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Bukka White Revisited

Bukka White

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Album Review

In 1963, graduate students and blues fans John Fahey and Ed Denson sent a letter addressed to Bukka White, Old Blues Singer, c/o General Delivery, Aberdeen, MS, in an effort to locate the man who had recorded a 78 called "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues" on the OKeh label in 1940. Amazingly, the letter actually reached White, who was still alive, having moved to Memphis. The two budding blues scholars rushed there to meet him, recording the songs found on this collection in the singer's room. These historic recordings reveal that White's robust guitar playing and his gruff, thundering voice had lost none of their vitality in the intervening years, and the bluesman delivers impassioned versions of some of his key tunes, including "Shake 'Em on Down," and the song that led to his rediscovery, "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues." White even takes a surprisingly nimble turn at the piano for "Drunk Man Blues." These sessions were originally released on Fahey's Takoma label, and although White went on to do other recording dates, most notably with Arhoolie Records in 1963, he never sounded quite this intimate and impassioned again. The only minor complaint about this reissue is that the haunting version of "When Can I Change My Clothes" included here is mislabeled "Parchman Farm Blues."

Biography

Born: November 12, 1906 in Houston, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Bukka White (true name: Booker T. Washington White) was born in Houston, Mississippi (not Houston, Texas) in 1906 (not any date between 1902-1905 or 1907-1909, as is variously reported). He got his initial start in music learning fiddle tunes from his father. Guitar instruction soon followed, but White's grandmother objected to anyone playing "that Devil music" in the household; nonetheless, his father eventually bought him a guitar. When Bukka White was 14 he spent some time with an uncle in Clarksdale,...
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