Jim Linderman blog about surface, wear, form and authenticity in self-taught art, outsider art, antique american folk art, antiques and photography. Dull tool and dim bulb were the only swear words my father ever used. Items from the Jim Linderman collection of vernacular photography, folk art, ephemera and curiosities. (Note: if anyone believes an image contained violates their rights or insults their intelligence, simply point it out and I will remove)
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Scarce Early Photograph of a Jug Band with No Jug African-American Street Musicians
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My second good blues musician photograph in two years. Period original photographs of African-American musicians are hard to find, and I have been very lucky indeed. See HERE for another find from the same period.
A washtub bass, two guitars (one which appears to be decorated, or possibly having inlaid wood?) and a fiddle. This is a small snapshot taken at what appears to be the train station, although it could be a streetcar, but the Western Union sign leads me to believe it is the railroad, and of course there is a porter who appears as interested as the others. The performers appear successful with sharp shoes and good dress. This would be a darn smart jug band if they had a jug. I am going to guess the nurses were on the way home.
My first guess was that the bass player could be Will Shade, ringleader for a hodge-podge of Memphis musicianers and jug bands. In part because of his nickname "Son Brimmer" which referred to his habit of wearing a hat with a brim to shade his eyes. (and I believe also the title of his first recording, but haven't looked it up) The hat here is unusual and brimmed.
Shade or not, the performer plays a "bullfiddle" which is a garbage can, broomstick and one string. If you have never seen a musician play who COULD play one, you'd be surprised how effective the rudimentary instrument is. I believe what we are seeing here dates to the Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Gus Cannon era. The snapshot is a mere 2.5" x 3.5" but crisp as can be, enlarge it and see the details.
If any of you out there recognize any participants or the location I would be much obliging. I have one or two experts scratching their heads. More heads is better! How unfortunate that a photo can not sing or play...I would have loved to be met by this splendid looking group on my arrival.
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Original Street Photograph Snapshot circa 1930 African-American Quartet Perform at Train Station. Location Uknown. Collection Jim Linderman