Sunday, January 07, 2007

Help with my book on sanctified blues/ guitar evangelists/ gritty gospel music?

Sorry to not be here anymore; I will blog again!, and soon, on the Yeti site, after we overhaul it in the next month or so.

I'm writing 'cause now that the Loveless book is finally out, I'm starting on the next one, on sanctifiedd blues.

Aside from a few chapters here and there in histories of blues or gospel (most notably/ excellently in Paul Oliver's Songsters & Saints) I've had trouble finding much info. about this type of stuff. There's not a single book that addresses sanctified blues. So, I'm starting to write one about it, myself. I do not pretend to be an expert on this material, FYI; I just have to know more about it and do not see any other way, really.

In the case of a dozen or so artists, there is quite a bit known, of course: Washington Phillips thanks to Michael Corcoran, and in the cases of Rev. Louis Overstreet and Bishop Perry Tillis I myself was able to find people to talk to about them/ their work. But with, say, Luther Magby, whose sole 78 is mind-bending, I can't find more than a few sentences here and there.

I'm thinking of calling the thing 'BUKED & SCORNED: The YETI Field Guide to Sanctified Blues & Gritty Gospel, 1922-Present (yeah, unwieldy/ unoriginal title, I know). The format will be that of a classic field guide: color innards, rounded pages, plastic cover, everything (there will be other 'Field Guides,' including a photo-heavy guide to 'American ruins' - old and abandoned factories, hospitals etc., with info. on how to break into them and spelunk about). The plan is to have an awesome introductory 80 minute disc with the book, the gospel blues one I mean.

I'm really psyched about it. At first I felt like maybe I'd bitten off more than I could chew. But now I'm just breaking it down into little entries and starting on them, with help from the little bits of info. found on places like the liners on the back of the Origin's fabulous In the Spirit LP collections or inside the essential book Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943.

Not sure if there is much interest/ audience in this, but it seems like Fahey's excellent (if poorly titled) American Primitive Vol. 1 sold pretty well. So maybe there is some sort of audience? We'll see.

Following's the raw list of artists that I'm starting with. I know it's long. I know this post is already long. I know it will take me longer to get this thing done than I think it will. But if anyone has suggestions about other artists to consider, or has xeroxes of articles about any of these peeps from old issues of Livin' Blues or anything, I'll totally love you for that info. and pay for xeroxes, whatever... I will love you and pay you! (What's that called again?)

Just groping about in the dark to find stuff out. Here's my working artist list: sanctified blues musicians/ players of raw bluesy gospel/ guitar evangelists/ bluesy streetcorner gospel shouters/ predominantly blues musicians who also recorded & performed significant songs of a spiritual bent.

Elder Charles Beck
Barbecue Bob
Emmett Brand
Richard "Rabbit" Brown
Rev. Pearly Brown
Elder Richard Bryant
Sam Butler AKA "Bo Weavil Jackson"
Rev. E.D. Campbell
the Campbell Brothers
Wynona Carr
Clarence Clay & William Scott
Rev. Edward Clayborn "the Guitar Evangelist"
Austin Coleman
Jaybird Coleman
Dennis Crumpton & Robert Summers
Elder Curry
Rev. Gary Davis
Blind Willie Davis
Thomas A. Dorsey
Arizona Dranes
Duckett & Norwood
Brother Willie Eason
Brother Claude Ely
Sister Callie Fancy
Rev. Lonnie Farris
Blind Mamie Forehand
Jesse Fuller
Rev. J.M. Gates
Aubrey Ghent (how much of the 'Sacred Steel' artists, if any, to include?)
Blind Roosevelt Graves
Blind Arvella Gray
Henry Green
Suddie Griffins
Holy Ghost Sanctified Singers
William "Blind Willie" Harris
Goldia Haynes
Eddie Head & His Family
Jessie Mae Hemphill
Jessie May Hill
Mississippi John Hurt
Rev. Charlie Jackson
Otis Jackson
Skip James
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Rev. A. Johnson
Bessie Johnson
Blind Willie Johnson
Prof. Johnson & His Gospel Singers
Elder Otis Jones
Alfred G. Kanes
Louisville Sanctified Singers
Thee MacGee
Luther Magby
Rev. Moses Mason
Sister Matthews
Mother McCullum
Mississippi Fred McDowell
Rev. F.W. McGee
Lonnie McIntorsh
Memphis Sanctified Singers
Sister Mary M. Nelson
Blind Gussie Nesbit
Nugrape Twins
Rev. Louis Overstreet
Isaiah Owens
Frank Palmes
Charley Patton AKA Elder J.J. Hadley
Sister Lottie Peavy
Elizabeth Phillips
Washington Phillips
Ernest Phipps & His Holiness Singers (? – not sure how much to enter into preacher and congregation type artists – whether to just use a few who are really bluesy or just to forego them entirely?)
Leon Pinson
Rev. D.C. Rice
Staple Singers
Homer Quincy Smith
Rev. Utah Smith
William & Versey Smith
Horace Sprott
Bozie Sturdivant
Blind Joe Taggart
Sister Ola Mae Terrell
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Two Gospel Keys
Henry Thomas
Bishop Perry Tillis
Joe Townsend
Rev. I.B. Ware (with Wife and Son)
Rev. Charles White AKA James Butler
Bukka White AKA Washington White


Blogger cjohnson22463 said...

I'm psyched too. There is an audience.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should get in touch with Ian Nagoski from True Vine Records in Baltimore. He collects stuff like this so can probably help out. And he gave me copies of Chemical Imbalance years ago (god bless him) so I know he likes you:

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know enough to comment on who should be included, but I'm really pumped about this book. I'll totally buy it!

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you consider getting in touch with john cohen?
ill ask around, but last i heard he was teaching drawing at suny purchase
just a thought

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm psyched as well! Thank you for undertaking such a project.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Book Reviews by Chris said...

These two comments are so obvious as to be insulting, but I want to help, and don't really have many ideas, so:

1) Maybe contact Joe Bussard?

2) Don't trust album liner notes so easily; they rarely provide any source data.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You probably already know about this guy, who sometimes posts good old 78s:

And don't forget about Jorma Kaukonen, at least on questions of technique. I bet he has some good contacts, too.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Nutt (of WFMU's Sinner's Crossroads fame) is working on a book/CD of Rev. Utah Smith.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out Blind Willie Johnson-The Biography available now at

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is one hell of a list...sounds a great idea for a book.

12:31 PM  
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