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Hokum - Definition or sources ?

Les Benedict 16 Jul 97 - 01:40 AM
Earl 16 Jul 97 - 03:53 PM
Jon W. 16 Jul 97 - 04:13 PM
ALison 17 Jul 97 - 01:28 AM
CWF 17 Jul 97 - 03:56 PM
CWF 17 Jul 97 - 03:59 PM
Bert Hansell 17 Jul 97 - 04:08 PM
CWF 17 Jul 97 - 04:19 PM
Earl 17 Jul 97 - 05:34 PM
LaMarca 17 Jul 97 - 05:41 PM
Les Benedict 17 Jul 97 - 09:41 PM
Alice 17 Jul 97 - 10:38 PM
Alice 17 Jul 97 - 10:38 PM
Earl 18 Jul 97 - 12:36 AM
TinDor 27 Nov 09 - 11:02 PM
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Subject: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Les Benedict
Date: 16 Jul 97 - 01:40 AM

In the long and interesting thread on "What is Folk Music" there was a passing reference to Hokum as a music genre. While I have a vague idea what this might mean, can anyone supply a good definition or suggest resources to read/listen to ?? Does it come out of the minstrel or medicine show traditions ?


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Earl
Date: 16 Jul 97 - 03:53 PM

I've tried 3 times today to respond to this so this time just the short answer. Check out the Yazoo album "Please Warm My Weiner" a good compliation of Hokum.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Jon W.
Date: 16 Jul 97 - 04:13 PM

There are also a few Hokum songs (including "The Hokum Stomp") on the Yazoo album "The Young Big Bill Broonzy". They feature guitar and piano with a female vocalist doing somewhat of a narration rather than singing. That's all I've heard.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: ALison
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 01:28 AM

Hi

At the risk of looking stupid, (so what's new!), I'm going to refer you to a Gene Kelly movie called "Summer Stock", in which Gene explains to Judy Garland how "Hokum" came about......just before he stages a show in her barn........ (told you it was going to sound stupid!..........)

Anyway if I remember rightly they claimed it was something to do with medicine shows where they would do routines of the "I say, I say, I say" variety. Except instead of saying "I say........" they used to say "How come........." So these routines became known as "How come" or "Hokum" routines.

You'll have to make up your own mind if Gene (and the scriptwriters) were telling the truth. He's was one of my heroes though so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Slainte

Alison


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: CWF
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 03:56 PM

Hokum as a term is generally thought to be related to Hocus-Pocus and other similar quasi-Latin terms which used to be used to pad and to obfuscate patter used in physic operas (medicine shows) to tout various Indian tonics and swamp elixirs. Currently the term is commonly used to refer to high-sounding set-speeches or definitions which don't have any real validity or significance.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: CWF
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 03:59 PM

Hokum as a term is generally thought to be related to Hocus-Pocus and other similar quasi-Latin terms which used to be used to pad and to obfuscate patter used in physic operas (medicine shows) to tout various Indian tonics and swamp elixirs. Currently the term is commonly used to refer to high-sounding set-speeches or definitions which don't have any real validity or significance.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 04:08 PM

If it were derived from Hocus-Pokus shouldn't it be Hokum-Pokum? :-)

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: CWF
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 04:19 PM

Bert: I would have thought the same thing. But according to the two reference sources I checked, this is the only derivation that linguistic scholars can advance. By the way; it is an Americanism


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Earl
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 05:34 PM

I think we should make it clear that the musical genre known as "hokum" was a sort of black vaudeville, full of sexual inuendo and racial stereotypes. Unlike the blues of the time, the audience was white as well as black.

Some of the performers associated with hokum, such as Tampa Red, Bo Carter, and Memphis Minnie are actually better know as blues performers.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: LaMarca
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 05:41 PM

Getting back to defining hokum as a musical genré, rather than defining the word, hokum or "hokum blues" refers to a kind of music usually lumped in with blues music. The stuff I think of as hokum usually has a sense of humor to it, and can be pretty raunchy, what someone once referred to as "single entendré" songs (as in the numbers on "Please Warm My Weiner" mentioned above). Since "hokum" means B.S. or jivin', the songs usually describe ramblin', gamblin', drinking and womanizing (or mannizing?) in a humorous fashion. Some examples:
    "That'll Never Happen No More"-Blind Blake (see the thread on this one)
    "I Got Mine"-Pink Anderson
    "Next Day, Sometime, Not Right Now"-?
    "Travellin' Man"
    -lots of folks
Some of the classic blues guys (and gals) who did a lot of hokum numbers (as well as more serious blues) were Blind Blake, Pink Anderson, Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks, Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey and Blind Willie McTell. Modern bluesmen who do re-makes of these classics include Dave Van Ronk, Roy Bookbinder and my favorite D.C. locals, Rick Franklin and Neal Harpe.
There are probably lots of folks at Mudcat that know a hell of a lot more about blues than me and can give more detailed lists of examples and artists, but these are just some of my favorites. And that ain't no hokum!


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Les Benedict
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 09:41 PM

Many thanks for the enlightening answers about Hokum. I can see I've got to start buying some records ! I especially liked the Gene Kelly explanation -- even if it's Hokum it makes sense.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 10:38 PM

This reminds me of the Butter Beans and Suzy song, "I Want a Hot Dog For My Roll". It is on the old record, Stars of the Appollo Theater. Would that be considered Hokum? Is there a cross over between the medicine show Hokum music and vaudville?


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Jul 97 - 10:38 PM

This reminds me of the Butter Beans and Suzy song, "I Want a Hot Dog For My Roll". It is on the old record, Stars of the Appollo Theater. Would that be considered Hokum? Is there a cross over between the medicine show Hokum music and vaudville?


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: Earl
Date: 18 Jul 97 - 12:36 AM

Alice,

Butterbeans & Susie were definately hokum and vaudeville. This thread has got me digging out old albums. Apparently Butterbeans & Susie were married on stage in Philedelphia in their teens and went on to have a 50 year career together doing songs and comedy. It's still fun to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Hokum - Definition or sources ?
From: TinDor
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 11:02 PM

Bo Carter has a ton of these type of songs


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