March 10, 2011

1928 Sessions - Mississippi John Hurt

In 1920s, almost by chance,  Mississippi John Hurt cut a few 78 rpms at Okeh Records:

"... a great big hall with only the three of us in it: me, the man, and the engineer. It was really something. I sat on a chair, and they pushed the microphone right up to my mouth and told me that I couldn't move after they had found the right position. I had to keep my head absolutely still. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after."

And thence returned to farms and fields around hometown Avalon, Mississippi. True “back porch” musician, playing and singing mostly to entertain family and neighbours, or accompanying a square dance fiddle. Repertoire understated and humble like the man: pre-blues black folk ballads and spirituals, played with ragtime feel alternating bass and gentle melodic picking. Not  “Blues” singer but “songster”. Pre-blues craze country black music.

Hard-working man, sharecropper and entertainer. No seeker of fame or fortune. Unlike contemporary Skip James, no bitterness over neglect and  late-in-life mass success, and as a result continued to please and win over new listeners until last weeks of life. Nothing Mississippi John Hurt recorded was less than inspired. These pre-obscurity sessions are superb.

Oddi wrth y brawd
candy man

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