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Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots

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  • Patrice Champarou
    ... From: Bob Eagle To: Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:11 PM Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Bob Eagle" <prof_hi_jinx@...>
      To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:11 PM
      Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots


      > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville -
      > maybe some sort
      > of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest whatever
      > (classical favorites, etc).

      Abbott and Seroff note that the press did not report any significant change
      in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels' repertoire after Ma Rainey had joined them in
      1906, and kept referring to her as a "coon shouter" until 1916, when several
      "vaudeville" artists were redefined as "blues singers", probably following
      the success of intrumental blues.
      This is of course no indication (either way) about what she was actually
      singing, but as Elijah Wald pointed out, the stage name of Ma' and Pa'
      Rainey as "Assassinators of the blues" meant their act was intended to drive
      sorry feelings away, not to slaughter the twelve bars ;-)

      P.
    • Howard Rye
      When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty explicitly in
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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        When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
        form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
        explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
        with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
        things the book is about and they will always be there.

        The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
        prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
        James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
        ambiguity.

        To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
        say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
        singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
        Records 1943-1970.

        I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
        because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
        actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
        Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
        without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
        rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
        enter into this!

        on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

        >
        >
        >
        >
        > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the "blues"
        > ladies were really singing blues.
        >  
        > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form.  Some
        > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
        > intonation.
        >  
        > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
        > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
        > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
        > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues singer
        > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the other
        > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
        > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville - maybe
        > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
        > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
        >  
        > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black blues
        > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith had
        > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers had
        > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
        > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
        >  
        > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
        > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
        > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
        >  
        > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
        > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank and
        > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
        > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR is
        > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
        > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
        > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
        >  
        > Bob
        >
        > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...
        > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> > wrote:
        >
        > From: Howard Rye <howard@...
        > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> >
        > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
        > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> >
        > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
        >
        >  
        >
        > Can I just make two points.
        >
        > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
        > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
        > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
        > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
        > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
        >
        > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
        > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
        > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
        > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
        > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
        > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
        > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
        > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
        > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
        > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
        > and they were right to do so.
        >
        > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
        > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
        > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
        > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
        > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
        > is trying to tell us something.
        >
        > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
        >
        >> >
        >> >
        >> >
        >> >
        >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
        >> >  
        >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
        >> traditions
        >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as
        >> the
        >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
        >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
        >> >  
        >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
        >> guitar,
        >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
        >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
        >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
        >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
        >> Germany
        >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
        >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
        >> >  
        >> >  
        >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
        >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded
        >> from
        >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
        >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining
        >> with
        >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
        >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
        >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
        >> >  
        >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
        >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa.
        >> The
        >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
        >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
        >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
        >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
        >> >  
        >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings
        >> by
        >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
        >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even
        >> some
        >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
        >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which
        >> got
        >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to
        >> play
        >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
        >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
        >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
        >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
        >> created.  
        >> >  
        >> >  
        >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN
        >> AFRICA
        >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
        >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
        >> HOOKERS
        >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
        >> > JUST RUBBISH.
        >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
        >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
        >> >  
        >> >  
        >> > RRC
        >> >  
        >> >  
        >> >  
        >> >
        >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >> >
        >> >
        >> >
        >> >
        >>> >>
        >> >
        >> >
        >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
        >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
        >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
        >> >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        > __________________________________________________________
        > Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere.
        > Show me how: http://au.mobile.yahoo.com/mail
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >>
        >
        >
        > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
        > howard@...
        > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bob Eagle
        It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align the
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 2, 2009
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          It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align the realities of the development of the blues with the aesthetic needs of later collectors.  And I agree with you - I've always thought of Lizzie Miles as a blues singer.  Nevertheless, there are some singers in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so tenuous that I like to view them as "remaining" in B&GR despite my personal lack of interest in them.  I'm not suggesting they be removed, because I'm aware that, at the fringes of the definition, there are cases where some collectors want to collect the performer, and others don't.  But I find some of them to be of less interest than their white equivalents, and I think it would be strange if that type of exception did not sometimes arise and thus prove the rule.
           
          My post was aimed at the widespread assumption that, because many vaudeville performers of the 1920s sang (and recorded) blues, all other vaudeville performers also did so, even some decades before 1920.  The work of Seroff and Abbott has shed light on some of the developments, but it is still frustrating not to have some way of knowing better what was being sung.
           
          Bob

          --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:


          From: Howard Rye <howard@...>
          Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
          To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
          Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 10:50 PM


           



          When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
          form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
          explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
          with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
          things the book is about and they will always be there.

          The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
          prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
          James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
          ambiguity.

          To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
          say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
          singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
          Records 1943-1970.

          I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
          because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
          actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
          Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
          without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
          rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
          enter into this!

          on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@ yahoo.com. au wrote:

          >
          >
          >
          >
          > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the "blues"
          > ladies were really singing blues.
          >  
          > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form.  Some
          > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
          > intonation.
          >  
          > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
          > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
          > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
          > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues singer
          > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the other
          > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
          > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville - maybe
          > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
          > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
          >  
          > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black blues
          > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith had
          > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers had
          > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
          > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
          >  
          > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
          > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
          > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
          >  
          > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
          > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank and
          > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
          > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR is
          > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
          > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
          > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
          >  
          > Bob
          >
          > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
          > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> > wrote:
          >
          > From: Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
          > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> >
          > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
          > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
          > <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com> >
          > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
          >
          >  
          >
          > Can I just make two points.
          >
          > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
          > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
          > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of blues
          > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
          > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
          >
          > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
          > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
          > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but penetrating
          > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
          > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
          > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
          > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to the
          > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
          > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
          > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
          > and they were right to do so.
          >
          > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
          > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
          > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
          > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their rhythmic
          > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
          > is trying to tell us something.
          >
          > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
          >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
          >> >  
          >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
          >> traditions
          >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything. Also, as
          >> the
          >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND ISN'T
          >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
          >> >  
          >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
          >> guitar,
          >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development of
          >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they did
          >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are noted for
          >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
          >> Germany
          >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo from
          >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
          >> >  
          >> >  
          >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the enthusiasm
          >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got recorded
          >> from
          >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
          >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms combining
          >> with
          >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
          >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
          >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
          >> >  
          >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
          >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice versa.
          >> The
          >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal endowment
          >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be used to
          >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the idiom
          >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in form
          >> >  
          >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and recordings
          >> by
          >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing variety
          >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and even
          >> some
          >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are all
          >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen which
          >> got
          >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying to
          >> play
          >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
          >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public presentations.
          >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues pattern was
          >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
          >> created.  
          >> >  
          >> >  
          >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT IN
          >> AFRICA
          >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
          >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
          >> HOOKERS
          >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF BANDS IS
          >> > JUST RUBBISH.
          >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that musical
          >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing etc? 
          >> >  
          >> >  
          >> > RRC
          >> >  
          >> >  
          >> >  
          >> >
          >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >>> >>
          >> >
          >> >
          >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
          >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
          >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
          >> >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          > ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
          > Access Yahoo!7 Mail on your mobile. Anytime. Anywhere.
          > Show me how: http://au.mobile yahoo.com/ mail
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >>
          >
          >
          > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
          > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
          > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
          >

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

















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        • Howard Rye
          I would be seriously interested to know, off or on list, who these ³singers in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 3, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            I would be seriously interested to know, off or on list, who these ³singers
            in B&GR whose stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content)
            are so tenuous that I like to view them as "remaining" ³ actually are.

            All such inclusions need to have a justification and we need all the help we
            can get to ensure that there is one!

            I know you already know this, Bob, but for the benefit of those who don¹t,
            this ³canon² was originally devised in the 1950s at a time when the at least
            a third of this material had not actually been heard by anybody involved, so
            a proportion of the inclusions were merely deductive. Generally if an
            unheard artist was in a Race series they were included and if they were not
            they were excluded.

            So Josephine James was included because she is in the Ajax Race series even
            though it eventually transpired that she has no place in jazz or blues
            discography. On the other hand Clara Belle Gholston was excluded because her
            record (one of the towereing masterpieces of African-American music) was in
            the general series and no one involved knew this was the same artist as
            Clara Hudmon in the Okeh Race series and The Georgia Peach of 1942 onwards.

            Cases like Bert Williams and Pete Hampton, where we have already noted that
            we have included complete discographies knowing that some/many individual
            titles do not belong, are of course different again. We also of course know
            that most jubilee groups are of no interest to jazz or blues enthusiasts,
            which is why they were omitted in the first place, but they have now been
            included in response to academic demand, which has at least the
            justification that they were hugely infuential on later developments. One of
            the most controversial inclusions to me are the Christian & Missionary
            Alliance Gospel Singers, whose records are neither in an African-American
            idiom, nor were they marketed to African-Americans. Recent research, which
            will be known to Bob, has established conclusively that they were servants
            of a white denomination and employed exclusively, so far as we can discover,
            in a context of revivals aimed at potential recruits to that denomination.
            Their music is appropriate to the job for which they were employed. Do they
            belong in B&GR? Blowed if I know. There is always ambiguity at the edges. It
            may be that the current solution which is to include such material while
            noting that it does not belong musically is the best fudge we have.


            on 02/08/2009 23:50, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@... wrote:

            >
            >
            >
            >
            > It was not my intention to question the cultural orientation of B&GR, which I
            > have accepted since the first edition as the most logical contruct to align
            > the realities of the development of the blues with the aesthetic needs of
            > later collectors.  And I agree with you - I've always thought of Lizzie Miles
            > as a blues singer.  Nevertheless, there are some singers in B&GR whose
            > stylistic connections with blues (whether in form or content) are so tenuous
            > that I like to view them as "remaining" in B&GR despite my personal lack of
            > interest in them.  I'm not suggesting they be removed, because I'm aware that,
            > at the fringes of the definition, there are cases where some collectors want
            > to collect the performer, and others don't.  But I find some of them to be of
            > less interest than their white equivalents, and I think it would be strange if
            > that type of exception did not sometimes arise and thus prove the rule.
            >  
            > My post was aimed at the widespread assumption that, because many vaudeville
            > performers of the 1920s sang (and recorded) blues, all other vaudeville
            > performers also did so, even some decades before 1920.  The work of Seroff and
            > Abbott has shed light on some of the developments, but it is still frustrating
            > not to have some way of knowing better what was being sung.
            >  
            > Bob
            >
            > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@...
            > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> > wrote:
            >
            > From: Howard Rye <howard@...
            > <mailto:howard%40coppermill.demon.co.uk> >
            > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
            > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
            > <mailto:RedHotJazz%40yahoogroups.com> >
            > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 10:50 PM
            >
            >  
            >
            > When I talk about blues I am talking about a musical style, not about a song
            > form. The definition for inclusion in B&GR which is set out pretty
            > explicitly in the introduction most certainly embraces ³popular songs sung
            > with some blues intonation.² They do not ³remain². They are one of the
            > things the book is about and they will always be there.
            >
            > The definition is very explicitly a cultural one, though even that does not
            > prevent ambiguity at the edges, but anomalous inclusions such as Josephine
            > James and Virginia Childs have tended to result from ignorance rather than
            > ambiguity.
            >
            > To dramatize this another way, ³Is Lizzie Miles a blues singer?² I would
            > say, yes. Many of those who believe in the primacy of male country blues
            > singers would emphatically say no. I had to argue for her inclusion in Blues
            > Records 1943-1970.
            >
            > I don¹t think there will ever be a discography of white female blues singers
            > because no one knows how to recognise one. Who but a musicologist would
            > actually want a discography of white singers singing songs of blues form.
            > Even Dinah Shore did that and many other popular singers who performed
            > without a shred of acquaintance with blues intontation or African-American
            > rhythms. Is Elsie Carlisle a white blues singer, Bob? Practicalitites do
            > enter into this!
            >
            > on 02/08/2009 14:11, Bob Eagle at prof_hi_jinx@ yahoo.com. au wrote:
            >
            >> >
            >> >
            >> >
            >> >
            >> > No quibble with any of this, except that we cannot be certain that the
            >> "blues"
            >> > ladies were really singing blues.
            >> >  
            >> > As Robert says, a number of songs called "blues" were not blues in form. 
            >> Some
            >> > titles remain in B&GR vsn 4 that were popular songs sung with some blues
            >> > intonation.
            >> >  
            >> > It seems that *some* blues were being sung in early times, but as late as
            >> > 1932, Bessie Smith was uncomfortable about being a second blues singer in a
            >> > vaudeville show (aside from the aspect that she was the second-string
            >> > singer!).  It seems that the format was to have one (but not two) blues
            >> singer
            >> > for variation (or, by the 1920s, for commercial necessity), but all the
            >> other
            >> > female vaudeville singers on each show did some form of non-blues song. 
            >> > This suggests that many ladies were *not* singing blues in vaudeville -
            >> maybe
            >> > some sort of torch song instead, or in some cases songs of no jazz interest
            >> > whatever (classical favorites, etc).
            >> >  
            >> > Which brings us back face-to-face with the perennial problem that black
            >> blues
            >> > vocal recording started only in 1920 (and, let's recall that Mamie Smith >>
            had
            >> > recorded non-blues songs before "Crazy Blues"), while white stage singers
            >> had
            >> > been recording blues for years.  Black vocal blues were recorded frequently
            >> > only after it was shown to be a commercial proposition.
            >> >  
            >> > We still lack a decent discography of white female blues singers.  Once a
            >> > vaudeville singer from the teens or twenties is found to be white she is
            >> > consigned to purgatory, no matter how "good" a singer she may have been.
            >> >  
            >> > It's a bit like ignoring Harmonica Frank after it was realised that he \was
            >> > white, and a disciple of Buddy Jones.  We should be embracing both Frank >>
            and
            >> > Jones, as fascinating extensions of black music, rather than proscribing
            >> > them.  (Let them have their place, of course.  If the raison d'etre of B&GR
            >> is
            >> > to present performances which would appeal to a black audience, because of
            >> > style, then let's find some other venue in which to logically present the
            >> > white female blues singers of the 1910s and 1920s).
            >> >  
            >> > Bob
            >> >
            >> > --- On Sun, 2/8/09, Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
            >> > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> > wrote:
            >> >
            >> > From: Howard Rye <howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
            >> > <mailto:howard% 40coppermill. demon.co. uk> >
            >> > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Blues Roots
            >> > To: "red hot jazz" <RedHotJazz@yahoogro ups.com
            >> > <mailto:RedHotJazz% 40yahoogroups. com> >
            >> > Received: Sunday, 2 August, 2009, 6:45 PM
            >> >
            >> >  
            >> >
            >> > Can I just make two points.
            >> >
            >> > 1. I don¹t think anybody is now arguing on this list or anywhere, or has
            >> > argued for 50 years (since Rudi Blesh and people who accepted his argument
            >> > without thought or much attempt to hear the records), that any type of
            >> blues
            >> > is a degenerate version of any other. This is a paper tiger which hardly
            >> > needs anyone to shout in capital letters to see it off.
            >> >
            >> > 2. What the blues ladies (I don¹t need to shout) did (what the hell is
            >> > ³supposed² about them) was not only to record, but to tour the length and
            >> > breadth of the country performing not only at urban theatres but
            >> penetrating
            >> > deep into rural areas. Until I read ³Ragged But Right² I certainly did not
            >> > appreciate this and no one else did unless they had actually read the
            >> > material and associated comment in the Indianapolis Freeman. This was going
            >> > on for at least two decades before recording which is a late response to >>
            the
            >> > existence/emergence of the market. No theory of the development of blues or
            >> > jazz which fails to take this data into account is worth doodly-squat.
            >> > Seroff and Abbott subtitled their book ³The Dark Pathway to Blues and Jazz²
            >> > and they were right to do so.
            >> >
            >> > By the way, it¹s not a discovery that the profoundly racist Edison knew
            >> > nothing about African-American music. Much more interesting than the hiring
            >> > of African-American concert artists to record something that could be
            >> > marketed as blues are the actual blues singers who apart from their
            >> rhythmic
            >> > characteristics could be Edwardian parlor singers. And yes, I do think this
            >> > is trying to tell us something.
            >> >
            >> > on 01/08/2009 20:05, ROBERT R. CALDER at serapion@btinternet .com wrote:
            >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> > Where did the ladies get the blues music from ????
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > Patton and company certainly drew on their own resources and rural
            >>> >> traditions
            >>>> >> > alive near them. They are hardly degenerate versions of anything.
            >>>> Also, as
            >>> >> the
            >>>> >> > late Eddie Lambert wrote of Sleepy John Estes THIS MUSIC IS MUSIC AND
            >>>> ISN'T
            >>>> >> > PRE-ANYTHING!
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > Then there is the drivel about blues piano having developed from blues
            >>> >> guitar,
            >>>> >> > as if somehow bluesmen had to rehearse some history of the development
            of
            >>>> >> > keyboard instruments. I am sure musicians learned the instruments they
            did
            >>>> >> > because they were there, and convenient. The Shetland islands are
            >>>> noted for
            >>>> >> > fiddle music, the fiddle having been introduced when a shipmaster from
            >>> >> Germany
            >>>> >> > loaded his empty hold with cheap fiddles on the way to collect cargo
            from
            >>>> >> > there. The previously dominant norse instrument was supplanted.
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > What the supposed BLUES LADIES did was to record, and kindle the
            >>>> enthusiasm
            >>>> >> > for blues which conditioned the selection of what material got
            >>>> recorded
            >>> >> from
            >>>> >> > among the repertoires of various rural-based descendants of slaves. 
            >>>> >> > The blues form was a discovery from among numerous song-forms
            >>>> combining
            >>> >> with
            >>>> >> > various feelings and the need to express them. Quite possibly the form
            >>>> >> > established itself among wandering musicians not above using home-made
            >>>> >> > instruments. It caught on, apparently.
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > The selling term BLUES was applied in the 1920s with all the tin-eared
            >>>> >> > crassness of people who think music convertible into money and vice
            >>>> versa.
            >>> >> The
            >>>> >> > Edison company signed up one young lady on the basis of her vocal
            >>>> endowment
            >>>> >> > and skin hue with the suggestion on her contract that she could be
            >>>> used to
            >>>> >> > record BLUES. Beverley Sills or Caruso were no further away from the
            >>>> idiom
            >>>> >> > than she was!  Note the number of BLUES titles which aren't blues in
            form
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > If you listen to a lot of earlier recordings of found music and
            >>>> recordings
            >>> >> by
            >>>> >> > the Mississippi John Hurt etc. generation, you'll find an amazing
            >>>> variety
            >>>> >> > including the square music of Fletcher Henderson's first bands, and
            even
            >>> >> some
            >>>> >> > antecedents of the Grand Ole Opry playing decent jazz. And there are
            all
            >>>> >> > manner of things in common between folk musicians and early jazzmen
            >>>> which
            >>> >> got
            >>>> >> > left behind.  I was amused to hear a recording of Michael White trying
            to
            >>> >> play
            >>>> >> > a Klezmer number and sounding not unlike Tiny Parham eighty years
            >>>> >> > earlier. Music simply became more specialised in its public
            >>>> presentations.
            >>>> >> > Or found definitive expressive forms, In a real sense the blues
            >>>> pattern was
            >>>> >> > latent in the conditions of music, and was discovered rather than
            >>> >> created.  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > OF COURSE IF YOU READ PAUL OLIVER YOU WILL NOTE THE OBSERVATION THAT
            IN
            >>> >> AFRICA
            >>>> >> > AND IN THE USA ALIKE THERE WERE BOTH SOLO PERFORMERS AND BANDS IN THE
            >>>> >> > TWENTIETH CENTURY AND EARLIER AND THE NOTION THAT SOME PROTO JOHN LEE
            >>> >> HOOKERS
            >>>> >> > GOT TOGETHER TO COMPASS A COMBINATION OF SOLOISTS AND BEGINNING OF
            >>>> BANDS IS
            >>>> >> > JUST RUBBISH.
            >>>> >> > Perhaps the first bands were created when it was discovered that
            >>>> musical
            >>>> >> > advantages could be secured by only some members of a tribe singing
            >>>> etc? 
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> > RRC
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >  
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>>>> >>> >>
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> >
            >>>> >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
            >>>> >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
            >>>> >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
            >>>> >> >
            >> >
            >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >> >
            >> > ____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
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            >> >
            >> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >> >
            >> >
            >> >
            >> >
            >>> >>
            >> >
            >> >
            >> > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
            >> > howard@coppermill. demon.co. uk
            >> > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
            >> >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            > __________________________________________________________
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            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >>
            >
            >
            > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
            > howard@...
            > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
            >



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