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The Hokum Boys Vol. 1939

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Album Review

In 1930 Big Bill Broonzy and Georgia Tom Dorsey made dozens of records under the name of the Famous Hokum Boys, picking up where groups led by Jimmy Blythe and Alex Hill had left off with their 1929 recordings, which were issued under the name of the Hokum Boys. Decades later, the Wolf and Document labels devoted several chronologically indexed collections to these groups, including a set of recordings from the middle ‘30s with a wider-ranging lineup that included vocalist Bob Robinson (Document 5237). Wolf's complete Famous Hokum Boys, Vol. 1 traces the group's recording activity over a five-day stretch in April and a 48 hour period in mid-September 1930. The first two tracks were among the few sides ever released under the name of guitarist Frank Brasswell, who played on a lot of the Famous Hokum Boys records as did guitarist Bill Williams. The female who sang from time to time with this band was pseudonymously billed as Jane Lucas or Hannah May. Like Georgia Tom's recording partner Kansas City Kitty, the true identity of the woman or women who participated in these sessions will never be revealed. Hokum records were meant to be played at parties, where suggestive lyrics and themes of misbehavior were likely to fit in with the drinking and fooling around that helped regular working people relax and blow off steam. Whereas most of the Famous Hokum Boys recordings have been reissued on Big Bill Broonzy collections, it's good to have them compiled under the group's name as they are here. Combine Wolf's two volumes with Document's complete recordings of the Hokum Boys, the Famous Hokum Boys with Bob Robinson and those of Kansas City Kitty and Georgia Tom and you'll find yourself loaded up with all the hokum one person could possibly want or need.


Formed: 1929 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

The word "hokum" is believed to have descended from the English term "hokey-pokey," denoting both ridicule and the ridiculous; for more than a century "hokey-pokey" has also been used, on both sides of the Atlantic, to describe low-grade ice cream sold on the streets. Hokum can mean flattery, insincerity, derision, deception, nonsense, cheapness, or any sort of stage gimmickry used to elicit a response from jaded audiences. Musically, hokum conveys and deserves most if not all of these meanings....
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The Hokum Boys Vol. 1939, The Hokum Boys
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