vocally & instrumentally.


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Subject: RE: Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 01 Dec 15 - 06:36 AM

"Ramblin'" Thomas's real name according to Dixon & Godrich was Willard Thomas.


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