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Creator of the Memphis Blues

Frank Stokes

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Albenrezension

The most prominent musicians in early country-blues tended to emerge from the Mississippi Delta. This region's rich tradition has long overshadowed developments in states like Tennessee and Texas. However, for blues fans in Memphis during the late '20s, Frank Stokes was the king. Having spent time traveling as a minstrel entertainer, Stokes picked up medicine show tunes and popular songs to complement his conventional blues material. His verses read like a catalog of common themes and phrases that roamed the American South.

While not a strong singer, Stokes was blessed with one of the music's most distinct voices. He was the antithesis of "hard" Delta singers like Son House and Charlie Patton. In comparison, Stokes seemed perpetually uncertain of himself. When he sings "Don't know what'n the world to do" on "Nehi Mama Blues," he is truly believable. Even on lighter material like "'Tain't Nobody's Business," an underlying worry is evident in his signature quiver. The effect begins to fade only on his most boisterous performances ("Beale Town Bound"). Concluding that Stokes was unstable, however, would be incorrect. "You Shall" and "Mr. Crump" are clearly meant to amuse. The blues itself, which is often construed as being autobiographical, typically served the function of entertainment.

Stokes is perhaps best remembered for his guitar duet work with performance partner Dan Sane. Typical of the Memphis blues, their style was lighter than the Delta equivalent. The hard playing and prominent slide was replaced by more intricate and graceful fingerpicking. Sane meshed so well with Stokes that he became an extension of his own guitar. The two incorporated more guitar breaks than were conventional (especially on record) to showcase their interplay. Sane is active on "Take Me Back," animating the song with his sprightly fills and runs. He has a similar effect on "'Tain't Nobody's Business," expanding on Stokes' standard chord work.

Yazoo maintains its usual standards of excellent song selection, the best possible sound reproduction, and informative liner notes. Creator of the Memphis Blues is the companion to Frank Stokes Dream. Together they collect all the existing recordings of the Memphis musician.

Biografien

Geboren: 01. Januar 1888 in Whitehaven, TN

Genre: Blues

Jahre aktiv: '20s, '30s

Frank Stokes and partner Dan Sane recorded as the Beale Street Sheiks, a Memphis answer to the musical Chatmon family string band, the Mississippi Sheiks. According to local tradition, Stokes was already playing the streets of Memphis by the turn of the century, about the same time the blues began to flourish. As a street artist, he needed a broad repertoire of songs and patter palatable to both blacks and whites. A medicine show and house party favorite, Stokes was remembered as a consummate entertainer...
Komplette Biografie
Creator of the Memphis Blues, Frank Stokes
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