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W.C.Handy and the blues

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  • Gilber M. Erskine
    In all this discussion on whether Handy indeed heard the real blues in Mississippi in 1903, here is an excerpt from Ted Gioia s DELTA BLUES (W.W.Norton
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 1, 2009
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      In all this discussion on whether Handy indeed heard the real blues in Mississippi in 1903, here is an excerpt from Ted Gioia's DELTA BLUES (W.W.Norton 2008)---

      "Charles Peabody, a Harvard archeologist, arrived in Coahoma County, Mississippi in May 1901 to excavate 2 mounds left behind by the Choctaw Indians...his excavations in a few months in '01 and '02 yielded a treasure of artifacts, but he soon found himself more than a little fascinated by the music of the black laborers doing the digging. He was mesmerized by the power of their singing...

      "Peabody had little formal training in music, yet at the conclusion of his work, and even before he published a report on his excavations, he sketched a formal academic paper on the Mississippi music he had heard. It was published in "Journal of American Folklore."

      "Peabody found himself unable to verbally describe the music, except that the music had simple harmonies using 3 chords and had strange dissonances (blue notes?)

      "The final 2 paragraphs of Peabody's paper excite our curiosity today: "I should not omit mention of a very old negro employed in the plantation of John Stovall. He was asked to sing to us one very dark night as we sat on the gallery. This music seemed to serve the deeply felt need of black residents to 'throw off their sorrow in song.' 40 years later, Alan Lomax discovered Muddy Waters at this same Stovall Plantation. The possibility that one of the oldest black residents of the plantation was singing blues, at least in embryonic form, in 1902 is awesome in the extreme."

      I, myself, do not doubt at all that Handy was truthful and accurate in his telling of the Tutwiler incident.

      ---------GILBERT M. ERSKINE



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Tommer
      ... Hi Gilbert, If I am not mistaken, the Peabody story was also mentioned before Gioia on Robert Palmer s Deep Blues . I am in the middle of moving so all
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 2, 2009
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        --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Gilber M. Erskine" <gerskine@...> wrote:
        >
        > I, myself, do not doubt at all that Handy was truthful and accurate in his telling of the Tutwiler incident.
        >
        > ---------GILBERT M. ERSKINE

        Hi Gilbert,
        If I am not mistaken, the Peabody story was also mentioned before Gioia on Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues". I am in the middle of moving so all the books are packed and away, but I'll look at it and write to the group about it.
        Regards
        Tommer
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